Saturday, June 30, 2018

Pope:Church Must Face People's Real Problems; Warns Christians Not to Avoid "Human Misery"

Pope Francis, at Mass yesterday with his newest cardinals, described being in contact with "real human dramas" and people's "concrete existence" as integral to the Catholic Church's mission, the ABC News website reports today (June 30, 2018).

Francis celebrated the Mass in St. Peter's Square, filled with some 30,000 faithful, to mark the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul.

In his homily, he cautioned Christians against keeping their distance from "human misery," and urged them to avoid "empty" forms of service and compassion for people.

He urged Christians to avoid pretexts that keep them "far from real human dramas, which preserve us from contact with other people's concrete existence and, in the end, from knowing the revolutionary power of God's tender love."

Afghan Pres. Resumes Mil.Operations on Taliban; Taliban Ignored Ceasefire, Enacted Terror Attacks

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani today (June 30, 2018) announced a formal end to his government's ceasefire with the Taliban and ordered security forces to resume operations against the terrorist group, according to the Al Jazeera website.

In a press conference today in Kabul, Ghani repeated an appeal to the Taliban to join a peace process after declaring an end to the 18-day government ceasefire.

"No one has the right to monopolize the peace process," Ghani said. "It is now the Taliban's decision, whether they want to keep killing or join the peace process."

In an unexpected move on June 5, Ghani announced an unconditional ceasefire with the Taliban, coinciding with the end of Ramadan. However, the Taliban ignored the ceasefire and continued to carry out several deadly terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.

New Mormon Leaders Bring Diversity to Group; Latin American, Chinese Alter All-White Course

The two newest members of a top Mormon governing panel said this week that they hope to bring a new perspective as the first Latin American and the first Asian American to a previously all-white top leadership group that helps make church policy, the Fox News website reports today (June 30, 2018).

Ulisses Soares of Brazil and Gerrit Gong, a Chinese American, made the comments during their first media interviews since being chosen for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' leadership panel called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles earlier this year.

Soares, 59, said the religion's direction won't change because that is always led by Jesus Christ, but he said he and Gong can enhance the church's capacity to meet the needs of an increasingly global religion that now has more than half of its 16 million members outside the United States.

Gong, 64, was born in Redwood City, California, but his grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from China. "The more places we go, the more people we understand and meet with, the greater we see that love which is a universal love," Gong said.

Friday, June 29, 2018

EU Agrees to Set Up Migrant Centers in Africa; Due to Huge No. of Migrants Engulfing Europe

The European Union today (June 29, 2018) agreed to set up processing centers in African countries to try to cut off the huge flow of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea, according to The Trumpet website.

Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian chancellor in coalition with the far-right, hailed the change as a victory for anti-immigrant governments who blame the EU's liberal asylum system for fueling a migrant influx.

"It seems as if today we will manage a shift in migration policy," Kurz said. "That's important because we have asked for a systemic change for years. For years we have demanded reductions in the number of people coming to Europe illegally..."

In a concession to populist and anti-immigration governments, the EU agreed to begin work on setting up refugee processing centers outside Europe in countries such as Libya, Tunisia, and Morocco.

Exclusive:US Writing Plan to Bar Migrant Asylum; Regulation Would Bar Asylum for Illegal Entrants

The Department of Justice, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is drafting a plan that would totally overhaul asylum policy in the U.S., the Vox website reports exclusively today (June 29, 2018).

Under the plan, people would be barred from getting asylum if they came into the U.S. between ports of entry and were prosecuted for illegal entry.

It would also add presumptions that would make it extremely difficult for Central Americans to qualify for asylum.

Vox has confirmed that the regulation is in the process of being evaluated, and has seen a copy of a draft of the regulation.

Susan Sarandon Arrested at DC Anti-Trump Rally; Among 575 Women Protesting Immigration Policy

Susan Sarandon was among 575 women arrested in Washington, D.C. yesterday after they staged a sit-in protest against Donald Trump's zero-tolerance immigration policy inside a Senate office at the Department of Justice, The Guardian website reports today (June 29, 2018).

The Oscar-winning actor tweeted from the rally, at which she and fellow protesters held aloft placards demanding an end to immigration camps and declaring, "We care" -- a reference to the controversial jacket worn by first lady Melania Trump when visiting a detainment center last week.

There were chants of "What do we want? Free families!" before the women were arrested, charged, and then released.

Sarandon has encountered hostility since Trump's election, with many blaming her for suggesting people vote for a third-party candidate, Green party nominee Jill Stein, thus reducing the number of ballots cast for Democratic party candidate Hillary Clinton.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Migrant Ship Stranded in Med. Docks in Malta; Malta PM Impounds Ship,Probes Crew Legality

A rescue ship stranded in the Mediterranean Sea for days amid an international row over its fate has docked in Malta, the Sky News website reports today (June 28, 2018).

The 234 migrants on board the ship had been rescued in the Mediterranean last week.

Joseph Muscat, Malta's prime minister, said the ship would be allowed to dock, but would be impounded and its crew placed under investigation for operating illegally.

Migrants crowded the deck, wearing orange life jackets, and waved as they entered the port of Valletta under escort by a Maltese patrol boat.

Russian Air Strikes Kill 22 Civilians in South Syria; Air Strikes Hit the Rebel-Held Town of Al-Mseifra

A barrage of Russian air strikes on rebel-held areas of southern Syria killed 22 civilians today June 28, 2018), according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

At least 35 Russian air strikes hit the town of Al-Mseifra, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

"One of them hit a basement where people were taking shelter, killing 17 civilians, including five children," the Britain-based monitor said.

