Thursday, January 31, 2019

String of Anti-Semitic Attacks Pervade Brooklyn; Two Jewish Men Hit Yesterday in Crown Heights

Police in New York are investigating two separate attacks targeting Jewish men in Brooklyn's Crown Heights neighborhood, the latest in a string of anti-Semitic assaults, the Times of Israel website reports today (January 31, 2019).

A 51-year-old Orthodox Jewish man was violently attacked by three men around 1 a.m. yesterday morning. Police say the men approached the victim on President Street, and punched him in the face and body.

Less than an hour earlier, police say, a 22-year-old Orthodox man was attacked half a block away by three men.

The New York Police Department believes the cases are linked, and so far made two arrests. Reports said 18-year-old Navar Walters and 20-year-old Teshon Bannister have been charged with assault as a hate crime. A third suspect remains on the loose.

Survey: Over Half of Russians See Threat of War; Only 39% of Russians Believe a War Won't Occur

A new survey has found that 56% of Russians believe a military threat from another country is a real risk, the Euro News website reports today (January 31, 2019).

The Levada Center -- one of Russia's largest research companies -- conducted a poll od 1,600 Russians aged 18 and older living in 52 Russian regions, including urban and rural areas.

The interviews were carried out between December 13 and 19, 2018.

The survey showed that while 56% of Russians are fearful that the threat of war is real, only 39% believed a war would not happen.

Sanders:God Wanted Trump to Become President; He's Done Much to Support People of Faith Things

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network yesterday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said she believes that God wanted Donald Trump to be president, the USA Today website reports today (January 31, 2019).

"I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times and I think He wanted Donald Trump to become president," Sanders said.

She added, "That's why he's there and I think he has done a tremendous job in supporting a lot of the things that people of faith really care about."

Sanders asserted that Trump is "the most conservative president that we've ever had," pointing to how the administration has reshaped the judicial system with a wide assortment of conservative judges.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Trump Supports Bible Taught in Public Schools; ACLU Claims Doing So Is Christian Evangelism

President Trump has indicated his support for state bills that would allow public schools to teach courses in the Bible, the Yahoo News website reports today (January 30, 2019).

He tweeted, "Numerous states introducing Bible Literacy class giving students the option of studying the Bible...Great!"

"Nothing beats the Bible," Trump said on the campaign trail in 2015..

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) blasted Trump's support of the Bible in public schools, claiming it amounts to Christian evangelism.

Va. Gov. Supports Abortion After Baby's Birth; Limbaugh:Trump Must Address Baby Murders

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is shocking Americans with his comments in support of letting infants die after they have been born alive, the WND (World Net Daily) website reports today (January 30, 2019).

Northam, a Democrat, said doctors could make decisions to allow a baby to die even after it is born alive.

He noted that such cases usually occur when children are born with "severe deformities."

Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh said today, "I can't even relate to this ...inhumane, barbaric, murderous behavior toward infants." He suggested that President Trump, who opposes abortion,  mention the new "infanticide laws" in his State of the Union address next week.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Trump Plans National Emergency for Border Wall; Will Make $7B Available for Mexico Border Safety

President Trump's staff is preparing an executive order-like mandate that would declare a national emergency at the southern border and make available $7 billion of federal money to enhance security at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Washington Examiner website reports today (January 29, 2019).

Trump will cite his authority under the National Emergency Act to declare a state of emergency and order the Pentagon to immediately begin working on plans to build additional barriers on the international borders of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

The Army Corps of Engineers would oversea the project.

The Army Corps project is expected to take 18 months from start to finish.

Anti-Semites Vandalize Synagogue in Jerusalem; Rip Ritual Objects, Reminder of Acts in Nazi Era

Vandals ransacked a Jerusalem synagogue last night in an attack labeled an "antisemitic progrom," the Jerusalem Post website reports today (January 29, 2019).

The Siah Yisrael synagogue , located in the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood, was broken into and its ritual objects -- including a Torah scroll and prayer books -- were destroyed.

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion said, "This was a serious incident that is reminiscent of dark times of the Jewish people; we will not allow crimes like this to occur in our time."

Israeli Interior Minister Arye Deri called the vandalism a "shocking"  display of violence, reminiscent of the antisemitism progroms carried out in the Nazi era.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Pope Rules Out Ceasing Celibacy for Cath. Priests; Says Married Men May Be Priests in Remote Areas

Pope Francis said today (January 28, 2019) that he is ruling out any lifting of the celibacy requirement for priests, but also said there is reason to consider ordaining older, married men in remote communities where priests are in short supply, according to the ABC News website.

Francis added he believes priestly celibacy is a gift for the Catholic Church and opposes a blanket change to make it optional. Most Catholics believe that an unmarried priest will focus more of his time on the church, not on his family.

The celibacy question has been debated for centuries in the Catholic Church because it is a discipline -- not a doctrine -- and therefore can change.

The Catholic Church has maintained the celibacy tradition of priests since the 11th century.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Anti-Semitic Killings in 2018 Highest in Decades; Pittsburgh Synagogue Murder of 11 Jews Tops List

An Israeli government report released today (January 27, 2019) shows that the number of Jews murdered in anti-Semitic attacks around the world in 2018 reached its highest level in decades, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

A total of 13 Jews were killed in three separate attacks over the year, according to the 2018 Global Anti-Semitism Report.

A gunman shot 11 people dead at a synagogue in the city of Pittsburgh in October, in America's deadliest anti-Semitic attack ever.

