Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Afghanistan's Pres. Proposes Taliban Peace Deal; Willing to Recognize Taliban in New Peace Unity

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offered recognition of the Taliban as a legitimate political group today (February 28, 2018) as part of a proposed process that he said could lead to talks aimed at ending more than 16 years of war, according to the Reuters website.

Ghani proposed a ceasefire and a release of prisoners as part of a range of options including new elections, involving militants, and a constitutional review as part of a peace pact with the Taliban.

The war in Afghanistan -- America's longest war ever -- killed or wounded over 10,000 Afghan civilians last year alone.

"The Taliban are expected to give input to the peace-making process...." Ghani said.

Pope: "Are You Spending Time Judging Others?" "Judging Others Is Terrible, Lord Is Only Judge"

In his homily today (February 28, 2018), during morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis reflected on the words of Jesus in the day's Gospel reading from Luke, (6:36-38): "Do not judge and you will not be judged," the Independent Catholic News website reports.

The Holy Father asked: "When you are sitting in a meeting or at a meal, how much time do you spend judging others?"

He went on to tell the congregation that no one will escape God's judgment -- and all will be judged "both personally and universally."

The pope recommended that people examine their consciences to determine how much time they spend judging others. And he reminded those present that "Judging others is terrible because the Lord is the only judge."

US Targeting IS Beyond Its Mideast Stronghold; Now Targets Philippines, Bangladesh, W. Africa

U.S. officials expanded their targeting of the Islamic State (IS) beyond its Mideast stomping grounds yesterday by adding three of the terrorist group's far-flung affiliates -- in the Philippines, Bangladesh, and West Africa -- to the State Department's "Specially Designed Global Terrorist" list, the Washington Times website reports today (February 28, 2018).

The designation signaled a broadening of Washington's focus on IS affiliates around the world.

"These designation target key ISIS affiliated groups and leaders outside the fallen caliphate [of Iraq and Syria]," State Department spokesman Nathan Sales said in a statement.

He added, "Today's actions are a critical step in degrading ISIS's global network and denying its affiliates the resources they need to plan and carry out terrorist attacks."

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

German Town Maintains a Bell Honoring Hitler; Calls It Memorial to Spark Dialogue on Injustice

A small town in southwestern Germany has decided to keep a church bell dedicated to Adolf Hitler ringing, but as a memorial to spark dialogue about violence and injustice, the World Israel News website reports today (February 27, 2018).

The Herxheim am Berg council voted 10-3 to preserve the bell, which carries the inscription "Everything for the Fatherland -- Adolf Hitler" above a Nazi swastika, as a memorial in its Protestant church.

State church authorities had offered to fund replacing the bell, but a study concluded removing it would be akin to "fleeing from an appropriate culture of remembrance."

The "Hitler bell" debate has been raging for several months. In September, the town's mayor resigned following outrage over comments he made suggesting that the Nazi period "wasn't all bad."

ADL:Anti-Semitism in US in 2017 Largest Ever; May Be Due to Huge Jump in Schools, Colleges

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today (February 27, 2018) released a report showing that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. was nearly 60 percent higher in 2017 than 2016 -- the largest single-year increase on record -- according to the Jerusalem Post website.

There were 1,986 anti-Semitic incidents reported across the U.S. in 2017 --including 1,015 incidents of harassment, 952 incidents of vandalism, and 19 physical assaults -- reported in the ADL's audit.

Every part of the country was affected by the incidents, with at least one incident reported in all 50 states.

The sharp rise in anti-Semitism in the U.S. is believed to be due to a significant increase in incidents in schools and colleges, which nearly doubled for the second year in a row.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Saudi Arabia Now Allows Women to Join Army; Must Live in Same Province with Male Guardian

For the first time, Saudi Arabia -- the most conservative and traditional Islam country --  has decided to allow women to join the Army, the One News Page website reports today (February 26, 2018).

Saudi women between the ages of 25 and 35 who have a high school diploma, are allowed to apply for vacancies, involving mainly security roles.

Their service would be located in the provinces of Riyadh, Makkah, Al-Qassim, and Madinah.

The requirements also state that the women and their male guardians -- their husband, father, brother, or son -- must also have a place of residence in the same province where the job is located.

Iraq Court Rules Death for 16 Turkish IS Women; Are Guilty of Helping IS Carry Out Terror Attacks

An Iraqi court has sentenced 16 Turkish women to death by hanging for joining the Islamic State (IS) terror group, the Reuters website reports today (February 26, 2018).

The central criminal court issued the sentences "after it was proven they belong to the Daesh terrorist group and after they confessed to marrying Daesh elements or providing members of the group with logistical aid or helping them carry out terrorist attacks," said Judge Abdul-Sattar al Birqdar.

Since last August, some 1,700 women and children surrendered or were captured during Iraqi operations to root out the militants, according to aid officials.

Iraq is now in the process of conducting the trials of hundreds of foreign women who were affiliated with IS.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Syrian Regime Uses Gas in Rebel-Held Ghouta; Attack Suppresses Breathing of 13, Kills Child,3

The Syrian government has been accused of launching a deadly chlorine gas attack in the rebel-held enclave of eastern Ghouta, the Sky News website reports today (February 25, 2018).

The pro-opposition Orient News claimed a child had been killed in the attack by a regime aircraft on the town of al Shifuniyah.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor also reported the youngster's death and said 13 people had suffered breathing difficulties.

Yagub, a doctor who treated those affected in a hospital, said he suspected "chemical weapons, probably a chlorine gas attack." He added a three-year-old had died of asphyxiation.

