Monday, December 31, 2018

US, Israel Set to Block Palestinian UN Statehood; Fight Current PA Drive to Attain Statehood in UN

The U.S. and Israel are working to block a renewed Palestinian Authority (PA) drive to become a member state of the United Nations, the Jerusalem Post website reports today (December 31, 2018).

"We are prepared to stop the initiative," said Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon.

Approval of the UN move would hand the Palestinians unilateral statehood recognition outside the context of any final status agreement with Israel.

There are 139 countries which -- outside the context of the UN -- recognize Palestine as a state, with 120 of them that maintain full diplomatic relations.

Abortion with 41M Killed in 2018 Leads Deaths; Tops Cancer,Smoking,Traffic Deaths Combined

Worldometers reports today (December 31, 2018) that there were some 41.9 million abortions performed in the year 2018, according to the Breitbart website.

By contrast, 8.2 million people died from cancer in 2018, 5 million from smoking, and 1.7 million died of HIV/AIDS.

Worldometers -- a free reference website -- keeps a running tally through the year of major world statistics, including population, births, deaths, etc.

There were more deaths from abortion in 2018 than all deaths from cancer, malaria, HIV/AIDS, smoking, alcohol, and traffic accidents combined.

Palestinian Sentenced to Life for Land Sale to Jew; Palestinian Law: Selling Land to Jews Is Treason

The Ramallah Grand Criminal Court sentenced a Palestinian identified only by his initials I.A. to life in prison with hard labor after it found him guilty of selling Palestinian land to Jews, the World Israel News website reports today (December 31, 2018).

The "unidentified" Palestinian is, in fact, Issam Akel, an Arab who holds American citizenship and an Israeli identification card.

He was brought before the court on December 23, and sentenced for "selling property in occupied Jerusalem to Jewish settlers."

The sale of land to Jews in Palestinian society is considered a religious offense as well as treason and can be punishable by death.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Woman Charged with Fatally Shooting 6 Puppies; Discarded Puppies' Remains over an Embankment

A Virginia woman has been charged with fatally shooting six puppies and discarding their remains over an embankment, the ABC News website reports today (December 30, 2018).

Augusta County Sheriff's Office charged 39-year-old Betty Hemp, of Middlebrook, with six counts of felony animal cruelty and six misdemeanor charges of illegal dumping.

Hemp was freed on $2,500 bond after her arrest on December 23.

Investigators believe the dogs were between four to six months old.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Pentagon:Afghanistan May Be Close to Settlement; Additional US Advisers in 2018 Hampered Taliban

Afghanistan seems more likely than at any time in recent history to come to a favorable political settlement, according to a report released this week by the Pentagon, which cited effects of a recent military escalation coupled with diplomatic initiatives, the VOA News website reports today (December 29, 2018).

In a yearly assessment required by the U.S. Congress, the Pentagon this week submitted a detailed report on the war in Afghanistan to U.S. lawmakers, detailing the country's progress and challenges in  fiscal year 2018-2019.

"The current military situation inside of Afghanistan remains at an impasse. The introduction of additional advisers and enablers in 2018 stabilized the situation, slowing the momentum of the Taliban march ..." the report said.

"Diplomatic, religious, military, and social pressures, enabled by the conditions-based strategy, and buoyed by increased international engagement, have forced the Taliban senior leadership to debate whether to enter negotiations with the Afghan government," the report added.

Terrorist Bomb Kills 4 on Tour Bus in Egypt; Egypt Police Kill 40 "Terrorists" in Response

Egyptian police killed 40 suspected terrorists in a crackdown today (December 29, 2018), after a roadside bomb hit a tour bus claiming the lives of three Vietnamese tourists and an Egyptian guide, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

Thirty alleged terrorists were killed in separate raids in Giza province, home to Egypt's famed pyramids and the scene of last night's deadly bombing, while 10 others were killed in the restive North Sinai, the interior ministry said.

It said authorities had received information the suspects were preparing a spate of attacks "targeting state institutions, particularly economic ones, as well as tourism, armed forces, police, and Christian places of worship."

A security source said the raids took place early this morning, hours after last night's bombing of the tour bus.

Friday, December 28, 2018

UN Faces a $220M Budget Shortfall for 2019; Time May Be Ripe to Abolish Ineffective Org.

American diplomats attached to the United Nations headquarters in New York have failed in their attempt to get other countries --such as Brazil, India, and Turkey -- to step up their funding of UN "peacekeeping" forces, The New American website reports today (December 28, 2018).

As of now, the organization faces a $220 million budget shortfall for the upcoming year.

"Unfortunately, in a deeply dissatisfying and disappointing turn of events, every country decided that reform was good and right for the UN, but not how it is financed," said Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet, the U.S. representative for UN reform on December 22.

President Donald Trump has reinstituted the cap of the U.S. share of UN peacekeeping at 25 percent, which President Barack Obama had waived. Trump has also called for abolishing the UN, since he sees it as being a wasteful and ineffective money drainer.

Trump Threatens to Close Entire Southern Border; He's Upset Congress Won't Provide Funds for Wall

President Donald Trump threatened today (December 28, 2018) to "close the Southern Border entirely" if he doesn't receive the funding necessary for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, the Newsmax website reports.

His warning on Twitter came as a week-long partial government shutdown appeared likely to stretch into 2019 because of an impasse over funding for the president's proposed border wall.

