Friday, May 31, 2013

Turkish Police Fire Tear Gas Wounding Protesters; Crowds Rebel Against PM Erdogan's Despotic Rule

Turkish police fired tear gas and water cannon today (May 31, 2013) at demonstrators in central Istanbul, wounding scores of people and prompting rallies in other cities in Turkey in the fiercest anti-government protests in years, the Reuters website reports.

Thousands of demonstrators massed on streets surrounding Istanbul's central Taksim Square, long a venue for political unrest, while protests also erupted in the capital, Ankara, and the Aegean coastal city of Izmir.

The unrest reflects growing disquiet at the authoritarianism of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP). Erdogan has been changing the democratic form of government in Turkey into an Islamist-centerd government during his decade in power.

"We do not have a government, we have Tayyip Erdogan," said Koray Caliskan, a political scientist at Bosphorus University, who attended the protest.

Erdogan remains Turkey's most popular politician, and is widely viewed as its most powerful leader since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded the modern secular republic on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire 90 years ago. "These people will not bow down to you" read one banner at Istanbul's Gezi Park protest, alongside a cartoon of Erdogan wearing an Ottoman emperor's turban.

FL Courthouse to Have 1st US Atheist Monument; Atheists Agree 10 Commandments Display to Stay

A courthouse in Florida will soon be the site of what is hailed as the first atheist monument to be found on government property in the United States, the Christian Post website reports today (May 31, 2013).

Bradford County Courthouse will have a large granite bench placed by the national organization the American Atheists in late June 2013.

Dave Muscato -- public relations director for the American Atheists -- said the atheist monument was part of a settlement made with Bradford County over allowing a Ten Commandments display to remain at its courthouse.

Muscato added, "Equal access in this case works for us. We are thrilled to place what we believe to be the first ever atheist-sponsored monument on government property in the history of the United States."

Card.Wuerl Receives Petition Against Georgetown; Seeks to End University's Identity as Catholic Inst.

A canon law petition asking Cardinal Donald Wuerl to rescue Georgetown University's Catholic identity -- or declare that it can no longer refer to itself as Catholic! -- was delivered to the Archdiocese of Washington (D.C.) today (May 31, 2013), according to the Cardinal Newman Society website. The petition was signed by more than 1200 people, including Georgetown alumni, students, parents, faculty, and others.

Distinguished Georgetown alumnus William Peter Blatty -- an Academy Award winner and author of "The Exorcist" -- announced in May 2012 the formation of the Father King Society and its plans to file a complaint under the Catholic Church's canon law. The completed petition -- which is 198 pages long -- documents abuses of Catholic identity at Georgetown University and non-compliance with Church law for Catholic universities.

The group is seeking remedies "including, if made necessary, the removal or suspension of top-ranked Georgetown's right to call itself Catholic and Jesuit in its fundraising and representations to applicants," according to leaders.

Submitted with the petition is a 120-page dossier prepared by The Cardinal Newman Society in Blatty's request, summarizing Georgetown scandals documented by the Society over several years. The Newman Society and canon law experts were consulted for advice by the King Society throughout the year-long process of preparing the brief.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Al Qaeda Magazine Boasts about Terrorist Attacks; Editor of Mag. Says Terror War Has Barely Started

A new issue of the al Qaeda-published propaganda magazine titled "Inspire" boasts about recent terrorist attacks in Boston and the U.K., and urges young Muslims to carry out similar "lone wolf" operations against the West, the NBC News website reports today (May 30, 2013).

The spring 2013 issue of the online publication contains multiple articles praising alleged Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and one in last week's gruesome knife slaying of a British soldier in London.

"When one looks at the terrific Boston Marathon operation and its aftermath.... he understands how a single lone jihad operation can force America to stand on one foot and live in a terrified state, full of fear and rare restlessness," reads one article under the byline Abu Abdillah Almoravid.

A "Letter from the Editor" warns, "Americans you should understand this simple equation: as you kill, you will be killed.... The war is yet to cease, it has barely started."

Greek Police Arrest Afghan Man on Corfu Island; Illegal Immigrant Threw Woman Over Coastal Wall

Police on the beautiful Greek island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea have arrested an illegal Afghan immigrant after he robbed a 20-year-old student and callously threw her over an eight-meter coastal wall, the Europe News website reports today (May 30, 2013).

Police were surprised to find the Afghan man had tattoos of swastikas and other Nazi symbols on his body.

Pantelis Haidos -- the father of the young history student that was attacked -- said she was returning home from a night out with friends when the alien Afghan robbed her. The young woman immediately handed over her purse when the robber demanded it, but as two cars approached the Afghan man threw the Greek girl over the coastal wall.

Ms. Haidos is hospitalized, but is now out of danger. Meanwhile, the criminal perpetrator is being held in jail and has been charged with robbery and attempted murder. The Afghan man -- who said he is a Muslim -- had applied for political asylum in Greece.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Vatican: 100,000 Christians Are Killed Each Year; Tells UN It's Concerned with Rel. Freedom Crimes

More than 100,000 people around the world are killed each year because they are Christians, the Independent Catholic News website reports today (May 29, 2013).

Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi -- Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations -- said the Holy See is deeply concerned over violations of religious freedom and systematic attacks on Christian communities in regions of the world such as Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Speaking during the 23rd Session of the Human Rights Council Interactive Dialogue with High Commissioner in Geneva on May 27, Archbishop Tomasi said, "The serious violations of the right to freedom of religion in general and the recent continuing discrimination and systematic attacks inflicted on some Christian communities in particular, deeply concern the Holy See and many democratic governments whose population embrace various religious and cultural traditions."

He added, "Credible research has reached the shocking conclusion that an estimate of more than 100,000 Christians are violently killed because of some relation to their faith every year. Other Christians and other believers are subjected to forced displacement, to the destruction of their places of worship, to rape and to the abduction of their leaders -- as it recently happened in the case of Bishops Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji, in Aleppo (Syria)." These two Orthodox Christian bishops are still in the hands of anti-Christian kidnappers.

Disgraced Michigan Judge Sentenced to Yr. in Jail; Diane Hathaway Convicted of Falsifying Bank Info

A former justice of the Michigan Supreme Court was sentenced on May 28, having been convicted of bank fraud, the Spero Forum website reports today (May 29, 2013). Defense lawyer Steven Fishman had requested leniency in an appearance before a federal court in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Former justice Diane Hathaway -- who was elected to the Michigan Supreme Court in 2008 --  pleaded guilty in January to making misleading statements to a bank during the short sale of her house in Gross Pointe, a wealthy suburb of Detroit. She resigned her judgeship on January 21.

She was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O'Meara to one year and one day in prison, followed by two years of supervised release.

Appearing shaken, Hathaway addressed the court before receiving her sentence. The former jurist said she was "ashamed and humiliated." She added, "I stand before you a broken person.... I take full responsibility for my actions."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Boston Bombing Suspects' Sister Faces Pot Charge; Pleads Not Guilty to Possessing, Selling Marijuana

Bella Tsarnaeva -- the sister of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects -- pleaded not guilty today (May 28, 2013) to possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, in a superior court courtroom in Hackensack, New Jersey, according to the Global Post website.

She was arrested in December 2012 after police responded to a domestic violence report at her home in Fairview, New Jersey and found marijuana, according to court documents.

Both Tsarnaeva, 24, and her live-in boyfriend, Ahmad Khalil, were indicted in April on the pot charges. Khalil also pleaded not guilty today.

Tsarnaeva's brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, are accused of detonating two explosives near the finish line at the Boston Marathon on April 15, killing three people and injuring hundreds.

Zubeidat Tsarnaeva -- the mother of Bella, Tamerlan, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaeva -- was arrested in 2012 for shoplifting $1,624 worth of women's clothing from a department store in the Natick (Massachusetts) Mall. She fled the United States, returning to Russia to avoid her court trial for the shoplifting.

