Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Ousted Cath.Bishops Start "The Resistance" Org.; Traditionalists Snub Pope Francis' "New Religion"

Two renegade Catholic bishops at a remote monastery in Brazil plan to consecrate a new generation of bishops to spread their ultra-traditionalist movement called "The Resistance" in defiance of the Vatican, the Religion News website reports today (March 31, 2015).

French Bishop Jean-Michel Faure -- himself consecrated only two weeks ago by the Holocaust-denying British Bishop Richard Williamson -- said the new group rejected Pope Francis and what it called his "new religion" and would not engage in a dialogue with Rome until the Vatican turned back the clock.

Williamson and Faure -- who were both excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church when the former made the latter a bishop without Vatican approval -- are ex-members of a larger dissenting group that has been a thorn in Rome's side for years.

Their splinter movement is small, but the fact they plan to consecrate bishops is important, because it means their schism can continue as a rebel form of Catholicism.

Swastikas Drawn in Dorm at Northeastern Univ.; NU Pres. Rebukes "Hateful Act" as Unacceptable

Swastikas were drawn on a dormitory board at Northeastern University's main campus in Boston, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (March 31, 2015).

The swastikas were discovered on March 29 in a common area in the International Village dorm.

Northeastern's president, Joseph Aoun, condemned what he called a "hateful act" in a statement that was emailed to students and staff, as well as posted on the university's website.

"These actions are completely antithetical to the values of our university and all that we stand for," Aoun wrote. "Bias, hate crimes, and anti-Semitism are completely unacceptable -- whether they occur on our campus, or anywhere else." Campus police are investigating.

Monday, March 30, 2015

ADL:US Anti-Semitic Incidents Rose 21% in 2014; "A Violent Year for Jews Both Overseas and in US"

Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States rose by 21 percent in 2014, according to the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) annual audit of anti-Semitism, the Forward (Jewish) website reports today (March 30, 2015).

The ADL counted 912 anti-Semitic incidents last year, up from 751 in 2013, with the period surrounding last summer's Gaza war seeing a surge of incidents. The tally included 36 cases of assault or other violence, 363 incidents of vandalism, and 513 cases of harassment, threats and events.

"2014 was a particularly violent year for Jews both overseas and in the United States," Abraham Foxman, ADL's national director, said in a statement. "Lethal anti-Semitism continues to pose a threat to American Jews and larger society as well."

"Anti-Jewish sentiment is increasing globally because of the oppressive behavior of Jews in power and their crimes against humanity," read one letter printed in Riverdale Press in New York that was included in the ADL audit.

Stanford U. Starts Far-Spreading Cheating Probe; Occurred in Winter Quarter in Many Intro Courses

Stanford University has opened a probe into allegations of widespread cheating taking place during the winter quarter in several introductory courses, the University Herald website reports today (March 30, 2015).

Provost John Etchemendy issued a letter last week to the school's faculty members mentioning "troubling allegations of academic dishonesty." He indicated that these allegations were brought to the Office of Community Standards after the winter quarter had concluded.

"In violating academic integrity," Etchemendy wrote, "they are cheating themselves of the very core of our mission -- the process of learning and discovery -- as well as risking severe consequences."

One of the most selective and academically prestigious schools in the nation, Stanford announced the admission of 2,144 students. Stanford officials are currently interviewing those students suspected of cheating.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Islamic State Group Beheads Eight Men in Syria; IS Fighter on Video Calls Them "Impure Infidels"

The Islamic State (IS) terrorist group released a new video today (March 29, 2015) showing its fighters cutting off the heads of eight men described as Shi'ite Muslims, the Voice of America News website reports.

The eight men were beheaded in the central Syrian province of Hama.

Blindfolded and with their hands tied behind their backs, the men are seen being led forward in a field by what appear to be teenage boys. A boy wearing a black uniform is seen handing out knives to the fighters before the hostages are killed.

An Islamic State fighter speaks in the video, calling the hostages "impure infidels" and saying the military campaign against the Islamic State will make the group stronger.

Arab League Agrees to Create a Joint Mil. Force; Will Battle Acts Threatening a Member's Safety

The leaders of countries in the 22-nation Arab League agreed today (March 29, 2015) to creating a joint Arab military force at a summit in Egypt, according to the USA Today website.

The decision was announced in the closing session of a two-day meeting in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The Arab League said Saudi Arabia-led airstrikes in Yemen will continue until Shiite rebels "withdraw and surrender their weapons."

The Arab League statement calls for the establishment of a voluntary military force that can counter challenges that threaten the safety and security of any member, based on a request from that nation.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Russian Orth. Priest Ousted for Comments to Mil; Urged Russian Mil. to Hit Ukraine "Fascist Scum"

The Russian Orthodox Church has suspended a priest for incendiary comments he made during a send-off for dozens of fighters preparing to join pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, the Big News Network website reports today (March 28, 2015).

Local diocese authorities in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg said in a March 26 statement that the priest, Vladimir Zaitsev, broke with the church's position on the bloody conflict in Ukraine by encouraging the Russian fighters to battle Ukrainian forces he described as "fascist scum."

They said the March 11 comments -- which were captured on film -- should not be considered a "blessing for carrying out a fratricidal war."

They added that a decision  on whether to reinstate Zaitsev will be made after the Greek Orthodox Easter (April 12). More than 6,000 people have been killed since the Ukrainian conflict began in April 2014, as Russian aggression continues in Ukraine in an effort to take control of its territory.

Black Rel. Org. Cuts 34K Churches from PCUSA; Due to PCUSA Voting to OK Same-Sex Marriage

Urging Presbyterian Church USA to "repent and be restored to fellowship," the National Black Church Initiative (NBCI) -- which represents 34,000 U.S. churches from 15 denominations -- has declared it has severed ties with PCUSA after it amended its constitution changing its definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, the Christian Post website reports today (March 28, 2015).

"NBCI and its membership base are simply standing on the Word of God within the mind of Christ. We urge our brothers and sisters of the PCUSA to repent and be restored fellowship," NBCI President Rev. Anthony Evans said.

"PCUSA's manipulation represents a universal sin against the entire church and its members. With this action, PCUSA can no longer base its teachings on 2,000 years of Christian scripture and tradition, and call itself a Christian entity in the body of Christ. It has forsaken its right by this single wrong act," added the head of the coalition, which represents 15.7 million African-Americans.

Earlier this month, the PCUSA voted to change its official definition of marriage from "a man and a woman" to "two people, traditionally a man and a woman."