Christian Heads Close Church of Holy Sepulchre; As Protest of Israeli Plan to Collect Church Taxes

Christian leaders today (February 25, 2018) took the rare step of closing down the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem -- the site of Jesus' Crucifixion and burial -- in protest of Israeli tax measures and a proposed property tax, according to the Israel National News website.

The decision was made in protest against the bill, allowing the state to expropriate land that the churches have sold since 2010, as well as to protest Jerusalem's intention to collect municipal property taxes.

The aim of the proposed bill is to block the trend of extensive land sales in Jerusalem -- mainly by the Greek Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church -- to private companies.

The other initiative angering church heads is the move by the Jerusalem Municipality to collect property taxes from church assets in the city.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Turkish Warships Block Cyprus Rig's Gas Search; Claim Blockage Due to Ignoring Turkish Cypriots

Turkish warships "threatened to use force" to stop a renewed attempt yesterday by a rig to reach an area off Cyprus where Italian company Eni was scheduled to drill for gas, the ABC News website reports today (February 24, 2018).

Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, Cyprus' energy minister, said yesterday that the rig's skipper showed "great determination" to reach the target. But he said Turkish warships got in the rig's way the closer it got to the drilling target, forcing it to stop.

Turkey says it won't allow Cyprus' government to proceed with a "unilateral" offshore gas search as long as the rights of breakaway Turkish Cypriots on the Greek-majority island are ignored.

But the Cyprus government says drilling off its shores is its sovereign right and will benefit all Cypriot citizens. Both the United Nations and the European Union have recently warned Turkey to stop interfering with the Cyprus government's right to drill for gas off the island's coast, but Turkey has defied the international organizations' warnings.

EU Pres.Warns Poland on Anti-Semitic Excesses; Says Aura Ruining Poland's Role Like a Tsunami

EU (European Union) President Donald Tusk warned Poland yesterday against its recent "anti-Semitic excesses" and other behavior that risked ruining Warsaw's global standing, the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website reports today (February 24, 2018).

Tusk -- himself a former prime minister of Poland -- said he told Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels that negative opinions about Warsaw were turning into a "tsunami."

"I told Mr. Morowiecki that the situation is very serious, it directly affects Polish interests, the reputation of Poland, and Poland's standing in the world," Tusk said.

Poland's right-wing government has faced an international row over a recent law making it illegal to attribute Nazi crimes to the Polish state. Morowiecki then infuriated Israel and Jews around the world even more by saying there were "Jewish perpetrators" in the Holocaust.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Rev.Billy Graham to Lie in Honor in US Capitol; Public Invited to Pay Respects Feb. 28, March 1

A government press release issued today (February 23, 2018) states that the late Rev. Billy Graham will be brought to the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, February 28, where he will lie in the Rotunda until Thursday, March 1, according to the Christian Headlines website.

The press release states: "Members of the public and Capitol Hill community are invited to pay their respects to the late reverend while he lies in rest. Further logistical information and media guidance will be issued in the coming days."

House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plan to take part in the bicameral service.

The press release also gives details of Billy Graham's years of ministry and the unparalleled impact of his life and service to our nation and the world.

US Plans to Open Its Jerusalem Embassy in May; Move Sped Up to Occur with Israel's 70th Anniv.

The United States now plans to open its embassy to Israel in Jerusalem in May, a U.S. official said today (February 23, 2018), a move from Tel Aviv that reverses decades of U.S. policy, according to the Reuters website.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced last year that the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, infuriating even Washington's Arab allies and dismaying Palestinians who want the eastern part of the city as their own capital.

A May 2018 opening represents an earlier time frame than what had been expected. While speaking in the Israeli parliament last month, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said the move would take place by the end of 2019.

The new opening date is designed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel's founding as an independent nation in 1948, said the U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Abbas Threatens US with Terror in UN Address; Says Terrorism to Expand If Funds not Renewed

As a result of President Trump's decision to withhold tens of millions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer funding from the Palestinian Authority (PA) because of its refusal to consider compromises to achieve Middle East peace, PA President Mahmoud Abbas told the United Nations this week that terrorist activities will increase unless the U.S. restores the money, the WND (World Net Daily) website reports today (February 22, 2018).

"If you end your assistance they become terrorists or refugees in Europe," an ungrateful, entitled-feeling,  and arrogant Abbas said. "It's either that or you continue to support UNRWA until the crisis ends..."

A White House spokesman dismissed Abbas' rhetoric as "old talking points."

Mat Staver, who heads Christians in Defense of Israel as well as Covenant Journey, condemned the threats. "Threats of violence by Mahmoud Abbas are a reflection of his radical ideology and support for terrorism," said Staver. "He has no desire for peace. His only desire is to wipe out Jews and rename Israel to Palestine..."

Report:Baltic States Top Europe in % of Murders; Bulgaria, Cyprus Line Up 4th and 5th in Murders

A new Eurostat report has found that the three Baltic states -- Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia -- clocked up the highest number of intentional homicides relative to their population out of all the EU (European Union) member states, the Euro News website reports today (February 22, 2018).

The report uses data from 2015 and shows 5,000 victims were recorded by police in the European Union throughout the year.

Lithuania recorded by far the most among countries for which the data was available, with 5.89 victims per 100,000 inhabitants. Following this, Latvia (3.37) and Estonia (3.19) filled the next two positions.