The Observatory says it determines who carried out particular strikes based on the type of aircraft and munitions used, the locations, and the flight patterns.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Polish Govt. Lightens Disputed Holocaust Law; Voids Prison for Blaming Poles for Nazi Crimes

Polish lawmakers passed changes to a disputed Holocaust speech law today (June 27, 2018), removing criminal provisions for attributing Nazi crimes to Poles, according to the Fox News website.

The amendments passed 388 to 25 with five abstentions following an emotional session in the Sejm, the lower house of parliament.

 The original version of the law -- which was passed earlier this year -- called for prison terms of up to three years for accusing the Polish nation of Holocaust crimes that were committed by Nazi Germany.

The original law sparked a major diplomatic crisis with Israel, where many felt it was an attempt to whitewash episodes of Polish violence against Jews during World War II.

Supreme Court Delivers Trauma to Labor Unions; Non-Union Workers Can't Be Forced to Pay Dues

The U.S. Supreme Court today (June 27, 2018) dealt a big blow to labor unions, ruling that non-members cannot be forced to pay fees to unions representing public employees -- such as teachers and police officers -- thus shutting off a key union revenue source, according to the Reuters website.

The 5-4 ruling overturned a 1977 Supreme Court precedent that had permitted these so-called "agency fees," which have been collected from millions of workers who opt not to join unions.

Forcing non-members to pay these fees to unions whose views they may oppose violates their rights to free speech and free association under the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment, the court ruled.

"States and public-sector unions may no longer extract agency fees from non-consenting employees," the court wrote.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Trump Plans to Merge Depts. of Ed. and Labor; Merger Would Lead to "Ed.-to-Career Pipeline"

As part of his plan to "make the federal government more responsive and accountable to the American people," President Donald Trump has announced his intention to merge the federal Departments of Labor and Education, The New American website reports today (June 26, 2018).

"Billions and billions of dollars are being wasted on activities that are not delivering results for hardworking American taxpayers," the president said in a statement.

Combining these two federal agencies will, the president promises, "better meet the needs of American workers and students."

Ultimately, the president would like to "better integrate education and workforce programs" so as to "increase efficiencies and better serve American workers," all of which would be facilitated by the new department (called the Department of Education and the Workforce) and would culminate in the construction of an "education-to-career pipeline."

Supreme Court Upholds Trump's Travel Ban; Rules Pres.Justified to Back National Security

The U.S. Supreme Court today (June 26, 2018) handed Donald Trump one of the biggest victories of his presidency by upholding his travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries, and rejecting the idea that it represented unconstitutional religious discrimination, the Global News website reports.

The 5-4 ruling ends a fierce fight in the courts over whether the policy represented an unlawful Muslim ban.

Chief Justice Roberts said that the government "has set forth a sufficient national security justification" to prevail.

The ruling affirms broad presidential authority over who is allowed to enter the U.S. The current ban prohibits entry into the U.S. of people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, but Trump now has the authority to add more countries to the travel ban.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Arab Leaders Back US Peace Plan without Abbas; Fed Up with Abbas Rejectionism,Seek Peace Deal

Arab nations informed U.S. President Donald Trump's Middle East envoys that they would back a U.S.  peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians regardless of whether Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas agrees to discuss it, the World Israel News website reports today (June 25, 2018).

Senior officials in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates met with White House adviser Jared Kushner and U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt recently, and conveyed this message.

They also said they have become fed up with Abbas' rejectionism. However, they made it clear that they would not be party to any deal that compromised Palestinian interests.

An enraged Abbas has declared he would refuse to meet with Trump's envoys, because Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December and relocated the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Pope Rips "Spiritual Virus" of Selfish Thinking; Calls for Integrated Ecology That Considers Life

Speaking to members of the Vatican's pro-life think-tank today (June 25, 2018), Pope Francis condemned the "spiritual virus" of thinking only of oneself and called for the promotion of an integral ecology that considers life in a globalized world without forgetting our differences, according to the Crux website.

"By excluding the other from our horizon, life holds onto itself and becomes a consumer good," the pope said.

He added, "It spreads a spiritual virus that is very contagious, condemning us to be man-mirrors and woman-mirrors that only see themselves and nothing else."

"Christian wisdom must reopen, with passion and audacity, the reflection on the destination of human beings toward the life of God, who promised to open the love of life, beyond death, the infinite horizon of loving beings of light, with no more tears," Francis concluded.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Erdogan Named Winner in Turkey's Pres.Election; New Govt. Confirms Erdogan as Powerful Dictator

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was proclaimed the winner in today's (June 24, 2018) presidential election that ushers in a government system granting the president sweeping new powers, which critics say will cement a one-man rule, according to the ABC News website.

Today's presidential vote and a parliamentary election completed Turkey's transition from a parliamentary system to a presidential one.

Erdogan, 64, insisted the expanded powers of the Turkish presidency will bring prosperity and stability to the country.

Some 50,000 people have been arrested and 110,000 civil servants have been fired as a result of a  military coup in 2016 that failed to overthrow Erdogan. Opposition lawmakers say Erdogan has used the failed coup to stifle dissent, as his state of emergency imposed after the coup remains in place.

Legal at Last! Women Can Drive in Saudi Arabia; Still Need a Male Guardian to Carry on Activities

Today (June 24, 2018) is the first day that women are allowed to legally drive in Saudi Arabia, as a result of a change announced last September in a surprise move by King Salman, according to the Clarion Project website.

