Monday, April 30, 2018

EU Pres.Will Honor Karl Marx's 200th Birthday; Plans to Join Unveiling of Marx Statue on May 5

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will join a celebration of Karl Marx's 200th birthday on May 5 in Trier, Germany -- where Marx was born and raised -- and will give a speech at the unveiling of a statue of the Communist philosopher, The New American website reports today (April 30, 2018).

Marx and his friend Friedrich Engels wrote "The Communist Manifesto" in which they stated that Communism could serve as a utopia by ending the unfair economic relationship that prevails between the wealthy and the poor under capitalism. Everyone would be equal in a classless ideal society in which people provided the government with services according to their abilities, and  were reimbursed by the government according to their needs.

In fact, Marx and Engels viewed the working class under capitalism to be comprised of fools who were being exploited bigtime economically by the owners or the wealthy. They also believed that the rich got richer, and the poor got poorer under capitalism -- a situation occurring in the U.S. today.

In "The Communist Manifesto," they wrote: "Workers of the world unite... You have nothing to lose but your chains." Perhaps Marx's greatest contribution to the working class was to make it aware that it was being exploited by management, thus motivating it to establish many labor unions to empower it to receive higher working wages and more benefits  for workers.

At Least 25 Killed in Two Afghan Terrorist Attacks; Eight Journalists,Four Policemen among the Dead

Eight journalists and four policemen were among more than two dozen people killed as two explosions rocked the Afghan capital  of Kabul today (April 30, 2018) during the morning rush hour, according to the Euro News website.

A police spokesman said at least 25 people died and another 45 were wounded.

The journalists were killed by the second blast, which occurred after they had rushed to the scene to cover the first explosion.

Police said the first suicide bomber was on a motorbike, while the second pretended to be among the media rushing to the scene, before detonating his explosion.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

EU Plans to Cut Funds of Resistant Countries; Poland, Hungary Targeted for Rejecting Rules

European Union (EU) countries which rebel against Brussels could have parts of their EU subsidies "frozen" under new plans, the Express (British) website reports today (April 29, 2018).

Eastern EU states -- including Poland and Hungary -- would be punished under the proposals if they are deemed to have fallen short of the bloc's "democratic values."

The proposals would allow the EU to freeze access to funding for EU projects.

Hungary has clashed with the EU by refusing to accept refugees; Poland has angered the EU by implementing controversial judicial reforms judged anti-democratic by the European Commission.

Govt. Forces,US-Backed Kurds Clash in Syria; Some 15 Troops Killed in Deir Ezzor Province

Rare clashes broke out today (April 29, 2018) between Syrian regime forces and a U.S.-backed Kurdish alliance in the east of the country, killing a total of 15 fighters, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said the clashes in Deir Ezzor province killed nine pro-regime fighters and six members of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

The Syrian army seized control of four villages in the eastern province, where a Kurdish-led alliance has been fighting the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.

The alliance later recaptured three of the four villages, according to the Observatory.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Christians Slam School's Yoga Mindfulness Class; Say Class Invites Spirits That Don't Relate to God

A Maryland elementary school's attempt to provide its students with means to curtail stress by initiating a daily yoga-based program has evoked an outcry by some residents on religious grounds, the USA Today website reports today (April 28, 2018).

Buckingham Elementary School in Berlin, Maryland announced in early March the addition of a daily "Mindfulness Moment," a video program to help its students calm themselves both physically and mentally.

Each morning, according to the school, "students participate in a mini 6-10 minute mindfulness and yoga session to help them positively start off their day."

Linda Hostelley wrote on the school's Facebook page: "There are spirits invited in by focusing on things not of God... there is an unholy Spirit behind it. If this is allowed in school, then Jesus must be allowed to be enjoyed in school also."

Israeli Forces Kill Three Gaza Border Protesters; Disobey UN Criticism of Using "Excessive Force"

Israeli troops shot dead three protesters along the Gaza border yesterday, hours after the United Nations human rights chief criticized Israel for using "excessive force" against demonstrators, the Reuters website reports today (April 28, 2018).

Israeli troops have killed 41 Palestinians and wounded more than 5,000 others since Gaza residents began staging weekly Friday protests along the border fence on March 30 to demand the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

The troops were holed up behind fortifications on the other side of the 25-mile border fence and fired live ammunition and tear gas at around 12,000 protesters at five locations on the Gaza side.

Gaza medical officials said two protesters who were struck by bullets were in critical condition in a hospital and 600 others were wounded.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Pope's Homily Conveys Jesus' Love at Last Supper; Emphasizes Love Is Necessary for Church to Grow

In his homily during Mass at Casa Santa Marta today (April 27, 2018), Pope Francis recalled the Last Supper, in which Jesus teaches love in the Eucharist and service in the washing of the feet, according to the Independent Catholic News website.

He said it contains three foundational truths for the Church: Jesus teaches us love through the Eucharist;  He teaches us service in the washing of the disciples' feet; and He says no servant is greater than his master.

The pope said Jesus makes two "institutional gestures" at the Last Supper. Jesus gives His body to eat and His blood to drink in the Eucharist. He also washes the disciples' feet.

Pope Francis added: "Love is without limits. Without it, the Church cannot move forward; the Church cannot breathe. Without love, she cannot grow, and is transformed into an empty institution, made up of appearances and actions without fecundity. In His bodily actions, Jesus tells us how we should love, that is, until the end."

North,South Korea Leaders Vow to End Conflict; Say Two Koreas Will Be United into One Country

The leaders of North and South Korea met yesterday and committed themselves to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and pledged to bring a formal end to the Korean War, 65 years after it ended, the CNN website reports today (April 27, 2018).

In a day-long summit that weighed heavy with symbolism, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong Un embraced, planted a tree, and talked alone for more than 30 minutes.

Then they signed the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification on the Korean Peninsula, which commits the two countries to denuclearization and talks to bring a formal end to conflict.

