Friday, May 31, 2019

La. Governor Will Sign "Heartbeat Bill " into Law; Bans Abortions Once Fetal Heartbeat Is Detected

Louisiana's Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, will be signing the state's fetal heartbeat bill into law, marking a significant break from the Democratic Party on the subject of abortion, The New American website reports today (May 31, 2019).

The heartbeat bill is similar to others that have been passed recently throughout the U.S. It bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, typically around six weeks.

This bill does not include exceptions for cases of rape and incest.

"Even though I know there are horrible crimes that are committed with rape and incest.... The child should not be killed and terminated because of the crime of the father," said state Representative Valarie Hodges, who carried Senate Bill 184 in the House.

Pope Francis Visits Romanian Pres., Rel. Leaders; Lauds Romania's Strides Since Communist Defeat

Pope Francis made his first visit to Romania today (May 31, 2019), aiming to mend ties with the Greek Orthodox Church, meet with Romanian leaders, and visit medieval sites, according to the UPI website.

Francis was greeted with a large crowd of leaders, Catholics, and children when he arrived in Bucharest, Romania's capital.

"It is a great pleasure to have you here, on Romanian soil," Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said.

Francis gave a speech after meeting with Iohannis at the Cotroceni Palace on the strides Romania -- a predominantly Orthodox Christian country -- has made since the fall of communism in 1989.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Pope Rips Trump's Cruel Immigration Policies; Parting Kids, Parents Demeans Human Rights

In an interview on Mexican television, Pope Francis condemned Donald Trump's "cruel" immigration policies, the America Media website reports today (May 30, 2019).

In the past, Pope Francis denounced "wall building" and urged political leaders around the world to "build bridges."

This time fielding a question about conditions at the U.S. border, the pope railed against the current U.S. immigration policy of separating children from their parents as an act that is against natural rights.

"It falls into the greatest cruelty," he said. "To defend what? The territory, or the economy of the country, or who knows what?"

Trump, Pence Cut Scope of Women's Health Care; Limit Abortions,Prioritize Rel.Conservative Rights

In a sweeping social policy shift, the Trump administration is remaking health rules at home and abroad for women, gay, and transgender people, restricting access to abortion and narrowing the scope of civil rights in healthcare, the Reuters website reports today (June 30, 2019).

The turnaround has its foundations in the behind-the-scenes influence of Vice President Mike Pence, whose political career has been driven by evangelical Christian beliefs to restrict abortion and prioritize the rights of religious conservatives.

The Department of Health and Human Services has moved to slash funds from teen pregnancy prevention programs, curb abortion both in the U.S. and abroad, and strip civil protections for transgender patients.

The administration has also emphasized abstinence programs and pushed to cut funds for Planned Parenthood.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Theology, Rel. Studies Suffering a Decline in UK; No.of Students Studying Theology Drops a Third

Theology and religious studies in British higher education are suffering a major decline, according to an educational group that specializes in humanities and social sciences, the Christian Post website reports today (May 29, 2019).

The London-based British Academy recently released a report titled "Theology and Religious Studies Provision in U.K. Higher Education," which found there were approximately 6,500 fewer students enrolled in theology and religious studies courses in higher education during the 2017-2018 academic year than in 2011-2012.

Since 2012, the number of students studying theology and religious studies degrees has fallen by a third, the report noted.

"Fewer students means additional pressures on schools and departments to demonstrate their worth or face closure. The U.K.'s specialist theological institution, Heythrop College, founded in 1614, closed its doors in 2018 after over 400 years of teaching," the report states.

Louvre Museum Closed as Workers Go on Strike; Union:Strike Due to Huge Crowds, Poor Benefits

The Louvre Museum in Paris has been closed this week, as security and reception staff went on strike over what they say are deteriorating working conditions as the museum draws record crowds, the NPR (National Public Radio) website reports today (May 29, 2019).

The museum -- located in the former royal palace on the city's Right Bank -- attracted a record 10.2 million visitors last year.

No other museum in the world has ever equaled that figure. But workers say both visitors and staff are suffering from such massive popularity.