Bulgaria and Cyprus were the first non-Baltic states in the ranking -- with 1.79 and 1.77 intentional homicide victims per 100,000 inhabitants respectively -- putting the countries fourth and fifth overall.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Cyprus Pres.:Gas Search Off Island to Continue; Rejects Turkish Belief That Search Snubs Turks

A search for gas off the island of Cyprus will benefit all the ethnically divided island's citizens, and will continue as planned despite Turkey's effort to block it, the Cypriot president said today (February 21, 2018), according to the Yahoo News website.

President Nicos Anastasiades said in a statement that any potential wealth generated by new gas finds would be shared equitably with all Cyprus citizens once the island is reunified.

Anastasiades rejected Turkish criticism that the hydrocarbons search disregarded the rights of breakaway Turkish Cypriots on the Greek-majority island.

He added that any gas proceeds would be deposited in a sovereign fund awaiting parliamentary approval.

Over 100 Girls Snagged in Boko Haram Attack; Raises Fears of 2014 Chibok-Type Kidnapping

More than 100 girls were still missing today (February 21, 2018), two days after a Boko Haram attack on their school in northeast Nigeria that has raised fears of a repeat of the 2014 Chibok kidnapping that shocked the world, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

Islamist militants stormed the Government Girls Science Secondary School in Dapchi, Yobe state on  February 19. Locals initially said the girls and their teachers fled.

But fears have been growing about the whereabouts of the students, and many now believe it was likely that they were taken by Boko Haram fighters.

The Boko Haram Islamist radicals gained worldwide notoriety in April 2014 when they abducted 276 girls from their school in Chibok, in neighboring Borno state. The terrorist group used many of those girls as sex slaves.

Billy Graham Died Today at His N.C. Home at 99; Preached in 185 Nations,Greatest Evangelist Ever

Rev. Billy Graham, who preached to some 215 million people in 185 countries around the world and is considered to be the greatest evangelist in history, died today (February 21, 2018) at the age of 99, according to the UPI website.

The world-renowned evangelist, who served as a counselor or minister to a dozen U.S. presidents, was born in 1918 and grew up on a dairy farm in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Given the title of "America's Pastor," Graham was ordained in Florida in 1943. He graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois.

Graham retired to his mountain home in Montreat, North Carolina in 2006. At that time, his son, Rev. Franklin Graham, took over his ministries.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Iran:"We Will Level Tel Aviv" If Israel Attacks; Response to Israeli PM's Speech Warning Iran

Mohsen Rezaei, secretary of Iran's Expediency Council and former chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, said the Islamic Republic will "level Tel Aviv to the ground" if Israel carries out an attack, the United with Israel website reports today (February 20, 2018).

The senior Iranian official made the statement yesterday in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech at the Munich Security Conference the previous day, during which he warned that Israel will not hesitate to attack Iran if threatened.

Waving a piece of a captured Iranian drone, the Israeli leader addressed Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, saying, "Mr. Zarif, do you recognize this? You should. It's yours. You can take back with you a message to the tyrants of Tehran: Do not test Israel's resolve."

"Israel will not allow Iran's regime to put a noose around our neck," he asserted. "We will act if necessary, not just against Iran's proxies that are attacking us, but against Iran itself."

Syrian Govt. Fighters Enter Kurdish-Held Afrin; Will Help Kurds Fight Turkish Invasion of Afrin

Syrian state television showed a convoy of pro-government fighters entering the Kurdish-controlled Afrin region in northern Syria today (February 20, 2018) to help the Kurds counter Turkish aggression, according to the Euro News website.

The fighters wore camouflage fatigues and waved weapons and Syrian flags from their vehicles as they crossed through a checkpoint of a Kurdish security force.

Earlier, senior Syrian army officers called on the Kurdish YPG to join Syrian government forces "as fellow Arabs" to resist the Turkish invasion.

While the town of over 30,000 people is still mostly quiet, many fear that it will be pervaded by the Turks in the next few days, and street fighting will occur.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Hungary PM: Christianity Is Europe's Last Hope; Says His Govt. Prevented an Islamic World Flood

Hungary's Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, has claimed "Christianity is Europe's last hope" in his annual state of the nation speech, the Express (British) website reports today (February 19, 2018).

Orban said the European Union (EU) risks being "overrun" by mass immigration and "Islamic expansion" before calling for a global alliance to what he portrayed as a growing threat to the West.

And he insisted Hungary would help lead a fight against globalism alongside Britain, the United States, and Israel.

Orban also claimed his government had "prevented the Islamic world from flooding us." He was responsible for Hungary erecting a double razor wire fence on its border in 2015 at the height of the migrant crisis in what became a symbol of the anti-migration sentiment in Europe.

Syrian Govt. Attack Kills 44 in Rebel Enclave; Bombs Eastern Ghouta in Effort to Retake It

Heavy Syrian bombardment killed 44 civilians in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta today (February 19, 2018), as regime forces appeared to prepare for an imminent ground assault, according to the Yahoo News website.

The escalation came as pro-government forces were expected to enter the northern Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin, to take a stand against a month-long Turkish assault there.

Held by rebels since 2012, Eastern Ghouta is the last opposition pocket around Damascus, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has dispatched reinforcements there in an apparent bid to retake it.

A barrage of air strikes, rocket fire, and artillery slammed into several towns across Eastern Ghouta today, killing 44 civilians and wounding dozens more.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

5 Killed, 5 Wounded in Church Attack in Russia; Occurred in Muslim-Majority Dagestan Province

A man in Russia's southern province of Dagestan shot into a crowd leaving a Russian Orthodox Church today (February 18, 2018), killing five people and injuring at least five others, according to the Reuters website.