French Firms See More Rel. Demands at Work; Employees Want to Pray,Wear Rel. Garb on Job

Findings from a new study released today (May 28, 2013) show that close to half the staff managers at companies in French urban areas have seen problems arising from religious demands by employees -- and expect them to increase in the future -- the Yahoo News website reports. The study said 43 percent of staff managers saw faith-related work problems and 41 percent expected to encounter more in the future.

Listing faith-related problems, the study said some men refused to take orders from a woman boss or shake hands with women, and some refused to handle alcohol or pork products.

Other problems include employees wanting to pray or wear religious garb at work. Moreover, some employees try to impose their religious standards on colleagues, such as preventing non-observant Muslims from eating at work during Ramadan.

The survey -- conducted by university researchers in Rennes and the international recruitment agency Randstad -- was released as French lawmakers prepare new legislation extending strict public service bans on religious garb at work to some private firms.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Biden Credits Jews for Success of Gay "Marriage;" Leading US Rabbi "Mortified" by Biden's Remark

A leading rabbi says he is furious after Vice President Joseph Biden credited Jewish leaders last week for the success of same-sex "marriage" in America, the Life Site News website reports today (May 27, 2013).

"The Jewish people have contributed greatly to America. No group has had such an outsized influence per capita as all of you standing before you," Biden said on May 21 at a reception hosted by the Democratic National Committee in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month.

"I'm mortified, I'm absolutely mortified," said Rabbi Yehuda Levin, spokesman for the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the U.S. and Canada.

Rabbi Levin added, "To say that the whole homosexualization of society is largely due to a relatively few Jews is a very dangerous exaggeration."

Sen. McCain Meets with Rebels in War-torn Syria; Visit May Fuel Pressure on Obama for US Support

Republican Senator John McCain -- a former presidential candidate and an outspoken advocate for U.S. military aid to the Syrian opposition -- met with some of the rebels today (May 27, 2013) during a surprise visit to the war-torn country, according to the Reuters website.

Spokesman Brian Rogers confirmed McCain's meeting with the rebels, but declined to give any details about the visit, which may fuel pressure on Washington to intervene in a conflict that has claimed some 80,000 lives.

The visit came as U.S.Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pledged to do their utmost to bring Syria's warring parties together, and new allegations surfaced about chemical weapons being used in the civil war.

General Salem Idris -- who leads the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army -- said that McCain's visit came at a critical time for the rebels, who have stepped up their calls for U.S. support, including heavy weapons, creation of a no-fly zone, and air strikes.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

"Black Widow" Suicide Bomber Hits in Dagestan; Kills 1, Wounds 18 in Rus. Muslim-Majority Area

A female suicide bomber has struck the southern Russian region of Dagestan -- a predominantly Islam province -- injuring at least 18 and leaving one dead, the Euro News website reports today (May 26, 2013).

The device was detonated in the central square of the provincial capital, Makhachkala.

The attacker has been identified as Madina Alieva, widowed first in 2009 and again in 2012 when her husbands -- both radicals linked to the Islamist insurgency -- were killed by Russian security forces.

In Dagestan, women who carry out these kinds of suicide attacks after losing their husbands have been known as "Black Widows." The Islamist insurgency in the predominantly Muslim-populated North Caucasus region of Russia has grown more violent in recent years. Last week, another attack in the same town killed four and injured 44 others.

Pope Tells Mafia Stop Exploiting People, Repent; Rips Prostitution, Extortion, Drug Abuse in Italy

Pope Francis spoke out against mafia organizations exploiting and enslaving people, and called on mafiosi today (May 26, 2013) to repent, the Reuters website reports.

Speaking off-the-cuff -- after his weekly Angelus blessing in St. Peter's Square -- Francis spoke about the mafia for the first time since he became pontiff two months ago.

High profile killings by the Italian mafia have declined since the 1990s, but through illegal activities -- such as prostitution, extortion, and drug trafficking -- they still wield a heavy influence over Italy and its economy.

Italy's main crime groups -- the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta, and the Camorra from around the southern city of Naples -- have a joint annual turnover of 116 billion euros ($150 billion), according to the United Nations.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

NH Woman Gets 40 Years for Using Girl in Porn; Videos Seen at Trial Show the Girl, 14, in Sex Acts

A former New Hampshire lawyer has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for using a teenage girl in pornographic videos, the Big News Network website reports today (May 25, 2013).

Lisa Biron, 43, was convicted in January of eight counts, including taking the girl -- who was 14 at the time -- to Canada in May 2012 with the intent to film child pornography.

Videos shown during the trial showed the girl losing her virginity, having intercourse with men, and engaging in oral sex with Biron.

U.S. Attorney John Kacavas said in a statement the sentence amounts to a life sentence that "effectively removes Biron from society for the balance of her life and eradicates the threat she poses to minors and adolescents."

Some 100 People Kiss Today in Ankara Subway; Due to Subway Heads' Criticizing Kissing Couple

Dozens of couples locked lips today (May 25, 2013) at a subway stop in Turkey's capital, Ankara, to protest subway authorities' admonishment of a couple that kissed in public, according to the Al Jazeera website.

Some 100 people in the station kissed for several minutes in protest. Demonstrators carried signs reading "Free Kisses" and chanted slogans.

Earlier in the week, Ankara subway officials made an announcement asking passengers "to act in accordance with moral rules" after security cameras spotted the couple kissing.

The issue prompted an opposition lawmaker to question the ruling party, which many secularists fear wants to expand the role of Islam in Turkey, about whether subway officials were authorized to make such demands.

Ukraine's Kiev Holds Its First Gay Pride Parade; Ten Anti-Gay Protesters Arrested for Agitation

There were a few minor disturbances -- resulting in 10 arrests -- but Kiev's LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community managed to hold its first ever gay pride parade in Ukraine's capital today (May 25, 2013), the Religious Information Service of Ukraine website reports.

The Equality March was held in an area outside Kiev center after municipal authorities last week banned the group from holding the event at its original planned Lva Tolstoho location.

About 50 people from around Ukraine -- and some as far away as Sweden and Germany -- chanted and paraded down a narrow pathway near Pushkin Park and Shuliavska metro station, carrying rainbow flags and signs with slogans such as "LGBT rights == People's rights."

Dozens of buses parked along Victory Avenue brought more than 300 police in riot gear to the event to keep anti-gay protesters from attacking the march's participants. Still, about 10 people managed to rip banners from the hands of marchers and to shout violent anti-gay slogans. Police quickly detained them and dragged them into holding vans nearby.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Bronx Teacher Is Fired for Calling Student "Negro;" Says She Was Just Using Spanish Word for "Black"

A Bronx teacher says in a new lawsuit that her language lesson was lost in translation when she was fired for calling a student "Negro" -- though she claims she was simply using the Spanish word for the color "black" at the time -- the New York Post website reports today (May 24, 2013).

The non-tenured junior high instructor, Petrona Smith, 65, was fired from the bilingual PS 211 in March 2012 after a seventh-grader reported the alleged insult. Smith was also accused of calling her students "failures."

Smith -- who is black and a native of the West Indies -- has been unemployed since her ouster.

"They haven't even accounted for how absurd it is for someone who's black to be using a racial slur to a student," said Shaun Reid, Smith's attorney. "Talk about context! There's a lot of things wrong here."

Church of England to OK Women Bishops in 2015; Conservatives Say the Change Contradicts the Bible

The Church of England published a plan today (May 24, 2013) to approve the ordination of women bishops by 2015, a widely supported reform it just missed passing last November after two decades of divisive debate, the Reuters website reports.

