Friday, March 31, 2017

Syracuse,NY Diocese Forces Out Priests at 80; Can Still Hold Mass If Another Priest Is Away

Priests serving the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, New York who are 80 or older have been told they must step down, the Newsmax website reports today (March 31, 2017).

Some 13 priests have been given notice by Bishop Robert Cunningham, who is enforcing a new policy that prohibits priests from handling day-to-day parish duties once they enter their ninth decade.

But that doesn't mean the diocese -- which consists of 237,000 parishioners in 128 parishes -- is putting the older priests out to pasture.

They will still be allowed to perform sacramental duties -- including performing Mass -- when another priest is away or anointing the sick.

ISIS Using Civilians in Raqqa as Human Shields; Kurdish-Led Syrian Rebels Advancing in IS Area

People fleeing villages around the Syrian city of Raqqa say that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group has been using civilians as human shields, the Euro News website reports today (March 31, 2017).

One man on the back of a truck said: "They [IS fighters] want to use us as human shields. If there is an area with citizens, they target it; if it is empty, they leave."

Another man said there are about 5,000 civilians on the run from Tabqa and its surrounding villages.

Capture of the area around the Tabqa Dam would be a major strategic advance for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Terror Plot to Blow Up Venice Bridge Foiled; Italian Police Nab 3 Muslims Planning Blast

Italian police said today (March 30, 2017) that three Muslim men from Kosovo and an unidentified minor have been arrested in Venice on suspicion of plotting to blow up the city's famous Rialto Bridge, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

Adelchi d'Ippolito -- the Venice prosecutor in charge of the case -- said at a press conference that the group had been under surveillance since last year, and recent wiretaps indicated the suspects strongly supported the Islamic State (IS).

The suspects were detained in an overnight sweep carried out after it was established that they had undergone "religious radicalization," according to a police statement.

The Rialto Bridge is the oldest of the four bridges that span Venice's Grand Canal, first built at the end of the 12th century.

Arabs Try to End Israel Sovereignty of Jerusalem; Submit Resolution for UN to Deny Israeli Control

Arab states plan to contest Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem at the upcoming UNESCO Executive Board meeting in Paris, the Jerusalem Post website reports today (March 30, 2017).

The resolution -- due for a vote on May 1 -- states: "Any action taken by Israel, the Occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction, and administration on the city of Jerusalem, are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever."

Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, and Sudan submitted the resolution on behalf of the Palestinians.

It was drafted just as U.S. President Donald Trump is seriously weighing relocating the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Norway Org.Hires PR Woman Who Wears Niqab; Many Upset by Islamic Council of Norway's Move

A Muslim organization in Norway has been criticized for hiring a public relations officer who wears a full-face veil (niqab), the BBC website reports today (March 29, 2017).

The Islamic Council of Norway (ICN) appointed Leyla Hasic, 32, as its spokeswoman last weekend.

The culture minister, Muslim MPs, and other Muslim organizations have condemned the ICN's move.

Norway's parliament has already supported banning the niqab in schools.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem Protest Draft; Thousands on Streets against Having to Register

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews protested in Jerusalem yesterday in a show of force over the arrest of members of the community for failing to show up to register for the draft, the Times of Israel website reports today (March 29, 2017).

Community leaders called for the mass gathering, setting up a stage for rabbis to speak and closing a main street in the ultra-Orthodox Geula neighborhood. Although ultra-Orthodox Jews studying at yeshiva schools are exempt from the draft in Israel, they are required to register for it at a recruitment office.

Police said that although the protest was unauthorized and illegal, they decided to contain the event and monitor it rather than risk violence by trying to break it up.

The event was organized by the supporters of Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, the leader of Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem, who have been protesting the draft for the past few weeks.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

US Sends 300 More Troops to Recapture Mosul; Boost to Ease Ending IS Control of Land in Iraq

A U.S. military escalation in northern Iraq will include some 300 additional troops from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, an infusion of combat power intended to accelerate the ouster of Islamic State (IS) fighters from their stronghold in Mosul, the Military Times website reports today (March 28, 2017).

The paratroopers are scheduled to depart from Fort Bragg in North Carolina today, according to a U.S. defense official.

In addition to assisting and advising the Iraqi ground forces in their fight against IS, some U.S. troops will be moved close to action in Mosul, where an estimated 2,000 IS fighters remain hidden among civilians they have trapped there.

With the paratroopers' arrival today, there will be well over 6,000 American military personnel on the ground in Iraq.

Suspect Nabbed for Tossing Rocks into Mosque; Seen on Video Hurling Objects into Prayer Area

Police arrested a 35-year-old man, suspected of throwing rocks and a Bible at a Colorado mosque, the CNN website reports today (March 28, 2017).

Surveillance video captured a person overturning benches, breaking windows, and hurling objects into the prayer area of the Islamic Center at Fort Collins, police said. The incident occurred around 4 a.m. on March 26.

Fort Collins police arrested the suspect last night.

"We will not tolerate acts of hatred in our community, and I hope this arrest sends that message loud and clear," said Police Chief John Hutto in a statement.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Pakistan Building Fence Along Afghan Border; Result of Afghan Terrorist Attacks in Pakistan

Pakistan has begun building a fence along its border with Afghanistan to curtail the movement of militants, in a move criticized by its eastern neighbor for dividing communities, the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website reports today (March 27, 2017).

The two nations are divided by the "Durand Line," a 1,500-mile frontier drawn by the British in 1896 and disputed by Kabul, which does not recognize it as an international border.

Both accuse the other of harboring militant proxies to carry out cross-border terror attacks, while their militants have engaged in numerous skirmishes in recent years.

Last year, Pakistan completed a 700-mile trench along the southern half of the border. The current round of fencing began in the northern tribal regions of Mohmand and Bajaur over the weekend, according to Pakistani army.