Friday, March 27, 2015

ADL Slams Woman Who Likened Fiance to Dog; Says It Evokes "No Jews or Dogs Allowed" Signs

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Jewish human rights group today (March 27, 2015) criticized a "troubling" essay written by actress Lena Dunham, in which she compares her Jewish boyfriend to her dog. The ADL said the article evokes offensive stereotypes about Jews, the Algemeiner website reports.

ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said, "The piece is particularly troubling because it evokes memories of the 'No Jews or Dogs Allowed' signs from our own early history in this country, and also because, in a much more sinister way, many in the Muslim world today hatefully refer to Jews as 'dogs.'"

Dunham's controversial piece -- titled "Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz" -- was published in the March 30th issue of The New Yorker magazine. The main actress of the HBO series "Girls" asked her readers to guess whether a number of statements applied to her dog or to her Jewish boyfriend.

Among the statements in the article Dunham -- who herself is Jewish --  writes, "he expects to be waited on hand and foot by the women in his life, and anything less than that makes him whiny and distant" and "he is openly hostile toward the Hasidic community, focusing most of his rage on their bulky (but chic) fur hats."

Jewish Frat Closes Its U. of Michigan Chapter; Frat Trashed 45 Hotel Rooms,Must Pay $430K

Sigma Alpha Mu -- the historically Jewish fraternity nicknamed Sammy -- is shutting down its University of Michigan chapter, following an incident that resulted in criminal charges against its president, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (March 27, 2015).

The Ann Arbor chapter's president, Joshua Kaplan, and Zachary Levin, both 19, are facing misdemeanor charges for allowing drug and alcohol use by minors at a weekend party in January at a Michigan ski area.

The wild party at Treetops Resort left 45 hotel rooms trashed and $430,000 worth of damage and legal fees. A third fraternity member was charged with a felony, malicious destruction of a building, according to the report.

Sigma Alpha Mu's international board voted last week to shut down the chapter, and the University of Michigan called the students' behavior "reprehensible." The students have been ordered to pay restitution to the hotel and the city in which it is located, Gaylord.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Plethora of US Latinos Now Leaving Cath. Church; Latino Evangelicals Fastest-Growing US Rel. Sect

One of the most dramatic current trends in American religion is the rapid growth of Latino evangelicals, many of whom are leaving the Roman Catholic Church that has long dominated religious life in their Latin American homelands, the California Catholic website reports today (March 26, 2015).

Although the majority of American Latinos still identify as Catholic, the percentage has dropped from 67 percent in 2006 to 59 percent in 2013, according to a Pew Research study released last year.

At the same time, the number of Latinos who identify as Evangelical rose by more than a quarter -- up from 14 percent in 2006 to 18 percent in 2013, making Latino evangelicals the fastest-growing religious group in the United States.

American Latinos -- who now call themselves "Evangelicos" -- say there are several reasons that they are happier at their new churches: Being able to participate in more joyful spiritual practices; gatherings and festivities that connect to the cultural traditions of their home countries; hearing messages of hope that help them rise above hardships; and finding ways to become leaders as immigrants in a new land.

Ukraine Gets First Batch of US Armored Vehicles; Will Help Ukrainians Counter Russian Aggression

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko yesterday took delivery of 10 U.S. armored vehicles, two days after American lawmakers voted to urge President Barack Obama to provide "lethal" aid to Kiev, the Defense News website reports today (March 26, 2015).

Dressed in camouflage, the Ukraine leader thanked Washington for the 10 Humvees -- the first of 30 promised by Washington -- as they arrived at Kiev's Boryspil International Airport.

In total, the U.S. plans to send 200 regular Humvees, radios, counter-mortar radars and other non-lethal equipment worth some $75 million.

The U.S. House of Representatives on March 23 voted 348-48 in favor of putting pressure on Obama to ship "lethal defensive weapons systems" to help Kiev forces defend against Russian aggression.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Israeli VIPs: Obama More Hostile Than Europe; Obama Still Rips Netanyahu for Derailing Peace

Israeli officials in Jerusalem said today (March 25, 2015) that the Obama Administration is acting in  a manner that is more hostile to Israel than European governments, according to Israel's Walla News.

As the tensions between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu were ratcheted up by the Administration this week, the officials in Jerusalem noted the relatively positive response from Europe to Prime Minister Netanyahu's re-election last week.

Since the results of the election came in showing that Netanyahu's Likud party had won 30 seats in the Knesset, European governments -- as well as representatives of the European Union (EU) -- have been content to send congratulatory messages to Netanyahu, according to the Walla News report.

On the other hand, the officials noted, a diplomatic war has broken out between Jerusalem and Washington. "By contrast [to Europe], with the White House, not even half a minute of grace was given," said an official close to the Prime Minister. In fact, President Obama continues to scold Prime Minister Netanyahu for derailing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process by declaring before the Israeli election that he (Netanyahu) will never agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Islamic Mil. Kidnap 400 Women, Kids in Nigeria; Boko Haram Seeking to Create Nigerian Caliphate

Boko Haram militants in northern Nigeria have kidnapped more than 400 young women and children from Damasak, the Euro News website reports today (March 25, 2015).

Local residents said the Islamist militant group killed dozens of the people they captured, before fleeing with the rest of them.

In the city of Damasak, Souleymane Ali said: "They took 506 young women and children. They killed about 50 of them before leaving."

Boko Haram -- which abducted some 300 schoolgirls in northern Nigeria last April -- wants to create a caliphate in Nigeria. It agreed last week to become affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has seized large areas of land in those two nations.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Finland Implements Radical Ed Reform Program; From "Teaching by Subject" to "Teaching by Topic"

Finland -- whose school system is one of the best in the world -- has embarked on one of the most radical education reform programs ever undertaken by a nation; namely, scrapping traditional "teaching by subject" in favor of "teaching by topic," the Independent (British) website reports today (March 24, 2015).

"This is going to be a big change in education in Finland that we're just beginning," said Liisa Pohjolainen, who is in charge of youth and adult education in Helsinki -- the capital city at the forefront of the reform program. Indeed, Finland's new educational reform program is expected to be adopted by many other nations in the near future, in order to enhance the teaching-learning process and to make learning more useful for today's society.

Pasi Silander, the city's development manager, explained: "What we need now is a different kind of education to prepare people for working life. Young people use quite advanced computers. In the past the banks had lots of bank clerks totting up figures but now that has totally changed. We therefore have to make the changes in education that are necessary for industry and modern society."

