Thursday, March 31, 2016

At Least 6 Killed Today in Turkey's Kurdish Area; All Fatalities Believed to Be Turkish Security Staff

A deadly explosion today (March 31, 2016) targeted security forces in Turkey's mainly Kurdish region, killing at least six people in the latest violence to hit the country amid a string of suicide blasts and other attacks, according to the Washington Post website.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility following the explosion in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeastern region.

The area has been the scene of increasing clashes between Turkish forces and Kurdish separatists, who have stepped up a decades-long fight for greater autonomy.

At least six people were killed and 23 were injured in the blast, which went off near a small bus carrying police special forces. All the fatalities are believed to be Turkish security personnel.

Church of Poland Calls for Total Abortion Ban; Says People Must Fully Protect Life of Unborn

The Church of Poland has called for a total abortion ban, in a bid to tighten the existing law from 1993, the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website reports today (March 31, 2016).

The abortion law dating from 1993 in Poland -- where 90 percent of residents are Catholic -- bans all terminations except when the pregnancy results from rape or incest, poses a health risk to the mother, or when the fetus is severely deformed.

"When it comes to the life of the unborn, we can't remain at the current compromise set out in the (1993) law," Polish bishops wrote in a letter to be read in all parishes across the country on Sunday (April 3, 2016).

"We call on people of goodwill, believers and nonbelievers, to act so as to fully protect the life of the unborn from a legal point of view," the letter states.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

US Allies in Syria Are Now Fighting Each Other; One Group Is Backed by CIA, Other by Pentagon

In the deepening morass that is the Syrian Civil War -- which includes a multitude of combating forces --  United States-backed insurgents have recently begun waging war with a new foe: other United States-backed insurgents, The New American website reports today (March 30, 2016).

Not surprisingly -- given the complexity of the situation on the ground -- two entirely different groups of insurgents, backed by different factions within the U.S. military establishment for entirely different motives, have been shooting at each other in the increasingly desperate, multi-sided battle unfolding to the north of Syria's second-largest city, Aleppo.

The two Syrian factions -- Fursan al-Haq (Knights of Righteousness) and the Syrian Democratic Forces -- clashed first in the town of Marea, about 20 miles north of Aleppo, in mid-February, with the latter running the former out of town.

Over the next several weeks, similar clashes occurred in the town of Azaz and in the Aleppo neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsud. Fursan al-Haq is supported by the CIA, and the Syrian Democratic Forces are supported by the Pentagon.

Woman Pleads Guilty to Providing IS Support; Planned to Go to Syria with Fiance to Assist IS

A 20-year-old Mississippi woman pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiring to provide support and personnel to a terrorist organization, the USA Today website reports today (March 30, 2016).

Jaelyn Delshaun Young pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge stemming from an FBI investigation into her alleged plans to join the Islamic State (IS) terror group with her fiance, Muhammad Dakhlalla, 23. The couple planned to go to Syria to assist the IS.

As part of the plea agreement, two additional counts of attempting to provide support to a foreign terrorist organization were dismissed. Young can be sentenced up to 20 years in prison and fined up to $250,000 as part of the agreement.

Young and Dakhlalla both pleaded not guilty in December, but Dakhlalla changed his plea to guilty to that court earlier this month.

Only 50 Percent of Italians Call Themselves Cath.; Poll Finds Rel.Weakness Despite Home of Vatican

Italy may be the spiritual home of 1.2 billion members of the Catholic Church around the world, but a new poll shows only 50 percent of Italians consider themselves Catholic, the Religion News website reports today (March 30, 2016).

The poll -- published in the liberal daily "L'Unita" on March 29 -- challenges long-held perceptions that Italy is a "Catholic" country, despite the historic role of the Vatican City State in the heart of Rome.

Of the 1,500 respondents of the poll, 4 percent said they were Greek Orthodox or Protestant, 2 percent were Buddhist, 1 percent were Jewish, and 1 percent were Muslim.

Enzo Risso -- research director of the poll -- said the poll confirms a trend that Italy has witnessed a significant weakening of religious faith over the past 20 years.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Poll: Pope Francis Is Most Popular World Leader; Portugal, Philippines Lead Positive Views of Pope

Pope Francis is the most popular world leader, according to a new opinion poll by WIN/Gallup, the Catholic News website reports today (March 29, 2016).

The survey -- taken by 1,000 people in 64 countries -- puts the popularity of the Pope above U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande.

The regions where  Pope Francis is held in highest esteem are Latin America, North America, and Europe. Portugal has the highest number of individuals with a positive view of the Pope, followed by the Philippines.

Segmented by religious belief, Roman Catholics view the Pope most favorably, followed by Jews and then Protestants.

Exclusive:IS Plotting Attack on Jewish Schools; Intel Info Reveals IS to Attack Soon in Istanbul

Terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have advanced plans to murder Jewish children in Turkey, targeting kindergartens, schools, and youth centers, the Sky News website reveals exclusively today (March 29, 2016).

Information on an "imminent" attack was obtained from six operatives from the IS Caliphate who were arrested in the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep over the last week.

The most likely target of the attack is Istanbul's synagogue in Beyoglu, which also has a community center and a school attached to it.

"In light of these circumstances, extraordinary security measures are being taken above and beyond the high alert level already in place by the Turkish police, as well as vigilance within the Jewish community," an intelligence source told Sky News. "This is more than a credible threat. This is an active plot," the source added.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Fidel Castro Rips Obama's "Honey-Coated" Visit; "Cuba Doesn't Need Empire to Give Us Anything"

In a statement today (March 28, 2016) carried by Cuban state-run media, retired Cuban President Fidel Castro accused U.S. President Barack Obama of sweet-talking the Cuban people during his visit on the island last week and ignoring the accomplishments of Communist rule, according to the Reuters website.

Obama's visit was aimed at consolidating a detente between the once intractable Cold War enemies, and the U.S. president said in a speech to the Cuban people that it was time for both nations to put the past behind them and face the future "as friends and as neighbors and as a family, together." (Cuba has been a Communist nation since 1959 when Fidel Castro became dictator of the country with a coup d'etat.)

"One assumes that every one of us ran the risk of a heart attack listening to these words," Castro said, dismissing Obama's comments as "honey-coated" and reminding Cubans of the many U.S. efforts to overthrow and weaken the Communist government.

Castro, 89, said the country was able to produce the food and material riches it needs with the efforts of its people. "We don't need the empire [the United States] to give us anything," he added.

Israel Alerts Its Citizens to Leave Turkey Fast; Warns Turkish IS Cells Seek to Attack Israelis

Israel's Counter-Terrorism Bureau at the Prime Minister's Office today (March 28, 2016) issued a travel warning, calling on the public to avoid visiting Turkey and urging Israelis currently there to leave as soon as they can, according to the Times of Israel website.

