Religion

Wunderkind Jared Kushner Busy Blowing Up Israeli/Palestinian Talks

by durrati – Jerusalem Post A Palestinian official claims Abbas is furious at American demands, accuses the US of taking sides. “US President Donald Trump is reportedly weighing whether to pull out of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations following a “tense” meeting with White House senior staff and officials in Ramallah, according to London-based Arabic daily al-Hayat on Saturday.  The al-Hayat report came just days after a meeting between the administration’s senior adviser Jared Kushner and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, which was described as “tense” by an Abbas advisor present at the talks.  Abbas was supposedly furious with the president’s son-in-law after Kushner relayed Israeli demands to the 81-year-old Palestinian leader which included the immediate halt of payments to terrorists and their families.” Well, that’s a good start, Jared, blowing up the meeting with Abbas by presenting Israeli demands before the Maqluba can even be served. San Diego Jewish World has more details. “A meeting between Palestinian Authority President...

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Israel Plans Most Settlement Homes Since 1992 (VIDEO)

Defence minister says first half of 2017 has seen most illegal expansion since before “Oslo peace process” began. Israel has so far this year advanced its highest number of settlement projects since 1992, the defence minister said, despite warnings such plans make a two-state solution impossible. Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman made the comments on Sunday as Israel’s government faced mounting pressure from leaders of the settlement movement, who wield heavy influence in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition. Netanyahu has found himself seeking to balance the competing demands of the settlers and US President Donald Trump, who has asked him to hold back on such projects for now as he seeks a way to restart negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Lieberman told journalists and ministers at the start of a cabinet meeting that, so far this year, plans had been advanced for 8,345 homes in the occupied West Bank,...

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Trump Cuts Millions From the US Holocaust Museum, Sparking Outrage

by SemDem – Who would have guessed that the same guy who installed alt-right Nazis in the White House, gets his information from anti-Semitic hate sites, and refused to even mention Jews on Holocaust Memorial Day would do something like this: A bipartisan group of 64 members of Congress is demanding a reversal on $3 million in funding cuts to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum… I heard about this from my Congresswoman, Stephanie Murphy (FL-7), who is spearheading the effort to get it reversed.  On Friday, the 64 members of Congress signed  a letter to the Interior appropriations subcommittee that reads, in part: “In our view, the mission of the museum has never been more important, particularly as the number of anti-Semitic attacks around the world rises… Now is not the time to cut funding for this national treasure.” The wave of anti-Semitic attacks, which the letter refers to, means the massive spike in assaults, bomb threats, vandalism, and cemetery desecrations that have occurred since Trump’s election. As has been...

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Get Ready for a Supreme Court Decision on the Muslim Ban this Week

by Ian Millhiser – We’re about to find out it the courts actually will provide a check on Trump. After months of drama, airport chaos, emergency court orders, shifting policies, and the confirmation of Donald Trump’s choice to join the Supreme Court, the highest Court in the land will finally weigh in on Trump’s Muslim ban. A decision, at least on a very significant preliminary matter, is likely to come this week. Last month, a federal appeals court handed down International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, holding that Trump’s longstanding practice of bragging that he intends to implement a Muslim ban demonstrates that an executive order he signed — which prevents many people from six majority Muslim nations from entering the country — was in fact a Muslim ban. The Trump administration argued, unsuccessfully, that the appeals court must defer to Trump’s stated reason for issuing the order — national security — under the Supreme Court’s 1972 decision in Kleindienst v. Mandel. In a more recent...

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CNN Dropping Reza Aslan Over Anti-Trump Tweet Reveals a Lot About So-called ‘objective’ Journalism

by Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani – Banning criticism is not objectivity. CNN canceled Reza Aslan’s show Believer, days after he posted a tweet criticizing Trump. In firing Aslan, the media network revealed everything wrong with how it approaches so-called “objective” journalism. CNN said on Friday that it “decided to not move forward with production” on Aslan’s Believer series, a show about religions around the world which premiered in March and which was already cleared for a second season. In the tweet in question, which has since been deleted, Aslan called Trump “a piece of shit” and an “embarrassment to humankind” after the president once again pushed for his Muslim ban, following the attacks in London last week. CREDIT: Screenshot/Twitter Aslan later deleted the tweet and apologized for his choice of words and said he “should have used better language to express my shock and frustration at the president’s lack of decorum and sympathy for the victims...