Trump wrote: "We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give use the money to finish the Wall and also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our Country is saddled with. Hard to believe there was a Congress and President who would approve!"

Trump's latest ultimatum comes a day after House members said they didn't plan any votes this week.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Bomb Explodes Outside Church in Central Athens; Police Officer,Church Caretaker Hurt in Explosion

An explosive device wounded a police officer and a civilian when it detonated outside a church in central Athens early today (December 27, 2018) shortly before liturgy was due to begin, according to the Euro News website.

There was no claim of responsibility for the attack outside the St. Dionysios church in the Kolonaki quarter. It is the seat of the country's Catholic Archbishop.

The police officer and the church caretaker were taken to a hospital. Their injuries were not life-threatening.

"I do not understand why they've hit the church. Jesus means love..." said Father George from the church.

Memorial to Greek Jews of Holocaust Vandalized; Memorial in Kastoria Is Covered with Black Paint

A memorial to the Jews of a northern Greek town who were sent to Auschwitz by the Nazis during World War II was vandalized, the Times of Israel website reports today (December 27, 2018).

The Memorial to the Jewish Martyrs of Kastoria, in Greece's northern region of West Macedonia, was covered with black spray-paint on December 25.

"In this place, on March 24, 1944, the Nazis gathered the 1,000 Jews of Kastoria and transported them to death camps in Auschwitz. Only 35 survived," the inscribed marble slab reads. Local volunteers helped to clean up the memorial.

The World Jewish Congress called for authorities to crack down on vandalism of Holocaust memorials.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Anti-Semitism Cancels Chicago Women's March; Two Said Jews Exploited Blacks, Led Slave Trade

The Chicago chapter of the Women's March decided to cancel the rally they had scheduled for January 19 amid reports of anti-Semitism in the national group's leadership, the Daily Caller website reports today (December 26, 2018).

"There's no march, there's no rally," Sara Kurensky, Women's March Chicago board member, said yesterday to the Chicago Tribune. "We're going to provide ways for people to organize and take action in their local communities."

Last month, two of the Women's March's founders, Carmen Perez and Tamika Mallory, accosted a Jewish woman who was in the meeting, spouting false allegations that Jewish people 'bore a special collective responsibility as exploiters of black and brown people," and "were proven to have been  leaders of the American slave trade."

Earlier this week, Mallory told The NY Times: "We've all learned a lot about how white Jews, as white people, uphold white supremacy. ALL jews are targeted by it."

Sweden Now Replacing Cash with Mobile Apps; Many Banks and Businesses Don't Handle Cash

More and more Swedes are using mobile apps to send and receive payments as the country pushes for a cash-free society, the Euro News website reports today (December 26, 2018).

Many banks and businesses no longer handle cash and refuse to deal with it. Consumers instead must pay with card or mobile applications.

Churches in Sweden are funded by optional tax, which around 60 percent of Swedes paid in 2017.

One church in Stockholm, Sunbyberg Church, is the first church in Sweden to go cashless. The church warden said it is very difficult to handle cash donations, as no bank in the area accepts  cash.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Some 90K Soldiers Guard Churches in Indonesia; Allow Christians to Attend XMas Services Assured

Some 90,000 soldiers will be guarding more than 50,000 churches across Indonesia in an effort to thwart terror attacks during Christmas, the Christian Post website reports today (December 24, 2018).

"We have coordinated with police, military, and Islamic groups to maintain the security, so that Catholics can attend Christmas masses comfortably and safely," an Indonesian security coordinator said.

The church in Surabaya, East Java, was attacked by suicide bombers last May.

At that time, the terrorists, linked with the Islamic State terror group, targeted three churches in the world's most populous Islamic nation, killing 18 people.

PA Nabs 44 Palestinians Who Sold Land to Jews; PA Law Allows Them Accused of "High Treason"

The Palestinian Authority (PA) announced yesterday that its security forces have thwarted attempts by Palestinians to sell land and houses in the West Bank and east Jerusalem to Jewish buyers, and the PA's Preventive Security Service said it has arrested 44 Palestinians suspected of involvement in the real estate transactions, the Jerusalem Post website reports today (December 24, 2018).

The statement is part of a stepped-up PA campaign to deter Palestinians from selling properties to Jews.

PA law bars selling land to a "hostile state or any of its citizens."

In recent weeks, Palestinian religious authorities have repeatedly warned Palestinians against engaging in such deals and said that anyone who violates the law would be accused of "high treason."

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Trump Ends Troops in Syria Despite Criticism; Decision Trump Made in 2016 Pres. Campaign

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said today (December 23, 2018) that President Donald Trump campaigned two years ago to withdraw troops from Syria and will continue because the move is popular -- even if it led to the resignations of his Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and a special envoy to the region -- according to the USA Today website.

"This is not a snap decision. And it's not a surprise to anybody because it's exactly what the president said he was going to do," Mulvaney said.

He added: "If a Cabinet secretary simply has such a misalignment with the president's priorities that he cannot serve him, that is the right reason to leave."

"I think the relationship between these two men [Trump and Mattis] has been fraying," Mulvaney asserted. "I think the president no longer relied on Mattis to be able to deliver the president's vision."

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Pope Says Abusive Priests Are "Vicious Wolves;" Says Bishops Must Now Report Them to Police

Pope Francis said yesterday that Catholic priests who sexually abuse children are "vicious wolves" who should turn themselves into authorities, The Telegraph website reports today (December 22, 2018).

