Friday, August 31, 2018

Some 15K Women Sign Letter to Pope Francis; "We Deserve Your Answers Now" on Sex Abuse

A group of some 15,000 lay Catholic women signed an open letter to Pope Francis on August 30, demanding that he answer the questions raised by the recent allegations in the letter from former Vatican U.S. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the National Catholic Register website reports today (August 31, 2018).

The women are seeking answers to the questions raised in Vigano's recent letter, which accused Pope Francis and other members of the Church hierarchy of covering up sexual abuse allegations against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

Pope Francis has already told journalists that he "will not say a single word on this," indicating that he probably did cover up McCarrick's abuse.

"To your hurting flock, Pope Francis, your words are inadequate," the women wrote in the letter, addressing the pope's response. "We need leadership, truth, and transparency. We, your flock, deserve your answers now."

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Justice Dept. Backs US Asians Suing Harvard; Harvard Discriminated in Accepting US Asians

The U.S. Department of Justice today (August 30, 2018) gave its support to students who are suing Harvard University over affirmative action policies that they claim discriminate against Asian American applicants, according to the NY Times website.

In a so-called statement of interest, the department supported claims of the plaintiffs -- a group of Asian Americans rejected by Harvard.

The Asian Americans contend that Harvard has systematically discriminated against them by artificially capping the number of qualified Asian Americans from attending the school in order to accept less qualified students of other races.

"Harvard has failed to carry its demanding burden to show that its use of race does not inflict unlawful racial discrimination on Asian Americans," the Justice Department said in its filing. A trial in the case has been scheduled for October.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Iranian Troops Will Stay in Syria under New Pact; Back Syrian Army Despite Israeli Strikes on Them

Iran's military attache to Damascus said yesterday that the country's military advisers would remain in Syria under a defense agreement signed this week, the Times of Israel website reports today (August 29, 2018).

"The continued presence of Iran's advisers in Syria is one of the areas covered in the defensive-technical agreement between Tehran and Damascus," said Brigadier General Abolghasem Alinejad. 

Teheran has provided steady  political, financial, and military backing to Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has been involved in an ongoing civil war -- now in its seventh year.

Israel has vowed not to let Iran maintain a military presence in Syria and has carried out dozens of strikes in the country in order to keep Iranian forces out of Syria.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Abp Says He Told Pope of Cardinal Abuse in 2013; Urges Pope to Resign for Hiding Cardinal's Abuse

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, a former Vatican ambassador to the U.S., said he told Pope Francis about accusations of sexual abuse made against a prominent priest in 2013, but Francis took no action, the Christian Headlines website reports today (August 28, 2018).

Vigano is now urging Francis to step down as pope.

Vigano said he decided to speak out now "to combat the grave situation in the church, to protect the church, and also to stop future abuse."

Vigano recalled a conversation he had with Francis in June 2013, shortly after Francis became pope. At that time, he told the pope about crimes committed by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who resigned last month after claims came out that he sexually abused seminary students and an altar boy.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Macron:EU Cannot Depend on US for Security; View May Be Due to Trump's NATO Distancing

French President Emmanuel Macron said today (August 27, 2018) that he will put forward new proposals for the European Union (EU) to boost its security, saying the bloc must stop depending on American might, according to the Times of Israel website.

"Europe can no longer rely on the United States for its security. It is up to us to guarantee European security," he said.

His proposals will be unveiled "in the coming months," Macron told an audience of some 250 diplomats.

Macron's critical comments toward the U.S. may have been sparked by a string of gestures from U.S. President Donald Trump distancing the U.S. from NATO allies.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Afghan Leader of IS Is Killed in US Drone Strike; Leader of Bombings Killing Hundreds of Civilians

The leader of an ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) affiliate in Afghanistan, who was responsible for recent bombings that left hundreds of civilians dead, was killed in an American drone strike, the Fox News website reports today (August 26, 2018).

The deputy spokesman for Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani announced the death of ISIS leader Abu Sayeed Orakzai.

The airstrikes were launched in the Nangarhar province, near Afghanistan's border with Pakistan. Ten other ISIS fighters were also killed.

The U.S. military has doubled its air strikes in Afghanistan over the past year and increased them fivefold over 2016 levels.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Pope:Priests' Abuse Is Pain and Shame for Cath.; Does Not Address Changes in Laws to End Abuse

Pope Francis said today (August 25, 2018) that the "failure of ecclesiastical authorities" to address priests' sexual abuse has "rightly given rise to outrage," during his visit to Ireland, according to the Washington Post website.

In an address at the Dublin Castle, Francis described the "repellent crimes" and the failure to deal with them as "a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community."

But he did not discuss concrete changes in laws or transparency or address the question of the Vatican's complicity in the abuse cases.