The warning -- which raised the terror risk in Turkey from level 3 (basic concrete threat) to level 2 (high concrete threat) -- came in the wake of a terror attack in central Istanbul on March 19, in which three Israelis were killed and several others wounded. (See "Turkey: Istanbul Suicide Bomber Was IS Member...," Theology and Society, March 21, 2016)

That attack -- the PMO said in a statement -- underscored the threat emanating from Islamic State (IS) cells that seek to attack tourism sites and proved that IS has "high capabilities of carrying out further attacks."

Israelis in Turkey should "leave as soon as possible," the statement added.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Taliban Group Kills at Least 65 in Pakistani Park; Islamist Mil. Targeted Crowds Celebrating Easter

A suicide blast claimed by Islamist militants ripped through crowds of families celebrating Easter at a park in the Pakistani city of Lahore today (March 27, 2016), killing at least 65 people and injuring 300 in an attack the jihadists said had deliberately targeted Christians, according to the Washington Post website.

The attack was carried out by a suicide bomber in the parking lot of Gulshan e-Iqbal Park at about 6:30 p.m., transforming a joyful scene of picnicking families into a spectacle of chaos and horror. Many children were among the dead, local officials said.

A spokesman for the Jamaat ul-Ahrar militant group -- which is an offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban -- claimed responsibility for the attack.

"It was our people who attacked the Christians in Lahore, celebrating Easter," the spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, said. "It's our message to the government that we will carry out such attacks again until sharia [Islamic law] is imposed in the country."

Neo-Nazi Group Hacks into Several US Colleges; Prints Campus Flyers,Claims Jews Destroying US

Students at college campuses across the United States were shocked on March 25 to find flyers on campus printers accusing Jews of destroying American life, and urging them to join the struggle for global white supremacy, the Jewish Press website reports today (March 27, 2016).

The flyers originated from The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website that hacked them into the printing network.

The flyers claimed that Jews are destroying the United States, and urged readers to join the Daily Stormer group.

Among the schools affected were Brown University, Northeastern University, Princeton University, and Smith College.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Syrian Woman Has Baby at Greek Refugee Camp; Doctors of the World Assisted in N. Greece Birth

A 24-year-old Syrian woman gave birth today (March 26, 2016) to a girl at the sprawling Greek migrant encampment in Idomeni, a town in northern Greece that borders the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), according to the Associated Press website.

The birth -- in a tent lying on the railway tracks -- was assisted by volunteers from the aid group Doctors of the World. The woman has two other children.

More than 11,500 migrants and refugees are still at the makeshift camp, as FYROM has built a fence and shut its borders to them, as have other European countries near northern Greece.

The Greek government wants to empty the Idomeni encampment by next month, but has ruled out using force to do so.

Philippine Cath.Crucified in Good Friday Ritual; Several Have Hands and Feet Nailed to Crosses

In a bloody recreation of Jesus' crucifixion, Christian devotees in the northern Philippines were attached to crosses with two-inch nails through their hands and feet yesterday to mark Catholic Good Friday, the Mirror (British) website reports today (March 26, 2016).

The spectacle -- which takes place each year on the outskirts of Cutud village -- began in the 1960s as a small stage play, but has since become a popular tourist attraction.

Hundreds of spectators witnessed the bloody ritual about 50 miles north of Manila, the capital of the Philippines.

Penitents recited short prayers under the sweltering heat before being brought down and taken to a nearby clinic for treatment.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Pope Rips Europe's Heartless Migrant Attitude; Blasts Pedophile Priests in Good Friday Service

Pope Francis today (March 25, 2016) decried what he called Europe's "indifferent and anesthetized conscience" over migrants and slammed pedophile priests during Catholic Good Friday prayers in Rome, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

Tens of thousands of Catholic faithful gathered for the service, many clutching candles in the area of Rome's famous Colosseum, where thousands of Christians are believed to have been killed in Roman times.

"O Cross of Christ, today we see you in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas which have become insatiable cemeteries, reflective of our indifferent and anesthetized conscience," the 79-year-old pontiff said, referring to the thousands who set off in unseaworthy boats to reach Greece and the rest of Europe.

In addressing the topic of pedophilia during the service, the pope did not spare his own Church, fiercely denouncing pedophile priests whom he described as those "unfaithful ministers who, instead of stripping themselves of their own vain ambitions, divest even the innocent of their dignity."

Poland Rejects Migrants Due to Brussels Attacks; Says Terrorists Among Migrants Entering Europe

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said Warsaw would not take in its share of migrants under an EU (European Union) plan because of the jihadist attacks that killed 34 people in Brussels this week, the Times of Israel website reports today (March 25, 2016).

Poland is the first EU member to take such a step after the March 22 bombings at the Brussels airport and metro, which also left 270 wounded  -- including three Poles -- and were claimed by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.

Europe is grappling with its worst migrant crisis since World War II. Last year some 1.2 million people flooded into the EU, most of them Syrians fleeing via Turkey and Greece.

"We're forced above all to ensure the security of our fellow citizens," Szydlo said, urging Europe against accepting "thousands of migrants who come here only to improve their life conditions." Among these migrants "there are also terrorists."

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Bangladesh Ponders Ending Islam as Official Rel.; Supreme Court May Alter Country to Secular State

Bangladesh's Supreme Court will consider if it should drop Islam as the country's official religion, the Christian Broadcast Network News website reports today (March 24, 2016).

On March 27, the court will hear arguments to decide whether Bangladesh should return to a secular state -- a status it gained when it declared independence from Pakistan in 1971.

The court's hearing comes as ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) claims credit for the stabbing death of a Christian convert -- a senseless killing that the radical Islamic group warns should be a "lesson to others."

Bangladesh is about 90 percent Muslim and 8 percent Hindu, with Christians and other religions filling the remaining 2 percent.

Former Serb Butcher Karadzic Guilty of Genocide; Sentenced 40 Years for 8K Muslim Deaths in 1995

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic today (March 24, 2016) was found guilty of genocide in the 44-month siege of Sarajevo during the 1990s, and nine other war crimes, according to the USA Today website.

About 8,000 Muslim men and boys died during the siege in Srebrenica in 1995, making it the worst war crime in Europe since World War II. Karadzic, 70, was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Nicknamed the "Butcher of Bosnia" because of his huge number of killings, Karadzic was tried before a United Nations war crimes tribunal in Europe and faced 11 charges.

