Monday, November 30, 2020

Russian Jehovah Witnesses Jailed for Extremism; Not Welcome in Russia,Greek Orth. Church Rules

 Several Jehovah's Witnesses have been sentenced in Russia recently for being members of the religious group that Moscow has labeled as extremist and banned in the country, the RFE/RL website reports today (November 30, 2020). 

A court in the Siberian city of Omsk today sentenced 48-year-old Sergei Polyakov to three years in prison after finding him guilty of "organizing the activities of an extremist group."

Polyakov's wife, Anastasia Polyakov, and two other Jehovah's Witnesses, Dinara Dyusekeyeva and Gaukhar Bektemirova, were convicted of "taking part in the activities of an extremist group" and handed suspended two-year prison terms each.

For decades the Jehovah's Witnesses have been viewed with suspicion in Russia , where the dominant Greek Orthodox Church is championed by President Vladimir Putin.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Fauci:Thanksgiving Visits May Make Surge Worse; Social Distancing,Masks Still Needed to Lick Virus

 Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's leading infectious disease expert, warned today (November 29, 2020) that the travel-heavy Thanksgiving holiday could make the current surge in COVID-19 cases even worse for December, the AOL website reports. 

"What we expect, unfortunately,  as we go for the next couple of weeks into December, is that we might see a surge superimposed on the surge we are already in," he said. 

Dr. Fauci urged Americans to be careful upon their travel back home, and to take proven steps like social distancing and wearing masks. 

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Pope Elevates 13 Cardinals in St. Peter's Basilica; Warns Them Not to Use Titles for Personal Gain

Pope Francis raised 13 new cardinals to the highest rank in the Catholic hierarchy today (November 28, 2020) and immediately warned them not to use their titles for corrupt, personal gain, presiding over a ceremony marked from beginning to end by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the AP website.

Two new "princes" of the church -- from Brunei and the Philippines -- didn't make it to Rome because of the COVID-19 travel restrictions, though they were shown on giant screens watching it from home in the nearly empty St. Peter's Basilica. 

Throughout the socially distanced ceremony, which lasted about 45 minutes, cardinals new and old wore protective masks. 

During the homily, Francis warned the new cardinals against falling into corruption or using their new rank for personal advancement, saying just because they have a new title, "Eminence," doesn't mean they should drift from their people. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

National Math,Reading Tests Delayed Until 2022; Annual Assessment Tests Skip 2021 Due to COVID

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) said this week  that the national math and reading tests -- used annually to track U.S. students' knowledge in those subjects -- are being postponed until 2022 due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Reuters website reports today (November 27, 2020). 

"I have determined that NCES cannot at this time conduct a national-level assessment in a manner with sufficient validity and reliability to meet the mandate of the law," NCES Commissioner James Woodworth said.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos supported the postponement of the national testing for a year, as NCES testing is federally mandated and funded. 

Thursday, November 26, 2020

High Court Ends NY Church Limit Due to COVID; Rules Limiting Church Attendees Violates Const.

 The Supreme Court placed religious freedom before pandemic precautions last night (November 25, 2020), blocking recent rules in New York that restricted gatherings at houses of worship in areas hit hardest by COVID-19, according to the USA Today website. 

The justices split 5-4 with new justice Amy Coney Barrett in the majority.

The court's more conservative majority ruled that Gov. Andrew Cuomo's limits on churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship to 10 or 25 worshipers in hard-hit regions appeared to violate the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause.

"Even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten," the court's majority opinion said. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Biden to End Trump Policies by Executive Orders; Join Climate Accord, WHO, OK Worldwide Travel

When Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the U.S. on January 20, he plans to reverse several of Donald Trump's policies by executive orders, the CBN News website reports today (November 25, 2020).

First, Biden plans to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord. "Climate change, global warming is a threat to humanity," Biden said. "We have a moral obligation to deal with it."

Biden also wants to rejoin the World Health Organization (WHO).

Biden will also use executive powers to repeal Trump's travel ban from heavily Islamic countries where terrorists find refuge, like Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

NYC Synagogue Fined $15K for Secret Wedding; Mayor Said Synagogue Tried to Hide Ceremony

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio accused a New York City synagogue of trying to conceal a wedding from officials and fined the temple $15,000 for hosting a massive maskless wedding, the Daily Caller website reports today (November 24, 2020).

The wedding celebration occurred on November 8 in celebration of Yoel Teitelbaum, grandson of Satmar Grand Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum.

Mayor de Blasio called the clandestine ceremony at Brooklyn's Yetev Lev temple "just unacceptable."

The building has a capacity of 7,000 people.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Trump Finally Lets Biden Begin Pres. Transition; But Insists His Case for Fraud Election Continues

President Trump finally gave Joe Biden the green light to begin his transition to the White House today (November 23, 2020), marking the clearest sign yet that the incumbent understands he lost the election, according to the NY Daily News website.