Subject-specific lessons -- an hour of history in the morning, an hour of geography in the afternoon -- are already being phased out for 16-year-olds in the city's upper schools. They are being replaced by what the Finns call "phenomenon" teaching -- or teaching by topic. For instance, a teenager studying a vocational course might take "cafeteria services" lessons, which would include elements of math, languages (to help serve foreign customers), writing skills, and communication skills.

Obama OKs Easing US Afghan Troop Withdrawal; Will Retain 9800 Troops There Until End of 2015

President Obama today (March 24, 2015) met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and agreed to keep about 9,800 troops in the country through the end of this year, slowing the planned American withdrawal, according to the Washington Post website.

But Obama said that he would stick to the current plan to close the remaining American bases and consolidate U.S. forces in Kabul by the end of 2016, effectively ending the longest war in U.S. history.

"Afghanistan is still a dangerous place," but the only way for it to become less dangerous is for Afghan security forces and police to provide security in the country, Obama said.

For Ghani, the visit to Washington was a chance to show how much has changed in the U.S.-Afghan relationship in the months since he took over the presidency. Relations between Ghani's predecessor, Hamid Karzai, and the U.S. government had been steadily deteriorating for years.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Ill. State Employees Sue Over Forced Union Dues; Argue Workers Have 1st Amend. Right Not to Pay

In a lawsuit filed today (March 23, 2015), three state employees in Illinois challenged a law that forces them to pay union dies -- even when they are not in a union -- according to the Daily Caller website.

"Illinois law forces most employees of state government to pay money to a union as a condition of keeping their job," Diana Rickert, the director of media relations for the Illinois Policy Institute (IPI), noted in a statement.

Opponents of forced union dues believe nonmembers should have the right to not pay unions anything at all.

"The legal action filed today argues that state workers have a First Amendment right not to pay for speech they disagree with by an organization they don't want to support," Rickert said. The three state workers are being represented by Liberty Justice Center, the legal arm of IPI.

Archaeologists Hit Secret Nazi Lair in Argentina; Seen as a Refuge for Nazi Brass Fleeing Germany

A team of Argentine archaeologists investigating a series of ruins in the jungle -- close to the border with Paraguay -- believe they have discovered a secret Nazi lair, the Telegraph (British) website reports today (March 23, 2015).

The cluster of stone structures -- now covered by thick vines and accessible only when using a machete to cut through the undergrowth -- contains stashes of German coins from the late 1930s, fragments of "Made in Germany" porcelain, and Nazi symbols on the walls.

"We can find no other explanation as to why anyone would build these structures, at such great effort and expense, in a site which at that time was totally inaccessible, away from the local community, with material which is not typical of the regional architecture," said Daniel Schavelzon, leader of the team.

It is believed that the buildings were built in the early 1940s as a refuge for the leaders of the Third Reich, in case they needed to flee from Germany; however, that was not necessary, as Juan Peron -- president of Argentina from 1946 to 1955 -- welcomed thousands of Nazis and Italian fascists to live openly in Argentina after World War II. (Peron's wife, Eva, is still remembered today with the everlasting popular song, play, and movie titled "Don't Cry for Me Argentina.")

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Pope Francis Blasts Corruption, Drugs, the Mafia; "A Corrupt Society Stinks Like a Rotting Corpse"

Pope Francis has blasted "the stink of corruption," urged the world to treat migrants as "equal citizens," denounced underpaid labor as "slavery," and invited the Italian Mafia to repent, in a speech in Naples, the Catholic News website reports today (March 22, 2015).

During his speech yesterday, Francis called on local residents to react decisively against illegal organizations that use the drug trade to exploit and corrupt the young, the poor, and the weak.

"A corrupt society stinks like a rotting corpse," Francis said in Scampia, a Mafia-infested neighborhood in the southern Italian city of Naples. "And a Christian who becomes corrupt isn't Christian, [he] stinks!"

The Pope's comments on corruption came as he began a nine-hour rally through Naples -- a city notorious as the home of some of Italy's most infamous crime syndicates.

IS Hackers Post IDs,Photos of US Mil. Online; Urge IS Backers in US to Kill 100 Americans

The Islamic State (IS) group has reportedly posted the names, photos, and home addresses of 100 American troops, urging IS supporters in the United States to carry out attacks against them, the USA Today website reports today (March 22, 2015).

A group calling itself the Islamic State Hacking Division posted the threat on a website on March 20, stating that the troops identified carried out bombings on Islamic State targets in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan.

The group called on the troops to be killed "in their own lands" as they "walk their own streets thinking they are safe."

The list includes photos and personal data on Marines, sailors, and airmen, many of whom are pilots.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Obama Rips Bibi for Rejecting Palestinian State; Tells Him Israel Can't Exist Without Pal. State

In a fresh rebuke to Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu, President Barack Obama said the Israeli leader's pre-election disavowal of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict makes it "hard to find a path" toward serious negotiations to resolve the issue, the Reuters website reports today (March 21, 2015).

Obama also scolded Netanyahu over his remarks about Arab Israelis voting, making clear that the deep rift in relations between Israel and the United States -- Israel's most important ally -- is only going to get worse.

Regarding his phone call with Netanyahu two days after the Israeli leader was re-elected, Obama said, "I did indicate to him that we continue to believe that a two-state solution is the only way for the long-term security of Israel, if it wants to stay both a Jewish state and democratic." This domineering statement conveys Obama's belief that Israel's ability to continue to exist -- due to it being surrounded by several Arab countries --  is dependent upon United States military power.

"And I indicated to him [Netanyahu] that given his statements prior to the election, it is going to be hard to find a path where people are seriously believing that negotiations are possible."

PA Leadership to Isolate Israel from World Arena; Is Not Surprised at Bibi's Vow to Reject Pal. State

Following the re-election of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders say they will press ahead with moves to isolate, embarrass, and prosecute Israel in international arenas, as well as begin to implement a more aggressive approach from decades-old security cooperation with Israel in the West Bank, the Washington Post website reports today (March 21, 2015).

Palestinian officials -- who have spent many years negotiating with Israeli counterparts in fruitless U.S.-led negotiations -- said this week that they were not surprised by Netanyahu's vow, on the eve of his electoral victory, that he would never agree to the creation of an independent Palestinian nation as long as he is Israel's prime minister. The officials assert that the Israeli leader, in fact, finally revealed his true face to the world.

The Palestinians have also dismissed Netanyahu's attempt to backtrack and explain his earlier remarks, by telling the U.S. press after the election that he did not completely reject the creation of a Palestinian state.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas -- speaking to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) executive committee on March 19 -- said that if Netanyahu's pre-election comments are sincere, "It means that the Israeli government has no serious intentions to reach a peace agreement that will create two states based on the 1967 borders."