Over 8,000 Refugees Settled in US Since Jan.; Around 300 Being Investigated for Terrorism

Despite President Donald Trump's two executive orders designed to temporarily halt the influx of refugees into the country, more than 8,000 refugees have flooded into the U.S. since Trump took office, the Daily Caller website reports today (March 27, 2017).

Citing State Department figures released yesterday, the Daily Caller reported 8,476 refugees -- including 1,131 Syrians -- have settled into the U.S.

Further, the Department of Homeland Security announced this month that around 300 of those are actively being investigated for terrorism.

A federal appeals court in May will hear the Trump administration's appeal that the president's executive order is intended to protect the country against terrorism, not to ban Muslims.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Federal Judge Accepts Trump's 2nd Travel Ban; Rules Pres.Justified by National Security Power

President Donald Trump's revised immigration order -- which suspends immigrants and refugees in terrorist-inclined countries from entering the United States -- found a victory in Virginia federal court, the UPI website reports today (March 26, 2017).

U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Trenga ruled on March 24 in favor of the president's revised executive order, which has been blocked by two previous court rulings.

Trenga said that the revised order is different enough from the original that injunctions granted against the first action are no longer applicable.

"The President has provided a detailed justification for the Order based on national security needs ... to conduct international relations, provide for the national defense, and secure the nation," he wrote.

Syrian Rebels Seize Control of IS-Held Airbase; Kurdish Fighters Advance to Control IS's Raqqa

U.S.-backed Syrian rebels say they have taken full control of a key airbase held by the Islamic State (IS) group near its stronghold of Raqqa, the BBC website reports today (March 26, 2017).

Talal Sello, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said they had seized Tabqa airport from militants.

It comes as the U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters advance to take control of Raqqa, IS's self-declared capital in Syria.

Earlier today, IS warned that the nearby Tabqa dam on the Euphrates river could soon collapse; however, there is no sign of a collapse, as the dam remains intact.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Iraq Halts Mosul Fighting Due to Civilian Deaths; Airstrikes Kill 150 People in a Single City District

Iraqi military leaders have halted their push to recapture west Mosul from the Islamic State (IS), as international outrage grew over the civilian toll from airstrikes that killed at least 150 people in a single district of the city, The Guardian website reports today (March 25, 2017).

The attack on the Mosul Jadida neighborhood is thought to have been one of the deadliest bombing raids for civilians since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Rescuers were still pulling bodies from the rubble today, more than a week after the bombs landed, when the U.S.-led coalition confirmed that its aircraft had targeted IS fighters in the area.

They carried out the attack on March 17 "at the request of Iraqi security forces," and have now launched a formal investigation into reports of civilian casualties, the coalition said.

Muslims Protest Cath.Church Indonesia; Police Fire Tear Gas at Rock-Throwing Protesters

Indonesian police fired tear gas yesterday to disperse hard-line Muslims protesting against the construction of a Catholic church in a satellite city of the capital, Jakarta, the ABC News website reports today (March 25, 2017).

Several hundred protesters from a group called Forum for Bekasi Muslim Friendship staged a rowdy demonstration in front of the Santa Clara Church in Kaliabang, a neighborhood of Bekasi City.

Witnesses said police fired tear gas as the protesters tried to force their way into the church, which has been under construction since November. Some also threw rocks and bottles into the site.

Raymundus Sianipar, a Catholic priest, said police asked him to leave the area for safety reasons.

Friday, March 24, 2017

IS Mil. Attack Russian Army Base in Chechnya; Kill 6 Russian Soldiers, 6 Attackers Also Killed

At least 12 people were killed today (March 24, 2017) after an attack by Chechen Muslim militants against a Russian military base, according to the Euro News website.

Moscow said six of its soldiers died in the attack on an Army base north of Grozny in Chechnya.

Six of the attackers -- claiming to be from the Islamic State (IS) -- were also killed.

Russia said the militants launched the attack under the cover of fog this morning.

Top US Gen.: Russia Supplying Afghan Taliban; Tells Senate Russian Afghanistan Role Growing

The top U.S. general in Europe told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday that Russia may be influencing and even supplying the Taliban in Afghanistan with military equipment, the NBC News website reports today (March 24, 2017).

Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti -- who also serves as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe -- told Senators that Russia's role in Afghanistan seems to be growing.

"I've seen the influence of Russia of late -- increased influence in terms of association and perhaps even supply to the Taliban," Gen. Scaparrotti said.

The news comes in the wake of the Taliban's capture of the hotly contested town of Sangin in Afghanistan yesterday, the location of a number of U.S. and British fatalities inside the deadly Helmand Province.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Taliban Captures Vital Afghan District of Sangin; Afghan District Where Most US Troops Had Died

The Taliban captured the strategic district of Sangin in the southern Afghan province of Helmand today (March 23, 2017), according to the NY Times website.

It was the culmination of a years-long offensive that took the lives of more fighters than any other fight for territory in Afghanistan.

While spokesman for the central government denied claims by the Taliban that the district had fallen to them, some conceded that the insurgents had overrun the district center and government facilities.

However, local Afghan government and military officials said there was no doubt Sangin had finally fallen to their enemy.

Man Nabbed in Israel for JCC Bomb Threats; Dual US-Israeli Citizen Shielded Computer ID

A 19-year-old man with dual US-Israeli citizenship from Ashkelon, Israel has been arrested on suspicion of being responsible for most of the bomb and other threats to Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) ranging from the U.S., Europe, Australia, and New Zealand during the past six months, the Jerusalem Post website reports today (March 23, 2017).

The suspect, Michael Kaydar, who is Jewish, used intricate methods to shield himself from identification, and law enforcement had to use a variety of its own complex methods to find him.

The suspect's father has also been detained and is being questioned as to whether he knew about the suspect's illegal activities. Police believe the suspect made the calls in retaliation of the Israeli Army refusing to accept him for military service.