Francis is visiting Ireland for the World Meeting of Families, a once-every-three-years gathering intended by the Vatican to strengthen family bonds.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Trump Yanks $200M in Aid to Gaza, W. Bank; Funding Not in Best Interests of US Taxpayers

The State Department announced today (August 24, 2018) that the Trump administration will revoke more than $200 million in economic aid for the West Bank and Gaza, according to the USA Today website.

The move came after a State Department review examining whether the funding was in "U.S. national interests" and of value to American taxpayers.

The State Department said it would redirect the $200 million to "high-priority projects elsewhere."

The move drew immediate fire from Democrats in Congress, who said it would roil an already volatile part of the world and undermine U.S. efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

PA School Drops Abp's Name Due to Sex Abuse; Vandals Sprayed Paint on Abp's Name at School

A Roman Catholic high school will shed the name of Washington's archbishop, who was cited in a sweeping grand jury report as having allowed priests accused of sexually abusing children to be reassigned or reinstated while he was Pittsburgh's bishop, the Religion News website reports today (August 24, 2018).

The Diocese of Pittsburgh said that Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl made the request to remove his name from Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School and that school and diocese officials accepted it.

The sign in front of the suburban Pittsburgh school was discovered vandalized earlier this week, with red spray paint obscuring Wuerl's name.

The 77-year-old Wuerl defended himself, saying he acted to protect children, promptly investigate allegations, and strengthen policies as understanding of child abuse evolved. He has said he will not resign.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Jewish Cemetery Wrecked for 2nd Time in Month; Over 30 Headstones Toppled, Shattered in Poland

A Jewish cemetery near Krakow, Poland was vandalized for the second time in less than a month, resulting in damage to dozens of headstones, the Times of Israel website reports today (August 23, 2018).

At least 30 headstones were pushed over -- some of them shattered -- in the latest incident recorded at the cemetery in Myslowice, a town located about 40 miles west of Krakow.

Some of the headstones toppled this week had been repaired following an earlier incident in which 20 headstones were shattered late last month. Police are investigating both anti-Semitic incidents.

In 2012, the Council of Europe adopted a nonbinding resolution placing responsibility for the care of Jewish cemeteries on national governments. The resolution was based in part on a report that said Jewish cemeteries are "probably" more vulnerable than other cemeteries.

Most Americans under 18 Live in Welfare Home; Food Stamps,School Lunch Program among Aids

Americans under 18 years of age are growing up in a country where the majority of their peers live in households that take financial assistance from the federal government, The New American website reports today (August 23, 2018).

That is the conclusion from the Census Bureau's latest data on poverty and government assistance.

In 2016, the population of Americans under 18 was about 73.6 million. Some 38.4 million of them -- or 52.1 percent -- lived in homes in which someone received welfare benefits.

These benefits included the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), Medicaid, public housing, Supplemental Security Income, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and the National School Lunch Program.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Cath.Go to Dublin for World Meeting of Families; Topics Include Family Life,Migration,Technology

As 750,000 Catholics gather in Dublin, Ireland for the start of the World Meeting of Families, the week is shaping up to bring an intense mix of joy, learning, and even some sadness as the long shadow of the clergy sexual abuse crisis proves inescapable, the Religion News website reports today (August 22, 2018).

On the agenda of the event -- which began on August 21 and runs through August 26 -- are workshops on topics ranging from domestic violence and migration to incarceration and personal technology.

Capping the gathering will be weekend appearances by Pope Francis at a festival featuring personal testimonies and a closing Mass on Sunday.

"Families today face many challenges in their efforts to embody faithful love, to bring up children with sound values, and to be a leaven of goodness, love and mutual concern in the larger community," Pope Francis said in a video to open the gathering.

Trump:Israel to Pay High Price for Embassy Move; Palestinians to Be Highly Rewarded in Peace Talks

In an apparent effort to convince the Palestinians to participate in upcoming peace talks, President Donald Trump said yesterday that Israel will have to pay a "high price" in peace negotiations with the Palestinians due to the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, raising consternation in Israel, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (August 22, 2018).

Addressing supporters at a rally in West Virginia yesterday, Trump praised himself for moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, saying it "should have been done years ago."

"And you know what, in the negotiation Israel will have to pay a higher price because they won a very big thing, but I took it off the table," he said. The Palestinians "could never get past the fact of Jerusalem becoming the capital, but they will get something very good next because it's their turn next."

The Trump administration has yet to reveal its Middle East peace plan, which is being developed by Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser; Jason Greenblatt, a special representative for international negotiations; David Friedman, U.S. ambassador to Israel; and Nikki Haley, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Trump Viewed as the "Most Feminist" Pres.Ever; Has Appointed Slew of Women to High Positions

While Donald Trump said on the campaign trail that he is not a feminist because he is "for everyone," many powerful ladies believe the president is indeed a feminist, citing his respect for the women who work for him and the pro-women policies of his administration, the Daily Caller website reports today (August 21, 2018).