In separate speeches, Kim and Moon promised a new era. Addressing the world's media live on television for the first time, Kim said the Koreas "will be reunited as one country."

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Greece Is Calm Despite Provocations from Turkey; Hosts Top EU Leader,Urges a Peace Mediator Role

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said today (April 26, 2018) that Greece is remaining calm in the face of "dangerous provocations" from Turkey, according to the Reuters website.

Tsipras, who was hosting EU (European Union) Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, said Greece could play a central role in elevating the role of the 28-member bloc for peace and security.

"We are proving that by being decisive and also calm in dealing with dangerous provocations in the Aegean by Turkey towards our sovereign rights," Tsipras said.

In recent weeks, Turkish ships have provoked Greek ships in the Aegean Sea, and have prevented Greek and Italian ships from drilling for oil off the coast of Cyprus.

Only a Slim US Majority Believe in God of Bible; One-Third of Americans Believe in Other Power

A new study released by the Pew Research Center shows that although some 80 percent of Americans say they believe in God, only a slim majority of the nation's approximately 327 million people believe in God as described in the Bible, the Christian Post website reports today (April 26, 2018).

And among those younger than 50, belief in the God of the Bible drops lower than 50 percent.

The findings from the survey of more than 4,700 adults nationwide between December 4-18, 2017, reveal that one-third of Americans say they do not believe in the God of the Bible, but believe there is some other higher power or spiritual force in the universe.

 Applying these results to the general population, that translates to about 109 million people who believe in a higher power that is not the God of the Bible.

Mikvah-Peeping Rabbi to Get Early Jail Release; Victims Angry Barry Freundel Freed 3 Yrs. Early

Victims of Rabbi Barry Freundel -- a former Modern Orthodox rabbi in Washington, D.C., now in jail for secretly videotaping naked women in his synagogue's mikvah -- have received notices that he will be released in August, more than three years before the end of his sentence, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (April 26, 2018).

In a tweet yesterday, Bethany Mandel called the automated email from the Washington Corrections Department "a nice punch in the gut."

"He got 6.5 years three years ago, and we were promised repeatedly there was no possibility of early release," Mandel posted. "This is not how I expected to be using my mental energy today. Nor do I appreciate this being thrown at victims via an automated notification system."

Prior to his arrest in 2014, Freundel was the rabbi of Kesher Israel in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C. He is believed to have violated the privacy of over 150 women, whom he secretly filmed while they were undressed and showered at the mikvah, or ritual bath, of his synagogue.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Kurds Returning to Fight IS Strongholds in Syria; Pentagon Expects IS Defeat in Syria by 6 Months

U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters are returning to the front lines of the fight against the Islamic State (IS) terror group in eastern Syria, now that Turkey's aggression against the Kurds along its border in the west has eased, the Washington Examiner website reports today (April 25, 2018).

IS controls two areas in Syria east of the Euphrates River. One is in the town of Hajin, which is along the river, while the other is near Dashisha, near the Syria-Iraq border.

The Turkish offensive aimed at driving the Kurds in northwest Syria away from its border pulled many Kurds away from the IS fight to defend their home areas during the past two months.

U.S. military officials have given no timeline for the final defeat of IS, but Pentagon sources say they believe within six months IS will no longer hold any ground, although many IS fighters will still remain in Syria.

Muslim-Majority Algeria Punishes Christians; Closes Churches for "Not Meeting Standards"

Authorities in the northern African nation of Algeria are closing churches in an attempt to curtail the activities of minority Christians in the Muslim-majority nation, the CBN (Christian Broadcast Network) News website reports today (April 25, 2018).

In the past few months, three Protestant churches were shut down in Algeria.

Mohamed Aissa, Algeria's minister of religious affairs, claims the churches were closed because they "did not meet the standards required of a place of worship."

Open Doors -- a group that scrutinizes religious freedom abuses around the world -- has listed Algeria among the top 50 countries where it is dangerous to be a follower of Christ.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Israel Cancels Its Plan to Deport Black Refugees; Plan Was Rejected by High Court, Seen as Racist

Israel announced today (April 24, 2018) that it will not be deporting asylum seekers to third-party countries as previously planned, due to decisions regarding deportation by the High Court, according to the Jerusalem Post website.

The plan to deport thousands of black refugees to a third nation against their will -- which many people viewed as racism by Israel -- had been in the works for several months, but Israel will no longer be deporting them to a country against their will.

Several members of the Israeli Knesset praised today's decision. For example, Knesset member Itzik Shmuli said: "The incitement and threats did nothing to help, and justice has won."

He added: "The nation-state of the Jewish people simply cannot send refugees to an unknown fate."

US Hate Crimes against Muslims Up 15% in 2017; Report:Trump's "Anti-Muslim Rhetoric" a Reason

A report released yesterday by the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) shows that hate crimes targeting American Muslims increased by 15 percent nationwide in 2017 compared to the previous year, the Religion News website reports today (April 24, 2018).

The report -- titled "Targeted" -- contains statistics about hate crimes, as well as discrimination against Muslims in workplaces, schools, neighborhoods, and airports.

It criticizes the Trump administration's travel ban, which keeps out visitors from Muslim-majority countries.

It also cites Trump's "anti-Muslim rhetoric" as a contributor to the hate crimes.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Ten Killed When Van Plows into Toronto Crowd; Police State It's Too Early to Determine a Motive

In what appears to be a terrorist attack, a van driver drove into a crowd in Toronto, Canada today (April 23, 2018), killing ten people and injuring 16 others, according to the Telegraph (British) website.

Witnesses said they saw the van deliberately hitting pedestrians.

A man identified by police as Alek Minassian, 25, was arrested for the incident.

Mark Saunders, the Toronto police chief, said Minassian had not been armed, and that it was too early to identify a motive.

"Different Type of Anti-Semitism" Hurts Germany; Chancellor Merkel Warns of Violent Arab Refugees

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has denounced a "different type of anti-Semitism" that has taken root in her country, the Euro News website reports today (April 23, 2018).

