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Muslim extremists have been randomly killing Christians in Nigeria. In Zanwrua village, 62-year-old Agado Aura recounted how he and his wife narrowly escaped death. “Our people have been attacked by Muslim Fulani herdsmen who are collaborating with armed terrorists to invade our communities. These attacks are being carried out daily. Every blessed day we witness the invasion, killing of our people, and the destruction of their houses.” The attacks on 13 Christian communities in the north-central state also wounded nine people and ruined 249 homes. —, 10/25.2017

Significant numbers of British people without religious beliefs and even atheists do not find that evolution provides a satisfactory explanation for the development of human consciousness and the origins of what can be called spiritual aspects of human nature. This according to a survey by the Centre for Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society, based
at Newman University in Birmingham. — RNS, 9/5/2017

A federal judge in Wisconsin has struck down as unconstitutional a law that gives clergy tax-free housing allowances, in a ruling that could have far-reaching ramifications for religious leaders who have fought for years to keep the substantial financial benefit. Under the federal law passed in 1954, a “minister of the gospel” doesn’t pay income taxes on compensation that is designated part of a housing allowance. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, argued that the law discriminates against secular employees. The benefit saves clergy, including non-Christian religious leaders, $800 million a year in taxes, according to the latest estimate from the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation. — AP, 10/10/2017

The Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, where thousands of people have fled the killing in the country, is “genocide,” said Azeem Ibrahim, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Policy. The United Nation’s 1948 Genocide Convention defines genocide as
acts that are committed with “intent to destroy” in the whole or part of a national, ethnical or racial or religious group by killing, causing bodily injury or mental harm, imposing measures to prevent births. Some 600,000 Rohingya have been driven out of
Myanmar because of the violence and persecution. “More than half of an entire population has been removed from their ancestral lands in just eight weeks,” Ibrahim says. —, 10/23/2017

BlessU-2, a robot built on the body of an ATM machine, the blessing robot, was part of an installation by the Protestant Church in Hesse and Nassau during the summer at the World Reformation Exhibition in Wittenberg, where German monk Martin Luther sparked the Protestant Reformation when he
reportedly nailed the 95 theses to the Castle Church door 500 years ago. “You can say it’s a blessing robot. You can say it’s a machine that reads blessings,” said the Rev. Fabian Vogt, spokesman for the Protestant Church in Hesse and Nassau. BlessU-2 speaks seven languages in either a male and female
voice, depending on user preference, and offers four different types of blessings: traditional, companionship, encouragement and renewal. Those are taken from more than 40 Bible verses, according to the church. — RNS, 10/11/2017


The Merkez Restaurant in a small eastern Turkish town of Karakocan is one of the many establishments across the town where those in need are invited to eat free of charge. Mehmet Ozturk, 55, the owner, says he always keeps at least three tables
reserved for the needy, even during rush hour when his restaurant is packed. According to residents, around 100 people eat for free each day across the whole town, which is home to around 28,000 people. The tradition to feed the needy for free first started in the 1940s at the Merkez Restaurant. The practice was quickly picked up by other restaurants in the area. — SunnySkyz, 9/21/2017

An oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may be the largest in the U.S. since the 2010 blowout at BP Plc’s Macondo well that sank the Deepwater Horizon rig and killed 11 people. LLOG Exploration Co. reported 7,950 to 9,350 barrels of oil were released Oct.
11 to Oct. 12 from subsea infrastructure about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southeast of Venice, Louisiana, according to the company and the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. That would make it the largest spill in more than seven years, BSEE data show, even though it’s a fraction of the millions of barrels ejected in the 2010 incident. — Bloomberg, 10/16/2017

The last Leonardo da Vinci painting in private hands is going to auction in New York in November, with a pre-sale estimate of around $100 million. The depiction of Jesus, titled “Salvator Mundi,” is referred to by Christie’s specialist Alan Wintermute as “The Holy Grail of Old Master paintings.” The painting, dating from around 1500 AD, is one of fewer than 20 known paintings by da Vinci. — AP, 10/11/2017

The deadliest wildfires in California history have killed at least 41 people and destroyed nearly 6,000 homes. About 40,000 had been evacuated through the middle of October. — AP, 10/18/2017


Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced plans to build a new city on the Red Sea coast, promising a lifestyle not available in today’s Saudi Arabia as he seeks to remake the kingdom in a time of dwindling resources. The city project,
to be called “NEOM,” will operate independently from the “existing governmental framework” with investors consulted at every step during development. The project will be backed by more than $500 billion from the Saudi government, its sovereign wealth fund and local and international investors. The ambitious plan includes a bridge spanning the Red Sea, connecting the proposed city to Egypt and the rest of Africa. Some 10,000 square miles (25,900 square kilometers) have been allocated for the development of the urban area that will
stretch into Jordan and Egypt. — Bloomberg, 10/24/2017

U.S.-backed Syrian forces celebrated in the streets of Raqqa after gaining control of the northern city that once was the heart of the Islamic State’s self-styled caliphate, dealing a major defeat to the extremist group. The battle of Raqqa killed more than 1,000 civilians, many of them in airstrikes, and displaced tens of thousands of people who face the prospect of returning to ruined homes. Militants used civilians as human shields and tried to stop them from leaving the city. — AP, 10/18/2017

Catalan separatists signed a declaration of independence
from Spain. Catalonia’s president said he would delay implementing it until Spain agrees to a dialog. The landslide victory in a disputed October 1 referendum gave the new government the grounds to implement its long-held desire to break centuryold ties with Spain. Catalonia is located on the eastern extremity of the Iberian Peninsula and consists of four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. The capital and largest city is Barcelona, the second-most populated municipality in Spain and the core of the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union. Since the Spanish transition
to democracy (1975-1982), Catalonia has regained considerable local autonomy in political, educational, environmental, and cultural affairs and is now one of the most economically dynamic communities of Spain. — AP, 10/11/2017

Countries that are most in need of more food to feed their impoverished populations tend to be the ones where farmers have the hardest time expanding production. In low-income nations, agricultural productivity rose at a rate of 1.24 percent annually as of 2017, according to an annual study from the
Global Harvest Initiative, a research organization sponsored by Deere & Co., Monsanto Co., Smithfield Foods Inc. and other businesses and nonprofits. That’s less than the 1.75 percent needed to meet food needs in 2050. The report shows the worst
shortfalls in food self-sufficiency in Sub-Saharan Africa, where productivity gains may meet only 8 percent of demand. South Asia, Southeast Asia and China also face deficits, while Latin America and North America are regions of surplus. — Bloomberg, 10/18/2017

Saudi Arabia’s surprise decision to grant women the right to drive in the conservative kingdom marks a significant expansion in women’s rights, but activists said it is also only the first step in a long list of demands for equality. Saudi Arabia was the only
country in the world to ban women from driving, and nearly three decades ago women first began agitating for the right to drive, at times facing arrest for their protests and for getting behind the wheel. — AP, 9/27/2017


Automatic Teller Machines, or ATMs — known in the UK as cashpoints — turned 50 years old in September 2017. ATMs changed the banking industry and made people comfortable interacting with kiosks in exchange for goods. Now, self-checkouts at grocery stores, boarding passes on airplanes,
and online shopping brings products to the door with just a few clicks. Around the U.S. today are approximately 3 million cash machines, according to the ATM Industry Association. They have made the $20 bill the second-most printed bank note each
year, behind the $1 bill, according to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. — AP, 9/22/2017

Across the U.S., ten people, including three assistant coaches, were arrested after a federal probe revealed hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to influence star athletes’ choice of schools, shoe sponsors, agents, even tailors. The arrests will have an immediate — and potentially long-lasting — impact
on the programs involved. Federal prosecutors said at least three top high school recruits were promised payments of as much as $150,000, using money supplied by Adidas, to attend two universities sponsored by the athletic shoe company. — AP,

Silicon Valley is a uniquely American creation, an example of no-holds-barred capitalism that now drives many aspects of modern life. But the likes of Facebook, Google and Apple are increasingly facing an uncomfortable truth: it is Europe’s culture of tougher oversight of companies. Germany recently
passed a law imposing fines of up to $59 million on websites that don’t remove hate speech within 24 hours. Britain wants companies to take down extremist material within two hours. In some ways, it goes to a question of identity. Social media have
traditionally seen themselves not as publishers but as platforms for others to share information. — AP,10/18/2017