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Pope Involved in New Sex Abuse and Dirty War Cases per Argentine Press

by Betty Clermont – Recent Argentine articles reported the pope’s personal involvement in the sexual torture of children (one of the two UN committees the Pope Francis obstructed and ignored “found that the widespread sexual violence within the Catholic Church amounted to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”) and his role in the aftermath of the Dirty War. His envoy heaped insult on top of injury after Pope Francis, informed of horrible sex abuse, did nothing and children suffered. On May 19, the priest sent by the pope to investigate the horrific sexual assaults in the Provolo Institute for the Deaf in Argentina, dismissed some cases because, he said, children can be “spiteful. For example, a girl or a boy falls in love with a priest, and he doesn’t respond back.” On the same day, the pope’s representative stated he was refusing to cooperate with the civil court prosecuting the atrocities....

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The Trump Administration has Started Rolling Back the Birth Control Mandate

by Laurel Raymond – Employers will soon be able to opt-out of providing coverage for birth control by citing religious objections. Federal officials, under orders by President Donald Trump, have drafted a rule to roll back the Obama-era mandate that birth control be included under all employer insurance plans. The final shape of roll back is still uncertain: The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) website says that it is reviewing the “interim final rule” to relax the requirements on preventative services. The rule change is specifically aimed at accommodations for religious organizations, some of whom have strongly objected to requirements that they include birth control coverage under their insurance for employees. Typically, when an agency considers changing a rule — which can have immediate and sweeping policy impacts — they publish a preliminary version, solicit comments from the public, and incorporate the feedback into revisions before handing down the final change. If...

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Islamophobia’s Anniversary

by SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN – How a disinformation campaign changed America. In the annals of American democracy, hardly anything of lasting consequence ever took place at a meeting of one of New York City’s community boards. These panels of volunteers, many of them appointed by local political bosses, hold no binding power and are only an advisory voice on issues like land use, construction and zoning. There is, however, one red-letter date associated with the community board that covered the southern tip of Manhattan, and we are approaching its anniversary. May 25 was the seventh anniversary of Islamophobia in America. Not that the irrational fear and hatred of Muslims and Islam started then and there, but rather that the events helped coalesce a loose alliance of bigots and opportunists into a political movement, the same movement that ultimately elected Donald Trump as president. On that spring evening in 2010, the members...

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Atheism More Prevalent Among Americans Than the Polls Generally Show (VIDEO)

by Ronald Bailey – A new study finds that 26 percent of Americans likely do not believe in God. Although acceptance of atheists is increasing, their fellow Americans still eye them with considerable suspicion. The percentage of Americans who declare themselves religiously unaffiliated has risen from 5 percent in 1972 to 25 percent now. But depending upon the poll, the share of Americans who call themselves atheists varies from a low of 3 percent to around 11 percent. Given the social stigma attached to atheism, researchers at the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) hypothesized that polls might underreport the number of Americans who are nonbelievers. To test this hypothesis, they used the unmatched count technique, in which poll respondents are randomly divided into two groups. The control group is asked how many of a number of harmless statements—”I am a vegetarian,” “I can drive a motorcycle,” “I own a dog,” etc.—are...

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‘Wrong, Wrong, Wrong’: An Expert Assessment of Joe Lieberman as FBI Director

by Alan Pyke – “Why in the name of all the saints and stars would you appoint a politician to a 10-year statutory term in a post that is supposed to be above politics?” Just 10 days after he fired James Comey as Director of the FBI, Donald Trump reportedly views former Senator Joe Lieberman as the frontrunner to replace the man he fired for investigating Russia’s influence in the 2016 election too vigorously. Lieberman would be a concerning choice. He would break decades of precedent that FBI directors should come from the criminal justice realm. He holds Bill of Rights protections for American citizens in low regard. And his late-career embrace of the American political right — complete with a move into Trump’s own professional locker room after leaving the Senate — would make for a polarizing and potentially caustic tenure at the embattled domestic security agency. Lieberman has been a professional politician almost...