She also vowed to do everything possible to ensure the safety of Jews in Germany.

"We have refugees now, for example, or people of Arab origin, who bring a different type of anti-Semitism into the country," Merkel said. (Germany has accepted more than a million Arab refugees -- and many of them have been arrested for committing violent acts --  during the past three years.)

Merkel said her government has appointed a new commissioner to fight anti-Semitism and to support Jewish life in Germany. She added, "The fact that no kindergarten, no school, no synagogue can be left without police protection dismays us."

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Vatican Bars Communion for Protestant Spouses; German Bishops Sought Conditional Communion

The Vatican body, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), has sent a letter with the approval of Pope Francis to German bishops rejecting their proposal to allow some Protestant spouses to receive communion, the Christian Today website reports today (April 22, 2018).

Sources have said that Archbishop Luis Ladaria, the current prefect of the CDF, wrote the letter, and that Pope Francis does not want the letter to be made public.

The Vatican response came after seven German bishops -- led by Caredinal Rainer Woelki of Cologne -- wrote to the CDF last month to say they believed the proposal to allow some Protestant spouses to receive communion contradicted Catholic doctrine, undermined Church unity, and exceeded the authority of the bishops' conference.

This came after Germany's bishops voted in favor at their spring conference in February of producing a guide, or pastoral handout, to allow a Protestant partner of a Catholic to receive the Eucharist in some cases and under certain conditions.

IS Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 57 in Kabul Blast; IS,Taliban Seek Harsh Islamic Rule in Afghanistan

At least 57 people -- including many women and children -- were killed today (April 22, 2018) when a suicide bomber struck a voter registration center in Afghanistan's capital in an attack claimed by the Islamic State (IS) terror group, according to the Fox News website.

A Public Health Ministry spokesperson said that 119 people were wounded in the massive blast in Kabul, which shattered windows miles away from the attack site.

The wounded were rushed to a number of Kabul hospitals.

Both the IS and the Taliban fanatical Islamic groups want to establish a harsh form of Islamic rule in Afghanistan, and are opposed to democratic elections.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Natalie Portman Snubs Israeli Prestigious Prize; Due to Distress from Palestinians Killed at Gaza

In an apparent feeling of distress resulting from the shooting deaths of dozens of Palestinian protesters by Israeli troops at the Gaza border in recent weeks, Natalie Portman -- an American Oscar-winning Jewish actress born in Israel -- has snubbed a prestigious prize known as "Jewish Nobel," saying she did not want her attendance to be seen as an endorsement of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the ABC News website reports today (April 21, 2018).

Portman was to have received the award in Israel in June and said in a statement issued today that her reasons for skipping the ceremony had been mischaracterized by others, and she is not part of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), a Palestinian-led global movement against Israel.

Portman through a representative had told the Genesis Prize Foundation she was experiencing "extreme distress" over attending its ceremony and would "not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel."

Several Israeli public officials have expressed disappointment with Portman's decision to stay away from Israel. Rachel Azaria, a lawmaker from the centrist Kulanu party, warned that Portman's decision to stay away is a sign of "eroding support" for Israel among young American Jews, many of whom do not have a feeling of loyalty toward Israel.

Harvard Teaching Assistants Vote to Have Union; Historic Vote Lets 5K Students Bargain with Univ.

In a historic move, Harvard University teaching and research assistants have voted to form a union, The Crimson website reports today (April 21, 2018).

The results of a unionization election held April 18 and 19 showed 1,931 ballots cast in favor and 1,523 against, per ballot tallying conducted yesterday at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional office in the Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr. Federal Building in Boston.

This vote means about 5,000 eligible students can now begin to collectively bargain with the university as members of Harvard Graduate Students Union--United Auto Workers.

The installation of a student union is unprecedented in Harvard history -- and the result reverses the outcome of the university's previous November 2016 unionization election, which showed more votes against unionization than in favor. The failure of Harvard -- the oldest university in the U.S. --  to pay its teaching assistants a suitable wage for living in today's society can be viewed as the main reason for the approval of the union.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Ukrainian Lawmakers Back an Ind. Orth. Church; Request Autocephaly from Patriarch Bartholomew

Ukrainian lawmakers have backed President Petro Poroshenko's appeal to the worldwide head of the Orthodox Christian Church to recognize the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's independence from Moscow, the RFERL (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) website reports today (April 20, 2018).

The vote in the legislature came days after Poroshenko met with the Archbishop of Constantinople, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, during a trip to Istanbul. Ukraine's president is requesting Patriarch Bartholomew to issue an ordinance to grant autocephaly (self-government) to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Poroshenko in a speech to parliament on April 19 called the move an act of "restoring historical justice" and "unity."

Russia illegally annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and continues to support separatists in eastern Ukraine in a conflict that has killed more than 10,300 people since April 2014.

New Type of Cath. Arises: Conservative Dissenter; Pope Francis Compared to Trump, Fosters Heresy

The tables have turned under Pope Francis, as a new type of Catholic has formed, who can be called "the conservative dissenter," the Religion News website reports today (April 20, 2018).

In the past, conservatives prided themselves on loyalty to the pope and being in lockstep with all papal teachings, while progressives called for limits to papal power.

While the John Paul II and Benedict XVI papacies had liberal theologians arguing that popes should govern more collaboratively, traditionalist critics of the current pope "have become reluctant to accept papal teaching (in its contents and forms) only with Francis," said Villanova University theology professor Massimo Faggioli.

In the recently published book "To Change the Church," Ross Douthat compares Francis to President Trump, arguing the pope is seeking to push through changes without thinking about the consequences. "The story could end with Francis as its hero," Douthat writes. "But to choose a path that might have only two destinations -- hero or heretic -- is an act of great and dangerous presumption, even for a pope..."