Friday, March 20, 2015

Pope Francis Marks 2nd Anniv. of Inauguration; Focuses on Humility,Braves Church Status Quo

Yesterday (March 19) marked the second anniversary of the inauguration of Pope Francis, who in his first two years as pontiff, has stayed true to his Jesuit roots and brought a fresh sense of humility and empathy to the Roman Catholic Church, the Yahoo News website reports today (March 20, 2015).

As spiritual leader of some 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, Pope Francis has urged people to look after the poor and the marginalized. Right from the start, he wished for a "poor church for the poor."

The former Archbishop of Buenos Aires practices what he preaches. He lives simply. He refuses to ride in the bulletproof limo as popes have in the past, he eats in the cafeteria with Vatican workers, and he lives in a modest apartment in the Vatican guesthouse instead of the papal palace.

Unlike the vast majority of popes, he has challenged the status quo of the church by speaking openly about taboo topics and providing a more progressive perspective. Although no specific doctrine has changed, people feel he brings a more inclusive attitude to the church. Pope Francis made waves when he was asked about homosexuality in the church and responded, "If someone is gay and searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?"

Islamist Husbands Kill Scores of Wives in Nigeria; They Left for Battle, Feared Wives Would Remarry

Several witnesses said today (March 20, 2015) that scores of Nigerian women -- who were forced to marry Boko Haram Islamist militants -- were killed by their husbands before a battle with troops in the northeast town of Bama, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

Five witnesses who recounted the massacres to AFP  said the Islamist militants feared they would be killed by advancing soldiers or separated from their wives when they fled the town.

They killed the women to prevent them from marrying non-believers, they added.

"The terrorists said they will not allow their wives to be married to infidels," said Sharifatu Bakura, 39, a widow and mother of three children.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Saudi Arabia's Top Muslim Cleric Gives Order; "Destroy All Churches on Arabian Peninsula"

Saudi Arabia's top Muslim cleric has called for the destruction of all churches in the Arabian Peninsula, after legislators in Kuwait moved to pass laws banning the construction of religious sites associated with Christianity, the Catholic News website reports today (March 19, 2015).

Speaking to a delegation in Kuwait on March 17, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah -- who serves as the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia -- said the destruction of churches was absolutely necessary and is required by Islamic law.

Abdullah is considered to be the highest official of religious law in the Sunni Muslim kingdom.

He also serves as the head of the Supreme Council of Ulema (Islamic scholars) and of the Standing Committee for Scientific Research and Issuing of Fatwas (authoritative rulings on Islamic matters).

Obama Punishes Israelis for Re-Electing Bibi PM; US May Back UN Resolution for Palestinian State

Punishment for Israelis who chose to re-elect Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu this week was not long in coming from an infuriated U.S. President Barack Obama, the Jewish Press website reports today (March 19, 2015).

The Obama administration is now weighing the option of agreeing to a draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council calling for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, as well as the withdrawal of Israel from Judea and Samaria, with mutually agreed land swaps.

The resolution would force Israel to enter immediate talks with the Palestinian Authority, in advance of a final status agreement for both sides.

For decades, U.S. presidents traditionally call the apparent victor of Israeli elections after the polls have closed to congratulate them on their win -- but not this week. Instead, "the day after," Netanyahu received a public scolding from Obama on his "divisive language" [for saying he will never agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state] and a refusal by the American president to call his Israeli counterpart to offer the traditional congratulations.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

US Presbyterian Church OKs Same-Sex Marriage; Converts "a Man and a Woman" to "Two People"

A majority of the presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church (USA) was reached on March 17, approving an amendment to the church's constitution changing its definition of marriage from being between "a man and a woman" to "two people, traditionally a man and a woman," The New American website reports today (March 18, 2015).

The change was recommended last year by the church's General Assembly, but required approval by a majority of the church's 171 regional bodies -- known as presbyteries -- to become official.

The change was approved when the Presbytery of the Palisades in New Jersey became the 86th such body to approve the amendment. As of the evening of March 17, the count stood at 86 presbyteries in favor, 41 opposed, and one tied.

Following the completion of the voting, and the verification of the results by church leaders, the change will take effect on June 21, 2015.

Bibi's Ugly Victory Will Inevitably Injure Israel; Refusing Palestine Homeland to Be Disastrous

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu won a big election on March 17, but he won ugly by staking out a new position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is likely to harm his nation as long as he remains prime minister, The Daily Beast website reports today (March 18, 2015).

In a desperate last-minute ploy to incite fear and gain Israeli votes, a come-from-behind Netanyahu declared Israel will never agree to a Palestinian state as long as he is prime minister.

Such a caustic and undiplomatic statement is likely to result in more Israeli-Palestinian wars and more murders of Israelis by Palestinians, as it discourages a harmonious Israeli-Palestinian coexistence and increases hatred between the two groups.

Moreover, such a statement is bound to worsen U.S.-Israeli relations -- currently the worst they have been since Israel became an independent nation in 1948 -- as the U.S. can no longer look forward to serving as mediator for a viable Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. It will also have a negative impact on international public opinion and isolate Israel, as many nations will undoubtedly hurt Israel and its citizens economically by boycotting Israeli products and by implementing other punitive economic measures.

Terrorists Kill 20, Wound 24 in Tunisia Museum; No Group Claims Responsibility, IS Is Suspected

Armed terrorists stormed an iconic museum in Tunis, Tunisia and killed at least 20 people today (March 18, 2015), before security forces swept in, killed two gunmen, freed hostages, and launched a manhunt for two or three more gunmen, according to the USA Today website.

Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid said a museum worker and 19 foreign tourists from Spain, Germany and Italy were killed in the attack. A security officer was killed in the battle to retake the museum.

Essid added that at least 22 tourists and two Tunisians were wounded in the attack. The wounded included British, Italian, French, Spanish and Polish nationals.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack. However, thousands of Tunisians have joined the Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria and Iraq, and many have returned to Tunisia, the government has said.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

France MPs OK "Deep Sleep" Bill for Ill Patients; Critics Believe It's Merely Euthanasia in Disguise

French MPs (members of parliament) have voted overwhelmingly  in favor of the deep sleep bill, which would allow terminally ill patients to opt for a deep sedation until they die, the Euro News website reports today (March 17, 2015).

Critics believe it is merely euthanasia in disguise. Anti-euthanasia leaflets were thrown at the MPs as they voted on the bill.

Jean Leonetti -- one of the law's co-authors -- said, "It provides a lot more autonomy, much more freedom, and the power to decide to the person who is vulnerable, the person who is dying."

