News and Views


A federal bankruptcy judge approved a $121 million reorganization plan for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in New Mexico, one of the oldest Roman Catholic dioceses in the U.S. as it tries to stem financial losses from clergy abuse claims that date back decades. The global priest abuse scandal has plunged dioceses around the world into bankruptcy and has cost the Roman Catholic Church an estimated $3 billion or more. — AP, 12/29/2022

A recent outbreak of attacks in Uganda against Christians include: A Pastor who lost almost all his vision after acid was thrown in his face (Kampala); Two evangelists beaten and stabbed after preaching to Muslims (Eastern Uganda); a 23-year-old Muslim woman who converted to Christianity was poisoned to death (Eastern Uganda); five Christian workers were thrown off a boat and drowned in central Uganda’s Lake Kyoga; Cutting off the hand of a 42-year-old father who left Islam to become a Christian. Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another. Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country. — Morning Star News, 12/30/2022

Hostility, including vandalism, threats and slurs toward Jewish students on college campuses increased more than threefold to 155 incidents in 2021 from 47 in 2014, according to the Anti- Defamation League, a New York-based Jewish civil rights organization which has tracked reports of such behavior since 2014. The group counted 2,717 antisemitic incidents in the U.S. overall last year, up 34% from 2020 and the highest number in its records dating to — Wall Street Journal, 12/15/2022

Jordan has launched a $100 million master plan aimed at attracting a million Christian pilgrims to celebrations of the second millennium of the baptism of Jesus in 2030. The ambitious plan was unveiled by a not-for-profit foundation created by the Jordanian government to develop the “Bethany beyond the Jordan” area, on the east bank of the Jordan River, long venerated as the place of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. Archaeological discoveries of an ancient monastery at Al-Maghtas, Jordan, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in — RNS, 12/13/22

A surge of anti-Jewish vitriol is stoking fears that public figures are normalizing hate and ramping up antisemitism. Leaders of the Jewish community in the U.S. and extremism experts have been alarmed to see celebrities with massive followings spew antisemitic tropes in a way that has been taboo for decades, among them the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, and basketball star Kyrie Irving. “These are not fringe outliers. When influential mainstream cultural, political and even sports icons normalize hate speech, everyone needs to be very concerned,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber. — Associated Press (AP), 12/5/2023

In the last half of 2022, Catholic Community Services at a shelter in Tucson, Arizona, said it was receiving about 700 people daily released by U.S. authorities and coming from countries as distinct as Congo and Mexico. The most staggering trend has been the increase in pregnant women and girls, some younger than 15, who are victims of assault and domestic violence. In many cases, forensic evaluations at border clinics that document mental and physical abuse are also crucial to migrants’ asylum cases, because often no other evidence is available for court proceedings. Asylum is granted to those who might suffer violence if returned to their home countries. — U.S, News and World Report, 12/31/2022


A man broke into a school to save over a dozen lives during the historic blizzard that barreled through New York over Christmas. An officer was dispatched to the school after a keyholder reported that a broken window triggered the alarm. When it was safe to do so, the officer made entry and checked the school but nothing seemed out of place. They thought that maybe the damage was caused from the hurricane winds till they saw a handwritten note left on a table. The man was identified as Jay Withey, a mechanic who had ventured out to help a trapped friend, but instead got caught in the snow himself. Withey smashed through a window of the school so he could open the front door, helped guide stranded people into the school, scavenged for cereal and apples in the cafeteria and found mats in the gym for everyone to sleep on. On Christmas morning, Withey and the others were able to use snow blowers from the janitor’s closet to free their cars from the mounds of snow. The police, calling him a hero, were able to find him through surveillance camera images on social media and an apology note left behind. — SunnySkyz, 12/31/2022

Germany is bleeding cash to keep the lights on. Almost half a trillion dollars, and counting, since the Ukraine war jolted it into an energy crisis. That’s the cumulative scale of the bailouts and schemes the Berlin government has launched to prop up the country’s energy system since prices rocketed and it lost access to gas from main supplier Russia. “How severe this crisis will be and how long it will last greatly depends on how the energy crisis will develop,” said Michael Groemling at the German Economic Institute (IW). “The national economy as a whole is facing a huge loss of wealth.” — Reuters, 12/15/2022