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Study:Americans Waste 150K Tons of Food a Day; Fruits, Vegetables Make Up Most of Wasted Food

A new study reveals that Americans waste some 150,000 tons of food per day -- amounting to about one pound per person -- and fruits and vegetables are mostly what gets tossed, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

The amount of land used annually to grow food that ends up in the garbage in the U.S. is 30 million acres, or seven percent of total U.S. cropland.

Some 4.2 trillion gallons of irrigation water gets wasted , too, said the report in the journal PLOS ONE.

Fruits and vegetables made up 39 percent of total food waste, followed by dairy (17 percent), meat (14 percent), and grains (12 percent). This exorbitant food waste is an unnecessary and sacrilegious  occurrence that our society needs to address and resolve promptly -- especially since many thousands of people die globally every day from hunger.

EU Gave 500K People Asylum Protection in 2017; Most of Them Were from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq

Data released today (April 19, 2018) shows that EU (European Union) nations -- as well as Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland -- granted protection status to 538,000 asylum seekers in 2017, according to the Eurostat website.

Two forms of protection are offered under EU law: refugee status -- for people fleeing persecution, and subsidiary protection -- for those who face serious harm if they return to their country of origin, and who don't qualify as refugees.

However, protection may also be granted for humanitarian reasons, such as on grounds of ill health, or if the person is an unaccompanied minor.

Around one-third of asylum seekers in Europe came from Syria last year, followed by Afghan citizens (19%) and Iraqis (12%). By far, Germany took in the most protected persons in 2017 (60.5%), ahead of France (7.5%) and Italy (6.5%).

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

German Theatre Gives Seats to Swastika-Dressed; Lets Them Take In Hitler's Mein Kampf Play Free

German prosecutors said today (April 18, 2018) that they would not investigate a theatre offering free tickets to people who wear a swastika during a play after Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, because of artistic freedom laws, according to the Euro News website.

A spokesman for the prosecutor's office in the southern city of Constance initially said authorities would launch an investigation after receiving multiple complaints. Under German law, publicly displaying the Nazi symbol is illegal.

Written by the late Hungarian playwright George Tabori, Mein Kampf tells the story of a young Adolf Hitler in pre-World War I Vienna, Austria. Penniless and hoping to get into the Academy of Fine Arts, Hitler stays at a boarding house for poor men where he meets an old Jewish man who helps him achieve his political aspirations.

The theatre in Constance is offering free admission to spectators willing to wear an armband with a Nazi swastika given to them upon arrival. Spectators who choose to pay will be asked to wear a Star of David "as a sign of solidarity with the victims of the National Socialist (Nazi) barbarism," the theatre wrote on its website.

Headstones Damaged in Paris Jewish Cemetery; Jew Haters in France Attack Dead Beside Living

In an incident that is similar to a multitude of Jewish hate crimes pervading France during the past year, a Jewish cemetery near Paris was desecrated by a person who vandalized eight headstones, the Times of Israel website reports today (April 18, 2018).

The incident earlier this week resulted in damage to the headstones at the cemetery in Seine Saint Denis, north of the French capital, according to a statement issued today by Sammy Ghozlan, president of the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism.

A young woman of African descent, who often used to wander around the cemetery grounds, is suspected of being connected to the vandalism, Ghozlan wrote.

Ghozlan added: "The cowardly hatred that is proliferating today is driving those who hate Jews to attack not only the living, but also the dead."

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

High Court Blocks Ousting Convicted Immigrants; Rules Part of the Law "Too Vague" to Be Enforced

In a serious blow to the Trump administration and in what many people may view as an ungrateful  act, Justice Neil Gorsuch -- Trump's only appointee to the Supreme Court -- provided the decisive vote today (April 17, 2018) in the court's ruling to strike down a key provision that made it easier to deport immigrants convicted of violent crimes, according to the Fox News website.

Gorsuch has mostly sided with conservative members of the Supreme Court since his appointment a year ago, but in a surprise stance sided with the liberal wing today.

In response to today's Supreme Court ruling, President Trump tweeted: "Today's Court decision means that Congress must close loopholes that block the removal of dangerous criminal aliens, including aggravated felons... from our society. Keep America Safe!"

In its 5-4 decision, the court said the part of the law in question was "too vague" to be enforced.

IS Fires at Christians Leaving Pakistan Church; Fired from Motorbikes,Shouted "Allahu Akbar"

An Islamic State (IS) terrorist attack against Christians in Quetta, Pakistan on April 15 has led one Christian leader to warn Pakistan has never been more dangerous for non-Muslims than it is now, the Worthy News website reports today (April 17, 2018).

"It increasingly looks like the IS is targeting the Christian minority in particular, for want of better reason, simply because Christians are an anathema, pariahs in their own country," said Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christians Association.

At around 6 p.m. on April 15, as Christians departed a church service in Quetta, three gunmen on two motorbikes drove by and opened fire on people walking along Essa Nagri Road. Two Christians were killed and at least eight others were injured in the attack.

Witnesses said they heard the terrorists shout "Allahu Akbar" ("God is Great" in Arabic) as they sped away . Pakistan is one of Islam's most fanatical countries.

French Pres. Macron Slams "National Selfishness;" Tells EU Reps a More United Europe Is Necessary

French President Emmanuel Macron urged the European Union (EU) today (April 17, 2018) to renew its commitment to democracy for protection in a world troubled by wars and authoritarian regimes, according to the UPI website.

During a speech to more than 700 lawmakers, the French president pushed for a more united Europe -- likening political divisions to a civil war --  and decried populist sentiment as "nationalist selfishness."

"Nationalism will lead Europe into the abyss. We see authoritarianism rising all around us," Macron said. "The response should not be authoritarian democracy but the authority of democracy."

He also mentioned Brexit, criticizing those who took their countries out of the EU to pursue "fairytale adventures."

Monday, April 16, 2018

Protesters in Athens Try Toppling Truman Statue; As Reaction to US, UK, France Airstrikes on Syria

Clashes between riot police and anti-war protesters broke out in Athens today (April 16, 2018), two days after the US, UK, and France launched airstrikes on Syria , according to the Euro News website.