The bill passed its first reading in France's lower house by 436 votes for and 34 against. The upper house will vote on it in May or June.

WCC Delegation Visits Ukraine to Promote Peace; Three-Day Visit Seeks to Foster Future Harmony

A World Council of Churches (WCC) delegation -- led by the WCC's general secretary Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit -- is visiting Ukraine from March 17 to 20 to explore supporting peace initiatives in the country, the Ecumenical News website reports today (March 17, 2015).

"We hope that this visit can be seen as an expression of how the whole ecumenical family prays and acts together for justice and peace for the people of Ukraine," said Tveit.

"We go together to see, to listen and to discern what our future steps together can be," he added.

The WCC delegation will meet with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate, which is the WCC member church in Ukraine, as well as with other churches. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) are the other two largest churches in Ukraine.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Lesbian Rabbi Installed Pres. of Reform Rabbis; Rabbi Denise Eger Is 1st Openly Gay CCAR Pres.

The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) -- the rabbinical arm of the Reform movement -- today installed Rabbi Denise Eger, a lesbian, as its first openly gay president, the Forward (Jewish) website reports.

Eger, 55, was inaugurated this morning at the CCAR's annual convention in Philadelphia. She succeeds Richard Block.

The founding rabbi of the Kol Ami synagogue in Los Angeles, Eger has been on the CCAR board of trustees for four years. She was ordained in 1988.

Eger first announced her lesbian sexual orientation in an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 1990. She is now engaged to be married to another woman.

Iraqi Army Arrests 20 IS Men Dressed as Women; Men Wore Robes,Veils,Makeup,Bras to Flee Area

Today (March 16, 2015) the Iraqi army arrested 20 male Islamic State (IS) militants dressed as women in the northern Iraq city of Baquba, according to the Jerusalem Post website.

The Islamic State men wore robes and veils; they had put on makeup, including eyeliner, eyeshadow, and blush; they even wore women's padded bras -- all in a desperate attempt to flee the battlefield in Tikrit, which Iraq's military recently managed to take back from the Islamic State.

The Islamic men used the female disguise with the hope that the Iraqi army would think they were women and not arrest them.

It is unclear what the fate of these Islamic State members will be now that they are in police custody.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Herzog Leads Netanyahu in March 17 PM Vote; Israelis Are Now Focused on Social, Ec. Change

Hard-line Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now fighting for his political life, as a rival threatens to oust the long-serving Israeli leader in the parliamentary election to be held on March 17, the USA Today website reports today (March 15, 2015).

Polls show a coalition led by Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog clinging to a lead over Netanyahu's right-wing Likud Party.

The fact is that bread-and-butter issues -- which favor Herzog's center-left Zionist Union coalition -- appear to be trumping security concerns that play to Netanyahu's strengths as Israel's protector. Moreover,  most Israelis are sick and tired of Netanyahu's bickering with the Palestinians over a never-achieved peace settlement and with U.S. President Barack Obama's anti-nuclear deal with Iran.

"People want change. They're talking about social and economic issues," said pollster Rafi Smith. "These issues are having more weight than in any other election."

Twin Bombings at Two Pakistan Churches Kill 14; Wound 80, Taliban Group Claims Responsibility

Bombs exploded minutes apart outside two churches in the Pakistan city of Lahore today (March 15, 2015), killing 14 people and wounding 80 during Sunday services, and witnesses said quick action by a security guard prevented many more deaths, according to the Reuters website.

A Pakistani Taliban splinter group claimed responsibility for the bombings.

Islamist militants in Pakistan have attacked Christians and other religious minorities often over the last decade or more.

Many Christians -- who make up less than two percent of Pakistan's predominantly Islam population of more than 180 million -- accuse the government of doing little to protect them, saying politicians are quick to offer condolences after an attack but slow to act to improve security.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Robbers Gang-Rape Elderly Nun in India School; Nun, 72, Raped by 8 Men Is in Serious Condition

A nun in her 70s was gang-raped by a group of bandits today (March 14, 2015) when she tried to prevent them from robbing a Christian missionary school in India, police said, the latest crime to draw attention to the scourge of sexual violence in the country, according to the France 24 website.

The nun, 72, was hospitalized in serious condition after being raped by eight men at the Convent of Jesus and Mary School in Nadia district, about 50 miles northeast of the West Bengal state capital of Kolkata, a police officer said.

The men escaped with some cash, a cellphone, a laptop computer, and a camera.

The robbers tied the school's security guards with ropes early today and entered the nuns' room, where the women were sleeping. They took one of the nuns to another room when she tried to block their way and then raped her, the officer said.

CIA Head:US Does Not Want Assad to Collapse; US Fears IS or Other Jihadists Could Rule Syria

CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) Director John Brennan said yesterday that the United States does not want to see a collapse of the Syrian regime, as it could open the way to Islamist extremists taking power, the Times of Israel website reports today (March 14, 2015).

The spy agency chief said Washington had reason to worry about who might replace President Bashar Assad if his government fell, given the rise of the Islamic State (IS) group and other jihadists in Syria.

Speaking at an event at the Council on Foreign Relations, Brennan said that "extremist elements" -- including the IS group and Al-Qaeda veterans -- are "ascendant right now" in some parts of Syria.

"The last thing we want to do is allow them to march into Damascus. That's why it's important to bolster those forces within the Syrian opposition that are not extremists," Brennan said.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Two Jewish Teens Beaten in Southern France; Beaten, Robbed Leaving Marseille Synagogue

Two Jewish teens in southern France were robbed and beaten after leaving their Marseille synagogue, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (March 13, 2015).

The teens were attacked on March 10 by two assailants who they described as youth "of African origin," according to the National Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA.

According to the victims, the assailants said, "Dirty Jews, we will exterminate all of you," before they were robbed and beaten. The Jewish teens required medical attention.

"Jewish citizens have become increasingly vulnerable targets," the BNVCA said in a statement. "This gives rise to insecurity, despite the significant steps taken by the government to try to protect its Jewish citizens, and their places of worship."

Poland Ponders Sending Weapons to Ukraine; Feels Doing So Will Deter Russian Aggression

Poland's Ministry of National Defense began discussing yesterday whether to send weapons to Ukraine that may be used against Russian aggression, the IB Times website reports today (March 13, 2015).

While the Polish government said that no decision has been made, the head of the country's National Security Bureau, Stanislaw Koziej, said both parties were in agreement "that the stronger the Ukrainian army, the higher the chances of a de-escalation of the conflict."

