This Week in the News

Terror Attack in Istanbul

Deutsche Welle wrote on June 29:

“The bombing at Ataturk Airport is the most recent attack in a long line of lethal assaults Turkey has seen over the past year. The country is struggling to defend itself against Kurdish militants and Islamist terrorists.

“Turkey is still in shock after three suicide bombers killed at least 41 people and injured 239 more at Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport on Tuesday. Among the victims were travelers from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, China, Iran, Ukraine and Jordan.

“The attack was the latest in a string of violent terrorist acts that have rocked Turkey since 2015. On July 20, 2015, the terrorist group ‘Islamic State’ (IS) first attacked in Turkey, killing 34 leftists and Kurds in the southern town of Suruc. Turkish forces retaliated by bombing IS strongholds in Syria.

“IS’ first bombing in Suruc triggered a spiral of violence. The activists were on an aid mission to Kobane, where months earlier Syrian Kurdish figh[t]ers affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) had defended against an IS onslaught with the help of US airstrikes. The Turkish government’s mute response to the ‘Battle for Kobane’ – which became a source of nationalist pride for Kurds across the Middle East -raised sentiment among Turkish Kurds that the government was backing IS against their ethnic brethren in Syria.

“The PKK responded to the Suruc attacks by murdering two police officers in retaliation for what it views as Turkish support for IS to counter the Syrian Kurds. Turkey’s government had been in peace talks with the militant PKK for two and a half years in a bid to end more than three decades of fighting. But after the killing of the two police officers and subsequent Turkish retaliatory airstrikes, the peace was shattered. Ever since then, the country has been struggling with violence from two sides: IS terrorists and Kurdish militants.

“No one has taken responsibility for the most recent bombing at Ataturk Airport, but Turkish authorities are blaming IS. The Islamist terrorists were definitely responsible for several other deadly attacks in Turkey since July 2015. Aside from the attack in Suruc, they also killed 102 people and injured 400 at a leftist and Kurdish peace rally in Ankara on October 10, 2015. Another IS suicide attack in Istanbul’s heavily touristed Sultanahmet district in January killed 12 people, mostly German tourists…”

The Guardian wrote on June 30:

“According to Turkish government officials, the three attackers who stormed the airport’s lower-level arrivals terminal came from Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. The authorities believe the trio carried out their suicide mission on behalf of Islamic State.”

“Erdogan Went to Sleep with Dogs and Woke Up with Beasts…”

JTA wrote on June 29:

“Exactly two years since Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the establishment of the ‘Islamic State,’ Baghdadi’s life project looks less like a country and more like the most vicious and sophisticated terror group the world has ever known. And that’s even taking al-Qaeda into account. Time after time, IS proves capable of carrying out massive attacks at resonant targets (like Turkey’s busiest airport), with major potential consequences (such as a drastic fall in tourism)…

“Its ambitions are not limited to the Middle East, either. IS is doing all it can to export terror attacks across the Bosphorus, to Europe and also to the United States. One or more of these attempts is likely to succeed sooner or later…

“And here is where Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey enters the picture. The president and his government for years ignored the stream of fighters that traveled through their country to territories controlled by the Islamic State. They preferred to concentrate their military efforts against the Kurds. They preferred to cooperate with IS, the Nusra Front and others by looking the other way, hoping to weaken their other enemy – Bashar Assad, the president of what is left of Syria.

“More recently, however, US pressure bore fruit, and Erdogan instructed Turkish intelligence to try to stop the flow of IS volunteers from Turkey, and to tackle the black market for IS oil. That’s how Erdogan, an Islamist from the Muslim Brotherhood ilk, an overt supporter of the Hamas terror group, became the man who went to sleep with dogs and woke up with beasts, how he became the enemy of Islamic State…”

Consequences of the Brexit Vote

The Washington Post wrote on June 25:

“… political aftershocks rocked both sides of the English Channel following Britain’s historic vote to leave… British voters and their European peers began… to digest the full and enormous consequences of the historic decision to break with Europe. In Berlin, foreign ministers from the six original members of the E.U. spoke with one voice, effectively telling the British that now that they have decided, there should be no delay to the exit door.