The new plan -- outlined in a document signed by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of York John Sentamu -- would be presented to the General Synod (the Church legislature) in July to begin the approval process.

The proposal would make allowances for traditionalists who oppose women clergy -- a minority that blocked the reform at the last Synod meeting -- but each diocese will be required to have a bishop willing to ordain women to the priesthood.

The issue pits reformers -- keen to project a more modern and egalitarian image of the church as it struggles with falling congregations in many increasingly secular countries -- against a minority of conservatives who see the change as contradicting the Bible.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Farrakhan in Anti-Semitic Rant at Detroit Church; Rips "Satanic Jews Who Control U.S. Institutions"

A leading national Jewish civil rights group criticized Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan yesterday for making anti-Semitic statements at a Detroit church appearance, and called on a Michigan congressman and other leaders in attendance to condemn the remarks, the Associated Press website reports today (May  23, 2013).

Farrakhan denounced "Satanic Jews" and the "synagogue of Satan" that he said control major U.S. institutions during his speech on May 17 at Fellowship Chapel in Detroit. The Nation of Islam leader also said President Barack Obama has "surrounded himself with Satan... members of the Jewish community."

"It is deeply disappointing that so many Detroit leaders are apparently so willing to turn a blind eye to Farrakhan's anti-Semitism," said Heidi Budaj, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. "Where are the voices in our community who are willing to stand up and say 'no' to racism and anti-Semitism?"

U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, and Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson were among those who attended Farrakhan's speech. Neither one has responded to a Detroit Free Press newspaper request for comment on the speech.

Women Are Secretly Filmed Naked at West Point; Michael McClendon Faces Charges Due to Filming

A sergeant first class on the staff of the United States Military Academy at West Point has been accused of  secretly videotaping several female cadets -- sometimes when they were naked in the bathroom or shower -- the New York Times website reports today (May 23, 2013).

The Army is contacting over a dozen women to alert them that their privacy may have been violated by the suspect, identified as Sergeant First Class (SFC) Michael McClendon, and to offer them support and counseling, officials said. SFC McClendon, of Blakely, Georgia, faces several charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, as a result of  filming the women while they were naked for the past four years.

The allegations at West Point -- the nation's oldest and most prestigious military academy -- come in the midst of growing outrage in Congress, at the Pentagon, and from President Obama over reports of a huge amount of sexual harassment and assault cases in the armed services in 2012. Women have been enrolled at the two-century-old military institution -- located on a commanding bank of the Hudson River in upstate New York -- for nearly 40 years.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel -- who is to deliver the commencement address at West Point on Saturday (May 25) -- was briefed on the case yesterday. Pentagon officials described him as being "concerned and disturbed" by the allegations.

US Senate Panel Votes 15-3 to Arm Syrian Rebels; Is 1st Time US Endorsed Mil. Action against Assad

A U.S. Senate panel voted on May 21 to provide weapons to rebels battling the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad  -- the first time lawmakers have endorsed the aggressive U.S. military step of arming the opposition in the two-year-old Syrian civil war -- the Creeping Sharia website reports today (May 23, 2013).

With much caution, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 15-3 for a bill that would provide lethal assistance and military training to rebel groups in Syria, and would slap sanctions on any nation that sells oil or transfers arms to the Assad regime such as Iran and Russia.

The measure also establishes a $250 million fund to aid in the transition if and when Assad is overthrown.

Only three senators opposed the legislation: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a potential presidential candidate in 2016, and Democratic Sens. Tom Udall of New Mexico and Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Turkey Is Building $100M Mosque in Maryland; Will Be Largest Islamic Architecture Site in West

The Islamist government of Turkey is building a 15-acre, $100 million mega-mosque in Lanham, Maryland, the Clarion Project website reports today (May 22, 2013). Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan visited the site on May 15 in a ceremony that was attended by leaders of two groups linked to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.

The state of Maryland was officially represented at the event by its Secretary of State John McDonough.

The mega-mosque is called the Turkish American Culture and Civilization Center, and it is expected to become the largest and most striking example of Islamic architecture in the western hemisphere when it is finished in 2014.

On May 15, Prime Minister Erdogan spoke to hundreds of people at the construction site and said he would come back for the opening ceremony next year. Since taking office in 2003, Erdogan has been implementing his Islamist agenda, slowly but steadily changing Turkey from a secular democracy to an Islamist nation. The mosque being built in Maryland conveys Erdogan's desire to increase the Islamist influence in America.

Misdemeanor Charges to Be Lodged on 3 Students; Students Carved a Swastika on Jewish Girl's Locker

Police in East Lansing, Michigan are seeking malicious destruction of property charges against three high school students after a Jewish classmate found a swastika carved into her locker, the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (May 22, 2013).

East Lansing police told the Lansing State Journal newspaper that the department, school administrators, and the girl's family agreed the best way to handle the incident was for the three classmates to be charged with the misdemeanor.

The Ingham County prosecutor's office plans to review the case and determine what charges might be brought.

School officials -- not wanting to be specific -- say "appropriate disciplinary actions" have been taken against the three students.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Pope Slams "Savage Capitalism" in Speech to Poor; Calls for a Revival of Values of Generosity, Charity

Pope Francis today (May 21, 2013) criticized what he called "savage capitalism" on a visit to a food kitchen, in an address in which he called for the values of generosity and charity to be revived, the Reuters website reports.

"A savage capitalism has taught the logic of profit at any cost, of giving in order to get, of exploitation without thinking of people... and we see the results in the crisis we are experiencing," the pope said.

Francis greeted the men and women coming to the "Gift of Maria" food kitchen, located at the walls of the Vatican.

The first non-European pontiff in centuries, the Argentine-born pope last week called for financial reform, condemning a "dictatorship of the economy" and a "cult of money." Since becoming pope in March, Francis has emphasized that he wants the 1.2-billion-member Catholic Church to help the poor and be more austere itself.

School in Vienna Ordered to Remove All Crosses; Atheists Now Comprise One-Third of Austrian Pop.

A public school in Vienna, Austria has removed the crosses from all classes, the Austrian Times website reports today (May 21, 2013). This was sparked by the mother of a pupil who believed the crosses  reflected religious paternalism, as less than half of the pupils were registered as Christians.

According to the initiative "Religion is a private matter," several similar complaints exist at a special registration office.

It is expected that additional parents will now claim their right of freedom from religion in Austria's public schools.

Austria's secularism has grown significantly in recent years -- due mainly to the revelation of a multitude of Catholic clergy abuse cases -- so that about one-third of Austria's eight million people are now atheists.

Monday, May 20, 2013

US Report: Rel. Freedom Is Declining Worldwide; Sees "Continued Global Increase in Anti-Semitism"

Religious freedom is on the decline in many parts of the world, according to a new report from the U.S. State Department, which calls the trend "worrying," the Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty website reports today (May 20, 2013).

The 2012 International Religious Freedom Report also documents what it calls "a continued global increase in anti-Semitism."

Secretary of State John Kerry released the annual report -- which surveys almost 200 countries and territories -- at the State Department in Washington, D.C. on May 20. He told reporters that the "freedom to profess and practice one's faith, to believe, or not to believe, or to change one's beliefs is a birthright of every human being."

The report found that China, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Central Asian countries remain among the world's most difficult places to worship freely, but it also noted that many countries around the world have authoritarian leaders who restrict and repress religious thought and practice. Some government officials go so far as to punish individuals for holding their religious beliefs, and deny them their judicial rights.

Jihad Leader Rips Recent Israeli Strike on Syria; Claims It Is Time for Muslims to Wipe Out Israel

Representative of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement to Tehran, Nasser Abusharif, strongly condemned the recent Israeli air raid on Syria, and called on all Islamic states to confront the Zionist regime's aggressive moves to prevent similar events in the future, the Jihad Watch website reports today (May 20, 2013).