The attack occurred in the village of Kizlyar in the Muslim-majority republic of Dagestan, agencies said. The assailant, a 22-year-old man local to the region, was shot and killed by security forces.

Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the shooting, its news agency Amaq reported.

The attack occurred as churchgoers celebrated Maslenitsa, a Christian holiday marking the last day before Lent according to the Eastern Orthodox calendar.

Intel Head:Fighting IS Like Fighting an Octopus; IS Ideology and Theology Remain after Battling

The U.S. director of national intelligence said yesterday that the Islamic State (IS) group remains a terrorist threat despite its recent defeats in Iraq and Syria, the Newsmax website reports today (February 18, 2018).

Dan Coats told a gathering of world leaders, diplomats, and defense officials at the Munich Security Conference that defeating the radical group  was like "killing an octopus."

Coats said: "It's more than just a terrorist organization. It is an ideology and perhaps a theology, and the combination of ideology and theology outlasts defeats on the battlefield."

Coats concluded that the current assessment of the future of the Islamic State is that it "will remain a threat."

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Polish PM's Comments Distressing Israelis,Jews; Said Jewish Perpetrators Took Part in Holocaust

In comments that outraged Israelis across the political spectrum, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said today (February 17, 2018) that there were Polish perpetrators in the Holocaust, in the same way there were also Jewish, Ukrainian, and Russian perpetrators, according to the Jerusalem Post website.

Morawiecki was responding to a question posed to him at the Munich Security Conference, regarding a new Polish law that criminalizes talk of Polish complicity with Nazis during the Holocaust.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Morawiecki's remarks as "outrageous."

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid called on Netanyahu to immediately recall Israel's ambassador from Warsaw. He also said, "The Jewish state will not allow the murdered to be blamed for their own murder..."

Study:Turkey Hit with New Wave of Nationalism; Erdogan Now Hostile toward West to Attain Goal

A new study by the Center for American Progress (CAP) concludes that Turkey is undergoing a new nationalist wave led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the VOA News website reports today (February 17, 2018).

The report and the findings of polls and focus groups conducted in Turkey late last year show that Erdogan is trying to craft a new nationalism.

"He is doing this with his political rhetoric, but he is also drawing on a genuine upswelling of nationalism from the Turkish populists," Max Hoffman, one of the report's authors, told VOA News.

Hoffman added that this new nationalism includes "real hostility towards the West, particularly the U.S., but also Europe. Correlated to that, there is widespread hostility towards Syrian refugees and to some extent, other immigrants to Turkey."

Friday, February 16, 2018

US Military Kill or Wound 300 Russians in Syria; Hush Battle Occurred Feb. 7 in City of Deir al-Zor

In what can be viewed as a hushed up military occurrence in war-torn Syria last week, about  300 men working for a Kremlin-linked Russian private military firm were either killed or wounded by U.S.-led coalition forces, the Business Insider website reports today (February 16, 2018).

A Russian military doctor said about 100 had been killed. The wounded were taken to hospitals in Russia for treatment.

The timing of the casualties coincided with a battle on February 7 near the Syrian city of  Deir al-Zor, where U.S.-led coalition forces attacked forces aligned with Moscow's ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The clashes show that Moscow is more deeply involved in Syria militarily than it has said, and that it risks being drawn into a direct confrontation with the U.S. in Syria.

FBI Failed to Act on Tip on Nikolas Cruz in Jan.; Warned He Had Gun, Pondered School Shooting

The FBI failed to act on a tip in January from a person close to Nikolas Cruz warning that he owned a gun and might conduct a school shooting, the bureau acknowledged today (February 16, 2018), an admission that prompted Gov. Rick Scott of Florida to call for the bureau's director to resign, according to the NY Times website.

The FBI -- which was already under political pressure because of its investigation into President Trump -- faced calls for even more scrutiny following the massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

Scott said that Christopher Wray, the director of  the FBI, should step down and that the bureau's failure to act on the tip about Cruz was "unacceptable."

Scott said in a statement: "Seventeen innocent people are dead and acknowledging a mistake isn't going to cut it. The FBI Director needs to resign."

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Pope Meets with Sex Abuse Victims Every Week; Says Clerical Abuse Conveys Church's Hypocrisy

Pope Francis revealed today (February 15, 2018) that every Friday he meets quietly with survivors of clerical sexual abuse, saying it's important for him to hear their stories because "what they have been through is so hard, they are destroyed," according to the Crux Now website.

The pontiff also said that clerical sex abuse is "the greatest desolation that the Church is undergoing, one that expresses both the Church's fragility as well as its hypocrisy."

The director of the Vatican Press Office, Greg Burke, released a statement today confirming the meetings.

"Pope Francis listens to the victims and seeks to help them to heal the grave wounds caused by the abuse they've suffered," Burke said.

PM Tsipras:Greece Won't Allow Threat to Land; Warns Turkey after Its Vessel Rams Greek Boat

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sent a message of defiance to Turkey today (February 15, 2018), following an incident off the Aegean Sea coast of Imia island on February 12 when a Turkish vessel rammed a Greek coast guard boat, according to the Greek Reporter website. (Turkey has in the past claimed it should control Imia Island because it is only about four miles from it, but both the United Nations and the European Union have ruled that Imia comes under the sovereignty of Greece.)

"Greece is not going to allow any challenge to its territorial integrity and its sovereign rights," Tsipras said and warned that "Greece is not playing games."

His comments followed a visit to the Ministry for Shipping where he met the captain and crew of the vessel that was rammed by a Turkish patrol boat.

