Tuesday, June 30, 2015

US, Cuba Patch Up Diplomatic Ties After 55 Yrs.; US Ended Relations After Cuba OKd Communism

The United States and Cuba will announce an agreement tomorrow (July 1, 2015) to open embassies in each other's capitals, formally re-establishing diplomatic relations for the first time since 1962, the USA Today website reports.

President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry will make the announcement tomorrow morning, said three officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, because they were not authorized to reveal this agreement.

Obama has made a rapprochement with Cuba a key part of his second-term agenda, arguing that 55 years of freezing out the Communist country has been counterproductive to establishing human rights on the Caribbean island nation.

With some initial help in encouraging US-Cuban relations from Pope Francis, the U.S. and Cuba have been negotiating the move for more than a year, going public with their diplomatic efforts last December. Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro met personally in Panama in April in a show of support for the new agreement.

ISIS Beheads Two Women in Syria for Witchcraft; It Accused Women of Using Un-Islamic Medicine

Two women in Syria have become the first to be beheaded by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) after being accused of witchcraft, sorcery, and working with elves by the Islamic extremist group, the Independent (British) website reports today (June 30, 2015).

The executions -- for a supposed breach of sharia law -- were carried out on June 28 and 29, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group based in Britain.

In separate executions, both women were put to death alongside their husbands in Deir ez-Zour province after being accused of using un-Islamic medicine by the extremist group.

The group says that this is the first time the self-styled caliphate has killed women in this way. Previous executions of women have involved stoning or firing squads, mostly for adultery.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Atty.Gen.:Clerks Need Not Issue Gays Licenses; Law Sage Calls SCOTUS Ruling Lawless,Flawed

Texas Atttorney General Ken Paxton said yesterday that county clerks in Texas who object to gay marriage can refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite last week's landmark U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruling requiring states to allow same-sex marriage, the Religion News website reports today (June 29, 2015).

The nation's top court said on June 26 that the U.S. Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to wed, handing a victory to the American gay rights movement.

Paxton said in a statement that hundreds of public officials in Texas were seeking guidance on how to implement what he called a lawless and flawed decision by an "activist" court.

The state's attorney general said that while the Supreme Court justices had "fabricated" a new constitutional right, they did not diminish, overrule, or call into question the First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion.

Israel Intercepts Flotilla Vessel on Way to Gaza; Swedish Ship Protested Control of Gaza Waters

The Israeli Navy today (June 29, 2015) intercepted an activist Swedish ship protesting Israel's control of the waters off the coast of the Gaza Strip, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports.

Commandos from the Shayetet 13 naval special forces unit boarded the Marianne of Gothenburg this morning and began sailing the ship -- which was trying to breach Israel's maritime blockade of Gaza -- to the Israeli port of Ashod.

The takeover of the vessel -- and its approximately 20 passengers -- was short and there were no casualties.

In a statement issued this morning, Ship to Gaza Sweden called on Israel to return the Marianne, release the passengers, and allow them to travel to Gaza.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Civil Disorder Assured Due to Court's Gay Ruling; Huckabee:Ruling Redefines Marriage, Defies God

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee slammed the U.S. Supreme Court's historic ruling on same-sex marriage, asserting Christians will have no choice but resort to civil disobedience in order to follow their faith, the Yahoo News website reports today (June 28, 2015).

"This case wasn't so much about a matter of marriage equality, it was marriage redefinition," Huckabee said on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" today.

The 2016 Republican presidential hopeful was asked if he was recommending those who disagree with the court's decision engage in "civil disobedience."

"I don't think a lot of pastors and Christian schools are going to have a choice," Huckabee said. "They either are going to follow God, their conscience and what they truly believe what the scripture teaches them, or they will follow civil law. They will go the path of Dr. Martin Luther King, who in his brilliant essay, 'Letter from a Birmingham Jail,' reminded us, based on what St. Augustine said, that an unjust law is no law at all."

Philippine Church Sternly Opposes Gay Marriage; Marriage Remains Only between Man and Woman

The leadership of the Philippines' dominant Roman Catholic Church stressed its opposition to legalizing gay marriage today (June 28, 2015), despite last week's landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Agence France-Presse website reports.

The Philippine government meanwhile affirmed that under its law, marriage is still between a man and a woman, and only an act of Congress can change this, unlike the United States where a ruling of the supreme court changed (legislated) it (into a new law).

"The Church continues to maintain what it has already taught. Marriage is a permanent union of a man and a woman," said Archbishop Socrates Villegas, the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

"This is the way the Church has always read Sacred Scriptures. This is the way it has lived its faith, inspired by the Holy Spirit," Villegas said.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Vatican Formally Recognizes Palestine as a State; Israel Expresses Discontent,Calls It "Hasty Step"

The Vatican formally recognized Palestine as a state yesterday, with the signing of a treaty -- the product of 15 years of negotiations -- the Big News Network website reports today (June 27, 2015).

The agreement involves "essential aspects of the life and activity of the Catholic Church in the State of Palestine," a Vatican statement said.

The acknowledgement of Palestine's identity, Vatican ambassador Archbishop Paul Gallagher said, is meant to be a "stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to cause suffering for both parties." He added he hoped the "much desired two-state solution may become a reality as soon as possible."

The Israeli Foreign Ministry expressed its disappointment at the diplomatic maneuver, calling it a "hasty step" which "distances the Palestinian leadership from returning to direct and bilateral negotiations" with Israel over a two-state solution to their conflict.

Sweden to Increase Mil. Exercises with NATO; Sees Russian Activity as Prelude to Aggression

Sweden will boost military exercises with NATO amid concerns of Russia's increasingly  defiant posture, according to Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist, the Yahoo News website reports today (June 27, 2015).

Sweden -- which is not part of NATO and has a tradition of not joining military alliances -- will take part in military exercises in Spain in September.

Hultqvist told a Swedish newspaper that the decision was a result of Russian military movements.