His remarks came at the end of the year in which he was accused of mishandling an abuse scandal in Chile and in which the Vatican's third most senior figure, economy minister Cardinal George Pell of Australia, was put on trial in Melbourne for sexually abusing boys.

Any priest who abused a child was "a vicious wolf ready to devour innocent souls," the pope said in his annual address to the Curia, the Vatican's governing body.

The pope acknowledged that the Catholic Church had hugely underestimated the phenomenon and failed to punish predatory priests and the bishops who cover up for them, often by moving them from parish to parish rather than reporting them to the police.

Top US Envoy for Coalition against IS Resigns; Upset with Trump's Troop Withdrawal in Syria

Brett McGurk, the top U.S. envoy to the International coalition fighting the Islamic State (IS), has resigned in protest of President Trump's decision to abruptly withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, the Washington Post website reports today (December 22, 2018).

His resignation comes on the heels of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis's announced departure this week because of differences with the White House over foreign policy, immediately following Trump's decision.

McGurk's departure is effective December 31.

Earlier this month, McGurk said that the Islamic State was far from defeated despite its loss of territory. "Nobody working on these issues day to day is complacent. Nobody is declaring a mission accomplished," McGurk said at a State Department briefing. "Defeating a physical caliphate is one phase of a much longer-term campaign."

Friday, December 21, 2018

Planned Parenthood: Abortion Is a Human Right; Condemns Trump's Effort to Defund Organization

Planned Parenthood's new president has argued that abortion is a basic human right and denounced what she called "repeated attacks from the Trump administration" against her organization, the Christian Post website reports today (December 21, 2018).

Dr. Leana Wen, who replaced Cecile Richards as head of the nation's largest abortion business that receives over $500 million in taxpayer funding every year and performs over 320,000 abortions annually, told People magazine in an interview published this week that she viewed abortion as "a basic human right."

"Reproductive health care is health care," Wen said. "And health care is a basic human right."

In her interview with People, Wen also denounced efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, claiming they are politically-driven attacks on their health care services.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Trump May Cut No. of US Troops in Afghanistan; Begins to Lack Patience with Overseas Mil. Roles

President Donald Trump is considering significantly drawing down troops from Afghanistan, two U.S. officials said today (December 20, 2018) in the latest sign his patience is thinning with America's longest war and overseas military interventions in general, according to the Newsmax website.

The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said thousands of the 14,000 troops could be sent home as a result of deliberations, the disclosure of which could undermine ongoing peace efforts with the Taliban.

The drawdown would follow Trump's decision yesterday to completely withdraw all U.S. forces from Syria -- a move that has bewildered allies and triggered harsh reaction from Republican allies in Congress. It has also shocked U.S. military commanders.

More than 2,400 U.S. forces have died in the 17-year-old war in Afghanistan, and Pentagon officials have repeatedly warned that a precipitous exit would allow militants to develop new plots on America like the September 11, 2001 attacks that plunged the U.S. into an era of open-ended warfare.

Israel to Intensify Place in Syria after US Leaves; Prevents Iran from Having Land Near Its Border

Israel will step up its fight against Iran in Syria after the United States withdraws its troops from her neighbor to the north, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (December 20, 2018).

"We will continue to take very strong action against Iran's attempts to entrench itself in Syria. In neither of these sectors do we intend to lessen our efforts; we will intensify them..." Netanyahu said today.

Yesterday, President Donald Trump announced a full and accelerated pullout of the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, a move that could leave a vacuum that Iran will be eager to fill.

Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria -- mostly in secret during Syria's seven-year civil war -- to prevent Iran from gaining a foothold near its border and to keep weapons from traveling through the territory to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Pope Has Message for 52nd World Day of Peace; Public Officials Must Encourage Human Virtues

The Vatican has issued Pope Francis' Message for the 52nd World Day of Peace, which takes place on January 1, 2019, the Independent Catholic News website reports today (December 19, 2018).

In his message, the pope reflects on the role of "good politics at the service of peace." Those who hold political office, he says, must exercise their office in service to others, basing their work on the foundation of charity and human virtues.

At the same time, Pope Francis warns of the vices that can afflict politics, including corruption, xenophobia, racism, lack of concern for the environment, and contempt for exiles.

He encourages politics to "foster the talents of young people and their aspirations" in order to promote peace, noting that "Everyone can contribute his or her stone to help build the common home."

World's 1st Christian Airline to Service Churches; Judah 1 to Become World's Only Christian Airline

An aviation ministry located in Texas is set to become the world's first Christian airline, the CBN website reports today (December 19, 2018).

The ministry known as Judah 1 announced last week that the Federal Aviation Administration had accepted its application to switch from as private operator to becoming its own airline. 

The ministry currently serves Christians traveling around the world and domestically for mission trips and religious tours. 

"We serve mission-minded Christian people of all denominations traveling to the mission fields of the world. Our planes have delivered hundreds of missionaries and transported thousands of pounds of cargo. It is very rewarding to know how many Judah 1 and our partners have helped..."   states Judah 1's website.

Pentagon Denies Trump Claim of IS Syria Defeat; Says Campaign to Defeat and Contain IS Ongoing

The Pentagon contradicted President Donald Trump's claim today (December 19, 2018) that Islamic State (IS) militants had been defeated in Syria, according to the Raw Story website.