"You kept calm and keeping calm is bravery," he told the captain of the Offshore Patrol Boat (OPV) Gavdos.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

France Will Attack Syria If It Used Chemicals; Macron: Attack to Occur If Proof Established

France will launch attacks if proof emerges that the Syrian regime has used banned chemical weapons against its civilians, President Emmanuel Macron said yesterday (February 13, 2018), according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

"We will strike the place where these launches are made or where they are organized," Macron said.

At the same time, he stated that "today our services have not established proof that proscribed chemical weapons have been used against civilian populations."

"As soon as such proof is established, I will do what I said," Macron warned. The Syrian regime itself "will be answerable to international justice," he added.

Israeli Police Call for Corruption Charges on PM; Have Sufficient Evidence Netanyahu Took Bribes

Israeli police yesterday recommended charging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in two corruption cases, a move that could lead to the first indictments after several months of investigations focusing on the prime minister and his family, the ABC News website reports today (February 14, 2018).

Israeli police said in a statement they had "sufficient evidence" against the prime minister in both cases "for the offense of accepting bribes, fraud, and breach of trust."

Police alleged Netanyahu received at least one million shekels (around $283,000) in lavish gifts and bribes.

The police's reported recommendations will now go to Attorney General Avihai Mendelblit, who will decide whether to file charges. This process could take months.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Christian Persecution Is Worse Today Than Ever; Report Shows Surge Due to Islam Terror Groups

A new report has shown that Christian persecution today is actually the worse it has ever been in history, the Christian Headlines website reports today (February 13, 2018).

This report comes from Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic persecution charity that "provides pastoral and humanitarian assistance to the persecuted Church around the world."

The large increase in today's Christian persecution is due primarily to terrorist groups like ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in the Middle East and Boko Haram in Nigeria. These are fanatical Muslim groups that tend to concentrate their efforts on killing Christians.

Persecuted Christians from the Middle East to Indonesia often feel forgotten by those in the West, because Western governments are not doing enough to provide them with aid, according to the report.

Cath. School Cans Lesbian for Marrying Partner; Sacked Teacher:"I'm Not Right Kind of Catholic"

A lesbian schoolteacher has been fired by a Miami Catholic school -- where she taught for nearly seven years -- after marrying her same-sex partner in violation of church rules, the NY Post website reports today (February 13, 2018).

Archdiocese of Miami officials told the Miami Herald that first-grade teacher Jocelyn Morffi lost her job at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School on February 8, the day after she returned from her Florida Keys wedding. (Florida does not have a statewide law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.)

"This weekend I married the love of my life and unfortunately I was terminated from my job as a result," Morffi said in a post on social media. "In their eyes, I'm not the right kind of Catholic for my choice in partner."

Archdiocese spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta confirmed Morffi broke her contract under church rules of conduct. "As a teacher in a Catholic school their responsibility is partly for the spiritual growth of the children," Agosta said.

Monday, February 12, 2018

EU Warns Turkey Not to Threaten Cyprus Ships; Turkish Ships Hindered Italian Ship Near Cyprus

The EU (European Union) warned Turkey today (February 12, 2018) to refrain from any threat against Cyprus, after a Turkish vessel prevented an Italian ship -- and is now trying to prevent Cyprus ships --  from reaching a drilling zone for gas off the Cypriot coast, according to the EU Observer website.

"Turkey needs to commit unequivocally to good neighborly relations and avoid any kind of source of friction, threat or action directed against a member state," a European Commission spokeswoman said in Brussels.

She insisted that Turkey's behavior "damages good neighborly relations and the peaceful settlement of disputes."

"The EU stresses the need to respect the sovereignty of member states over their territorial sea and airspace," she added, also with reference to regular Turkish incursions in Greek sea and airspace. Indeed, Turkey's incursive activities are a violation of international law.

Skopje Mayor:Alexander the Great Was a Greek; Says Alexander Was Never Part of Slavic History

The mayor of Skopje -- the capital of FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) -- said yesterday that Greece and FYROM are showing a sincere willingness to resolve the decades-old name dispute of FYROM, in an interview in the Sunday edition of "Documento" newspaper, The National Herald website reports today (February 12, 2018).

Speaking to the "Documento" paper, Skopje Mayor Petre Shilegov said "When you want to solve a problem, you solve it. When you don't, you don't... We want to solve problems, not create them." (Greece is asking FYROM to change its name because a bordering province in northern Greece -- where Alexander the Great was born -- is called Macedonia.)

Asked whether he agrees with a statement made decades ago by former FYROM President Kiro Gligorov, that FYROM nationals are Slavs and have no connection to Alexander the Great, Shilegov agreed.

"Alexander the Great was never a part of our regular history. It was introduced in our history the last 10 years. Basically, when you talk about such nationalities, states, and peoples, you are referring to the last three hundred years, while Alexander the Great was two thousand three hundred years ago. I prefer to see him more as the leader who civilized the whole world," Shilegov said.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Eleven Turkish Troops Killed in Syria Offensive; Bloodiest Day Yet in Turkey's Battle with Kurds

Eleven Turkish soldiers were killed yesterday -- including two military personnel when a helicopter was shot down -- in the bloodiest day in Ankara's offensive against a Kurdish militia in northern Syria, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

On January 20, Turkey launched a military operation against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia in the Afrin region of Syria with air strikes and ground troops.

The Turkish military said two people were killed when a helicopter was shot down, and nine more soldiers were killed in separate incidents.

It was the offensive's bloodiest day for Turkish military personnel, the army said.