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How I Always Win the Abortion Argument

by SemDem – This past Friday, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed the deceptively named “Tennessee Infants Protection Act,” a bill that does nothing for infants but prohibits physicians from performing abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. Tennessee Republicans blocked all efforts from Democrats to include exceptions for incest, mental health, or even rape. (After all, if a woman is raped, GOP lawmakers say it must be God’s will.) The “pro-life” movement has never been about “life,” it has, and always will, be about control. Control over a woman’s reproduction—taken from the individual and given to GOP legislators, like Republican Billy Long.  The entire movement has been a scam from its inception: it all began with a single disingenuous conference call to come up with ways to gin up support for segregationist Bible colleges. Up until that point, churches didn’t have any problem with it. Why should they? The Bible says nothing about it. Even though abortion was practiced way back in...

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Amid Rising Anti-Semitism, a Synagogue Burns in Manhattan

by Jack Jenkins – The cause of the fire remains under investigation. A historic synagogue in Manhattan’s Lowest East Side went up in flames over the weekend, possibly heightening anxiety among American Jews as they continue to wrestle with an uptick in anti-Semitism. According to NBC New York, the 120-year-old historic Congregation Beth Hamedrash Hagadol succumbed to a three-alarm blaze that erupted at around 7:00 p.m. Sunday evening, burning late into the night. The 19th century synagogue once served as the oldest worship space for orthodox Russian Jews in the country, but has been vacant since 2007. Representatives from the New York Fire Department told ThinkProgress the cause of the fire remains under investigation, and it is unclear if the building was subject to arson or set aflame in another fashion. According to the Forward, the same building was also subject to a small blaze inside the walls earlier last week....

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With Muslim Ban 2.0 in Court, Trump Campaign Website Scrubs Call for Ban

by Deirdre Fulton – Statement calling for “total and complete shutdown on Muslims” entering U.S. removed from Trump campaign website Monday afternoon. Minutes after a reporter asked White House press secretary Sean Spicer why President Donald Trump’s campaign website still broadcast his call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” that page went blank, according to reports on Monday afternoon. Trump’s call for a Muslim ban figures prominently in arguments against his second executive order blocking entry to the United States for people from six majority-Muslim countries. Opponents like Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, say statements like that one “made absolutely clear that wanted to target Muslims.” Lawyers for both sides argued their cases “en banc” on Monday afternoon, before a panel of all active and eligible judges of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers...

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Trump Gets Sued by Atheists Over Religious Liberty Executive Order; Heralded “Triumph of Fake News.”

by ursulafaw – Trump’s recently signed Religious Liberty Executive Order is yet one more step along the cobble stoned path towards a gate marked “Erosion Of Church And State.”  How did we get there from an order whose purported use was merely to loosen restrictions on political activity by religious groups? Daily Beast is heralding it as a “triumph of fake news.” Take a look: But what the order does do is solves two problems that simply do not exist. First, the order effectively nullifies the 1954 law called the Johnson Amendment, by directing the IRS to not enforce it.  The law forbids all tax-exempt nonprofit organizations, including churches, from engaging in political campaigns, endorse candidates, or collect contributions to a political campaign. According to the Christian Right’s fake news machine, this common-sense law has muzzled the free speech rights of pastors, who can’t say anything political from the pulpit.  Actually,...

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The World Will Be Watching as Muslim Ban 2.0 Goes to Court

by Cody Wofsy – Monday marks a critical next stage in the legal battle against President Trump’s Muslim Ban executive order. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Richmond, Virginia, will hear legal arguments in a case, International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, brought by the ACLU and National Immigration Law Center (NILC). This will be the first argument in front of a court of appeals, which reviews orders from trial courts, addressing the revised executive order (also known as Muslim Ban 2.0). The stakes are enormous — for the plaintiffs, for Muslim and immigrant communities around the country, and for vital constitutional principles. A quick refresher on where things stand: The president rolled out the original Muslim Ban 1.0 on January 27. The impact was immediate and devastating, as families across the country were separated from their loved ones and thousands of people flooded the airports with messages of...