"As of today, we're having intensive talks at different levels, but decisions will be made only after the issue is studied in detail by both parties," Koziej said.

News of the talks comes just days after U.S. President Barack Obama decided against sending lethal aid to Ukraine. While most weapons used by the Polish army are made in Poland, there is a sprinkling of U.S.-made elements, including Mk19 automatic grenade launchers, Claymore mines, M113 armored personnel carriers, and guns.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Terrorist Planning to Bomb US Consulate Nabbed; Also Planned to Attack Toronto Financial District

Canadian authorities nabbed a terrorist before he could carry out a plot to bomb the U.S. Consulate in Toronto, the Jewish Press website reports today (March 12, 2015).

Jhanzab Malik -- a Pakistani national holding permanent resident status in Canada and an Islam fanatic -- also allegedly planned to attack targets in Toronto's financial district.

He was arrested on suspicion of "engaging in terrorism and being a danger to national security."

Malik was ordered held on "security grounds" pending deportation following an immigration hearing yesterday. He originally entered Canada on a student visa in 2004, but gained permanent status via his wife's sponsorship five years later.

Sweden Decides to End Saudi Arabia Arms Deal; Due to Saudis Blocking Sweden's Right to Speak

The Swedish government this week decided to scrap an arms deal in which it sold millions of dollars worth of military equipment to Saudi Arabia annually, following complaints by Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom that she was blocked from speaking on women's rights at a gathering of the Arab League in Cairo, the Washington Post website reports today (March 12, 2015).

Tensions between the two nations have grown so acute that Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Sweden yesterday. Wallstrom's planned remarks in Cairo made no specific reference to Saudi Arabia, but did urge reform on issues of women's rights.

The Saudi foreign ministry deemed her comments about being barred from speaking "offensive" and "blatant interference in its internal affairs."

In an interview with Swedish media, Wallstrom had described the punishment for a dissident Saudi  blogger who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes as "medieval."

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Pope Cognizant IS and Mafia Are Out to Kill Him; Asks God "It Won't Hurt Much.I'm a Real Wimp"

Pope Francis said he has accepted the fact that he may be assassinated, but he has asked God to make sure "it doesn't hurt too much, as I am a real wimp when it comes to physical pain," the Daily Mail (British) website reports today (March 11, 2015).

For months, there have been threats against Pope Francis by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) militants, who call him the "bearer of false truth."

The Pope made his light-hearted comments in an interview with a Buenos Aires, Argentina tabloid called La Carcova News. Pope Francis had previously been an Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

Italian prosecutors have also warned that the Mafia is considering  killing Pope Francis due to his criticism of it. Last year, the Pope denounced the international body of criminals, and said that all Mafia members in Italy were excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.

ISIS Executes Arab-Israeli Teen for Being a Spy; Claims Muhammad Musallam Spied for Mossad

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has released a video that shows the execution of an Arab-Israeli teenager whom the Islamist group accused of being a spy for Israel, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (March 11, 2015).

The 13-minute video -- released online yesterday -- shows Muhammad Musallam, 19, of eastern Jerusalem, dressed in an orange jumpsuit. In the video, Musallam explains how he was recruited by the Mossad, Israel's spy agency.

The video shows a young boy shooting Musallam in the forehead, shouting "God is great" in Arabic, and then shooting Musallam at least three more times.

The terrorist group's online English-language magazine Dabiq reported last month that it was holding Musallam, an Israeli citizen, saying he posed as a foreign fighter for ISIS, in order to spy for the Mossad. Israel denies that he was a Mossad operative.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Israel Destroys EU-Funded Shelters in Jerusalem; EU Condemns Inhumane Act against Palestinians

In a heartless act that will only worsen Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, Israeli authorities today (March 10, 2015) demolished an EU-funded shelter in Arab east Jerusalem, the European Union (EU) said, denouncing the move, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

"We condemn today's demolition of temporary shelters funded by the European Union... as part of its response to the needs of the affected communities," an EU statement said.

EU funds have helped pay for some 200 temporary buildings used as shelters in villages inhabited by Bedouin communities in the West Bank, just outside Arab east Jerusalem.

Israel seized control of east Jerusalem in a war in 1967 and later annexed it, in a move that has never been recognized by the international community.

Russian Tanks, Artillery, Rockets Invade Ukraine; Russia Renews Its Aggression, Violates Ceasefire

In an effort to take control of more Ukraine territory, Russia has been sending heavy military equipment and troops into Ukraine during the last few days, in a breach of a European-brokered ceasefire agreed on February 12, the Reuters website reports today (March 10, 2015).

The disclosure of Russia's most recent aggression in Ukraine was made by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, Victoria Nuland.

Eastern Ukraine and Crimea -- the Black Sea peninsula annexed illegally by Russia a year ago -- was "suffering a reign of terror," Nuland told a congressional hearing on Ukraine, adding that the White House was still considering whether to supply arms to Ukraine's military.

The last few days have seen new transfers of Russian tanks, heavy artillery, and rocket equipment over the border to the separatists, Nuland told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Poll:Liking Arabs, Jews Declines in Czech Repub.; Slovaks Are Most Liked,Poles Are 2nd,Greeks 3rd

The liking of Czechs for Arabs and Jews living in the Czech Republic has declined in the past year -- while Slovaks remain the most popular and Romanies the least popular ethnicities -- according to a poll released today (March 9, 2015) by a leading Czech polling agency, the Prague Monitor website reports.

The new poll surveyed people's attitudes to 17 ethnic groups. Although their liking for Jews and Greeks has declined, the two ethnicities still remain among the five most popular with Czech inhabitants.

Greeks are liked by 37 percent of the population and disliked by 15 percent. Jews are liked by 31 percent and disliked by 17 percent. Slovaks -- the most liked foreign ethnicity -- are favored by 84 percent of people and only 2 percent dislike them, the poll showed.

Poles finished second, with being liked by over a half of the Czech population, and Greeks came third before Germans, Jews, Hungarians, and Bulgarians.

Chad,Niger Take Mil. Action against Boko Haram; African Nations Avenge Cross Border Terror Raids

The countries of Chad and Niger in Africa have launched a joint military operation against the Boko Haram terrorist group based in Nigeria, the Euro News website reports today (March 9, 2015).

Boko Haram has expanded its operation with cross border raids, spurring Nigeria's neighbors to retaliate.

Almost six years into its insurgency in Nigeria, Boko Haram is now attacking villages in the countries bordering Lake Chad -- Chad, Niger, and Cameroon.