Trump claimed on Twitter today that the IS had been defeated in Syria, and there would be 'full" and "rapid" withdrawal of U.S. troops from the civil war-torn nation.

"The coalition has liberated the ISIS-held territory, but the campaign is not over," said Dana White, assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs.

"We have started the process of returning U.S. troops home from Syria as we transition to the next phase of the campaign," White added.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Netanyahu Says Israel Develops Unique Missiles; Warns They Can Reach Anywhere,Hit Any Target

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday that Israel is developing missiles with "special capabilities that no other country has," during a visit to state-owned defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries, the Times of Israel website reports today (December 18, 2018).

"They are developing offensive missiles here that can reach anywhere in the area and any target," Netanyahu said.

He added: "They are developing weapons systems here with special capabilities that no other country has."

Netanyahu, who recently appointed himself defense minister, made the comments a day after he revealed that "Israel infiltrates Iran periodically" for intelligence-gathering purposes.

Women's Pay Won't Equal Men's Pay for 202 Yrs.; Report Finds Women Lacking in Managerial Roles

It will take more than 200 years before women and men worldwide have economic parity, according to the annual Global Gender Gap Report released today (December 18, 2018) by the World Economic Forum, the Euro News website reports.

On pay alone, women continue to earn about 20 percent less on average than men, according to International Labor Organization findings cited in the report.

One factor holding women back is their being underrepresented in senior positions, the report said.

"In the workplace, women still encounter significant obstacles in taking on managerial or senior official roles," the report read, stating that it will take 202 years for the economic gap to close.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Patriots Owner Kraft Visits Pittsburgh Synagogue; In Memory of 11 Jews Killed in Jewish Hate Crime

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who is Jewish and lives in Newton, Massachusetts, traveled to Pittsburgh last Saturday ahead of the team's game against the Steelers to visit the Tree of Life synagogue building and attend Shabbat services, the Jerusalem Post website reports today (December 17, 2018).

On Saturday morning, Kraft visited the building in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood where 11 worshippers were killed in a shooting attack -- the deadliest attack of Jews ever in the United States. 

After Kraft paid his respects at the site, he attended services at the nearby Rodef Shalom synagogue, where he was invited to speak. 

He told the congregation that as big as the Steelers-Patriots game is, attending services with Jews in Pittsburgh was even bigger to him.

Evangelizing by Christians in America Declining; Christians Fear Reprisal If Speaking Bible Truth

As Americans identifying with faith continues to decline, the fear of standing out as a Christian is growing, the Christian Post website reports today (December 17, 2018).

This is having a negative impact on evangelism efforts.

Bo Rice, assistant professor of evangelism and preaching at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, says many Christians are too afraid to stand for beliefs that might be seen as offensive to others in a diversifying culture.

"Unfortunately, we have reached a point in American history where Christians are afraid to speak biblical truth in love out of fear of retribution," Rice said.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Vandals Destroy Inflatable Black Santa Claus; African-American Couple to Display New One

An Oregon family was shocked to discover that an inflatable black Santa Claus on their front lawn had been slashed by vandals just 24 hours after they put it on display, the Yahoo News website reports today (December 16, 2018).

Fritz and Belinda Richard, who are African-American, have lived in Bethany, Oregon for 21 years.

On December 12, Fritz Richard installed the 8-foot-tall Santa in their front yard, only to see it slashed several times 24 hours later.

The Richards plan to purchase a replacement Santa, and several of their neighbors said they also will purchase a black Santa in a move of solidarity.

US:Iran Planning Mideast Massive Regional War; Intel Shows Iran Built Terrorist Tunnels to Israel

The Trump administration has disclosed that Iran is behind the construction of several underground tunnels leading into Israel that Hezbollah militants and other terror forces have been using to conduct attacks, the Free Beacon website reports today (December 16, 2018).

Senior U.S. officials say these tunnels mark a massive escalation by Iran's terror proxies. They also believe that Iran is planning a "massive regional war" in the Middle East.

The Israeli military destroyed several of these tunnels during the past week.

The U.S. has ensured Israel of its complete support, as Israel works to thwart Iran's terror enterprise.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

US-Backed Troops Hit IS' Last Syrian Bastion; Coalition Aids Troops with Airstrikes,Artillery

Fierce fighting is ongoing in eastern Syria, as U.S.-backed Syrian fighters are trying to advance against the Islamic State (IS) terror group in its last major stronghold in the country, the VOA News website reports today (December 15, 2018).

Thousands of forces from a Kurdish alliance have been pushing into the town of Hajin in the Middle Euphrates River Valley (MERV), according to U.S. officials.

"The progress in MERV is going well and the coalition is assisting with artillery and airstrikes," Col. Sean Ryan, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition against IS said.

He added: "The end of days for ISIS in the MERV is getting closer to reality; however, they still have the capability for coordinated attacks."

Ukraine Orth. Leaders OK Church Ind. of Russia; Metropolitan Epiphanius Will Head Orth.Church

Ukrainian Orthodox Church leaders today (December 15, 2018) approved the creation of a unified church independent of the Moscow Patriarchate and elected a leader to head the new church, according to the Newsmax website.

The vote -- held in a closed-door synod in Kiev's St. Sophia Cathedral -- is the latest in a series of confrontations between Ukraine and authorities in Russia.