"It is a general fact that Russia is carrying out bigger, more complex, and in some cases more provocative and defiant, exercises," Hultqvist said. "We are following that development and are now strengthening our military capability and our international cooperation."

Friday, June 26, 2015

Islamic Terrorist Kills One Today in Lyon, France; Israel Urges French Jews to Depart for Homeland

Israel made an impassioned call to French Jews to immigrate to its Mideast nation after the latest terrorist attack in France at a factory in the city of Lyon today (June 26, 2015), according to the Algemeiner (Jewish) website.

"To all the Jews of France I say: Come home!" Israeli Immigrant Absorption Minister Ze'ev Elkin said, amid news that a radical Islamic terrorist attacked a U.S. chemical firm in France, killing one person.

"Antisemitism is growing, terrorism is rising and according to reports ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] is committing murder in broad daylight," Elkin said.

He emphasized that Israel was prepared to absorb French Jewish immigrants "with open arms," adding that Israel was expecting a wave of immigration this summer.

Supreme Court Allows Gay Marriages in All of US; Decision Bound to Have Ruinous Effect on Society

In a critical sacrilegious decision that is bound to infuriate a plethora of world religious leaders and to have a scatological effect on both American religion and society for many years -- perhaps even for centuries --  the U.S. Supreme Court today (June 26, 2015) ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry anywhere in the United States, the Newsmax website reports.

The high court's 5-4 ruling means that all 50 states -- as well as the District of Columbia -- will now be required to marry gay and lesbian couples.

Justice Anthony Kennedy read the opinion of the majority. He was joined by justices Ruth Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

The four dissents were filed by justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, and Chief Justice John Roberts.

Indeed, it is devastating for America that the supreme court has the "right" to meddle in religious matters -- itself a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution's separation of church and state -- to rule that the U.S. must now change the fundamental values upon which it was founded, by changing the definition of the marriage  sacrament. In short, today's supreme court decision can be considered nothing less than a major decline for the United States and its loss of respect from the international community -- as well as a second betrayal of Christ!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

US Intelligence Reveals Turkey Is Supporting IS; Due to Turkey's Hostile Relations toward Kurds

The recent Islamic State's (IS) assault on the Syrian town of Kobani on Turkey's border is putting Ankara under political fire, the Voice of America News website reports today (June 25, 2015).

A co-leader of Turkey's pro-Kurdish HDP, Figen Yukeskdag, says there is a high probability that Turkey facilitated the attack, saying it has long supported the Islamic State. Turkish officials deny the accusation.

Retired Turkish Ambassador Murat Bilhan, vice chairman of the Turkish-Asian Center for Strategic Studies, said Ankara's concerns center on the Syrian fighters' suspected links to PKK, a Kurdish rebel group that has been fighting the Turkish government since 1984.

Based on U.S. intelligence, President Barack Obama last month said Ankara needed to do more to secure its border with Syria, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned Western airstrikes, claiming they were facilitating ethnic cleansing by Kurdish forces of Arabs and Turks.

Palestinians Submit Israeli War Crimes to ICC; UN:Isarel,Palestine Committed Abuses in Gaza

Details of alleged Israeli war crimes have been put to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by the Palestinian Authority in its first submission of evidence, the Euro News website reports today (June 25, 2015).

The ICC is looking into abuses committed during last year's Gaza conflict.

Israel denies the allegations. It is not a member of the court, but may find itself isolated if it decides not to cooperate with prosecutors.

The ICC -- based in The Hague, Holland -- is looking into alleged abuses by both sides during the Gaza conflict. UN investigators have said Israeli and Palestinian military groups both committed grave abuses that may amount to war crimes.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Pope Says Divorce Is OK for Bickering Couples; Opposes Traditional Cath. Doctrine on Divorce

Pope Francis says that it may be acceptable -- or even "morally necessary" -- for married couples to split up if they are at war with each other, the New Zealand Herald website reports today (June 24, 2015).

The head of the Roman Catholic Church -- an organization that has traditionally been implacably opposed to divorce -- said there was even greater justification for separation in cases where the wife was being abused by her husband.

The Pope made the remarks ahead of a crucial bishops' conference -- or synod -- in the autumn in which contentious issues such as whether to give communion to remarried divorcees will be discussed by the Catholic hierarchy.

"There are cases in which separation is inevitable," the Argentinian pontiff said during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square. He added, "Sometimes it can even be morally necessary, when it's about shielding the weaker spouse or young children from more serious injuries caused by intimidation and violence, humiliation and exploitation, neglect and indifference."

Obama OKs New Rules for Payment of Ransom; Allows Families to Pay for Kidnapped Relatives

President Obama unveiled new rules today (June 24, 2015) that will allow families to offer private ransom payments for relatives kidnapped overseas, according to the USA Today website.

While the federal government will continue to refuse to make ransom payments to terrorists and others, Obama and other officials said families will no longer be threatened with prosecution if they seek to do so privately.

"I'm making it clear that these families are to be treated like what they are -- our trusted partners and active partners in the recovery of their loved ones," Obama said in announcing the changes from the White House.

All too often, the families of hostages -- some of whom have died in captivity -- have been treated like "afterthoughts" or bullied by public officials, Obama said. "These families have already suffered enough," he said, "and they should never feel ignored or victimized by their own government."

Evangelical Church in Cuba Undergoing a Rebirth; Baptist Church Distributed 83K Bibles This Month

Christians in Cuba received more than 83,000 Bibles earlier this month from the International Missions Board, the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (June 24, 2015).

The Bibles come at a time of growth in the evangelical church in Cuba.

The Baptist Convention in Cuba is distributing the Bibles to believers in more than 1,000 churches all over the island.