In January, a Jewish student was also murdered in California, and in March 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Mirelle Knoll was killed in a brutal attack at her Paris home.

At Least 27 Killed in Philippines Church Service; Islam Terrorist Group Suspected of Twin Blasts

Bombs killed at least 27 people and injured 77 more during a church service today (January 27, 2019) in the Philippines, according to the Clarion Project website.

The twin blasts occurred at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Sulu Province, a stronghold of the Islamist Abu Sayyaf terror organization.

In the moments after the blast, regional governor Mujiv Hataman said Abu Sayyaf is the only group capable of this type of attack.

Prior to the formation of the IS (Islamic State) terror group, Abu Sayyaf pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Motorist Sues over Female-Only Parking Signs; Ends Lawsuit after Parking Signs Are Changed

A man in Germany has sued his local authority for discrimination over the introduction of female-only parking spaces, the Euro News website reports today (January 26, 2019).

The female-designated parking spaces, which are brightly lit and positioned close to exits, were adopted at a car park in the Bavarian town of  Eichstatt after a woman was sexually assaulted there in 2016.

The Munich Administrative Court said the plaintiff felt the parking spaces and signs violated his general freedom of action and discriminated against him as a man.

An agreement with the plaintiff was reached, the court said in a statement. The plaintiff agreed to a change on the signs reflecting that the gender designation was merely a recommendation, not a rule.

US--Taliban Agree on an Afghanistan Peace Plan; US to Remove Troops, Taliban to End Terrorism

The United States and the Taliban have agreed on a plan for American troops to leave Afghanistan, sources privy to the peace move told the VOA News website today (January 26, 2019).

In return, the Taliban has given assurances that no international terrorist groups would be allowed to use Afghan soil to threaten America or any other country in the future.

The agreement is the outcome of nearly a week of intense and uninterrupted dialogue between U.S. and insurgent representatives in Doha, Qatar. Representatives of the host government and Pakistan have also been in attendance.

The sources told VOA they expected the two negotiating sides to announce the withdrawal plan within the next few days, if all goes as planed.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Pope In Panama Insists on the End of Corruption; Says Public Officials Must Be Honest,Transparent

Pope Francis insisted yesterday that public officials live simply, honestly, and transparently as he opened a visit to a Central American region that has been rife with corruption scandals and is now coping with political upheaval in nearby Venezuela, according to the Religion News website.

Francis did not mention the Venezuela crisis during his first remarks in Panama after meeting with President Juan Carlos Varela at the presidential palace.

He thanked the Panamanian government for "opening the doors of your home" to young pilgrims who have flocked to Panama for World Youth Day, the Catholic Church's big youth rally and the reason for his visit.

But he warned that those same young people are increasingly demanding that public officials live lives that are coherent with the jobs entrusted to them, and build a "culture of greater transparency" between the public and private sectors.

Greek Parliament OKs New Name for FYROM; Agrees to Call It Republic of North Macedonia

Greek lawmakers approved a name change for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) today (January 25, 2019), agreeing that it will now be called the Republic of North Macedonia, according to the Greek Reporter website.

Out of 300 M.P.'s, 153 voted in favor of the new name. There were 146 who voted against it, and there was one abstention.

The FYROM parliament endorsed the constitutional changes related to the name deal on January 11, agreeing to rename the country North Macedonia.

The accord's ratification by the Greek parliament is expected to unblock North Macedonia's acceptance into NATO and the European Union (EU), which Greece had previously blocked because of a bordering province in northern Greece by the name of Macedonia -- the birthplace of Alexander the Great.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Cath. Demand Gov.Cuomo Be Excommunicated; NY Gov. Signed Legislation OKing All Abortions

Catholic lay leaders demanded today (January 24, 2019) that Cardinal Timothy Dolan excommunicate New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for signing legislation that codified abortion as a woman's right, according to the Daily Caller website.

The lay leaders made their demand in response to an open letter in which New York's Catholic bishops decried the new law, called the Reproductive Health Act, rejecting Cuomo's claim that the law is "progressive."

Prominent Catholic laymen like author John Zmirak and editor of First Things magazine Matthew Schmitz argued the letter didn't go far enough and that Cuomo should be denied Holy Communion.

"This is not progress. Progress will be achieved when our laws and our culture once again value and respect each unrepeatable gift of human life, from the first moment of creation to natural death," the bishops' letter said.

Lesbian Couple Help 5-Year-Old Son to Be a Girl; Say Their Son Hates Everything about Being Boy

A married lesbian couple in Britain say they will help their 5-year-old boy transition to a girl in a few years, the Christian Headlines website reports today (January 24, 2019).

Greg Rogers, a woman who identifies as a male, and wife Jody, have a 5-year-old son, Jayden, who "hates everything about being a boy," according to the lesbian couple.

Greg said that Jayden told his parents he hated wearing boys' clothes.

"At first, we thought it was probably just a phase but it's been consistent ever since," Greg said. "She is adamant she's a girl."

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

NY State Passes Bill Allowing Abortion up to Birth; State Religious Groups Stunned,Calling for Prayers

The New York state legislature passed a bill yesterday that makes it legal for doctors and other health care professionals to perform abortions up until birth for any reason in the state, the Christian Post website reports today (January 23, 2019).

The so-called Reproductive Health Act that abortion advocates have been trying to pass for 12 years passed with a 38-28 vote in the Senate.