Women in Saudi Arabia also recently won the "rights" to attend soccer matches and join the army and intelligence services.

However, women in the kingdom are still denied many basic rights. A woman still needs the permission of a male guardian (a woman's father, brother, husband, or even her son) to: get medical care, attend school, have a job, open a bank account, get a passport, travel abroad, marry or divorce.

Also, after a divorce, it is almost impossible for a woman in the kingdom to obtain custody of her children, as her former husband has this "right."

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Italy Adopts New Tough Stance against Migrants; Vows Migrant Boats Won't Ever Touch Italy Again

Italy took a new tough stance against migrants yesterday, insisting it could not take "one more" refugee, the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website reports today (June 23, 2018).

"We cannot take in one more person," Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said.

"Italian ports are no longer at the disposal of traffickers. Open the Maltese ports. Open the French ports," Salvini added.

Also, in a Facebook post on June 21, Salvini vowed that NGO boats will never touch Italian soil again."

Iraqi Airstrike Kills 45 IS Members in E. Syria; Airstrike Executed with OK of Syrian Govt.,US

An Iraqi airstrike in eastern Syria has killed 45 members of the Islamic State (IS), the VOA News website reports today (June 23, 2018).

Iraq's Joint Operational Command said warplanes launched an assault on three houses yesterday in the town of Hajin, where IS leaders were meeting.

Iraq has launched several aerial attacks against IS in Syria since last year.

Yesterday's airstrike was executed with the approval of the Syrian government and the U.S.-led coalition.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Terrorist Attacks on Israelis Reach 2.5 Yr. High; May's 365 Attacks Are Most Since October 2015

May saw the highest number of terrorist attacks in 2.5 years against Israelis, following an increase of almost 40 percent from the 223 incidents recorded in April, the Israel National News website reports today (June 22, 2018).

Of the 365 attacks recorded in May, 271 involved firebombs, the Israel Security Agency said in its monthly report.

The increase occurred in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, as well as along Israel's border with Gaza.

The tally for May is the highest on record since October 2015, when 620 attacks were recorded.

Supreme Court Backs Privacy of Cellphone Users; Police Now Need a Warrant to Explore Cellphones

Police suffered a digital age defeat today (June 22, 2018), as the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 that a warrant will be needed to search cellphones, according to the Fox News website.

Chief Justice John Roberts cast the deciding vote.

At issue is whether the Constitution's Fourth Amendment requires a search warrant for the government to access a person's cellphone history.

The stakes of this case were enormous, since this judicial precedent could be applied more broadly, including government access to Internet, bank, credit card, and telephone records.

UN Study: 40M People in US Now Live in Poverty; US Tax Policies Benefit the Rich, Hamper the Poor

A study for the UN Human Rights Council has concluded 40 million people in the U.S. live in poverty -- and more than half of those live in "extreme" or "absolute" poverty -- the UPI website reports today (June 22, 2018).

The 20-page report says U.S. policies benefit the rich and promote poverty. This situation appears to support economist Karl Marx's theory that under capitalism, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

"The United States has the highest income inequality in the Western world, and this can only be made worse by the massive new tax cuts overwhelmingly benefiting the wealthy," the report states.

The report also criticizes President Donald Trump's $1.5 trillion tax cut package, saying it overwhelmingly benefits the wealthy and worsens the situation of the poor.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Mil.May Provide Beds for 20K Detained Children; Four Bases Expected to Furnish Barracks Support

The Pentagon is being asked by the Department of Health and Human Services to provide temporary beds for up to 20,000 undocumented children, the NPR (National Public Radio) website reports today (June 21, 2018).

Four bases are expected to provide space, including the Army's Fort Bliss base in El Paso, Texas. It is uncertain if there would be enough barracks, so tents may have to be put up.

The space could be used for the family detention ordered this week by the Trump administration.

The Pentagon is also being asked to provide 21 attorneys to help the Department of Justice to prosecute undocumented immigrant cases in California, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico.

First Lady in Surprise Visit to Migrant Kids; Melania in TX to Reunite Kids with Families

President Trump has revealed that first lady Milania Trump is currently on a surprise trip to the U.S.-Mexico border to meet apprehended illegal immigrant children, the Daily Caller website reports today (June 21, 2018).

"First Lady Melania Trump has arrived in Texas to take part in briefings and tours at a nonprofit social services center for children who have entered the U.S. illegally..." her office said.

"Her goals are to thank law enforcement and social services providers for their hard work, lend support, and hear more on how the administration can build upon the already existing efforts to reunite children with their families."

"She's seen the images. She's heard the recordings... She was concerned about it," her spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Israel Experiences Worst Rocket Attack in 4 Yrs.; Hamas Fired 45 Rockets,Israel Hits Hamas Sites

Israeli communities surrounding the Gaza Strip last night came under a massive barrage of rockets fired by Palestinian terrorists, causing a prompt response by Israel's Air Force (IAF), which bombed Hamas targets in Gaza, the United with Israel website reports today (June 20, 2018).

Gaza-based terrorists fired some 45 rockets at Israeli communities -- the worst rocket attack on Israel in four years -- setting off sirens throughout the night and sending thousands of civilians running for cover.

Three projectiles fell within Israeli communities, causing material damage to cars and buildings. No one was injured in the attacks.

In response, IAF fighter jets targeted 25 Hamas military targets throughout the Gaza Strip, including an underground training compound and a cement factory belonging to the terror group.

