News and Views


News and Views

The embattled Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany became the eighth diocese in New York to seek bankruptcy protection as it faces hundreds of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse. The Albany diocese, like others in the state, is dealing with a deluge of lawsuits dating to when New York temporarily suspended the statute of limitations to give victims of childhood abuse the ability to pursue even decades-old allegations against clergy members, teachers, Boy Scout leaders and others. — Religious News Service, 3/17/2023

Thirty-nine bodies were found on land owned by a pastor in coastal Kenya who was arrested for telling his followers to fast to death. The total death toll is 43 because a further four people died after they and others were discovered starving at the Good News International Church. A tipoff from members of the public led police to raid the pastor’s property in Malindi, where they found 15 emaciated people, including the four who later died. The followers said they were starving on the pastor’s instructions in order to meet Jesus. — USA Today, 4/23/23

The Pan-African Parliament, the South Africa-based legislative body of the African Union, has adopted new guidelines to help prevent harm and abuse experienced by victims of ritual attacks involving the occult. The proposals include legal steps such as criminalizing violent acts which result from accusations of witchcraft as well as outlawing the trafficking of body parts used in religious rituals. Violence and abuse involving witchcraft is widespread across Africa and contrary to popular belief, appears to be on the rise, according to reports. — Devex, 3/21/2023

Long-held values like patriotism, religion and community involvement are in retreat across America, according to a recent poll. The Wall Street Journal/NORC survey found that just 38% of Americans say patriotism is “very important” to them, down from 70% who said the same in 1998. Thirty-nine percent placed importance on religion, down from 62% who said faith was “very important” to them 25 years ago. The percentage of Americans who said raising children was “very important” fell to 30%, down from 59% in 1998. Meanwhile, the share of Americans who valued involvement in their community as “very important” fell to 27% — down from a high of 62% in 2019. — NY Post, 3/27/23

The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs in occupied Kherson Oblast reported that it eliminated an underground Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation in Novosofivka, Kherson Oblast, in January 2023. Officials reported that Russian authorities found over 4,000 pieces of “forbidden literature” in the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ possession and emphasized that Russian law designates Jehovah’s Witnesses as an extremist organization banned in Russia. — ISW, 4/9/23

A US Jewish boy with special needs had a swastika carved into his back, allegedly by fellow students in his high school in Las Vegas. The culprits were not found as the school doesn’t have closed-circuit cameras in most areas. The 17-year-old student has autism, is nonverbal, and uses a service dog. He was wearing a kippah during the attack, indicating he’s a religious Jew. His mother said he is the only identifiably Jewish student at Clark High School. — Times of Israel, 4/24/2023


A 7th grader in Warren, Michigan was hailed as a hero after his quick thinking averted a disaster aboard a school bus. Dillon Reeves hurried to grab the steering wheel and slam on the brakes as the bus was veering towards oncoming traffic, moments after the bus driver began feeling light-headed and lost consciousness. Bus-mounted camera footage revealed the driver losing control, and Reeves jumping into action from a full five rows back, before shouting to his classmates to call 911 immediately. Warren Consolidated Schools Superintendent Robert Livernois explained the situation in a news conference and said that it was “an extraordinary act of courage and maturity.” — Good News Network, 5/1/2023

A patient who was left almost completely paralyzed from a rare disease is now walking and talking again, after a music therapist prescribed mindful listening to his favorite song every night. 71-year-old Ian Palmer was struck down with Guillain-Barré syndrome, forcing him to spend seven months in a hospital where he was unable to walk or speak properly. But when Ian was transferred to Sue Ryder Neurological Care Centre, a state-of-the-art care unit in Lancashire, England, clinicians used music therapy techniques to overcome ‘near total paralysis of his body’. Using his diaphragm, he also learned how to breathe more effectively. — Good News Network, 5/1/2023

Scientists have unlocked one of the biggest mysteries of quasars — the brightest, most powerful objects in the Universe — by discovering that they are ignited by galaxies colliding. The ignition of a quasar can have dramatic consequences for entire galaxies – it can drive the rest of the gas out of the galaxy, which prevents it from forming new stars. First discovered 60 years ago, quasars can shine as brightly as a trillion stars packed into a volume the size of our Solar System, but what triggered the ignition remained a mystery. New work led by scientists at the Universities of Sheffield and Hertfordshire (England) has now revealed that it is a consequence of galaxies crashing together. The collisions were discovered using deep imaging observations from the Isaac Newton Telescope in La Palma. — Good News Network, 4/29/2023