Religious groups -- such as the Office of Adult Faith Formation of the Archdiocese of New York -- called for the faithful to pray.

"New Yorkers, join us tonight, it is important more than ever to pray as we expect that the Reproductive Health Act--Abortion Expansion will become a law in NY..." the group noted yesterday in a tweet.

Trump:"I'll Deliver State of the Union Jan.29;" Will Deliver It in House Despite Pelosi Rebuff

President Donald Trump today (January 23, 2019) said that he would deliver his State of the Union address in the House of Representatives  -- despite objections from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- according to the Raw Story website.

"There are no security concerns regarding the State of the Union address," the president wrote in a letter to Pelosi.

He added, "Therefore, I will be honoring your invitation, and fulfilling my constitutional duty, to deliver important information, to the people and Congress."

Trump insisted he would deliver his address on January 29th and told Pelosi that "it would be sad for our country if the state of the union were not delivered on time, on schedule, and very importantly, on location!"

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Taliban Attack on Afghan Military Base Kills 36; Explosives-Filled Humvee Was Driven into Bldg.

Authorities in Afghanistan confirmed today (January 22, 2019) that a Taliban attack yesterday on a key military base near Kabul killed at least 36 people and wounded 58 others, according to the VOA News website.

The first official casualty toll was released more than 24 hours after the insurgent raid on a training facility in the city of Maidan Shahr, about 50 kilometers from the national capital of Kabul.

The victims were mostly members of Afghan commando forces deployed at the high-profile installation run by the Afghan intelligence agency, known as the National Directorate of Security (NDS).

Afghan officials said a suicide bomber drove an explosives-laden U.S.-made armored military vehicle -- known as a Humvee -- into the NDS center and detonated it.

Assad Blocks EU Diplomats' Access to Damascus; Suppresses Efforts to Provide Aid to War Victims

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has revoked special visas for EU (European Union) diplomats and officials traveling regularly between Beirut and Damascus, three EU diplomats said today (January 22, 2019), thus complicating efforts to distribute aid to civil war victims, according to the Reuters website.

Since a civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, the EU has used the Lebanese capital -- the nearest major city -- for its diplomatic base while closing most embassies in Damascus over what they describe as Assad's brutal assault on the opposition.

But the special permission to use multiple-entry Syrian visas for access to Damascus was rescinded at the start of January with no explanation from the Syrian government.

The EU diplomats said they believed it was an attempt to try to force European governments and the EU to re-open embassies in Damascus, as the Syrian government regains control of most of the country.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Israel Jets Strike Iranian Targets Near Damascus; Strike after Rocket from Syria Hits Golan Heights

Israeli jets struck Iranian positions around the Syrian capital of Damascus last night, the BBC website reports today (January 21, 2019).

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) say last night's operation targeted the elite Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, as well as Syrian air defenses.

The IDF also said it acted after the Quds Force fired a rocket from Syria towards the occupied Golan Heights yesterday.

Iran -- Israel's arch enemy -- has sent thousands of military personnel to support Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the country's civil war, now in its eighth year.

Greece May Separate Orthodox Church from State; Parliament to Vote on Neutral Religion for Greece

The government of Greece and the Greek Orthodox Church may be headed for breakup soon under a historic deal negotiated in secret between Archbishop Ieronymos and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the Religion News website reports today (January 21, 2019).

Next month, the country's parliament is expected to vote on an agreement to make the Greek state neutral toward religion, ending the primacy of Greek Orthodoxy in the country's constitution.

The state would become co-owner of church property, giving it the right to lease unused properties. Proceeds from those leases would be divided between the church and government.

Many members of the church's Holy Synod say they were angered at being left in the dark as the talks between the archbishop and Tsipras went on for three years. Moreover, most Greek Orthodox clergy are opposed to the deal.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Many Protest in Athens on FYROM's New Name; Oppose New Republic of North Macedonia Name

Clashes broke out today (January 20, 2019) between police and a group of masked protesters in Athens, as tens of thousands demonstrated against a name change deal with neighboring FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) that the Greek parliament is due to ratify in days, according to the AFP website.

The violence flared as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras attempts to face down a political storm over his championing of a landmark agreement with Macedonia aimed at ending a 27-year dispute with Athens over the country's name. Macedonia is also the name of a province in northern Greece.

Twenty-five police officers were hurt in the protests, while two protesters were hospitalized with breathing difficulties.

Several Greek political parties oppose the accord to rename Macedonia the Republic of North Macedonia. But it could be approved by the required 151 deputies in the 300-seat parliament in the coming days.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Report:France Had 1.2M Sexist Incidents in 2017; Only 4 People Convicted, Sexism Is Still Prevalent

A recently released report reveals that 1.2 million women in France were forced to endure sexist insults in 2017 with only four convictions for breaches of sexual harassment laws, the Independent (British) website reports today (January 19, 2019).

The report by France's High Council for Gender Equality (HCE) is the first major investigation into sexism to be carried out in France.

Sexist insults -- still very prevalent in France -- are described in the research as "daily violence" faced by women. The most frequently reported insults were "salope" (slut), "pute" (whore), and "connasse" (bitch).

These experiences were found to be rarely reported by French women to the police, with the report finding official complaints were filed in just 3 percent of cases in 2017.

AG Files Bribery Charges against PM Netanyahu; Favored Treatment of Website for Positive News

Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has decided to file bribery charges against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Case 4000, the World Israel News website reports today (January 19, 2019).

