Thursday, June 30, 2016

Breakaway Cath. Group Says Pope Spreads Errors; St. Pius X Society Says Pope Pooh-Poohs Tradition

A breakaway traditionalist Catholic group accused Pope Francis yesterday of spreading confusion and errors about the faith, joining a chorus of conservative criticism over his perceived lax doctrine and emphasis on mercy at the expense of morals, the ABC News website reports today (June 30, 2016).

A statement from the schismatic Society of St. Pius X suggested that a new attempt at reconciliation with Rome had stalled.

The statement -- issued after a meeting of the society's superiors -- said its members were eager to return Catholic tradition to a church where "great and painful confusion" currently reigns.

It added errors had made their way into Catholic doctrine "that are unfortunately encouraged by a large number of pastors, including the pope himself."

Saeed Abedini: Men Should Head Family, Church; Bible Teaches Women Must Be Submissive to Men

Pastor Saeed Abedini says the Bible teaches that women should not have authority over men, warning there will be "chaos" if the biblical model is ignored in the leadership of the home, church, and country, the Christian Post website reports today (June 30, 2016).

Abedini -- who was released as a hostage in January after being held captive by the Iranian regime for three years for refusing to renounce Christianity -- quoted Timothy 2:12 in a Facebook post today, which states: "And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence."

The pastor -- who is now the director at Saeed Ministries -- argued that men should be the head of the family, the church, and the country. "God knows that every area of life needs leaders; in business, in the church, and in the home and country. Someone has to make final decisions so there is no confusion and chaos," he wrote.

He added that women are great leaders as well, and there should be equality between men and women, but in the end, men should be the ones making the final decision.

Israeli Girl,13,Stabbed to Death by Palestinian; Girl Slept in W. Bank Bedroom When Attacked

A 13-year-old Israeli girl died after being stabbed repeatedly by a Palestinian Muslim who entered her bedroom while she was sleeping in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba this morning (June 30, 2016). Another man was seriously wounded in the terror attack, according to the Times of Israel website.

The victim, Hallel Yaffa Ariel, was rushed to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem unconscious, not breathing, and in critical condition, where doctors said they were unable to save her.

A 31-year-old man -- a civilian guard responding to the attack --  also suffered multiple stab wounds,  according to hospital officials.

The assailant was shot and killed, the Israeli Defense Forces said. The Palestinian health ministry identified him as Muhammad Nasser Tarayrah, 17, from Bani Naim, adjacent to Kiryat Arba.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

CIA Director:IS Trying to Make Major US Attack; Says Security, Intel Prevent a Turkey-Type Attack

Within a few hours after three suicide bombers killed at least 41 people and wounded hundreds more at Istanbul's Ataturk airport, CIA Director John Brennan said the attacks bore the grim hallmarks of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and warned that the fanatically violent Islamic terrorist group wants to conduct similar large-scale attacks in the United States, the Yahoo News website reports today (June 29, 2016).

"I am worried from the standpoint of an intelligence professional who looks at the capabilities of Daesh [ISIS] ... and their determination to kill as many people as possible and to carry out attacks abroad," Brennan said in an exclusive interview with Yahoo News.

Brennan credited effective homeland security measures and intelligence for the fact that ISIS has been unable to attack America directly. (The Orlando and San Bernardino shootings were carried out by Islamic radicals inspired by ISIS, but not under its control.)

He added, "I'd be surprised if Daesh is not trying to carry out that kind of attack [as the one at the Istanbul airport] in the United States."

Czech Court:Gay Registered Partners Can Adopt; Law Previously Disallowed Them from Adopting

The Czech Constitutional Court has overturned a law which banned individual gays and lesbians living in a registered partnership from adopting children, the Prague Daily Monitor website reports today (June 29, 2016).

In its ruling yesterday, the Czech Republic's highest court said that such a ban is discriminatory because individual gays and lesbians who don't live in the official partnership were allowed to adopt children.

However, the ruling still does not allow lesbian and gay pairs to adopt children as a couple.

In 2006, the Czech parliament approved a law allowing same-sex partners to live in an officially registered partnership. The law, nonetheless, does not allow same-sex partners to marry.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Three Suicide Bombers Kill 36 at Istanbul Airport; Suspected IS Attackers First Open Fire,Wound 147

Three suspected Islamic State (IS) suicide bombers targeted the international terminal of Istanbul's Ataturk airport today (June 28, 2016), killing at least 36 people and wounding over 100 others, according to the Chicago Tribune website.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said 36 were dead and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said 147 were wounded. Turkey has suffered many suicide bombings in recent months linked to Kurdish or IS group militants, as a result of Turkey angering both groups during the past year.

Yildirim said three suicide bombers were responsible for the attack and all initial indications suggest the Islamic State group was behind it.

He added the attackers arrived at the airport in a taxi and blew themselves up after opening fire.

Most Israelis Oppose Turkey Reconciliation Deal; Many Feel Israel Should Not Pay $20M to Turkey

More than half of Israelis oppose the newly announced reconciliation deal with Turkey, according to an Israeli television poll, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (June 28, 2016).

In addition, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman -- who sees Turkey as an unrepentant antagonist of Israel --  said he is against the deal and plans to vote against it.

The poll by Channel 10 found that 56 percent of Israelis oppose the deal that ends a six-year break in diplomatic relations between the two countries, while another 11 percent has no opinion, i24 News reported.

Under the deal -- to be signed today in Jerusalem and Ankara -- Israel will pay $20 million in compensation to the families of the nine Turkish citizens killed in a 2010 raid on a ship, the Mavi Marmara, attempting to break Israel's Gaza blockade, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said. Critics say Israel does not owe compensation to those killed on the Mavi Marmara ship because the activists attacked the Israeli soldiers.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Turkey Rips Pope for Armenian Genocide Stand; Accuses Pope of "Bias," Religious Discrimination

Turkey says Pope Francis's recognition of the Ottoman-era killings of Armenians as genocide during his recent visit to Armenia won't help efforts to establish peace and stability in the Caucasus region, the Washington Post website reports today (June 27, 2016).