Abusharif said yesterday that the recent Israeli airstrike on Syria was "a blatant violation of an independent state."

He added, "We in the Islamic Jihad Movement condemn the attack and, of course, this opposition should not be limited to criticism and condemnation in words. Rather, we want confrontation with this occupying enemy because we blame a major part of the regional problems on this occupying regime and the western plots which are hatched and exercised in support of this regime."

Abusharif concluded, "Arab and Islamic nations could counter this Zionist enemy through unity and solidarity, and prevent it from repeating its aggressions against Muslim territories. It is the time for the Islamic Ummah (community) to confront this cancerous tumor and wipe it out from the region."

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Iran Hangs One Spy for Israel and Another for US; Gave Secret Info to Israeli Spy Agency and to CIA

Two convicted spies were hanged in Iran today (May 19, 2013), according to the Big News Network website.

The spies -- who worked for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Israeli Mossad spy agency -- were sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Court.

The two have been identified as Mohammad Heidari, a Mossad agent, and Kourosh Ahmadi, who was convicted of working for the CIA.

Heidari had allegedly received large sums of money from the Mossad for providing it with classified information about Iran. Ahmadi was charged with contacting CIA agents to provide them with secret intelligence on Iran.

TX Judge Orders Lesbians Live Apart or Lose Kids; Can Do So as Same Sex Marriage Is Illegal in Texas

A Texas judge has ordered a lesbian couple to live apart or give up custody of their children, the Raw Story website reports today (May 19, 2013).

Judge John Roach of McKinney, Texas has given Page Price 30 days to move out of the home she shares with Carolyn Compton and Compton's two children from a previous marriage because he does not approve of Compton and Price's "lifestyle."

Roach has placed a "morality clause" in Compton's divorce papers, which forbids Compton from having anyone she is not related to "by blood or marriage" in her home past 9:00 p.m. if the children are present. Same sex marriage is illegal in Texas, so by law, Compton cannot live with Price if she wishes to retain custody of her children.

Compton said that her ex-husband rarely bothers to see the children, and that she and Price have been living  together for three years. The two women are working with attorneys to determine what steps -- if any -- they can take to fight Texas' conservative court system.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Afghan's Parliament Blocks Women's Rights Laws; Fails to Pass Law Banning Violence against Women

Fearing it would be violating Islamic doctrine, Afghanistan's parliament  failed to pass a law banning violence against women -- a severe blow to progress made in women's rights since the Taliban was toppled over a decade ago -- the Al Jazeera (Arabic)  website reports today (May 18, 2013).

President Hamid Karzai approved the law decree in 2009 and parliament's endorsement was required. But a rift between conservative and more secular members of the assembly resulted in debate being deferred to a later date.

Religious members objected to at least eight articles in the legislation, including keeping the legal age for women to marry at 16, the existence of shelters for domestic abuse victims, and the halving of the number of wives permitted to two.

"Today (May 18), the parliamentarians who oppose women's development, women's rights, and the success of women... made their voices loud and clear," Fawzia Koofi, head of parliament's women's commission, said. Women have won back the hard-fought right to education and work since the Taliban was toppled 12 years ago, but there are fears that these freedoms could shrink once American and NATO-led forces leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Activist Fined for Libeling Russian Orth.Church; Accused Patriarch of "Trading in House of God"

A Moscow court fined the head of a consumer rights group 100,000 rubles (about $3,200) yesterday for libeling a Russian religious foundation, the RIA Novosti (Russian) website reports today (May 18, 2013).

In an interview with Novaya Gazeta last September, Mikhail Anshakov -- the head of Russia's consumer rights watchdog -- claimed the Christ the Savior Orthodox Cathedral in downtown Moscow housed a business center including the offices of 15 commercial firms, a tire-changing service, a dry-cleaners, a parking lot, a cafeteria, and jewelry shops.

Anshakov also accused Russian Orthodox Church head Patriarch Kirill of "trading in the House of God" and appealed to the state prosecutor to investigate what he said was the inappropriate use of the cathedral by the Christ the Savior Cathedral Foundation, which oversees trade at the church.

The appeal was unsuccessful, and the Cathedral Foundation's head, Vasily Poddevalin, accused Anshakov of libel. Anshakov -- who was not present in Moscow's Presnensky District Court yesterday -- denied he committed libel, and said he had only passed judgment, which was not subject to prosecution.

Friday, May 17, 2013

One Dead, Many Hurt in Egypt Sectarian Fights; Quarrel of Christian and Muslim Sparks Clashes

One person died and dozens were wounded during clashes between Muslims and Christians tonight (May 17, 2013) outside a Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria -- Egypt's second largest city -- in the latest violent sectarian row in the Muslim-majority country, according to the Yahoo News website.

A quarrel between two young men -- one Christian and one Muslim -- morphed into a family feud that sparked clashes in a western district of Alexandria.

The two sides threw firebombs at each other before security forces intervened and cordoned off the area around the church.

Police arrested eight people after about two hours of fighting, a security source said. Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt's 84 million population and have complained that the authorities have failed to protect them since Hosni Mubarak was overthrown as president in February 2011 -- especially since the election of radical Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in June.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem Protest Draft; Secular Majority in Israel Push for Equal Duties

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews protested in Jerusalem yesterday against plans to enlist men from their community into the military, a proposal supported by the secular majority pushing for a more equal share of the burden on Israeli society, the Reuters website reports today (May 17, 2013).

A sea of black coats -- the traditional attire of ultra-Orthodox men -- engulfed Jerusalem streets near the city's military draft bureau, where the crowd heard rabbis warn that army service of ultra-Orthodox Jews would irreparably harm their way of life.

"The government wants to uproot (our traditions) and secularize us, they call it a melting pot, but people cannot be melted. You cannot change our (way of life)," Rabbi David Zycherman told the crowd in an anguished plea.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said at least 20,000 protesters took part and about a dozen arrests were made when violence erupted and men hurled bottles and stones at officers -- some on horseback -- who used stun grenades to quell the unrest. At least six officers required medical treatment and two were taken to a hospital, Rosenfeld added.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Robertson:Woman Can Forgive Cheating Spouse; "He's a Man, Males Have a Tendency to Wander"

Pat Robertson -- the 83-year-old televangelist and former Southern Baptist minister -- has advice for women who are struggling to forgive their cheating husbands: "Well, he's a man," the Alter Net website reports.

On TV's 700 Club program today (May 16, 2013), Robertson told a woman whose husband was cheating on her that she should stop focusing on the adultery and instead ponder, "Does he provide a home for you to live in, does he provide food for you to eat, does he provide clothes for you to wear, is he nice to the children... is he handsome?"

After encouraging the woman to focus on the positives rather than her husband's adultery -- which Robertson imagined to be a one-night stand with a stripper in a hotel room -- he said she should "give him honor instead of trying to worry about it."

He also suggested the woman could have done more to have prevented her husband from cheating: "But recognize also, like it or not, males have a tendency to wander a little bit and what you want to do is make a home so wonderful that he doesn't want to wander."

This scenario brings back memories of former President Bill Clinton's wife Hillary forgiving him, after she learned that he had been cheating with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Pope Slams "Cult of Money" That Tyrannizes Poor; Wants Global Financial System to Be More Ethical

Pope Francis denounced the global financial system today (May 16, 2013), blasting the "cult of money" that he says is tyrannizing the poor and turning humans into expendable consumer goods, according to the Associated Press website.

In his first major speech on the subject as pope, Francis demanded that financial and political leaders reform the global financial system to make it more ethical and concerned for the common good. He said: "Money has to serve, not rule!"

This is a message Francis delivered on many occasions when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina, and it is one that was often stressed by retired Pope Benedict XVI.

