Thursday, December 31, 2020

Pope Cancels New Year's Services Due to Sciatica; Won't Appear in First Vespers,World Day of Peace

Pope Francis is suffering from "a painful sciatica" and has canceled his participation both at First Vespers and the singing of the "Te Deum" in St. Peter's Basilica this evening, December 31, as well as the Mass for the World Day of Peace on January 1, according to the America Magazine website. 

He will, however, recite the Angelus at midday on January 1 from the library in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, a Vatican spokesman said.

Pope Francis, 84, has suffered from sciatica for decades, and in 2007 he was paralyzed for some days in Rome when he came for a meeting and could not participate in that event. The sciatica is the reason why he walks unevenly, as has been more noticeable recently.   

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Trump Exec. Order Boosts In-Person Learning; Covers Tuition, Scholarships,Tutoring,Therapy

President Trump signed an executive order on December 28 that will expand school choice options for in-person  classes during the pandemic, the Washington Times website reports today (December 30, 2020).

The order provides "emergency learning scholarships" through the Community Services Block Grant program under the Health and Human Services Department to cover tuition and fees for any child who does not have access to in-person learning. 

The grants may be used for private or parochial schools, homeschooling, "microschools," and learning pods, as well as for special education and associated services such as therapy and tutoring. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Biden Slams Trump for Failing to Share Key Info; Not Receiving Defense and National Security Info

 U.S. President-elect Joe Biden said today (December 29, 2020) the lack of information provided to his team by the Trump administration is "nothing short of irresponsible," according to the Sky News website. 

Biden said those working on the transition ahead of his inauguration next month were still not getting the defense and national security details they needed. 

"We encountered obstruction from the political leadership of that department [the Pentagon]," he said, adding: "And the truth is many of the agencies that are critical of our security have incurred enormous damage,"

Monday, December 28, 2020

Pope Hits Vatican Finance Controls after Scandal; Secretariat Loses Its Clout Due to Million $ Deals

Pope Francis has issued a new decree making charity funds more transparent and tightening controls on Vatican finances after a scandal over a luxury London property deal, the Reuters website reports today (December 28, 2020).

The main target is the Secretariat of State, which must relinquish management of its funds, investments, and real estate and submit to supervision by two other economic offices. 

In 2014, the Secretariat invested about 200 million euros ($244 million) as a partner in a deal to buy a luxury building in London. The deal paid tens of millions of fees to middlemen in attempts to change the terms. 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Mass.Gov. Vetoes Bill Allowing Abortions to Birth; Bill Allowed Teen Abortions without Parental Say

The governor of Massachusetts has vetoed a pro-abortion bill to legalize abortions up to birth and to allow young girls to get abortions without a parent's knowledge or consent, the Life News website reports today (December 27, 2020).

The State House and Senate sent the bill back to Gov. Charlie Baker on December 22, rejecting changes he made earlier this month to protect teens from secret abortions without their parents' knowledge.  

Baker amended the bill to limit its expansion of late-term abortions and to require parental consent before underage girls get abortions. 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Mgmt. Can Make Employees Get COVID Vaccine; Law Designed to Prevent Threat to Other Workers

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has determined that employers will be allowed to require employees to get COVID-19 vaccine, and block them from entering the workplace if the refuse, the Huff Post website reports today (December 26, 2020). 

The commission said that such a requirement does not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which forbids employers from performing medical exams on employees. 

While the ADA usually shields people from having their employers inquire about their personal health, it does permit employers to ensure that any one employee "shall not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of individuals in the workplace." 

Friday, December 25, 2020

Pope Rips Vaccine Nationalism in Xmas Message; Poorer Nations Must Not Get COVID Vaccine Last

 Pope Francis today (December 25, 2020) called on nations to share coronavirus vaccines and spoke of the economic and social toll the pandemic was taking, as Christians worldwide celebrated a Christmas Day like no other, according to the NBC News website.

"May the Son of God renew in political and government leaders a spirit of international cooperation, starting with health care, so that all will be ensured access to vaccines and treatment," he said in a scaled-back Christmas Day celebration.

Francis also called for global unity amid the pandemic, which he said had worsened "grave economic and social imbalances." He stressed the need for international cooperation and criticized the so-called "vaccine nationalism," where poorer nations could receive the vaccine last.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Minn. Town Lets Whites-only Group Use Church; Felt Denying Request Violates Group's Rel. Rights

 City council members in Murdock, Minnesota (population 273) have approved a permit allowing a Whites-only group to use the abandoned Lutheran church as a regional site to gather, the UPI website reports today (December 24, 2020).