A Turkish statement issued today said the pope had "disappointed" the Turkish people with remarks and accused him of "bias" and "religion-based discrimination" against Turkey.

Turkey rejects the term genocide regarding a million and one-half Armenians killed between 1914 and 1918.

Turkey claims the killed Armenians were casualties of World War I.

Seven Sent to Hospital as Radical Groups Clash; Cal.Black Anarchists Attack White Supremacists

Seven people were sent to the hospital with stab wounds -- two with life-threatening injuries -- as Black Bloc anarchists attacked and fought with white supremacist groups yesterday afternoon outside California's capitol in Sacramento, the Breitbart website reports today (June 27, 2016).

The Black Bloc activists were part of a militant "anti-fascist" group, "Antifa Sacramento."

The right-wing extremists were members of the Traditionalist Worker Party and the Golden State Skinheads, and were holding a permitted rally.

The "anti-fascist" protesters carried signs reading "Nazi scum." The demonstrations turned violent shortly before noon.

Friday, June 24, 2016

White Evangelicals: US Is Not a Christian Nation; New Poll Finds US Is Losing Its Christian Identity

The United States is not a Christian country any more, the Religion News website reports today (June 24, 2016).

That's according to 59 percent of white evangelical Protestants recently surveyed by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with the Brookings Institution.

Evangelicals' growing conviction that the U.S. is losing its Christian identity -- and that the country now is headed in the wrong direction -- comes as politicians debate immigration and cultural change during the 2016 election season.

The survey -- released on June 23 -- polled more than 2,600 adults between April 4 and May 2, 2016.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Voters in Britain Decide to Quit European Union; Move Will Rock Political Establishments in West

Britain today (June 24, 2016) voted to leave the European Union (EU), a historic decision sure to reshape the nation's place in the world, rattle the Continent, and rock political establishments throughout the West, according to the NY Times website.

With 309 of 382 of the country's cities and towns reporting early today, the Leave campaign held a 52 percent to 48 percent lead.

The BBC called the race for the Leave campaign shortly before 4:45 a.m., with 13.1 million votes having been counted in favor of leaving and 12.2 million in favor of remaining.

The value of the British pound plummeted as financial markets absorbed the news.

Abbas:Terrorism Will End If Mideast Crisis Ends; Says Forming Palestinian State Will Lead to Peace

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said today (June 23, 2016) "there will be no more terrorism in the Middle East nor elsewhere in the world" if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved, the Jerusalem Post website reports.

"We are against terrorism in whatever form it may take and whoever carries it out," he said in an address before the European Parliament in Brussels.

He added, "In order to overcome terrorism, we also need to end Israeli occupation by creating a Palestinian State within the 1967 borders, with east Jerusalem as its capital."

The absence of a two-state solution, he said, gives "pretext to those who commit terrorism in the name of  [Islamic] religion."

Supreme Court Tie Blocks Obama on Immigration; Letdown for Millions Who Came to the US Illegally

The U.S. Supreme Court blocked President Obama's effort to protect more than four million undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation today (June 23, 2016), deadlocking 4-4 over a plan that divided the nation as well as the justices, according to the USA Today website.

The vote leaves intact lower federal court rulings that stopped the program in its tracks more than a year ago, after Texas and 25 other states claimed Obama lacked the authority to go around Congress.

It was a sudden, crushing defeat for millions of parents who came to the U.S. illegally and have lived in the shadows, often for decades.

Like several other tie rulings since Justice Scalia's death in February left the court with only eight justices, the one-sentence opinion simply announced that the court was "equally divided" and unable to muster a majority for either side. The U.S. Senate has decided to wait until a new president is sworn into office in January before it will confirm a new supreme court justice to replace Justice Scalia.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Man Wearing Kippah Attacked in Berlin by 3 Men; "Arab-Appearing" Trio Made Anti-Semitic Epithets

A young man wearing a kippah was attacked on the streets of Berlin by three men last night, the Algemeiner website reports today (June 22, 2016).

According to a police report, the attack occurred at about 9:30 p.m. in the Alt-Treptow neighborhood.

The victim, 21, told police that three men of Arabic appearance began to verbally harass him with anti-Semitic epithets when they saw his kippah. They then proceeded to punch and kick him before fleeing the scene.

The young man was lightly injured and did not require emergency medical treatment. Police are investigating the incident.

Jordan Car Bomb Explosion Kills 6, Wounds 14; King of Jordan Vows to Strike Back at Terrorists

A car bomb exploded in Jordan along the Syrian border yesterday, the Jewish Press website reports today (June 22, 2016).

Six Jordanian guards were killed and 14 more were injured in the terrorist attack that was a few hundred meters from a refugee camp for Syrian refugees.

The attack comes on the heels of the attack against a Jordanian intelligence office in Amman -- the capital of Jordan -- which killed five people.

The king of Jordan has vowed to hit back at the terrorists.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Rape Victim Runs Naked into Store for Support; No One Helped Her,a Customer Later Called 911

A woman who ran naked into the street screaming for help in Lawrence, Massachusetts said no one would come to her aid at first, the Raw Story website reports today (June 21, 2016).

The woman accused her boyfriend of tying her up and raping her, but she waited for him to fall asleep before escaping. She ran naked in the street with her hands still bound, screaming for help and that someone was trying to kill her. But no one helped.

She ran into a store and was told to leave. Eventually, a witness called 911.

Her boyfriend, Keyvin "Ghetto" Gil, had threatened her with a gun and sexually assaulted her. He is being held without bail.

Muslims Burn Up 80 Christian Homes in Egypt; Do So Due to Christian Desire to Build a Church

A Muslim mob torched and looted the homes of 80 Christian families in the Al-Beida village in Egypt, looking to punish them for wanting to turn one of the buildings in the village into a Coptic Orthodox Church so they could worship, the Christian Post website reports today (June 21, 2016).