Trump's Executive Order Ends Family Separation; Lets Families of Illegal Migrants Remain Together

President Trump said today (June 20, 2018) that he is preparing to issue an executive order soon that ends the separation of families at the Mexican border by indefinitely detaining parents and children together, according to the NY Times website.

Incidents of children being taken from their parents and images of teenagers in cage-like detention facilities have exploded into a full-blown political crisis for Trump, as critics have called the practice "inhumane" and "evil."

Trump has for weeks refused to end the government's "zero tolerance" policy that led to the separation of more than 2,300 children from their parents, saying the alternative would greatly  increase the number of illegal immigrants entering the U.S.

But the president -- furious about the criticism he has taken in recent days -- has decided to resolve the crisis.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Trump Vows US Won't Become "Migrant Camp;" Illegal Migrants Crossing Mexican Border Seized

President Donald Trump vowed yesterday that the U.S. would not become a "migrant camp" as he faced mounting pressure to stop families being separated as a deterrent to illegal immigration, The Globe Post website reports today (June 19, 2018).

"The United States will not be a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility," Trump said.

"You look at what's happening in Europe, you look at what's happening in other places, we can't allow that to happen to the United States," he added.

About 2,000 children have been separated from their parents or guardians over six weeks, since the Trump administration announced that all migrants illegally crossing the Mexican border would be arrested, regardless of whether the adults were seeking asylum.

Haley Says US to Quit UN Human Rights Council; Says It's "an Org. That Is Not Worthy of Its Name"

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said today (June 19, 2018) that the U.S. is withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council, calling it "an organization that is not worthy of its name," according to the AP website.

Haley is President Donald Trump's envoy to the United Nations.

She says a year ago she made clear the U.S. would stay in the council only if "essential reforms were achieved." She adds it's clear those calls for change were not heeded.

Haley is decrying the membership of countries like China, Cuba, and Venezuela that are themselves accused of rights violations. She says the council also has a "chronic bias against Israel."

Monday, June 18, 2018

FYROM Name Change Kindles Violence in Skopje; Due to New Name of Republic of North Macedonia

There were violent scenes last night in Skopje, the capital of FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), as a result of FYROM's deal with Greece to change its name to the "Republic of North Macedonia," the Euro News website reports today (June 18, 2018).

Protesters threw flares, rocks, and bottles at police outside the national parliament and chanted "Macedonia, Macedonia." Officers responded with tear gas and flash grenades. Seven police officers were injured.

Since 1991 -- when FYROM became an independent nation from Yugoslavia -- Greece has argued that by using the name Macedonia the country was laying claim to a bordering northern Greek province of the same name. The Greek province of Macedonia is also the birthplace of the great Greek ruler, Alexander the Great.

The deal to change FYROM's name was signed by the two nations' foreign ministers on Greece's northern border yesterday, witnessed by leaders of both countries. As part of the agreement, once the deal is fully cleared in Skopje, Greece will end all objections to the renamed nation joining the European Union (EU).

Airstrike Kills 52 Pro-Regime Soldiers in Syria; Damascus Accuses US-Led Coalition for Attack

An airstrike killed more than 50 pro-regime fighters last night in eastern Syria -- most of them foreign -- with the U.S.-led coalition denying accusations from Damascus it was behind the attack, the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website reports today (June 18, 2018).

The airstrike just before midnight hit Al-Hari, a town controlled by regional militias fighting in the complex seven-year war on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 52 pro-regime forces were killed in one of the deadliest air attacks in recent months.

Among those killed were at least 30 Iraqi fighters and 16 Syrians. There are Iraqi, Iranian, Lebanese, and even Afghan fighters stationed in the area. Israel is believed to be responsible for the airstrike.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Pope Compares Abortion to Nazi Purity Practices; Says Children Must Be Welcomed as Sent by God

Pope Francis blasted the practice of terminating pregnancies in cases of fetal defects and compared abortion to "what the Nazis did to ensure the purity of the race," The Daily Beast website reports today (June 17, 2018).

The pontiff offered harsh remarks yesterday on the state of today's families.

"Children should be welcomed the way they come, the way God ends them to us, the way God allows, even if sometimes they are ill," he said.

The pope also slammed the concept of nontraditional families, insisting that "only one" kind of family should be accepted: that between "man and woman." Pope Francis' current view on families appears to be much stricter than it was a few years ago when he answered a question on gays being able to belong to the Catholic Church with "Who am I to judge?"

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Spain Accepts 471 Migrants from North Africa; Retrieves Four Drowned Bodies from Med. Sea

Spain's maritime service said yesterday it picked up 471 migrants from more than 50 boats trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa, the Euro News website reports today (June 16, 2018).

Also, four drowned bodies were retrieved from the Mediterranean.

Thick fog is complicating efforts to find three more boats believed to be east of the Strait of Gibraltar.

More than 35,000 migrants have reached Europe so far this year, with over 10,000 arriving in Spain.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Some 2,000 Kids Ripped from Families at Border; Atty. Gen.: No Tolerance for Unlawful Immigrants

According to Homeland Security figures, some 1,995 minors were taken at the U.S.-Mexican border from 1,949 adults between April 19 and May 31, The Daily Beast website reports today ( June 15, 2018).

These separations follow Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement of his "zero tolerance" policy for undocumented immigrants at the border, which mandates that anyone attempting to cross the border illegally will be seized and prosecuted.

"If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law," Sessions said on June 11.

He added, "If you don't like that, then don't smuggle children over our border."