There is no question that Trump has done some amazing things for women -- perhaps more than any other president -- while serving as President of the United States. For example, adult female unemployment hit 3.7 percent in July, 2018, the lowest rate in several decades.

Trump chose Gina Haspel to be the first woman to lead the CIA and Nikki Haley, Trump's pick for UN ambassador, has been praised for her tough demeanor with foreign leaders.

Other women that Trump has appointed to top positions include White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway, and White House director of strategic communications Mercedes Schlapp.

US Deports Last Nazi Collaborator to Germany; Jakiw Palij Was Guard at a Poland Death Camp

U.S. authorities arrested and deported to Germany today (August 21, 2018) a man they believe is the last known Nazi collaborator in the United States, according to the UPI website.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents removed Jakiw Palij, 95, from his home in New York City early today.

Palij was an armed guard at a death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II, and lied to U.S. officials about his role when he entered the U.S. after the war -- saying he worked on a farm -- Justice Department officials said.

"The United States will never be a safe haven for those who have participated in atrocities, war crimes, and human rights abuses," U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Islamic Militants Launch Attacks in Chechnya; Violence Continues in Mostly Muslim Province

Islamic militants launched a series of attacks today (August 20, 2018)  in Russia's southern province of Chechnya, leaving five militants dead and several police officers wounded, according to the VOA News website.

The violence indicated the Islamist insurgency remains active in the mostly Muslim province, despite authorities' claims that it has been eradicated.

It follows an attack on a Russian Orthodox Church in May that left four attackers, two policemen, and a churchgoer dead.

The fact is that radical Islamic militants -- some of whom have sworn allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group -- have conducted sporadic raids in Chechnya during the past year and continue to be a terrorist threat to the region.

Pope Laments on Over 1K PA Child Abuse Cases; Asserts "We Showed No Care for the Little Ones"

Pope Francis today (August 20, 2018) acknowledged the failure of the Catholic Church to act on allegations of sexual abuse by priests against children, according to the UPI website.

His unusually forceful "Letter to the People of God" referred to a Pennsylvania grand jury report last week on over 1,000 sexual abuse incidents by priests, and cover-up methods by church leaders in six Catholic dioceses in the state.

The pope said Catholic Church leaders in general share in the blame. He called on all Catholics to involve themselves in helping victims, to increase safeguards, and to end a culture of coverups.

He added, "With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones."

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Cath. Priests' Assoc. Angry with Abuse Scandals; Eternal Priest Abuse,Bishop Coverups Must End

The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests said its members are "sad, angry, and frustrated" over continued reports involving fellow priests and a lack of accountability by bishops, the Crux website reports today (August 19, 2018).

"At every level, our Church is in pain," the 1,200-member organization said August 17.

The organization cited concerns over a recent Pennsylvania grand jury report that recounts seven decades of child sex abuse claims throughout six Catholic dioceses in the state, the recent resignation of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick from the College of Cardinals over allegations he is an abuser, an investigation into alleged improper activities at a Boston seminary, and clergy abuse in Australia and Chile.

Father Bob Bonnot, chairman of the association's leadership team, said the organization's statement serves to support the vast majority of Catholic clergy who have not been accused of wrongdoing and "to raise the voice of hope and joy, a pastoral voice to those within the Church and society."

Hundreds of Neo-Nazis March in Central Berlin; Far-Right Protesters Included a Hitler Lookalike

Hundreds of neo-Nazis waving flags with the colors of the German Reich marched through central Berlin yesterday, protected from counter-protesters by police in riot gear, the Times of Israel website reports today (August 19, 2018).

Berlin police spokesman Thilo Cablitz said officers had to physically remove some left-wing demonstrators who had staged sit-down protests.

He added that stones and bottles were thrown at some of the far-right protesters, but didn't know how many people were injured.

The far-right protesters -- including an Adolf Hitler lookalike -- carried banners with slogans, including "I regret nothing."

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Police Nab 2 in Indiana Synagogue Vandalism; Conviction Could Result in a 10-Year Sentence

Police have arrested two suspects in connection with the painting of a swastika on a synagogue in Indiana, the Times of Israel website reports today (August 18, 2018).

Nolan Brewer, 20, and an unnamed co-conspirator, are suspected of painting a black swastika and the German Nazi Iron Cross last month at Shaarey Tefilla, a Conservative synagogue near Indianapolis with 200-member families.

Police said the two were caught on surveillance video purchasing red and black spray paint and bandanas from a Wal-Mart store the day before the vandalism.