Francis -- who has made it clear that the poor are his priority -- delivered the speech in Vatican City, where he greeted his first group of new ambassadors accredited to the Holy See.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Brazil Gives the Green Light to Same-Sex Marriage; Gay Couples Cannot Be Denied Marriage Licenses

Brazil -- which has more Catholics than any other country in the world -- has given a de facto green light to same-sex marriage, the Catholic News website reports today (May 15, 2013).

In a bold stride for the nation with 123 million Roman Catholics, the National Council of Justice -- a panel which oversees Brazil's legal system and is headed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court -- said government offices that issue marriage licenses had no standing to reject gay couples.

"This is equivalent of authorizing same-sex marriage in Brazil," said Raquel Pereira de Castro Araujo, head of the human rights committee of the Brazilian bar association. Brazil joins Argentina and Uruguay as the only other Latin American nations to legalize same-sex marriage.

Brazil's Supreme Court Chief Justice Joaquim Barbosa explained that there was no reason for government marriage licensing offices to wait for Congress to pass a law on same-sex marriage before extending gays the rights they legally already have. Barbosa noted that the Supreme Court in 2011 recognized stable homosexual unions, ruling that the constitution guaranteed them the same rights as heterosexual couples.

German Homeschool Family Loses Asylum Case; Home School Legal Defense Assoc.Appeals Ruling

A U.S. appeals court sided with the U.S. Justice Department yesterday and denied asylum for the Romeike family, the Christian Post website reports today (May 15, 2013). The family fled from Germany after they were threatened with the possibility of losing custody of their children when they decided to homeschool  and refused to send their children to the German public schools, which they believe are sacrilegious.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio agreed with the Justice Department, in Romeike vs. Holder, that the freedom to homeschool one's children is not among the fundamental rights protected for asylum seekers.

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) -- which represented the Romeikes in the case -- said it will appeal the decision.

"We believe the Sixth Circuit is wrong, and we will appeal their decision," said Michael Farris, HSLDA founder and chairman. He added, "America has room for this family, and we will do everything we can to help them."

Report: Online Anti-Semitism in Prague Tripled; Increase Blamed on Jewish Pol's Presidential Bid

The Jewish community of Prague in the Czech Republic documented a tripling of online instances of anti-Semitic hate speech last year, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (May 15, 2013).

The increase -- which the community links to a Jewish politician's presidential bid -- was documented in an annual report on anti-Semitism published yesterday.

The community documented 82 instances of online hate speech on Czech websites in the last year, compared to only 26 the previous year.

The report attributes the increase to the presidential campaign ahead of elections last January. Jan Fischer -- a Jewish politician -- was considered a leading candidate, but did not make it past the first round. The report also states that the overall prevalence of anti-Semitism is lower in the Czech Republic than in most other European countries.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Fort Hood Assault Prevention Head Investigated; May Have Run Prostitution Ring, Abused Women

A sergeant in charge of sexual assault prevention at Fort Hood in Texas is under investigation for sexual assault, the Pentagon announced tonight (May 14, 2013), according to the USA Today website.

The soldier -- whose name has not yet been released -- is being investigated for abusive sexual contact, pandering, assault, and maltreatment of subordinates.

The soldier is being investigated for -- among other things -- forcing a subordinate into prostitution and sexually assaulting two others, according to a Capital Hill staffer who has been briefed on the case and spoke about it on condition of anonymity.

Two Pentagon officials -- who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is under investigation -- also confirmed that the sergeant is being investigated for running a prostitution ring.

This revelation is the latest in a string of sex-abuse scandals to rock the military in recent weeks. Last week, the Pentagon estimated that sexual assaults in the military surged by 35 percent from 2010 to 2012, totaling 26,000.

Greek Govt. Will Pay for First Mosque in Athens; No Minaret So It Can Blend in with Its Ambiance

Although the Greek government will pay for Greece's first mosque in the Athens neighborhood of Votanikos, it will not allow a minaret on the mosque, Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos stated in a letter to the Parliament, the Greek Reporter website reports today (May 14, 2013).

Avramopoulos said that the mosque -- which will have a capacity of 350 -- will be developed at an existing state building -- an unused naval base that will be renovated in an industrial area. He added that a minaret would not be harmonious with the surroundings.

"The matter of the construction of a mosque has bothered the State bodies in a long term, so as the best possible solution for the maintenance of the integral balance and safety would be found," Avramopoulos reported. He added, "at the same time, it is a standing request of the Muslim residents of Greece."

Currently, Athens is the only capital city in all of Europe that does not have a mosque. More than 90 percent of Greece's population belongs to the Greek Orthodox Church.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Saudi Man Flies to Detroit with Pressure Cooker; Arrested for Giving False Account of Its Purpose

A Saudi Arabian Muslim was arrested in Detroit and charged with making a false statement about why he brought a pressure cooker with him on a flight from Amsterdam, according to a criminal complaint filed today (May 13, 2013), the Reuters website reports. He was also charged with altering his passport because a page was torn out of the document.

Hussain al-Khawahir, 33, arrived at the Detroit airport on May 11 and was questioned about why he had brought a pressure cooker with him. He initially said the pressure cooker was for his nephew.

"The defendant then changed his story and admitted his nephew had purchased a pressure cooker in America before, but it was cheap and broke after the first use," the complaint said.

Pressure cookers -- packed with explosive powder and shrapnel -- were set off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, where they killed three people and injured 264. The bombs -- left on the ground -- caused gruesome injuries with more than 10 people losing limbs

Prosecutors Call for 6 Years of Jail for Berlusconi; Italian Billionaire Accused of Paying Minor for Sex

Italian prosecutors today (May 13, 2013) called for a six-year jail sentence and a lifetime ban on holding public office for former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, charged with abuse of office and paying for sex with a minor, according to the World News website.

The 76-year-old billionaire media tycoon is accused of paying for sex with Karima El Mahroug -- better known by her stripper stage name "Ruby the Heartstealer" -- when she was under 18, during the now notorious "bunga bunga" parties at his villa at Arcore near Milan in 2010.

However, prosecutors argued the far more serious charge was that Berlusconi abused the powers of his office during a separate incident by arranging for her to be released from police custody where she was being held on theft charges.

They requested five years imprisonment for that and a year for paying for sex with a minor. The verdict is expected on June 24.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Justice Ginsburg Appraises Roe V. Wade Decision; Says Court Should Have Limited Decision to Texas

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg -- a strong supporter of a woman's right to choose -- is nonetheless not a big fan of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion from coast to coast, as she believes that decision went too far too fast, the Inquisitr website reports today (May 12, 2013).

Ginsburg declared last night (May 11) at the University of Chicago that the decision was an overreach by the High Court and politicized the controversial issue to the point of making it a relentless target for opponents. She also suggested that the decision had the unintended consequence of giving momentum to the pro-life movement which to some degree is playing out at the state level now.

Instead, the court should have issued a much narrower ruling that focused only on weighing the merits or demerits of the law in the state where the abortion rights lawsuit got its start, according to Ginsburg. In Roe v. Wade, the court should have steered away from a sweeping legalization of abortion, Ginsburg argued. Instead, a ruling should have taken the narrower approach of deeming unconstitutional the Texas law that spawned the case, which only allowed abortions deemed life-saving for a woman, she said.

The justice also criticized the 14th Amendment privacy-based Roe decision for being too doctor-centered rather than women's rights-centered.

Israeli Police Mistreated Orthodox Clergy at Easter; Israel Apologizes to Egypt for Coptic Cleric Incident

A dozen senior church leaders in the Holy Land say Israeli police mistreated clergy -- including a Coptic Orthodox Egyptian cleric -- during Orthodox Easter services, the Canada website reports today (May 12, 2013). Orthodox Easter was celebrated on May 5 this year.