Asian Americans File Lawsuit against Harvard U.; Admissions Dept. Cut Down Their Personal Traits

Harvard consistently rated Asian American applicants lower than any other race on personal traits -- like "positive personality," likability, courage, kindness, and being "widely respected" -- according to an analysis of more than 160,000 student records filed today (June 15, 2018) in federal court in Boston by a group representing Asian American students in a lawsuit against the university, according to the NY Times website.

Asian Americans scored higher than applicants of any other racial or ethnic group on admissions measures, including test scores, grades, and extracurricular activities, according to the analysis commissioned by a group that opposes all race-based admissions criteria.

Nonetheless, the discriminatory personal ratings of the Asian American applicants significantly dragged down their chances of being admitted, the analysis found.

The lawsuit charges Harvard with systematically discriminating against Asian Americans, in violation of civil rights law. The suit brought by Students for Fair Admissions says that Harvard imposes what is in effect a soft quota of "racial balancing." This keeps the numbers of Asian Americans artificially low, while advancing less qualified white, black, and Hispanic applicants, the plaintiffs contend.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Russia Slams Norway for Requesting US Marines; Threatens Revenge for More Troops on Its Border

Russia today (June 14, 2018) accused Norway of causing a spike in tensions after Oslo requested hundreds of additional U.S. Marines to be stationed along the border of the two countries, according to The Hill website.

The Russian Embassy in Norway called the request "clearly unfriendly, and it will not remain without consequences."

"This makes Norway less predictable and could cause growing tensions, triggering an arms race and destabilizing the situation in northern Europe," the Russian Embassy said.

Oslo is expected to ask the U.S. to send 700 Marines in 2019, Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide said earlier this week. The additional troops would be based near the border with Russia, in an effort to discourage a Russian attack.

EU Agrees to Scrutinize Poland's Court System; Fears Poland Is Breaching the Ind. of Its Courts

The EU (European Union) has agreed to launch hearings into fears Poland is breaching the independence of its courts, The Globe Post website reports today (June 14, 2018).

The European Commission -- the EU's executive arm -- said it had asked the 28 member states to hold a formal hearing after Poland's right-wing government had failed to satisfy its concerns.

Ambassadors from the EU countries agreed yesterday the first of several hearings will take place on June 26 when European affairs ministers meet in Luxembourg.

Brussels in December triggered so-called article seven proceedings against Poland over "systemic threats" to the rule of law, which could eventually see Warsaw's EU voting rights suspended.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Hungary MP Wants Homelessness to Be Unconst.; Would Ban Homeless from Living in Public Spaces

Hungarian Member of Parliament (MP) Istvan Bajkai sees homelessness in Hungary as becoming a thing of the past, if his proposed law to make homelessness unconstitutional is taken on by the government, the Euro News website reports today (June 13, 2018).

Bajkai, who previously worked as Prime Minister Viktor Orban's lawyer, wants to amend the country's constitution to ban homeless people from living and sleeping in public spaces.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Bajkai said homeless people were becoming a "burden" on city dwellers and were dragging down Budapest's image as Hungary's cultural, economic, and political capital.

He added that sleeping rough shouldn't be necessary, as everyone without a home is guaranteed shelter and support services -- including day centers -- and night-time accommodations are widely available.

Pope: Young People's Worst Danger Is Mediocrity; Says Mediocre Person Has No Future, Won't Grow

Pope Francis said today (June 13, 2018) that the greatest danger modern youth face is not the array of problems that surround them, but rather the temptation to mediocrity -- preferring to stay immobile rather than making a leap toward the next step -- according to the Crux website.

Many young people today seek life, but end up destroying themselves by pursuing worldly desires, Francis said, noting that some people would say it is better "to turn this impulse off, the impulse to live, because it's dangerous."

Francis added, "The greatest danger for young people is a bad spirit of adaption, which is not meekness or humility, but mediocrity, timidity."

A young person who is mediocre has no future, the pope said, explaining that "they don't grow, they won't be successful" because they are "afraid of everything."

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Uber Driver Fired for Ousting Kissing Lesbians; Taxi Commission Labels Ousting Discrimination

An Uber driver has been fired and had his license suspended for discrimination after he forced two kissing women to get out of his car, the Sky News website reports today (June 12, 2018).

The lesbian couple -- Alex Lovine and Emma Pichl -- were traveling from Brooklyn to Manhattan on June 9 when they exchanged what they described as a "peck" on the lips. The two women have been living together for two years.

They claimed the driver, Ahmad El Boutari, kicked them out of the car for kissing.

Allen Fromberg, spokesman for the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, said that what the driver had done was "unacceptable and repugnant" and "will not be tolerated."

Greece OKs Republic of North Macedonia Name; New Name Halts Years of Greece-FYROM Feuds

Greece and FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) have reached a historic accord to resolve a dispute over the former Yugoslav republic's name that has troubled relations between the two countries for decades, the Reuters website reports today (June 12, 2018).

"We have a deal," Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said. "I'm happy because we have a good deal which covers all the preconditions set by the Greek side," he said during a televised meeting. The new name for FYROM is "Republic of North Macedonia."

The dispute over the "Macedonia" name had been a thorn in relations between the two countries at least since 1991, when Macedonia broke away from former Yugoslavia, declaring its independence under the name Republic of Macedonia.

Greece, which has a northern province also called Macedonia bordering on the ex-Yugoslav republic, objected to the name, demanding it be changed. Macedonia was also the birthplace of the famous Greek ruler, Alexander the Great.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Poll Shows Deep Split between Israelis, US Jews; Israelis Tend to Back Pres.Trump,US Jews Don't

An opinion poll published yesterday shows deep divisions between Israelis and American Jews, particularly in relation to President Donald Trump, highlighting the growing rift between the world's two largest Jewish communities, the AP website reports today (June 11, 2018).