Presiding Judge O-Gon Kwon said Karadzic is criminally responsible for murder, attacking civilians and terror for overseeing the deadly siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, during the country's war. The U.N. court acquitted him of another charge of genocide in Bosnian towns.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Pope Follows Brussels News with "Aching Heart;" Rebukes Cruel Hate Causing Death,Terror,Horror

Pope Francis said today (March 23, 2016) that he has been following the news of yesterday's terrorist attacks in Brussels with "an aching heart," the Independent Catholic News website reports.

At least 34 people were killed and hundreds have been injured in the attacks at Brussels airport and an underground metro station.

Addressing thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter's Square for the General Audience today, Pope Francis assured the families of the victims and all of those injured -- as well as all the people of Belgium -- of his prayers and spiritual closeness.

"Once again I appeal to all people of goodwill to unite in the unanimous condemnation of these cruel abominations that are causing only death, terror and horror... I ask everyone to persevere in prayer and to ask the Lord in this Holy Week to comfort the hearts afflicted and convert the hearts of these people blinded by this cruel fundamentalism," the pope said.

Aid Agencies Pull Out of Greek Migrant Camps; Say EU Deal Excludes Migrants Human Rights

More aid agencies helping refugees and migrants arriving in Greece said they were joining a boycott of detention centers today (March 23, 2016), angered at an EU (European Union) deal they say denies human rights, according to the Reuters website.

Human rights organizations reject the pact between the European Union and Turkey to fast-track registration and asylum applications, under which hundreds of new arrivals have been detained since March 20. Refugees or migrants whose applications fail will be sent back to Turkey under the deal.

Aid agencies said cooperating with the Greeks at detention centers would make them complicit with an "unfair and inhumane" practice.

The aid agencies said today they were following the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR and aid organization Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), a major contributor to the relief effort, which both announced yesterday they would cut back assistance.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Over 3M Russians Fall Below Poverty Line in 2015; Falling Oil Prices, Western Sanctions Erode Russia

More than three million Russians fell below the poverty line in 2015 -- the highest level in nine years -- according to official statistics released yesterday, the IBT (International Business Times) website reports today (March 22, 2016).

The sharp spike was driven by Russia's tanking economy, which has suffered from falling oil prices and Western sanctions, resulting from Russia's aggression in Ukraine.

There were 19.2 million people in poverty last year, up from 16.1 million in 2014, according to data released by State Statistics Service.

Poverty numbers in Russia have now risen for the second straight year after a long, steady fall since the late 1990s.

Terrorists in Brussels Kill at Least 31,Wound 150; IS Conducts 2 Blasts at Airport,1 at Metro Station

Explosions at an airport and a downtown metro stop during morning rush hour rocked the Belgian capital of Brussels today (March 22, 2016), killing at least 31 people, wounding more than 150, and shutting down all public transportation, according to the USA Today website.

Terror alerts rose across Europe, in the United States, and around the world as a result of the Brussels explosions.

Belgium's federal prosecutor confirmed the two blasts at the airport and a third at the metro station were terrorist attacks. The attacked metro station is located near buildings that house European Union (EU) institutions in central Brussels.

"We were fearing terrorist attacks and that has now happened," Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said. The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement to the Amaq news agency.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Turkey: Istanbul Suicide Bomber Was IS Member; Focused His Bombing on Israelis,Killed 3 of Them

A Turkish member of the Islamic State (IS) militant group was responsible for the March 19 suicide bombing in Istanbul that killed three Israelis and an Iranian, the Reuters website reports today (March 21, 2016).

The attack on Istiklal Street -- Istanbul's most popular shopping district -- is the fourth such bombing in Turkey this year and the second one by Islamist militants.

Turkey is on heightened alert after the bombings, which have killed more than 80 people. A soccer game was canceled in Istanbul yesterday and the stadium was evacuated in what appeared to be a security threat.

Interior Minister Efkan Ala identified the March 21 suicide bomber as Mehmet Ozturk from a southern Turkish province, adding that five people had been detained so far in connection with the blast. Israel has confirmed that three of its citizens died in the blast, and that the suicide bomber was specifically focusing his attack on Israelis.

Freedom Leader of Poland Was a Spy for Russia; New Documents Reveal Lech Walesa Led 2 Lives

Presumed anti-communist Polish leader Lech Walesa actually served as a spy working for the murderous regime in Moscow and its secret-police puppets in Poland, according to recently released official documents from the 1970s, The New American website reports today (March 21, 2016).

The revelations last month sparked an instant uproar across Poland, with even top government officials saying that the news casts a shadow over Polish history and independence.

Walesa -- the "hero" and self-styled founder of Poland's Solidarity labor union -- is best known for his supposed role in liberating Poland from Soviet-backed communist tyranny.

Now, with the release of never before seen documents seized by investigators, Walesa's credibility appears to be in tatters with broad swaths of the public. According to the recently released papers, Walesa was a spy for Russia -- his code name was Bolek -- who betrayed his countrymen and collaborated with the communist Polish regime's ruthless "security" apparatus.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Brown U. Probes Threatening Anti-Semitic Posts; Students Unfazed Due to Brown's Hatred History

Students at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island woke up to vicious anti-Semitic graffiti at a Jewish fraternity house on March 18, the Jewish Press website reports today (March 20, 2016).

The university is investigating the graffiti in the Marcy House fraternity which was described by students as "violent" and "threatening," according to "Campus Reform."

Administrators offered counseling for affected students, the Campus Reform website reported.

"Students say they are not surprised by the incident, given the history of anti-Semitism at Brown," the website added.

Pope Compares Jesus' Betrayal to Migrant Plight; Disregard of Jesus' Fate Is Like Europe's Reaction

Pope Francis -- in his Palm Sunday homily today (March 20, 2016) -- decried what he called indifference to the refugees flooding into Europe, making a comparison to authorities who washed their hands of Jesus' fate ahead of His crucifixion, according to the CBS News website.

Before celebrating an outdoor Mass, Francis led a procession through St. Peter's Square to usher in Catholic Holy Week, the solemn period leading to Easter.

Francis abandoned his homily text to lament Europe's handling of the influx of migrants and asylum-seekers fleeing war, persecution, or poverty from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

Jesus was "denied every justice... because nobody wanted to take on the responsibility for His destiny," the pope said. "And I am thinking of so many people... many don't want to assume responsibility for their destiny," Francis said in a clear reference to Europe's migrant crisis. Several European countries have built fences along their borders in order to prevent migrants from entering.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Trash Pickup Resumes in Lebanon after 8 Months; Trash Was Pushed to Suburbs, Beirut River Banks

Sanitation workers began removing mountains of trash from the suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon today (March 19, 2016) in what residents hoped would mark the end of Lebanon's eight-month garbage crisis, the Newsmax website reports.