Israel intends to indict the suspect in its own courts, while other countries -- including the United States -- will probably seek to extradite and try him for his anti-Semitic crimes.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Turkey's Erdogan Threatens Europeans' Safety; Won't Be Safe on Streets If Not Nice to Turkey

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said today (March 22, 2017) that Europeans would not be able to walk safely on the streets if they kept up their current attitude toward Turkey, according to the Reuters website.

Turkey has been embroiled in a dispute with Germany and the Netherlands over campaign appearances by Turkish officials seeking to drum up support for an April 16 referendum that would boost Erdogan's powers to those of an autocratic ruler, if approved.

Ankara has accused the European allies of using "Nazi methods" by banning Turkish ministers from addressing rallies in Europe over security concerns.

"Turkey is not a country you can pull and push around, not a country whose citizens you can drag on the ground," Erdogan said at an event for Turkish journalists in Ankara, in comments broadcast live on national television.

Coalition Airstrike Kills Over 33 Syrian Civilians; Bombed School Raqqa Residents Used as Shelter

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said today (March 22, 2017) that the U.S.-led international coalition against the Islamic State (IS) bombed a school being used as a shelter, killing at least 33 civilians, according to the UPI website.

The airstrike hit the school being used to shelter internally displaced persons yesterday in the village of al-Mansoura in the western Raqqa Governorate countryside.

The SOHR said one of its activists witnessed 33 bodies being pulled out of the destroyed school's rubble before IS militants sealed off the area. More dead bodies are believed to be in the rubble.

"The massacres committed by U.S.-led coalition in Raqqa are unacceptable," the Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) said in a statement. "The international community must intervene to stop this."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tomb of Jesus Reopens after Yr. of Renovations; Redone by Greek Designers,Ceremony March 22

Extensive renovations to the tomb of Jesus at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem -- which have been taking place since May 2016 -- have been completed, the International Business Times website reports today (March 21, 2017).

The project was carried out by a team of Greek specialists who reconstructed the Edicule -- the protective structure over the shelf on which the body of Christ is said to have rested following His crucifixion.

The restoration was sponsored by the Greek Orthodox, Franciscans, and Armenians -- the three main Christian denominations of the six that share the Holy Sepulchre. The total cost of the project was about $4 million.

The site will be inaugurated on March 22 -- an event that will be attended by various political and religious leaders from Greece, along with the Holy Land clergy.

US Bans Electronic Stuff from Muslim Nations; Fears Terrorists May Hide Explosives in Them

Fearing that terrorists may try to blow up airplanes with hidden explosives, President Donald Trump's Department of Homeland Security has put into place new rules limiting the technology that can be brought onto aircraft by passengers from eight predominantly Muslim countries, the Salon website reports today (March 21, 2017).

The eight countries whose airports will be impacted by this new rule are Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.

Individuals flying to the U.S. from airports in these nations will be required to place any personal electronic device larger than a cellphone or smartphone into their checked luggage, as they will be prohibited on board the passenger section of the aircraft.

The new restrictions were issued because recent U.S. intelligence indicates that terrorists have developed explosives that can be hidden inside electronic devices.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Hungary Opens a Military Base Along Its Border; Designed to Stop Migrants from Entering Nation

Hungary opened a small military base today (March 20, 2017) along its southern border for soldiers designated to stop migrants from entering the country, according to the Daily Caller website.

The complex is one of four bases built since the start of the year, and is meant to serve 150 troops stationed along Hungary's southern border.

The soldiers work with designated "border hunters" to prevent migrants -- mainly from predominantly Islamic countries in the Middle East and Asia --  from getting across the fence that has been erected along the border to Serbia.

"The defense of the border... so hundreds of thousands won't march across the country, deserves total respect," Hungarian Defense Minister Istvan Simicsko said at the opening of the base. "Our most important common interest is the protection of the Hungarian citizens, our family members and civilians."

Australian Anglican Church Befalls Child Abuse; 1100 People Filed Claims during the Past 35 Yrs.

The head of Australia's Anglican Church expressed sorrow and shame after a government report said some 1,100 people had filed child sexual assault claims against the church over the past 35 years, the Religion News website reports today (March 20, 2017).

The interim report published on March 17 -- which said most children were aged around 11 when they were abused -- came a month after a high level inquiry into child abuse was told the Australian Catholic Church had paid $212 million in compensation to thousands of victims since 1980.

The report -- which was published by the same inquiry, the Royal Commission Into Child Abuse -- said the complaints identified 569 Anglican clergy, teachers, and volunteers as alleged abusers. There were another 133 alleged abusers whose roles at the church were not known.

Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier said he felt a "personal sense of shame and sorrow" at the way the church had apparently silenced victims.

Over 100 Swastika Leaflets Dropped at Va.Tech; Left on Front Yard of the Jewish Student Center

More than 100 leaflets with hand-drawn swastikas were found dropped on the front yard of the Chabad Jewish student center at Virginia Tech University, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (March 20, 2017).

The leaflets were discovered at the student center located across the street from the main campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, on March 18 by the Chabad's center co-director, Rabbi Zvi Yaakov Zwiebel.

The anti-Semitic incident occurred a day after the Jewish student center announced that Chabad was hosting the renowned Holocaust survivor Rabbi Nissen Mangel for a lecture at Virginia Tech in April.

The lecture program is to honor Professor Liviu Librescu, a Holocaust survivor who was among the 32 people killed in the 2007 shootings on campus. Librescu blocked the door of his classroom so students could escape by jumping out of windows.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Afghan Soldier Shoots, Wounds 3 US Soldiers; Inside Attacker Quickly Shot, Killed by Troops

At least three American soldiers were wounded today (March 19, 2017) when an Afghan soldier opened fire at them in southern Afghanistan, according to the VOA (Voice of America) News website.

The incident happened during a training exercise at a military base in the Helmand province. The U.S. soldiers are receiving medical care, said NATO's Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.