Mandelblit accepted the recommendation of the State Attorney's Office, specifically that of the Tel-Aviv Financial and Tax District Office, to indict Netanyahu in Case 4000, alternately known as the Bezek-Walla case.

The Bezek-Walla Affair is a case in which Netanyahu allegedly received positive news coverage from website Walla!, which is owned by telecommunications giant Bezek in exchange for preferential regulatory treatment granted to the telecom giant.

On December 3, the Israeli police recommended that Netanyahu be charged with bribery and fraud in Case 4000, together with his wife Sarah, and the controlling shareholder of Bezek at the time, Shaul Elovitch, along with others.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Iran Intends to Keep Its Military Forces in Syria; Calls Israeli Threats to Get Out of Syria "a Joke"

Iran will keep military forces in Syria, the head of the elite Revolutionary Guards said yesterday, defying Israeli threats that they will be targeted if they do not leave the country, the Worthy News website reports today (January 18, 2019).

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on January 15 that Israeli forces would continue to attack Iranians in Syria unless they quickly leave the country.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran will keep its military advisers, revolutionary forces, and its weapons in Syria," Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the Revolutionary Guards top commander, said to the Iranian news media.

Jafari called Netanyahu's threats "a joke," and warned that the Israeli government "was playing with a lion's tail."

Coalition Bombs Syrian Mosque Being Used by IS; IS Hides Troops, Weapons in Mosques, Hospitals

The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State (IS) group destroyed a command center in a Syrian mosque yesterday, the Times of Israel website reports today (January 18, 2019).

The strike is another indication that IS has not been "beaten" in Syria, as President Trump claimed last month when he ordered the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country.

Coalition aircraft "destroyed an ISIS command and control facility in a mosque in Safafiyah," a coalition statement read.

"ISIS continues to violate Law of Armed Conflict and misuse protected structures like hospitals and mosques, which cause a facility to lose its protected status," the statement added.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Trump Discloses Space Missile Defense Strategy; New Space-Based Sensors Track Enemy Missiles

President Donald Trump has unveiled a revamped U.S. missile defense strategy involving a new layer of space-based sensors to detect and track enemy missiles, the Independent (British) website reports today (January 17, 2018).

The president announced the results of the review during a speech at the Pentagon.

In the review, he warned Iran and North Korea's missile capabilities present existing threats to U.S. and global security.

"The world is changing and we're going to change much faster than the rest of the world," the president said. "We must pursue advanced technology and research to guarantee the United States is several steps ahead of those who wish to do us harm."

Study:Strong Faith Promotes Good Night's Sleep; Those with Close Relation with God Sleep Better

A study released this week in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion shows that a strong faith could be the key to a good night's sleep, the Religion News website reports today (January 17, 2019).

Researchers found that those who believe in salvation and feel they have an unshakable relationship with God tend to sleep longer, fall asleep faster, and feel more rested in the morning, according to Terrence Hill, associate professor at the University of Arizona School of Sociology.

Their research, Hill explained, "also shows that religion can indirectly promote sleep by protecting against other risk factors -- in this case, stress."

According to the National Sleep Foundation, people tend to be too stressed to sleep when they can't turn off their minds, and instead replay their worries or frustration.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Tulane Agrees to Stop Discriminating against Men; Gave Only Women Scholarships and Financial Aid

Tulane University in New Orleans has reached an agreement with the federal government to stop discriminating against men by offering female-only scholarships and financial aid, The New American website reports today (January 16, 2019).

"By September 6, 2019, the University will ensure that it is not treating male students differently on the basis of sex by providing different amounts of financial assistance, limiting eligibility for financial assistance... or otherwise discriminating with respect to financial assistance," the agreement said.

Furthermore, Tulane has agreed to provide updated training to its financial aid officers to ensure "nondiscrimination in financial assistance."

The agreement follows a complaint placed with the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights by Virginia Title IX attorney Margaret C. Valois. The complaint argued that six of Tulane's scholarships were discriminatory because they were not made available to male students.

Five US Troops Believed Killed in Syria by IS; Suicide Bomber Explosion Kills 16 in Manbij

United States service members were among 16 people killed today (January 16, 2019) in an explosion set off by a suicide bomber in the Northern Syrian city of Manbij, according to the NY Daily News website.

The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the blast. The attack illustrates that the IS remains a powerful force in Syria, despite President Trump's  assertion that it has been defeated.

Besides the 16 killed, many others were wounded.

Five U.S.-backed Syrian fighters were among the dead in today's suicide bombing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Trump Sought to Pull US Out of NATO Last Yr.; Still Feels Allies Not Paying Fair Share on NATO

The New York Times reports today (January 15, 2019) that President Donald Trump privately discussed pulling the U.S. out of NATO several times last year, according to The Daily Beast website.

Quoting senior administration officials, the Times reports that Trump told his national security team last summer, around the time of a NATO summit, that he didn't see the point of the international alliance.

Although Trump did not take action at that time, the officials are worried he might renew the threat because U.S. allies have still not increased their military spending to his liking.

Retired Admiral James G. Stavridis -- the former supreme allied commander of NATO -- said pulling out of NATO would be "a geopolitical mistake of epic proportion" and "the gift of the century for Putin."

Ronald McDonald Sculpted as Jesus on the Cross; Christians Protest "McJesus" at Israel Art Museum

An artwork titled "McJesus," depicting a crucified Ronald McDonald, at an art museum in Haifa, Israel has brought angry calls from local Christians to remove it, the Religion News website reports today (January 15, 2019).

