Thursday, October 31, 2019

New Wildfires Still Pervading Miles of California; Reagan Library Saved as 100s of Goats Ate Grass

As a new wildfire started up in California's hillsides this week, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library became a target -- and officials are now patting themselves on the back for a "darn smart" idea that may have helped save it, the Newser website reports today (October 31, 2019).

Firefighters and aircraft took aim at the flames approaching the library, but a library spokeswoman said one more factor apparently worked to the library's advantage: a herd of hundreds of goats, which the fire department recruits each May to chow down on the vegetation around the facility's perimeter, effectively creating a firebreak.

"It was darn smart for us to do that," a library official crowed about the annual goat-led initiative at the site.

The library hosts the graves of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, in addition to documents, photos, films, audiotapes, and Reagan's Air Force One plane.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Joe Biden Denied Communion at a S.C. Church; Abortion Support Mocks Cath. Church Teaching

Former vice president Joe Biden was denied Communion last Sunday morning at a Catholic church in Florence, South Carolina, where he was making a campaign stop, the Washington Post website reports today (October 30, 2019).

The Rev. Robert Morey of Saint Anthony Catholic Church told a local newspaper that Biden, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, attended his church's 9 a.m. Mass. Morey said he denied Biden Communion because of the candidate's political stance on abortion.

"Holy Communion signifies we are one with God, each other, and the Church. Our actions should reflect that," Morey said in a statement to the Morning News. "Any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching."

The Catholic Church opposes abortion, but local priests and bishops in the United States have varying policies regarding whether to give Communion to someone who supports an issue such as abortion rights.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Sanders:US Money to Israel Should Go to Gaza; Slams Israeli PM Netanyahu as Being a "Racist"

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, stated yesterday at the annual J Street Conference in Washington, D.C., that a portion of the U.S. military assistance to Israel should go towards humanitarian relief in the Gaza Strip, the World Israel News website reports today (October 29, 2019).

"I would use the leverage of $3.8 billion," Sanders said, referring to the 10-year Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Israel negotiated by former President Barack Obama.

He added, "It is a lot of money, and we cannot give it carte blanche to the Israeli government or, for that matter, to any government at all. We have a right to demand respect for human rights and democracy."

Sanders, who is of Jewish background himself, also attacked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, arguing that it's not anti-Semitic to say that the government of Netanyahu has been "racist," asserting "That's a fact."

Monday, October 28, 2019

Syrian Christians Fear Turkey's Attack a Threat; Turkey Rips Kurds, Christian Homes, Churches

As the Turkish military and its allied Syrian rebels continue their operation against U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in northeast Syria, Christian communities in the region fear that the Turkish-led offensive is threatening their very existence in the war-torn country, the VOA News website reports today (October 28, 2019).

On the first day of the Turkish offensive -- which began last week -- a Turkish artillery attack targeted a predominately-Christian neighborhood in Qamishli, the largest city in northeast Syria.

According to local sources, Christians Ayeda Habsono and her husband, Fadi, were severely wounded in the attack that hit their house. Several other Christians were also wounded.

Later last week, the Virgin Lady Church in the town of Qahtaniya, near Qamishli, was also hit by Turkish shelling. Parts of the church were destroyed.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

US Forces Eliminate ISIS' Top Leader in Syria; Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Kills Himself in US Raid

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS who presided over its global jihad and became the world's most wanted man, died yesterday when he detonated his suicide vest in a tunnel while being pursued by U.S. forces north of Idlib, Syria, killing himself and three of his children, the World Israel News website reports today (October 27, 2019).

"Last night, the United States brought the world's number one terrorist leader to justice," U.S. President Donald Trump announced at the White  House today.

Trump described a daring nighttime airborne raid by American special operations forces in Syria's northwestern Idlib province.

Trump added that no U.S. troops were killed in the operation.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Suicide Rate for Young Teens Nearly Triples; Suicide Rate for Older Teens Is Up 76 Percent

The suicide rate among children aged 10 through 14 nearly tripled from 2007 to 2017, the Christian Post website reports today (October 26, 2019).

For older teens, the suicide rate increased by 76 percent.

In 2017, suicide was the second leading cause of death for children aged 10 to 14, teenagers 15 to 19, and young adults ages 20 to 24.