The leader of the new autocephalous (self-governing) Ukrainian Orthodox Church will be Metropolitan Epiphanius, a 39-year-old bishop from the Kiev Patriarchate.

"God heard our appeals and gave us this anticipated unity," Epiphanius told a crowd of thousands who had gathered outside the cathedral today to hear the good news.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Cath.Ministry Shows Kids Jesus' Love with Gifts; Sends 70K Poor Kids Gifts, as Jesus Is Gift to Us

Volunteers gathered at the Box of Joy headquarters in Miami, Florida this week to pack gifts for children around the world as part of their annual evangelical initiative spearheaded by Cross Catholic Outreach, the Christian Post website reports today (December 14, 2018).

The outreach's mission is to spread the love of Jesus Christ to all its recipients.

They expect to reach 70,000 children living in extreme poverty in Central America and around the world.

Steve Bostian, Director of Box of Joy, said: "These gifts come [to the children] unconditionally, just like Jesus is the greatest gift of all. He is an unconditional gift from God, to us."

Hungary's So-Called "Slave Law" Sparks Protests; Could Make Workers Work 8 More Hours a Week

Protesters clashed with police in the Hungarian capital of Budapest last night against a new law that has been called the "slave law." the Euro News website reports today (December 14, 2018).

The change allows employers to ask staff to work up to 400 extra hours per year of overtime instead of 250.

It could amount to another eight hours a week for some workers, equivalent to an extra working day.

It also allows employers to delay payments for the extra hours for up to three years.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Killer of 3 at Strasbourg Market Killed by Police; Was Hiding in Warehouse,Shot by French Police

The suspected mastermind of the Strasbourg Christmas Market shooting this week has been killed by police, The Daily Beast website reports today (December 13, 2018).

Cherif Chekatt, 29, a Muslim radical, was found by police in a warehouse near his residence in the "Neudorf area" of Strasbourg, where they shot him dead.

In a statement, the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the market shooting.

Five people were arrested for the mass shooting that left three people dead and 12 wounded.

Cardinal Pell Convicted on Abuse of Choirboys; Highest-Ranking Vatican Cleric to Be Convicted

Cardinal George Pell -- one of Pope Francis' closest advisers -- has been convicted in an Australian court on five counts related to the abuse of two choirboys in 1996, the UPI website reports today (December 13, 2018).

Pell, 77, currently on a leave from his post as the Vatican's economy secretary, was charged last year for "historical sexual assault offenses" by Australian police.

On December 11, he was found guilty on the charges in a Melbourne court. The verdict makes him the highest-ranking Vatican official to face such a conviction.

Pell was released on bail after his conviction. He will be sentenced in February. He is also scheduled to face a second trial early next year involving a different incident, probably in February or March.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

US Troops Will Remain in Syria for Several Years; IS Terrorists Won't "Disappear" Even after Defeat

A top Department of State official has revealed that the U.S. military will remain in Syria for the foreseeable future, even after the American-led coalition completely defeats the Islamic State's physical caliphate, the Breitbart website reports today (December 12, 2018).

Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for U.S.-led coalition against ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), noted that although the terrorist group only controls one percent of the land it once held, its "clandestine cells" will continue to pose a threat indefinitely.

He added, "Nobody is saying that they [IS terrorists] are going to disappear. So we want to stay on the ground and make sure that stability can be maintained in these areas."

ISIS's last stronghold -- with some 2,000 fighters -- in Syria is along the country's border with Iraq.

Anti-Semitic Posters Hit SUNY's Purchase College; Contained Swastikas and an Image of Adolf Hitler

Nazi-themed posters were hung last weekend at the State University of New York's Purchase College, the Times of Israel website reports today (December 12, 2018).

The posters were identified on December 9 in several areas around the SUNY campus located about 30 miles north of New York City. They contained an image of Adolf Hitler and swastikas.

"That this hateful act took place on the last night of Hanukkah when our Jewish community members were celebrating the survival of their religion, makes it even more reprehensible," Dennis Craig, Purchase's officer in charge and vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, said in a statement.

"Messages of hate, while becoming more and more prevalent in our country, have no place on our campus and will be treated with the utmost severity," he added.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Two Nuns Stole $500,000 from Cal.Cath.School; Spent Stolen Money by Gambling It in Las Vegas

Two nuns have admitted they embezzled some $500,000 and spent it on gambling in Las Vegas, the Yahoo News website reports today (December 11, 2018).

Sisters Mary Kreuper and Lana Chang, who worked at St. James' Catholic School in Torrance, California, stole the money from school funds and gambled with it in casinos.

The nuns -- said to be best friends -- took money from an account used for tuition fees and donations, and were caught during a routine audit.

The sisters, who have just retired, have expressed remorse for their actions, and the school is not bringing criminal charges against them.

One Dead, 10 Injured in French Market Shooting; France on High Alert Since 2015 Due to IS Terror

At least one person was killed and 10 people were wounded today (December 11, 2018) in a shooting near a Christmas market in the French city of Strasbourg, according to the Reuters website.

Police locked down the area and launched a hunt for the shooter, who fled the scene.

Police said the gunman has been identified.

France remains on high alert after a wave of terror attacks by Islamic State (IS) militants since 2015, in which about 240 people have been killed.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Supreme Court OKs Planned Parenthood Funding; Won't Hear KS, LA Appeals to End Public Funding

The Supreme Court has sided with Planned Parenthood in its fight for funding, denying appeals by Kansas and Louisiana that sought to end their public funding through Medicaid, The Independent website reports today (December 10, 2018).