The leaders signed a letter on May 5 expressing concern and saying policemen allegedly used force and prevented clergymen and pilgrims from entering places of worship during Holy Saturday (May 4).

The event drew thousands of Christians to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem's Old City and hundreds of Israeli police were on guard during the day.

A spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry, Paul Hirschson, said Israel apologized this week to Egypt for the incident on Holy Saturday, which involved a Coptic Egyptian cleric. He added the incident was being investigated.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

COMMENTARY: Boston College Is Wrong to Have a Pro-Abortion Commencement Speaker

Boston College -- a Catholic institution of higher learning -- has received much criticism lately for choosing Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny to deliver its commencement address and to receive an honorary degree on May 20, because Kenny's government has introduced legislation that may soon legalize abortion in Ireland.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the archbishop of the Boston Archdiocese, said he will boycott Boston College's commencement, since he is opposed to BC having a speaker who supports abortion. By tradition, the Boston archbishop delivers the final benediction at BC's commencement each year.

O'Malley said that Catholic bishops in the United States have urged Catholic institutions of higher learning not to honor government officials whose views on abortion are inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

By choosing Kenny as its graduation speaker, BC has disobeyed this directive of Cardinal O'Malley; therefore, we agree that BC is wrong to have a speaker who supports abortion.

Although BC argues that its invitation to Kenny as its commencement speaker is "independent" of the abortion bill currently being considered in Ireland, such an argument is invalid, because one cannot ignore Kenny's support of the abortion bill.

One would think that BC should know better than to have a pro-abortion commencement speaker -- especially since BC is a Catholic institution of higher learning, and the Catholic Church is adamantly opposed to abortion.

In fact, the Catholic Church views abortion as the murder of an innocent human life. But BC does not seem to care about that, nor does it care about violating a critical doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church.

All in all, for a Catholic university to convey such a sacrilegious attitude sends a sad message to all Christians -- a message that says, in effect, "Boston College has the right to do as it pleases, even if its decision contradicts Catholic doctrine and the teachings of Christ."

Pope Francis and Coptic Orth. Pope Meet in Rome; Promote Ecumenical Dialogue as Prelude to Unity

The head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II -- Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark -- met with Pope Francis yesterday (May 10) in a historical meeting held in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City, the Zenit website reports today (May 11, 2013).

This is the first time in 40 years that a Coptic Pope has met with the Pope of Rome. On May 10, 1973, Pope Shenouda III met with Pope Paul VI and signed an important Christological Declaration in common and initiated bilateral ecumenical dialogue between the two Churches.

"May this visit of love and brotherhood be the first of a long series between our two great Churches. Therefore, I propose that the 10th of May of each year should be considered as a celebration of brotherly love between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church," the Pope of Alexandria said.

He added, "Both Churches, the Catholic and the Coptic, have always worked together, in the Middle East and in the Western World, to make peace prevail. The most important aim for both is the promotion of ecumenical dialogue in order to get to the most pursued goal: unity."

Friday, May 10, 2013

Turkey Uncovers a Plot to Kill Orthodox Patriarch; Nabs Man Planning to Kill Patriarch Bartholomew

Turkey is investigating an alleged plot to assassinate Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew -- spiritual leader of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians -- and has stepped up security around the patriarchate in Istanbul, the Charisma News website reports today (May 10, 2013).

Spokesman Dositheos Anagnostopoulos said the patriarch had not received any direct threats but had learned of the alleged plot from Turkish media, which was later confirmed to the patriarchate by Turkish police.

"Later in the day, police informed the patriarchate of a possible threat and dispatched additional police officers," Anagnostopoulos said.

Turkish broadcaster NTV said one man had been arrested in relation to the plot, after state prosecutors in central Kayseri province received an anonymous letter saying there was a plan to assassinate Bartholomew on May 29 -- the anniversary of the Ottoman conquest of present-day Istanbul. It added that police were still searching for two men in relation to the plot.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley to Boycott BC Graduation; Due to Speaker Who Supports Abortion in Ireland

Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley -- the archbishop of the Boston Archdiocese -- said today (May 10, 2013) he will boycott Boston College's commencement on May 20 because the scheduled speaker, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, supports controversial abortion-rights legislation in his country, according to the Boston website. By tradition, the Boston archbishop delivers the final benediction at Boston College's commencement each year.

In a statement released this afternoon, O'Malley said the Catholic Bishops in the United States have urged Catholic institutions of higher learning not to honor government officials whose views on the issue are inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

The Irish legislation that Kenny supports would permit abortions if there is a real and substantive threat to the mother's life, including from suicide.

"Since the university has not withdrawn the invitation and because the prime minister has not seen fit to decline, I shall not attend the graduation," O'Malley said in a statement. He added, "It is my ardent hope that Boston College will work to redress the confusion, disappointment and harm caused by not adhering to the Bishops' directives."

By having the pro-abortion Kenny as its graduation speaker, Boston College has, in effect, lost the respect it had as a Catholic institution of higher learning, and has produced an air of discord and anger among Catholics in the United States -- a discord that will take many years before it can possibly be healed.

Cal.Woman to Be Ordained Cath.Priest Tomorrow; Maureen Mancuso,59, to Be Expelled for Doing So

Maureen Mancuso has always felt compelled to minister for the Roman Catholic Church. Now, she's facing excommunication for what she will do tomorrow (May 11): become the first woman of her faith ordained a priest in Northern California, the California Catholic Daily website reports today (May 10, 2013).

"We feel the call by God, and God for us is a higher authority," she said. "I think the church has to recognize that it does have the power to ordain women, and that women can be woven into the tradition."

Mancuso, 59, of San Ramon, is a member of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests, an international group that says it has ordained about 150 women as priests, bishops, and deacons worldwide. The Catholic Church says the practice goes against the church's official canon, and women who seek the ordinations automatically are expelled from the church.

Mancuso -- who was born in San Francisco and is now a teacher -- attended seminary and earned a master's degree in divinity in 1996 from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

FBI Failed to Inform Boston Police of Terrorists; This Failure May Have Led to Bombers' Success

The FBI never told Boston police or the Massachusetts State Police about possible Russian terror connections of the suspected Marathon bombers until three and a half days after the attack, law enforcement officials testified today (May 9, 2013) before the House Homeland Security Committee, according to the ABC News website.

"My fear is that Boston bombers succeeded because our system failed," said committee chairman Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas).

Boston police commissioner Ed Davis told McCaul that his department was not told before the bombing that the FBI had opened an investigation into Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011, or that Tsarnaev had traveled to the predominantly Muslim-inhabited North Caucasus region of Russia in 2012, even though he had three detectives and a sergeant assigned to the Joint Terror Task Force with the FBI.

"Would you have liked to have known that?" asked McCaul. "Yes," said Davis, although he did say later that it was not clear if that knowledge would have prevented the bombings.

Islamic Cleric in Gaza Says Israel Should Not Exist; Tells Hamas Terror Group to Fire Rockets on Israel

A prominent Islamic scholar -- making a landmark visit to the Gaza Strip -- declared today (May 9, 2013) that Israel has no right to exist and voiced his support for rocket fire on Israel, giving a boost of legitimacy to the militant Islamist Hamas rulers of the Palestinian territory, according to the Yahoo News website.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi is the latest of a few high profile figures to visit Gaza, boosting the Hamas effort to break its international isolation. The U.S., EU, and Israel brand Hamas a terror group, while the rival Fatah -- which rules the West Bank -- enjoys Western backing.

Al-Qaradawi issued the strongest anti-Israel declarations of any of the visitors to date.