International Christian Concern -- which reports on persecution against Christians around the world -- said the violence occurred on June 17.

One witness, Christian resident Mousa Zarif, recalled the events: "On Friday afternoon, following Friday noon prayer, a great deal of fanatic Muslims gathered in the front of the new house of my cousin, Naim Aziz, during its construction because of a rumor spread in the village that this building would be turned into a church."

Zarif added: "They were chanting slogans against us. Among these slogans were 'By no means shall there be a church here.'"

Bomber Fails to Kill Syriac Orth. Church Head; Kills Self, 3 Security Guards When Questioned

A suicide bomber has killed himself and three others in an attack in Syria which was targeted at the head of the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Christian Headlines website reports today (June 21, 2016).

The suicide bomber detonated his bomb near a security checkpoint, but is believed to have been trying to kill Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II.

The suicide bomber stopped at a security checkpoint near Qamishly where an event was being held to honor the 1915 Assyrian genocide.

Patriarch Ignatius was presiding over the event, along with His Grace Mar Afram Athneil of the Assyrian Orthodox Church. The suicide attacker detonated his bomb when security officials began questioning him. Three security guards were killed and five others were injured.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Virginia Raggi Elected 1st Female Mayor of Rome; City Plagued by Corruption, Poor Services Revolts

Virginia Raggi was elected the first female mayor of Rome -- a city plagued by corruption and poor services -- in a triumph for the populist Five Star Movement (M5S), representing a blow to Matteo Renzi, Italy's prime minister, the Al Jazeera website reports today (June 20, 2016).

Raggi swept into City Hall yesterday with two-thirds of the votes cast in a runoff contest with Roberto Giachetti of Renzi's center-left Democratic Party (DP).

"A new era is beginning with us," said Raggi after declaring victory. "We'll work to bring back legality and transparency to the city's institutions."

A lawyer and local councilor, Raggi has vaulted from anonymity to become one of the best-known faces in Italian politics during the last few months.

UN Seeking to Expand,Empower Its Police Force; Already Ballooned from 2K in 1999 to 13K Today

With its so-called "peacekeeping" military troops facing outrage worldwide for raping children with impunity, the United Nations is launching a major push to expand and further empower its UN "police" force known as UNPOL, The New American website reports today (June 20, 2016).

At the same time, the controversial global organization is working to usurp more influence over national police forces, with the UN bringing together more than 100 national police chiefs this month at its first-ever UN "Chiefs of Police Summit."

Among the UN recommendations is that "the current staffing level of the Police Division needs to be increased in order to align proportionally with the expanded role of police in contemporary peace operations." However, the number of UN police officers has already ballooned from 2,000 in 1999 to more than 13,000 today.

Finally, the UN is calling for the roll-out of a "strategic framework" that envisions UN police serving as a substitute for local police, helping secure elections, and even fighting crime and violent extremism.

Orthodox Christian Council Begins Crete Sessions; Meets Despite Russian, 3 Other Churches' Absence

A historic eight-day gathering of Orthodox Christian Churches opened on the Greek island of Crete yesterday, despite the absence of four denominations -- including the Russians -- the BBC website reports today (June 20, 2016).

The Russians decided to stay away after the churches of Antioch, Bulgaria, and Georgia refused to take part due to disputes about the meeting. Fourteen Orthodox denominations representing over 300 million faithful had been invited to the gathering.

The disagreements ranged from seating plans to efforts to reconcile with the Vatican. The Christian Church split into two major divisions -- the Roman Catholic Church or Western Church and the Greek Orthodox Church or Eastern Church -- in the year 1054 in what is known historically as the "Great Schism."

Russia also fears that Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople -- who is honored as "first among equals" regarding Orthodox patriarchs -- will give support to the Ukrainian branch of the Orthodox Church, fueling what one Russian state newspaper has called "a simmering religious war." However, Patriarch Bartholomew declared today that Ukrainian Orthodox Church autocephaly (independent church rule from Russia) will not be part of the Council's discussion.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Belgium Charges 3 with Planning Terror Attack; Nabbed by Police After Fear of Imminent Attack

Belgium charged three people with terrorism offenses yesterday, following sweeping nationwide police raids prompted by fears of an imminent attack, the France 24 website reports today (June 19, 2016).

The three Belgian nationals were charged with attempting to commit "terrorist murder" and with taking part in the activities of a terrorist group, Belgium's federal prosecutor said in a statement today.

Named as Samir C., Moustapha B., and Jawad B., the trio were among 12 people detained during the police raids. The other nine were released.

According to the prosecutor's statement, the raids were conducted following the results of an investigation that "necessitated an immediate intervention," indicating a violent attack was likely planned for the very near future.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Study: Worshippers of Rel. Services Live Longer; Have 33 Percent Lower Risk of Premature Death

A new study has found that people who consistently attend religious services tend to live longer than those who don't, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (June 17, 2016).

Four Harvard University researchers analyzed data collected from 75,534 women over 16 years, between 1996 and 2012. They found that those who attended more than one religious service each week had a 33 percent lower risk of premature death.

Twice-weekly attendance corresponded to a 26 percent lower risk, and less than once a week meant 13 percent lower risk.

"Religion and spirituality may be an underappreciated resource that physicians could explore with their patients, as appropriate," the study concluded.

Pope: Most Catholic Marriages Today Are Invalid; Notes Most Young Couples Have Different Culture

Pope Francis said yesterday that the great majority of Catholic marriages being celebrated today are invalid because couples do not fully realize it is a lifetime commitment -- which can end only by annulment or death according to Church doctrine -- drawing sharp criticism from Church conservatives, the Religion News website reports today (June 17, 2016).

The pope was speaking at a question-and-answer session with priests, nuns, and parish workers last night in a Rome basilica.

"We are living in a provisional culture," Francis said in response to a man who spoke of "the crisis of marriage" and asked how the Church could better prepare young couples.