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh unexpectedly aligned with four liberal justices in declining to review the petitions that would have placed a ban on abortion providers.

Defunding Planned Parenthood has been a key priority for Republicans.

The top court left the rulings from the lower court that halted Kansas and Louisiana from revoking public healthcare funding from Planned Parenthood and its affiliates.

Italian Priests Plan to Shelter Evicted Migrants; New Law Ends Humanitarian Care for Migrants

Italian priests say migrants will find safe shelter at churches if they are forced out of detention centers, after the Italian government passed a bill that would strip them of humanitarian protection, the Euro News website reports today (December 10, 2018).

The new law ends humanitarian protection and will restrict asylum to those refugees affected by war and political persecution.

"You don't leave migrants in the street as the government has allegedly done with its migration-and-security decree," Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said.

He added that the Vatican's position is clear: "A profound sense of solidarity must prevail; you can't put people in this position. You must always focus on people and their rights."

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Pregnant Woman,6 Others Shot at Israel Bus Stop; Terrorist Fired Shots from Passing Vehicle in Ofra

A pregnant woman was left in critical condition and six others suffered moderate to light injuries in a terror attack tonight (December 9, 2018), when shots were fired from a passing car at a crowd of  people waiting at a bus stop outside the Israeli West Bank settlement of Ofra, according to the Times of Israel website.

The woman, 21, suffered wounds to her upper body and was rushed to a hospital. She was in her 30th week of her pregnancy and was undergoing surgery at the hospital.

A man, 26, with moderate wounds was taken to the same hospital, as were two others who had light injuries. Another person, 22, with moderate injuries, and two 16-year-old girls with light injuries were taken to another hospital.

The car from which the shots were fired was believed to have at least two occupants. The IDF launched a manhunt for the terrorists.

US Supreme Court Upholds Trump's Border Wall; Rejects 3 Groups' Claims Wall Hurts Environment

The U.S. Supreme Court has rebuffed a challenge by three conservation groups to the authority of President Donald Trump's administration to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a victory for Trump who has made the wall a centerpiece of his hardline immigration policies, the Free Beacon website reports today (December 9, 2018).

The justices declined to hear the groups' appeal of a ruling by a federal judge in California rejecting their claims that the administration had pursued border wall projects without complying with applicable environmental laws.

The three groups are the Center for Biological Diversity, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and Defenders of Wildlife.

Trump has clashed with U.S. lawmakers over his plans for an extensive and costly border wall that he has called necessary to combat illegal immigration and drug smuggling. Congress has not yet provided him with the $5 billion in funding he wants for the wall.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

School Principal Is Let Go for Ban of Xmas Items; Neb. Principal Violated Const. Rights of Students

A Nebraska elementary school principal, who banned all Christmas-related items in her school, has been placed on administrative leave, the USA Today website reports today (December 8, 2018).

Jennifer Sinclair, principal of Manchester Elementary School -- located near Omaha -- sent her staff a memo on holiday symbols that does not reflect the Elkhorn Public Schools District's policies, according to a district statement.

Religious freedom advocacy group Liberty Counsel argued the school ban of Christmas items violated the students' constitutional rights.

In fact, the Christmas items that Sinclair banned were secular items, not religious items.

Some 10K Paris Protesters Set Fires, Raze Stores; Chant for President Emmanuel Macron to Resign

The elegant streets of central Paris were transformed into something like a war zone today (December 8, 2018), as anti-government protesters gathered to demonstrate against higher taxes for the third consecutive weekend, prompting unprecedented police action, according to the Independent (British) website.

Out on the graffiti-laden, boarded-up streets about 10,000 people from the outer suburbs and elsewhere in the region chanted repeated calls for President Emmanuel Macron to resign.

More than 600 people were arrested in the capital alone.

Some of the demonstrators set objects on fire in the middle of the road, ripped down signs, and smashed shop windows. The crack of tear gas canisters was heard throughout the day, and police used the tactic of "kettling" demonstrators, herding them into a small space and then, in some cases, firing rubber bullets at the crowd.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Huge Oil and Gas Resources Found in Texas, NM; Largest Oil,Gas Resources Ever Discovered in US

The U.S. Department of the Interior announced yesterday the Permian Basin's Wolfcamp shale and Bone Spring formation spanning parts of West Texas and eastern New Mexico hold the largest potential oil and gas resources ever discovered, the Breitbart website reports today (December 7, 2018).

Federal surveyors note the Bone Spring plays could offer roughly seven times the amount of oil as the Bakken shale in North Dakota.

"Christmas came a few weeks early this year," said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. "American strength flows from American energy, and as it turns out, we have a lot of American energy."

Zinke added: "Before this assessment came down, I was bullish on oil and gas production in the United States. Now, I know for a fact that American energy dominance is within our grasp as a nation."

Key Ukrainian Church Meeting Set for Dec. 15; Clerics to Adopt Charter for Ind. Orth. Church

Ukraine's Orthodox Christian clerics will gather for a meeting next week that is expected to form a new, independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the country's leader said, as the authorities ramped up pressure on priests to support the move, the AP website reports today (December 7, 2018).

The Ukrainian Church has been part of the Russian Orthodox Church for centuries, but Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has pushed for the creation of an independent church.