Bibles have not been sold in Cuban bookstores since the late 1950s, when Cuban dictator Fidel Castro seized control of the country and adopted godless communism as Cuba's prevailing economic system.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Pope Won't Name Women to Vatican Head Posts; Says It Provokes Functionalism of Women's Roles

Pope Francis has again publicly indicated he is not considering appointing women to Vatican leadership posts, saying it would promote a "functionalism" of women's roles in the Church, the Catholic News website reports today (June 23, 2015).

But the Pontiff also indicated an equality in ministry between men and women in the Church, saying that all women have the "same work" the Virgin Mary had in receiving the Holy Spirit along with the 12 Apostles at Pentecost.

"The woman in the Church has the same work... that the Madonna had with the Apostles on the morning of Pentecost," said the Pope.

He added, "The Apostles without Mary wouldn't work. Jesus wanted it this way."

UK Teens Accused of Auschwitz Holocaust Theft; Two Boys Held by Police, Face 10 Years in Prison

Polish police said today (June 23, 2015) that two British teenage boys were caught stealing precious historic artifacts at the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps, according to the Jewish Press website.

The two 17-year-olds were detained yesterday by police on suspicion of stealing belongings of prisoners who were inmates of the camps during the Holocaust in World War II. If found guilty, they could face up to 10 years in prison.

They were spotted yesterday afternoon lurking near a building where German Nazi guards used to store belongings confiscated from the prisoners in the camps, said a spokesperson for the museum at the site.

Both boys are students at the Perse School of Cambridge, England and were participating in a school history trip at the time of the incident, according to a statement by the school.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

High Court Rules for AZ Church in Sign Dispute; Town Can't Have Tougher Law for Church Signs

Religious freedom advocates are praising a Supreme Court decision issued on June 18 as a victory for freedom of speech and houses of worship across the country, the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (June 20, 2015).

The court unanimously ruled in favor of an Arizona church in a dispute over a town's sign law.

The law in Gilbert, Arizona had set tougher rules for signs that direct people to Sunday church services than for signs for political candidates and real estate agents.

Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said, "The Supreme Court rightly decided that churches and other religious speakers should not be treated like second-class citizens."

Christian Family Refuses to Host Gay Wedding; Forced to End Business Due to Discrimination

The Christian owners of a gift shop and bistro in Iowa -- who were earlier charged with discrimination and had to pay for a settlement after refusing to hold a same-sex wedding at the venue -- say they are now having to close down their business completely, the Christian Post website reports today (June 20, 2015).

Richard Odgaard and his wife, Betty -- the owners of Gortz Haus Gallery in Grimes, Iowa -- say they will close their business completely by the end of August, about two years after they told a gay couple from Des Moines their facility cannot be rented for the wedding.

The gay couple promptly filed a discrimination complaint through the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. Although the Odgaards refused to admit they discriminated against the same-sex couple, they agreed to a $5,000 settlement.

"Our faith hasn't changed," Betty said after the settlement. "Of course, it's kind of a crushing blow because that's a major part of our business and weddings are so absolutely gorgeous in that place."

Friday, June 19, 2015

Ukraine Holocaust Monument Hit with Swastika; 20K Jews Murdered in Region by Nazis in WWII

A Holocaust monument in Ukraine was vandalized this week with a red swastika that the perpetrators painted over a Star of David symbol, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (June 19, 2015).

The vandalism in Nikopol -- an eastern Ukrainian city located 60 miles from Dnepropetrovsk -- occurred on June 16, according to a report by the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine.

Alexander Taratuta -- who heads Nikopol's small Jewish community -- said he filed a complaint with police about the act of vandalism, but the perpetrators have not been identified. A total of about 20,000 Jews were murdered in Dnepropetrovsk alone in World War II during the Nazi occupation of the area.

Today, Dnepropetrovsk's Menorah Jewish community center and office building houses Ukraine's largest museum about the genocide, the Tkuma Ukrainian Institute for Holocaust Studies.

Fox Host:Pope Most Dangerous Person on Planet; Slams Pope for Involving Church in "Pol." Matters

When many think of Pope Francis, they think of the smiling spiritual leader of the Catholic Church, one who has brought many Catholics back to the church. But there is at least one person who considers Pope Francis to be dangerous, more specifically the "most dangerous person on the planet," the Inquisitr website reports today (June 19, 2015).

Pope Francis yesterday released his encyclical on the environment. Within the encyclical -- which is meant to be a "papal teaching document" -- Pope Francis urges the world to "bring together care for our planet and practical compassion for the poor."

While many are praising this particular encyclical agreeing with the pope's views, Greg Gutfeld of Fox News called Pope Francis "the most dangerous person on the planet" because the pope suggested that climate change is real.

Gutfeld also commented that the pope should not be involving himself with primarily "political" matters.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Church Where Jesus Fed 5K Burned in Hate Raid; Hebrew Graffiti: "False Gods Will Be Eliminated"

A fire broke out at the Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha, on the Sea of Galilee, early today (June 18, 2015) in what police suspect was an arson attack, according to the Times of Israel website.

Firefighting crews successfully doused the blaze and two people who were in the building suffered minor smoke inhalation. Some damage was caused on the church roof, as well as to a book storage room, offices, and an event hall.

In an entrance corridor of the building -- which is believed by Christians to be the site of Jesus's miracle of multiplying two fish and five loaves of bread to feed 5,000 people -- Hebrew graffiti was found, reading, "the false gods will be eliminated" -- a quote from the Aleinu prayer.

The church -- which is run by the Catholic Benedictine Order -- is best known for its fifth-century mosaics, including one depicting two fish flanking a basket of loaves of bread.

Pope Urges Cath. Church Combat Climate Change; Humans Have Moral Duty to Protect Environment

Pope Francis today (June 18, 2015) threw the weight of the Catholic Church behind a new appeal to combat climate change, asserting the future of humanity is at stake and dismissing those who deny the planet is getting warmer, the USA Today website reports.

Francis unequivocally lined the Catholic Church upon the side of the environment with the release of church doctrine that condemned polluters and governments alike for failing to do enough to address the problem.