On January 11, hundreds of Christians demonstrated in front of the Haifa Museum of the Arts, demanding that it remove the artwork. Some protesters threw fire bombs and stones at the museum and attempted to enter the building to remove the sculpture. Three police officers managing the crowd were injured.

The piece, by Finnish artist Jani Leinonen, is part of an exhibition called "Sacred Goods," which focuses on "the responses of contemporary artists to issues of religion and faith in the contemporary global reality, which is dominated by the consumer culture," according to the museum's website.

Israel's culture minister, Miri Regev, said she has received numerous complaints about a "grave insult to the Christian community's sensibilities" and threatened to cut the museum's funding if it did not remove "McJesus" and other controversial items from the exhibition.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Polish Mayor of Gdansk Dies from Stab Wounds; Pawel Adamowicz Is Attacked at a Charity Event

Polish mayor Pawel Adamowicz died in a hospital today (January 14, 2019) after he was stabbed on stage at a charity event, according to the Sky News website.

Adamowicz, the mayor of Gdansk, was attacked in front of hundreds of people in the city yesterday during an event in aid of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity, which was raising money for hospital equipment.

He underwent five hours of surgery for wounds to his heart and abdomen, but did not survive.

Police arrested a 27-year-old man with a long criminal record on suspicion of attempted murder, and he remains in custody.

Cal. Pastor Loses Job for Posting Anti-Gay Sign; Sign Stated Culture May Change,Bible Does Not

A California pastor is out of a job after facing backlash over a sign that affirms the biblical definition of gender and marriage, the CBN website reports today (January 14, 2019).

Pastor Justin Hoke of Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church in Weed, California, posted a church sign in early January. The sign read: "Bruce Jenner is still a man. Homosexuality is still a sin. The culture may change. The Bible does not."

"The culture is now demanding that we call 'good' what the Bible calls evil," Hoke said.

The posted message immediately sparked protests among members of the community. Hoke decided to resign as pastor of the church to save the church from fracturing.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Trump Warns Turkey Not to Hit Syrian Kurds; Says It Will Suffer Ec. Ruin If It Strikes Kurds

President Donald Trump today (January 13, 2019) warned Turkey it would face economic devastation if it strikes at the Kurds when U.S. forces pull out of  Syria, according to the VOA News website.

"Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey," Trump said in a tweet late today.

Without giving any further details, he wrote "Create 20 mile (32 kilometers) safe zone."

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (YPG), which Turkey views as a terrorist group, were among the United States' closest allies in the fight against Islamic State (IS) militants inside Syria. Turks and Kurds have been clashing for decades, as the Kurds have been trying to establish an independent state of their own in Turkey.

Report: Some Universities Dropping Liberal Arts; Now Favor Career-Focused Specialized Programs

The New York Times reports today (January 13, 2019) that many public universities in rural America are facing a crisis of lower enrollment, funding, and changing demographics -- and are looking to eliminate longstanding liberal arts degrees in favor of career-focused programs -- according to the Newsmax website.

But critics say in trying to carve out a sustainable path at rural schools like UW-Stevens Point in Wisconsin -- where BAs in history, French, and German are getting dropped -- administrators are risking the very essence of a four-year college experience.

"Part of the fear is, Is this an attempt to really kind of radically change the identity of this institution?" Jennifer Collins, a political science professor, told the NY Times, adding she's worried Stevens Point might become a "pre-professional, more polytechnic type of university."

Kim Mueller, 21, a senior who hopes to become a history teacher at a Wisconsin high school, told the Times her first reaction to the proposal was: "What is a university without a history major?"

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Tex. Couple Kept African Girl as Slave for 16 Yrs.; Convicted of Forced Labor, Face 20 Yrs. in Prison

A couple who enslaved a West African girl at their home in Texas for 16 years have been convicted by a federal jury, the Independent (British) website reports today (January 12, 2019).

Mohamed Toure, the son of Guinea's first president Ahmed Sekou Toure, and his wife Denise Cros-Toure arranged for the child to travel to the U.S. when she was only five years old.

They forced her to cook, clean, and look after their biological children without pay, beat and whipped her, and called her a "dog" and a "slave." The girl managed to escape from the home in Southlake with the help of concerned neighbors in 2016.

Toure and his wife now face a maximum of 20 years in prison after being found guilty of forced labor, conspiracy to commit alien harboring, and alien harboring.

Israeli Jets Hit Iranian Warehouse in Damascus; Strike Iranian Storage Sites Helping Syrian Govt.

Missiles fired by Israeli warplanes struck a warehouse at Damascus International Airport late yesterday, Syrian state media reported today (January 12, 2019), citing a military official, according to the Jewish Press website.

The official said Israeli aircraft coming from south fired several missiles at areas near Damascus around 11:15 p.m.

Syrian TV said the attack was "broader than usual," and targeted areas stretching from the eastern Damascus suburb of Dmeir to Kiswa, south of the capital, and all the way to the western village of Dimas near the Lebanese border.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights explained that Kiswa is "home to positions and storage sites for Iranian and Hezbollah forces allied with Syria's government."