Poroshenko said that Orthodox communities would gather on December 15 to adopt the charter of the new Ukrainian Church and choose its leader.

The newly formed community would then be expected to receive independence from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Istanbul-based institution considered the "first among equals" of leaders of the world's Orthodox Churches that has already drafted a charter of an independent Ukrainian Church.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

EU Steps Up Fight against Rising Anti-Semitism; Says Hatred against Jews "Remains Widespread"

European Union (EU) countries agreed today (December 6, 2018) to intensify the fight against a rising anti-Semitism and boost security for Jews throughout Europe, according to the Globe Post website.

The 28-nation bloc's interior ministers adopted a declaration acknowledging hatred against Jews "remains widespread."

"The declaration invites member states to adopt and implement a holistic strategy to prevent and fight all forms of anti-Semitism," it said.

The ministers also urged member states that have not done so to adopt a common definition of anti-Semitism to better identify and investigate attacks against Jews.

School Bans Xmas Trees, Music, Candy Canes; Legal Org.:Ban Violates Student Const. Rights

A legal organization, that specializes in religious liberty issues, is urging a Nebraska school principal to overturn her directive that banned anything related to Christmas -- including Christmas music, Christmas carols, Christmas trees, candy canes, and the colors red and green -- the Christian Headlines website reports today (December 6, 2018).

"I come from a place that Christmas and the like are not allowed in schools, as over the years in my educational career, this has evolved into the expectation for all educators," Jennifer Sinclair, the principal of Manchester Elementary School, wrote in a letter to faculty.

The banned items involve not only religious symbols, but also secular ones, including Santa.

Liberty Counsel, a legal group that specializes in First Amendment issues, wrote the superintendent of Elkhorn Public Schools, urging him to overturn the policy. "The ban violates the U.S. Constitution by showing hostility toward Christianity," the letter read.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Unmarried Pregnant Cath. School Teacher Fired; Out-of-Wedlock Pregnancy Violates Her Contract

A respected English teacher in Pennsylvania was fired on November 30 from her job at the Catholic high school where she was employed for four years for becoming pregnant while unmarried, the Yahoo News website reports today (December 5, 2018).

Naiad Reich was ready to start a family and she planned the pregnancy to coincide with a June birth so she wouldn't have to take maternity leave from her post at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School in Coal Township, PA. When she announced her happy news to Sister Mary Anne Bednar, though, the principal was not impressed.

"Her response, honestly, is one that will sit with me for a very long time, because she was very displeased," Reich said.  "She said it would be a problem and she had to contact the diocese."

The Roman Catholic Harrisburg Diocese officials quickly reached a decision: Reich's out-of-wedlock pregnancy was a violation of a morality clause in her contract. If Reich and her partner, Matt Graboski, had no plans to get married in the near future, she'd have to be let go.

Satanic Statue Now on Display at Illinois Capitol; Stands Alongside a Nativity Scene and a Menorah

A "snaketivity" gifted by the Chicago branch of the Satanic Temple stands in the Illinois Capitol rotunda this month alongside a nativity scene and a menorah, the Washington Examiner website reports today (December 5, 2018).

The so-called "snaketivity" is a statue of an arm holding an apple in its hand and a snake wrapped around the arm.

A spokesman for Illinois' secretary of state said that the Satanic Temple is recognized as a religious organization, and awarded the same freedoms and rights.

A sign near the statue says: "The State of Illinois is required by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to allow temporary, public displays in the state capitol so long as these displays are not paid for by taxpayer dollars..."

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Palestinian Head Abbas Meets with Pope Francis; Asks Pope Back E. Jerusalem as Palestine Capital

The Vatican expressed concern over the status of Jerusalem yesterday, as Pope Francis and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas held their first meeting since the U.S. stirred international chaos by moving its embassy there last May, the World Israel News website reports today (December 4, 2018).

"Particular attention was reserved for the status of Jerusalem, underlining the importance of recognizing and preserving its identity and the universal value of the Holy City for the three Abrahamic religions," a Vatican statement said, referring to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

U.S. President Donald Trump infuriated the Arab world last year when he reversed decades of policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and deciding to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Palestinians -- with broad international backing -- want eastern Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state, while Israel views the whole city as its own capital. Abbas has refused to allow the Palestinians to take part in any Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in which the U.S. would serve as mediator because he believes the recent U.S. policy on Jerusalem betrayed the Palestinians and favored Israel.

Italian Police Arrest a New Mafia Boss in Sicily; Also Nab 45 More Mafia Gangsters in Palermo

Italian police arrested the suspected new head of the Sicilian mafia and 45 other alleged gangsters today (December 4, 2018), dealing a major blow to the mob as it tried to rebuild after years of setbacks, according to the Reuters website.

Settimo Mineo, an 80-year-old jeweler with a previous mafia conviction, was elected to take the helm of the crime group Cosa Nostra (or "Our Thing"), at a secret meeting of mob families from in and around the Sicilian capital of Palermo in May.

It was the first such gathering of the powerful Palermo clans since their previous leader, Salvatore "Toto" Riina, was arrested in 1993 and convicted of ordering dozens of murders.

Riina died in prison last year while serving 26 life sentences. Italian media have long speculated over who might have replaced him, but prosecutors said today that the Palermo mobsters waited until after his death to select a successor.