The 3--1 vote on December 9 to approve a request by the Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA) for a conditional use permit had nothing to do with beliefs or race, according to a statement by Murdock Mayor Craig Kavanagh.

He said the council felt legally bound to approve the permit after being advised by "multiple legal sources" that denying the request could be a violation of the AFA's religious rights.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Poll:Most Pop. Rel. of Young Americans Is None; A Third Claim to be Atheist, Agnostic, or "None"

 A new study by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) shows that the most common religious identity among Americans ages 18 to 29 is "none," the Huff Post website reports today (December 23, 2020).

More than one-third of young adults (34%) surveyed identified as religiously unaffiliated -- telling researchers they were atheist, agnostic, or "nothing in particular."

Religious people who had at least one "none" in their immediate social circle were also more likely to say that people don't need to believe in God to be moral and have good values. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Year 2020 Is about to Be Deadliest in US History; US Overpasses 300K Coronavirus Deaths Already

The U.S. is set to reach a grim milestone of more than 300,000 coronavirus deaths, making it the deadliest year in American history due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, the RT website reports today (December 22, 2020). 

Initial figures suggest that the U.S. will record more than 3.2 million fatalities in 2020, an increase of over 400,000 compared to the previous year. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), America has experienced 315,318 deaths from coronavirus, with new daily infections in the country continuing to spike, regularly hitting around the 200,000 mark. 

Monday, December 21, 2020

Miss France Runner-up Is Hit by Anti-Semitism; Thousands of Tweets Show Racism Rules France

The runner-up in this year's Miss France beauty contest said it was disheartening to see that "we are still here in 2020" in response to a barrage of anti-Semitic abuse she received online after mentioning that her father was Israeli, The Telegraph (British) website reports today (December 21, 2020).

Paris prosecutors said today they had opened an inquiry into "racist insults and provoking racial hatred" against April Benayoum, 21, who is reigning Miss Provence and came in second in the national pageant on December 19. 

The offence of publishing anti-Semitic remarks carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros. 

Among the 40,000 tweets citing Miss Provence and Israel on December 19, one reads "Hitler forgot about this one," and another "Don't vote for a Jew."

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Pope Rips St. Peter's Sq. Sci-fi Nativity Scene; Urges Crowd Visit Traditional Exhibit Instead

Pope Francis today (December 20, 2020) added his own thumbs-down to widespread criticism of an unorthodox nativity scene in St. Peter's Square, telling visitors to instead visit a nearby  traditional exhibition, according to the Reuters website.

At his last Sunday blessing and address before Christmas, Francis also said the holy day that marks the birth of Jesus had been "kidnapped" by consumerism.  

Speaking from his window overlooking the square, Francis twice urged people to visit an outdoor exhibit under the square's colonnade where some 100 small traditional nativity scenes are on display. 

He made no mention of the main nativity in the center of the square, a large assembly of statues that includes an astronaut and a character reminiscent of Darth Vader from Star Wars.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Mormons Remove Prejudice,Racism in Handbook; Loving God Is Based on Obeying Commandments

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints added new language to the faith's handbook yesterday, telling members to root out prejudice and racism, the AP website reports today (December 19, 2020). 

The faith's past ban on Black men in the lay priesthood, which stood until 1978, remains a delicate issue for members and non-members alike. 

In the handbook from the faith widely known as the Mormon Church, the new section on prejudice reminds some 16 million members around the world that a person's standing with God depends on devotion to the commandments, not the color of one's skin.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Pope: Let's Divert Arms Money to Fight Covid-19; Also Ensure Vaccines Reach Poor, Weak Nations

 Pope Frsancis urged world leaders yesterday to divert funds used for armaments to confront problems, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and ensure vaccines reach the poor and most vulnerable nations, the Reuters website reports today (December 18, 2020). 

In his message for the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Peace, which is celebrated on January 1, Francis also repeated a call for the establishment of a global fund with money slated for weapons to be used instead to help eradicate poverty. 

The annual message, this year titled "A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace," is traditionally sent to heads of state, government, international organizations, and other religions.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

New Intel:Russia Has Built Mil. Along E. Europe; Includes Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, and Lithuania

 New intelligence finds that Russia in recent years built up and repositioned military forces in a key region that borders countries in Eastern Europe, the Worthy News website reports today (December 17, 2020). 

The strategically important district borders Ukraine, Belarus, and other neighboring countries.

It includes the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and also the heavily armed Russian exclave Kaliningrad, which is nestled in the Baltic coast between Poland and Lithuania. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Hunter Biden's Deals with China Being Revealed; Received Some $6M from a Chinese Energy Firm

Hunter Biden, President-elect Joe Biden's son, is under federal investigation for his relationship with a prominent Chinese  energy firm and has since been subpoenaed for records of his overseas business ventures, the Daily Caller website reports today (December 16, 2020).