Friday, January 11, 2019

FYROM Parliament OKs Nation's Name Change; Nation Now Called Republic of North Macedonia

Members of parliament in FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) today (January 11, 2019) voted to change the country's name to the Republic of North Macedonia to end more than a decade-long dispute with its neighbor, Greece, according to the Euro News website.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who worked zealously with Greece to determine an acceptable new name for FYROM, said the move would "open the doors to the future, Macedonia's European future." Greece has blocked FYROM from becoming a member of NATO and the EU because of its name.

Zaev secured the required two-thirds parliamentary majority to push the constitutional change through.

Greece has been opposed to the FYROM name because there is a province that borders it in northern Greece by the name of Macedonia. It has existed in northern Greece for more than 2,000 years, and was the birthplace of Alexander the Great.

US Begins Withdrawal of Its Troops from Syria; Turkey Pres.Says He'll Attack US-Backed Kurds

The Pentagon began its troop withdrawal from Syria today (January 11, 2019), a move that will remove about 2,000 soldiers and a lot of military equipment from the country, according to the UPI website.

Coalition spokesman Col. Sean Ryan said today the U.S.-led alliance has begun the process of "deliberate withdrawal from Syria," but did not give specific timelines, locations, or troop movements.

President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal last month, saying the U.S. mission to defeat the Islamic State (IS) had been accomplished. He initially said he wanted them out of Syria in 30 days, but the timetable was later adjusted after reactions from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said he still planned to attack U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Syria.

The Syrian civil war has been going on since 2011.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Turkey OKs Const. of 1st Orth.Church Since 1923; Istanbul Syriac Orth. Church Will Serve Assyrians

Turkish authorities have given the go-ahead for the construction of the first Orthodox Christian Church in Istanbul since 1923, the Greek Reporter website reports today (January 10, 2019).

Bulent Kerimoglu, the mayor of Istanbul's Bakirkoy municipality, told reporters on January 8 that the appropriate paperwork has been completed and a permit issued for the Syriac Orthodox Church.

Kerimoglu said once the church is finished -- after an expected two years of construction -- it will serve around 17,000 Syriac Orthodox believers. The proposed church will have a capacity for some 700 worshippers.

Assyrians are an ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient northern Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Their language -- an Aramaic tongue -- is one of the oldest in the world, with a history stretching back 5,500 years.

Russian Cleric:Smartphones Leading to Antichrist; Don't Fall to Addiction of Alcohol, Drugs, Gadgets

The Russian Orthodox patriarch has warned that the popularity of smartphones is paving the way for the coming of the Antichrist, the Yahoo News website reports today (January 10, 2019).

In an interview on state television for Russian Orthodox Christmas on January 7, Patriarch Kirill warned that the widespread use of gadgets connected to the Internet has opened the possibility for "universal control over humanity." The "devil acts very wisely" in offering people such a "toy," he said.

"Such control from one place forebodes the coming of the Antichrist," Patriarch Kirill warned.

"You should remain free inside and not fall under any addiction, not to alcohol, not to narcotics, not to gadgets," he said.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Former Israeli Official Admits Spying for Iran; Gonen Segev Jailed for 11 Years for Espionage

Former Israeli Energy Minister and MK Gonen Segev today (January 9, 2019) confessed and was convicted as part of a plea bargain on serious espionage for Iran against the State of Israel, according to the Jewish Press website.

He will serve an 11-year prison sentence for spying for Iran for money during the past six years.

Despite Segev's cooperation with the State Attorney's Ofice, the Prosecution insisted on a double-digit sentence.

The state preferred a plea deal to avoid the exposure of intelligence methods and information in court.

Patriots Owner Bob Kraft Wins "Jewish Nobel;" US Philanthropist to Use $1M to Fight Prejudice

The Genesis Prize Foundation announced today (January 9, 2019) that owner of the New England patriots football team and American philanthropist Robert Kraft will receive its 2019 Genesis Prize , according to the World Israel News website.

In a statement, the Genesis Prize Foundation said, "The annual $1 million Genesis Prize, dubbed the 'Jewish Nobel' by Time magazine, honors extraordinary individuals for their outstanding professional achievement, contribution to humanity, and commitment to Jewish values and Israel."

Israel's prime minister will bestow the prize on Kraft, who lives in Newton, Massachusetts, at a gala ceremony in Jerusalem in June.

"I am honored to receive the Genesis Prize and thank the Genesis Prize Foundation for its recognition and willingness to direct my prize monies to such worthy causes," said Kraft, who will use the money toward efforts to fight prejudice.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets Used in Bangladesh; Over 5,000 Workers Protest for Higher Wages

Bangladesh police today (January 8, 2019) fired rubber bullets and tear gas, as thousands of factory workers in the South Asian country's  huge garment industry staged protests for a third day demanding wage hikes, according to The Globe Post website.

Police said more than 5,000 workers blocked a national highway at Hemayetpur outside the capital, Dhaka.

"At least 12 policemen were injured after they threw rocks at our officers..." police official Sana Shaminur Rahman said.

Bangladesh is the world's second-largest garment maker, preceded only by China. It has replaced millions of American jobs in the garment industry, as many American garment company owners have moved their companies to Asia, where labor is much cheaper than America.

Christian Baker Sues Colorado for Anti-Rel. Bias; Court:Baker Can Sue State for Violating His Faith

A federal court has ruled that Colorado Christian baker Jack Phillips can continue his lawsuit against the state, accusing it of anti-religious bias against him for refusing to make cakes that support transgender identity and gay marriage, the Christian Post website reports today (January 8, 2019).