In the first encyclical written entirely under his papacy, Francis said humans have a moral obligation to protect the environment and that doing so is a key part of the challenge of lifting the world's least fortunate from poverty.

"We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all," the pope said.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Greek Orth. Church Dooms Yoga as Hindu Rel.; States Yoga Is Incompatible with Christian Faith

Ahead of the United Nations International Day of Yoga -- designated as June 21 -- the Greek Orthodox Church in Greece has lashed out at the popular relaxation and exercise, the Byzantine Texas  website reports today (June 17, 2015).

The Holy Synod -- the Greek Orthodox Church's governing body in Athens -- denounced yoga, saying it is "incompatible" with the Christian faith.

The synod said that yoga is a fundamental part of the Hindu religion, and is not "a form of exercise."

"For this reason, yoga is totally incompatible with our Christian Orthodox faith and it has no place in the life of Christians," the statement said.

Student Arrested for Planning Terrorist Attacks; Sought Materials to Build Pressure Cooker Bomb

U.S. authorities charged a New York college student with plotting to carry out terrorist attacks in the city on behalf of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), the Slate website reports today (June 17, 2015).

Munther Omar Saleh -- a 20-year-old American citizen -- was under surveillance for several months and was arrested on June 13.

"Saleh searched online for materials required to build a pressure cooker bomb and looked at images of city tourist attractions in the hope of carrying out an attack," according to the complaint.

Investigators found his computer contained Islamic State propaganda, according to court filings.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Taliban Warns IS: Don't Mingle in Afghanistan; Insists Holy War Be Conducted under One Flag

The Taliban today (June 16, 2015) warned the leader of the Islamic State (IS) group against waging a parallel insurgency in Afghanistan, after a string of defections from the Taliban and reported clashes between the two Islamic groups, the Yahoo News website reports.

The IS has never formally acknowledged having a presence in Afghanistan, but fears are growing that the Middle Eastern group is making inroads into the country.

In the letter addressed to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Taliban insisted that "jihad [holy war] against Americans and their allies must be conducted under one flag and one leadership."

The Taliban has seen several defections in recent months, with some insurgents adopting the IS flag to rebrand themselves as a more lethal force, as NATO troops begin leaving Afghanistan.

Biggest Illegal Waste Dump in Europe Is in Italy; Vast Area Near Naples Believed Piloted by Mafia

Officials in Italy have begun excavating what they believe is the biggest illegal waste dump in Europe. Everything from chemicals and plastics to discarded construction materials has been buried in a vast area the equivalent of about 30 football fields just north of Naples, the Euro News website reports today (June 16, 2015).

Sergio Costa of the local environmental police said: "We found waste leaking back up to the surface from buried containers. Some of it was flammable. These are exceptionally hazardous and would have been expensive to treat first before being disposed of in the correct way. That's why it was just dumped here."

Although now overgrown, some people must have known what was going on when the mafia first went into the waste disposal business. But a blind eye was turned due to the fear of mafia revenge.

More than 20 years ago, mafia member Carmine Schiavone admitted to police that illicit dumping was going on in the Naples region. Local residents are now demanding a full investigation into what kind of waste has been buried in the area and how big a risk it poses to their health.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Netanyahu:Boycott of Israel Like Nazi Germany; Attacks on Jews Then Repeated on Israel Today

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today (June 15, 2015) that a Palestinian-led campaign to boycott Israeli goods was reminiscent of Nazi Germany's campaign against Jews, The Daily Star (Lebanese) website reports.

Meting with visiting Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna, Netanyahu raised the issue of "the defamation of the Jewish people" on Polish soil when the Nazis controlled much of Europe.

"The attacks on the Jews were always preceded by the slander of the Jews. What was done to the Jewish people then is being done to the Jewish state now," Netanyahu said.

The Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign aims to put political and economic pressure on Israel over its occupation of the Palestinian territories, in a bid to repeat the success of the efforts which ended apartheid in South Africa.

Largest U.S. Protestant Group Losing Members; Southern Baptists Lost Over 236K People in 2014

The largest U.S. Protestant group -- the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) -- has reported its largest annual decline in more than 130 years (a loss of 236,467 members in 2014), the Ecumenical News website reports today (June 15, 2015).

With just under 15.5 million members, the Southern Baptist Convention has lost about 800,000 members since 2003, when membership peaked at about 16.3 million.

The number of SBC baptisms has declined in eight of the past 10 years, according to the denomination. In 2014, baptisms declined by more than 5,000 to just over 305,000.

Frank Page, president of SBC's Nashville-based executive committee, said that the numbers were disappointing. "The truth is, we have less people in our churches who are giving less money because we  are winning less people to Christ, and we are not training them in the spiritual disciplines of our Lord," he told the Baptist Press.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Spokane NAACP Members Want Pres. to Resign; Rachel Dolezal Is White Woman,Said She's Black

The leader of the Spokane, Washington  NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) chapter, Rachel Dolezal, has canceled a meeting tomorrow where she was expected to speak about the furor sparked over her claiming to be a black woman when, in fact, she is white, the ABC News website reports today (June 14, 2015).

Her parents have said the 37-year-old activist has falsely portrayed herself as black for years. She has been president of the Spokane NAACP chapter for the past six months. Ruthanne Dolezal -- Rachel's birth mother -- said the family's ancestry is Czech, Swedish, and German, with a trace of Native American heritage.

Dolezal sent out an email today canceling the monthly membership meeting "due to the need to continue discussion with regional and national NAACP leaders." Some members are planning a demonstration tomorrow night calling for Dolezal to step down. Another member said Dolezal does not have the authority to arbitrarily cancel/postpone tomorrow's meeting.

Kitara Johnson -- a member of the Spokane NAACP chapter -- organized an online petition calling for Dolezal to take a leave of absence. "It's not about race, it's about integrity," Johnson said. "If you're a leader, you have to have integrity. She clearly lacks integrity. The other piece is credibility."