Trump: Israel Can Take Blame for Peace Mess; Says Israel's W.Bank Settlements Hinder Peace

Despite being seen as favoring Israel over Palestinians in his effort to establish a peace settlement for the Middle East -- as indicated by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital -- President Donald Trump today (February 11, 2018) questioned Israel's interest in making peace, because of its settlements in the West Bank, according to the AP website.

In an interview published today in the Israel Hayon daily, Trump also cast doubt on the Palestinians' desire to strike a peace deal.

"Right now, I would say the Palestinians are not looking to make peace... And I'm not necessarily sure that Israel is looking to make peace..." Trump said.

Israel Hayon is owned by American billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a Trump backer and a supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In the interview, Trump criticized Israel's West Bank settlements, which Palestinians and most of the international community view as illegal obstacles to peace, since Israel wants to maintain control of them.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Korea Tourism Org.Ends Plans for Prayer Room; Due to Olympics Games Cost, Anti-Muslim View

The Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) announced today (February 10, 2018) that it will no longer go forward with plans to set up a mobile multi-faith prayer room for spectators in Gangneung, where all of the 2018 Winter Olympics Games' indoor events are taking place, following strong opposition from anti-Muslim protestors, according to the Yahoo Sports website.

"We sat down with them [Muslim officials] for talks, but in the end, we had to cancel the plans," Gangneung  city government tourism division chief Kang Suk-ho said.

The KTO's Kim Yeong-ju said that the opposition to the prayer room was so strong that local officials "could no longer do their jobs."

"The government has already spent too much of the taxpayers' money on the Games, and we shouldn't spend more building a prayer room," Seo Ji-hyun, the director of operations at the Islam Countermeasure Association, said.

Israeli Airstrikes Blast Syrian,Iranian Targets; Attack Syria after Iranian Drone Enters Israel

In a serious military flare-up on the Israeli border with Syria, Israeli warplanes launched several waves of airstrikes inside Syria today (February 10, 2017), after an Iranian drone infiltrated Israeli territory on the disputed Golan Heights and was shot down, according to the VOA News website.

The Israeli army said a "large-scale attack" destroyed at least a dozen Syrian and Iranian targets in Syria.

An Israeli F-16 fighter jet also was shot down and crashed inside Israel. The two pilots ejected but were injured and rushed to a hospital.

The Israeli military described the drone infiltration as a "severe violation of Israeli sovereignty" and warned that Iran and Syria are "playing with fire."

Friday, February 9, 2018

IS Fighters Battle Syrian Rebels in Idlib Province; Defended by Syrian Govt. in Move to Regain Idlib

Some 200 Islamic State (IS) fighters battled Syrian rebels in their controlled northwestern province of Idlib today (February 9, 2018), a monitor group and a rebel commander said, accusing pro-government forces of opening a corridor for the IS terrorists to reach the region, according to the Reuters website.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government forces had allowed IS fighters to leave a besieged pocket of territory at the intersection of Aleppo, Idlib, and Hama provinces, and then go to southern Idlib.

Idlib is the largest chunk of Syrian territory held by rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad's government. The rebels have been trying to overthrow Assad since the ongoing Syrian civil war began in March 2011.

Assad has been trying in vain to regain Idlib from the rebels for several months, and has recently used illegal deadly chemicals in his effort, despite the probability of U.S. President Donald Trump slamming Syria's military with scores of missiles for using chemicals, as he did last year.

Holocaust Survivors in Israel Protest Poland Law; Poland Can't Change History by Denying Its Role

Dozens of Israeli Holocaust survivors demonstrated outside the Polish Embassy in Tel Aviv yesterday to protest a new law in Poland that outlaws blaming Poland for Nazi crimes, where nearly six million Jews were killed at extermination camps during World War II, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (February 9, 2018). 

The survivors carried signs in Hebrew and Polish saying "No law will erase history," "The Polish law spits in the Israeli people's face," and "I still have nightmares because of what the Poles did."

Several of the survivors stood in front of the embassy and told their personal stories of suffering caused by the Poles during the Holocaust.

Polish President Andrzej Duda signed the bill into law on February 6 after both houses of parliament passed it. Despite proof that Poles played a major role in assisting Nazi Germans in killing millions of Jews in Poland during World War II, the new law denies any such role by Poles, and sentences anyone who accuses Poland to up to three years in jail.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Trump:US Is a Great Nation with Faith in God; "Our Rights Come from Our Creator, Not Man"

President Donald Trump today (February 8, 2018) declared that the United States of America will be a great nation, provided its citizens remain open to the grace of God, according to the Christian Post website.

Speaking at the 66th annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. today, President Trump spoke about the link between faith in God and national greatness.

"As long as we open our eyes to God's grace and open our hearts to God's love, then America will forever be the land of the free, the home of the brave, and a light to all nations," Trump said.

"Our rights are not given to us by man; our rights come from our creator. No matter what, no earthly force can take those rights away," stated Trump.

Northeastern U. Prof. Insults Trump in Lecture; Declares "I Wouldn't Mind Seeing Trump Dead"

A professor of political economy at Northeastern University in Boston is under fire after he was recorded during a public lecture saying he "wouldn't mind seeing President Trump dead," the Washington Times website reports today (February 8, 2018).

"Sometimes I want to just see him impeached. Other times, quite honestly -- I hope there are no FBI agents here -- I wouldn't mind seeing him dead," Barry Bluestone said during a January 31 public event called "The Rule of Law in a Time of Polarization."