Across the U.S., office-to-housing conversions are being pursued as a potential lifeline for struggling downtown business districts that emptied out during the coronavirus pandemic and may never fully recover. The conversion push is marked by an emphasis on affordability. Multiple cities are offering serious tax breaks for developers to incentivize office-to-housing conversions — provided that a certain percentage of apartments are offered at affordable below-market prices. Advocates of the conversion model say giving tax breaks to wealthy developers isn’t the best tool to achieve the goal. — AP, 4/24/2023

Italy’s prospects for foreign-born workers remain scant, no matter how qualified they are. This comes as the country deals with a stagnant economy and an aging, shrinking population while worrying about migrants and the erosion of its language and culture. The tourism ministry recently passed off Slovenia as Italy in a recent promotion video. — Reuters, 4/29/2023

A team of explorers found a sunken Japanese ship that was transporting Allied prisoners of war when it was torpedoed off the coast of the Philippines in 1942, resulting in Australia’s largest maritime wartime loss with a total of 1,080 lives. The wreck of the Montevideo Maru was located after a 12-day search at a depth of over 4,000 meters (13,120 feet) — deeper than the Titanic — off Luzon Island in the South China Sea, using an autonomous underwater vehicle with in-built sonar. There will be no efforts to remove artifacts or human remains out of respect for the families of those who died, said the Sydney-based Silentworld Foundation, a not-for-profit dedicated to maritime archaeology and history. — Times of Israel, 4/22/2023


The world’s military spending has risen to its highest ever level, according to new data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)– with European countries increasing their budgets faster than at any time since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has helped push total global military expenditure to an all-time yearly high of $2240 billion (€2035 billion). Western and Central European states spent some $345 billion (€313 billion) on their military forces last year, according to SIPRI’s annual Trends in World Military Expenditure report. — Euronews, 4/24/2023

Australia’s military has begun to transform itself for a new age of warfare, with the federal government endorsing the most significant shift in Australia’s defense strategy since the 1980s. Former ADF chief Sir Angus Houston and former defense minister Stephen Smith were tasked with assessing the nation’s defenses, and deemed the nation was not ready for the new military age — dubbed the “missile age” — the world had entered and it needed urgent rearming. The Review spells out that the world has changed, with China amassing the greatest military build-up of any nation since World War II, and that Australia is not equipped to face it alone. — Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 4/24/2023

Russia has a program to sabotage wind farms and communication cables in the North Sea, according to new allegations. The details come from a joint investigation by public broadcasters in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. It says Russia has a fleet of vessels disguised as fishing trawlers and research vessels in the North Sea. They carry underwater surveillance equipment and are mapping key sites for possible sabotage. A Danish counterintelligence officer says the sabotage plans are being prepared in case of a full conflict with the West. The broadcasters say they have analyzed intercepted Russian communications which indicate so-called ghost ships sailing in Nordic waters which have turned off the transmitters so as not to reveal their locations. — BBC News, 4/19/23

Vladimir Putin signed a foreign-policy strategy document in March that signals Russia’s return to Soviet-era rhetoric and objectives. One of the most striking aspects of the new document is Russia’s self-positioning as an “original state-civilization,” distinct from the West and forming a unique “Russian world.” The term “Anglo-Saxon states” — which had previously been used only by informal patriotic groups — has now officially entered the Russian foreign-policy lexicon. This shift suggests that Moscow is more than willing to amplify nationalist sentiments and distance itself further from Western powers. — Wall Street Journal, 4/13/2023

French President Emmanuel Macron’s flagship pension reform will enter into force swiftly, officials said after it received the Constitutional Council’s approval despite months of street protests and strikes. The legislation, which pushes up the age at which one can draw a pension to 64 from 62, remains deeply unpopular, and spontaneous protests broke out when the Constitutional Council’s decision was announced. — Reuters, 4/14/2023

A conflict raging in Sudan is rattling its neighbors and other countries for reasons ranging from concern about shared Nile waters and oil pipelines to the shape of a new government and a new humanitarian crisis in the making. Sudan, which relies heavily on foreign aid, is no stranger to conflict. But this time, fighting is tearing apart the capital instead of a remote area of the nation, which lies in an unstable region bordering the Red Sea, Sahel and Horn of Africa. Five of Sudan’s seven neighbors – Ethiopia, Chad, the Central African Republic, Libya and South Sudan – have faced political upheaval or conflict themselves in recent years. — Aljazeera, 4/21/23