Afghan officials say that the attacker was swiftly shot and killed by foreign troops.

So-called "insider attacks" in which Afghan security personnel turn their guns on colleagues before fleeing to Taliban insurgents have taken place repeatedly in recent months.

Pope Guides Priests to Refer People to Exorcists; When People Suffer from Spiritual Disturbances

Pope Francis says priests should refer people to an exorcist if they suffer from "genuine spiritual disturbances," the Newsmax website reports today (March 19, 2017).

In an address to a group of priests at a Vatican workshop on confession on March 17, the pope said good confessors are "more useful than ever" and "even necessary in our times."

The pontiff said confessors are called to venture to the "peripheries of evil and sin" -- and people coming to confess their sins may be in desperate situations.

"They could also have spiritual disturbances, whose nature should be submitted to careful discernment, taking into account all the existential, ecclesial, natural, and supernatural circumstances," Francis said.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Russia Asks Court to Ban Jehovah's Witnesses; Claims Their Activities Violate Extremism Law

Russia's justice ministry has called for a ban on the Jehovah's Witnesses, a Christian movement that diligently seeks converts and rejects military service, the BBC website reports today (March 18, 2017).

The ministry has asked Russia's supreme court to close the group's headquarters and stop its 175,000 Russian members from sharing "extremist" literature.

A spokesman for the Jehovah's Witnesses called the proposed ban "persecuting worshippers just for manifesting their faith." The predominant religion in Russia is the Greek Orthodox Christian faith.

According to the justice ministry, the Jehovah's Witnesses' activities "violate Russia's law on combating extremism."

Dalai Lama Leads 3-Day World Buddhist Conf.; Declares All Religions Share Love, Compassion

The Dalai Lama -- Tibet's spiritual leader -- inaugurated a three-day international Buddhist conference yesterday in Nalanda district in Bihar, India, the Big News Network website reports today (March 18, 2017).

The Indian government is sponsoring the conference, titled "The Relevance of Buddhism in the 21st Century."

In his opening address, the Dalai Lama, 81,  told Buddhist delegates and experts from 35 countries that all religions share one principle -- love and compassion -- and that all must promote religious harmony in order to overcome both historical and current problems created in the name of religion.

Communist China seized control of Tibet in 1950 and calls the Dalai Lama a "dangerous separatist" because he calls for Tibet to regain its independence from China. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate denies espousing violence and says he wants only genuine autonomy for Tibet.

Friday, March 17, 2017

IS Suicide Bomber Hits Bangladesh Police Base; Wounds 2 Police Officers at Anti-Terrorist Base

A suicide bomber injured two Bangladeshi police officers today (March 17, 2017) when he attacked a base being built for the police anti-terrorist unit, according to the Reuters website.

The Islamic State (IS) terror group claimed responsibility for the attack.

The injured police officers were taken to Dhaka's military hospital.

Mufti Mahmud Khan -- director of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) -- told reporters that a man aged about 25 had blown himself up when challenged as he tried to enter the police special security forces' base, which is still under construction.

Tillerson:Mil. Action on N. Korea Is "an Option;" Used If N. Korea Provokes US Forces in S. Korea

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned today (March 17, 2017) that the U.S. will take military action against North Korea if it was provoked, according to the CNN website.

Speaking in Seoul at a joint press conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, Tillerson said Washington's policy of "strategic patience" has ended.

"Certainly, we do not want things to get to a military conflict... but obviously, if North Korea takes actions that threaten the South Korean forces or our own forces, then that would be met with an appropriate response," he said.

"If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe that requires action, that option is on the table," Tillerson added.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

US Airstrikes Kill Dozens of Terrorists in Syria; Syria Claims 42 Also Killed in Mosque Airstrike

U.S. air forces struck an al-Qaeda meeting in the Syrian province of Idib today (March 16, 2017), killing dozens of suspected terrorists, and reports indicate that civilians were also killed and injured by airstrikes at a nearby mosque, according to the NBC News website.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights  -- a nonpartisan group based in Britain that catalogs military actions in Syria -- said at least 42 people were killed in an airstrike on a mosque in the rebel-held village of al-Jinnah southwest of Atareb, which is in the western countryside of the neighboring province of Aleppo.

Some human rights activists and monitors claimed that the U.S. airstrikes hit the mosque.

But a senior U.S. military official told NBC News that while there was a mosque about 50 feet from the U.S. target, the U.S. has photographic evidence that the mosque was not hit and was still standing. He would not rule out the possibility that the mosque may have been struck or blown up later by someone else.

Erdogan:Europe Sees Muslims Like WWII Jews; Mad Germany,Holland Canceled Turkish Rallies

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday the "spirit of fascism" was rampant on the streets of Europe, comparing the treatment of Muslims there to that of the Jews during World War II, the Times of Israel website reports today (March 16, 2017).

"The Jews were treated the same in the past," he said, referring to the persecution of Jews under Nazi Germany, which carried out a systematic plan to annihilate Europe's Jews in the Holocaust.

"Turkophobia is mounting. Islamophobia is mounting. They are even scared of migrants who take shelter," Erdogan said.

Turkey and the European Union (EU) are going through their most explosive crisis after key EU members The Netherlands and Germany blocked Turkish ministers from holding rallies to back constitutional changes with a referendum on April 16 that, if approved, would greatly increase Erdogan's powers.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Federal Judge Halts Trump's 2nd Travel Ban; Rules Ban Still Violates Const. Rel. Protection

A federal judge in Hawaii today (March 15, 2017) issued a nationwide halt to President Trump's temporary travel ban targeting six majority-Muslim countries, according to the USA Today website.

It was a stinging rebuke to Trump's second attempt to institute the controversial order, which was scheduled to go into effect tomorrow (March 16).

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson issued a temporary restraining order against Trump's ban, saying he would reject any immediate appeals by the government.