(ADDENDUM: Rachel Dolezal resigned today, June 15, 2015, as president of the Spokane NAACP chapter, according to the Yahoo News website.)

Italy to Ask EU to Set Up Refugee Camps in Libya; It Will "Hurt" Europe If It Neglects Migrant Crisis

Italy said today (June 14, 2015) it will ask the EU (European Union) to set up refugee processing camps in Libya, and threatened to "hurt" Europe, should it turn a deaf ear to the migrant crisis on its shores, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

Italy is struggling to accommodate an endless wave of boat migrants, and a crackdown on security at the borders with France and Austria has exacerbated the situation, causing a bottleneck at Italy's train stations.

The crisis "should not be underestimated," Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said, as Austria, France, and Switzerland expelled asylum seekers back onto Italian soil. Renzi also threatened to "hurt" Europe -- without giving any specific details -- if other European nations do not join Italy in permanently housing the migrant refugees.

Over 57,000 migrants and asylum seekers from Libya and other northern African nations have been rescued at sea and brought to Italy so far this year -- up from 54,000 at the same time last year -- Renzi said, and Rome wants both a long-term solution and help from other countries now.

US Plans to Send Tanks, 5K Troops to E. Europe; Informs Putin NATO Will Counter Any Aggression

In a critical move to deter possible Russian aggression in Europe, the Pentagon is planning to store battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and other heavy weapons for as many as 5,000 American troops in several Baltic and Eastern European countries, the NY Times website reports today (June 14, 2015).

Implementation of the plan would represent the first time since the end of the Cold War in 1991 that the United States has stationed heavy military equipment in the newer NATO member nations in Eastern Europe that had once been part of the Soviet sphere of influence. Russia's recent annexation of Crimea and its ongoing aggression in eastern Ukraine have caused alarm and prompted new military planning in NATO capitals.

It would be the most prominent of a series of moves the U.S. and NATO have taken to bolster forces in the region and send a clear message of resolve to allies and to Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, that the United States would defend the alliance's members closest to the Russian border.

"This is a very meaningful shift in policy," said James Stavridis, a retired admiral and the former supreme allied commander of NATO, who is now dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. "It provides a reasonable level of reassurance to jittery allies, although nothing is as good as troops stationed full-time on the ground, of course," Stavridis said.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Anti-Semitic Acts in Canada Hit All-Time High; Last Year's 1,627 Incidents Top 2013's by 28%

B'nai Brith's annual audit shows that recorded anti-Semitic incidents reached an all-time high in Canada last year, the Times of Israel website reports today (June 13, 2015).

The yearly tally -- released on June 11 -- shows there were 1,627 reported anti-Semitic incidents in 2014, a 28 percent increase over the year before. The previous record was 1,345 incidents in 2012.

Most cases last year -- 84 percent or 1,370 incidents -- involved harassment; there were 238 reported incidents of vandalism, or 15 percent of all cases; and 1 percent of recorded incidents, or 19 cases, involved violence.

Overall, most incidents -- 961 -- were in Ontario, followed by Quebec and Atlantic Canada at 259. That is "consistent with years past,"" BBC stated.

Franklin Graham Would Ban Shariah Law in US; Says It Backs Violence, Makes Thousands Suffer

Franklin Graham -- the son of world famous evangelist Billy Graham -- has called for Shariah law (Islamic law) to be banned in the United States, citing the acts of violence committed by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in the Middle East, the Christian Headlines website reports today (June 13, 2015).

Graham shared a link to a BBC story on his Facebook page, writing that Shariah law has caused thousands to suffer.

"This is a vivid reminder of why Shariah law should be banned in the U.S. and all countries that cherish freedom and liberty. Some western governments are actually considering allowing Shariah law in certain Muslim communities in their countries -- can you believe it?" Graham wrote.

"ISIS is imposing Shariah law on hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Syrians who want to be free. Women are oppressed, Christians and minorities are persecuted and murdered, homosexuals are tortured and killed."

Friday, June 12, 2015

New Report:European Nations Have Gone to Pot; Study Finds Marijuana Europe's Most Used Drug

Marijuana is the most used drug in Europe, according to a new EU (European Union) report released yesterday, the Euro News website reports today (June 12, 2015).

Seventy-nine million Europeans have tried it at some point in their lives, experts at the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction found in a study of legal and illegal narcotics use across the continent.

Marijuana -- or pot as it is also called -- accounts for 80 percent of drug seizures on the continent and 60 percent of all reported drug offenses.

The same study found that cocaine is the second most popular drug in Europe, as it has been used by some 15.6 million people. The experts behind the report also said that banning "legal highs" will only force the trade underground.

Spain's Parl. Allows Jews to Return to Country; Jews Can Now Return after 5 Cent.of Expulsion

Spain's parliament yesterday passed a law allowing descendants of Sephardic Jews to gain nationality, more than five centuries after their ancestors were expelled from the country, the Reuters website reports today (June 12, 2015).

The law could allow an estimated 3.5 million Sephardic Jews -- whose families settled in Israel, the United States, Argentina, France, and elsewhere -- to apply for citizenship. They would not have to give up their current nationality to do so.

The numbers of those applying are likely to be much lower, however -- running in the tens of thousands -- Jewish groups and the Spanish government believe.

The law -- suggested last year by Spain's center-right government -- nevertheless has historic resonance more than 500 years after Spain's Catholic monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand ordered Jews and Muslims to convert to Catholicism or leave the country.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Russia Slams Croatia for Converting Orth. People; Says Its Pressure Forced 30,000 to Become Cath.

Croatia's Foreign Ministry has rejected Russian claims that aggressive Croatian nationalism had forced about 30,000 Eastern Orthodox believers to switch to the Catholic religion in the last two decades, the Balkan Insight website reports today (June 11, 2015).