Early today, dozens of trucks started carrying trash to the Naameh landfill just south of the capital -- one of three landfills opened as part of a temporary solution announced by the government.

As garbage began piling up in Beirut last year, protesters formed the "You Stink" movement, demanding sweeping reform in Lebanon's government. The crisis began last July when the Naameh landfill -- the only landfill in the Beirut region -- was closed due to being filled beyond its capacity.

Since the peaks of the protest in the summer, authorities managed to blunt the public anger by ensuring that the streets of Beirut were kept relatively garbage-free. However, the trash was instead pushed to the city's suburbs, where it piled up along roadsides and the banks of the Beirut River.

Suicide Bomber Kills 5 in Istanbul Shopping Area; Fourth Attack in Turkey This Yr.,Kurds Suspected

A suicide bomber killed himself and four others in a central Istanbul shopping and tourism district today (March 19, 2016), wounding at least 36 people in the fourth such attack in Turkey this year, according to the Reuters website.

The blast sent panicked shoppers scurrying into side alleys off Istiklal Street, a long pedestrian avenue lined with international stores and foreign consulates.

The attack will raise further questions about NATO member Turkey's ability to protect itself against a spillover of violence from the war in neighboring Syria.

Turkey faces threats from Kurdish militants, whose insurgency has spread from the largely Kurdish southeast and who Ankara sees as closely linked to a Kurdish militia in Syria, and from Islamic State (IS) fighters who have also recently targeted it.

Friday, March 18, 2016

EU, Turkey Deal Will Return Migrants to Turkey; EU to Pay Turkey Billions,Allow Visa-Free Travel

European Union (EU) and Turkish leaders celebrated a "historic day" today (March 18, 2016), after sealing a widely-criticized pact to send thousands of asylum-seekers back to Turkey -- a deal that will cost millions and require the rapid dispatch of thousands of experts to Greece to undertake the complicated task of making the plan a reality -- the Chicago Tribune website reports.

The leaders announced that as of Sunday (March 20, 2016), all migrants arriving in the Greek islands who do not qualify for asylum or whose applications are deemed "inadmissible" would be returned to Turkey.

In exchange, Ankara was promised fast-track procedures to get billions of euros in aid to deal with Syrian refugees, unprecedented visa concessions for Turks to come to Europe, and a re-energizing of its EU membership bid.

Today's agreement was met with strong objections by humanitarian organizations. The U.N. refugee agency highlighted deficiencies in Turkey's asylum system, and rights groups expressed concern of Turkey's forceful closing down of its largest opposition newspaper last week by the Erdogan government, clearly illustrating Turkey's failure to provide freedom of the press.

Key Suspect in Paris Attacks Nabbed in Brussels; Salah Abdeslam Led on Terrorist Attacks in Nov.

Senior officials in Europe said one of at least two suspects captured in an anti-terrorist raid today (March 18, 2016) in Brussels is Salah Abdeslam, a Muslim and key figure in last year's attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and wounded many more, according to the Washington Post website.

Abdeslam -- a 26-year-old French national who had resided in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels before the attacks -- was wounded in the leg in the raid, authorities said. He had eluded authorities since the November 13 attacks. The identity of a second person captured with him today was not immediately disclosed.

Hours after the raid, explosions were heard in a Brussels neighborhood where police were searching for another suspected terrorist, news agencies reported. Belgium's VTM television channel reported that a third suspect was arrested, but this was not confirmed by officials.

Belgian federal prosecutors said today that the fingerprints of Abdeslam -- one of Europe's most wanted men -- were found in an apartment raided by police earlier this week. They declined to give further details.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Fla.Church Expels Pastor Due to Another Affair; Billy Graham's Grandson Had a Previous Affair

Willow Creek Church in Winter Springs, Florida confirmed today (March 17, 2016) that it has fired Tullian Tchividjian, 43 -- grandson of evangelical icon Billy Graham -- after he revealed a second unconfessed affair he had with another woman, according to the Christian Post website.

"When we heard the disclosures he made just a few days ago, the session acted within hours to end his employment at the church," Willow Creek's Senior Pastor Kevin Labby told The Christian Post this morning.

"The disclosures that he made involved the fact that he had a previously unconfessed inappropriate relationship with another woman. He didn't share specifics with us. He said the person, that's worth saying... there were no specifics," Labby said.

Tchividjian  landed a job at a Willow Creek Church last September, some two months after he resigned from Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida due to an extramarital affair.

Kerry:ISIS Commits Genocide against Christians; Sec. of State Acknowledges IS' Inhumane Actions

Secretary of State John Kerry said today (March 17, 2016) that the United States has determined that action by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) against Christians and other minority groups in Iraq and Syria constitutes genocide, according to the CNN website.

"My purpose here today is to assert in my judgment, ISIS is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control including Yazidis, Christians and Shiite Muslims," he said, during a news conference at the State Department today.

Kerry added that in 2014, ISIS trapped Yazidis, killed them, enslaved thousands of Yazidi women and girls, "selling them at auction, raping them at will and destroying the communities in which they had lived for countless generations," executed Christians "solely for their faith" and also "forced Christian women and girls into slavery." (Yazidis have a unique religion that includes some parts of Christianity, Islam, and other faiths.)

"Without our intervention, it is clear that those people would have been slaughtered," he said.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Two Female Suicide Bombers Kill 22 at a Mosque; Boko Haram Islamists Suspected of Nigerian Raid

Two female suicide bombers killed 22 people today (March 16, 2016) at a mosque outside the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri -- the heart of a seven-year-old insurgency by Islamist Boko Haram militants -- the Reuters website reports.

The attack -- which also wounded 18 people -- occurred during morning prayers in the village of Ummarai, four miles from the center of the capital of Bomo state in Africa's most populous country and biggest energy producer.

It was the first such attack in the northeast since February, when two suicide bombers -- also women -- blew themselves up at a camp for internally displaced people in Dikwa, about 50 miles from Maiduguri.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but it resembled others by Boko Haram in its campaign to carve out an Islamic state in the region.

Pakistan Bus Blast Kills at Least 17, Wounds 47; Islamist Anti-Govt. Group Believed Responsible

At least 17 people were killed and dozens wounded today (March 16, 2016) when a bomb exploded inside a bus in Peshawar, the main city in Pakistan's insurgency-racked northwest, according to the Yahoo News website.

No group has claimed responsibility for the explosion, which occurred as the bus carrying mainly government employees was passing through the city's crowded shopping district of Saddar.

Pakistan has been battling a home-grown Islamist insurgency for more than a decade, with groups such as the Pakistani Taliban routinely carrying out attacks as part of their struggle to overthrow the government.