Watson wrote in his ruling that the federal government had not proved that the ban was needed to protect the U.S. from terrorists trying to infiltrate the country through legal immigration or the refugee program. He added that despite changes made by the White House in the new ban, it still violated constitutional protections of religion.

Pope Warns Employers Not to Fire Employees; Ending Jobs for More Money "Very Grave Sin"

Pope Francis said today (March 15, 2017) that employers who fire workers for economic reasons are committing a "very grave sin" and should ensure dignified work for all their employees, according to the Washington Post website.

Francis made the comments at his general audience today after appealing for a resolution to a labor dispute at Sky Italia, where employees are facing job cuts and relocation as the satellite channel moves offices from Rome to Milan -- about a 295-mile distance between the two cities.

Francis called for a solution that respects the rights of all, "especially families."

He added: "Those who for economic reasons or to conclude unclear negotiations, close factories and business ventures and take away jobs, this person is committing a very grave sin."

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Bulgarian Church May Earn Nobel Peace Prize; Saved Some 1500 Jews during Nazi Holocaust

A campaign has been started to award the Nobel Peace Prize to a Bulgarian church for its work protecting Jews during the Holocaust in the early 1940s, the Christian Headlines website reports today (March 14, 2017).

At that time, when many people -- including many religious people -- were simply going along with Nazi orders targeting Jews, the Bulgarian Orthodox Christian Church took a courageous stand.

Members of Bulgaria's church saved some 1,500 Jews from being taken to concentration camps during World War II, when the Bulgarian government was a close ally of Nazi Germany.

For this heroism, Bulgarian-Israeli lawyer Moshe Aloni has begun a campaign to nominate the Bulgarian Orthodox Church to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

EU Court Lets Companies Ban Religious Garb; Firms Banning Rel. Attire Not Discriminating

The supreme court of the European Union (EU) ruled today (March 14, 2017) that companies can ban employees from wearing religious or political symbols -- such as the Islamic headscarf --- according to the Times of Israel website.

The European Court of Justice said it does not constitute "direct discrimination" if a firm has an internal rule banning the wearing of "any political, philosophical, or religious sign."

The wearing of religious symbols -- especially Islamic symbols such as the headscarf -- has become a controversial issue with the rise of populist sentiment across Europe, with some countries such as Austria considering a complete ban on the full-face veil in public.

While today's ruling only related to Islamic headscarfs specifically, it most likely covers Jewish religious garb as well, such as skullcaps.

Monday, March 13, 2017

ADL Plans Center in Calif. to Combat Cyberhate; Will Monitor Hate Speech Online to Minimize It

With anti-Semitism and other hate crimes rising to an unequaled level across the U.S. in 2017, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has decided to launch a facility in the heart of California's Silicon Valley to track and monitor harassment and hate speech online, the Independent (British) website reports today (March 13, 2017).

The ADL's CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, announced yesterday that the ADL received a "six figure" donation from the Omidyar Network investment firm to build the command center just south of San Francisco.

Brittan Heller, a former Justice Department official who leads the organization's anti-cyberhate campaigns, will lead the new center as its founding director when it opens in three to six months.

"So proud to be a part of this effort and leading this Center," she wrote on Twitter yesterday. "Thanks for investing to end cyberhate."

Iraqi Forces Capture Third of W. Mosul from IS; US Envoy States Jihadists Still in Mosul Will Die

Already in control of eastern Mosul, Iraqi forces have now cut off ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) road access to the west, trapping the terrorists in the Iraqi city that was the group's biggest stronghold of its self-declared caliphate, the Euro News website reports today (March 13, 2017).

Brett McGurk -- the United States' envoy to the coalition against IS -- said yesterday that "jihadists still in Mosul will die."

He added, "ISIS has now lost over 60 percent of the territory it once held here in Iraq and is losing more every day."

Iraqi forces have now recaptured a third of western Mosul. But IS militants are putting up fierce resistance using suicide car bombs, snipers, and mortars.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Francis Celebrates 4th Anniv. as Pope March 13; Reforms Lauded by Masses,Hit by Some Clerics

Elected in 2013 with a brief to reform a scandal-hit Vatican, Pope Francis has launched numerous initiatives but -- four years later -- he is still struggling to deliver real change, the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website reports today (March 12, 2017).

As he celebrates his fourth anniversary at the head of the Catholic Church on March 13, he continues to bask in a remarkable level of popularity around the world, thanks to his popular touch, plain speaking, and his humble style.

But inside the Vatican Curia there is not always the same enthusiasm for a pope who has regularly lambasted the administration that runs the global church.

Moreover, several conservative cardinals -- who originally supported Francis as pope -- began to criticize him during the past year due to the liberal reforms he has implemented in the Church. These cardinals believe that Pope Francis is destroying traditional Catholic dogma by adopting new reforms that allow worshippers to enjoy more freedom -- at the expense of dogma -- under Catholicism.

Erdogan Accuses Dutch Govt. of Nazism,Fascism; Due to Blocking 2 Turkish Ministers from Rallies

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the Netherlands today (March 12, 2017) it will "pay the price" for refusing to allow Ankara's foreign minister into the country and expelling another minister yesterday to keep them from holding rallies with Turkish immigrants, according to the VOA (Voice of America) News website.

Erdogan accused the Dutch government of "nazism and fascism," saying only a repressive regime would block Ankara's officials from traveling to the Netherlands.

Both of the Ankara officials were trying to rally Turkish immigrants with Turkish voting rights to support Erdogan's bid to win a referendum next month to give him new autocratic powers.

The Dutch government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte barred Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from flying to Rotterdam. It then blocked Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya from entering the Turkish embassy in the port city before escorting her out of the country to Germany.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Security Experts Don't Trust Terrorist Pakistan; Judge Pakistan as Terrorist-Supporting Nation

Two American security experts have called on the Trump administration to seriously consider fresh options in dealing with a terrorist-supporting, and irresponsible nuclear state like Pakistan, the Big News Network website reports today (March 11, 2017).