“Cameron has sought a looser timetable to give his Conservative Party a chance to choose his successor, whose task it would be to fashion a withdrawal deal over the course of two years. But technically, negotiations can’t start until Britain triggers the bloc’s Article 50 — the never-before-used mechanism to leave it. Cameron has given no indication of pulling that lever fast. But for European officials stung by the vote, patience was wearing thin…

“At the same time, deep intrigue reminiscent of ancient European power plays using knights and swords instead of the ballot box swirled over the future of Scotland. Scottish voters, unlike the English or Welsh, voted on Thursday to remain in the E.U… some E.U. politicians have said that if Scotland extends a hand, the E.U. should take it… ‘If Scotland wants to be a member of the European Union as an independent country, then they are welcome,’ said Manfred Weber, the chair of the European Parliament’s center-right European People’s Party and an ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel…

“Britain could undergo even further dismantling if the nationalists in Northern Ireland, which also voted to remain in the E.U., press ahead with their calls for a vote on Irish reunification. Signs at the main post office in Belfast warned all who entered that it had already run out of applications for passports from Ireland.

“In the tumult, Jonathan Hill, Britain’s European commissioner, announced his resignation Saturday, citing his disappointment at the outcome of the referendum. His departure as Britain’s most senior official in Brussels was expected, but it nonetheless was another reminder of how the vote Thursday is quickly shrinking the country’s role in European affairs…”

What Will Scotland Do?

The Telegraph wrote on June 29:

“Nicola Sturgeon’s hopes of negotiating a deal to keep Scotland in the EU has suffered a major setback after Francois Hollande ruled out talks and the Spanish Prime Minister [Mr Rajoy] said it has to leave with the rest of the United Kingdom… A series of other member states, including Germany, also said they would not get involved in ‘internal’ British politics…

“Mr Rajoy… told a news conference following a summit of European leaders in Brussels: ‘… Scotland does not have the competence to negotiate with the European Union. Spain opposes any negotiation by anyone other than the government of United Kingdom.’

“Mr Rajoy’s uncompromising stance appears to make a second independence referendum more likely, as Ms Sturgeon has said that she will propose one if that is the ‘best or only way to protect Scotland’s place in the EU.’

“But [Mr Rajoy’s] statement also suggests that a separate Scotland would start life outside the EU and have to negotiate entry, a process that could take years and involve adoption of the euro, a hard border with England and tight public spending controls.”

In the Wake of the Brexit… Anti-Semitism in Corbyn’s Labour Party

JTA wrote on June 28:

“Only a week ago, Jeremy Corbyn seemed to have survived his biggest public relations debacle as the leader of Britain’s Labour Party: the proliferation of anti-Semitic rhetoric among its members. Yet this week, the British vote to leave the European Union achieved what Corbyn’s opponents failed to do in their attacks against him over anti-Semitism.

“On Tuesday, 172 Labour lawmakers among the total 229 in the Parliament said they had no confidence in Corbyn, opening the door to a challenge that if co-signed by 51 lawmakers will lead to internal elections. The previous day, the party’s leadership abandoned Corbyn in a mass walkout over his perceived failure to effectively lobby against the Brexit, which a majority of voters supported in Thursday’s referendum.

“Relying on strong popular support in the Labour rank-and-file and ignoring calls to resign by former supporters who quit in protest of his leadership, Corbyn is holding on to his seat. Critics say he risks splitting and ruining a party that used to be a natural political home for British minority groups, including many from the Jewish community…

“Under fire by senior party members who accused him of either doing too little to curb the phenomenon or of contributing to it with his open endorsement of anti-Israel terrorists, Corbyn took a serious beating in the mainstream media. The pressure mounted after Ken Livingstone, a former mayor of London, said Adolf Hitler was a Zionist. Livingstone was suspended from the party…”

More Outcry Against Corbyn

The Guardian wrote on June 30:

“Jeremy Corbyn was engulfed in a fresh row over Israel when he appeared to compare the government of Binyamin Netanyahu to Islamic State at the launch of an independent review into antisemitism in the Labour party. In prepared remarks, Corbyn said: ‘Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organisations.’,,,

“Responding to the report, Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews… added: ‘It is deeply regrettable that [Corbyn] went on to establish some sort of equivalence between Israel and terrorist groups such as Isis. This is completely unacceptable.’…

“The Labour MP Ruth Smeeth walked out of the press conference after being accused of colluding with the Daily Telegraph in a row over leaflets allegedly describing MPs opposed to Corbyn’s continued leadership as ‘traitors.’ Corbyn refused to take questions on the challenge to his leadership or whether he intended to remain at the helm of the party. ‘I am the leader,’ he said…

“Corbyn, who was greeted with whoops and cheers as he stood at the podium, criticised ‘hateful language’ used by some of the most prominent pro-leave campaigners in the referendum debate, naming Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage…

“Danny Rich, senior rabbi of Liberal Judaism, said although he did not believe the Labour party was institutionally antisemitic, Livingstone’s comments and other rhetoric had made an independent inquiry necessary. He added: ‘Jeremy Corbyn’s comment at the press conference, which paralleled Israel and Islamic State, makes me wonder whether he, at least, has learned anything at all from the inquiry.’”