A total of 47 wounded were treated at a hospital. Five people among the 19 admitted are still in critical condition, a hospital spokesman said.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Cyprus Plans to Thwart EU-Turkey Migrant Deal; Won't Let Turkey Join EU Until It Leaves Cyprus

Cyprus said today (March 15, 2016) that it won't back any acceleration of negotiations for Turkey's European Union (EU) membership, thus jeopardizing a proposal between the EU and Ankara that would significantly reduce the number of migrants leaving Turkey for Europe, the Euro News website reports.

The EU wants to finalize a deal with Turkey over the return of refugees and migrants before a March 17 EU summit in Brussels. However, the United Nations has opposed the EU-Turkey deal, asserting it may be a violation of international law, while several human rights groups view the migrant deal as "inhumane." (See Theology and Society, "UN, Rights Groups Rip Proposed EU-Turkey Deal...," March 9, 2016)

Turkey has demanded several billion euros, visa-free travel for Turks to Europe, and a speedup of its entry talks for EU membership in return for its help in stemming the flow of refugees into Europe. But Cyprus plans to veto any attempt by Turkey to join the EU until Turkey ends its control of the northern third of its island that it illegally seized in 1974.

President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, said: "The Republic of Cyprus does not intend to consent to the opening of any chapters if Turkey does not fulfill its obligations as described in the negotiating framework."

Pope: Mother Teresa to Become a Saint on Sept. 4; Ticketed "Saint of the Gutter" for Love of the Poor

Pope Francis today (March 15, 2016) said Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata will become a saint on September 4, 2016, according to the USA Today website.

Affectionately known as the "saint of the gutter" for her unconditional love for the poor, abandoned, and marginalized, Mother Teresa earned several international honors, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu of Albanian parents on August 26, 1910, in Skopje -- now the capital of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) -- Teresa died in Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, in India on September 5, 1997.

She was beatified in 2003 by Pope John Paul II after being attributed to a first miracle, answering an Indian woman's prayers to cure her brain tumor, according to the Vatican. One miracle is needed for beatification -- described by the Catholic Church as recognition of a person's entrance into heaven -- while sainthood requires two miracles.

Francis officially cleared Mother Teresa for sainthood on December 17, 2015, recognizing her "miraculous healing" of a Brazilian man with multiple brain abscesses, the Vatican said.

Monday, March 14, 2016

House Calls for Obama to Label IS Acts Genocide; Passes Proviso 390-0 Ahead of March 17 Deadline

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution today (March 14, 2016) that calls on the United States to characterize IS (Islamic State) atrocities against Christians, Yazidis, and other groups as genocide, according to the Washington Examiner website.

The bipartisan resolution passed 393-0 tonight ahead of a congressionally-mandated March 17 deadline for the administration to make a decision on whether to call the terror group's action as genocide.

"The U.S. government should not turn a blind eye on the religious atrocities committed by ISIS," Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., co-author of the bill, said on the House floor today.

He added, "The Yazidis and Assyrian Christians face this genocide together... it cannot go unheeded."

Anglican Abp.:Fear of Refugees Is "Reasonable;" Fears Include Housing, Jobs, and Med. Services

Labeling people who are worried about mass migration into their country as racist is "absolutely outrageous," Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby wrote in "The House," a magazine read mainly by members of Parliament, the Religion News website reports today (March 14, 2016).

The head of the world's 80 million Anglicans said the scale of the refugee crisis in Europe -- which is bringing millions of people into Europe from the Middle East and Afghanistan -- is raising huge concerns that he described as "entirely reasonable."

"There is genuine fear," the archbishop said. "And it is really important that that fear is listened to and addressed. There have to be resources put in place that address those fears."

Those fears, he added, include concerns about housing, jobs, and the country's medical services.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Cath. Students Taunt Jews with Anti-Semitic Jeer; Yell "You Killed Jesus" at Newton, MA Game Fans

After students from Newton North High School in Massachusetts chanted "Where are your girls?" and anti-gay slurs to fans of the Catholic Memorial School basketball team -- who came from an all-boys' school -- the fans of the visiting team came back with their own taunt: "You killed Jesus!," the Jewish Press website reports today (March 13, 2016).

Anti-Semitism in Newton -- a Boston-bordering city with a heavy Jewish population -- is still fresh in the minds of residents after a third anti-Semitic incident in less than a year took place at the F.A. Day Middle School earlier this month.

"Burn the Jews" was scrawled on the wall of the boys' bathroom in the school last week, as it also had been last October. In January, a swastika was discovered imprinted in the snow near the school.

Newton School Superintendent David Fleishman said he found the basketball incident "incredibly upsetting and troubling." He called the Anti-Defamation League about the incident and planned to discuss the experience with the students at school tomorrow (March 14).

Two French Teen Girls Arrested for Terror Plot; Planned to Conduct Paris Concert Terror Attack

Two teenage girls have been arrested in France for plotting to carry out a terror attack against a concert venue in Paris, the Clarion Project website reports today (March 13, 2016).

The girls -- aged 15 and 17 -- were arrested after discussing plans for the attack over Facebook messenger.

The attack they discussed was similar to those that hit the French capital in November 2015 in which militants loyal to the Islamic State killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more. Of those killed, 90 lost their lives at the Bataclan theatre during a concert.

The girls were arrested on March 9 and formally charged two days later with "criminal conspiracy in connection with a terrorist undertaking."

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Many Cath. Worry Pope Is Uprooting Tradition; Feel He Dilutes Cath. Teaching on Moral Issues

Three years after the election of Pope Francis, Roman Catholic conservatives are growing increasingly  worried that he is quietly unraveling the legacy of his predecessors, the Christian Today website reports today (March 12, 2016).

Francis' popularity with most Catholics -- as well as legions of non-Catholics -- has given him the image of a grandfatherly parish priest who understands how difficult it sometimes is to follow Church teachings, particularly those on sexual morality.

Conservatives worry that behind the gentle facade lies a dangerous reformer who is diluting Catholic teaching on moral issues -- including homosexuality and divorce -- while focusing on social problems such as climate change and economic inequality. Francis first shocked conservatives just a few months after his election on March 13, 2013, when he said "Who am I to judge?" about Catholic homosexuals being members of the Church.

In 2014 conservative American Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, 67, told an interviewer that the Church under Francis was like "a ship without a rudder." Francis was not pleased, and that same year demoted Burke to a largely ceremonial post of chaplain of a charity group.

Four Men Shot at Muslim Cemetery in Canada; Occurred after Service, Believed Gang-Related

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said four men were shot yesterday afternoon at a Muslim cemetery just outside of Calgary, the Big News Network website reports today (March 12, 2016).