Last week, Boko Haram pledged its allegiance to ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), which rules a self-declared caliphate that is expected to merge with the land in Nigeria that Boko Haram controls.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Woman Who Recruited for ISIS Arrested in Spain; Played a Key Role in Transporting Women to ISIS

A woman from Spain -- who is accused of being a recruiter for ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) jihadists -- was arrested on terrorism charges at Barcelona's El Prat airport yesterday, the Telegraph (British) website reports today (March 8, 2015).

Samira Yerou, 32, a cleaner of Moroccan nationality, was detained by the Civil Guard security force after being sent back to Spain by Turkish authorities, who had stopped her from sneaking into Syria with her three-year-old child to join the ISIS terrorist group.

Spain's interior minister said that Yerou -- who had previously lived in Rubi, near Barcelona -- had played an "important role in the recruitment and radicalization" of potential IS terrorists and had participated in the "transport of female sympathizers of the terrorist group from Europe and Morocco."

Yerou came to the attention of Spain's security forces when her husband reported her as having abandoned their home in Rubi with the couple's young son in December. Yerou's husband alerted the authorities to the possibility that she was attempting to join ISIS after saying she had become "strange" following a family visit to Morocco and that she had since been "spending lots of time alone in her room."

Some 35K Attend Anti-Netanyahu Tel Aviv Rally; "Going to War with US Is Not a Way to Stop Iran"

In an effort to defeat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the upcoming March 17 election, a rally calling for a change in Israel's leadership -- organized by "Israel Wants Change" leaders -- attracted some 35,000 people in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square last night, the Haaretz website reports today (March 8, 2015).

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan -- the keynote speaker -- told the crowd that Israel faces its worst crisis ever under Netanyahu's leadership. The fact is that diplomatic relations between Israel and the United States are currently the worst they have been since Israel became an independent nation in 1948.

"No one denies that Iran's nuclear program is a threat, but going to war with the United States is not the way to stop it," Dagan said.

"Israel is a country surrounded by enemies, but the enemies are not scaring us," Dagan said. "I'm afraid of our leadership. I am afraid of a loss of determination, of a loss of of personal example. I am afraid of hesitancy and stalemate, and I am afraid above all of the crisis of leadership -- a leadership crisis that is the most severe ever here [in Israel]."

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Arabs Rip Mt. of Olives Headstones in Jerusalem; Throw Shrines on Road, Attack Police with Rocks

Arabs entered the Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem yesterday, uprooted several headstones, and threw them onto the road, the Jewish Press website reports today (March 7, 2015).

The damage was done to the "Afghanistan" section of the cemetery.

In addition, they attacked policemen stationed in the area with rocks. The police eventually dispersed the Arab attackers.

The Mount of Olives is one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the world, going back thousands of years.

Boston School Dean Nabbed for Shooting Student; Shaun Harrison Also Charged with Drug Activity

A minister and former dean of students at The English High School of Boston was arrested on charges he ran a drug operation and shot a student "execution-style," the Big News Network website reports today (March 7, 2015).

Shaun Harrison, 55, pleaded not guilty to charges that include assault with intent to murder, aggravated assault and battery, and unlawful possession of a firearm. Authorities said Harrison ran a marijuana distribution ring and enlisted the 17-year-old victim, a student, to work for him.

Authorities added that Harrison lured the 17-year-old to a local street with the promise of drugs and girls. Harrison allegedly pulled out a handgun and shot the student in the back of the head. The victim was taken to a nearby hospital and treated.

Harrison has long been highly regarded in the local community, lauded for his work as the school's dean of academy, a student-outreach coordinator, and minister. He was fired from his job at English High after his arrest.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Police In Italy Arrest Man in Med. Sea Tragedy; Suspect Hired in Libya to Sail Migrants to Italy

Italian police have arrested one of two men suspected of involvement in the latest migrant tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea which killed 10 people, the Euro News website reports today (March 6, 2015).

The suspect -- a 20-year-old Senegalese national -- admitted to being hired in Libya to sail a dinghy carrying hundreds of migrants, according to a police report.

He has been taken to prison where he is being held for illegal immigration. At least 10 people died when their rubber boat overturned in the Mediterranean on March 4, and 40 more remain unaccounted for.

Italy has found itself on the front line of a dangerous maritime route -- where migrants often fleeing political and religious conflicts in northern Africa are paying up to 2,000 euros to people smugglers in the hope of making it to Europe.

IS Militants "Bulldoze" Ruins of Nimrud in Iraq; City Was Founded in 13th Cent.BC by Assyrians

Islamic State (IS) militants have begun to bulldoze the ruins of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud, Iraqi government officials said today (March 6, 2015), according to the BBC website.

The ministry of tourism says IS used heavy machinery to destroy the site -- one of the most celebrated jewels of Iraq's archaeological heritage. Nimrud -- which was founded by Assyrians in the 13th century BC -- lies about 18 miles southeast of Mosul.

IS claims that ancient shrines and statues are "false idols" that must be smashed.

Last week, IS released a video showing militants with sledgehammers destroying historic artifacts in a museum in Mosul. That attack was condemned by the United Nations as a war crime.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Islam Hate Cleric Given Saudi Arabian Top Award; Said Jews Control US, Are the Enemies of Muslims

Saudi Arabia has given one of the country's highest honors to Dr. Zakir Naik, a well-known Islamist hate preacher from India, the Clarion Project website reports today (March 5, 2015).

The award -- which includes $200,000 -- was given by Saudi Arabia's new king, Salman, for Naik's "service to Islam." Naik is on record for saying that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center was an "inside job," claiming that then-President George W. Bush was responsible for the attack that killed nearly 3,000 people.

Naik has preached that those who leave Islam and promote other religions should be punished by death. He also says that the punishment for homosexuality is death.

As for Jews, Naik declared that they control the United States, and Jews "as a whole," he says, are the enemies of Muslims.

Pope: "Worldliness" Results in a Darkened Soul; Materialism Blocks People from Helping Others

In his morning Mass today (March 5, 2015), Pope Francis talked about so-called "worldliness." Reflecting on the day's reading, he explained that being obsessed with materialism blocks people from lending a helping hand, according to the Rome Reports website.

He said, "Worldliness transforms the soul. It makes people lose touch with reality. They live in an artificial world that they made up. Worldliness numbs the soul."

The Pope then added that falling into the traps of worldliness can be even worse than committing a sin, because it leads to a darkened soul.

The Pope also quoted Jesus at the Last Supper when He prayed to the Father: "But please, Father, keep these disciples from falling into the world, from falling into worldliness."