The survey of the American Jewish Committee showed 77 percent of Israelis approved of Trump's handling of U.S.-Israeli relations, while only 34 percent of American Jews did.

Fifty-seven percent of U.S. Jews disapproved, while only 10 percent of Israelis did.

Also, eighty-five percent of Israelis supported Trump's embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, while only 46 percent of American Jews did.

Spain Opens Port to 629 Migrants in Med. Sea; Italy,Malta Disallowed Boat from Libya to Dock

Spain agreed to open its port today (June 11, 2018) to a boat carrying more than 600 migrants after it was left stranded in the Mediterranean Sea, according to the UPI website.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez gave instructions today for Spain to offer a "safe port" to the vessel Aquarius after officials in Italy and Malta refused to allow the boat to dock.

"It is our obligation to help avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and offer a safe port to these people, as such meeting with the obligations of international law," Sanchez said.

The ship was carrying at least 629 people, including more than 100 children, picked up during six rescue operations off the coast of Libya.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Italy, Malta Won't Allow Migrant Vessel to Dock; Boat of 629 Refugees Stuck between Malta, Sicily

Hundreds of people on board a migrant rescue boat from Libya have been stranded in the Mediterranean Sea between Italy and Malta in a standoff between the two nations, with both refusing to allow the vessel to dock, the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website reports today (June 10, 2018).

Some 629 people -- including pregnant women and scores of children -- are stuck aboard the French NGO's ship Aquarius, which is currently between Malta and Sicily waiting for a secure port.

Malta today reiterated its refusal to accept the ship, ignoring calls from Rome.

Italy's hardline interior minister Matteo Salvini -- in a joint statement with Danilo Toninelli, minister in charge of the Italian coastguard -- insisted that Malta "cannot continue to look the other way when it comes to respecting precise international conventions on the protection of human life."

Giuliani: PA Has Become a "Murder Machine;" Says US Can Cut Terrorism by Not Funding PA

Rudy Giuliani, US President Donald Trump's lawyer, said last week that if the American government cares about the lives of its citizens, it will stop supporting a "murder machine, which is what the Palestinian Authority (PA) has become," the World Israel News website reports today (June 10, 2018).

In an interview with Palestinian Media Watch during a visit to Israel, Giuliani said the U.S. should not give the PA any money and not just restrict the use of money, "because money is fungible."

"So if they get money for one purpose," Giuliani said, "they just don't use it for that purpose and they move it over to paying terrorists for killing Americans, because many of these terrorists have killed Americans as well as Israelis and citizens of other countries."

Giuliani noted that the PA pays terrorists who are convicted of terrorism and their families and that this is "an absolute human rights outrage and a crime in and of itself."

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Vatican Seeks to Refine Amazon Priest Shortage; May Let Married Men Be Priests in Amazon Area

The Vatican called for courageous proposals yesterday to cope with a shortage of priests in the Amazon region, and said it wouldn't rule out debate on whether married men could step in to fill the "precariously-thin  presence" of the Catholic Church in the vast South American region, the ABC News website reports today (June 9, 2018).

In a preparatory document seeking input from South American bishops for the Vatican's 2019 meeting on the Amazon, organizers also said the church must identify new "official ministries" for women to play in the region.

The call was not a suggestion for women priests, which Catholic doctrine forbids and Pope Francis has reaffirmed.

But it leaves open the door to making official some ministries that women in remote parts of Latin America already perform, including celebrating baptisms.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Court Rules "In God We Trust" Not Rel. Assent; Phrase Is "Historical Reminder" of US Heritage

A federal court has ruled that printing "In God We Trust" on U.S. currency doesn't amount to a religious endorsement and therefore doesn't violate the U.S. Constitution, the ABC News website reports today (June 8, 2018).

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals in Chicago made the ruling yesterday in a lawsuit brought by self-declared Satanist, Kenneth Mayle. He argued the motto propagates a religious view he opposes.

A lower court tossed the suit citing a Supreme Court decision that a motto on currency isn't something people display prominently and thus that people are not forced to publicly advertise views that clash with their own.

Mayle appealed to restore the suit, but the 7th Circuit Court refused, describing the phrase as a "historical reminder" of the nation's heritage.

Airstrike on Rebel-Held Syrian Area Kills 35; Occurred in Idlib,Most Populated Rebel Area

A rebel-held village in northwestern Syria was attacked yesterday in an airstrike shortly after Muslims broke their Ramadan fast after sunset, the Fox News website reports today (June 8, 2018).

The attack killed at least 35 and wounded dozens, including children.

The airstrike occurred in the rebel-held province of Idlib, which is part of a de-escalation zone agreed on last year by Russia, Turkey, and Iran.

Tens of thousands of Syrians displaced from other parts of the country have settled in Idlib province  over the past two years, making it the largest populated area of Syria out of the government's control.

Austria to Close 7 Pol. Mosques, Expel Imams; Due to Foreign Funding,Radical Islam Backing

Austria said today (June 8, 2018) it will close down seven politically-oriented mosques and expel dozens of imams who it says are funded by foreign countries, according to the BBC website.

The Austrian government said 60 of the 260 imams in the country are being investigated, of whom 40 belong to ATIB, an Islamic organization in Austria close to the Turkish government.

"Parallel societies, political Islam, and radicalization tendencies have no place in our country," said Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz today.