A conviction of the charge of conspiracy to violate civil rights could carry a 10-year sentence.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Pentagon:China Is Training to Strike US, Allies; US-China Relations Worsened during Past Year

A Pentagon report released yesterday said China's military has expanded its border operations in recent years, while "likely training for strikes" against the U.S. and its allies, the Reuters website reports today (August 17, 2018).

The assessment highlighted China's efforts to increase its global influence, with defense spending the Pentagon estimates exceeded $190 billion in 2017.

The report comes as China and the U.S. plan to hold trade talks due to an escalating tariff conflict.

This year, U.S.-China relations deteriorated significantly, after China's air force landed bombers on disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

US Senate Adopts Resolution Backing Free Press; Trump Calls Criticizing News Stories "Fake News"

The U.S. Senate today (August 16, 2018) unanimously adopted a resolution affirming support for a free press and declaring that "the press is not the enemy of the people," according to the Euro News website.

The resolution was a rebuke to President Donald Trump who has often called reporters "the enemy of the people."

The vote comes after more than 300 U.S. newspapers today launched a coordinated defense of press freedom and rebuked Trump for denouncing some media organizations as enemies of the American people.

Trump has frequently criticized journalists and described news reports that contradict his opinion or policy positions as "fake news."

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

UK Police ID Sudanese Muslim as Parl. Terrorist; Salih Khater Drove His Car into Crowd,Parl. Gate

British authorities have identified a Sudanese national Muslim as the man they say was behind the terrorist strike at London's Houses of Parliament yesterday, the UPI website reports today (August 15, 2018).

Metropolitan Police said Salih Khater was the man who drove his car into a crowd of people before ramming the security gate at the parliament building.

"Detectives from the counter-terrorism unit are making urgent inquiries to ensure that there is no outstanding risk to the public," Neil Basu, head of Scotland Yard's Counter-Terror Command, said.

Three people were injured in yesterday's attack.

Buddhist Monk Accused of Forcing Nuns into Sex; China's Buddhist Assoc.Head Quits,Denies Claims

One of China's highest ranking monks has quit as head of the country's Buddhist Association after facing accusations of demanding sexual favors from nuns, the Euro News website reports today (August 15, 2018).

Shi Xuecheng, who is the abbot of Longquan Temple near Beijing, denies the allegations.

The Buddhist Association of China said in a statement today it has accepted Xuecheng's offer to resign from the chairmanship and other posts.

While issues like sexual assault have traditionally been "swept under the rug" in China, the Chinese MeToo-style movement emerged in December, and is changing the mindset among the younger generation.

UN Report:IS, Al-Qaeda Still Pose World Threat; Terrorist Acts May Continue for Another Decade

A United Nations report this week reveals that the Islamic State (IS) extremist group has up to 30,000 members roughly equally distributed between Syria and Iraq, and its global network poses a rising threat -- as does al-Qaeda, which is much stronger in places -- the Worthy News website reports today (August 15, 2018).

The report by UN experts said that despite the defeat of IS in Iraq and most of Syria, it is likely that a reduced "covert version" of the militant group's "core" will survive in both countries, with significant affiliated supporters in Afghanistan, Libya, Southeast Asia, and West Africa.

The experts said al-Qaeda's global network also "continues to show resilience," with its affiliates and allies much stronger than IS in some spots, including Somalia, Yemen, South Asia, and Africa's Sahel region.

These viable perceptions of the two major world terrorist groups convey that -- despite a united worldwide effort to defeat terrorism -- we can expect deadly terrorist activities to continue for at least another decade before terrorism will be obliterated from the face of the earth.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Judge Gives "Tap on Wrist" to Terror Trainers; Sets $20K Bail to Kids' School-Shooting Tutors

The state judge, who set a $20,000 bail yesterday for five defendants arrested at a remote New Mexico compound where authorities say children were being trained to conduct school shootings, has a history of issuing low bail to violent offenders, the Fox News website reports today (August 14, 2018).

Judge Sarah Backus argued in a Taos, New Mexico court that prosecutors failed to convince her the five suspects posed specific threats to the community.

Police say the five Muslim radicals kept 11 starving children in a desert compound where they taught them to carry out school shootings.

Ryan Cangiolosi, chairman of the Republican Party of New Mexico, said Backus "has put people in danger and created the risk that they [the suspects] could flee and harm other children and communities as well."

Report: Rampant Sex Abuse by 300 Priests in PA; One Impregnated Teen,Married Her,Divorced Her

A long-awaited grand jury investigation into clergy sexual abuse in Pennsylvania was released today (August 14, 2018), detailing decades of misconduct and cover-ups in six of the state's eight Roman Catholic dioceses, according to the NPR (National Public Radio) website.

The nearly 900-page report paints a horrid portrait of activity that occurred in the dioceses of Scranton, Allentown, Harrisburg, Greensburg, Erie, and Pittsburg, implicating 300 predator priests.