"The Louvre is suffocating," the Sud Culture Solidaires Union said in a statement. "While the public has increased by more than 20 percent since 2009, the palace has not grown. Today the situation is untenable."

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Southern Baptist Rel. Sees Big Membership Drop; Is 12th Year in Row Its Membership Has Declined

The nation's largest Protestant denomination reported its twelfth consecutive year of declining membership in an annual report released last week, the Religion News website reports today (May 28, 2019).

 The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) said it had 14.8 million members in 2018, down about 192,000 from the previous year. Baptisms also declined by about 7,600 to 246,442.

The SBC's membership peaked at 16.3 million in 2006. Its giving has continued to grow, however, with its churches collecting $11.8 billion last year. 

The denomination also saw the number of affiliated churches drop slightly for the first time since 1998. The SBC had 51,541 total congregations in 2018. 

Germany Encourages Its People to Wear Kippahs; Shows Support of Jews during Anti-Semitic Spike

Germany is encouraging people to wear skullcaps to show solidarity with its Jewish population after a rise in anti-Semitic incidents, the Euro News website reports today (May 28, 2019).

Anti-Semitism commissioner Felix Klein warned Germany's Jews against wearing the caps -- known as kippahs or yarmulkes -- following the anti-Semitism spike in parts of the country.

Speaking to Funke media group, Klein said he could not "advise Jews to wear the kippah everywhere all the time in Germany."

Klein's kippah comments were not taken lightly, as Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said he was "shocked" by them, adding that such a suggestion was a "capitulation to anti-Semitism."

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Pope Relates Having Abortion to Hiring Hitman; Human Being Is Never Incompatible with Life

Pope Francis yesterday compared having an abortion to hiring a hitman and said the procedure can never be condoned -- even if the fetus is gravely sick -- the Yahoo website reports today (May 26, 2019).

Speaking at a Vatican-sponsored anti-abortion conference, he urged doctors and priests to support families to carry all pregnancies to full term.

"Is it licit to throw away a life to resolve a problem?" he asked his audience.

The pontiff denounced decisions to abort pregnancies based on prenatal testing, saying a human being is "never incompatible with life."

Friday, May 24, 2019

Pelosi:Trump's Family, Admin. Should Intervene; Claims He Lacks Mental Stability and Needs Help

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said yesterday that she's concerned about President Trump's well-being and wishes his family or administration would stage an intervention, the Daily Beast website reports today (May 24, 2019).

"I pray for the president of the United States," she said at a press conference.

Her comments come a day after Trump walked out of an infrastructure meeting and called an unexpected press conference, declaring he won't work with House Democrats until they stop investigating him.

Pelosi angered President Trump when she said she believes he engaged in a "cover-up."

Pope Names First Women to Key Vatican Dept.; Names Four to Office of Synods to Advise Popes

Pope Francis appointed women today (May 24, 2019) to a key Vatican department for the first time since it was founded more than 50 years ago, according to the Euro News website.

Three nuns and one lay woman were appointed councilors in the office of synods, which prepares major meetings of world bishops held every few years on a different topic.

Pope Paul VI founded the Synod of Bishops in 1965 as a body to advise popes.

Two of the four are Italian -- Sister Alessandra Smerilli, an economics professor, and Cecilia Costa, a sociology professor. The others are Sister Maria Luisa Berzosa Gonzalez of Spain and Sister Nathalie Becquart of France.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Trump Will Curb Welfare Use by Non-Citizens; Requires Immigrant Sponsors to Reimburse Govt.

President Donald Trump is expected to sign a memorandum today (May 23, 2019) enforcing restrictions on welfare benefits for non-citizens, according to the Daily Caller website.

The memo directs government agencies to enforce legislation signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996 that requires sponsors of immigrants to the U.S. to reimburse the government for any welfare benefits received by the person they are sponsoring.

"This is shifting the burden away from the taxpayer and asking people to be self-sufficient," a senior administration official said.

He added, "We have our own citizens who are struggling."

US Jews Feel Troubled by Soaring Anti-Semitism; Say It's Due to Way Trump Handles Anti-Semitism

A survey of 1,000 Jewish voters released yesterday by the Jewish Electorate Institute shows 73 percent of registered voters believe Jewish Americans are less secure than they were two years ago, at least in part, respondents said, because of the way President Trump has handled anti-Semitism, the Religion News website reports today (May 23, 2019).