Marking the 70th anniversary of the victory over Germany in World War II, Russia's Foreign Ministry included the claim in an extensive report on what it calls neo-Nazism in Europe, the United States, and Canada, and its threat to human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

When analyzing Croatia, the Russian ministry states that "aggressive nationalism, ethnic and religious intolerance is directed primarily against the largest minority group, the [Orthodox] Serbs, whose number fell by two-thirds since 1991" -- when Croatia proclaimed its independence.

The Croatian Ministry said that the report on neo-Nazism in Croatia -- an ally of Hitler's Nazi Germany during World War II -- used unfounded data that had been selected to confirm earlier set conclusions.

Pope Meets with Russian Pres. Putin at Vatican; Notes Putin's Need to Work for Peace in Ukraine

Pope Francis yesterday spoke with Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, in a meeting focused on conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East that pose complex and contrasting diplomatic challenges for the two leaders, the Religion News website reports today (June 11, 2015).

Francis spent 50 minutes in a private meeting with Putin, to which the Russian leader arrived more than an hour late.

During the meeting, the pope affirmed the need to work sincerely toward peace in Ukraine and emphasized the importance of rebuilding a climate of dialogue, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told journalists.

The pope also talked about the grave humanitarian situation in Ukraine and the need to give access to relief workers, Lombardi said.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Pope OKs New Law for Bishops Ignoring Abuse; Can Displace Bishops for Clergy Abuse Inaction

Pope Francis has approved the outline of a new system of accountability for bishops who do not appropriately handle accusations of clergy sexual abuse, the Catholic News website reports today (June 10, 2015).

Proposed by Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley at the behest of the Pontificial Commission for the Protection of Minors, the system gives power to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to judge bishops "with regard to crimes of the abuse of office when connected to the abuse of minors."

It would also see the establishment of a new office at the congregation to undertake work as a tribunal to judge such bishops.

Such a system will be the first at the Vatican, where bishops have long held near impunity with regard to their actions or inactions on clergy sexual abuse. In the Roman Catholic Church, only the pope can fire prelates, a process that -- if it ever occurs -- normally takes years or even decades.

Memorial to Greek Jewish Children Vandalized; Greece Tops All of Europe in Anti-Semitic Views

A memorial to the 13,000 Greek Jewish children murdered in the Holocaust has been desecrated in Athens with Nazi images, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (June 10, 2015).

The memorial -- which sits next to a playground built in the children's memory in central Athens -- was defaced earlier this month with a Nazi swastika and Nazi SS signs, according to the Jewish Community of Athens.

There have been several instances of vandalism over the last year in Jewish cemeteries and Holocaust memorials in Greece.

In fact, a recent Anti-Defamation League (ADL) survey shows that Greece has Europe's highest rate of anti-Semitic attitudes, with 69 percent of Greeks backing anti-Semitic views. That is nearly double the rate of the next highest country, France, with 37 percent.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Swastikas Drawn on a Miami Beach Family Cars; "It's Scary to Live in World Scared to Be Jewish"

Swastikas and a hate message were drawn on the cars of a Jewish family in Miami Beach, Florida, the Forward (Jewish) website reports today (June 9, 2015).

A disgusting Jewish epithet and the swastikas were discovered on the morning of June 7, according to local reports.

"It's scary that you live in such a world where you're kind of like scared to be Jewish, that any moment this person can come back," Daniella Fields, who first noticed the messages, told a local TV channel.

"My family all perished in the Holocaust. My grandma's entire family, she was the only survivor of everybody," said her mother Esther Fields. "To wake up with a swastika on my car... it's very concerning."

Abp. Calls Ukraine a Humanitarian Catastrophe; Says It's E. Europe's Worst Conflict Since WWII

The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) has said Ukraine is facing a "humanitarian catastrophe" that is the most difficult calamity in Eastern Europe since the Second World War, the Ecumenical News website reports today (June 9, 2015).

"The [Russian] aggression against Ukraine is a challenge for preserving peace in the world which cannot pretend that nothing happens in Eastern Europe," said Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, major archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is an eastern (Greek Orthodox) rite Catholic Church in full communion with the church in Rome.

In Geneva, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (OCHA) said today (June 9) that between mid-April 2014 and June 9, 2015, the crisis in Ukraine has internally displaced more than 1.3 million people. During the same period, at least 6,454 people -- both military and civilians -- have been killed and 16,146 wounded, according to estimates from the UN Human Rights Mission in Ukraine and the WHO (World Health Organization)," said OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Pope:Kids Must Not Use Computers in Bedrooms; Warns Parents of Internet "Filth," Ruining of Soul

Parents should not let children use computers in their bedrooms, the pope has said, while warning them of the dangers of Internet "filth," the Daily Mail (British) website reports today (June 8, 2015).

Pope Francis -- who has some 19 million Twitter followers -- also revealed he believed computers to be "bad for the soul" as he launched into a lecture on the dangers of the Internet age.

He praised those parents who were concerned about their children's exposure to pornographic material on the web, and only allowed the use of computers in common areas.

"It is part of the progress of mankind," the pope said. "But when it takes away from communal and family life, social life, sport, art, and we remain attached to our computers, this is a psychological illness."

Greek Orth.Patriarch Hosts Environment Summit; Participants to Promote Sustainable Environment

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will host the second Halki Summit in Heybeliada, Turkey. The summit -- being held June 8-10 -- is a gathering of activists, scientists, journalists, business leaders, theologians, and academics engaging and working across intellectual boundaries to bring the global environmental discussion to a new and richer place, the Greek Reporter website reports today (June 8, 2015).

Halki Summit II -- organized by Ecumenical Patriarchate and Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) -- will focus on "Theology, Ecology, and the World: A Conversation on the Environment, Literature and the Arts."

Summit participants will discuss the relationship between nature and art. (Incidentally, former Vice President Al Gore -- a genuine environmentalist -- nicknamed Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew "the Green Patriarch" several years ago because of his tireless conveying to the world a need for a clean environment.)