EC Founding Members: “No Time to Lose!”

Deutsche Welle added on June 25 :

“‘The people have spoken and we need to implement this decision,’ Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said on the British vote to leave the EU. The UK should not ‘play a game of cat-and-mouse’ by delaying divorce talks, he added… ‘There is no time to lose,’ said French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. ‘Of course a new (British) prime minister must be appointed, that will probably require a few days but this is quite urgent,’ he added.

“Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said Europe could not accept a political vacuum. ‘This will not be business as usual,’ he said.

“The present-day European Union originated from the European Economic Community, which was established in 1957 by West Germany, France, Italy, and the Benelux countries. The UK joined the organization in 1973.”

Is Britain Trying to Stall?

Deutsche Welle wrote on June 27:

“Germany’s EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger on Monday joined the chorus of voices calling on Britain to clarify its intentions after the Brexit vote, telling broadcaster Deutschlandfunk that the Conservative Party under Prime Minister David Cameron must swiftly decide on what course to take… His comments echoed those made at the weekend by the president of the European Parliament, Oettinger’s compatriot Martin Schulz… On Monday, Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert also said that the chancellor rejected any long delay in Britain’s departure from the bloc…

“However, Britain’s Cameron has so far refused to invoke Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty and has signalled that he wants to wait several months before beginning the country’s exit from the bloc, leaving his European partners in a state of limbo… By Cameron’s timetable, a replacement should be found ready for the Tories’ party conference in October, a delay that might not prove palatable on the continent.

“Even those British politicians behind the ‘Leave’ campaign seem to be in considerable doubt as to how to proceed without damaging British interests. Boris Johnson, who is favorite to become the next Conservative prime minister, has tried to allay fears about the country’s economic future by claiming that it would continue to have access to the EU single market. What he could not explain, however, was how Britain can continue to partake in free trade in Europe without accepting precisely the EU regulations that those in the ‘Leave’ campaign want to jettison, including rules on freedom of movement for EU citizens.”

Daily Mail added on June 27:

“… the result continues to cause deep divisions within the UK, with departing Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne criticised for a lack of leadership, while Leave campaign figurehead Boris Johnson has also come under fire for ‘backtracking’ on arguments he made in favour of Brexit.”

Europe Angry with Britain

The Associated Press wrote on June 27:

“The European Union wants a quickie divorce, but Britain wants time to think things over… EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker warned that the split was ‘not an amicable divorce’ but noted it was never ‘a tight love affair anyway.’…

“… French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron expressed the frustrations that many EU politicians feel, accusing Britain of taking the EU ‘hostage’ with a referendum called to solve a domestic political problem: challenges to Cameron from right-wing euroskeptics…

“Legally, there is little the EU can do to force Britain’s hand, since Article 50 must be triggered by the country that is leaving. But political pressure and economic instability may force British politicians to act more quickly than they had hoped…

“Britain will remain an EU member until the divorce is finalized, but its influence inside the bloc is already waning. Leaders of the bloc will hold a summit in Brussels next week, and the second day, Wednesday, will take place for the first time without Britain…”

UK Loses Top Credit Rating

BBC wrote on June 27:

“The UK has lost its top AAA credit rating from ratings agency S&P following the country’s Brexit vote. S&P said the referendum result could lead to ‘a deterioration of the UK’s economic performance, including its large financial services sector’.

“Rival agency Fitch lowered its rating… forecasting an ‘abrupt slowdown’ in growth in the short-term.”

The Associated Press wrote on June 27:

“The referendum has already triggered financial turmoil around the world… Credit rating agency Moody’s downgraded the U.K.’s economic outlook from stable to negative, saying Britain faces ‘a prolonged period of uncertainty … with negative implications for the country’s medium-term growth outlook.’”