One priest in the Diocese of Harrisburg abused five sisters in a single family. Another, in the Diocese of Greensburg, impregnated a 17-year-old girl, married her, then divorced her a few months later.

The grand jury found credible allegations by more than 1,000 victims, adding, "We believe that the real number... is in the thousands."

PA Couple Fined for Using Farm for Bible Study; Appeal Cease-and-Desist Order to Federal Court

A couple in Pennsylvania has been served a cease-and-desist order for using their 32-acre farm for private prayer groups, the Christian Headlines website reports today (August 14, 2018).

Scott and Terri Fetterolf received the order after the Borough of Sewickley Heights in Pennsylvania claimed the farm "was being used improperly as a place of worship, a place of assembly, and as a commercial venue and 'special studio or school.'"

The borough is charging $500 for each permit if the couple wants to continue hosting activities at their farm.

The couple has filed an appeal to the cease-and-desist order and is waiting to hear a decision from a federal court.

Several Injured as Car Slams into UK Parl.Barrier; Driver Nabbed for Terrorism,Appeared Deliberate

Several pedestrians were injured early today (August 14, 2018) after a car crashed into a security barrier at the U.K. Parliament building in London, according to The Daily Beast website.

Armed police, ambulances, and firefighters responded to the incident at the Palace of Westminster that happened around 7:30 a.m. London time.

Police said a man in his late 20s has been arrested on terrorism offenses.

An eyewitness told the BBC that it appeared the driver crashed deliberately.

Monday, August 13, 2018

US Soldier Dies in Afghanistan Roadside Blast; Fifth US Soldier Killed in Afghanistan This Year

The Pentagon announced today (August 13, 2018) that a U.S. Army soldier has died from wounds sustained when a roadside bomb detonated near him while he was on patrol in southern Afghanistan, according to the ABC News website.

Staff Sgt. Raymond Rarogal Transfiguracion is the fifth American military service member to be killed in Afghanistan this year.

Transfiguracion, 36, of Walkoloa, Hawaii, sustained his injuries on August 7 while on combat patrol in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan.

The Green Beret joined the Army on 2008 and had previously deployed to Iraq and the Philippines.

UN Warns of "Bloodbath" If Syria Attacks Idlib; Syrian, Russian Forces Ready to Hit Rebel Area

The United Nations has warned that there could be a "bloodbath" as Syrian government and Russian forces prepare to attack the last major rebel stronghold -- Idlib province -- putting millions at risk, as airstrikes have already killed at least 40, including many children, the Express (British) website reports today (August 13, 2018).

Syrian troops are reported to be gathering at the outskirts of the province, which is the home of  2.5 million people.

Currently, around 60 percent of Idlib province is controlled by Hayat Tahrir Sham (HTS), a coalition of anti-government groups which includes a faction which used to give its allegiance to Al-Qaeda.

Meanwhile, at least 41 civilians -- half of them children -- were killed during a recent airstrike in Idlib.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Thousands in Sweden Have Microchips in Bodies; Skin Chip Avoids Credit Card Loss, Bulky Wallets

Thousands of people in Sweden have inserted microchips -- which can function as contactless credit cards, key cards, and even rail cards -- into their bodies, the Independent (British) website reports today (August 12, 2018).

Once the chip is underneath a person's skin -- usually between the thumb and the index finger --  there is no longer any need to worry about misplacing a card or carrying a heavy wallet.

Over the past two decades, the Swedish government has invested heavily in technology infrastructure -- and it shows. Sweden's economy is now largely based on digital export, digital services, and digital tech innovations.

All in all, the popularity of people being microchipped in Sweden is just one manifestation of an underlying faith in technology that makes Sweden quite unique.

Tens of Thousands in Tel Aviv Protest New Law; Avow Israel's Nation-State Law Is Undemocratic

Members of Israel's Arab minority led a protest of tens of thousands of people in central Tel Aviv last night against a new law that critics say marginalizes the state's non-Jewish citizens, the World Israel News website reports today (August 12, 2018).

The rally marked further fallout from the explosive nation-state law and came a week after thousands of Druze -- also members of the Arab minority -- packed the same city square last week.

Israel's 1948 declaration of independence called for opening Israel to Jewish immigration while protecting the rights of all inhabitants. The government says the new law merely enshrines the country's existing character.

However, critics say it undercuts Israel's democratic values and sidelines the country's non-Jewish population, especially the Arab community that makes up 20 percent of Israel.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Trump Admin. to Cut $200M to Palestinians; Almost All US Aid to Palestinians to Conclude

According to several diplomatic sources, the White House intends to withhold as much as $200 million in relief aid for Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and Gaza, the Think Progress website reports today (August 11, 2018).

This comes after the U.S. recently cut its contributions to UNRWA, the United Nations agency that assists Palestinian refugees.