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Obama: "Nothing New" in Netanyahu's Speech; Says Israeli PM's Congress Speech Lacks Option

U.S. President Barack Obama said today (March 4, 2015) that there was "nothing new" in Benjamin Netanyahu's controversial speech to Congress yesterday, insisting the Israeli Prime Minister did not offer a better option than the current negotiations, the Yahoo News website reports.

Netanyahu "did not offer any viable alternatives," Obama said.

Netanyahu -- before an impassioned joint meeting of Congress -- denounced the ongoing U.S. talks with Iran, which if successful, would be a key plank of Obama's foreign policy legacy.

Receiving a warm welcome from Obama's Republican foes, Netanyahu insisted the deal "doesn't block Iran's path to the bomb. It paves Iran's path to the bomb."

France Violates European Pact by Spanking Kids; Council of Europe Slams France's Discipline Rule

A top rights body said today (March 4, 2015) that France was in violation of a European treaty because it did not fully ban the smacking of children, reigniting debate over the divisive issue, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

The Council of Europe -- which is based in Strasbourg, France -- said France's laws on corporal punishment for children were not "sufficiently clear, binding and precise."

France bans violence against children but does allow parents the "right to discipline" them.

French law does forbid corporal punishment in schools or disciplinary establishments for children.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Petraeus in Plea Deal, Gave Lover Classified Info; Prosecutors to Ask for 2 Yrs. Probation, $40K Fine

Gen. David Petraeus -- the best-known military commander of his generation -- has reached a plea deal with the Justice Department and admitted providing his highly classified journals to his mistress when he was director of the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), the NY Times website reports today (March 3, 2015).

Petraeus has agreed to plead guilty to one count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material, a misdemeanor. He could be sentenced to a year in prison, but prosecutors say they will recommend a sentence of probation for two years and a $40,000 fine.

The plea deal completes a spectacular fall for Petraeus -- a retired four-star general -- who was once considered as a possible candidate for vice president or even president. He led the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and was the architect of a counterinsurgency strategy that at one time seemed a model for future warfare.

His mistress, Paula Broadwell, is a former Army Reserve officer who had an affair with Petraeus in 2011, when she was interviewing him for a biography she was writing titled "All In: The Education of General David Petraeus."

Franklin Graham:Muslims Sway Obama Admin.; Says US Won't Fight ISIS Due to Islam Pressure

Evangelical leader Franklin Graham has spoken his mind once again regarding United States politics. While appearing on The O'Reilly Factor TV show, the son of Billy Graham said that he believes the U.S. is unwilling to fight ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) because Muslims have "infiltrated" the White House, the Christian Headlines website reports today (March 3, 2015).

"One of the problems we have in the West is our governments, especially in Washington, have been infiltrated by Muslims who are advising the White House," Graham said on the Fox show.

"I'm not saying they're sitting next to the president whispering in his ear, but they are in the halls, and they are speaking to the staffers."

Graham did not name any politicians specifically.

Monday, March 2, 2015

IS Starts to Kill the Christian Hostages It Seized; Still Holds Over 350 Assyrians,Killed 15 of Them

Terrorist group Islamic State (IS) has started to kill hostages it seized after it took control of Assyrian Christian villages in Syria's Hassake governorate -- with reports that around 15 of them are dead -- the Independent Catholic News website reports today (March 2, 2015).

In a message sent to Catholic agencies working in the region -- including Aid to the Church in Need -- Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana passed on news of the executions from a contact in Hassake city, and said the number still being held exceeds 350.

Archimandrite Youkhana -- who supports persecuted Christians in the Middle East -- said: "Around 15 young Assyrians are martyred. Many of them were fighting to defend and protect the villages and families."

From the village of Tel Hormizd 14 people were taken -- 12 men and two women -- who were fighting to defend their homes. Reports indicate that of the Tel Hormizd fighters, one woman has been beheaded and two men have been shot.

UN: Over 840 Killed in Ukraine Since Mid-Jan.; Over 6,000 Killed Since Fighting Began in April

The United Nations said today (March 2, 2015) that a sharp escalation in the fighting in eastern Ukraine from mid-January to the middle of last month had left at least 842 people dead and over 3,400 wounded, with hundreds missing and many buried without their deaths being recorded, the NY Times website reports.

Ivan Simonovic -- the United Nations assistant secretary general -- told reporters in Geneva that more than 6,000 people had been killed since the fighting started last April.

The casualty figures were in a United Nations report issued today that also said an influx of troops and heavy weapons from Russia had intensified the conflict in Ukraine's east.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe -- which is monitoring developments in Ukraine -- had confirmed the inflow of troops and heavy weaponry from Russia, Simonovic said.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Report:Obama Threatened to Destroy Israeli Jets; Foiled Israeli Plans to Attack Iran's Nuclear Sites

In a shocking but trustworthy report, a Kuwaiti newspaper asserts today (March 1, 2015) that President Barack Obama once threatened to shoot down Israeli jets if they went through with a plan to target Iranian nuclear sites, the Daily Caller website reports.

Citing "well-placed sources," Al-Jarida claims that in 2014, the Israeli government made plans to attack Iran when it heard that the United States and Iran were on the verge of striking a secret nuclear deal behind Israel's back. The decision was made after Israel learned the terms of the deal were supposedly "a threat to Israel's security."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allegedly came to the decision after four nights of deliberation with commanders, and Israeli jets even managed experimental test flights in Iranian airspace after evading Iranian radars.

But when an Israeli official with good ties to the Obama administration revealed the planned airstrikes, Obama threatened to shoot down the Israeli jets, thus foiling the Israeli attack.

Netanyahu Heads to D.C. to Address Congress; Hot Speech Seeks to Halt US-Iran Nuclear Deal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boarded a plane for Washington, D.C. today (March 1, 2015), telling reporters at the airport that he would deliver a speech to the U.S. Congress -- even though it has proved contentious on both sides of the Atlantic -- out of a "deep and genuine concern" for Israel's security, according to the Times of Israel website.

During Netanyahu's controversial 48-hour visit he will address a joint session of Congress in an effort to garner last-minute support for a halt to an emerging U.S. deal with Iran over its nuclear program. The move has infuriated the White House -- President Obama and Vice President Biden do not plan to hear Netanyahu's address -- and several Democratic lawmakers. Many view the speech as being politically-driven; that is, to gain votes in Israel's election later this month.

The invitation to Netanyahu was extended by House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, who did not consult with the Obama administration before inviting him.

Many Israelis believe that Iran and world powers are likely to reach a deal that eases international sanctions on Tehran without applying sufficiently stringent safeguards to stop it from developing nuclear weapons.