Judge Wiley Daniel of the U.S. District Court of the District of Colorado issued an order on January 4 allowing Phillips' lawsuit against Colorado and its Civil Rights Commission to continue.

Atty. Jim Campbell of  the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) said "Colorado is acting in bad faith and with bias toward Jack."

Campbell added: "We look forward to moving forward with this lawsuit to ensure that Jack isn't forced to create custom cakes that express messages in conflict with his faith."

Monday, January 7, 2019

Bolton: Kurdish Allies of US Must Be Protected; Turks Won't Attack Them After US Leaves Syria

White House national security adviser John Bolton added a new condition yesterday to the U.S. withdrawal from Syria, saying Turkey must agree to protect the United States' Kurdish allies, the Reuters website reports today (January 7, 2019).

President Donald Trump's abrupt decision last month to announce a U.S. pullout from Syria left many questions open, chiefly whether Kurdish fighters who had been operating in northern Syria alongside U.S. forces would be attacked by their long-time enemy, Turkey.

Bolton -- on a trip to Israel and Turkey -- said he would stress in talks with Turkish officials, including President Tayyip Erdogan, that Kurdish forces must be protected in Syria.

Bolton also told reporters the U.S. pullout would be done in a way that guaranteed the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group "is defeated and is not able to revive itself and become a threat again."

Israel Blocks PA Bid for Full UN Membership; Says PA Is a Terrorist State, Ineligible to Join

Israel blocked a Palestinian attempt to gain full membership at the United Nations, the Jewish Press website reports today (january 7, 2019).

Acting with the U.S. and other allies at the UN, Israel thwarted the Palestinian Authority (PA) attempt to upgrade its status at the UN from an observer state to a voting state with full membership.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon led the effort to stop the Palestinian initiative.

Dannon said that to be accepted to the UN, an entity "must love and seek peace." He added, "The majority of the Palestinians  embrace terrorism and do not meet this criterion."

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Pope:Don't Make Money, Career Your Whole Life; Bartholomew Honors Jesus' Baptism on Epiphany

Pope Francis yesterday advised against making the pursuit of money, a career, or success the basis for one's whole life, urging his Epiphany remarks to also resist "inclinations toward arrogance, the thirst for power, and for riches," the Euro News website reports today (January 6, 2019).

During a homily at Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, Francis said people "often make do" with having "health, a little money and a bit of entertainment." He urged people to help the poor and others in need of assistance, giving freely without expecting anything in return.

Many Christians observe Epiphany to recall the three wise men who followed a star to find the baby Jesus. Francis suggested asking "What star have we chosen to follow in our lives?"

Meanwhile, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of Greek Orthodox Christians and Archbishop of Constantinople, led the liturgy yesterday at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George for Epiphany, commemorating the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River.

Australian Nazis Hit Nursing Home with Swastika; Several Holocaust Survivors Live in This Dwelling

An Australian neo-Nazi group defaced an elderly care facility that houses Holocaust survivors, the latest incident in a rash of anti-Semitic vandalism targeting Melbourne's Jewish community, the Times of Israel website reports today (January 6, 2019).

Stickers bearing the logo of homegrown hate group Antipodean Resistance were discovered plastered on the entrance to the Emmy Monash Aged Care facility, located in a heavily Jewish suburb of Caulfield, southeast of Melbourne.

The black and white swastika stickers were discovered by Sam Seigal, who was visiting his 94-year-old parents at the facility on New Year's Day.

"I saw it stuck to the front gates. I just stood there and looked -- it knocked me about," Seigal told Australia's Herald Sun newspaper. "You don't expect to see those sorts of things, especially at an aged-care residence."

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Ukraine Orth. Church Formally Split from Russia; Patriarch Bartholomew Signs "Tomos" for Its Ind.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church today (January 5, 2019) formally received its independence as Patriarch Bartholomew I signed the "Tomos" -- a decree of independence -- in Istanbul, according to the Greek Reporter website.

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople has now completed the actions needed for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to be formally recognized as independent from the Russian Orthodox Church.

The two churches had been one and the same since 1686. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has elected Metropolitan Epiphanius to lead it.

The  move to separate the churches was fueled by recent Russian aggression in Ukraine, including Russia's illegal annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in the Black Sea.

No Timeline Set for US Troops Leaving Syria; Done with Allies to Assure Most Clout on ISIS

There is "no timeline for U.S. military forces to withdraw" from Syria, a senior State Department official said yesterday, the ABC News website reports today (January 5, 2019).

At the same time, officials reiterated the Trump administration "does not intend to have an indefinite military presence in Syria," and the president's decision to withdraw was still intact.

The officials said a Syria withdrawal would be done "in a deliberate, heavily coordinated way with allies and partners" in order to "maintain pressure of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) throughout and not to open any vacuums for terrorists to exploit."

Trump originally said the U.S. troops in Syria would be leaving "now," indicating the withdrawal could occur within 30 days.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Trump May Declare National Emergency for Wall; Says He Can Build a Border Wall without Congress

President Donald Trump asserted today (January 4, 2019) that he has the power to declare a national emergency to build the Mexico border wall without Congressional approval, according to the Washington Post website.

He also claimed that previous presidents have told him they wished they had built a border wall themselves.

"This is national security we're talking about. We're not talking about games," Trump added.

Elizabeth Goitan, co-director of the Liberty and National Security program at the Brennan Center for Justice, said Trump has the authority to use the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to declare a national emergency. Doing so would allow the Pentagon to reprogram funds from Army civil works projects to an Army national defense project -- thus allowing Trump to divert funding for construction of the border wall.