As "Foreign Policy" reports, holding back the $200 million -- almost the entire amount of humanitarian aid the U.S. grants the Palestinians --  amounts to "severing a vital humanitarian lifeline at a time of rising political and security tensions in the area."

The decision to make the cut came down from a "high-level meeting" this week with Jared Kushner --  the Jewish son-in-law of President Trump and chief Middle East advisor -- and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Erdogan Defies US Threats Despite Lira Crash; States "Shame on You" for Injuring NATO Ally

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed today (August 11, 2018) to defy U.S. "threats" over a detained pastor, showing no signs of concessions in a bitter row that has caused the Turkish lira to crash, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

The Turkish dictator also said his country's partnership with the U.S. is in jeopardy, warning Ankara might start looking for new allies in an op-ed in the New York Times.

Relations between the two NATO nations have sunk to their lowest point in decades over a string of issues, including the detention of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson on terror-related charges, prompting the Turkish lira to hit record lows against the dollar.

"Shame on you, shame on you," Erdogan said in remarks directly addressed to Washington. "You are exchanging your strategic partner in NATO for a priest."

Friday, August 10, 2018

Trump Rips NFL Players Kneeling during Anthem; Says "Stand Proudly or Be Suspended without Pay"

President Trump blasted NFL players who took a knee in protest during preseason games, saying that players who fail to stand during the national anthem should be "suspended without pay," the Yahoo News website reports today (August 10, 2018).

The president's latest broadside against NFL players who kneel during the national anthem came in a tweet today in response to last night's games.

"The NFL players are at it again --  taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem..." Trump stated.

He added: "Find another way to protest. Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be suspended without pay!"

Argentine Senate Rejects Voluntary Abortion Law; Allows Abortions If Mother's Life Is at Risk, Rapes

In a victory for pro-life advocates in Argentina, the country's Senate rejected a bill yesterday to legalize voluntary abortion into the 14th week of pregnancy, the Independent Catholic News website reports today (August 10, 2018).

Hours of heated debate ended with a 38 to 31 vote against the measure.

Senators from Argentina's northern regions led the campaign against legalizing voluntary abortion, while representatives from the Buenos Aires region and those in the south pushed to pass it.

Current Argentine law permits abortions only if the mother's life is at risk, or in cases of rape.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Atlanta School Ends Pledge from Morning Ritual; Students Will Partake in Wolf Pack Chant Instead

An Atlanta, Georgia school has dropped the Pledge of Allegiance from its morning routine for the new school year, saying that too many students and staff members weren't saying it, and they wanted to be inclusive, the Newsmax website reports today (August 9, 2018).

The Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School, which opened in 2002 in the Grant neighborhood, said this week that the pledge would not be part of its morning ritual this year.

"There are many emotions around this and we want everyone in our school family to start their day in a positive manner," elementary campus President Lara Zelski said.

Instead of the Pledge of Allegiance, students will participate in the Wolf Pack Chant, which is a new pledge teachers and students will create together that will "focus on students' civic responsibility to their school family, community, country, and our global society," Zelski added.

Anti-Semitic Crimes Now Soaring in Germany; Increase by 10% Over First Six Months of 2018

The number of anti-Semitic crimes in Germany during the first half of 2018 increased 10 percent over the same period last year, the Jewish News website reports today (August 9, 2018).

There were 401 anti-Semitic crimes in Germany from January through June, according to government data reported yesterday.

The vast majority -- 87 percent -- came from the far-right. One-fifth were committed in Berlin.

The figures included 12 violent crimes.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

"Extreme Muslim" Man Nabbed at Compound; Trained Children to Commit School Shootings

Court documents filed today (August 8, 2018) reveal that the father of a missing 3-year-old, who was arrested at a New Mexico weapons compound linked to "extremist Muslims" last week, was training children to commit school shootings, according to the Fox News website.

Prosecutors allege Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 39, was conducting weapons training on the compound where 11 children were found hungry and living in squalor.

Wahhaj is the son of a Brooklyn imam -- also named Siraj Wahhaj -- who was named by prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Upon authorities' arrival at the makeshift compound -- located near the Colorado border -- Wahhaj was "heavily armed with an AR 15 rifle, five loaded 30-round magazines, and four loaded pistols, including one in his pocket, when he was taken down," Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said.

Greece to Demolish Illegal Bldgs. after Wildfire; Bldgs.Upped Fire Deaths,Blocked Escape Paths

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said today (August 8, 2018) that Greece will demolish thousands of illegal buildings in the wake of its deadliest wildfire, according to the BBC website.

Authorities said unlicensed construction hindered attempts to escape the blaze in Mati and other areas last month. The wildfire killed at least 91 people.

Tsipras vowed to check the "chaos of unruly construction" which has been common in Greece for decades. The illegal buildings created a maze of confusing streets and blocked access to the beaches.