In a tweet, Trump said he is "recommending" Emily Murphy, his head of the General Services Administration, sign the appropriate papers that allow Biden's transition team to access the government resources that the president has been holding up.

Still, Trump insisted that his case for subverting the election "strongly continues."

"We will keep up the good fight, and I believe we will prevail!" Trump tweeted.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

COVID Vaccinations May Start as Soon as Dec.11; US Expected to Return to Normalcy in May 2021

The chief scientific adviser of Pfizer's new COVID-19 vaccine said today (November 22, 2020) that Americans may receive the vaccine from December 11, and the country's immunization rate could climb high enough to allow for a return to normalcy by May 2021, according to the RT website. 

The FDA vaccine advisory committee is scheduled to meet on December 10 and may grant Pfizer's request for emergency  use authorization that day, Dr. Moncef Slaoui said today. 

The Trump administration stands ready to ship the vaccine to immunization sites in all 50 states within 24 hours, so recipients would receive the first doses on December 11. 

The administration plans to deliver 20 million doses in December and around 30 million each month thereafter at no charge to recipients.  

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej Dies of COVID; Govt. Declares Three Days of Mourning in Serbia

Several thousand worshippers and clergy filed into St. Sava Church in Belgrade  today (November 21, 2020) to pay their respects to Patriarch Irinej, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, who died at the age of 90 after contracting COVID-19, according to the Reuters website. 

Irinej tested positive for t he coronavirus on November 4 and died November 20, prompting the Serbian government to declare three days of national mourning in the predominantly Orthodox Christian country.

Serbia, with a population of some seven million, has reported 110,351 COVID-19 cases and 1,140 deaths. 

The Serbian Orthodox Church has about 12 million followers, mainly in Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Pope Slams Those Who Resist COVID Rules; Praises People Who Care for Others in Need

 In an interview this week, Pope Francis called for patience and solidarity while criticizing those who complain about restrictive measures during the coronavirus pandemic, the Newsmax website reports today (November 20, 2020).

He praised what he called urban heroes "who take responsibility toward others and look

for a concrete solution so no one is left behind."


"We need change. The pandemic brought our organizational and developmental models into a crisis; it exposed many injustices, the troubling silence and social and health failures, subjecting a great number of our brothers to the processes of social exclusion and degradation," the pope said.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

US Coronavirus Death Toll Has Surpassed 250K; One Million COVID Cases Reported in Past Week

 More than a quarter-million people in the U.S. have died of COVID-19 as of today (November 19, 2020), according to the Washington Post website. 

The death toll surpasses even the White House's worst predictions from the spring, and it will likely rise much higher, as infections accelerate and hospital systems across the country face imminent overloads.

Officials said they are alarmed by the dramatic spread, with over one million new cases reported in the past week.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Pfizer Says Its COVID-19 Vaccine Is 95% Effective; Plans to Submit Vaccine for Approval Within Days

Drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said today (November 18, 2020) they would be submitting their coronavirus vaccine candidate for regulatory approval "within days" after their final analysis revealed the treatment was 95% effective with no major side effects, according to the NY Daily News website.

The drug's phase 3 trial -- now complete -- confirmed the vaccine was consistently effective across "age, gender, race, and ethnicity demographics," the company said in a statement.  

Of the 41,135 adult volunteers who have received the treatment so far, none has exhibited any serious side effects. 

However, nearly 4% of volunteers said they'd been experiencing  fatigue, while another 2% reported headaches after the second shot.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Trump Planned to Hit Iran for a Nuclear Growth; Was Dissuaded by Senior Advisers Not To Do So

 President Trump sought options last week for attacking Iran to stop its growing nuclear program, the NY Times website reports today (November 17, 2020).

"President Trump asked senior advisers in the Oval Office meeting last Thursday whether he had options to take action against Iran's main nuclear site in the coming weeks," U.S. officials said yesterday.

The meeting occurred a day after international inspectors reported a significant increase in Iran's stockpile of nuclear material.

Several senior advisers dissuaded the president from moving ahead with a military strike, warning that it could escalate into a broader conflict. 

Monday, November 16, 2020

Greek Orth. Church Rips Criticism of Communion; Says State's Communion Ban Due to COVID Amiss

Greece's Orthodox Church today (November 16, 2020) condemned as misplaced and "neurotic" criticism of the pursuit of Holy Communion which has been banned by the Greek government in the presence of the public during coronavirus lockdown curbs, according to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website.

The Holy Synod, the church's ruling body, said it had cooperated with the state from the beginning of the crisis and complies with health measures. 

The church insists it is impossible for COVID-19 or any disease to be transmitted through Communion, the tradition of handing out bread and wine from the same spoon and chalice. 