Bluestone's remarks were recorded in a YouTube video uploaded by Northeastern on February 5, but have since been deleted. His remarks may be viewed as defamatory slander against a U.S. President, and could result in a monetary lawsuit against Bluestone as well as Northeastern.

"In my opinion, Trump is the most dangerous man on the planet because of his power of using lies and half-truths to galvanize his supporters and his ability to command vast military resources," Bluestone said. "Would I kill him? No. And I normally abhor violence in all forms."

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Syrian Government Airstrikes Kill 19 Children; Kill Another 80 Civilians in Rebel-Held Douma

Nineteen children are among the dead today (February 7, 2018) after a round of airstrikes by the Syrian government on a rebel-controlled enclave near Damascus, according to the Sky News website.

The town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta was under siege today with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reporting that 34 people had been killed and about 200 more wounded in the bombardment.

It came less than 24 hours after the region -- controlled by rebel factions -- suffered some of the worst bloodshed in years, with 80 civilians killed by regime warplanes.

More than 340,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since Syria's civil war erupted in March 2011.

FYROM's Friendly Move Commended by Greeks; Removes Alexander's Name from Skopje Airport

In an effort to attain a closer and more harmonious relationship with Greece, Zoran Zaev, the prime minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), officially announced today (February 7, 2018) the name change of Skopje's "Alexander the Great" airport to "Skopje International Airport" and of the "Alexander of Macedon" highway to "Boulevard of Friendship," according to the To Vima (Greek) website.

At the same time, Zaev announced he will soon accept a composite name with a geographic marker for FYROM. Most Greeks are opposed to the FYROM name because the country borders a province in northern Greece by the name of Macedonia. Greeks are also happy that FYROM removed Alexander the Great's name from an airport and highway, because doing so indicates it now tends to accept Alexander's heritage as a Greek, rather than a Slav.

"We salute today's decision by the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to rename the Skopje airport as "Skopje International Airport," and to rename the highway that links Skopje with the Greek border to "Friendship Highway," the Greek foreign ministry said in a statement.

"Today's decision is a positive step towards reversing all that occurred in the last decade... We hope that it signals the beginning of a new chapter in the relations between our two countries and peoples," the statement added.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Poland Agrees to Law Denying Role in Holocaust; Law Allows 3 Years in Prison for Accusing Poland

In what can be viewed as a "slap in the face" to Israel and all Jews around the world, President Andrzej Duda of Poland signed a law today (February 6, 2018) that outlaws blaming Poland for crimes committed by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, according to the World Israel News website.

The new law carries fines and prison sentences of up to three years for public statements that attribute the crimes of Nazi Germany to Poland. Nearly six million Jews were killed at extermination camps in Poland during World War II.

Israeli officials and Holocaust scholars said the law would allow Poland to whitewash the role of Poles who killed or denounced Jews during Nazi Germany's World War II occupation of Poland.

Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, says Poland has made an "issue" out of its people's actions during the Holocaust and is denying the truth. He adds that many Poles were complicit in aiding the Nazis during World War II.

Cal. Can't Force Baking Lesbian Wedding Cake; Judge: 1st Amend. Protects Baker's Rel. Beliefs

In a decision being celebrated as a victory for religious freedom advocates, a California judge ruled yesterday that a Christian baker -- who faced losing her business because she refuses to bake cakes for same-sex weddings -- cannot be compelled by the state to do so, the Christian Post website reports today (February 6, 2018).

Cathy Miller, a Christian baker who owns Tastries Bakery in Bakersfield, California, was facing discrimination charges filed by the state after she refused to make a wedding cake for lesbians Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rio last August, citing her religious beliefs.

"My conscience doesn't allow me to participate in certain activities that are contrary to my biblical beliefs," Miller said at the time.

In rejecting the state's petition against Miller, Superior Court Judge David Lampe said his opinion that her decision to refuse to bake cakes for same-sex weddings is protected by the First Amendment.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Haley to UN:Syria Is Using Chemicals in Idlib; Scores of Civilians Show Signs of Chlorine Gas

In what may well be a prelude to President Trump bombing Syria with scores of missiles again, the United Nations Security Council met today (February 5, 2018)  to discuss Syria, amid new reports of chemical weapons being used in that country, according to the VOA News website.

"We have reports that the (Bashar al) Assad regime has used chlorine gas against its people multiple times in recent weeks, including just yesterday," U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told council members. "There is obvious evidence from dozens of victims."

Medical groups and first responders in Syria reported several civilians had signs consistent with chlorine gas, including breathing problems and the smell of chlorine on their clothes, after a reported chemical attack on the town of Saraqeb in Idlib province yesterday.

Radi Saad of the civilian defense group, the White Helmets, said that the chemicals were dropped in two barrels from helicopters. The Syrian army -- backed by Russian jets and Iranian-supported militias -- has conducted a military offensive to take back rebel-controlled Idlib province, where fierce fighting has been taking place since December.

Rome Protesters Oppose Pope Meeting Erdogan; One Said, "I Am Surprised Pope Meets Dictator"

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey met today (February 5, 2018) with Pope Francis to discuss the status of Jerusalem, human rights, and refugees while Kurdish and Italian protesters clashed with police a short distance from Vatican City, according to the AP website.

Police in riot gear blocked the protesters -- estimated by officers to number 150 -- near Rome's Tiber River as they tried to get closer to the Vatican. Police said one protester was detained.

Said Durson, one of the protesters, said, "I am surprised the pope is willing to meet with a person like that, a dictator, an assassin, with blood on his hands." (Turkey last month launched a military offensive on Kurds in Syria that it is still carrying out.)