In the Attica region, which includes Athens, 3,200 buildings will be torn down immediately, Tsipras said.

Cows Help Police Capture Fleeing Suspect; Woman Ran from Car on Fla. Cow Pasture

A herd of 16 cows helped police officers in Florida corral a fleeing suspect who bailed out of a car and ran through their pasture, The Guardian website reports today (August 8, 2018).

A Seminole County sheriff's helicopter captured the August 5th incident on video as the crew gave play-by-play to officers on the ground. A crew member told pursuing officers: "If you see a large group of cows, they're literally following her."

The cows ran Jennifer Anne Kaufman into a fence, where police arrested her. She was charged with drug possession and resisting an officer.

An arrest report shows the car Kaufman was in crashed during a police pursuit. She is being held on $4,500 bond.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Ocasio-Cortez:Upper Middle Class in US Is Gone; Blames Detriment on Wall St.,Income Inequality

New York Democratic congressional nominee and socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez does not believe there is an "upper middle class" in America any longer, the Daily Caller website reports today (August 7, 2018).

Ocasio-Cortez, who has had a meteoric rise to stardom in the Democratic party in recent months, also claims that unemployment is low because more people are working "two jobs" and "70 or 80 hours a week."

She said "We don't have a party that has been investing in their [young Democrats'] future," noting that the average age of a congressional democrat is 65.

She blames the de-regulation of Wall Street and rising income inequality for destroying America's upper middle class.

Denmark Woman Wearing Face Veil Fined $156; Country's New "Burqa Ban" Law Began August 1

A 28-year-old woman wearing a face veil has become the first person in Denmark to be fined for violating a new law banning such garments in public places, the Religion News website reports today (August 7, 2018).

Danish police were called to a shopping center on August 3 in Horsholm -- a city of 46,000 near Copenhagen -- where they fined the woman 1,000 Danish kroner ($156).

The country's new "Burqa Ban" law went into effect on August 1.

Austria, France, and Belgium have similar laws.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Bedouin Petition High Court on New Israeli Law; Say Jewish Nation-State Law Must Be Be Voided

Two members of Israel's Bedouin community filed a High Court of Justice petition yesterday against the controversial Jewish nation-state law, claiming it is illegal, the Worthy News website reports today (August 6, 2018).

In their petition, Hasan Heeb and Yaqob abu al Elkien demanded that the law be abolished or changed to make it apply equally to all Israeli citizens.

Members of the Druze community -- including three Druze members of Israel's Knesset -- have already filed High Court petitions against the discriminatory law.

Also, some 100,000 people attended a protest against the law on August 4 in Tel Aviv.

Tenn. Schools Must Display "In God We Trust;" Take That,You Supreme Court Atheist Justices!

Students heading back to school in Tennessee in the coming weeks will see "In God We Trust" displayed in their schools, the Christian Headlines website reports today (August 6, 2018).

A bill requiring the national motto to be displayed in a prominent place was signed into law in April, meaning the 2018-19 school year is the first one to be impacted by the new rule.

The law defines "prominent place" as a "school entry way, cafeteria, or common area where students are likely to see the national motto."

The bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Susan Lynn. It may be seen as a "slap in the face" to U.S. Supreme Court  justices, who ruled prayer to be illegal in American public schools in 1963.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Pope:Tarot Cards, Palm Readings Are Idolatry; Says Families Are Destroyed to Increase Profit

Pope Francis -- speaking at his weekly audience yesterday -- said tarot cards and palm readings are idolatrous, the Christian Today website reports.

He pointed to the Greek origin of the word "idol," which means "to see." Idol worship, he said, was "a vision which becomes a fixation, an obsession."

The pope continued: "In ancient times human sacrifices were made to idols, but even today people sacrifice their children for their careers, neglecting them or simply refusing to have them."

He added that "lives are ruined; families are destroyed; and young people are abandoned to destructive habits, all to increase profit."

Three NATO Troops Murdered in Afghanistan; Taliban Suicide Attack Wounds One American

Three NATO soldiers were killed early today (August 5, 2018) in a suicide attack for which the Taliban has claimed responsibility, according to the Fox News website.

All three fatalities were from the Czech Republic.

One American service member and two Afghan soldiers were wounded in the blast.

The attack took place in Charikar District, Parwan province, about 40 miles north of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Elie Wiesel's Childhood Home Hit by Jew-Haters; Wrote "Pedophile," "Nazi Jew, in Hell with Hitler"

Romanian police today (August 4, 2018) announced it was investigating anti-Semitic graffiti drawn by vandals on the childhood home in the town of Sighet in northwest Romania, where the late Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel grew up, according to the Jewish Press website.

Some of the graffiti read, "Pedophile" and "Nazi Jew, in Hell with Hitler."