Muslim Rep. on Trump:"Impeach the Mother--;" Speaker Pelosi OKs Vulgarity: "It's No Big Deal"

Hours after Rashida Tlaib was sworn in yesterday as one of the two first Muslim female members of Congress (along with Minnesota's Ilhan Orar), she told a cheering crowd about her mission against President Donald Trump: "Impeach the Motherf------," The Daily Beast website reports today (January 4, 2019).

The Michigan Democrat expanded her comments in an op-ed for the Detroit Free Press, writing, "The president has committed impeachable offenses, including, just to name a few: obstructing justice; violating the emoluments clause; abusing the pardon power; directing law enforcement to prosecute political adversaries for improper purposes..."

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi today excused Congresswoman Tlaib's vulgar language.

Pelosi said, "That would not be the language I would use [to describe President Trump], but nonetheless, I don't think we should make a big deal of it. I really don't."

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Three Migrants Given Greek Citizenship for Valor; Rescued Dozens of People Fleeing Deadly Wildfire

Three migrant fisherman were granted Greek citizenship yesterday for "ignoring the dangers" and rescuing dozens of people fleeing this summer's deadly wildfire, the Euro News website reports today (January 3, 2019).

Emad El Khaimi, 50, and Mahmoud Ibrahim Musa, 46, both from Egypt, as well as Gani Xheka, 35, from Albania received their citizenship from Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos during a ceremony in Athens yesterday.

The three men assisted people who had jumped into the sea to escape the July 23 wildfire which swept through the Attica Peninsula and the popular resort town of Mati.

At least 91 people were killed by the blaze or during their attempts to flee, with some drowning or suffocating because of the thick smoke.

Istanbul Ceremony Planned for Ukrainian Church; Bartholomew to OK Ukraine Church Autocephaly

In a few days, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew -- the foremost leader in the Eastern Orthodox Church -- is scheduled to recognize the newly founded independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the Religion News website reports today (January 3, 2019).

Bartholomew plans to give the tomos, or formal decree of autocephaly, to primate Metropolitan Epiphanius in an elaborate ceremony in Istanbul that coincides with one of the most important celebrations for Orthodoxy, the Epiphany.

Unfortunately, Bartholomew's decision to create an independent Orthodox Christian Church in Ukraine has resulted in a rift between Moscow and Istanbul.

An independent Ukrainian Church undercuts Russian President Putin's plans to expand the country's power, including boosting Moscow as the so-called "Third Rome" that would become a center of the Orthodox faith.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

At Least 6 Dead, 16 Hurt in Denmark Train Crash; Train Hit Trailer on Tracks Blown off Freight Train

At least six people were killed and 16 injured today (January 2, 2019) when a passenger train hit a freight trailer on a bridge in Denmark, according to the Euro News website.

The accident closed down the bridge linking Fyn to the island of Sjaelland -- also known as the Great Belt Bridge.

The train had 131 on board and was heading to Copenhagen when it hit the trailer that had blown off a wagon coming the other way.

The Danish Accident Investigation Board's probe into the incident showed a trailer had blown off a freight wagon onto the oncoming tracks, a spokesman said.

40 Catholic Missionaries Were Killed in 2018; Africa Replaced Latin America for Most Deaths

Forty Catholic missionaries were killed around the world in 2018, the Vatican's news agency reported today (January 2, 2018), with Africa becoming the new deadliest continent for clergy, according to the Christian Post website.

The 40 deaths are almost double the 23 deaths in 2017.

While Latin America was the deadliest region for clergy for eight straight years, Africa took over the mantle in 2018, seeing 19 priests, one seminarian, and one lay woman killed in the year.

Many missionaries have lost their lives during attempted hold-ups and robberies in impoverished social contexts, where violence is the rule of life, the Vatican report indicated.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Pope's New Year's Message Concentrates on Unity; Advises Catholics to Remain Rooted to the Church

Pope Francis, in his first message of the new year today (January 1, 2019) bemoaned a lack of unity across the world, and warned against a soul-less hunt for profit that benefits only a few, the Reuters website reports.

"The world is completely connected, yet seems increasingly disjointed," the pope said in his New Year's Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

The address followed a turbulent 2018 for the pope, whose Church was battered by a torrent of sex scandals across the world that Francis has failed to contain.

The pope called for Roman Catholics to remain rooted to the Church, saying: "Unity counts more than diversity."

US Fires Tear Gas at Migrants on Border Fence; Migrants Arrived from Honduras,US Detains 25

U.S. authorities fired tear gas into Mexico during the first hours of the new year to repel about 150 migrants who were trying to breach the border fence in Tijuana, the Washington Times website reports today (January 1, 2019).

Migrants who spoke with the press said they arrived last month with the caravan from Honduras in Central America.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the tear gas was aimed at rock throwers on the Mexican side of the border.

It added that 25 migrants were detained.

Three Stabbed at Manchester,UK Railway Station; New Year's Eve Stabbings Viewed as Terrorist Act

The stabbing of three people -- including a police officer -- in Manchester, England is being treated as a terrorist act, the BBC website reports today (January 1, 2019).

A man, aged 25, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after the attack on New Year's Eve at the city's Victoria railway station.

Two knives were recovered at the scene and a property is being searched in the Cheetham Hill area.

The three victims were taken to a nearby hospital with serious  but not life-threatening injuries.