Doctors and experts say the coronavirus can be transmitted through saliva.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Trump Today Admits Biden "Won" for First Time; Won't Concede, Claims Vote Stacked against Him

Donald Trump said for the first time today (November 15, 2020) that president-elect Joe Biden "won" the U.S. election, but added that he is not conceding, according to the Sky News website.  

He made the original admission in a tweet along with claims the vote was deliberately stacked against him.

Despite losing the Electoral College by 74 votes and the popular vote by five million votes, Trump has refused to accept the result.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Scotland Enacts Law Banning Child Spanking; Lets Police Investigate, Charge, Jail Spankings

A new law that went into effect in Scotland today (November 14, 2020) requires a person who spanks a child to serve time in jail, according to the WND website.

The law, which bans "mild physical discipline," authorizes police to investigate, charge, and jail anyone for the offense. 

The Scottish Parliament, in the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act of 2019, now calls such discipline "assault."

Friday, November 13, 2020

Biden,Pope Discuss Working Together on Issues; Agree on Equality, Climate Change, Immigration

President-elect Joe Biden and Pope Francis had a phone conversation yesterday in which they discussed working together on issues such as equality, climate change, and immigration, the Crux website reports today (November 13, 2020).

The president-elect thanked His Holiness for extending blessings and congratulations and noted his appreciation for His Holiness' leadership in promoting peace, reconciliation, and the common bonds of humanity around the world.

Biden is set to become the second Catholic president in U.S. history, and the first since John F. Kennedy 60 years ago.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Churches Fight COVID Orders Limiting Crowds; File Court Cases Arguing Limit Level Is Unconst.

As the COVID-19 pandemic surges again in the U.S., churches are fighting state and local orders that cap attendance at services at lower numbers than allowed at nonreligious places and events, the UPI website reports today (November 12, 2020).

Governors and other officials who issue the orders say the restrictions are necessary to minimize the spread of coronavirus. 

But religious institutions across the U.S. have filed numerous court challenges arguing that the different capacity limits and social distancing requirements for them are unconstitutional.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Biden Gets to Work Despite Trump Obstruction; Harris' Husband to Leave Law Firm, Work in DC

 Asked about Republicans blocking him from receiving intelligence briefings traditionally shared with incoming presidents, Joe Biden said "we don't see anything slowing us down," the AP website reports today (November 11, 2020).

Biden described Trump's unprecedented position as little more than  an "embarrassing" mark on the outgoing president's legacy. 

Meanwhile, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, Doug Emhoff, said today he plans to leave his California law practice by Inauguration Day to focus on White House duties. He is the first man to hold the role of vice presidential spouse. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Cath. Church OK'd UK Clergy Who Abused Kids; Moved Sex Abusive Priests to Different Parishes

The Roman Catholic Church in Britain betrayed its moral purpose over decades by protecting those who sexually abused children rather than caring for their victims, an independent inquiry said today (November 10, 2020), according to the Reuters website. 

In a report, it said the Church had consistently prioritized its own reputation, moving abusive priests and monks to different parishes where some continued to prey on children.

The Catholic Church received more than 900 complaints involving over 3,000 instances of child sex abuse in England and Wales between 1970 and 2015.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Pfizer Says Its COVID-19 Vaccine Is 90% Effective; Expects Vaccine to Bring Pandemic under Control

Pfizer Inc. said today (November 9, 2020) that its COVID-19 vaccine may be a remarkable 90% effective, based on early and incomplete test results that nevertheless brought  a big burst of optimism to a world desperate for the means to finally bring the catastrophic outbreak under control, according to the AP News website.

"We're in a position potentially to be able to offer some hope," Dr. Bill Gruber, Pfizer's senior vice president of clinical development, told the Associated Press.  

The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 1.2 million people worldwide, including almost a quarter-million in the U.S. alone.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

OR Man Nabbed for Distributing IS Propaganda; Explained Online How to Kill,Maim with a Knife

A Portland, Oregon area man was arrested for distributing ISIS propaganda online -- including explainers on how to kill and maim with a knife and how explosive devices work --  the New York Post website reports today (November 8, 2020). 

Hawazen Sameer Mothafar, 31, of Troutdale is accused of helping the ISIS terrorist group recruit new members and encouraging supporters to carry out attacks. 

Mothafar allegedly edited, produced, and distributed articles for the pro-ISIS media site Al Dura'a al Sunni between February 2015 and November 5 of this year -- including one titled "Effective Stabbing Techniques."

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Biden Defeats Trump in the 2020 Pres. Election; Gets 270 Electoral Votes Needed,Thanks to Penn.

 Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election today (November 7), sending President Trump to a bitter defeat four years after he shocked the world by winning the White House with an unexpected victory over  Hillary Clinton, according to the Yahoo News website. 