In an article appearing in "The National Interest," Congressman Ted Poe, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Terrorism, and James Clad, former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense in the George W. Bush administration, said: "The United States has acquiesced in a toxic relationship with Pakistan, putting up with this nominal ally whose military and security leaders play a lethal double game."

They added: "Most dangerously, the "game," if one can call it that, involves head-long nuclear weapons production and exporting Islamist terrorism."

They conclude: "Something must change in our dealings with a terrorist-supporting, irresponsible nuclear-weapons state [like Pakistan], and it must change soon. Acquiescing in the current trends is not an option."

Assad Peeved with Trump's Poor Fighting of IS; Trump Takes No Action Promised in Campaign

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said today (March 11, 2017) that he hasn't seen President Donald Trump's administration take any real steps to defeat the Islamic State (IS), despite Trump's strong rhetoric on the matter during his campaign, according to The Daily Beast website.

Assad made the comments in an interview with a Chinese TV station.

Although Trump had offered "a promising approach" in making the fight against IS a top priority during his campaign, Assad said, Trump has yet to live up to all his hype.

Assad dismissed the current U.S. operations in Syria against the terrorist group as "only a few raids," but expressed hope that Trump's White House would "implement what we have heard."

Friday, March 10, 2017

UN Rips Turkey for Killing Thousands of Kurds; Deja Vu in Turkey's Armenian Murders in WWI

The United Nations today (March 10, 2017) accused Turkey of "serious" human rights violations during operations against Kurdish separatists in the southeast of the country, according to the Euro News website.

The UN says up to half a million people were displaced and at least 2,000 people were unjustly killed from July 2015.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesman Rupert Colville said: "It appears that not a single suspect was apprehended and not a single individual was prosecuted for violations that occurred during this period..."

Today's UN human rights report reminds us of Turkey killing more than one million innocent Armenians during World War I in 1917 and 1918, when it carried out its first barbaric genocide.

Patriarch of Alexandria Allows Women Deacons; Kyriaki FitzGerald's Elated Dream Becomes Real

Kyriaki Karidoyanes FitzGerald was an 18-year-old theology student when a priest at Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School in Brookline, Massachusetts thrust a book into her hands. To her surprise, it was on ancient female deacons, the Religion News website reports today (March 10, 2017).

"The priest told me, 'You're going to translate these (books),'" FitzGerald recalled of the volumes by a prominent Orthodox theologian who studied the history of ordained women.

FitzGerald -- now a professor at Holy Cross -- has carved a niche studying the role of women deacons in particular and has worked for nearly 40 years for the right of women to be ordained.

That prospect is now a giant step closer to reality, since the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa followed up on his 2016 decision to reintroduce women deacons and last month appointed six nuns to be subdeaconesses within the church.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Bomb Scare Empties Jewish Children's Museum; Stated 3 Pipe Bombs Would Go Off at Busy Hour

The popular Jewish Children's Museum in Crown Heights, Brooklyn was evacuated today (March 9, 2017) in response to a bomb threat received by the museum's director at around 10:10 a.m., according to the Jewish Press website.

The text of the message -- sent by cell phone notification -- claimed that three pipe bombs were "scattered throughout the museum" and set to detonate "via a cell phone" at a "busy hour of the day."

FBI officials and a bomb squad were on the scene along with the New York Police Department, which called for a Level One mobilization.

The museum is a popular site for schools and other children's groups to learn about Judaism in a hands-on, experiential manner.

Pope May OK Married Men Ordained as Priests; Will Study Feasibility of Them in Remote Areas

Pope Francis says the Catholic Church needs to study whether it's possible to ordain married men to minister in remote communities facing priest shortages, the Yahoo News website reports today (March 9, 2017).

In an interview published today in Germany's "Die Zeit," Francis expressed an openness to studying whether the "viri probati" -- or married men of proven faith -- could be ordained.

Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes -- a longtime friend of Francis and former head of the Vatican's office for clergy -- has asked the pope to allow viri probati in the Amazon area of Brazil, where the church counts around one priest for every 10,000 Catholics.

The Catholic Church already allows some exceptions to priests being married. For example, priests in the Greek Catholic Church -- that is, Catholic priests who use Greek Orthodox religious traditions in their Catholic services -- are allowed to be married.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

US Sends 200 More Marines, Artillery to Syria; Boosted Power to Ease Ousting IS from Raqqa

Some 200 Marines deployed into Syria this week with heavy artillery guns, as part of the ongoing preparation for the fight to oust the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from its self-declared headquarters of Raqqa, the CBS News website reports today (March 8, 2017).

The deployment is likely an early indication that the White House is leaning toward giving the Pentagon greater flexibility to make routine combat decisions in the ISIS fight.

Military commanders frustrated by what they considered micromanagement under the Obama administration have argued for greater freedom to make daily decisions on how best to fight the enemy.

Pentagon leaders sent a new plan to defeat ISIS to the White House in late February. It outlined a strategy that would increase the number of U.S. troops in Syria in order to better enable Syrian fighters to battle for Raqqa.

IS Gunmen Kill at Least 30 at Afghan Hospital; Dressed as Medics,Took Posts on Upper Floors

Gunmen dressed as medics attacked a hospital in the Afghan capital of Kabul today (March 8, 2017) and battled security forces for hours, killing more than 30 people and wounding dozens in an assault claimed by the Islamic State (IS), according to the Reuters website.

A suicide bomber blew himself up at the rear of the 400-bed Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan hospital, providing the signal for three attackers with automatic weapons and grenades to open fire inside the complex, witnesses said.

Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said the attack was suppressed by mid-afternoon, with all three gunmen killed.

The gunmen had taken up positions on the upper floors of the hospital. Special forces soldiers descended on the roof of the main building from helicopters and killed the gunmen.