Both Francis and Erdogan are opposed to U.S. President Donald Trump's recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Cyprus President Anastasiades Wins a 2nd Term; Hopes to Reach a Cyprus Agreement with Turkey

Incumbent Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades won a second five-year term today (February 4, 2018), gaining 55.9 present of the vote to 44 percent secured by left-wing challenger Stavros Malas, according to the Ekathimerini (Greek) website.

Anastasiades, 71, has been widely credited with steering the Cypriot economy to recovery after its economy was battered in 2013 due to its exposure to the debt crisis in Greece.

Cyprus has been split since 1974 when Muslim Turks seized the northern third of the predominantly Greek Orthodox Christian island.

Anastasiades came close last year to reaching an agreement with Turkey -- the only country to recognize northern Cyprus as an independent region -- but his efforts failed. He hopes to be successful in reconciling a harmonious agreement with Turkey during his new term as Cyprus president.

Israel Gives Ouster Papers to African Migrants; They Must Depart Israel by April 1 or Go to Jail

Israeli authorities today (February 4, 2018) began distributing letters to African migrants, telling them to leave the country within 60 days or go to prison, according to The Daily Beast website.

The deportation notices offer migrants a parting gift of $3,500 and a plane ticket if they depart for an African nation  by April 1, 2018.

An estimated 40,000 African migrants -- many of them refugees from Sudan and Eritrea -- reside in Israel.

The government's deportation plan has been condemned by rabbis, writers, and Holocaust survivors, who say the move is racist and damages Israel's reputation as a refuge for Jewish migrants.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Syrian Rebels Shoot Down Russian Jet in Idlib; Kill Pilot as Dozens of Jets Hit Rebel-Held Area

A Russian fighter jet was shot down by Syrian rebels today (February 3, 2018) in Idlib province in northwestern Syria, near the Turkish border, according to the Jewish Press website.

The pilot ejected, but was killed when he exchanged gunfire with the rebels, the Russian defense ministry reported.

The downing of the plane came as Syrian government forces -- backed by Russian air support and Iranian infantry -- have intensified their offensive in the rebel-held province of Idlib.

In fact, there have been dozens of Russian air strikes in the area over the past 24 hours. Syria's ongoing civil war is now in its seventh year.

7 Black Immigrants Wounded in Italy Shooting; Suspect Shouted "Italy to Italians" upon Arrest

An Italian man was arrested after seven people were injured in a drive-by shooting today (February 3, 2018) in the central Italian city of Macerata, according to the UPI website.

Piazza Vittoria, 28, is accused of firing a gun in different parts of the city. He shouted "Italy to the Italians" and made a Roman salute during his arrest.

Six women and one man -- all black immigrants -- are hospitalized as a result of the shootings.

The shootings occurred on Via Spalato, where an 18-year-old Italian woman was found murdered earlier this week. Her body was dismembered and hidden in two suitcases. The chief suspect in that crime is a 29-year-old Nigerian.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Iran Nabs 29 Women for Removing Their Hijab; Iranian Women Must Wear Hijab or Face Arrest

At least 29 women have been arrested in Iran for taking part in protests against a law forcing them to conceal their hair in public, the Independent (British) website reports today (February 2, 2018).

After Iran's 1979 revolution, women were obliged by law to cover their hair with a scarf -- known as the hijab -- and wear long loose-fitting clothes.

Violators can be stopped in the streets by police and fined or arrested.

One activist said: "These women are saying, 'It is enough -- it is the 21st century and we want to be our true selves.'"

Ninety Migrants Feared Drowned Leaving Libya; Boat Capsized in Med. Sea, Was Heading to Italy

The United Nations' migration agency said today (February 2, 2018) that ninety migrants are feared drowned after a boat capsized off the Libyan coast, The World Bulletin website reports.

Three survivors said most of those who drowned were Pakistani nationals.

Libya has for years been a major transit route for migrants trying to reach southern Italy by sea.

Many migrants are usually packed into unseaworthy vessels by smugglers who then abandon them to their fate in the Mediterranean Sea.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

US: Syria Developing New Chemical Weapons; Trump Will Bomb Syria's Mil.If Weapons Used

Senior U.S. officials said today (February 1, 2018) that the Syrian government is developing new types of chemical weapons, and U.S. President Donald Trump is prepared to again order military action against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad's forces if necessary to deter chemical attacks, according to the AOL News website.

Assad's government is believed to have kept part of its chemical weapons stockpiling despite a U.S.-Russian deal under which Damascus was supposed to have handed over all those weapons for destruction in 2014, the officials said.

Assad's forces have continued occasional use of chemical weapons in smaller amounts since a deadly attack last April that drew a U.S. missile strike on a Syrian air base.

At that time, President Trump responded to a Syrian chemical attack that killed several civilians -- including women and children -- by ordering 59 missiles to be fired on a Syrian military base that destroyed several planes.

China Bags 14 Christian House Church Leaders; Communist Party Has No Love for Rel. Freedom

Fourteen Christian house church leaders, who are part of the Middle Eastern evangelism network, have been abducted by government security agents in China, the Christian Post website reports today (February 1, 2018).

ChinaAid reported yesterday that the Christians are being held captive at an undisclosed location by state authorities in the coastal Zhejiang province.

"The massive, enforced disappearance of 14 peaceful church leaders shows the Communist Party has no regard to rule of law and its citizens' religious freedom rights," said ChinaAid President Bob Fu.

China is listed Number 43 on Open Doors USA's World Watch List, which states that church life is heavily controlled by the government.