Summit participants -- including SNHU President Paul LeBlanc and several representatives of SNHU students -- will seek to discern the literary and philosophical roots of our concern for a balanced and sustainable environment.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Turkey's Modern "Sultan" Erdogan Suffers Defeat; His Pol. Party Loses Its Absolute Majority in Parl.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- who has dominated Turkey for over a decade, first as premier and now as president -- has suffered the worst election setback of his career in legislative polls amid increasing controversy over his polarizing rule, the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website reports today (June 7, 2015).

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) co-founded by Erdogan won the most votes in today's elections, but lost its absolute majority in parliament for the first time since it came to power in 2002.

The result has scuttled Erdogan's plan to push through the constitutional changes he yearns for to create a presidential system that would give him greater powers.

In the last two years, Erdogan has become an increasingly divisive figure, hated by a plethora of secular Turks who see him as an autocrat bent on Islamizing Turkey.

Idaho School Buys Guns for Defense in Shooting; Due to a Lack of Funds for Hiring Police Officers

A small school district in Idaho -- far removed from law enforcement officials -- has purchased firearms and trained a handful of staff to use them, should the same school shooting rampage that has occurred across the country take place, the Washington Times website reports today (June 7, 2015).

It takes about 45 minutes for officers to reach the Garden Valley School District -- a district made up of less than 300 students, all taught in the same building -- where limited funds have prevented the school from being able to afford hiring police officers to patrol the building during school hours.

Consequently, the school board this month approved purchasing guns to remain locked inside the school and trained six employees to use the weapons in an emergency.

Garden Valley's actions are just one of many solutions schools across the nation have adopted in recent years to protect their campuses. Some have installed metal detectors, others have expanded school resource officers to secure not only high schools but also middle and elementary schools.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

At Least 14 Die in Iraq Suicide Car Bomb Attack; Took Place at a Market in Iraq's Diyala Province

At least 14 people were killed and 18 injured late today (June 6, 2015) in a suicide car bomb attack at a market in Iraq's Balad Ruz town in Diyala province, the Big News Network website reports.

Amer al-Kilani, a member of the Diyala provincial council, said the explosion occurred about 100 meters from the security checkpoint, adding that extensive damage was caused to several cars and shops near the blast site.

In Diyala province -- which is a mixture of Sunnis and Shiites -- residents have been exposed to the occasional bloody attacks carried out by extremist groups.

Terrorism and violence have killed at least 12,282 civilians and wounded 23,126 others in 2014 in Iraq, according to a recent UN report.

Pope in Sarajevo, Calls for Lasting Rel. Peace; Recalls Life in Yugoslav City of Rel. Harmony

Pope Francis on a visit in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, urged Bosnians today (June 6, 2015) to seek lasting ethnic and religious harmony to heal the deep, lingering wounds of the 1992-1995 war that devastated the former Yugoslav republic, according to the Newsmax website.

"The cry of God's people goes up once again from this city, the cry of all men and women of good will: war never again," he said at a Mass for some 65,000 people at the stadium of the city -- with a cross-section of Muslims, Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christians, and Jews --  that was once a symbol of ethnic and religious diversity in socialist Yugoslavia.

Francis listed the sufferings endured by Bosnians, mentioning refugee camps, destroyed houses and factories, and shattered lives.

"You know this well, having experienced it here: how much suffering, how much destruction, how much pain!" he said, raising his voice as he read his homily in Italian.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Min. Cath. Arch. Is Charged in Sex Abuse Case; Failed to Discipline Priest Who Abused Children

Prosecutors in Minnesota filed criminal charges today (June 5, 2015) against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, accusing church leaders of mishandling repeated complaints of sexual misconduct against a priest and failing to follow through on pledges to protect children and root out pedophile clergymen, the NY Times website reports.

The charges and accompanying civil petition -- announced by the Ramsey County prosecutor, John Choi -- stem from accusations by three male victims who say that from 2008 to 2010, when they were under age, a local priest, Curtis Wehmeyer, now 50, gave them alcohol and drugs before sexually assaulting them.

The criminal case amounts to a sweeping condemnation of the Minnesota archdiocese and how its leaders have handled abuse allegations -- even after reforms were put into place by church leaders to increase accountability.

Wehmeyer -- who was dismissed as a priest in March -- was sentenced to five years in a Minnesota prison in 2013 for criminal sexual conduct and possession of child pornography. He has also been charged with sex crimes in Wisconsin.

French Town to Name Street After Yasser Arafat; La Seyne-sur-Mer on Med.Sea Honors PLO Head

A town in southern France has voted to name a street after the late Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat, the Times of Israel website reports today (June 5, 2015).

A majority of the town council in La Seyne-sur-Mer -- located outside Toulon on the Mediterranean coast -- voted in favor of the move, the French newspaper "Nice Matin" reported yesterday.

Several council members protested the move, with one calling Arafat "a terrorist."

"There is also a Yitzhak Rabin Street in the neighborhood," Mayor Marc Vuillemot fired back at the opponents. He noted that the late Israeli prime minister won a Nobel Peace Prize alongside Arafat for signing the Oslo Accords in 1993.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Mubarak to Be Retried for Killings of Protesters; Court Orders Former Egyptian Pres. to a Retrial

An appeals court in Egypt today (June 4, 2015) ordered former President Hosni Mubarak -- who led Egypt for almost 30 years -- to stand trial again over the killing of protesters in 2011, according to the BBC website.

He was already convicted of corruption and sentenced to three years in jail this year.

Mubarak, 87, is in poor health and currently in the Maadi military hospital in Cairo.

He has faced a series of trials and retrials over the killings and corruption, and the time he has spent in custody means he has already served his three-year jail term for embezzlement.

Obama Requires Rel. Organizations to Hire Gays; LGBT Regulation Is Unfair to Faith-Based Groups

Religious non-profit organizations will soon be required to hire LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) people, according to a new set of regulations from the Obama administration, the Christian Headlines website reports today (June 4, 2015).