The probe into the foreign dealings follows a December 9 announcement from Hunter Biden in which he announced he is being investigated by Delaware authorities for possible tax crimes. 

The probe had been put on hold during Joe Biden's campaign for U.S. President. 

A few days after the U.S. presidential election of 2020, federal investigators announced Hunter Biden was the subject of scrutiny related to his business dealings with one of China's largest energy companies, CEFC. The corporation, which holds possible ties to the country's communist regime, wired about six million dollars to accounts and firms controlled by the President-elect's son between 2017 and 2018.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

McConnell Compliments Joe Biden as President; Head Senator Says Electoral College Has Spoken

 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell congratulated Democrat Joe Biden today (December 15, 2020), calling him the president-elect and saying the Electoral College "has spoken," according to the Newsmax website.

The Republican leader's statement delivered in a speech on the Senate floor ends weeks of silence over President Donald Trump's defeat. It comes after electors met yesterday and affirmed Biden's election win.

McConnell prefaced his remarks with praise for Trump's four years in office, saying Trump and Vice President Mike Pence "deserve our thanks."

Monday, December 14, 2020

US Sanctions Turkey for Its Russian Missile Deal; OKd a Russian Missile Defense System Hit by US

The Trump administration today (December 14, 2020) sanctioned Turkey, a NATO ally, over its purchase of a Russian missile defense system -- a long awaited move that comes just weeks before President Donald Trump leaves office -- according to the USA Today website.  

The new sanctions include a ban on U.S. export licenses and loans to Turkey's defense procurement agency and an asset freeze on its president, Ismail Demir, among other government officials. 

It is not clear why the Trump administration waited until now to impose the penalties, as Turkey finalized its acquisition of the Russian military system more than a year ago. 

Turkey's foreign ministry condemned the U.S. sanctions and vowed to retaliate. 

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Pope Urges Countries to Fight Climate Change; Vatican to Hit Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050

Pope Francis urged countries yesterday to work towards net zero carbon emissions and committed Vatican City -- the world's smallest state --  to reaching the target by 2050, the Reuters website reports today (December 13, 2020).

Francis, who has championed environmental causes since his election in 2013, told a U.N. climate summit the 108-acre city-state surrounded by Rome would be doing its bit to fight climate change. 

He committed the Vatican "to reducing net carbon emissions to zero by 2050." as well as intensifying environmental management efforts and furthering the rational use of natural resources such as water and planting more trees. 

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Israel, Morocco Agree to Have Diplomatic Ties; Morocco Follows UAE,Bahrain,and Sudan Path

Israel and Morocco have agreed to normalize relations, President Donald Trump announced this week, marking the fourth Arab-Israeli agreement in four months, the  CBN News reports today (December 12, 2020). The other three Arab countries to renew diplomatic ties with Israel are the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Sudan.

As his time in office winds down, Trump said Israel and Morocco would restore diplomatic and other relations. U.S. officials said it would also include joint overflight rights for airlines. 

The Trump administration has also been trying to bring Saudi Arabia  into the Arab-Israeli grouping, but without success.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Biden and Harris Named Time's Person of the Yr.; A Vice President Is Named for the First Time Ever

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been named Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2020, the CBS News website reports today (December 11, 2020).

The annual recognition, which is awarded to "the individual or group of people who affected the news or our lives the most, for better or worse," was announced yesterday.

This is the first time a vice president has been named as a Person of the Year, Time said. 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Hunter Biden Is under Federal Tax Investigation; Admits Being Examined for China Business Deals

 Federal prosecutors have been investigating Hunter Biden, President-elect Joe Biden's son, to determine if he failed to report income from China-related business deals, the Washington Post website reports today (December 10, 2020). 

The tax investigation began in 2018 and was confirmed yesterday by Hunter Biden in a statement saying he had just been advised of it. 

"I learned yesterday for the first time that the U.S. attorney's office in Delaware advised my legal counsel, also yesterday, that they are investigating my tax affairs," Hunter Biden said in a statement. 

Hunter Biden's attorney, George Mesires, did not respond to requests by the Washington Post for additional information about the case.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Supreme Court Backs School Bathroom Policy; Transgender Students Select Bathroom Gender

A group of parents filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to stop transgender students from using bathrooms and locker rooms according to the gender they identify with, the Newsy website reports today (December 9, 2020). 

The Supreme Court this week struck down the appeal looking to overturn protections for the transgender students in Oregon. 

A small group of parents filed the appeal in an effort to keep the transgender students from using bathrooms and locker rooms according to the gender they identify with. 