The poll, conducted by Greenberg Research, shows 71 percent disapprove of Trump's response to anti-Semitism.

Nearly 60 percent believe he bears at least some responsibility for last year's shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and last month's shooting at a synagogue in Poway, near San Diego.

"We have a Jewish community, not under siege, but facing great insecurity, blaming President Trump for a lot of it, becoming very engaged and politicized by it, and prioritizing a range of domestic issues that align them to vote Democratic in 2020," said Stan Greenberg, a longtime pollster for Democrats.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Gallup Poll: 43% of Americans Prefer Socialism; Majority of Democrats View Socialism Positively

Forty-three percent of Americans think socialism would be a good thing for the U.S., while a slim majority -- 51 percent -- of those surveyed in a Gallup Poll released on May 20 think it would be a bad thing, The New American website reports today (May 22, 2019).

A majority of Democrats have said they view socialism positively in Gallup polling since 2010, including 57 percent in the most recent measure in 2018.

Gallup first asked Americans in 1949 about their outlook on the spread of democracy over the next 50 years.

At that time, seven in ten Americans (72%) predicted that most countries in the world would have a democratic government.

Sex Abuse Scandal Rocks Cath.Church in Poland; Polish Govt. Launches a Public Inquiry on Abuse

A new documentary allegedly exposing child sex abuse by members of the Roman Catholic Church is forcing Poland's Catholic Church bishops to meet in Warsaw today (May 22, 2019), according to the Euro News website.

The Catholic Church's links to the political establishment in the country and its influence over the education system, culture, and lawmaking means the scandal is becoming a political issue.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said yesterday that a public inquiry on paedophilia is being launched.

He stated, "A state committee to examine all paedophilia cases will be set up..."

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Taylor U. Graduates Walk Out on Pence's Speech; Say Trump-Pence Policies Violate Christian Ethics

Dozens of students and faculty walked out in protest before Mike Pence's commencement speech at private Christian school Taylor University's graduation, the Christian Headlines website reports today (May 21, 2019).

"Inviting Vice President Pence to Taylor University and giving him a coveted platform for his political views makes our alumni, faculty, staff and current students complicit in the Trump-Pence Administration's policies, which we believe are not consistent with the Christian ethic of love we hold dear," read a petition.

Thousands of alumni, faculty, staff, and outside voices expressed their disagreement to the private school's invitation to Mike Pence to speak at their graduation ceremony.

Nonetheless, a majority of the over 400 graduating students stayed seated during the ceremony, then rose to a standing ovation for the vice president after the planned walkout.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Brandeis U.Head Rips Art Installation Vandalism; Asserts Targeting Hillel Is an Act of Anti-Semitism

Vandalism against a temporary art installation erected for Brandeis University Hillel's Israel Week celebration violates the university's recently adopted principles of free expression, the university president said, according to the Times of Israel website.

The celebration took place earlier this month on the university's Great Lawn.

In one incident, graffiti that read "Free Palestine" was written on the installation. In a second, a sign that read "Stop lying to young Jews #Free Palestine" was affixed to its side.

"The targeting of Hillel, a Jewish organization, could easily lead one to interpret the acts as anti-Semitic, and the university strongly condemns anti-Semitism," Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz said in a statement published on the university's website on May 15, 2019.

Trump Warns Iran against Middle East Violence; Says Iran Will Be Destroyed If It Sparks Conflict

U.S. President Donald Trump issued a new threat to Teheran yesterday, tweeting that a conflict would be the "official end"of Iran, and Saudi Arabia warned it stood ready to respond with "all strength" and said it was up to Iran to avoid war, the Yahoo website reports today (May 20, 2019).

"If Iran wants to fight, it will be the official end of Iran..." Trump said in a tweet.

The heightened rhetoric follows last week's attacks on Saudi oil assets and the firing of a rocket on Baghdad that exploded near the U.S.embassy.

A U.S.State Department official said the rocket attack produced no casualties, but the U.S. was taking the incident "very seriously."