Senate Demands Trump Act on Anti-Semitism; Over 100 Jewish Centers Threatened Since Jan.

The entire U.S. Senate signed an open letter to the Trump administration yesterday, demanding that action be taken to address the ongoing surge in anti-Semitism incidents throughout the country, the Times of Israel website reports today (March 8, 2017).

The letter -- which is being sent to the heads of multiple government agencies -- warns that if the issue goes ignored, human lives will be endangered.

It came amidst a sixth wave of bomb threats to Jewish community centers (JCCs) across the nation, as well as several offices of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights group that combats bigotry worldwide.

At least 14 Jewish sites were targeted yesterday amid ongoing threats that have caused multiple evacuations and prompted some parents to pull their children out of JCC programs. Since the trend began in January, more than 100 Jewish institutions experienced bomb threats, and many Jewish cemeteries have been vandalized.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

German School Bans Muslim Use of Prayer Rugs; Bans Other Muslim Rituals for Being Provocative

A school in western Germany has banned the use of prayer rugs and other traditional Muslim rituals saying they are "provocative" to other students, and sparking debate about freedom of religion, the Independent (British) website reports today (March 7, 2017).

The Gymnasium Johannes Rau, in the city of Wuppertal, sent a letter to staff in February saying Muslim students had been using prayer rugs and performing ritual washing in the restrooms, and it is not permitted and will be reported to the administration.

A strong criticism of ending the Muslim rituals occurred when the letter was posted last week on Facebook.

Authorities say the school was, however, legally allowed to stop people "praying in a provocative manner."

Swastika Is Carved on Door of Ohio Synagogue; Words "We Will Rise and Gas You" Also Found

A swastika has been carved onto the door frame of a synagogue in northeastern Ohio, the Times of Israel website reports today (March 7, 2017).

The swastika was carved at the Agudath B'nai Israel Synagogue in Lorain, Ohio, a suburb located on the west side of Cleveland.

In addition to the swastika, the words "We will rise and gas you," followed by an expletive, also were found on the synagogue.

The hate crime at the more than 100-year-old synagogue took place on March 1, although it was first reported on March 4.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Trump's New Travel Ban Hits 6 Muslim Nations; Won't Affect Anyone Having Green Card,US Visa

Because his first travel ban to block terrorists from entering the U.S. was trashed by the courts, President Donald Trump has signed a new less controlling executive order -- one that is more likely to remain in effect by the courts --  banning travelers from six Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., the Slate website reports today (March 6, 2017).

No members of the press were present for the signing, but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly gave brief remarks about it at a press conference today.

The new ban covers travelers to the U.S. from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, but not Iraq which was included in the first ban. Also unlike the first ban, today's ban does not include Syrian refugees indefinitely.

Other differences from the first ban and the new one -- which goes into effect on March 16 -- include the new one not applying to anyone who holds a green card or a valid U.S. visa, or has been granted official refugee or asylum status.

Syrian Muslim Refugees Convert to Christianity; Many in Lebanon Sure Jesus Came,Saved Them

Many Syrian Muslims who fled their war-torn country and found refuge in Lebanon have converted to Christianity, despite life threats and incidents of attacks on new converts, the Christian Post website reports today (March 6, 2017).

George Saliba, Bishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Lebanon, said he has baptized around 100 Muslim Syrian refugees since the start of the civil war in Syria in March of 2011.

Abu Radwan, who fled the city of Homs in Syria and was baptized by Bishop Saliba in Beirut, was quoted as saying that Jesus appeared to him in a dream two years ago. "I started going to church. I believed that Jesus was coming to help us, to save us."

Muslim refugees are turning to Jesus in spite of the fact that doing so is extremely risky. Radwan was once stabbed while he was coming home from the church. The attackers were Syrian Muslims from his own tribe. His wife still wears a hijab outside of church for her safety.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Turkey's Erdogan Likens German Ban to Nazism; Germany Canceled Rallies Backing His Autocracy

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today (March 5, 2017) compared the cancellation of several rallies in Germany -- designed to spark support for a referendum in Turkey next month that could greatly increase his powers --  to Nazi practices, according to the UPI website.

"Your [Germany's]  practices are not different from the Nazi practices of the past," Erdogan said today in Istanbul at a campaign for the referendum. Germany cancelled the rallies, fearing they would lead to violence.

About 1.4 million Turks living in Germany are eligible to vote in the April 16 referendum that could give Erdogan new powers by switching Turkey from a parliamentary republic to a presidential one.

Approval of the referendum would give Erdogan, among other powers,  the power to control the budget, appoint ministers and judges, and gain authority to dismiss parliament, thus making Erdogan an autocratic ruler in Turkey's government. Erdogan eliminated a free press in Turkey over a year ago.

Anti-Semites Hit Brooklyn Cemetery Headstones; 3rd Cemetery Hit in 3 Weeks in Anti-Semitic Rise

A New York Police Department spokesman said today (March 5, 2017) that the department's hate crimes division has been notified of headstones found toppled over at Washington Cemetery -- a predominantly Jewish cemetery in Brooklyn --  according to the Times of Israel website.

The Washington Cemetery was previously targeted in 2010, when some 200 headstones were toppled.

It was the second Jewish burial ground in New York State to be defaced in the past week, after five headstones were found knocked over at a Rochester cemetery on March 2.

The last two weeks also saw vandalism at Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia and St. Louis, as well as two more waves of bomb threats called into Jewish community centers, schools, and institutions across the country, illustrating a significant increase in Jewish hate crimes throughout the U.S.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Coptic Orth. Christians in NY Buy Cath.Church; Begin Orth. Services March 5, Pope "Delighted"

An unused Roman Catholic church building in New York City is set to be brought back to life with services tomorrow (March 5, 2017) by a congregation of Coptic Orthodox Christians, the Christian Today website reports.