Biden crossed the 270-vote threshold in the Electoral College today after the Associated Press called Pennsylvania for him. He also received over 77 million popular votes -- the most of any presidential candidate ever.

The Trump campaign has filed multiple lawsuits in several states to contest the legitimacy of certain ballots, but those lawsuits are not expected to affect Biden's presidential victory.

Biden's running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Cal., became the first Black woman and first Asian American elected vice president in U.S.history. Biden, 77, is also the oldest person ever to be elected president.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Philly Mayor to Trump:Put on Your Big Boy Pants; Acknowledge Defeat and Congratulate Joe Biden

 Democratic Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kennedy said today (November 6, 2020) that President Donald Trump needs to "put his big boy pants on" and accept defeat as Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden takes the lead in battleground states across the country, according to the Daily Caller website. 

"He needs to acknowledge the fact that he lost and he needs to congratulate the winner," Kennedy added. 

Kennedy's suggestion comes despite Philadelphia City Commissioner Lisa Dealey said today they have "upwards" of 40,000 ballots left to be counted, adding it will take "several days" to complete.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

GOP Pols: Trump's Attacks on Election Baseless; Says People Trying to "Steal" Election from Him

Republican lawmakers were quick to criticize Donald Trump today (November 5, 2020), after the president made a series of baseless claims that people were attempting to "steal" the election from him, according to t he USA Today website.  

The remarks included baseless claims that the election was driven by fraud and corruption and came as former Vice President Joe Biden's lead in the race grew. 

"If you count the legal votes I easily win. If you count the illegal votes they can try to steal the election from us," Trump told reporters in the White House briefing room.

There is no evidence of illegal voting or election fraud. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Student Sues School for Banning Jesus Mask; Miss.3rd Grader Can't Wear "Jesus Loves Me"

A school district in Mississippi has been sued for banning a third grade student from wearing a facemask in class that has "Jesus Loves Me" written on it, the Christian Post website reports today (November 4, 2020).

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a lawsuit on behalf of Lydia Booth on November 2 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. 

Defendants named in the suit include the Simpson County School District, the Board of Education for Simpson County, Superintendent Greg Paes, Assistant Superintendent Robert Sanders, and Simpson Central School Principal Antoinette Woodall.

ADF Legal Counsel Michael Ross said in a statement that public schools must "respect the free expression of students that the First Amendment guarantees to them."

Pres. Election May Take Days to Elect a Winner; Contested Election Won't Damage US Democracy

 With the outcome of the 2020 presidential election still hanging on the uncounted votes in a handful of battleground states, President Donald Trump has already prematurely declared victory and said he will take the election fight to the Supreme Court, the Yahoo News website reports today (November 4, 2020).

Joe Biden said: "It's not my place or Donald Trump's place to declare who has won this election. That's the decision of the American people."

The situation  has compounded the worry felt by many that a contested election would severely undermine faith in American democracy. 

However, in the past, contested elections have not tended to damage the process of democracy because the rules of handling such disputes exist and have been followed.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Troops Deploy Amid Fear of Riots after Election; Intel:US Will See Violence No Matter Who Wins

The nation's military reserve force began deploying across the U.S. today  (November 3, 2020) amid mounting concerns that the 2020 presidential election's outcome may lead to civil unrest or even war, according to the Worthy News website. 

The National Guard took up tasks ranging from "cyber defense" against attacks on computer systems to providing security around polling stations, military sources said. 

They were also standing by in case of post-election civil unrest. 

Intelligence shows that no matter who wins the presidential election, there are legitimate concerns for cities to brace for brutality.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Terrorists Kill Several, Wound Many in Vienna; "This Is Hardest Day for Austria for Many Years"

 Austria's interior minister said today (November 2, 2020) that the death toll in a terrorist shooting in Vienna last night has increased, according to the UPI website. 

Karl Nehammer said "several" people had died and at least one of the shooters was still on the loose in a press conference. 

"This is the hardest day for Austria for many years," Nehammer said. 

Around 8 p.m. last night, shooters armed with automatic rifles opened fire on multiple locations, including a street near a synagogue, police said. One attacker, shot and killed by police outside St. Rupert's church, was carrying an explosive belt and had a bag filled with ammunition.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Protestant Pastors Extend Endorsing Candidates; Up by 50% Over 2016, Public Split on Endorsing

A new survey conducted by LifeWay Research shows that while Americans are divided on whether it's appropriate for pastors to personally endorse candidates for public office, the percentage of Protestant pastors doing so has increased by nearly 50% over the last four years, the Christian Post website reports today (November 1, 2020).

Thirty-nine percent of Americans do not agree with pastoral endorsements, even if it is outside their church role, according to the survey of 1,200 people.

Forty-three percent say it's appropriate and 19% are unsure.