The protesters -- part of the Greek Communist Party -- had attempted to bring down a 3.5-meter statue of former U.S. President Harry Truman by using a rope and a metal grinder. (Truman played a major role in preventing communism from engulfing Greece after World War II with his containment policy.)

Protests were organized by the Greek Communist Party as a result of the airstrikes in Syria on April 14.

Two protesters were detained and at least three people were injured.

Pope "Deeply Disturbed" by Deadly War in Syria; Prays Politicians,Mil. Leaders Negotiate for Peace

Pope Francis told the faithful in St. Peter's Square yesterday that he is "deeply disturbed" by the international community's failure to come up with a common response to war in Syria and other parts of the world, the Seattle Times website reports today (April 16, 2018).

"Despite the tools available to the international community, it is difficult to agree on a common action toward peace in Syria or other regions of the world," the pope told a crowd of 30,000 after his traditional Sunday blessing.

The pope spoke after airstrikes by the U.S., France, and Britain aimed at taking out Syria's chemical weapons capacity. That followed a suspected poison gas attack by Syrian government forces on a rebel-held Damascus suburb that killed dozens of people, including children.

"There is not a good or a bad war, and nothing can justify such instruments that exterminate defenseless people and populations," the pope said. "Let's pray that the responsible politicians and military leaders choose another path: that of negotiations, the only one that can bring peace."

Sunday, April 15, 2018

SC Becomes 1st State to Pass Ed Anti-Semitic Law; Allows Educators to Confront Anti-Jewish Bigotry

South Carolina became the first state in the U.S. to pass legislation to protect students from anti-Semitic acts, the World Israel News website reports today (April 15, 2018).

The State Senate and House of Representatives approved the legislation, and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has expressed support for the bill and is expected to sign it into law.

"Anti-Semitism, and the forces that have led to its resurgence, are not representative of the values of South Carolina," said State Representative Alan Clemmons, who authored the legislation.

The South Carolina bill will help break down the barriers in the fight against anti-Semitism by providing educators and administrators with a clear and uniform definition to recognize anti-Jewish bigotry, according to the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under the Law.

Orlando, Fla. Church,100,Closes Down Abruptly; United Methodist Church Was "Inward Focused"

A nearly 100-year-old Orlando, Florida church abruptly shut down on April 13, with leaders emailing parishioners to tell them that Sunday services would not be held, the Yahoo News website reports today (April 15, 2018).

Yesterday, church leaders at Reeves Memorial United Methodist Church said the facility has become too "inward focused" but that they will reopen the church eventually.

"The intent is to get back on mission, which is making a difference in the community," said Bob Bushong, who has been district superintendent for the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church for three years. "We have gotten away from that."

Despite Bushong saying the church would come back, the email hinted at a permanent shutdown. Church membership  has been on the decline, with Reeves right now serving roughly 30 people, Bushong said.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Thousands in Hungary Protest PM's Re-election; Say His Autocracy Hinders Democratic Freedoms

Tens of thousands of Hungarians packed Budapest's most iconic avenue today (April 14, 2018) to protest Prime Minister Viktor Orban's re-election this week , saying it may further stifle democratic freedoms in the ex-Communist European Union (EU) member, according to the Bloomberg website.

Protesters marched today from the Opera on Andrassy Avenue to the square in front of Parliament in the biggest anti-government protest in years.

Orban won a crushing victory by pledging a fight against EU plans to allocate refugees across the bloc and a crackdown on civil society groups.

Since 2010, Hungary's autocrat has centralized power by appointing allies to the helm of independent institutions, including the courts, and extending his influence over much of the media.

US,Allies Hit 3 Chemical Weapons Sites in Syria; Due to Syrian Deadly Chemical Attack on Douma

The US, UK, and France bombed three government sites in Syria early today (April 14, 2018) in an operation targeting chemical weapons facilities, according to the BBC website.

The move is a response to a chemical attack on the town of Douma last week which killed over 40 people, including several women and children.

"The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread, and use of chemical weapons," U.S. President Donald Trump said.

The wave of strikes is the most significant attack against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government by Western powers in seven years of Syria's ongoing civil war.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Ex-Cheerleader's Christianity, Virginity Mocked; Files Complaint for Suffering Emotional Distress

Kristan Ann Ware, a former cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins NFL franchise, has filed a complaint, claiming that she was discriminated against because of her Christian faith and her decision to remain a virgin, the Christian Post website reports today (April 13, 2018).

Ware filed the complaint yesterday with the Florida Commission on Human Relations, where she reveals that at least two coaches on her team told her that she should not talk about her religious beliefs as a Christian and her decision to practice abstinence.

"It was like a bus hit me," Ware said of an incident in April 2016 when she walked in for an annual work review. "I was completely speechless. All that formed on my face were tears."

Ware says she was targeted for her beliefs, and while she continued on as a Dolphins cheerleader for one more season, she suffered under emotional and physical distress.

Trump:Americans Need to Combat Anti-Semitism; His Proclamation Condemns Murders of 6M Jews

President Donald Trump said in a proclamation yesterday -- which was Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day -- that Americans have "a moral obligation to combat anti-Semitism, confront hate, and prevent genocide," the Spero Forum website reports today (April 13, 2018).

Trump's proclamation states: "Although spearheaded by one individual, this undertaking could not have happened without the participation of many others who recruited, persecuted, and coerced in their efforts to incite the worst of human nature and carry out the ugliest of depravity..."

Besides the six million Jews who were murdered by Germany's National Socialist regime, Trump said that millions more died.

"We must ensure that the history of the Holocaust remains forever relevant and that no people suffer these tragedies ever again," the proclamation said.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

French Pres. Calls for Closer Church-State Ties; Macron's Idea Denounced by French Pol.Critics

French President Emmanuel Macron has come under fire from political and secularist critics after calling for the country's divided church and state to "mend" their "damaged" relationship, the Christian Today website reports today (April 12, 2018).