"Not only is suicide trending upward, but the pace of increase is actually accelerating," said Sally Curtin, co-author of the CDC report.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Trump Ends Fed.Funding for Abortion Clinics; Stops Fed.Funding in 876 Pro-Abortion Clinics

Nearly 900 clinics that perform or promote abortions have lost their federal funding under a new Trump administration rule that prevents family clinics receiving taxpayer money from promoting or referring for abortion, the Christian Headlines website reports today (October 25, 2019).

Power to Decide -- a pro-choice organization that works to prevent unplanned pregnancies -- says in a new report that 876 clinics in the U.S. have lost funding.

The new rule "prohibits the use of Title X funds to perform, promote, refer for, or support abortions as a method of family planning."

The Title X program is worth nearly $300 million.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Survey Finds Anti-Semitism to Be Problem in US; Northeastern Prof.: Biggest Concern for US Jews

A survey by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) finds that 88% of American Jews say anti-Semitism is a problem in the U.S. today, and nearly a third report they avoid publicly wearing, carrying, or displaying objects or symbols that might help people identify them as Jewish, the Religion News website reports today (October 24, 2019).

Conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1,283 Jewish respondents, the survey provides a snapshot of a jittery American community.

Dov Waxman, a political science professor at Boston's Northeastern University, who has studied American Jewish attitudes, said there is a significant increase in the number of Jews who consider anti-Semitism to be a problem. In a 2016 AJC survey, only 73%judged it a problem, he said.

The professor of Jewish historical and cultural studies added: "This is becoming the biggest concern for American Jews today."

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Migrants from Greek Islands Heading to Greece; Over 33K Refuges Now Living on Lesbos, Samos

Migrants housed in overcrowded camps on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Samos are being moved to the mainland, the Euro News website reports today (October 23, 2019).

The islands are close to Turkey and have seen a surge of new arrivals.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) says there are now 33,700 refugees living on the two islands.

In late September, a woman died in a fire in a tent at a camp on Lesbos, while a fire in an overcrowded camp on Samos forced hundreds of people into the streets this month.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

NYC Charter School Discipline Dean Faces Rape; Accused of Having Sex with Boy, 15 at Her Home

A dean at a Bronx charter school responsible for student discipline was charged with rape today (October 22, 2019) over accusations she had sex with a 15-year-old student, according to the NY Daily News website.

Grace Trinidad, 34, a dean of discipline at New Visions Math and Science High School, befriended the teen and repeatedly invited him to her home in the South Bronx, according to police.

During their most recent encounter, Trinidad and the student were kissing and performing oral sex on each other, authorities allege.

Trinidad was arrested at her home after questioning today. She was charged with rape in the third degree for having sex with a minor, criminal sex act, and endangering the welfare of a child.

Monday, October 21, 2019

New Bill Could Start Bible Classes in Fla. Schools; Schools Would Offer Old,New Testament Courses

A new bill introduced by a Florida democrat seeks to begin Bible classes as standard across the state's schools, the Christian Headlines website reports today (October 21, 2019).

House Bill 341, which was put forward by evangelist and Jacksonville politician, Rep. Kim Daniels, specifies that schools must offer classes covering both the Old and New Testament.

The bill declares that each school district must "offer specified courses relating to religion, Hebrew Scriptures, and Bible to certain students as elective courses."

Although students would not be forced to attend the classes, they must be presented with the option to enroll in them.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

"Dirty Jew" Painted on Judaica Store in France; Store Closed as Its Owners Were Visiting Israel

Graffiti reading "Dirty Jew" was spray-painted on a storefront of a Judaica store in the French city of Lyon, the Israel National News website reports today (October 20, 2019).

The store was closed at the time of the attack, while its owners were vacationing in Israel.

Neighbors of the store sent photos of the vandalism to the owners, who are now considering returning to France early in order to file a complaint with police.

France -- which has more Jews than any other country in Europe --  has been experiencing an exceptional amount of anti-Semitism during the past year.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Mailman Won't Deliver Due to Halloween Decor; African-American Mailman Sees Decor as Racist

The postal service and a Long Island homeowner are in a standoff over a Halloween decoration that the African-American mailman views as being racist, according to the Drudge Report website.

Richard Beatty has been decorating his Brentwood house for years with homemade Halloween d├ęcor, including makeshift gallows and a noose with a skeleton hanging from it.

This year, the postmaster himself knocked on Beatty's door and told him that his mail was being suspended until he took down the Halloween decorations.

Beatty responded, "Do what you have to do because I'm not taking them down."