Wall Street is entering a new era. The fraternity of bond jockeys, derivatives mavens and stock pickers who have long personified the industry are giving way to algorithms, and soon, artificial intelligence. Banks and investment funds have been tinkering
for years, prompting anxiety for employees. Now, firms are rolling out machine-learning software to suggest bets, set prices and craft hedges. The tools will relieve staff of routine tasks and offer an edge to those who stay. But one day, machines may not
need much help. It’s no wonder most of the jobs Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s securities business posted online in recent months were for tech talent. Billionaire trader Steven Cohen is experimenting with automating his top money managers. Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen has said 100,000 financial
workers aren’t needed to keep money flowing. — Bloomberg, 10/18/2017


Once numbering more than 1 million people, the Samaritans, who share many ritual practices with Jews are now one of the smallest religious groups in the world. Wars, forced conversions and, more recently, devastating inherited diseases caused by relatives marrying relatives have taken a catastrophic toll on the Samaritans. There are only 802 in the entire world. Today’s Samaritans live in two groups, separated not only by geography but culture. About 350 live on Mount Gerizim, the biblical mountain where, they say, Abraham prepared to sacrifice
his son Isaac. The other group took root near Tel Aviv decades ago after war prevented Samaritans working in Israel from returning to their West Bank homes. — RNS, 10/17/2018

The “David’s Sling” weapons system was awarded the prestigious Technology Pioneer Award at the 2017 Multinational Ballistic Missile Defense Conference in Boston. The award, presented on Tuesday in recognition of the system’s groundbreaking achievements in lower-tier ballistic- and cruisemissile defenses, is given each year in recognition of significant technical achievement in the field of missile defense. David’s Sling is a joint Israel-US project, with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems collaborating with American defense contractor Raytheon. — Jerusalem Post, 10/26/2017

In a historic reawakening, Iran is once again meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians. The re-emergence of Iran, as it pursues its efforts to increase its political and military presence in the region, does not bode well for the future of stability in the Middle East. The Iranians are urging Hamas
to hold on to its weapons in spite of the recent “reconciliation”
agreement signed between Hamas and Fatah under the auspices of Egypt. Iran’s goal in this move? For Hamas to maintain and enhance its preparation for war against Israel. — Gatestone Institute, 10/23/2017

Prime Minister Theresa May said Wednesday Britain would celebrate with pride the centenary of the Balfour Declaration and its role in the creation of the State of Israel. Speaking in the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions she said, “We are proud of the role that we played in the creation of the State of Israel, and we will certainly mark the centenary with pride.” May also said, “We also must be conscious of the sensitivities that some people do have about the Balfour Declaration. We recognize that there is more work to be done.” May reminded the House that it is “important that we all
recommit to ensuring that we can provide security, stability and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians through such a lasting peace.” — The Tower, 10/26/2017

Between Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station and the International
Convention Center, one of the country’s largest infrastructure projects is taking shape. The site is the Jerusalem railway station, where trains departing for Tel Aviv will arrive 28 minutes later as of April 2018. The direct rail link will include
some 40 kilometers of tunnels, eight bridges and 56 kilometers of electrified track. A parking lot will be built adjacent to the station with 1,200 underground parking spaces. The 72,000 square meter station can also double as a nuclear shelter. It has two huge electric doors that can seal up to 2,500 passengers in
a 220 square meter corridor that can be transformed into safe refuge, providing supplies of water, food and medicine for a 48-hour period. The new lines will connect Jerusalem from North to South and West to East. — Jewish Press, 10/30/2017

Nearly two dozen Israeli technology companies set up shop among the 2,000-year-old stones of the Tower of David Museum. The Tower of David Innovation Lab will allow a visitor to the Tower of David’s campus to look at the stone remains of what was once the entrance to King Herod’s Palace, and be able, with the help of augmented reality, to see the marble staircases and grand columns that long ago were swallowed by history. A spokesperson said that The Tower of David Innovation Lab will help make Jerusalem’s long and storied history newly relevant to young visitors. “We always say, ‘If these stones could only speak,’” she said. “And with technology, they can.” — Al Monitor, 10/20/2017

Israeli researchers recently played a leading part in cutting-edge research aimed at determining genetic causes for breast cancer. Top researchers from Israel’s Clalit Health Services and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology joined a team of experts
from the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan and various Western European countries. Their findings reveal 72 specific genetic changes that can cause the disease and 65 specific genetic changes that serve as a red flag. — Jerusalem Post, 10/25/2017

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