The Gallipoli re-enactment performance took place in a Vienna mosque reported to be run by ATIB. The World War I battle -- one of the last victories of the Ottoman Empire -- stopped Allied forces from reaching its capital, Constantinople.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Israeli PM Asserts Assad Is "No Longer Immune;" Says Israel Will Destroy Syrian Forces If Attacked

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime is "no longer immune" from retaliation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned today (June 7, 2018) during a visit to London, according to the Israel National News website.

"He is no longer immune, his regime is no longer immune. If he fires at us, we will destroy his forces," Netanyahu said.

"I think there is a new calculus that has to take place and Syria has to understand that Israel will not tolerate the Iranian military entrenchment in Syria against Israel," he added.

"The consequences are not merely to the Iranian forces there but to the Assad regime as well," Netanyahu asserted.

UMC Minnesota Removes "Father" from Prayers; Does So to Refer to God in Gender-Free Language

The Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church edited the historic Apostles' Creed so that it removed references to God as "Father" for a worship service, the Christian Post website reports today (June 7, 2018).

At the Minnesota Conference -- held from May 30 to June 1 -- liturgical folders included a copy of the creed that removed gender-specific language for God, changing "God the Father Almighty" to "God the Creator Almighty" and "Jesus Christ His Only Son" to "Jesus Christ God's Only Son."

The Rev. Keith Mcilwain, pastor of Slippery Rock Methodist Church in the Western Pennsylvania Conference, took issue with the editing, explaining that it "fails to affirm the classical ecumenically-supported understanding of the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which teaches us that God has been revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."

"No United Methodist individual or body has the authority to edit those creeds which were formulated by the early Church and have helped define orthodox Christianity for the better part of 2,000 years," Mcilwain said.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Orth. Christian Head Hosts Climate Conference; Patriarch Bartholomew Seeks Aid of Rel.Leaders

The spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians arrived on the Greek island of Spetses today (June 6, 2018) to host an environmental conference to seek backing from other religious leaders in a global campaign to take action against climate change, according to the Fox News website.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew -- nicknamed "the Green Patriarch" for his support of environmental causes -- inaugurated the two-day conference.

The meeting comes just over a year after President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the U.S. from the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Senior environmental experts are attending the event on the island about 60 miles southwest of Athens.

Woman Who Claimed Being Raped Admits Lying; Pleads Guilty to False Report,Gets 1 Year in Prison

A young Long Island woman, who spent over a year insisting that she was raped by two Sacred Heart University football players, officially admitted in court yesterday that she has been lying the entire time, the NY Post website reports today (June 6, 2018).

Nikki Yovino, 19, pleaded guilty to charges of falsely reporting an incident and interfering with police.

The former college student accepted a plea deal, and will now serve a reduced sentence of one year in prison. She had been facing six years in prison, but agreed to plead guilty just as her false rape trial was about to begin.

Yovino had claimed that the two football players took turns raping her in a bathroom of an off-campus house party. While both men admitted to having sex with Yovino, they said the sex was completely consensual.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Trump Aide Who Mocked McCain's Cancer Gone; Kelly Sadler Joked "It Doesn't Matter,He's Dying"

A Trump communications aide, who joked about U.S. Senator John McCain's battle with brain cancer, is no longer employed by the White House, the Reuters website reports today (June 5, 2018).

During an internal meeting last month, White House aide Kelly Sadler dismissed McCain's objection to President Trump's pick for CIA director saying "It doesn't matter, he's dying anyway."

"Kelly Sadler is no longer employed within the Executive Office of the President," White House spokesman Raj Shah said in a statement today.

McCain, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer last year, had released a statement after CIA nominee Gina Haspel's Senate confirmation hearing, denouncing her for refusing to condemn torture of prisoners. He recommended that his fellow senators vote against her, but the Senate confirmed Haspel 54 to 45.

Anti-Semitic Graffiti Posted at UCal.-San Diego; Letters Resembled Swastikas on Hillel Ctr. Sign

Threatening anti-Semitic graffiti was written on a sign announcing the future home of the University of California-San Diego Hillel Jewish Center, the Times of Israel website reports today (June 5, 2018).

The vulgar graffiti was discovered yesterday in letters which resembled Nazi swastikas. Hillel members washed off the graffiti.

"I was disappointed. I was sad. I grew up here in  La Jolla..." Hillel Center executive director Rabbi David Singer said.

"There are opponents out there. There are those who don't like us. There are those who don't want us, but we are heartened by the hundreds of community members, of administrators, of friends across this country who support Hillel and the work we do with students," Singer added.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Trump Cancels Eagles Visit over Anthem Dispute; Due to Some Players Not Standing during Anthem

President Donald Trump today (June 4, 2018) called off a visit by the Philadelphia Eagles to the White House, citing the refusal of some players to stand during the playing of the national anthem, according to the Newsmax website.

Trump said that some members of the Super Bowl championship team "disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country."

Instead, Trump said he would be hosting "a different type of ceremony," featuring the U.S. Marine Band and the U.S. Army Chorus, that "will honor our great country, pay tribute to the heroes who fought to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the National Anthem."

The NFL recently announced a new policy requiring players to stand for the anthem if they are on the field before a game, but gave them the option of staying in the locker room if they do not want to stand.

Man Nabbed for Vandalizing Eruv in Sharon, MA; Eruvs Set Up Boundaries Used by Jews on Sabbath

A local man was arrested a day after police in Sharon, Massachusetts posted on Facebook that the suburban Boston community's eruv had been repeatedly vandalized during the past few weeks, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (June 4, 2018).