Friday, October 18, 2019

Turkey's Airstrikes in Syria Violating Ceasefire; Turkey OKd Ceasefire Yesterday with VP Pence

Deadly Turkish airstrikes today (October 18, 2019) shattered an hours-old U.S.-brokered deal to stop Ankara's military offensive against Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria, according to the Times of Israel website.

The ceasefire announced late yesterday was meant to provide a pause for the evacuation of Kurdish fighters from the battleground border town of Ras al-Ain and other areas Turkey wants to control along its border with Syria.

The five-day suspension seemed designed to help Turkey achieve its main territorial goals without fighting, but Turkey continued its aggression today and an airstrike killed five Syrian civilians.

Mustefa Bali,a Kurdish spokesman, said Turkey was clearly violating the terms of the agreement reached during a visit to Ankara yesterday by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Study:Attendance at Rel. Congregations Recedes; But Their Donations Have Actually Increased

Attendance at religious congregations is declining, as younger Americans -- who say they have no religion -- are far less likely than previous generations to join a church, the Religion News website reports today (October 17, 2019).

But a new study from the Lake Institute of Faith and Giving at Indiana University finds that revenue is not declining along with attendance.

In fact, the study finds that nearly half of America's estimated 380,000 congregations saw an increase in giving from three years ago.

The study of 1,231 congregations -- including churches, synagogues, mosques, and other houses of worship -- found that 48% of the congregations saw an increase in revenue, 35%saw a decrease, and 17% said giving remained the same.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Israel Flag Deformed with Swastika on Cape Cod; Occurred at Falmouth Synagogue on Yom Kippur

An Israeli flag with a swastika and white supremacist symbols was found on the grounds of a Cape Cod synagogue shortly after the end of Yom Kippur, the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website reports today (October 16, 2019).

Police are investigating the incident at Falmouth Jewish Congregation after being notified by the synagogue's rabbi, Elias Lieberman, who found the flag on the morning of October 10.

Lieberman said the defaced flag was spray-painted with a red swastika over the flag's Star of David and with the numbers 14 and 88, symbols that refer to Hitler and white supremacy.

The rabbi also notified the New England Anti-Defamation League. He said it's the first such incident in his nearly 30 years leading the Reform congregation.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

US Fighter Jets,Helicopters Face Turks in Syria; Meet Turkey's Jihadist Troops Attacking Kurds

The Pentagon said today (October 15, 2019) that U.S. fighter jets and gunship helicopters were being used to confront Turkish-backed militants in northern Syria after they came "very close" to U.S. troops in Ain Issa, according to the RT website.

Washington also sent a complaint today to Ankara.

Although U.S. troops have been withdrawing from Syria for the past week, some Special Forces troops were still in the area of Ain Issa located about halfway between the Turkey-Syria border and the former Islamic State (IS) "capital" of Raqqa.

Last week, Turkey launched an attack in northern Syria on territory held by Kurdish militants allied with the U.S.; however, the troops used by Turkey in the attack appear to be jihadist terrorists. A senior U.S. official today called these jihadists "thugs and bandits and pirates that should be wiped off the face of the earth."

Monday, October 14, 2019

Kurdish Forces Make a Deal with Syria and Russia; Join Kurds to Repel Turkey Blitz after US Betrayal

Following America's betrayal of its Kurdish allies by pulling out of Syria just before a planned attack of Kurds in Syria by Turkey, government troops of Syria headed north toward the Turkish border today (October 14, 2019) after the Kurds made a deal with Damascus and Moscow for military assistance to combat Turkey, according to the NBC News website.

Regime forces are now less than four miles away from the border with Turkey and are expected to advance farther toward the area surrounding Ras al Ayn border town.

On the Turkish side of the border, dozens of armored vehicles, Turkish tanks, and military equipment streamed toward the front lines. Across the border in Syria, Turkish F-16 fighter jets could be seen circling over the town of Qamishlo, the administrative center of the Kurdish autonomous authority.

Kurdish troops turned to the Syrian government and Russia yesterday, in a move that could increase Russian President Vladimir Putin's influence in Syria, deal a significant blow to the Kurds' ambitions of independence in the region, and be seen as a victory for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

German Admits Killing 2 Jews on Yom Kippur; Defends Anti-Semitism,Blames Jews for Misery

Federal prosecutors in Germany said the suspect who shot two Jews dead near a synagogue in the city of Halle on Yom Kippur, has admitted to the shooting rampage, confessing it was motivated by anti-Semitism and right-wing extremism, the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website reports today (October 13, 2019).