The issue is particularly sensitive in historically Catholic France, where the division was written into law in 1905 and which is now home to Europe's largest Muslim and Jewish communities.

"I consider it my responsibility to stop the erosion of confidence among Catholics with regards to politics and politicians," Macron told church dignitaries in Paris this week.

However, former prime minister Manuel Valls and Socialist Party head Olivier Faure said the separation of church and state must remain a mainstay of political life, in a country where public service employees are banned from wearing Muslim veils and other dress with religious connotations.

Pope Admits He Erred in Chile's Sex Abuse Case; Invites Chile Victims to Vatican,Begs Forgiveness

In a rare and shocking move by the Vatican, Pope Francis admitted today (April 12, 2018) he made "grave errors" in judgment in Chile's sex abuse scandal and invited the victims he had discredited to Rome to beg their forgiveness, according to the Newser website.

Francis also summoned all of Chile's bishops to the Vatican for an emergency meeting in the coming weeks to discuss repairing the damage from the scandal, which has badly tarnished his reputation and that of the Chilean church.

Francis had strongly defended Bishop Juan Barros, a protege of Chile's most notorious predator priest, the Rev. Fernando Karadima, during his January visit to Chile despite accusations by victims that Barros had witnessed and ignored their abuse.

The pope had demanded the victims present "proof" of their claims and revealed he had twice rejected Barros' resignation. "I am convinced he is innocent," the pope had insisted.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Report:Anti-Semitism Mainstreamed, Normalized; Sadest Level of Anti-Semitism Occurs Since WWII

With the release today (April 11, 2018) of the Tel Aviv University's Kantor Center 2017 Annual Report on Anti-Semitism  Worldwide, Europe's largest Jewish communities are experiencing a normalization and mainstreaming of anti-Semitism not seen since the Second World War, according to the Israel National News website.

For example, last year saw anti-Semitic violence in France -- still the home to Europe's largest Jewish community -- attain new levels of intensity with a Jewish woman thrown out of her apartment window to her death.

The same pattern has continued this year, with a leap in violence, such as the recent stabbing to death and burning of a Holocaust survivor in her home in Paris.

"The result is of a Jewish community in many places around the world living in fear," European Jewish Congress President Dr. Moshe Kantor said. "Neither the public nor the private space are perceived as safe for Jews, as was seen by the recent horrific and brutal murder of Mireille  Knoll, who survived the Holocaust to be stabbed and burnt in her home..."

Trump Tells Russia Missiles Will Hit Syria Soon; Labels Syrian Pres. Assad a "Gas-Killing Animal"

U.S. President Donald Trump today (April 11, 2018) tweeted that Russia should "get ready" for U.S. missiles to be fired at its ally Syria, in response to a chemical attack near Damascus last week, according to the BBC website.

"Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!'" Trump said in his tweet.

Senior Russian figures have threatened to meet any U.S. strikes with a response.

Syrian President Bashar al-Asad's government denies mounting a chemical attack that killed scores of civilians in the rebel-held town of Douma. Trump called Assad a "gas-killing animal" as a result of the barbaric chemical attack.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Pope's Liberal Policies Causing Confusion of Cath.; Many Cardinals Reject His Teachings on Divorcees

In response to the ever-growing confusion and scandal in the Catholic Church created by Pope Francis's ambiguous teachings on divorce, remarriage, and adultery -- among other issues -- several cardinals, other clergy, and lay faithful issued a "final declaration" on April 7 in Rome that reaffirms the 2,000-year-old teaching of the church on these matters, the CNS (Catholic News Service) website reports today (April 10, 2018).

The six-point profession of faith entitled "Therefore we testify and confess" was released at the end of a conference in Rome, based on the theme "Catholic Church: Where are you heading? Only a blind man can deny there is great confusion in the Church."

In "Amoris Laetitia," ("The Joy of Love"), Pope Francis implies that some people living in sin, such as adultery -- the divorced and remarried under church law -- can, through "discernment" with a priest, receive Holy Communion at Mass.

However, the Church has always taught that persons in a state of serious sin, mortal sin, must first go to Confession, truly repent of their sin, and strive not to commit the sin again before they can receive Communion.

Lutherans Let Cath. Hold Mass in Lund Cathedral; Cath.Church in Lund Undergoes Bldg.Renovations

For the first time in 500 years, Lutherans in Sweden are welcoming Catholics to celebrate Masses  in Lund cathedral, the Catholic News website reports today (April 10, 2018).

The historic cathedral -- formerly the site of bitter religious feuding -- has become a site of interfaith friendship since Pope Francis held a service there in 2016.

The agreement to allow Catholic Masses to be celebrated at the cathedral was driven to accommodate the growing parish of St. Thomas Aquinas in Lund, which will be undergoing building renovations. Catholic services will be held there beginning in October until renovations are complete.

"People are very excited," said Dominican Father Johan Linden, pastor of St. Thomas Parish. "As I and my Lutheran counterparts have stressed, this is not merely a practical solution but a fruit of the Holy Father's visit and the joint document "From Conflict to Communion."

Monday, April 9, 2018

Gallup: Weekly Cath.Church Attendance Declines; Most Cath.Do Not Attend Weekly Church Services

Gallup data released today (April 9, 2018) shows that weekly church attendance among Catholics in the U.S. has been on a steep and steady decline over the past decade, according to t he UPI website.

Gallup's data found an average of 39 percent of Catholics reported attending church within the past seven days between 2014 and 2017, compared to 45 percent from 2005 to 2008.

The largest decrease in weekly church attendance among Catholics occurred between the 1950s and 1970s when it fell from nearly 75 percent to less than 50 percent.

Following this decline -- driven primarily by younger Catholics -- 49 percent of Catholics older than 60 reported attending church weekly between 2014 to 2017. "Older Catholics have become less likely to report attending church in the past seven days, so that now -- for the first time -- a majority of Catholics in no generation group attend weekly," Gallup said.