National Health Service nurses in Britain staged a strike in December, their first ever national walkout in 106 years, as a bitter dispute with the government over pay ramped up pressure on already-stretched hospitals. An estimated 100,000 nurses struck at 76 hospitals and health centers, cancelling an estimated 70,000 appointments, procedures and surgeries in Britain’s state-funded National Health System. — Reuters, 12/14/2022

China raced to vaccinate its most vulnerable people in anticipation of waves of COVID infections, with some analysts expecting the death toll to soar after it eased strict controls that had kept the pandemic at bay for three years. COVID infections were exploding in China well before the government’s decision to abandon its strict “zero-COVID” policy, a World Health Organization director said. — Reuters, 12/15/2022

A large-scale study has identified alarming rates of depression and PTSD — one in four or 25 percent — among Flint, Michigan residents five years after the city switched its water supply from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to the Flint river. A predominantly low-income community which faced many challenges, the city failed to properly treat the water supply to prevent lead and other elements from leaching out of the city’s old water pipes. Virtually all Flint residents were consequently exposed to drinking water with unsafe levels of bacteria, disinfection byproducts, and lead, a neurotoxicant. — Science Daily, 9/22/2022

Four electrical substations in Washington state were vandalized during the Christmas period. The attacks come as federal officials warned that the U.S. power grid needs better security to prevent domestic terrorism and after a large outage in North Carolina earlier that took days to repair — AP, 12/26/22


Britain’s economy is on course to shrink 0.4% in 2023 as inflation remains high and companies put investment on hold, with gloomy implications for longer-term growth, the Confederation of Business Industry forecast in December. “We will see a lost decade of growth if action isn’t taken,” CBI Director-General Tony Danker said. — Reuters, 12/5/2023

After months of providing the Kremlin with drones to supplement Moscow’s dwindling supply of missiles to use against Ukraine, Iran is moving closer to an outright military partnership with Russia, according to American intelligence. The two pariah states are preparing to bolster one another’s forces in an arrangement that could involve the sale of ballistic missiles, warplanes and helicopters — as well as joint production of lethal drones, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters. — NY Post, 12/9/22

A hundred days after they began, the longest running anti-government protests in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution have shaken the regime, but at a heavy cost to the people. More than 500 protesters, including 69 children, have been killed, according to the Human Rights Activists’ News Agency (HRANA). Two protesters have been executed and at least 26 others face the same fate, after what Amnesty International calls “sham trials.” — BBC News, 12/26/22

London-based Lloyds Marine Insurance Company warned its clients that the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, sent gold to Iran to pay for terrorist activities. Gold is being shipped on Mahan Air flights from Caracas to Tehran to pay for Iranian oil, the document said. “The gold is then sold in Turkey, and other Middle Eastern countries, to generate funds for terrorist activity.” the document warned. — Jewish Press, 12/13/2022

Peru announced a nationwide state of emergency, granting police special powers and limiting freedoms including the right to assembly, after a week of fiery protests that left at least eight dead. The protests were sparked by the ousting of former President Pedro Castillo on Dec. 7 in an impeachment vote. Castillo, a leftist elected in 2021, was arrested after illegally trying to dissolve the Andean nation’s Congress, the latest in a series of political crises the world’s second-largest copper producer has faced in recent years. — Reuters, 12/15/2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s renewed public appearances likely indicate that he has become more concerned about his popularity and image in Russia. Putin has been seemingly making more public appearances in Russian cities and more frequently delivering vague statements about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in recent days compared to his marked absence from public activity outside the Kremlin throughout the first ten months of the war. — ISW, 12/23/22


Sam Bankman-Fried and other FTX executives received billions of dollars in secret loans from the crypto mogul’s Alameda Research, the hedge fund’s former chief told a judge when she pleaded guilty to her role in the exchange’s collapse. Caroline Ellison, former chief executive of Alameda Research, said she agreed with Bankman-Fried to hide from FTX’s investors, lenders and customers that the hedge fund could borrow unlimited sums from the exchange, according to a transcript of her plea hearing. — Reuters, 12/23/22