Our Lady of Peace Church, on the Upper East Side, was closed in 2015. At that time, the existing congregation was merged with a nearby Roman Catholic church.

An archdiocese letter to the Catholic parishioners some months ago states that New York's Cardinal Dolan "had the occasion to introduce the New York Egyptian Coptic Orthodox bishop, His Grace Bishop David, to the Holy Father, at which they spoke about their dream to purchase Our Lady of Peace as their cathedral."

The letter adds, "Pope Francis was delighted to learn that your parish, together with the archdiocese, was interested in assisting the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church, in this way."

Pope Calls for Fewer Children for a Better World; View Appears to Contradict Cath.Church Dogma

A panelist at a Vatican-run workshop on "how to save the natural world" has claimed that Pope Francis urged people to have fewer children to make the world more sustainable  -- a stand that appears to contradict traditional Catholic Church dogma -- the Life Site News website reports today (March 4, 2017).

This solution to securing the world's sustainability was presented by botanist and environmentalist Peter Raven during a press conference that concluded the "Biological Extinction" workshop that took place at the Vatican earlier this week.

"We do not endorse any of the artificial birth control [methods] that the Church does not endorse," Raven said. The Catholic Church condemns every method of artificial birth control.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil" since it destroys the unitive and procreative integrity of the marital act.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Card. O'Malley:Voices of Sex Abuse Victims Vital; Abused Woman Quits Papal Panel Due to Stalling

Cardinal Sean O'Malley -- the Roman Catholic archbishop of Boston -- vowed yesterday to make sure clergy sexual abuse victims have a voice on a Vatican panel addressing the crisis that rocked the Catholic Church, the Religion News Service website reports today (March 3, 2017).

His promise came a day after the lone sexual abuse survivor serving on that papal commission resigned in exasperation with what she described as "shameful" Vatican foot-dragging.

O'Malley said he shared some of the concerns about Vatican stonewalling expressed by Marie Collins, a clergy abuse survivor from Ireland who on Ash Wednesday resigned in frustration from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. O'Malley is chairman of the commission.

Pope Francis also drew criticism from Collins and others during the past week following reports that the pontiff had reduced punishments for several priests found guilty of abusing children, sentencing them to a lifetime of prayer instead of defrocking them.

Black St. Louis Man Nabbed for Bomb Threats; Juan Thompson Threatened US Jewish Centers

A disgraced former reporter was arrested today (March 3, 2017) and is now in the custody of the FBI for threats made against at least eight Jewish community centers across the country, according to the Spero News website.

Juan Thompsson -- a 31-year-old black American from St. Louis, Missouri -- made the bomb threats in the name of a former girlfriend.

Thompson was fired in February 2016 from his writing job at The Intercept -- an online news site -- for making articles more interesting by "interviewing" people who never existed.

After he was fired, Thompson blamed racist motivations for his dismissal.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Anti-Reform Cardinals Push for Pope to Resign; State His Reforms Are Violating Catholic Dogma

A group of about a dozen cardinals who supported the election of Pope Francis are now worried about his reforms and are planning to appeal to him to step down, the Catholic News website reports today (March 2, 2017).

"A large part of the cardinals who voted for him is very worried and the curia... that organized his election and has accompanied him thus far, without ever disassociating itself from him, is cultivating the idea of a moral suasion to convince him to retire," Antonio Socci, a Vatican watcher,  wrote in the Italian newspaper "Libero."

Several Catholic cardinals believe that Pope Francis, 80, has gone "too far" in implementing reforms to the Catholic Church that violate traditional Catholic dogma. Therefore, it is imperative that he resign.

A major example of this accusation is Pope Francis' decision to allow remarried divorced Catholics to receive Holy Communion. Five cardinals -- including American Cardinal Raymond Burke -- have openly criticized Pope Francis for taking this stand, claiming it clearly violates Catholic dogma.

Gunshot Fired at Ind. Synagogue Class Window; Rabbi:"Acts of Hate Are Happening Everywhere"

A gunshot was fired through a Hebrew school classroom window at an Indiana synagogue this week, the Jerusalem Post website reports today (March 2, 2017).

The bullet hole was discovered late on February 27 at Adath B'Nai Israel Temple in Evansville, Indiana.

The rabbi of the synagogue, Gary Mazo, said, "We're in this climate where [anti-Semitic] acts of hate are happening everywhere."

The Evansville Police Department and the FBI are investigating the incident. Indiana is one of five states that does not have a hate crimes law.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Israeli Man Arrested for Trying to Join ISIS; Bought Ticket to Turkey to Travel into Syria

The Israel Securities Authority (ISA) announced today (March 1, 2017) that an Israeli man has been arrested for trying to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group in Syria, according to the Fox News website.

Valaentin Vladimir Mazalewski, a 40-year-old Belarus-born father of five from the Arab town of Shibli in northern Israel, bought a one-way ticket to Turkey so he could cross the border to Syria and join the jihadist group, security officials said in a statement.

He was arrested yesterday and charged today in the district court of Nazareth.

Mazalewski immigrated to Israel from Belarus in 1996. According to ISA, he converted to Islam in 2000 after meeting his current wife, an Israeli Arab from Shibli, during his army service.

IS Straps Explosives on Puppy to Attack Iraqis; Iraqi Soldiers Manage to Disarm,Rescue Puppy

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group fighters have resorted to strapping puppies with suicide belts in their desperate attempts to keep hold of their captured territory in Iraq, the Christian Post website reports today (March 1, 2017).

A video released by ISIS shows three jihadists wrapping a small brown puppy with explosive devices, before sending it to Iraqi troops in West Mosul.

The jihadists claim the explosives on the dog's body could kill three to four people.

"ISIS has just sent an innocent animal with explosives wrapped around it to our position to try to blow our troops up," an Iraqi soldier said. The Iraqi soldiers managed to disarm and rescue the dog, which was sent to the Baghdad Zoo.