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Pope Emphasizes Need for Freedom of the Press; Says Dictators Tend to End Freedom of the Press

In an address to the Foreign Press Association at the Vatican yesterday, Pope Francis urged journalists to reject fake news and continue reporting on the troubling conditions of suffering people who no longer make it into daily headlines, the Euro News website reports today (May 19, 2019).

Patricia Thomas, the Association's president, talked about journalists killed, imprisoned, wounded, or threatened in their work.

"Freedom of the press and expression is an important indicator of the state of a country's health," the pope said.

He added, "Let's not forget that one of the first things dictatorships do is remove freedom of the press or mask it, not leaving it free."

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Three Fires Set at 2 Boston Area Chabad Houses; Local and State Officials: Are Likely Hate Crimes

Police in the Boston area have opened a multi-jurisdictional probe after a fire was reported at the Chabad Jewish Center in Needham, Massachusetts on the night of May 16, just one hour after a fire was reported at the Arlington home and Chabad house of Rabbi Avi Bukiet and his family, the Times of Israel website reports today (May 18, 2019).

The two Chabad houses are less than an hour drive from each other.

This brings to three the number of suspicious fires since May 11, when another blaze damaged outside shingles at the Bukiets' home.

Local and state law enforcement and fire officials are coordinating their investigations, including the possibility that the fires are hate crimes.

Friday, May 17, 2019

College Board Will Change Scoring of the SAT; Scores to Reflect Students' Econ. Backgrounds

Students who come from tough backgrounds might get a break the next time they take the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test), the CNN website reports today (May 17, 2019).

The College Board, which administers the standardized test, said it will start to assign a score to students who take the SAT "to reflect their social and economic backgrounds."

The Environmental Context Dashboard will factor in things such as crime and poverty in a student's neighborhood to capture their "resourcefulness to overcome challenges and achieve more with less."

The dashboard score will not include a student's race.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Trump Announces Plan to Overhaul Immigration; Will Emphasize Immigrants with Merit and Skills

President Trump today (May 16, 2019) announced a bold plan to refashion legal immigration from its heavy reliance on family ties into a points-based system that would boost those with preferred skills, according to the Washington Times website.

Trump said the overall level of legal immigration would remain the same -- about 1.1 million per year -- but that the U.S. should do more to pick newcomers who would boost the economy rather than rely on migrants to pick themselves based on which relatives are already in the country.

"We want immigrants coming in. We cherish the open door," he said in a speech in the White House Rose Garden. "But a big proportion of those immigrants must come in through merit and skill."

Right now, only about 12% of immigrants are selected based on employment. The president said his plan would raise that to 57%, "and we'd like to even see if we can go higher."

Several Colleges Hosting Black-Only Graduations; Held in Addition to Colleges' Regular Graduations

Dozens of universities across the nation will be hosting segregated graduation ceremonies during the next month for their black graduates, The College Fix website reports today (May 16, 2019).

These supplementary ceremonies are voluntary and are offered in addition to the universities' regular graduations.

Sometimes they are co-hosted by black campus resource centers and various academic departments. They serve to give extra honors and recognition to black students earning their degrees.

The popularity in offering these segregated graduations also seems to be growing. A new report by the National Association of Scholars that looked at 173 schools found that 76 of them, or 44 percent, offer such ceremonies.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Alab. Senate Passes Bill Banning All Abortions; Designed to Overturn 1973 Roe v. Wade Ruling

The bill that passed the Alabama State Senate today (May 15, 2019), banning almost all abortions in the state, was designed specifically to challenge the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, according to The New American website.

The bill -- House Bill 314, the "Human Life Protection Act" -- declares that a fetus is a human being with all inherent rights, and that a provider performing an abortion that ends that life could be sentenced to life in prison.

There are no exceptions for rape or incest; the only one is when "an abortion is necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk" to the mother.

The bill's sponsor, Representative Terri Collins, called the bill a "direct attack" on Roe v. Wade, adding, "The heart of this bill is to confront a decision that was made by the court in 1973 that said the baby in the womb is not a person. This bill addresses that one issue..."