The Romanian group for Monitoring and Fighting Anti-Semitism condemned the vandalism against the "memory of Elie Wiesel, the memory of the Holocaust victims, and the souls of the Holocaust survivors."

Romanian-born, Holocaust survivor, Jewish-American writer Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel (1928-2016) was a professor, political activist, and Nobel Laureate. He authored 57 books, mostly in French and English, including "Night," a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps during World War II.

Some 100 Goats Descend upon Yards in Idaho; Destroy Lawns, Chew Rose Bushes in W. Boise

About 100 goats mysteriously descended upon a town in Idaho, destroying lawns and chewing rose bushes to shreds, the Independent (British) website reports today (August 4, 2018).

The goats appeared on a street in West Boise, Idaho early yesterday morning.

A representative for the Idaho Humane Society said, "The goats were originally brought to the neighborhood as part of a 'rent a goat' service, an eco-friendly way to tackle weeds and pasture."

He added, "The goats had reportedly broke out of the pasture and began exploring the surrounding neighbors' yards."

Friday, August 3, 2018

Cal. Church Moves to New Location with Brewery; Will Serve Beer When Bible Verses Are Being Read

A California church community sold their building and relocated a new space where beer is served, and plans are underway to build a brewery where church services can occur, the Christian Post website reports today (August 3, 2018).

"We decided to sell the building because for us a church is a community and a movement," pastor Chris VanHall, who leads the Greater Purpose Community Church in Santa Cruz, California said.

Food lounge owner Andrea Mollenauer, whose business is hosting the church, thinks it is a great idea.

"Why not serve beer when they're reading Bible verses? I thought it was genius," she said.

Twelve Schools Bombed, Burned in Pakistan; Taliban Opposes Girls' Ed as Being Anti-Islam

Police in Pakistan said today (August 3, 2018) that 12 schools --    eight girls' and four boys' schools - were attacked by bombs and set on fire last night in a northern district where Taliban militants opposed to girls' schools are active, according to the Euro News website.

No group claimed responsibility, but Pakistani Taliban, who regard girls' education as anti-Islam, have been attacking thousands of schools for young women in the country.

No casualties were reported.

A local resident said the Taliban had a history of opposing girl education, but the government recently helped build girls' schools there.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Pope Revises Cath. Catechism on Death Penalty; Declares Gospel Conveys It's "Inadmissable" Act

Pope Francis has revised the teaching on the death penalty in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, declaring that "in the light of the Gospel" the death penalty "is inadmissable because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person," the America Magazine website reports today (August 2, 2018).

The Vatican announced this new teaching today.

Although the death penalty -- following a fair trial -- was long considered an appropriate response to certain serious crimes, today there is an awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after that person has committed a serious crime.

Moreover, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Bethel Church Asks for Prayers to End Cal. Fires; Asks God for Divine Intervention to Protect Area

As wildfires spread in Northern California, worshipers at Bethel Church in Redding, Calif. are asking for prayers for their homes, the Christian Headlines website reports today (August 1, 2018).

Many of the church members have had to evacuate their homes.

"Right now, we're inviting the global community to join us in praying for Redding , for Northern California, and for California overall..." Bethel Church posted on social media.

It added, "God, we invite you to come and bring healing and divine intervention to this situation, and to the fires burning throughout California... Bring restoring rains, and protect this land."

Trump Calls on Sessions to End Mueller Probe; Says Rigged Witch Hunt Is Disgrace, Must End

President Donald Trump today (August 1, 2018) called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a tweet to end special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, according to the Daily Caller website.

"This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further," Trump tweeted.

"Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA," Trump added.

Today's tweet is the furthest Trump has gone in calling for a direct end to Mueller's probe.

Orth. Jewish Woman to Open Philly Synagogue; Rejects Orth. Rule That Forbids Women Rabbis

A woman ordained by the Orthodox Yeshivat Maharat is opening her own synagogue in Philadelphia, the Times of Israel website reports today (August 1, 2018).

Rabbanit Hadas Fruchter, 28, announced on July 29 that she will open a Modern Orthodox synagogue in Philadelphia with seed money from Start Up Shul and support from Hillel's Office of Innovation, which gave her a one-year Fellowship for Rabbinic Entrepreneurs.

The synagogue, which does not have a location, is scheduled to open in the summer of 2019. Fruchter has served as assistant spiritual leader at Beth Sholom Congregation and Talmud Torah in Potomac, Maryland, since 2016. She was ordained that year by Yeshivat Maharat, a liberal Orthodox seminary in New York City.

It is unlikely her synagogue will be accepted to join the Orthodox Union, which earlier this year ruled that women should not hold clergy positions. Unlike the other two major branches of Judaism -- Reform and Conservative -- Orthodox Judaism forbids women from celebrating religious services as rabbis.