AZ Sends 225 National Guard Troops to Border; Backs Trump's Security Mission on Mex. Border

Arizona is deploying 225 National Guard troops to support President Donald Trump's security mission along the U.S.-Mexican border, the ABC News website reports today (April 9, 2018).

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey was present to send them off today.

"Guardsmen will be sent to the border to provide mission-enhancing capabilities that will help U.S. Customs and Border Protection increase operational control of the region," an Arizona National Guard press release said.

"The Guard will provide air support, reconnaissance support, operational support, construction of border infrastructure, and logistical support," the press release added.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Orthodox Christians Begin Easter with Holy Fire; Holy Sepulchre Flame Proves Jesus' Resurrection

The "Holy Fire" ceremony in Jerusalem helped Eastern Orthodox Christians usher in Easter, one week after Christians in the West also celebrated the religion's holiest day, the RFERL (Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty) website reports today (April 8, 2018).

Some 7,000 pilgrims in Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre lit their candles off the "flame" from the "miracle light" on the night of April 7 and early morning of April 8, Easter Day.

The light emanates from the stone bed that Christian tradition believes to be the spot where Jesus' body was placed for burial. The Greek Orthodox, Armenian, and Roman Catholic denominations share custody of the church.

The flame represents the Resurrection of Christ and will be passed candle to candle and taken to other Orthodox churches around the world. The ritual dates back some 1,200 years.

At Least 42 Die in Syria Due to Chemical Attack; Trump May Order Missile Attack on Syrian Mil.

Dozens of Syrians choked to death last night after a suspected chemical attack struck the rebel-held suburb of Douma, east of Damascus, and aid groups today (April 8, 2018) blamed President Bashar al-Assad's  government for the assault, according to the NY Times website.

The attack after dusk last night sent a stream of patients with burning eyes and breathing problems to clinics, medical and rescue groups said.

The U.S. government said it was working to verify that chemical weapons had been used. A new, confirmed chemical attack in Syria would pose a dilemma for President Trump, who ordered military strikes on a Syrian airbase after a chemical attack last year to punish Assad, but has more recently said he wants to get the U.S. military out of Syria soon.

As a result of last night's attack, rescue workers in Syria reported finding at least 42 people dead in their homes from apparent suffocation.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Nine Gazans Killed Near Israeli Security Fence; Hurled Rocks and Firebombs at Israeli Soldiers

Tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered along the Gaza border yesterday, burning tires and throwing firebombs and rocks at Israeli soldiers, as Palestinians held a second "March of Return" protest, the Times of Israel website reports today (April 7, 2018).

Nine Gazans were killed and over 1,000 injured by Israeli forces using live fire at the border protesters.

Among those hurt were 12 women and 48 minors.

"Rioters have attempted to damage and cross the security fence under the cover of smoke from their burning tires. They also attempted to carry out terror attacks and hurl explosive devices and firebombs," the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) said. "Our forces prevented breaches of the fence."

Muslim Nurse Stabbed Driving Home after Work; White Man Stopped Her Car,Shouted Slurs at Her

A nurse was driving home early on the morning of April 5 in Houston, Texas after an overnight shift at a hospital when a man stopped her car and began screaming anti-Muslim slurs at her and stabbed her, the Raw Story website reports today (April 7, 2018).

Houston television reported that the Muslim woman -- who was wearing a hijab -- believes the attack was religiously-motivated.

The woman returned to the hospital to have her wounds treated.

The attacker, and a passenger in his car, were described as white males between the ages of 20 and 35. The attack may have been a retaliation for Muslim terrorist attacks that frequently occur in the U.S. and around the world.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Italian Toy Maker Constructs Doll with Measles; Many Slam Toy Co. for Debasing Deadly Disease

An Italian toy maker has been accused of trivializing a serious childhood disease with the edition of its popular Cicciobello doll, which children are invited to treat of the measles, the Euro News website reports today (April 6, 2018).

The blonde doll, Morbillino, comes with accessories including wipes, cream, and plasters, to make its red spots disappear quickly.

The name Morbillino is a take on the Italian word for measles, "morbillo."

Health experts have accused toy maker Giochi Preziosi of trivializing the disease, which in reality cannot be cured with a "magic" wipe, and which is one of the leading causes of death among children.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Mother Used a Stun Gun to Wake Son for Church; Police Arrest Mother on Suspicion of Child Abuse

A Phoenix, Arizona woman shocked her teenage son with a stun gun to wake him for church services on Easter, the Religion News website reports today (April 5, 2018).

Phoenix police arrested 40-year-old Sharron Dobbins on suspicion of child abuse Easter morning after her 17-year-old son alerted authorities.

The teen did not complain of any pain, but told police he had two small bumps on his leg where he was shocked, according to police documents.

The teen told police he was unwilling to testify against his mother and he did not want to prosecute, according to the police documents.

State Dept.:Combating Anti-Semitism a Priority; Anti-Semitism Monitor Job Vacant for Over a Yr.

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman said this week combating anti-Semitism remains a "priority" for the Donald Trump administration, but would not say if it would fill the congressionally-mandated job of anti-Semitism monitor, the Times of Israel website reports today (April 5, 2018).

"The position of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism is currently unfilled, but the Office of International Religious Freedom at the Department of State continues actively to support the mission of that office," the spokeswoman said.

"Combating anti-Semitism internationally is a priority for this administration," she added.

The position of anti-Semitism monitor -- mandated by a law passed in 2004 -- has not been filled by Trump more than a year after it was vacated. On April 2, the Anti-Defamation League wrote to Trump urging him to "make this critical appointment without delay."

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Greek Defense Minister Rips Turkey Provocations; Tells Troops Greece Will Crush Turkey Aggression

"If they have guts, let them dare challenge one inch of our soil," Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said today (April 4, 2018), addressing officers and conscripts during a military exercise, according to the Greek Reporter website.