Single-Gender Groups Sue Harvard for Prejudice; U. Won't Let Students Hold Lead Roles on Clubs

Sororities, fraternities, and students sued Harvard University yesterday over a rule that punishes students in single-gender clubs from holding leadership positions on sports teams and campus groups, the Daily Caller website reports today (December 4, 2018).

The federal lawsuit calls into question "freedom from sex discrimination," while the state suit is over "right to free association and equal treatment based on sex."

The federal lawsuit argues the university must not dictate what kind of groups students can join.

Harvard's sanctions also ban students in single-gender clubs from receiving college endorsements for prestigious fellowships like the Rhodes Scholarships. Another discriminatory lawsuit against Harvard is currently being heard in court, in which Harvard has been charged against accepting Asian American students, while using lower admission criteria in accepting Black and Hispanic students.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Wall St. Won't Hire Women Due to #MeToo; Afraid Women Can Present "Unknown Risk"

A Bloomberg report said today (December 3, 2018) that male executives on Wall Street are so frightened by the #MeToo movement that they're avoiding women altogether, according to the Washington Times website.

Interviews with more than 30 senior executives suggest that the #MeToo movement has led to "gender segregation" in the workplace, as women tend to be rejected for jobs, Bloomberg reported.

One adviser told the publication just hiring a woman these days can present "an unknown risk."

"Women are grasping for ideas on how to deal with it, because it is affecting our careers," said Karen Elinski, president of the Financial Women's Association and a senior vice president at Wells Fargo & Co. "It's a real loss."

Pope Lights Advent Candle for Peace in Syria; Appeals for Prayers So Christians Stay in Syria

During the Angelus yesterday with pilgrims in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis reflected on the meaning of Advent and lit a candle for peace in Syria, the Independent Catholic News website reports today (December 3, 2018).

Advent is not just a time of preparation for Christmas, he said. We are also looking forward to the return of Christ at the end of time, as well as our own, personal encounter with Jesus at the end of our lives.

The pope warned that if we see Christmas only through the lens of consumerism, as a "worldly celebration," then "Jesus will pass us by, and we will not find Him." Let us await Jesus, Pope Francis said, "and let us desire to await Him in prayer."

He then called for prayers and concrete aid for Christians to remain in Syria. "Advent is a time for hope," he said. "At this time, I would like to make my own the hope of peace of the children of Syria."

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Syria: Coalition Fired Missiles on Its Positions; Missiles Caused Material Damage in East Syria

Syria's state news agency said today (December 2, 2018) that the U.S.-led coalition has fired several missiles at Syrian army positions in the country's east, causing material damage, according to the National Post website.

The news agency's report says the positions targeted today are in the Ghorab Mountains south of the eastern town of Sukhna.

There has been no confirmation from the U.S.-led coalition.

U.S. troops have a base in Tanf in southern Syria near the Jordanian and Iraqi borders, and U.S. troops are also in the country's north, near the border with Turkey.

Israeli Police Call for Indicting PM Netanyahu; Accuse Him of Bribery, Fraud, No Public Trust

Israeli police today (December 2, 2018) recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, on bribery, fraud, and breach of public trust charges, according to the Jerusalem Post website.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit gave his permission for the publication of the recommendations, and will make the final decision on whether to indict Netanyahu.

The case revolves around Netanyahu promoting regulations worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the Bezeq telecom company in exchange for positive coverage of the prime minister on Bezeq's subsidiary new website, Walla.

Police have already recommended indicting Netanyahu on corruption charges in two other cases.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Anti-Semitism Continues to Rise at US Colleges; Swastikas Painted in Office of Columbia U. Prof.

Anti-Semitic incidents on U.S. college campuses have been seeing an upward trend in the last few weeks, with Teachers College at Columbia University becoming the latest target, the College Post News website reports today (December 1, 2018).

On November 28, Jewish faculty member Elizabeth Midlarsky found her office walls painted with red swastikas and anti-Semitic slurs.

"I walked in the door of my office and found myself staring at a swastika and was absolutely shocked," Midlarsky said.

The university said in a statement: "We unequivocally condemn any expression of hatred, which has no place in our society.We are outraged and horrified by this act of aggression and use of this vile anti-Semitic symbol against a valued member of our community."

Pope: Having Gays in the Clergy "Worries Me;" Says Gays Must Not Live Together in Rel.Places

Pope Francis said recently that having gays in the clergy "is something that worries me" and that some societies are considering homosexuality a "fashionable" lifestyle, the AP website reports today (December 1, 2018).

Francis described homosexuality within the walls of seminaries, convents, and other religious places as "a very serious question."

"In our societies, it even seems homosexuality is fashionable. And this mentality, in some way, also influences the life of the church," Francis said.

Catholic teaching considers homosexual activity sinful, and that everyone -- except married heterosexual couples -- should abstain from sex.

Ukrainian Pres. Thrilled by Its Church's Ind.; Ecumenical Patriarch OKs Ind. Orth. Church

 A thrilled President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine said Ukraine is securing its own independent church, ending centuries-old ties to a Russian clergy that Kiev accuses of meddling in its affairs, the Reuters website reports today (December 1, 2018).

Poroshenko's comments were a result of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul -- home of the global spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians -- announcing it had drafted a constitutional charter for an autocephalous (or self-governing) Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

"Today, at the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, historical decisions have been taken on the creation of an autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church," Poroshenko said in a televised address.

He added: "Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will soon announce when the Ukrainian clergy will meet to pick the head of the new church."