TX Town Won't Remove Crosses from Courthouse; Denies Atheist Group Demands to Remove Crosses

A small Texas town  is rejecting demands from an atheist organization to remove crosses from the county courthouse, the Christian Headlines website reports today (May 15, 2019).

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter in late April to officials in Coldspring, Texas asserting that four white crosses on the sides of the building violate the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on government establishment of religion.

But last week the San Jacinto County Commissioners voted unanimously, 5-0, to keep the crosses on the courthouse.

Moreover, the Texas Attorney General's office applauded the commissioners' decision and pledged its legal support if the FFRF files suit.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Alyssa Milano Wants Women's Sex Strike on Men; Due to Some States Passing Anti-Abortion Laws

Alyssa Milano's recent call for women to go on a "sex strike" on men, as a protest over recent anti-abortion legislation in several states, has sparked an outcry from many corners, including women, the Yahoo website reports today (May 14, 2019).

"View" co-host Meghan McCain, who supports measures like Georgia's "heartbeat bill," slammed the actress for "telling women to use their bodies as a bargaining chip, [which] doesn't feel very feminist."

Meanwhile, many women have argued that abstinence would amount to, in the words of one critic, "bribing men for equal rights with access to our bodies," and have accused Milano of leaving out lesbian women.

Other women have mocked her proposal as being extreme, with some arguing that women also enjoy having sex, although not as much as men do.

Judge Blocks Video Footage on Kraft's Actions; Says Warrant for Video Was Illegally Obtained

A judge ruled yesterday that hidden camera footage of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft at a Florida massage parlor cannot be used in the billionaire's trial on charges of soliciting prostitution, the Reuters website reports today (May 14, 2019).

Attorneys for the owner of the reigning Super Bowl champions had asked the Florida judge to suppress the video, calling it an illegally obtained search warrant.

The video could have been key evidence against Kraft, who faces two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution on January 19 and 20 at Orchids of Asia Spa in Jupiter, Florida, along with some two dozen other men.

Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots since 1994, has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, and has issued a public apology for his actions.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Actress Is Guilty in College Admissions Scandal; Felicity Huffman Paid Rick Singer $15K for Deal

Actress Felicity Huffman today (May 13, 2019) pleaded guilty to accusations that she paid $15,000 to fraudulently boost her daughter's SAT score as part of a nationwide college admissions scam, according to the AOL website.

The "Desperate Housewives" actress pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

Huffman, 56, is one of 14 parents who agreed to plead guilty to allegations stemming from a far-reaching federal investigation that has led to the arrest of dozens of wealthy parents, coaches, and college officials.

Prosecutors say Huffman paid Rick Singer -- who orchestrated the admissions scheme -- to hire a proctor to correct her elder daughter's answers on her college entrance exam.

Pence: Many Americans Reject Christian Beliefs; Says Grads May Be Shunned for Defending Bible

Vice President Mike Pence told graduating seniors at the country's largest Christian university they should expect to be "ridiculed" for their beliefs, the Washington Examiner website reports today (May 13, 2019).

"Throughout most of American history, it's been pretty easy to call yourself Christian," Pence said at Liberty University commencement on May 11.

"It didn't even occur to people that you might be shunned or ridiculed for defending the teachings of the Bible. But things are different now," Pence told the graduates.

He added, "Some of the loudest voices for tolerance today have little tolerance for traditional Christian beliefs. Be ready."

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Thousands of Poles Protest Over US WW II Stand; Say US Puts Jewish Interests Over Poles' Interests

Thousands of Polish nationalists marched to the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw yesterday, protesting that the U.S. is putting pressure on Poland to compensate Jews whose families lost property during the Holocaust, the Yahoo website reports today (May 12, 2019).

The protest took place amid a dramatic rise in anti-Semitic hate speech in public life in Poland.

It also appeared to be one of the largest anti-Jewish street demonstrations in Poland in recent times.

Protesters say the U.S. has no right to interfere in Polish affairs and the U.S. government is putting "Jewish interests" over interests of Poland.

US Warships and Bombers Gather Off Iran Coast; Pompeo:In Case Iran Makes Bad Mideast Decision

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said yesterday that the U.S. doesn't want war but reserves the right to surround Iran with warships and bombers just in case Teheran makes a "bad" decision that doesn't conform to Washington's interests, the RT website reports today (May 12, 2019).