Kammenos was referring to numerous recent provocations by Turkey in the Aegean Sea and incendiary statements by the country's dictatorial leaders. He described Turkey as "an opponent that continues to provoke us."

The defense minister was on Ikaria Island where the exercise was taking place. Turkish ships have harassed Greek ships sailing in the Aegean and have blocked attempts by the Cyprus government to dig for oil off the coast of Cyprus during the past two weeks. Both the United Nations and the European Union have condemned Turkey's illegal activities and told it to stop them, but a defiant  Turkey continues to carry them out.

"Our opponent's provocations, threats and insults don't scare us and don't weaken us. On the contrary, they make us stronger. Let them challenge one inch [of Greek land], if they dare. The Greeks, united, we will crush them," Kammenos told the men.

Austria May Ban Headscarves in Primary Schools; Views Headscarves as Being Counter to Its Society

In an effort to tackle what it sees as a threat to its mainstream culture, Austria is planning to ban headscarves for girls in kindergarten and primary schools, the Euro News website reports today (April 4, 2018).

"Our goal is to confront any development of parallel societies in Austria," Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said.

Austria accepted more than one percent of its population in asylum seekers during Europe's migration crisis.

If the plan becomes law, it will apply to girls up to around the age of 10.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Trump to Send Troops to US-Mexico Border; Troops to Guard Border Until a Wall Is Built

President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House today (April 3,2018) that he would dispatch U.S. troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the AOL website.

"I told Mexico, and I respect what they did, I said, look, your laws are very powerful...  We have very bad laws for our border and we are going to be doing some things," Trump said.

"I spoke with Gen. Mattis, we're going to do some things militarily, until we can have a wall and proper security  -- we're going to be guarding our border with the military. That's a big step," he said.

"We will be doing things with Mexico, and they have to do it," Trump said. "Otherwise, I'm not going to do the NAFTA deal. " Trump plans to deploy National Guard troops to assist Border Patrol agents along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Airstrike Kills Children at Afghanistan Rel.School; Air Attack Targeted Taliban in N. Kinduz Province

Dozens of civilians -- including many children -- were killed yesterday in an air attack targeting the Taliban in Afghanistan's northern Kunduz province, the UPI website reports today (April 3, 2018).

Officials said a religious school in the Dasht-e-Archi district killed at least 70 people, including top Taliban commanders.

Witnesses to the raid, however, say more than 100 people were killed, many of them civilians and children.

"There were children as young as 11 or 12 years old in the ceremony who were to be presented with awards and gifts for the completion of their religious courses," witness Mohammed Abdul Haq said.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Church to Leave UMC for Not Backing Scripture; Louisville, Miss. Church Approves an Ind. Status

Church members at First United Methodist Church (UMC) in Louisville, Mississippi  have voted to withdraw the congregation's membership from the UMC denomination, citing a number of issues including homosexuality and abortions as the reasons, the Christian Post website reports today (April 2, 2018).

Members of the over 180-year-old congregation held a "membership affirmation" vote yesterday to determine whether they wanted to remain affiliated with UMC. In a 175-6 vote, the congregation expressed its desire to remove the church from the denomination.

"This is a decision that our consciences forced us to make because of the failure of the United Methodist denomination to uphold Scripture  and its own Book of Discipline," Rev. Mike Childs said following the vote.

The church will technically remain part of the UMC until a settlement can be reached regarding church property. Once a settlement is reached, the church plans to change its name to "First Methodist Church of Louisville."

Israel to Deport 16K Africans to Western Nations; Civil Rights Groups Say Move Makes Israel Racist

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today (April 2, 2018) that thousands of African migrants in Israel will be resettled in several Western countries, including Canada, Germany and Italy under a new agreement reached with the United Nations refugee agency, according to the Times of Israel website.

"This agreement will allow for the departure from Israel of 16,250 migrants to developed countries, such as Canada, Germany and Italy," Netanyahu said. Others will go to Scandinavian countries.

He made the announcement in televised remarks after the government said it had scrapped a controversial plan to deport African migrants and replaced it with a new one that would see thousands sent to Western countries.

Under the agreement -- which Netanyahu said was "the best possible" -- the African asylum seekers who remain in Israel will be dispersed in areas across the country outside of south Tel Aviv, where a majority of them currently reside. The deportation decision has resulted in several civil rights organizations to criticize Israel as being a racist nation.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Megachurch Pastor May Have Stolen Over $1M; Pastor Defrauded People with Financial Scheme

A Texas megachurch pastor stands accused of using his influence to lure "vulnerable and elderly" people into a financial scheme that caused some to lose their life savings, the Yahoo News website reports today (April 1, 2018).

Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, the pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, is facing federal charges of defrauding investors out of more than $1 million using obsolete Chinese bonds.

A federal grand jury has handed a 13-count indictment charging Caldwell and Gregory Allen Smith, a financial planner from Louisiana, U.S. Attorney Alexander Van Hook of the Western District of Louisiana said.

The charges against the two men include wire fraud and money laundering.

Turkish Pres. Erdogan: Netanyahu Is a Terrorist; Netanyahu Calls It April Fool Joke, Rips Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today (April 1, 2018) accused Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of being a "terrorist," and Israel of being a "terrorist state" after 16 Gazans  were killed on March 30 in the Hamas-driven "Great March of Terror" along the Gaza border, according to the Jewish Press website.

IDF (Israel Defense Forces) spokesperson Ronen Manelis pointed out that military personnel faced a "violent, terrorist demonstration at six points" along the Israel-Gaza border.

In response to Erdogan's epithets, Netanyahu blasted the Turkish leader, saying, "The most moral army in the world will not be preached to by someone who for years has indiscriminately bombed civilian populations. Apparently this is the way they mark April Fool's Day in Ankara."

At least 10 known terrorists with track records of terrorist activity were killed while carrying out acts of terror during the violent riots along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip on March 30,2018.