Sgt. Jack Poitras said the shooting happened near Cochrane and the injured people were being treated at Calgary hospitals. A police spokesperson at the scene said all suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Police said there was a funeral for a Pakistani native at the cemetery and a group of people remained at the site following the service. Poitras said it appears the shooting involved people who were in the group.

Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy said he spoke with two people who attended the funeral and they suspect the shooting was gang-related.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Report Shows Secure Evidence of ISIS "Genocide;" Murders, Wounds, Rapes of Christians Back Term

In Defense of Christians (IDC) and the Knights of Columbus released an extensive report yesterday, chronicling the genocide of Christians in territories controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its affiliates, the Independent Catholic News website reports today (March 11, 2016).

The nearly 300-page report -- titled "Genocide against Christians in the Middle East" -- resulted from a State Department request for specific evidence related to crimes committed against Christians by ISIS.

Submitted to Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday, the report was compiled from evidence of a recent fact-finding mission to Iraq, which documented the murder, injury, enslavement, and displacement that Christians have suffered at the hands of ISIS.

IDC's President Toufic Baaklini said yesterday, "A genocide designation by the United States cannot wait any longer... It is time for the United States to join the rest of the world by naming the [ISIS atrocities against Christians] genocide and by taking action against it as required by law."

Turkey 1st Lady:Harem Was "School" for Women; Sultans Used Harem Women for Sexual Pleasure

Turkey's First Lady has called the harem of Ottoman sultans a "school" preparing women for life, the Euro News website reports today (March 11, 2016).

Westerners usually view a harem as the sultan's sexual playground -- filled with many women to satisfy a sultan's sexual desires -- but Emine Erdogan called it an educational institution for members of the Ottoman dynasty. She was speaking at an official event on Ottoman sultans in Ankara, Turkey's capital.

The sultans -- who ruled the Ottoman empire from the 15th to the 20th centuries -- had a harem at Istanbul's Topkapi Palace, which was turned into a museum after the birth of the Turkish Republic in 1923.

Emine Erdogan's comments came under fire on social media, just a day after her husband marked International Women's Day by saying he believed "a woman is above all a mother," which prompted street protests in Istanbul.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

US Veteran Is Found Guilty of Trying to Join IS; Felt His Air Force Mechanics Skills Could Aid IS

A federal court in Brooklyn, New York yesterday found a U.S. Air Force veteran guilty of trying to join the Islamic State (IS) terror group, the Christian Post website reports today (March 10, 2016).

A jury found Tairod Pugh, 48, guilty of attempting to provide support to a terrorist organization, as well as obstructing justice after six hours of deliberation yesterday.

Prosecutors argued during the week-long trial that Pugh had made contact with IS militants and viewed pro-jihad propaganda online before traveling to Turkey in January 2015 in an attempt to cross the Syrian border and join the terrorist organization.

Pugh -- who originally hails from Neptune, New Jersey -- had previously worked as an airplane mechanic in the U.S. Air Force for four years before deciding to join the terror group. He attempted to join the terrorist group by offering his knowledge of airplane mechanics, Prosecutor Tiana Demas told the court.

PA Pres. Abbas Rejects New US Peace Initiative; Would Need to Recognize Israel as Jewish State

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas turned down a new U.S. peace initiative presented to him yesterday during a West Bank meeting with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (March 10, 2016).

Abbas' rejection of the confidential peace initiative was revealed by a "source familiar with the details" of yesterday's meeting in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority.

The new American initiative to start the peace talks included designating eastern Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state, halting settlement construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and giving up the demand for a Palestinian "right of return."

Palestinian political analysts played down the significance of Biden's visit to Ramallah and his peace proposal.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

UN, Rights Groups Rip Proposed EU-Turkey Deal; Say Returning Migrants to Turkey Is Illegal, Cruel

The United Nations and several human rights groups warned yesterday that a proposed European Union (EU) deal to send back all irregular migrants to Turkey in exchange for political and financial rewards is probably illegal, the Reuters website reports today (March 9, 2016).

"I am deeply concerned about any arrangement that would involve the blanket return of anyone from one country to another without spelling out the refugee protection safeguards under international law," UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, asserted.

He was speaking hours after the 28 EU leaders sketched an accord with Turkey that would grant Ankara more money to keep refugees in Turkey, faster visa-free travel for Turks, and speeding up Ankara's EU membership talks. Although it requires member nations to strictly adhere to freedom of the press principles, the EU ignored the fact that Turkey violated the freedom of the press last week by closing down its largest opposition newspaper for writing articles critical of Turkish President Erdogan. (See Theology and Society, "Turkish Police Usurp Largest Opposition Paper...," March 6, 2016)

Rights group Amnesty International called the proposed mass return of migrants a "death blow to the right to seek asylum." Also, relief charity Doctors without Borders said the proposed deal was "cynical and inhumane."

Pentagon Admits Drones Spying in US for 10 Yrs.; Reveals Facts Due to Freedom of Info Act Request

As a result of a Freedom of Information Act request, the Pentagon admitted today (March 9, 2016) it has deployed drones to spy over U.S. territory for non-military missions during the past decade -- but said the flights have been rare and lawful -- according to the USA Today website.

The report by a Pentagon inspector general said spy drones on non-military missions in the U.S. have occurred fewer than 20 times between 2006 and 2015 and always in compliance with existing law.

The report -- which did not provide details on any of the domestic spying missions -- said the Pentagon takes the issue of military drones used on American soil "very seriously."

A senior policy analyst for the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), Jay Stanley, said it is good news no legal violations were found, but the technology has become so advanced that the laws on U.S. drone spying may need to be revised.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

US Catholics Take Public Stand to Shun Trump; Say He Is "Manifestly Unfit to Be US President"

A group of conservative U.S. Catholics is appealing to their fellow believers to stop Donald Trump from becoming Republican presidential nominee, writing in an essay that he is "manifestly unfit to be president of the United States," the Catholic News website reports today (March 8, 2016).

The essay -- published in "The National Review" -- is titled "An Appeal to Our Fellow Catholics" and has been signed by about three dozen lay Catholics, many of whom are active in conservative academic and nonprofit circles.

Together, they urge Catholics "to reject [Mr. Trump's] candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination by supporting a genuinely reformist candidate." (The group does not endorse any candidate for president.)

The piece -- published yesterday -- says that the Republican Party has been in recent years, a vehicle for "promoting causes at the center of Catholic social concern in the United States," highlighting the GOP's opposition to abortion, advocacy for religious freedom protections, stance against same-sex marriage, and belief in "limited government."

Boy,13, Attacked in Paris on Way to Synagogue; Called "Dirty Jew," Slammed His Head on Pole

A 13-year-old Jewish boy in Paris was attacked while walking to a synagogue and called a "dirty Jew," the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (March 8, 2016).