"Because of this, a great majority of our sacramental marriages are null because they [the couple] say 'yes, for the rest of my life' but they don't know what they are saying because they have a different culture," Francis said.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Pentagon: Russia Hit US-Backed Rebels in Syria; Planes Bombed Anti-IS Forces in Southern Syria

The United States is accusing Russia of bombing American-supported anti-Islamic State (IS) forces in southern Syria near al-Tanf, the Washington Examiner website reports today (June 16, 2016).

A senior Pentagon official told the Washington Examiner that a series of airstrikes were conducted by Russian planes in an area of southern Syria, where Russian aircraft have "not been active for some time."

"Russia's latest actions raise serious concern about Russian intentions," the official said on condition of anonymity.

He added,"We will seek an explanation from Russia on why it took this action and assurances this will not happen again."

Radical Islamists Killed 94 in US Since 9/11/01; Report: 91 Killed in US under President Obama

A new report shows that more than 90 people have been killed on American soil in attacks by radical Islamists since the terror attacks of 9/11/01, the Free Beacon website reports today (June 16, 2016).

The report -- developed by the New America Foundation and Syracuse University -- chronicles all of the murders committed by Islamic extremists over the last 15 years, putting the number at 94 following this week's deadly attack by an ISIS sympathizer in Orlando, Florida.

It includes the attacks perpetrated by Islamic terrorists in Los Angeles, Seattle, Fort Hood, Little Rock, Boston, Oklahoma City, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, San Bernardino, and Orlando.

The majority of those attacks have occurred under President Obama, taking 91 lives.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Women Must File for Draft in Senate Defense Bill; Sen. McCain:It's Fair Since Women Enjoy Mil. Aid

Women will be required to register for the draft soon, if an amendment in the Senate's defense policy bill stands, the Daily Caller website reports today (June 15, 2016).

The amendment to the Senate's 2017 National Defense Authorization Act requires women who turn 18 on or after January 1, 2018 to register for the selective service.

Sen. John McCain -- chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee -- said: "Every single leader in this country, both men and women, members of the military leadership, believe that it's fair since we opened up all aspects of the military to women that they would also be registering for Selective Services."

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz -- who voted against the bill -- voiced the strongest opposition. "The idea that we should forcibly conscript young girls into combat, to my mind, makes little or no sense," Cruz said. "It is at a minimum a radical proposition. I could not vote for a bill that did so, particularly that did so without public debate."

US Ripped for Processing Few Christian Refugees; Accepted 28 Christians, 5,435 Muslims from Syria

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has blasted the U.S. government for processing an incredibly low number of Christian refugees -- despite the ongoing genocide at the hands of the Islamic State (IS) terror group in Iraq and Syria -- the Christian Post website reports today (June 15, 2016).

The conservative law group cited numbers from the Refugee Processing Center, noting that while the U.S. has processed 11,086 Muslims from Iraq since the beginning of 2015, only 433 Christians have been added to that number. And in Syria, there have been 5,435 Muslims welcomed to the U.S. and only 28 Christians.

"In an attempt to justify this astounding discrepancy, the Obama administration and congressional Democratic leadership continue to maintain that the U.S. should not consider a refugee's religion in deciding whether to grant refugee status," the ACLJ said yesterday.

The law group added that Secretary of State John Kerry admitted in March that IS kills Christians because of their religion.

Million Labor Protesters Clash with Paris Police; Biggest Protest on Labor Reforms, Many Injured

Hailed as the biggest show of strength yet against the long-contested labor reforms in France, a million protesters demonstrated on the streets of Paris yesterday -- many thousands more nationwide -- to say "no" to planned changes that would make hiring and firing workers easier, the Euro News website reports today (June 15, 2016).

Refuse collectors and taxi drivers were among those taking strike action -- not to mention the train drivers -- and there was an unpleasant surprise for would-be visitors to the Eiffel Tower, which was closed for the day as staff stopped work to join the protest.

One German visitor said: "We are here, amongst other things, to watch the football. [France is currently hosting the Euro 2016 football tournament.] We also want to visit all the Paris sights. But unfortunately we just found out that there is a strike here and also in other places in Paris. That's a shame for tourists."

The chaos of strikes was matched by turmoil on the streets as clashes broke out on the sidelines of the Paris march. Riot police fired tear gas and used water cannons as items were thrown at them and windows smashed, with a number of arrests made and injuries on both sides.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Pan-Orthodox Christian Council in Crete Fizzling; Five of 14 Churches Break Away in Power Struggle

The historic "Holy and Great Council" of the world's 14 self-governing Orthodox Christian churches -- due to begin on the Greek island of Crete on June 19 -- may not be held after five of the churches pulled out, The Guardian website reports today (June 14, 2016).

The unraveling of the week-long Pan-Orthodox Council -- which has been in preparation since 1961 -- began with Bulgaria saying earlier this month it wanted a postponement, citing disagreements over the agenda. Items on the agenda include the mission of the Orthodox Church in the 21st century, autonomy, marriage, the importance of fasting, unity, and relations with other religions.

Yesterday, the Russian Orthodox Church -- the largest and richest -- announced it would not attend the meeting, dealing what may be a fatal blow to the gathering. The Serbian, Georgian, and Antiochian Orthodox churches followed the Bulgarian lead, and Russia said it would not attend without all churches present.

The council was called by the ecumenical patriarch, Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the "first among equals" of leaders of the global Orthodox churches, which collectively represent over 300 million people. Efforts to heal the bitter rift between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches -- which dates back to the "Great Schism" of 1054 -- are also expected to be discussed at the gathering.

IS Supporter Kills Two Police Officials Near Paris; Attacker Killed by Police, Was Under Surveillance

French President Francois Hollande said today (June 14, 2016) that the murder of two French police officials last night by a man claiming allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) is "unquestionably a terrorist act," the BBC website reports.

A police commander and his partner were stabbed to death at their home in the town of Magnanville, a western suburb of Paris. Their three-year-old survived.

Named by French sources as Larossi Abballa, the attacker was killed in a police assault on the house.