The President has added a "sexual orientation and gender identity" mandate that will require Christian organizations to hire people who are gay, as well as allow transgender people to use the locker rooms and restrooms of their chosen sex.

Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel says the new rule is unfair to faith-based organizations that believe in biblical teaching on homosexuality.

"This is ludicrous!" Staver said. "Christian organizations cannot offer biblical counseling and, at the same time, hire people who do not follow the Bible and their doctrinal positions on human sexuality. Ultimately, this LGBT regulation is going to cause irreparable harm to the children and the needy."

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dutch Lawmakers Foil Mohammed Cartoon Show; Anti-Islam Advocate Geert Wilders Sought Exhibit

The Dutch parliament has decided against allowing anti-Islam campaigner Geert Wilders to stage a show of American cartoons based on the prophet Mohammed, the Dutch News website reports today (June 3, 2015).

The organization that oversees the running of parliament -- known as the Presidium -- turned down Wilders' request because the proposed show does not meet the criteria parliament has agreed.

Exhibitions in parliament must focus on the role of parliament and should not offer a platform to party political statements. Moreover, the exhibitions should not be controversial, the rules state.

The cartoons were entries in a competition staged by an American anti-Islam organization in the state of Texas last month, and Wilders was in the U.S. for the prize-giving ceremony. After Wilders had left the building, it was attacked by two radical Muslims, both of whom were shot dead by police.

Britain's Student Union Votes to Boycott Israel; Condemns Israeli Mil.Presence in the West Bank

The UK's National Union of Students passed a motion yesterday to join worldwide efforts to boycott Israel due to its violations of Palestinian human rights. The motion aligns the union with the Palestinian-backed Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, the Times of Israel website reports today (June 3, 2015).

The NUC's Executive Council passed the motion -- called "Justice for Palestine" -- with 19 members voting in favor, 12 against, and three abstaining.

The motion also called on the British Parliament to stop arms sales to Israel. The NUC is the UK's umbrella student organization for some 600 higher education institutions representing 7 million students.

The motion "condemns Israeli military presence in the West Bank and Gaza," and calls on students to "co-ordinate a nationwide student day of action to commemorate UN Palestine Solidarity Day on 29 November."

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Iraqi PM:IS Stole Over $1B in US Mil. Equipment; Seized 2300 Mil. Humvees in City of Mosul Alone

The Islamic State (IS)  -- a brutal terrorist group also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) -- seized 2,300 U.S. military Humvees and other weaponry from Iraq's U.S. taxpayer-funded armed forces in the city of Mosul, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi admitted in a TV interview over the weekend, The New American website reports today (June 2, 2015).

ISIS militants then paraded the captured U.S. military equipment -- worth over one billion dollars -- through the streets of the city.

They then proceeded to use the American Humvees to lynch and burn Iraqi troops -- many of whom had dropped their U.S. supplies and fled -- before putting the vehicles to work in suicide bombings and other attacks.

"In the collapse of Mosul, we lost a lot of weapons," al-Abadi acknowledged, referring to the overrunning of the city by ISIS forces last summer amid the mass-desertion of U.S.-backed Iraqi government forces. "We lost 2,300 Humvees in Mosul alone." Depending on how the Humvees were outfitted -- grenade launchers, machine guns, or extra armor -- the price tag could have been well over one billion dollars. ISIS militants are also believed to have seized the helicopters that were displayed during the ISIS parade with the captured Humvees.

New Disclosure: FBI Operating Spy Planes in US; Secretly Videos Info on Persons without Warrants

The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the United States carrying video and cellphone surveillance technology -- all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government -- the Associated Press website revealed today (June 2, 2015).

The planes' surveillance equipment is used without a judge's approval, and the FBI said the flights are used for ongoing investigations. Moreover, the FBI shields the identity of the aircraft so that suspects on the ground don't know they are being watched.

The U.S. government admits that the spying flights are taking place, but maintains that they are an important tool in criminal, terrorism, and intelligence probes.

However, the program raises questions about the secret FBI surveillance violating the civil liberties and constitutional rights of American citizens. The American Civil Liberties Union -- once it learns about these secret flights -- will undoubtedly file a lawsuit saying that they must end because they violate the U.S. Constitution.

Monday, June 1, 2015

High Court:Abercrombie & Fitch Discriminated; Didn't Hire Muslim Woman Due to Head Scarf

A Muslim woman -- who was turned down for a job at Abercrombie & Fitch in 2008 because she wore a hijab during an interview -- scored a major victory today (June 1, 2015) after the Supreme Court ruled that companies can't discriminate against job applicants or employees for religious reasons, the Alternet website reports.

Justices did not buy Abercrombie & Fitch's argument that Samantha Elauf was turned down because of her head scarf and not for her faith.

When Elauf -- who was 17 at the time -- interviewed for a job wearing a black hijab, she did not tell her employer that she was a Muslim and the interviewer did not ask about her religion.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the 8-1 decision that even if the preppy clothing store wasn't aware of Samantha Elauf's religion, it still influenced their decision not to hire her. The only justice to dissent was Clarence Thomas, who wrote that the company's "neutral look policy" cannot constitute intentional discrimination.

Assad's Army's Barrel Bombs Kill 200 Syrians; Many Women, Children Killed in the Attacks

Activists have disclosed that 200 civilians in Syria have died from barrel bomb attacks during the past two days, carried out by the army of President Bashar al-Assad, the Christian Post website reports today (June 1, 2015).

While Assad has denied responsibility, a UN envoy has condemned the bombings as "totally unacceptable."

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that 71 civilians -- including women and children -- were killed by bombs dropped by Asad's Helicopters on May 30 alone in the northern province of Aleppo.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said that it was "totally unacceptable that the Syrian air force attacks its own territory in an indiscriminate way, killing its own citizens."