Three youths described as "of African origin" attacked the kippah-wearing teen in the city's 12th district last Saturday afternoon, the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism (BNVCA) said in a report.

The assailants called the boy a "dirty Jew" and punched him. The teen also reported that one of the attackers took off his kippah while a second grabbed him by the hair and slammed his head against a pole.

The attackers fled when other people appeared on the street, according to BNVCA. The boy made it to the synagogue and later reported the attack to police. BNVCA called on police to "make every effort to identify and question" the attackers.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Boston Marathon Bomb Survivor Dies in Crash; Northeastern Student Devoted to Helping Others

Victoria McGrath, a young woman who suffered severe injuries in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing by Muslim terrorists, has died after a car crash, the ABC News website reports today (March 7, 2016).

McGrath, of Weston, Conn., was set to graduate this year from Northeastern University, but she and another Northeastern student, Priscilla Perez Torres, died in a car accident in Dubai, Northeastern President Joseph Aoun said in a statement today.

University officials said it was a personal trip and the students were not studying in the university's abroad program. Dubai -- a city in the United Arab Emirates near Saudi Arabia -- is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Middle East.

McGrath was studying at Northeastern's business school and "was devoted to helping others through leadership in student organizations and community service work," President Aoun said.

UGCC Head Meets Pope,Backs Ukraine Cath.Role; Denies Russian Accusal of Converting Orth.Flocks

Ukrainian church leaders have met with Pope Francis and stressed their allegiance to Rome, amid tensions about the position of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) in the dialogue between the Vatican and Moscow, the Catholic News website reports today (March 7, 2016).

"We came to reaffirm our communion with the Holy Father and to ask for his help for the suffering people of Ukraine during the Jubilee Year of Mercy," said the head of the UGCC, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, after the meeting in the Vatican.

Ukrainian Greek Catholics are in full unity with Rome and have been a major source of friction between Moscow and the Vatican. The Russian Orthodox Church leaders have long insisted the activity of the Ukrainian Catholics of Eastern Rite amounted to "proselytism" ( that is, using pressure to convert a multitude of Orthodox Christians to Catholic Christians) and was an obstacle to Moscow-Vatican dialogue. The UGCC denies this Russian accusation.

Archbishop Shevchuk recently criticized parts of the declaration between Pope Francis and Moscow Orthodox Patriarch Kirill during their historic meeting in Cuba on February 12, 2016. He said that "this text led to deep disappointment among many Ukrainians" but later clarified that the Pope-Patriarch meeting in Havana was "of historical importance" despite some concern on his side.

Police in Turkey Forcibly Break Up Women's Rally; Fire Rubber Bullets at Women in Istanbul, Arrest 1

Riot police in Istanbul, Turkey forcibly broke up a rally of hundreds of women as they marked International Women's Day two days early, the Euro News website reports today (March 7, 2016).

March the 8th is the official date, but the city's governor banned their rally planned for then, citing security concerns.

At least one person was arrested in a scuffle with police, who were seen firing rubber bullets at the women.

Turkey has drawn much criticism for its handling of gender issues. A UN report shows that non-sexual physical violence committed by intimate partners was ten times more likely in Turkey than in other European countries.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Gang of Men Attack Church in India During Mass; Police Arrest 3 Men for Attack,Hunt for the Others

Police in central India arrested three men today (March 6, 2016) after a gang attacked a church during Sunday mass, in the latest attack against Christians in the religiously diverse country, according to the Big News Network website.

Women and children were injured after a gang of about 50 men barged into the church in Kachna village near Raipur, the state capital of Chhattisgarh.

Witnesses said the crowd of young men stormed into the church chanting slogans and demanding that the church be shut down.

Raipur district police chief Badri Narayan Meena said three men had been arrested over the attack, while a hunt was on to find the others.

Turkish Police Usurp Largest Opposition Paper; Pres. Erdogan Won't Let Papers Stigmatize Him

Turkish special forces stormed the largest opposition newspaper in Turkey, Zaman, on the eve of March 4, forcibly taking over the paper. Outside, riot police fired rubber bullets, tear gas, and water cannons into the crowds of thousands protesting the takeover, the Clarion Project website reports today (March 6, 2016).

The front page of Zaman's last edition -- printed in black and published before the takeover -- read "Shameful day for free press in Turkey."

Abdulhamit Bilici -- the paper's editor-in-chief -- who was fired and dragged out of the building, said, "It's a dark day for Turkish democracy and a flagrant violation of the constitution."

Earlier -- commenting that under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has been labeled the biggest jail for journalists in Europe -- Bilici said, "It has been a habit for the last three or four years, that anyone who is speaking against government policies is facing either court cases or prison, or such control by the government."

Rabbis for Economic Justice Back Sanders' Views; Agree Wealth of a Few,Millions of Poor Must End

Dozens of rabbis have come out to support an economy plan presented by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, the Jewish Press website reports today (March 6, 2016).

The group -- which calls itself Rabbis for Economic Justice -- wrote on "Jews for Bernie" Facebook page:

"We cannot ignore the disparities in a system which generates wealth for so few, while so many are suffering."

On March 3, 45 rabbis across the spectrum signed the petition backing Sanders' economic policies. The group said it does not necessarily endorse Sanders' bid for the nomination, but rather his economic views.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Pres. Carter Asserts That US Is Now an Oligarchy; Govt.Is Now Run by Wealthy People, Not Majority

President Jimmy Carter says America -- once a free democratic nation -- is no longer a democracy, but is now an oligarchy, the Inquisitr website reports today (March 4, 2016).

An oligarchy is a government run by a small group of wealthy and influential people, rather than a majority.

"It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it's just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and congress members," Carter said.

He added, "So now we've just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election's over."

Flooding Upsets Migrants Stranded in N. Greece; Rains Flood Makeshift Camp of 12,000 Refugees

Bad weather is adding to the misery of thousands of migrants blocked at the Greece-FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) border, the Euro News website reports today (March 4, 2016).

Heavy rain has flooded parts of the makeshift camp where some 12,000 people have sought refuge. FYROM has built a fence along its border with Greece to prevent migrants from entering its country.

Children and the elderly are among those living in cold and difficult conditions at the Idomeni camp in Greece.

Syrian migrant Intisar Ali, who is nine-months pregnant, said: "This is full of water, so the people come here, and seven persons, and our bucket is full of water so it's so cold."

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Law Protecting Women against Violence Is Foiled; Pakistan Islamic Ideology Council: It's Un-Islamic

Pakistan's largest province of Punjab unanimously passed a new law last week that criminalizes violence against women, the Christian Science Monitor website reports today (March 3, 2016).