"This land has never once been a Jewish land. Palestine is for the Arab Islamic nation," said al-Qaradawi, a Qatar-based cleric made famous by his popular TV show and widely respected in the Muslim world. "The rockets made in Gaza are more powerful than the (Israeli) occupation's rockets," he added.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

No. of Sexual Attacks in Mil. Enrages Pres. Obama; Pentagon Study:26,000 Sexually Assaulted in 2012

The problem of sexual assault in the military jumped to the forefront in Washington, D.C. yesterday as the Pentagon released a survey estimating that 26,000 people in the armed forces were sexually assaulted last year, up from 19,000 in 2010, and an angry President Obama and Congress demanded action, the New York Times website reports today (May 8, 2013).

The study, based on a confidential survey sent to 108,000 active-duty service members, was released two days after Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski -- the officer in charge of sexual assault prevention programs for the Air Force -- was arrested and charged with sexual battery for grabbing a woman's breasts and buttocks in an Arlington, Virginia parking lot.

At a White House news conference, Obama expressed exasperation with the Pentagon's attempts to bring sexual assault under control. "The bottom line is, I have no tolerance for this," Obama said. "If we find out somebody's engaging in this stuff, they've got to be held accountable, prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period."

The president added that he had ordered Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel "to step up our game exponentially" to prevent sex crimes and said he wanted military victims of sexual assault to know that "I've got their backs."

FYROM Bishop Blames Women for Divorce Rise; Says Wife Must Be Subordinate to Her Husband

Bishop Petar -- a leading Orthodox Christian bishop in FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) -- has upset many human rights activists by blaming the increased divorce rate on women, the Balkan Insight website reports today (May 8, 2013).

Commenting on statistics showing that the trend towards an increase in divorce continued in  2012, Bishop Petar said that "Many marriages unfortunately fall apart because of vanity, because both partners want to be in charge, forgetting that the man is the head of the household and the woman is subordinate to the husband."

He added, "This is not in the sense that she is deprived of her rights. She enjoys even greater rights than the husband, because she is the one who raises the children and she is the soul of the family."

The remarks from a senior cleric in the largest religious community in FYROM have angered human rights activists. "For a long time, a woman's role in Macedonia has been portrayed solely as a mother and a wife, which represents breach of equality and direct discrimination against women based on sex and gender,"  the NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) said in their united response.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Boston College Rebuked for Pro-Abortion Speaker; Card. Newman Soc. Rips Irish PM as Grad Honoree

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny -- whose coalition government recently introduced legislation to legalize abortion in Ireland -- is scheduled to deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree on May 20 at Boston College, a Catholic and Jesuit institution, the Cardinal Newman Society website reports today (May 7, 2013). 

"The American bishops have clearly opposed Catholic honors for pro-abortion politicians in their 2004 statement 'Catholics in Political Life' and their very public criticism of Notre Dame's honors to President Barack Obama in 2009," said Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society.

"By honoring Kenny as a commencement speaker and degree recipient, Boston College is blatantly compromising its Catholic mission and undermining the Church's unequivocal opposition to abortion," Reilly added. 

In letters today, The Cardinal Newman Society asked Rev. William Leahy -- president of Boston College -- to rescind the invitation to Kenny, and shared its concerns with Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley.

AF Sex Assault Protector Arrested for Sex Assault; Col. Jeffrey Krusinski Charged with Sexual Battery

The officer in charge of a program to curb sexual assault in the U.S. Air Force was arrested May 5 for allegedly grabbing a woman by her breasts and buttocks in a parking lot not far from the Pentagon, the Reuters website reports today (May 7, 2013).

Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski, 41, was arrested on Sunday and charged with sexual battery after the alleged incident in the Crystal City area of suburban Arlington, Virginia, officials said.

Krusinski -- the head of the Air Force's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office -- was removed from his job on May 6, pending an investigation.

News of the arrest came as the Pentagon is preparing to release its annual report on the growing problem of sexual assault in the military. Pentagon officials have said the actual number of sexual assaults in the military -- including those that go unreported -- is as many as 19,000 a year.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Ohio Cath. School Fires Teacher Who Is a Lesbian; Diocese Says Lesbians Violate Teachings of Christ

A Catholic high school in Columbus, Ohio is being targeted for possible legal action because school officials fired a veteran teacher at the school after they discovered that she is a lesbian, The New American website reports today (May 6, 2013).

Carla Hale -- a Methodist who taught for 19 years at Bishop Watterson High School -- told the Columbus Dispatch newspaper that she was terminated in March after a parent noticed an obituary for Hale's mother that included the name of Hale's lesbian partner.

The parent complained to school officials, resulting in Hale being fired from her job as a teacher and coach. Hale has hired an attorney in an effort to be reinstated, since a Columbus city ordinance "makes it a misdemeanor for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on sexual orientation."

A letter to Hale from school officials recounted the policy of the diocese, which reads: "In keeping with the moral values advanced by the teachings of Christ, the tenets of the Catholic Church, and the policies and regulations of the diocese and school, Catholic school personnel are expected to be examples of moral behavior and professionalism." The letter then informed Hale: "Your written spousal relationship violates the moral laws of the Catholic Church.... As a result, your contract with Bishop Watterson High School is terminated effective Thursday March 28, 2013."

Bishop McManus of Worcester Is Arrested for DUI; "I Ask Forgiveness from the Good People I Serve"

Bishop Robert J. McManus -- head of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts since 2004 -- was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) this past weekend, after police stopped him in Narragansett, Rhode Island, the Boston Globe website reports today (May 6, 2013).

McManus was arrested at 10:32 p.m. Saturday (May 4) on charges of drunken driving, leaving the scene of an accident, and refusing a chemical test, Narragansett Police Captain Sean Coorigan said. McManus is to be arraigned tomorrow (May 7) in district court in Wakefield, Rhode Island.

"I made a terrible error in judgment by driving after having consumed alcohol with dinner," McManus said in a statement. "There is no excuse for the mistake I made, only a commitment to make amends and accept the consequences of my action."

"More importantly," he added, "I ask forgiveness from the good people whom I serve, as well as my family and friends, in the Diocese of Worcester and the Diocese of Providence." Before becoming head of the Diocese of Worcester, McManus served as head of the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island for several years.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Hungary's PM Slams Anti-Semitism in His Nation; But Jews Upset He Didn't Decry Anti-Semitic Party

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban today (May 5, 2013) strongly denounced growing anti-Semitism in Hungary -- the most prevalent in all of eastern Europe --  but stopped short of censuring the far-right anti-Semitic Jobbik party his audience of world Jewish leaders most wanted him to scold, according to the Reuters website.

Orban told the World Jewish Congress (WJC) -- which is holding its four-yearly assembly in Hungary to highlight its concern about rising hostility toward Jews there and elsewhere in Europe -- that anti-Semitism was "unacceptable and intolerable."

He recounted the steps his conservative government has taken to outlaw hate crimes and preserve the memory of the Holocaust, in which over a half-million Hungarian Jews died.

But he did not respond to a call from WJC President Ronald Lauder, who in his opening remarks singled out Jobbik and told Orban "Hungarian Jews need you to take on these dark forces." After Orban's speech, a WJC statement said: "The prime minister did not confront the true nature of the problem: the threat posed by the anti-Semites in general and by the extreme-right Jobik party in particular."

300M Orth. Christians Celebrate Easter Today; Month After Cath. Easter Due to Diff. Calendars

While most Christians celebrated Easter over a month ago, as a result of differing calendar calculations, Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter today (May 5, 2013), according to the Huffington Post website.

At midnight on Saturday (May 4), some 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide swarmed churches to hear the words : "Come, receive the light!"

Last night, throughout the world, entire congregations, previously waiting in darkness, lit candles at midnight to celebrate Christ's Resurrection.

Together, they all chanted in various languages -- depending on their geography and culture -- the triumphant hymn familiar to young and old: "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling death by death, and granting life to those in the tombs." In the United States, for example, millions of Greek Americans greet people on Easter with the words "Christos Anesti!" (Christ Is Risen!).