"A build-up of  'deterrent forces' around Iran is necessary so that the U.S. could respond if Iran decided to come after an American interest -- whether that be in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Yemen, or any other place in the Middle East," Pompeo asserted.

"We're not going to miscalculate: Our aim is not war, our aim is a change in the behavior of the Iranian leadership," Pompeo added.

The Pentagon also announced that a battery of Patriot missiles and the transport ship USS Arlington are being deployed to the region "in response to indications of heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against U.S. forces and our interests."

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Epidoforos Elected Greek Archbishop of America; Earned Degrees from Aristotle U. of Thessaloniki

The Bishop of Bursa Epidoforos today (May 11, 2019) was elected the new Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America, according to the Greek Reporter website.

The decision was made in Istanbul by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew presiding.

Epidoforos Lampriniadis was born in Istanbul in 1967. He graduated from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, where also received his Ph.D. in theology.

He was the abbot of the Monastery of Holy Trinity in Halki from August of 2011.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Dozens Missing as Migrant Boat Sinks in Med.; Boat with 70 Migrants Parted Libya for Europe

Tunisian officials said today (May 10, 2019) that a boat carrying 70 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa has sunk in the Mediterranean, leaving at least three people dead and dozens missing, according to the CBS News website.

The bodies of three people who drowned in the accident were found today, a spokesman for the Tunisian defense ministry said.

The boat left Zwara on the northwestern Libyan coast for Europe yesterday.

The United Nations immigration agency said 16 survivors had been pulled from the water by fishing boats.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

FBI Investigates 850 Cases of Domestic Terrorism; Must Be Intent to Harm before They're Prosecuted

The FBI has more than 850 open investigations into domestic terrorism across the U.S., and the threat continues to grow, the Worthy News website reports today (May 9, 2019).

FBI, Justice Department, and Homeland Security officials gave testimony before a congressional committee yesterday on homegrown hate and violence.

They cautioned lawmakers they could not prosecute a white supremacist simply for the ideology or an online manifesto -- there must be intent to harm or harass.

Like foreign terrorists, domestic terrorists are radicalizing quickly online with few barriers and no need to meet up in person.

Pope Has New Law to Fight Sex Abuse, Cover-ups; Requires All Priests and Nuns to Report Sex Abuse

Pope Francis introduced a major change in Catholic law yesterday, which requires all priests and nuns to report incidents of sex abuse and attempts to cover them up, the UPI website reports today (May 9, 2019).

The new procedures will take effect June 1 and will be re-evaluated after three years, the Vatican said.

"The crimes of sexual abuse offend Our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims, and harm the community of the faithful," the pope said.

He added, "In order that these phenomena, in all their forms, never happen again, a continuous and profound conversion of hearts is needed, attested by concrete and effective actions that involve everyone in the church..."

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Five Killed in Attack on Afghan Charity Offices; Taliban Claims Responsibility for the Terrorism

Five people were killed and 24 injured today (May 8, 2019) in a terrorist attack at the offices of the   charity Counterpart International in Kabul, Afghanistan, according to the CNN website.

The attackers detonated an explosive-laden vehicle at the gates of the non-governmental organization Counterpart International, said Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimy.

Four terrorists were able to enter the organization's offices before Afghan special forces arrived, Rahimy said. During a nearly five-hour battle, all four were killed. The death toll includes one woman and one special forces member.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

Georgia Bans Abortion after Heartbeat Detected; Is Fourth State This Year to Pass a Heartbeat Law

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill into law yesterday that bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat has been detected and recognizes fetuses as natural persons, the Christian Post website reports today (May 8, 2019).

"Georgia is a state that values life," Kemp said as he signed The Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act, into law.

The move drew support from pro-life supporters such as Live Action founder and President Lila Rose. Georgia is the fourth state this year to pass a heartbeat bill, joining Kentucky, Mississippi , and Ohio.