More than half the states in the U.S. are set to lift their minimum wages in 2023, but the effects could be muted because many low- income workers already earn more than mandated due to strong labor demand. Wages have surged, particularly for low-wage workers, since the pandemic for several reasons, including widespread labor shortages. Through September, the lowest 10% of workers by income in each state earned hourly wages that were on average one-third higher than their state’s minimum wages, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data compiled by the Labor Department and estimates from Nathan Wilmers, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management. — Wall Street Journal, 12/30/2022

Taiwan will plough an extra T$380 billion ($12.43 billion) in tax revenue back into the economy in 2023 to help protect the island from global economic shocks, including subsidies for electricity prices, President Tsai Ing-wen said. While the export-dependent economy grew 6.45% in 2021, the fastest rate since it expanded 10.25% in 2010, it is expected to grow much more slowly in 2022 and 2023, hit by COVID-19 turmoil in China, global inflation woes and the impact of the war in Ukraine. Taiwan is a major producer of semiconductors, used in everything from cars and smartphones to fighter jets, and home to the world’s largest contract chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) — Reuters, 12/31/2022

Federal money for big transit projects is on its way, and with it a new problem for transit agencies: balancing the need to repair with demands to expand service, while ensuring a windfall doesn’t go to waste. The $1 trillion infrastructure law has raised hopes among the agencies for new railcars, new buses and new lines stretching into underserved communities. But figuring out what to invest in could be harder than ever, with generations of neglect to address and commuter habits warped by the pandemic. Of the $89 billion for public transit in the infrastructure law, about $8 billion is set aside for expansion projects, while the rest is intended to pay for repairs and modernization of existing systems. — Wall Street Journal, 12/30/2022

The world will likely slip into recession in 2023 as the effects of high inflation and rising interest rates are felt. In Europe the energy crisis will continue to weigh heavily on real incomes. And while the outlook for China has brightened as the government has taken the first steps back from its zero-COVID policy, “living with COVID” will be more difficult than many assume. The consolation is that the recession should not be very deep by recent standards: this is not another pandemic or financial crisis. And since inflation now seems to be receding all over the world, central banks should be able to take their feet off the brakes before long, allowing a recovery to begin late next year. — Capital Economics Report, 12/19/2022


Some 70,000 people from 95 different countries immigrated to Israel in 2022 with the assistance of the Jewish Agency for Israel, in cooperation with the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration. It was the most olim [immigrants to Israel] in 23 years and a dramatic increase from 2021, when about 28,600 immigrants arrived in the country. — Bridges for Peace, 12/23/22

Incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reassured Knesset lawmakers that there will be no changes made to Israel’s Law of Return. Israel will “be a state where we will take care of all Israeli citizens without exception,” he said during remarks in the Knesset plenum. The Likud party led by Netanyahu will not agree to cancel the “grandfather clause” in the Law of Return, according to a report by the Hebrew-language Walla! News outlet. The so-called “grandfather clause” declares any person with at least one Jewish grandparent to have the right to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return — even if they themselves are not Jewish according to Jewish law (halacha), that is, born to a Jewish mother. — Jewish Press, 12/13/2022

The Israel Antiquities Authority, the Israel National Parks Authority, and the City of David Foundation announced the commencement of the excavation of the historic Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem. The Pool was first constructed some 2,700 years ago, as part of Jerusalem’s water system in the 8th Century BCE, during the reign of King Hezekiah, as described in the Bible in the Book of Kings II, 20:20 The Pool of Siloam served as the reservoir for the waters of the Gihon Spring, which were diverted through an underground water tunnel, and it was thus already considered one of the most important areas in Jerusalem in the First Temple period. Due to its location and importance, the Pool of Siloam was renovated and expanded some 2,000 years ago at the end of the Second Temple period. — Israel National News, 12/27/22

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev signed an order on the establishment of the Azerbaijani embassy in Israel. Earlier this month, the Azerbaijan parliament announced its historic decision to open an embassy in Israel. The embassy will be located in Tel Aviv, and will be the first embassy in Israel of a country with a Shi’ite majority and a Shi’ite government. — Israeli National News, 11/26/2022

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