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2016 was a Horrible Year for Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes. 2017 is Much Worse

by Jack Jenkins – 2016 was a banner year for anti-Jewish hatred. New data suggests incidents of anti-Semitic hatred have spiked compared to this time last year, an ominous shift that advocates say signals a multi-year increase of vitriol directed at American Jews. According to a report published on Monday by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), 541 anti-Semitic incidents have occurred so far this year — an 86 percent increase compared to the same period in 2016. This includes 161 highly-publicized bomb threats made against Jewish Community Centers and schools beginning in January. The FBI and foreign authorities recently arrested two different men — one in Missouri and one Israel — suspected to be the main culprits behind the various waves of threats that sparked mass evacuations at Jewish institutions across the country. But even excluding the bomb threats, the numbers for 2017 are unsettlingly high. Overall, the report says 380 “harassment incidents” have already occurred this year...

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Israeli Government Is Petrified of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement

by Mark Karlin, Truthout | Interview – The following is an interview with Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace and the editor of On Antisemitism: Solidarity and the Struggle for Justice. Mark Karlin: How is the charge of antisemitism used to smear critics of the Israeli government and its ignoble policies toward Palestinians? Rebecca Vilkomerson: As Tony Lerman’s contribution to the On Antisemitism book explores, Israel and its advocates have worked hard to portray criticism of the state of Israel as the “new antisemitism.” However, using the charge of antisemitism to shut down legitimate criticism of Israeli policies diminishes the meaning of the term and makes it harder to combat the real thing. In our advocacy work for Palestinian rights, we must always be vigilant for cases of real antisemitism directed against Jewish people — as opposed to protest against the Israeli state — just as...

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Malala Yousafzai Made an Honorary Canadian Citizen

by Jillian Kestler-D’Amours – The advocate for girls’ right to education worldwide is only the sixth person to ever receive the symbolic title. Ottawa, Canada – Pakistani human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has become only the sixth person, and the youngest, to ever receive honorary Canadian citizenship. Canada bestowed the title on Yousafzai, 19, during an honorary citizenship ceremony in Ottawa on Wednesday. “I’m humbled to accept honorary citizenship of your country,” she said in the House of Commons, where she received several standing ovations from parliamentarians and members of the public that packed the gallery. Malala and Satyarthi receive joint Nobel “While I will always be a proud Pashtun and a proud citizen of Pakistan, I’m grateful to be an honorary member of your nation of heroes,” Yousafzai said. “Though I still require a visa, but that’s another discussion,” she added, with a laugh. Yousafzai...

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With Gorsuch Sworn In as Supreme Court Justice, a New Conservative Era Begins

by Deirdre Fulton – Neil Gorsuch could immediately make an impact on cases dealing with religious freedom, gun rights, and immigration. After a bruising Senate confirmation battle, former federal judge Neil Gorsuch was sworn in Monday as the 113th Supreme Court justice, restoring a 5-4 conservative balance to the nation’s high court. Chief Justice John Roberts administered the constitutional oath at 9:00am in a private ceremony; later Monday, Justice Anthony Kennedy—for whom Gorsuch formerly clerked—will ask his new colleague to take a second oath in a public ceremony at the White House. Watch below: Gorsuch “is widely expected to shift the ideological balance of the court to the right,” wrote Lydia Wheeler for The Hill, “with his views seen as mostly in line with the man he is replacing: the late Justice Antonin Scalia.” However, she continued, “some court watchers say Gorsuch may be even more conservative than Scalia, his mentor...

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Mexican Archdiocese: Companies That Help Build Trump’s Wall Are “Traitors”

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘The wall is a monument of intimidation and silence, of xenophobic hatred’. Denouncing President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall between Mexico and the United States as “an open threat that violates relations and peace,” the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico City said Sunday that companies who profit from its construction are “traitors to the homeland.” The country’s largest archdiocese made the charge in an editorial (Spanish) published in its weekly newsletter, Desde la fe. A spokesman said the editorial represented the views of the diocese. “Joining a project that is a serious affront to dignity, is to shoot yourself in the foot,” the editorial declared. “The wall is a monument of intimidation and silence, of xenophobic hatred.” It continued: “Any company with the intention to invest in the wall of the fanatic Trump would be immoral, but above all, its shareholders and owners should be considered traitors...

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