Yerachmiel Taube, 28, was arrested on June 2 on charges of malicious destruction of property, destruction to a religious organization, interference with civil rights, and disorderly conduct.

According to Jewish law, an eruv is an artificial boundary that allows Jews to push and carry objects outside their homes on the Sabbath and holy days. The eruv is made up of a series of poles and ropes.

A police post says: "The eruv has served as a critical piece of infrastructure for the Jewish community by creating a sense of togetherness for hundreds of households in the Town of Sharon."

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Pope Calls on Mobster-Plagued Town to Back Law; Encourages People in Ostia to Denounce Mobsters

Pope Francis today (June 3, 2018) urged residents of a mobster-plagued Rome suburb to be courageous and side with the law, according to the Fox News website.

Francis celebrated an outdoor Mass this evening in Ostia, a seaside town. In his homily, he encouraged people to "knock down" the walls of social codes that discourage people from denouncing mobsters.

In 2015, Ostia's municipal administration was put under Italian government control because of infiltration by local crime clans. Authorities have accused them of slayings, extortion, drug-trafficking, and loan-sharking in Ostia.

The pope also decried abuse of power and arrogance, saying people must embrace "justice, decorum, and lawfulness."

Work Begins on US-Mexico Wall in San Diego; Will Be 18-30 Feet High,Mend Border Security

A key segment of the planned border wall between the U.S. and Mexico began construction on June 1 in San Diego, about a half-mile from the Pacific Ocean, the Daily Caller website reports today (June 3, 2018).

The segment will be between 18 and 30 feet high. It's also expected to include an "anti-climbing plate." The wall is being built to prevent terrorists from entering the U.S.

"The construction of this new substantial wall will improve overall border security, the safety and effectiveness of Border Patrol agents, the safety of the public, and will enhance the atmosphere for business and commerce in the area," said Rodney Scott, chief of Customs and Border Patrol for the San Diego area.

The construction will be managed by Texas-based construction company SLSCO and is expected to cost $147 million.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

NATO Chief:NATO Won't Defend Israel in Attack; Says NATO Not Involved in Mideast Peace,Battles

NATO's secretary-general says the alliance won't come to Israel's defense in case of attack by arch enemy Iran, the NY Post website reports today (June 2, 2018).

Jens Stoltenberg told the magazine Der Spiegel in comments published today that Israel is a partner, but not a member and that NATO's "security guarantee" doesn't apply to Israel.

Stoltenberg added that NATO isn't involved in Mideast peace efforts or in conflicts in the region.

Israel and Iran have recently clashed militarily over Iran's military presence in Syria.

Assad May Use Force against US Troops in Syria; Threatens to Do So If They Don't Quit Syria Soon

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has threatened to use military force against U.S. troops in Syria if they do not withdraw from the country soon, the Reuters website reports today (June 2, 2018).

In an interview with Russia's RT international broadcaster, Assad said he would negotiate with fighters backed on the ground by Washington, but would reclaim territory they control by force if necessary.

The U.S. State Department said it was not looking to fight Syrian or Iranian forces, but would use "necessary and proportionate force" to defend U.S. and partner forces in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

Assad, who is backed by Russia and Iran, appears militarily unassailable in Syria's ongoing civil war that has killed a half million people, uprooted around 6 million people in the country, and driven another 5 million abroad as refugees.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Turkish Ambassador Returns to US after Spat; Had Left US Due to US Moving Israel Embassy

Turkey's ambassador to Washington headed back to the U.S. yesterday, after a spat over the inauguration of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website reports today (June 1, 2018).

Serdar Kilic left Ankara to resume his post after an absence of over two weeks from Washington. The absence was designed to convey Turkey's anger toward the U.S. for moving its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Kilic is scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on June 4.

Turkey recalled its ambassadors to the U.S. and Israel last month as a protest, after dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire along the Gaza border on the same day that the U.S. celebrated the opening of its embassy in Jerusalem.

Israel Rabbinical Court Rejects American Rabbis; Won't Recognize Rabbis from Bronx Orth. School

A recently discovered document reveals that Israel's rabbinical court system no longer recognizes the authority of more than 120 rabbis ordained at a modern Orthodox rabbinical school in New York, the Religion News website reports today (June 1, 2018).

The document, a letter written in March by Rabbi Asher Ehrentrteu, a senior administrator in the rabbinical court system, holds that rabbis ordained at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in the Bronx "call themselves Orthodox" but "are not recognized by the Rabbinate of Israel."

Yeshivat Chovevei Torah was established in 1999 by Rabbi Avi Weiss, who has pushed the envelope of Orthodoxy by creating rabbinical-type roles for women and launching the rabbinical school, which has been described as "Open Orthodox."

Ehrentreu's letter provides the first written proof that the court system is refusing to recognize an entire cohort of American rabbis based on where they were ordained.

Abuse Victims Receive $210M from MN Diocese; Abp:"The Church Let You Down, I'm Very Sorry"

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has reached a $210 million settlement to be dispersed among 450 survivors of alleged clergy abuse as part of its bankruptcy reorganization, the Yahoo News website reports today (June 1, 2018).

The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in 2015, two years after the Minnesota Legislature opened a three-year-window that allowed people who said they had been sexually abused in the past to sue for damages.

That resulted in hundreds of claims being filed against the archdiocese.

"I recognize that the abuse stole so much from you. Your childhood, your safety, your ability to trust and in many cases your faith... The church let you down. I am very sorry," Archbishop Bernard Hebda said in a news conference yesterday outside archdiocese offices.