Stephan Balliet, 27, made a "very comprehensive" confession during an interrogation lasting several hours, said a spokesman for the federal prosecutor's office in Karlsruhe.

"He gave an extensive confession. He confirmed far-right and anti-Semitic motives" for the attack, the spokesman said.

Balliet's lawyer told the press that his client "blames others for his own misery and that's what ultimately triggered his action."

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Turkey Artillery Fire Hits Near US Troops in Syria; Turkey Kills Kurds in Syria Neglecting Safety of US

The Pentagon said today (October 12, 2019) that U.S. troops in northern Syria came under artillery fire from Turkey yesterday, but none were wounded, in an incident that highlights the risks to U.S. troops as Turkey wages an offensive against U.S.-allied Kurdish militia, according to the Yahoo News website.

"The explosion occurred within a few hundred meters of a location outside the Security Mechanism zone and in an area known by the Turks to have U.S. forces present," Navy Captain Brook DeWalt, a Pentagon spokesman said in a statement.

DeWalt added that all U.S. troops were accounted for after the artillery incident near Kobane, Syria.

A U.S. official said a small number of U.S. troops had moved away from the outpost temporarily after the artillery fire, but are still in the general area and expect to be back.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Most Americans Now Favor Trump Impeachment; Independents' New View Now Supports an Inquiry

A new NPR poll shows that a slim majority of Americans now approve of the House Impeachment inquiry into President Trump, the NPR website reports today (October 11, 2019).

Fifty-two percent say they approve of the inquiry, while 43 percent disapprove.

That's a slight increase in support from two weeks ago, when 49 percent approved and 46 percent disapproved.

The uptick in support of the NPR poll comes mostly from a swing among independents, most of whom had disapproved of the inquiry in late September.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

EU Takes Poland to Court over Judiciary Changes; Judges Can Be Disciplined in Poland for Decisions

The European Union (EU) is taking Poland to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over the country's disciplinary action against judges, the Euro News website reports today (October 10, 2019).

Brussels claims the move is to protect Poland's judiciary from political control.

It claims the Polish law allows ordinary court judges to be subjected to disciplinary investigations and sanctions on the basis of their judicial decisions.

The ECJ ruled in the EU's favor in June in a case of Poland's lowering of the retirement age of Supreme Court judges, which it said was "contrary to EU law."

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Two Persons Killed Near Synagogue in Germany; Shooting on Yom Kippur Viewed as Anti-Semitic

Two people were killed and several others were injured today (October 9, 2019) in a shooting targeting a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle, according to the Euro News website.

Shortly after the incident, which occurred on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, police said one person had been arrested. They are still hunting for suspects.

Germany's federal attorney general said there is sufficient evidence for a possible right-wing extremist link to the shooting.

"That on the Day of Atonement  a synagogue was shot at hits us in the heart," said Germany's foreign minister Heiko Maas on Twitter. "We must all act against anti-Semitism in our country."

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Trump Is Losing Evangelicals for Syrian Pullout; Pat Robertson:Trump Losing Mandate of Heaven

Prominent evangelical conservatives are upset with President Donald Trump's endorsement of a Turkish military operation in Syria, citing concern that such involvement could "trigger the resurgence" of the Islamic State (IS) and give Iran influence in the region, the Christian Post website reports today (October 8, 2019).

Trump was slammed by many conservatives yesterday after he announced on October 6 that U.S. military personnel in Syria would be pulled out in advance of a Turkish offensive in Syria against Kurdish groups backed by the U.S. in defeating the Islamic State terrorist group.

Turkey considers Kurdish groups to be terrorist insurgents that pose a security threat, because they want to establish their own independent province in Turkey.

Televangelist Pat Robertson said Trump is "losing the mandate of Heaven" for pulling U.S. troops out of Syria and betraying the Kurds. Also, Trump's Syrian decision goes against the recommendations of top officials in the State Department and the Pentagon.

Monday, October 7, 2019

US Leaving Syria to Allow Turkey to Attack Kurds; US Move Described as "Stab in the Back" by Kurds

Despite outrage by many Republicans for betraying an ally that played a major role in defeating the Islamic State in Syria, the U.S. today (October 7, 2019) began pulling troops back from the northeast Syria border to allow for Turkish attacks on Kurdish-led forces long allied to Washington, according to the Reuters website.