But the Supreme Court decision will allow the school district policy of letting the students use the facilities they choose to stay in place.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

COVID Vaccines to Roll Out to States Next Week; Health Care Workers, Nursing Homes 1st Served

 The first shipments of coronavirus vaccines are set to roll out to all 50 states in roughly one week, but initial supply will be limited, the Newsy website reports today (December 8, 2020). 

An advisory panel to the CDC recommended last week that the nation's health care workers and long-term care facility residents get the vaccine first 

States do not have to follow the CDC's recommendations -- but most probably will.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Vatican States Pope to Visit Iraq in March 2021; Will Be the First Pope to Ever Visit the Country

 The Vatican announced today (December 7, 2020) that Pope Francis will travel to Iraq in March 2021, according to the National Catholic Register website. 

He will be the first pope to ever visit the country, which is still recovering from the devastation inflicted by the Islamic State (IS).

The four-day papal trip to Iraq March 5--8 will include stops in Baghdad, Erbil, and Mosul.

The pope will also visit the Christian communities in the Nineveh plain, which were ravaged by the Islamic State from 2014 to 2016, causing a plethora of Christians to flee the region.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Trump Atty. Giuliani Hospitalized for COVID-19; Made Public Appearances Recently with No Mask

Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City and President Donald Trump's personal attorney, has tested positive for COVID-19, the USA Today website  reports. 

Giuliani, 76, was admitted to Georgetown University Medical Center today (December 6, 2020).

Andrew Giuliani tweeted that his father was "resting, getting great care, and feeling well."

Trump's attorney has made several public appearances within the last week, including one at a Michigan State House panel and another at a Georgia State Senate hearing. Images from both events show Giuliani speaking in close proximity to others without a mask.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

ABP:Biden Should Not Receive Holy Communion; Says Biden's Support of Abortion Flaunts Sacrilege

A retired Catholic archbishop yesterday said President-elect Joe Biden "should not receive Holy Communion" because of his support of abortion, the Washington Examiner website reports today (December 5, 2020). 

Archbishop Charles Chaput, writing in the religious journal "First Things," said Biden's vocal support for abortion means that he is not in good standing with the Catholic Church and that priests should not give him Holy Communion until he ceases to advocate for abortion-friendly policies. 

"Public figures who identify as 'Catholic' give scandal to the faithful when receiving Communion by creating the impression that the moral laws of the Church are optional," Chaput wrote. "And bishops give similar scandal by not speaking up publicly about the issue and danger of sacrilege."

Friday, December 4, 2020

Biden:Americans to Wear Masks for 1st 100 Days; Masks to Be Mandatory in Govt. Bldgs., Airplanes

 President-elect Joe Biden has revealed his plan to ask all Americans to wear masks during the first 100 days of his administration, The Daily Beast website reports today (December 4, 2020).

"Just 100 days to mask, not forever,"  Biden said. 

He will make masks mandatory in places like government buildings, airplanes, and interstate transit, a move public health officials are expected to support.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

US Has Record 3,157 COVID Deaths in Single Day; Due to Millions of Thanksgiving Visits, Gatherings

The U.S. has reported more than 3,100 coronavirus-related deaths in a single day -- a record for the country -- the Sky News website reports today (December 3, 2020).

The 3,157 deaths far exceed the previous record of 2,603 set in April, and cases are topping more than 200,000 a day.

The figures indicate the U.S. is slipping deeper into trouble and the worst is yet to come, following the Thanksgiving holiday where millions ignored advice of medical experts and governors,  and visited family and friends across the country. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

UK Is First Country to OK Pfizer COVID Vaccine; "A Historic Moment in Fight against COVID-19"

The United Kingdom has become the first country in the world to approve the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and its German partner, with an initial wave of inoculations scheduled to begin next week, the NY Daily News website reports today (December 2, 2020).

The British regulatory agency, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority, announced today it approved the treatment from the New York based drug-maker and German company BioNTech for emergency use.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla praised the vaccine's emergency authorization, calling it "a historic moment in the fight against COVID-19."

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Researcher Sees Episcopal Church Death by 2050; Drop in Membership Numbers May Lead to Doom

The future of the Episcopal Church seems bleak as plummeting membership numbers may lead the denomination to close its doors for good in the next few decades, the Christian Headlines website reports today (December 1, 2020).

Rev. Dwight Zscheile, an Episcopal priest and professor, told ChurchLeaders that the future is "dire" for the denomination and he predicts the denomination will cease to exist "by around 2050."

"The overall picture is dire. Not one of decline as much as demise within the next generation unless trends change significantly," Zscheile said.