Europe Stands Firm Against Britain

Deutsche Welle wrote on June 28:

“Great Britain cannot expect special treatment during negotiations to leave the European Union, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday… ‘Whoever wants to leave this family cannot expect to have no more obligations but to keep privileges,’ she said, adding that there will be no ‘cherry-picking’ during the talks. ‘There must be and will be a noticeable difference between whether a country wants to be a member of the European Union family or not,’ she said… Even after Article 50 has been triggered Merkel reminded that Great Britain remains a part of the EU ‘for as long as the negotiations take place.’ ‘All the rights and duties that come with this membership are to be fully respected and held until the actual exit,’ she said…

“Access to Europe’s market also depends on ‘accepting Europe’s fundamental freedoms and the other rules and commitments that go with it,’ she said, adding that this rule ‘applies to Britain as it does to everyone else.’ The freedom of movement is one of the EU’s basic principles, but the UK ‘Leave’ campaigners drew a great deal of support for rejecting the bloc’s immigration rules…

“Merkel’s coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD)… called for a tough stance on the UK. ‘Those who decide against Europe must also face the consequences,’ said SPD faction head Thomas Oppermann. Although good relations with Britain should be maintained, Oppermann urged: ‘There can’t be an award for the exit, for nationalism and for anti-europeanism.’”

CNN wrote on June 29:

“The most vocal architect of Britain’s seismic decision to leave the European Union [Mr. Farage] thumbed his nose at the EU Parliament Tuesday as members booed and turned their backs on him, in the most visible clash of ideologies between Britain and Europe since last week’s vote…

“Britain’s divorce from the EU is shaping up to be messy, with Prime Minister David Cameron also in Brussels and at loggerheads with EU leaders over how to even begin…

“During his speech, Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, turned to confront Farage and said he was surprised he was there. ‘That’s the last time you are applauding here,’ he said to the British Brexiters. ‘You were fighting for the exit, the British people voted in favor of the exit. Why are you here?’”

No Way to Reverse the Brexit

Der Stern reported on June 28 that “Angela Merkel (CDU) does not see any possibility to stop and reverse” the Brexit, “which was voted upon by the British people.” She added that “all would be well advised to accept realities” and that “this is not the hour of wishful thinking.”

Der Spiegel and The Associated Press added that Merkel also said: “I fully expect that Britain will formalize the exit from the EU by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.”

Brexit Means Brexit

Express wrote on June 30:

“Home Secretary Theresa May this morning launched her bid to replace David Cameron as prime minister by promising to ‘build a better Britain’… Despite supporting Britain remaining in the EU, Mrs May ruled out a second referendum on membership of the bloc. She said: ‘Brexit means Brexit. The campaign was fought, the vote was held, turnout was high and the country gave their verdict. There must be no attempts to remain inside the EU, no attempts to rejoin it through the backdoor and no second referendum.’

“Mrs May promised to put controls on open-door EU migration as part of the Government’s Brexit negotiations… Mrs May vowed to set up a new Government department to deliver a Brexit deal, which she confirmed would be headed by a Brexit-supporting Tory MP.”

May Now the Favorite?

The Sun wrote on June 30:

“Boris Johnson sensationally pulled out of the Tory leadership race today after former ally Michael Gove brutally torpedoed his chances of becoming the next PM. The Conservative leadership race was blown wide open this morning as the Justice Secretary announced he was running for leader while also knifing Boris in an extraordinary attack on his credentials.

“… Mrs May, now the favourite to succeed Mr Cameron, launched her bid to ‘reunite the Conservative Party and Britain’ in the wake of the referendum… she promised not to trigger Article 50 and kick-off the two-year process of negotiating withdrawal until the UK’s negotiating strategy is agreed – probably not before the end of this year.

“The 59-year-old said she would create a new Government department, headed by a Cabinet-level minister who had campaigned for Leave, to oversee the UK’s departure from the EU. The timetable for the contest – which will end with a new Prime Minister being named on September 9 – was formally approved by the backbench 1922 Committee yesterday.”

… And Now—The EU Super State?

Express wrote on June 27:

“European political chiefs are to take advantage of Brexit by unveiling their long-held plan to morph the continent’s countries into one. The foreign ministers of France and Germany [revealed] a blueprint to effectively do away with individual member states in what is being described as an ‘ultimatum’. Under the radical proposals EU countries will lose the right to have their own army, criminal law, taxation system or central bank, with all those powers being transferred to Brussels. Controversially member states would also lose what few controls they have left over their own borders, including the procedure for admitting and relocating refugees.

“The plot has sparked fury and panic in Poland – a traditional ally of Britain in the fight against federalism… Meanwhile Lorenzo Condign, the former director general of Italy’s treasury, has said it is nearly impossible to see Europe opting for more integration at such a time of upheaval…

“But others see the Brexit vote as an opportunity to push ahead with the European elite’s long-cherished dream of creating a United States of Europe. Spain’s foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo has called for ‘more Europe’ whilst Italy’s finance minister, Carlo Padoan, is advocating a common budget for the eurozone states. And Emmanuel Macron, France’s economy minister, wants to go even further and set up a common eurozone treasury which would oversee the permanent transfer of funds from wealthier northern Europe to shore up Mediterranean economies.”