The major U.S. policy shift was denounced as a "stab in the back" by Kurdish-led forces who have been Washington's most capable partner in fighting the Islamic State in Syria.

The forces accused the U.S. of reneging on an ally, warning it would have a "great negative impact" on the war against the terrorists.

But President Donald Trump said in several Tweets it was too costly to keep supporting Kurdish-led forces fighting the Islamic State and its "ridiculous Endless Wars."

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Israel Working on Peace Pacts with Arab States; Israel and Arab States Doing So to Counter Iran

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz confirmed today (October 6, 2019) that Israel has been working toward achieving the historic goal of reaching non-aggression pacts with Arab countries, according to the World Israel News website.

"Recently I have been promoting, with the backing of the prime minister, a diplomatic initiative to sign 'non-aggression agreements' with Arab Gulf states," the foreign minister tweeted.

"It's a historic move that will end the conflict and enable civilian cooperation until the signing of peace agreements," he added.

Such negotiations have been made possible by the common interest of both the Jewish State and Arab Gulf countries: countering Iran.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Supreme Court to Review La. Anti-Abortion Law; May Mark "Beginning of the End" for Roe v.Wade

The U.S. Supreme Court announced yesterday it will review a 2014 Louisiana anti-abortion law, the Raw Story website reports today (October 5, 2019).

Experts say it will be the end -- or at least the "beginning of the end" -- of Roe v. Wade, the 46-year-old SCOTUS ruling that found women have a constitutional right to have an abortion.

Louisiana's law is designed to make it as difficult as possible for women to obtain an abortion.

The law mandates that any doctor performing an abortion of any type have admitting privileges at a hospital.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Iraqi Forces Kill at Least 42 Protesters in Baghdad; Use Live Ammo,Water Cannons,Tear Gas for Calm

Iraqi security forces used live ammunition, water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets to disperse protesters in Baghdad today (October 4, 2019), killing at least 42 people and injuring hundreds more, according to the UPI website.

The protesters were focused on Baghdad's Tahir Square and throughout the south. They were triggered by widespread unemployment, corruption, and a lack of basic infrastructure, including water and electricity.

Protesters called for the government to step down.

"At least 15 people are dead and 200 injured in Dhi Qar,"  provincial council member Hassan al-Asadi said.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Four People Killed at Paris Police Headquarters; Killer Used Knife, Believed to Be Islam Convert

Four police force workers were killed in a knife attack at their Paris headquarters before the suspect -- a 45-year-old man --  was shot dead, the Euro News website reports today (October 3, 2019).

The motive was not clear, but a source close to the case told Euro News that authorities were in the process of verifying reports that the attacker -- a former administrative assistant at the police station --  had recently converted to Islam.

"We mourn the death of four civil servants from two services in the Paris police force," the Paris prosecutor said in a press conference. "Three men and one woman, three of them worked as police officers and one as an administrative assistant, have been killed. "

.Another victim was still in a hospital today and is recovering.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

DeVos Wants to Give College Grants to Inmates; Sec. of Ed. Seeks to Scrap Ban on Inmate Grants

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on September 30 endorsed a legislative effort backed by evangelical prison ministry Prison Fellowship to make incarcerated inmates eligible to receive federal grants for higher education, the Christian Post website reports today (October 2, 2019).

DeVos spoke at Prison Fellowship's Declaration Symposium at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. and encouraged the group of about 80 church leaders to lobby congressional offices to support bills that would reverse a longstanding ban on inmates receiving Pell Grants.

Pell Grants are federal subsidies to help low-income students pursue higher education or vocational training.

DeVos said, "Education is the ticket to the future for just about anyone and everyone." She added, "So we should be embracing these opportunities for brothers and sisters who are behind bars today who will be in our communities and with their families and giving them a means for a purpose..."

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Study:Red Meat Does Not Expand Cancer Risk; Adults Can Eat as Much Red Meat as They Like

A major new study finds that cutting back on eating red meat or processed meat will not significantly reduce a person's risk of heart disease or cancer, the UPI website reports today (October 1, 2019).

"Based on research, we cannot say with any certainty that eating red meat or processed meat causes cancer, diabetes, or heart disease," said senior researcher Bradley Johnston, associate professor of community health and epidemiology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Using the evidence collected by the research, a panel of experts issued new dietary guidelines saying most adults can eat as much red and processed meat as they like.

Johnston added, "This is not just another study on red and processed meat, but a series of five high-quality systematic reviews to inform dietary recommendations."