The new law gives legal protection to women from domestic, psychological, and sexual violence, and calls for the creation of a toll-free abuse-reporting hotline and the establishment of women's shelters.

But the Council of Islamic Ideology -- the powerful Pakistani religious body that advises the government on the compatibility of laws with Islam -- is not pleased, calling the measure "un-Islamic," and contending that it conflicts with the Muslim holy book, the Quran, as well as Pakistan's constitution.

"It's unacceptable," council chairman Muhammad Khan Sherani said at a press conference in Islamabad today. "The law seems to have the objective of pushing women out of the home, and increase their problems." (Countries that are predominantly Islamic tend to treat women as second-class citizens, since their laws and customs use a double-standard which favors men.)

Muslim Nanny Pleads Guilty of Beheading Girl,4; Airs Girl's Head in Moscow,Says Allah Ordered It

A Muslim nanny accused of decapitating a 4-year-old girl in her care and brandishing the severed head at a busy Moscow metro station has said she was avenging the deaths of Muslims in Russia's campaign in Syria, the Washington Post website reports today (March 3, 2016).

In a video that appeared on You Tube today, Gulchekhra Bobokulova, a 38-year-old native of the mostly Muslim nation of Uzbekistan, told an interviewer she had "taken revenge against those who themselves spilled blood," specifically citing Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Putin spilled blood. The planes were bombing [Syria]," she said in the video.

Bobokulova roamed near a bustling metro station for at least 20 minutes on February 29, holding the bloodied head by the hair. Horrified police officers arrested her. She pleaded guilty yesterday of beheading the child, and told journalists heading into the courtroom, "Allah had ordered" her to kill the child.

Some Calais Migrants Stitch Lips in Hunger Strike; Protest "Jungle" Demolition, Seek EU Court's Help

Some migrants in the city of Calais have sewn their lips together in a hunger strike to protest the demolition of part of the Calais migrant camp -- known as the "Jungle" -- as authorities worked to clear the site in northern France, the CNN website reports today (March 3, 2016).

Calais authorities plan to demolish the southern half of the camp and relocate the inhabitants in response to unsanitary conditions at the site.

A group called Calais Migrant Solidarity published a video today with a simple request: "for a representative of the European Court of Human Rights to visit the Jungle, see the conditions which they are living in, and address the problems which are facing these people."

Several protesters were holding up signs. One read: "I left my country and I came here to find my human rights, but unfortunately I have found none."

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Egypt Parl. Expels MP for Meeting with Israeli; Votes 465 to 16 to Remove Him,Violated Taboo

An Egyptian lawmaker was expelled from parliament today (March 2, 2016) because of a meeting he had with the Israeli ambassador to Egypt, the Fox News website reports.

Anti-Israel sentiment runs high among most Egyptians, who view any direct interactions with Israelis as taboo. The fact is that much friction prevails between a predominantly Islamic Egypt and a Judaic Israel.

The controversy over the meeting began when the ambassador, Haim Koren, posted a picture on the embassy's Facebook page last week of himself and Egyptian member of parliament Tawfiq Okasha during their meeting.

Okasha's expulsion from the 596-seat legislature was decided in a vote today by an overwhelming majority of lawmakers and came three days after another lawmaker hit him with his shoe inside the chamber to protest his meeting with Koren. A total of 490 lawmakers took part in the vote, with 465 supporting the motion to remove him. Sixteen voted against and nine abstained.

Turkey Rebuts NATO Vessels Seeking Smugglers; Won't Allow Them in Its Waters to Nab Migrants

The AFP (Agence France-Presse) website reports today (March 2, 2016) that NATO vessels deployed in the Aegean Sea to help stop the flow of migrants into Europe have not yet started operating in Turkish waters and are waiting for the go-ahead from alliance member Ankara.

Despite requests by the NATO operation's German command, "the Turks refused" this week to allow the vessels to enter into Turkish waters, a diplomatic source told AFP.

The unprecedented mission -- which seeks to tackle migrant smugglers -- was launched last month and aims to help the European Union (EU) cope with the worst migration crisis since World War II. At that time, Turkey had agreed to the NATO plan to monitor the migrant vessels.

 But now Turkey "is showing little or no interest" in taking back migrants picked up by the NATO vessels in the Aegean Sea as they attempt to make the perilous crossing to Greece, the diplomatic source said. One Turkish lawmaker believes President Erdogan is stalling as much as he can to retain Syrian migrants in Turkey -- even calling it blackmail by Erdogan -- in order to force the European Union to provide Turkey with more money and better benefits.

Pope:Cath. Church Does Not Want "Dirty Money;" Rips Money Got by Exploiting Low-Paid Workers

Pope Francis said today (March 2, 2016) that the Catholic Church does not want people to donate "dirty money" earned by abusing low-paid workers, according to the Reuters website.

"Some donors come to the Church offering profits from the blood of people who have been exploited, mistreated, enslaved with badly paid work," Francis said during his regular weekly audience with pilgrims at the Vatican.

"I will say to them: 'Please take your money away, burn it,'" said Francis, who has made safeguarding the poor and cleaning up Vatican finances central tenets of his papacy.

"The people of God... do not need dirty money, they need hearts that are open to God's mercy," he added.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

UN: Migrant Humanitarian Crisis Hitting Greece; Rips Austria,Other Nations for Blocking Migrants

The United Nations refugee agency says crowded and appalling conditions for migrants have been fueling tensions and violence on the Greek border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the Euro News website reports today (March 1, 2016).

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has warned that "Europe is on the cusp of a largely self-induced humanitarian crisis."

"It was a nightmare, we wake up in a swimming pool. We forced to move our tent to a different place because under it was draining of water. It was a very bad night," said one migrant from Damascus, Syria.

The UNHCR has also accused Austria and other countries along the Balkans migration route of breaking the law after they imposed restrictions on their borders, limiting the number of migrants able to cross.

American Woman Suing Israel's National Airline; Had to Change Seat to Reconcile Ultra-Orth. Man

An 81-year-old Israeli-American woman is suing El Al airlines -- Israel's national airline -- after a flight attendant asked her to change seats when an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man refused to sit next to her, the Religion News website reports today (March 1, 2016).

The Israel Religious Action Center -- a civil and human rights organization -- plans to file the suit with Renee Rabinowitz as the plaintiff this week.

The case highlights the rising tensions between some ultra-Orthodox men who believe it is against Jewish law to sit next to a woman, and female passengers who say they have been pressured into relinquishing their seats.

Rabinowitz -- a retired lawyer who escaped the Nazis in her youth -- moved to another seat on the Newark, New Jersey to Tel Aviv flight in December.