U.S. regulators put large banks on notice that tougher oversight is coming, after the Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation detailed their supervisory lapses before deposit runs caused the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank in March. “Our first area of focus will be to improve the speed, force, and agility of supervision,” Fed Vice Chair of Supervision Michael Barr said in a letter accompanying a 114-page report supplemented by confidential materials that are typically not made public and which documented rising concern — but little action — over lax risk management. — Reuters, 4/28/23

Banks are paying up for savers’ deposits in a much bigger way than they have in more than a decade, based on recent earnings reports from the nation’s biggest banks. After a decade of low interest rates, the Federal Reserve has unleashed a rapid series of rate hikes to combat inflation, pushing up its benchmark rate to a range of 4.75% to 5%. That has prompted banks to pay higher interest on traditional savings products like money market funds, certificates of deposit and regular savings accounts. To bolster their deposits, banks are raising payouts to retain current customers and entice new ones. — AP, 4/24/2023

The $787.5 million settlement that ended Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit against Fox Corp marks the end of a lucrative, two-year legal battle for the sprawling teams of highly-paid lawyers on both sides. At least 31 lawyers from nine different law firms worked on the case, court filings show. Dominion said Fox News broadcast false claims that the company’s voting machines were involved in a conspiracy to rig the 2020 U.S. presidential election, and won one of the biggest settlements paid in a defamation lawsuit. — Reuters, 4/20/2023

An Antonov An-124 cargo plane has been parked at Toronto (Canada) Pearson Airport for more than a year. The stranded plane landed in Toronto on Feb. 27, 2022, three days after Russia invaded Ukraine. It had arrived from China with a delivery of personal protective equipment. Canada closed its airspace to Russian-owned planes before it could take off. The flying monstrosity, one of 26 in the world, has a wingspan of 240 feet, double that of a Boeing 737’s, and is roomy enough to ferry satellites, locomotive engines and wind turbines — as much as 150 tons of stuff. Parking fees, which went to the equivalent of 58 cents a minute from 55 cents a minute last year, have shot past $330,000 all told. — Wall Street
Journal, 4/16.2023


The population of Israel is edging toward 10 million, making it a dozen times larger than it was on the day the Jewish state was established, according to figures released by the Central Bureau of Statistics. There are 9,727,000 people living in Israel, 7,145,000 are Jewish, or 73.5 percent, along with 2,048,000 Arabs (21%) and 534,000 members of other minorities (5.5%). When the state was founded on May 14, 1948, there were 806,000 people living in the country, meaning it has grown twelvefold over the decades. The years in between have seen 3.3 million new immigrants arrive in the country. Nearly half of them — 43%, or 1.5 million — arrived since 1990. — Times of Israel, 4/24/2023

The number of Holocaust survivors living in Israel stands at nearly 150,000, according to statistics published by the Holocaust Survivors’ Rights Authority. The 147,199 Holocaust survivors residing in the Jewish state include 521 new immigrants from war-torn Ukraine, who last year were recognized as survivors of the Nazi genocide. — Jewish News Service, 4/14/2023

From the outside it looks like an ordinary warehouse. But inside this unassuming building, in Hod Hasharon central Israel, is one of the most ambitious energy projects in the Middle East. Researchers at NT-Tao have joined an elite group of around 35 private start-ups that are trying to build a commercial fusion reactor. Nuclear fusion powers our Sun and other stars in the universe. It’s the process of fusing two hydrogen atoms together which produces immense amounts of energy. If it can be harnessed here on Earth, then it promises abundant, cheap and emission-free electricity. Late last year researchers at the US National Ignition Facility (NIF) in California made a breakthrough. Scientists conducted the first controlled fusion experiment to produce more energy from the reaction than that supplied by the lasers which sparked it. — BBC, 4/28/23

In the wake of a tense Passover week that saw rockets fired toward Israel from Iran-backed terrorist groups in Gaza, Lebanon and Syria, a former Israeli national security adviser warned that Israel needs to prepare for war with Iran without the help of the United States. Yaakov Amidror, who served as National Security Council chief between 2011–2013, told Radio 103 FM, “It’s possible that we will reach a point where we have to attack Iran even without American assistance.” Prime Minister Netanyahu has vowed that Israel will never allow Iran to achieve a nuclear weapon, regardless of a nuclear agreement. — Bridges for Peace, 4/14/2023

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