Abballa, 25, had been under recent police surveillance -- including a wiretap -- police said.

Monday, June 13, 2016

US Apache Helicopters Strike Iraq for First Time; Destroy IS Car Bomb, Will Help to Retake Mosul

The Pentagon said today (June 13, 2016) that US Apache helicopters have struck an Islamic State (IS) target for the first time in Iraq, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

The attack choppers destroyed an IS car bomb yesterday near Qayyarah, which is about 50 miles south of Mosul, the militant group's main stronghold in Iraq.

Pentagon chief Ashton Carter has since early December told the Iraqi government that the US military is willing to use Apaches based in Iraq to support local forces.

But the government until now had declined. The Apache strike came as Iraqi forces advanced towards Qayyarah with the eventual aim of retaking Mosul.

Nightclub Killer's Dad Hosted Anti-US TV Show; Called Taliban "Our Warrior Brothers" on Show

In what may have sparked the Orlando nightclub massacre, it was revealed today (June 13, 2016) that  gunman Omar Mateen's father is a radical Muslim Afghan immigrant who hosted an anti-American TV show and once called the Taliban "our warrior brothers," the NY Post website reports.

Seddique Mateen also appears in scores of online videos, including one he posted to Facebook right around the time of his son's rampage. In it, he wears combat fatigues and salutes the camera.

The elder Mateen speaks the Dari language in his videos, and it wasn't immediately clear what he says on the clip, posted on Facebook around 2 a.m. yesterday, just when Omar was opening fire on innocent victims at the Pulse nightclub. An automated translation of remarks posted over the video says: "To the people revolution in Afghanistan, migration is in danger 2016-11-6."

A former Afghan official said the elder Mateen's TV shows are known for their "anti-US tirades" and "pro-Taliban" remarks.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hundreds of IS Militants Are Arrested in Fallujah; More Than 450 Nabbed Trying to Flee Iraqi Army

More than 450 militants of the Islamic State (IS) trying to flee Fallujah, Iraq today (June 12, 2016) were arrested as the Iraqi army neared the city from different fronts, the UPI website reports.

The arrests came as the army had secured the first "relatively safe" exit route for civilians trying to flee the militant group.

"The Iraqi security forces have the names and numbers of ISIS militants and they managed to arrest those who have tried to escape Fallujah with the refugees," said Nassir Noori, a spokesperson for the ministry of defense, adding he expects more arrests.

About 4,000 Fallujah residents have fled the city in 24 hours using the Iraqi army's safe corridor, according to a Norwegian Refugee Council today.

ISIS Supporter Kills 50 in Fla.Nightclub Attack; Worst Terror Attack in US Since 9/11/01 Attack

An American-born Muslim man who had pledged allegiance to ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) gunned down 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida early today (June 12, 2016) -- the deadliest mass shooting in United States history and the nation's worst terror attack since 9/11/2001 -- according to the CNN website.

The gunman was Omar Mateen, 29, of Fort Pierce, Florida, whose Muslim parents had moved to the U.S. from Afghanistan.

Mateen called 911 around the time of the attack to pledge allegiance to ISIS, which has now claimed responsibility for the attack.

Mateen carried an assault rifle and a pistol into the packed Pulse club shortly before 2 a.m. and started shooting, killing 50 people and wounding at least 53 others, police said. After a standoff of about three hours, police crashed into the building with an armored vehicle and killed Mateen.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Turkey Won't Get Visa-Free Travel to EU by July 1; Concurs It Fails to Meet EU Conditions for Benefit

Turkey's Europe minister -- during a visit to the Hague yesterday -- admitted there is no chance of completing a deal on visa-free travel of Turkish citizens to the EU (European Union) by the July 1 deadline, the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website reports today (June 11, 2016).

The EU had agreed in March to give Turkey visa-free access by July 1 in return for Ankara controlling the flood of migrants to Greece and other conditions.

But Turkey has yet to fulfill all of the conditions laid down by the EU for the visa agreement.

Turkey's European Affairs Minister Omer Celik admitted the July 1 deadline would be missed in an interview last night with Dutch broadcast NOS. "But we think it must happen as soon as possible," the Turkish minister said.

Dutch High School Grads Sing "Jews Burn Best;" Rabbi Calls for Punishing Singers for Hate Crime

Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs called on authorities to identify and punish high school students who during their graduation ceremony sang about burning Jews, another indication that anti-Semitism continues to pervade much of Europe, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (June 11, 2016).

The incident happened last week during the graduation gala of the Elde College in the Dutch town of Schijndel, about 70 miles southeast of Amsterdam.

As they approached the party, several graduates sang: "Together we'll burn Jews, because Jews burn the  best."

The student body and organizing committee of the Elde College gala expressed their sincere apologies for the incident, but Jacobs said the guilty parties "must be prosecuted for hate speech." Jacobs added, the frequency of anti-Semitic hate crimes in the Netherlands "means Dutch Jews are less inclined to report hate crimes, when they occur around them all the time."

Libyan Forces Defeat IS, Regain Control of Sirte; Was IS's Greatest Stronghold Outside Iraq, Syria

After fierce clashes with Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants yesterday, forces aligned with Libya's unity government have taken control of the Mediterranean port city of Sirte from the Islamic State -- which had been the IS's greatest stronghold outside of  Iraq and Syria -- the Telegraph (British) website reports today (June 11, 2016).

Brigades largely composed of fighters from the city of Misrata advanced this week to the perimeter of Sirte's city center, after launching a counter attack against the IS last month and driving the militant group back along the coastal road between the two cities.

The brigades are part of an operation supported by Libya's United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), which arrived in the city of Tripoli in March and has been gradually working to establish its authority.

Western powers see the GNA as the best means for uniting Libya's political and armed factions against the IS and for restoring stability to the oil-rich North African country.