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Saudi Arabia Lets Private School Girls Play Sports; Throws a New "Bread Crumb" to Women's Rights

Saudi Arabian girls will be allowed to play sports in private schools for the first time, according to a decision announced today (May 4, 2013), the latest in a series of incremental changes aimed at slowly increasing women's rights in the ultraconservative kingdom, according to the Yahoo News website.

Saudi Arabia's official press agency, SPA, reported that private girls' schools are now allowed to hold sports activities in accordance with the rules of Shariah, or Islamic law. Students must adhere to "decent dress" codes and Saudi women teachers will be given priority in supervising the activities, according to the Education Ministry's requirements.

The decision makes sports once again a stage for the push to improve women's rights -- nearly a year after two Saudi female athletes made an unprecedented appearance at the Olympics. Saudi women are bound by strict rules when it comes to their attire, so they cannot, for example, be seen by men while jogging in sweat pants and sweaters.

"It's about time," said Aziza Youssef, a professor at King Saud University. "Everything is being held back in Saudi Arabia as far as women's rights."

Obama Flip-Flops on Sending U.S. Troops to Syria; Had Vowed to Send Them If Syria Used Chemicals

President Obama last night did a flip-flop on his policy on Syria by ruling out sending U.S. troops to that nation, despite the fact that he had definitively asserted that he would do so over a year ago, if Syria used chemical weapons in its civil war against its rebels, the Washington Times website reports today (May 4, 2013).

Scientists have confirmed that Syrian President Assad did, in fact, use chemical weapons recently against Syrian rebels, which resulted in the death of several people. More than 70,000 Syrians have been killed in Syria's civil war which has been going on for over two years. Syrian rebels have said that they feel "let down" by the failure of the United States to assist them with its military power in their ongoing struggle to overthrow their dictator president.

"I do not foresee a scenario in which boots on the ground in Syria, American boots on the ground in Syria, would not only be good for America, but also would be good for Syria," Obama said last night at a news conference in San Jose, Costa Rica, where he is attending an international summit.

More than a year ago, Obama had promised to send U.S. troops to Syria if it used chemical weapons in its civil war. Now,  his complete reversal in policy has damaged his credibility and has tended to portray him as a bluff -- at least insofar as U.S. military action is concerned.

Friday, May 3, 2013

CNN Exclusive: Israel Pursued Airstrike in Syria; Due to Syria's Use of Chemicals in Its Civil War?

Israel has conducted an airstrike in Syria -- perhaps targeting a chemical weapons building -- a U.S. official said today (May 3, 2013), according to an exclusive CNN website report.

CNN quoted two unnamed U.S. officials as saying Israel most likely conducted the strike yesterday or today, and that Israel's warplanes did not enter Syrian airspace; however, the U.S. collected information showing Israeli warplanes overflying Lebanon, Syria's neighbor.

A White House spokeswoman referred questions on the CNN report to the Israeli government. The Pentagon declined to comment, as did the Israeli government.

There has been much speculation in recent days of the likelihood of a U.S. or Israeli attack on Syria, because recent tests confirm that Syria used chemical weapons in its ongoing civil war against its rebels -- in effect, killing several of them -- a month or so ago. President Obama had said -- more than a year ago -- that if Syrian President Assad used chemical weapons against Syrian rebels, the U.S. would retaliate with military action.

Billy Graham Asserts America's Crisis Is Spiritual; If We Don't Solve It US Doomed Like Past Powers

The Rev. Billy Graham -- one of the most famous evangelists in the world -- recently reminded followers of a popular speech he made in 1973, titled "The National Crisis," and said that today America is diseased by sin and faces some of its biggest challenges, the Christian Post website reports today (May 3, 2013).

"Our newspapers and our television screens are bringing news of a hundred and one dangerous problems that are rocking the world. Each day seems to add to our already impressive number of crises here at home -- an accelerating crime rate, mass murders, soaring drug use, rampant inflation, pollution, the breakdown of families, a jittery stock market, the 94-year-old evangelist said.

Reflecting on his 1973 speech -- after the Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion in the country -- Graham said that during the past year, "American people have suffered an emotional trauma that has had few parallels in our history."

Despite political tension and the still struggling economy, the evangelist said that the real crisis that confronts people in our nation is moral and spiritual, not political or economic. "If we fail to solve this moral and spiritual crisis, we may be doomed like the great nations of the past," Graham warned. He concluded that to solve our crisis, "Our nation must seek again the way of God and walk in the law of God."

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Former Pope Benedict, 86, Moves Back to Vatican; Is 1st Time a Retired Pope and Ruling Pope Coexist

Benedict XVI moved back to the Vatican today (May 2, 2013), opening an unprecedented era in Catholic Church history where an "emeritus pope" and a ruling pontiff will live as neighbors for the first time, according to the Reuters website.

Benedict -- the first pope to abdicate in 600 years -- will live out his retirement in a restored convent in the Vatican gardens with a view of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica and just a short walk from the residence of his successor, Pope Francis.

Benedict, 86, arrived by helicopter from Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence south of Rome, where he had been staying since February 28 while the convent was being restored.

Francis, 76, greeted Benedict in front of the convent, the first time they have met since March 23, when Francis visited Benedict at Castel Gandolfo and Benedict renewed a pledge of "unconditional reverence and obedience" to Francis.

Giving Food to Greeks Only Sparks Athens Protest; Greece's Golden Dawn Party Opposes Immigrants

An attempt by Greece's extremist Golden Dawn party to hand out food to Greeks only -- in defiance of a municipal ban -- resulted in chaos today (May 2, 2012) with the mayor of Athens saying a party lawmaker tried to punch him, according to the Telegraph (British) website.

The punch missed its target, landing instead on a 12-year-old girl's forehead. Fortunately, she was not seriously injured. Security guards restrained the legislator, Giorgos Germenis.

The Golden Dawn party -- whose members have been repeatedly linked with violent attacks on Greece's large immigrant population -- had said it would give food to needy Greeks in Athens' Syntagma Square, opposite Parliament, ahead of the Greek Orthodox Easter being celebrated this Sunday (May 5).

Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis had banned such events in the city's central square and vowed not to allow the "soup kitchen of hate" to take place. Party members arrived at the square more than two hours earlier than announced, and began handing out bags of food after checking recipients' identity cards.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Colorado Civil-Unions Law Goes Into Effect Today; Hundreds of Gay, Lesbian Couples Exchange Vows

Hundreds of Colorado gay and lesbian couples put an official government seal on their relationships after midnight today (May 1, 2013) after the state's civil-unions law took effect, according to the Denver Post website.

Many gay and lesbian couples received a partnership license and then exchanged vows.

The couples gushed over their opportunity to hold the first piece of government acknowledgment of their relationships, granting them many of the same rights as married couples.

The group represented a wide array of ages and races, with some in formal attire and others in jeans and T-shirts.

USCIRF Inducts 15 Into "National Hall of Shame;" Nations That Are Worst Offenders of Rel. Liberty

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has named 15 nations where abuse of religious liberty is "systematic, egregious, and ongoing," the Religion News website reports today (May 1, 2013).

Of its 15-nation list of the worse offenders, USCIRF includes eight nations that the U.S. State Department also considers "Countries of Particular Concern:" Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan.

The commission wants the State Department to add seven more: Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam.

Turkey -- which was listed as a worse offender of religious liberty by USCIRF last year -- was not listed this year. Turkey became furious last year after it was listed, and called the designation unfounded and damaging to USCIRF's reputation. Nonetheless, Turkey is still being highly criticized by the commission for failing to reopen the Greek Orthodox Halki Seminary -- located on an island off the coast of Istanbul -- which it closed down in 1971.