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D.-N.Y., lashed out at the legislation yesterday, calling it a "backdoor ban" on abortion.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Pope Lauds Mother Teresa in N. Macedonia Mass; Praises N. Macedonia for Agreeing to a New Name

In a historic visit to North Macedonia today (May 7, 2019), Pope Francis praised the late Mother Teresa in a prayer during a mass, according to the UPI website.

Mother Teresa was canonized as a saint in 2016 by Francis, 19 years after her death. The Catholic nun devoted her life to helping the poor in India.

The pope also praised North Macedonia as a bridge between east and west and encouraged it to engage more with European institutions now that a decades-long dispute with Greece over its name has been settled. In February, the Republic of North Macedonia was agreed upon as the new name by the country and Greece, which has a bordering province called Macedonia.

About 15,000 people attended today's mass at Macedonia Square. The visit to Skopje, North Macedonia's capital, comes at the end of a three-day tour that also took Francis to Bulgaria.

Christians Are 80% of Persecuted Rel. Believers; Study by International Society for Human Rights

An interim report prepared by the British government shows that approximately four of five people persecuted for their religious beliefs are Christians, the Christian Post website reports today (May 7, 2019).

The Rt. Rev. Philip Mounstephen, Anglican bishop of Truro in the United Kingdom prepared the interim report, focused on persecuted Christians.

The report shows that 80 percent of persecuted believers around the world are Christians.

Mounstephen said that while the statistic derives from 10-year-old research by the International Society for Human Rights, it remains accurate today.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Islam Now Has a Significant Influence in Europe; Mohammed Is Most Popular Boys' Name in Berlin

The most popular name for baby boys in Berlin, Germany is Mohammed, as the Islamic influence in Europe through mass migration continues to increase, The New American website reports today (May 6, 2019).

The Islamic Prophet's name is appearing on as many birth certificates as names such as Louis and Emil, which came in second and third.

On the positive side, traditional German and Christian names were still on top across Germany as a whole.

As the Islamic migrants have moved into and taken over large parts of European cities in recent years, they have also gained political power and are now being elected to office.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Palestinians Launch over 600 Rockets on Israel; Israel Responds with Airstrikes on 300 Targets

Israel and Hamas clashed into their deadliest bout of fighting in five years today (May 5, 2019), as Palestinian militants launched a barrage of more than 600 rockets and Israel responded with airstrikes on more than 300 targets, according to the Washington Post website.

Four Israeli civilians were killed, the first from rocket fire from Gaza since 2014. Twenty-three Palestinians died. The exchange threatened to push the sides towards a new war.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spent much of today locked in an emergency meeting with his security cabinet. He said he had instructed the military to continue strikes and prepare "for the next stages."

Earlier today, Netanyahu said he had ordered "massive attacks against terrorist elements in the Gaza Strip."

Pope Makes 3-Day Visit to Bulgaria, N.Macedonia; Urges Bulgarians Be Welcoming towards Refugees

Pope Francis urged Bulgarians to be more welcoming towards refugees during a visit to Bulgaria today (May 5, 2019), according to the Euro News website.

Upon his arrival in Bulgaria -- a country in which the Greek Orthodox religion is predominant -- the pontiff was greeted by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, starting off his three-day visit to the country and North Macedonia.

Borissov welcomed the pope's visit, saying "it reflects his interest in the peaceful economic development of the Balkans."

The three-day tour will include a visit to a refugee camp near Sofia, Bulgaria's capital, and a commemoration of Mother Teresa -- the famous nun who was born in the country that is now called  the Republic of North Macedonia.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Bartholomew Forces Abp. Demetrios to Resign; May Be Due to Millions of Stolen St. Nicholas $$

Archbishop Demetrios of America today (May 4, 2019) submitted his resignation to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew during a visit to Istanbul, the Ekathimerini (Greek Daily) website reports.

Demetrios stepped down on the second day of his visit, during which he informed Bartholomew about the current affairs of the Archdiocese of America, including steps to improve its finances following financial mismanagement in the reconstruction of the St. Nicholas Shrine at the World Trade Center in New York, which was destroyed in the 9/11/2001 terrorist attack.

The financial mismanagement involved the "disappearance" of several million dollars that should have been used to help rebuild the Saint Nicholas Shrine.

Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, had twice called on the 90-year-old Demetrios to resign, but the latter resisted. Today, Bartholomew refused to grant Demetrios an extension of his position. Demetrios was born in Thessaloniki, Greece on February 1, 1928, and became Archbishop in 1999.

Tusk Blasts Poland Politicians Who Ignore Const.; EU Takes Legal Action on Poland's Weak Judiciary

European Council President Donald Tusk called on Poland's political leaders to respect the constitution in a speech in Warsaw yesterday, amid speculation he may return to domestic politics when his EU (European Union) term ends in November, the Euro News website reports today (May 4, 2019).

The former Polish prime minister and leader of the opposition Civic Platform party accused political leaders of celebrating the constitution once a year and disrespecting it on every other day, during a speech at Warsaw University to mark the annual constitution day.

"It can't be that those in power once a year celebrate constitution day, but disrespect it on a daily basis," he said.

The European Union has begun a legal procedure against Poland over changes to its judicial system by the governing nationalist party that EU officials say undermines the democratic separation of powers and the rule of law.

Friday, May 3, 2019

16 Countries Named to "Religious Hall of Shame;" US Rel. Watchdog Names China as Worst Country

Persecution against believers in China was front and center as the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released its 20th annual report this week, the Christian Post website reports today (May 3, 2019).

The report divides countries into different tiers, with "Tier 1" recommendations representing countries that the Commission believes should be labeled by the U.S. State Department as "countries of particular concern" (CPC). The CPC label carries with it the possibility that the countries could face sanctions or other negative consequences.

"Tier 2" identifies countries where religious freedom violations have happened but have not risen to the severity needed to be considered Tier 1.

The 16 Tier 1 countries are: Burma, Central African Republic, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

Trump, Wife Host National Day of Prayer Service; "We Proudly Come Together as Nation under God"

President Donald Trump hosted a National Day of Prayer service at the White House yesterday with religious leaders from around the country, the Christian Headlines website reports today (May 3, 2019).

"Today we give thanks for this magnificent country and we proudly come together as one nation under God," Trump said at the start of the service.

The president and Melania Trump hosted the service in the White House Rose Garden where the president asked for prayer for Venezuela and called for the protection of religious freedom amid the recent string of attacks on houses of worship across the U.S. and all over the world.

Among the guests at the service was rabbi Yisroel Goldstein who survived the San Diego synagogue shooting last week.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Most Anti-Semitic Killings in 2018 Since WW II; Anti-Semitism Soars to Highest Level in Decades

An Israeli government report states that the number of Jews murdered in anti-Semitic attacks around the world in 2018 reached its highest level in decades after a mass shooting at a U.S. synagogue, the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website reports today (May 2, 2019).

A total of 13 Jews were killed in three separate attacks over the year, according to the 2018 Global anti-Semitism Report released on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

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

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

Trump Calls Muslim Brotherhood a Terror Group; Bans Those with Ties to Group from Entering US

President Donald Trump has directed his staff to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terror group, the Christian Headlines website reports today (May 2, 2019).

The policy order followed an April 9 White House visit by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who banned the fanatical Muslim Brotherhood group in Egypt.

The sanctions imposed would punish those who fund the group or provide banking services, and ban members or those with ties to the group from entering the U.S.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed the Trump administration is preparing such a designation.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Swarthmore Col. in PA Suspends All Fraternities; Racist Documents,"Rape Attic" Appear in Records

All fraternities at Swarthmore College -- an independent liberal arts college in Pennsylvania -- have been suspended following days of outrage over leaked documents featuring racist, homophobic, and misogynist language, including references to a "rape attic," the USA Today website reports today (May 1, 2019).

The redacted 116-page documents, first published by student-run news outlets "The Phoenix" and "Voices," appear to document Phi Psi fraternity activities from 2010-2016, including fraternity "meeting minutes."

Minutes from 2013 refer to the school's other fraternity, Delta Upsilon, saying, "Your parties suck, you have both a rape tunnel AND a rape attic (gotta choose one or the other)."

The documents include other jokes about sexual violence, derogatory comments about women, minorities, and the LGBT community; pornography and descriptions of hazing activities.