Friday, June 10, 2016

IS Radicals Level 3,000-Year-Old Temple in Iraq; Ruin Temple of Nabu,Babylonian God of Wisdom

Islamic State (IS) insurgents have posted a video on the internet showing a 3,000-year-old temple being blown up at the Assyrian city of Nimrud in northern Iraq, in their latest destruction of some of the world's most revered archaeological and cultural treasures, the Yahoo News website reports today (June 10, 2016).

The United Nations confirmed in a statement last night that satellite imagery showed "extensive damage to the main entrance" of the temple of Nabu, the Babylonian god of wisdom.

Nimrud was a 13th century BC Assyrian city -- located about 20 miles south of the modern city of Mosul -- which the hardline Islamic State militants seized control of in June 2014.

The IS video also shows scenes of bulldozers razing the ancient Gate of Nergal, part of the historic Nineveh city wall in Mosul. The fanatical Islamic group considers all pre-Islamic culture idolatrous, along with any religion outside its own radical interpretation of Sunni Islam.

Tel Aviv Mayor: Terror Attack Due to Occupation; Says Israel Must Make Real Effort to Attain Peace

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai ruffled feathers yesterday, after suggesting that the Palestinian terror attack at the Sarona Market plaza in the city was linked to Israel's occupation of the Palestinian people, the Times of Israel website reports today (June 10, 2016).

Speaking on Army Radio a day after the attack at the Max Brenner cafe -- which claimed the lives of four Israelis -- Huldai said Israel was "maybe the only country in which another people is under occupation and in which these people have no rights."

"Our leaders through the years have said that the lands [on which settlements are built] are the basis on which a future [Palestinian] state can be built. The problem is when there is no terror, there are no discussions, and when there are talks, we say there can't be terror attacks," he added.

A change in the the situation will come only when Israel will show its neighbors that it has true intentions of reaching a peace deal, the mayor argued.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Libyan Govt. Troops Clash with IS in City of Sirte; Seek to Oust IS from Its Most Land Held in Africa

In Libya the Islamic State (IS) group is battling to hold on to its stronghold of Sirte after forces aligned with the new unity government advanced on the Mediterranean coastal city, the Euro News website reports today (June 9, 2016).

Security sources said government forces made ground in the eastern and southern outskirts of Sirte, taking control of at least one IS military camp.

A hospital spokesman said at least six brigade members had been killed and 30 wounded in the clashes.

The units launched a counter-offensive against IS last month from their base in the western city of Misrata, pushing the militants back along the coastal road of Sirte. The IS's control of Sirte and its surrounding area has become its largest landholding outside of Iraq and Syria.

Italy OKs Bill Criminalizing Denial of Holocaust; Those Convicted Face Prison Terms of 2-6 Years

Italy's Parliament approved a bill yesterday making spreading Holocaust denial illegal, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (June 9, 2016).

The bill -- which adds to an existing anti-racism bill -- was approved by the Chamber of Deputies by a vote of 237-5, with 102 abstentions.

The new law would go after those who deny genocide or crimes against humanity, as defined by the International Court of Justice, the German news agency DPA reported.

Those convicted could face prison terms of two to six years.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Palestinian Gunmen Kill 4 at Tel Aviv Restaurant; Gunmen Posing as Customers Wound 6, Arrested

Two Palestinian gunmen killed four people at a popular shopping and restaurant area in Tel Aviv, Israel today (June 8, 2016) in an attack that sent diners -- some clutching small children -- running for their lives just outside Israel's Defense Ministry, according to the Reuters website.

Both gunmen -- identified by police as Palestinians from a village near the city of Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank -- were arrested, and one was wounded.

Security footage showed the two -- dressed in suits and ties and posing as customers at a restaurant -- suddenly pull out automatic weapons and open fire, shooting one man point blank, as others fled.

Police said the assailants killed four people in the assault and that six were wounded.

At Least 15 Are Killed in Aleppo,Syria Airstrikes; Govt. Forces Bomb Hospital in Rebel-Held Area

At least 15 people have been killed and dozens wounded in a series of airstrikes today (June 8, 2016) on rebel-held areas in the Syrian city of Aleppo, according to the BBC website.

One of the airstrikes -- believed to have been carried out by government forces to regain control of the divided city -- hit the Bayan hospital in the eastern Shaar district. Video footage showed bodies being pulled from burning and destroyed buildings.

In a defiant address to Syria's parliament yesterday, President Bashar al-Assad promised to escalate fighting in order to retake "every inch" of the country that his opponents have seized during Syria's civil war, now in its fifth year.

Aleppo, Assad told parliament, would be "the graveyard where hopes and dreams" of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- a key backer of the rebels in Syria -- would be "buried."

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

IS Burns 19 Yazidi Women Alive for Refusing Sex; IS Still Holds about 1800 Abducted Women, Girls

Nineteen Yazidi women -- who refused to have sex with their ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) captors -- were placed in iron cages and burned alive in Mosul, Iraq last weekend, the Newsmax website reports today (June 7, 2016).

"The 19 girls were burned to death, while hundreds of people were watching," one unnamed witness told the ARA (Mideast) News.

"Nobody could do anything to save them from the brutal punishment."

Officials of the Kurdistan Regional Government charge that ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria continue to hold about 1,800 abducted Yazidi women and girls, ARA News reports. The ISIS jihadists captured the women as sex slaves after overtaking a northern Iraqi region in August 2014.

Assad Pledges to Escalate Mil. Activity in Syria; Bloodshed Will Go on Until He Controls Nation

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad pledged today (June 7, 2016) that his government intends to escalate military efforts to crush the five-year-old uprising against his rule, emphasizing the bloodshed will not end until he has regained control over all areas of Syria lost to the rebellion, according to the Washington Post website.

His tough words came amid indications that Russia is preparing to reengage in the war in support of Assad, almost three months after it threw its support behind a U.S.-backed cease-fire and announced it was withdrawing most of its military from Syria.

The violence has already been ticking up, with government and Russian warplanes conducting air raids over northern Syria during the past week and rebels launching an offensive to recapture territory south of the city of Aleppo.

Assad's comments -- made in an address to the parliament in Damascus -- suggested that he and his Russian allies are preparing for a full-scale resumption of the war, with Aleppo as their first target. "As we liberated Tadmur [Palmyra] and before it many areas, we will liberate every inch of Syria from their hands," he said, referring to the ancient town in central Syria recaptured from the Islamic State (IS) militant group in March. "Our only option is victory; otherwise Syria will not survive."

Bomb Attack on Police Bus in Istanbul Kills 11; Terrorists Keep Hitting Turkey with No Respite

A bomb ripped through a Turkish police vehicle near Istanbul's historic center today (June 7, 2016), killing seven officers and four civilians, and adding to security concerns after a string of recent attacks in Turkey's largest city, according to the Times of Israel website.

The bomb targeted a service shuttle bus carrying officers from Istanbul's anti-riot police as it was passing through the central Beyazit district close to many of the city's top tourist sites, Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin said in a live statement on Turkish television.

Thirty-six people were wounded, three of them seriously, he added.

The explosion took place close to the Vezneciler metro station, which is within walking distance of some of Istanbul's main tourist sites, including the famed Suleymaniye Mosque. Turkey has been hit with several deadly terrorist attacks in recent months by both militant Kurds and Islamic State (IS) jihadists.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Ukraine Police Nab French Man Planning Attacks; Planned to Hit Bridges,RRs, Synagogues,Mosques

A French man, 25, arrested with an arsenal of weapons and explosives has been accused by Ukrainian police of plotting a string of terror attacks before and during the Euro 2016 football tournament that begins in France on June 10, The Guardian website reports today (June 6, 2016).

Ukraine's state security service stopped the man in a white van last month near the border with Poland. Inside the vehicle, they found five Kalashnikov semi-automatic rifles, two anti-tank rocket-propelled grenades, 5,000 bullets, 100 detonators, and 125 kg (275 lbs.) of  TNT, as well as balaclavas.

Ukrainian officials said the man was planning to carry out 15 attacks on bridges, railways, synagogues, mosques, and public buildings, including tax offices and motorways. He has been identified as Gregoire Moutaux, a farm worker from the Lorraine area of eastern France.

"The Frenchman spoke negatively about his government's migration policies, the spread of Islam and globalization," Vassil Hrytsak of the SBU (Ukraine's state security service) told a press conference in Kiev, Ukraine's capital. "He also said he wanted to perpetrate acts of terror in protest."

Germany's Migrants Challenge Nation's Main Rel.; Muslims Harass Christians, Seek to Convert Them

Germany's refugee crisis is challenging the country's main religious groups, as it tries to balance a welcoming attitude to the mostly Muslim migrants and concern for the welfare of the minority Christians among them, the Religion News website reports today (June 6, 2016).

Increasingly, accounts of Muslim migrants ganging up on Christians and other minorities in refugee shelters have raised concerns.

Many Christian migrants have complained that radical Muslims have been harassing them and other religious minorities, making them feel threatened and under pressure to convert to Islam.

Pastor Gottfried Martens from the evangelical Trinity Church in Berlin called for separate refugee shelters for Muslims and Christians in order to resolve the problem. "When a house is burning, it's not enough to talk about fire prevention measures," he said. "You have to pull the people out."

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Erdogan to Turkish Women: Have at Least 3 Kids; Says a Woman's Life Is "Incomplete" with No Kids

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today (June 5, 2016) urged Turkish women to have at least three children, saying a woman's life was "incomplete" if she failed to have offspring, according to The Express Tribune (Pakistani) website.

Erdogan's comments were the latest in a series of controversial remarks aimed at encouraging women to help boost Turkey's population, in his effort to make Turkey a world power.  Last week, Erdogan -- a staunch Muslim -- said family planning and contraception were not for Muslim families, igniting fury among women's activists.

"Rejecting motherhood means giving up on humanity," the Turkish president said in a speech today marking the opening of the new building of Turkey's Women's and Democracy Association.

He added, "A woman who rejects motherhood, who refrains from being around the house, however successful her working life is, is deficient, is incomplete."

Taliban Gunmen Kill Seven in Afghan Courthouse; About 21 Others Injured, All Three Gunmen Killed

Taliban gunmen today (June 5, 2016) killed seven people -- including a chief prosecutor -- when they attacked a courthouse in Afghanistan, The Daily Beast website reports.

Prosecutor Akram Nejat was hit during a ceremony celebrating his new title, said a police official.

About 21 others -- including police officers -- were injured in the attack.

All three of the reported Taliban assailants were fatally shot by Afghan security forces.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Anglicans Double Funding Target for Iraq, Syria; Raise 90K Euros+ to Assist War-Torn Christians

Generous Church of England (Anglican) parishioners have raised well over double their target in an ecumenical fund-raising project for suffering Christians in Iraq and Syria, the Independent Catholic News website reports today (June 4, 2016).

The Anglican Diocese of London surpassed its 2016 Lent appeal's original target of 35,000 euros, hitting the 90,000 euro mark, thanks to a generous response by parishes across the UK capital.

The Bishop of London, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Richard Chartres, commended parishioners' efforts to raise funds on behalf of Christian charities Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) and Open Doors, with proceeds going to persecuted Christians in war-torn Iraq and Syria.

Bishop Chartres said: "The Lent Appeal this year obviously touched a nerve of sympathy throughout the diocese. I am hugely grateful to all those who have together raised more than 90,000 euros to assist persecuted Christians in the Middle East."

Pope to Oust Bishops Who Misrule Abuse Cases; Will Now Remove Them from Office If Negligent

Pope Francis today (June 4, 2016) announced new legal procedures to remove bishops who botch handling sex abuse cases, saying they can be kicked out of office if the Vatican finds they were negligent in doing their jobs, according to the Independent (British) website.

In the new law, the pope answered a long-running demand by victims of abuse and their advocates to hold bishops accountable for failing to protect their flocks from pedophiles.

Victims have for decades accused bishops of covering up for abuse, moving rapist priests from parish to parish, rather than taking disciplinary action against them.

Bishops "must undertake a particular diligence in protecting those who are the weakest among their flock," Pope Francis wrote in the law, called a "motu proprio" (a legal document issued by the pope and  translated "on his own initiative").

Friday, June 3, 2016

Paris Flooding Threatens Louvre's Priceless Art; Most Art Deported to Safety Since Nazi Invasion

In the midst of a historic flood in Paris, a host of French cultural institutions -- including the Louvre and Orsay museums -- closed down today (June 3, 2016) and began evacuating artwork from galleries susceptible to flooding, the Washington Post website reports.

After several days of historic rainfall, the storied Seine -- the river that winds through the French capital -- swelled today to its highest level since 1982. Many of Paris's most important buildings line the river.

Curators at the Louvre -- the largest art museum in the world and the most visited in Europe -- began working rapidly to relocate some 250,000 artworks from flood-risk areas, mainly basement storerooms.

Exempting museum renovations, the last time as many works of art were transported as quickly and as frantically may have been the years leading up to the Nazi invasion of France in 1940, when the museum leadership sent the collection's masterpieces to a slew of safe locations across France, in order to prevent their theft by German troops.

Orthodox Church Heads Aim for Christian Unity; Meet June 19-26 in Crete to Mend "Great Schism"

The spiritual seat of the world's Orthodox Christians today (June 3, 2016) issued a call for unity ahead of the first ever meeting of the faith's 14 independent ethnic churches that is expected to discuss the churches' common future and efforts to heal the nearly 1,000-year rift with Roman Catholics, according to the Fox News website.

The meeting later this month on the Greek island of Crete will be convened by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Istanbul-based spiritual leader of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians. Bartholomew's spokesman, the Rev. John Chryssavgis, said that the June 19-26 gathering's "sole purpose is the affirmation of unity."

All the Orthodox churches -- old and new that emerged over the centuries -- have never met like this since the "Great Schism" of 1054, when the Orthodox and Roman Catholics split after disputes over the Vatican's power.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate -- which is based in Istanbul -- said the "Holy and Great Council is a unique and historical occasion." Preparations for the meeting have been underway since 1961, when the planning first began.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Riot between Migrants Guts Greek Detention Ctr.; Afghans, Pakistanis Clash on Lesbos, Destroy Ctr.

More than 70 refugees have been injured and hundreds left without shelter after a huge fire broke out at a detention center in Greece between Pakistani and Afghan migrants, the Euro News website reports today (June 2, 2016).

Reports from the incident on the Greek island of Lesbos suggest each party had specific grievances.

The Afghans were accused of acting like "mafia" to try and control the center, while the Afghans accused the Pakistanis of theft and sexual harassment.

The center -- formerly a refugee camp -- is for migrants who have been refused residence in Greece, and are awaiting passage back to Turkey as part of the EU (European Union) deal struck with Ankara.

Germany Seals Ottoman Genocide of Armenians; Turkey Fuming by Move,Recalls German Ambas.

German lawmakers passed a resolution today (June 2, 2016) recognizing the World War I massacre of  some 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide, drawing a furious rebuke from Turkey which called it a "historic mistake," according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

Ankara recalled its ambassador to Germany in protest at the resolution.

Only one MP voted against and one other abstained, as parliament approved overwhelmingly by a show of hands the resolution titled "Remembrance and commemoration of the genocide of Armenians and other Christian minorities in 1915 and 1916."

Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian praised the decision as "Germany's valuable contribution not only to the international recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide, but also to the universal fight for the prevention of genocides, crimes against humanity."

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Pakistani Woman Dies after Being Set on Fire; Was Burned for Refusing a Marriage Proposal

An 18-year-old Pakistani Muslim schoolteacher died today (June 1, 2016) from injuries after her body was set on fire for refusing a marriage proposal, the CNN website reports.

The perpetrators beat Maria Abbasi, then drenched her in petrol and set her body ablaze before leaving her for dead, her family members told CNN.

"Maria was at home baby-sitting her 5-year-old sister while her family went to a funeral in a nearby town," said Rafaqat Abbasi, her uncle.

Three people were arrested today in Islamabad in connection with the teenager's killing, said Nabeela Ghazanfa, Punjab police spokeswoman. An arrest warrant is out for a fourth individual.

Pope:Whoever Judges,Scorns Others Is Hypocrite; Arrogance Empties Prayer, Distances Us from God

Pope Francis warned in his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square today (June 1, 2016) that arrogance not only distances us from God but also compromises each of our actions and makes our prayer useless, according to the National Catholic Reporter website.

Reflecting on the Gospel parable comparing the ways that a Pharisee and a tax collector pray at the Jewish Temple, the pontiff said that humility is "the necessary condition to be raised up by God, to experience the mercy that fills to the brim our emptiness."

"Whoever believes themselves just and judges others and scorns them is corrupt and a hypocrite," the pope exhorted. "Arrogance compromises every good action, empties prayer, distances from God and others."

"If the prayer of the arrogant doesn't reach the heart of God, the humility of the miserable opens it wide," he added.

Poland Plans to Extradite Roman Polanski to US; Was Convicted of Raping a Girl,13, Then Fled US

Poland said it will initiate efforts to extradite filmmaker Roman Polanski to the United States in an attempt to reverse a court ruling last year that said doing so would be "obviously unlawful," the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (June 1, 2016).

Polanski -- who is Jewish -- fled the U.S. nearly four decades ago after being convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl. He has avoided returning to the U.S. for fear of being imprisoned.

Justice Minister and chief prosecutor Zbigniew Ziobro said the October ruling in a Krakow court blocking Polanski's extradition violated Poland's extradition agreements with the U.S., and that he will appeal it to Poland's Supreme Court.

Ziobro said he disagreed with the Krakow judge's claim that Polanski had, in effect, already been punished. He also criticized as "incomprehensible" the Krakow judge's comments that Polanski would face "inhumane treatment" in the United States.