The Local wrote on June 27:

“The foreign ministers of Germany and France on Monday called for ambitious steps to strengthen the European Union after Britain’s shock vote to leave the bloc. ‘We will… take further steps toward a political union in Europe, and we invite the other European states to join us in this endeavour,’ Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Jean-Marc Ayrault wrote in a joint position paper. The top diplomats of the two core EU founding members and biggest economies said that ‘Germany and France have a responsibility to strengthen solidarity and cohesion within the European Union’.

“But they also signalled a willingness to accept a multi-speed union… The two centre-left politicians proposed closer cooperation in three key policy areas – internal and external security, the migrant and refugee crisis, and on fiscal and economic cooperation.

“A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a conservative, said that she had read the paper and considered it one of the many contributions that would shape the way ahead for the EU, as its government leaders agree on a common policy.

“Ayrault and Steinmeier… stressed that ‘Germany and France remain firmly convinced that the European Union is a historically unique and indispensable framework for the pursuit of freedom, prosperity and security in Europe, for fostering peaceful relations between its peoples and for helping bring peace and stability in the world… Our two countries share a common destiny and a common set of values. Both together are the foundation for an ever closer union of our peoples.’”

A European Army?

The Sun wrote on June 28:

“The spectre of an EU army was raised by Brexiteers as a reason to quit the EU. In the wake of a vote for Brexit, EU chiefs have been more brazen about their desire to form [an] EU army. In a document titled ‘EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy’, Europe’s chief diplomat said the Brussels bloc must be able to ‘repel, to respond and to protect’. While the paper stops short of explicitly calling for an EU army, it does suggest its members should work more closely on defence matters.

“The paper states: ‘We, as Europeans, need to take on a greater responsibility for our own security. We need to be ready and able to repel, respond and to protect ourselves against aggression, provocations and destabilisation.’

“Possible areas of cooperation include the deployment of unmanned aircrafts, aerial refuelling services, satellite communication and cyber resistance and defence.

“The head of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, Elmar Brok, has also argued for ‘more cooperation in the European defence policy’. He said: ‘We need a common (military) headquarters and a coalition (of EU countries) acting in accordance with the permanent structural cooperation of the EU Treaty. From such a group an EU army could eventually emerge.’”

The Daily Mail wrote on June 29:

“The foreign affairs chief of the EU has warned that Europe is unable to rely on NATO for its military without Britain, sparking worries that an EU army may have to be formed following the Brexit vote. EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini on Tuesday urged the bloc to do more in its own defence, just as leaders discussed Britain’s leave vote which will result in the loss of a major military power. While Britain is an active contributor to the currently very limited EU military operations, David Cameron has consistently opposed any idea of a separate EU army.

“Mogherini’s review, a year in the making, lays down ambitious goals for the EU in the face of new security challenges in the east, highlighted by the Ukraine crisis, and in the south, driven by turmoil across Africa and the Middle East… ‘An appropriate level of ambition and strategic autonomy is important for Europe’s ability to foster peace and safeguard security within and beyond its borders.’”

Express added on June 29:

“Downing Street had previously stated there was ‘no prospect of an EU army’. However, with Britain out of Europe it will not be able to veto a treaty change on the combined force.”

Supreme Court Turns More Liberal Towards Abortionists

The Associated Press wrote on June 27:

“The Supreme Court struck down Texas’ widely replicated regulation of abortion clinics Monday in the court’s biggest abortion case in nearly a quarter century. The justices voted 5-3 in favor of Texas clinics that had argued the regulations were only a veiled attempt to make it harder for women to get abortions in the nation’s second-most populous state. Justice Stephen Breyer’s majority opinion for the court held that the regulations are medically unnecessary and unconstitutionally limit a woman’s right to an abortion.

“Texas had argued that its 2013 law and subsequent regulations were needed to protect women’s health. The rules required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and forced clinics to meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery…

“Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined Breyer… Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented. Thomas wrote that the decision ‘exemplifies the court’s troubling tendency “to bend the rules when any effort to limit abortion, or even to speak in opposition to abortion, is at issue.”’ Thomas was quoting an earlier abortion dissent from Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February. Scalia has not yet been replaced, so only eight justices voted…”

Big Change in US Naturalization Procedure?

Breitbart wrote on June 25:

“Immigrants seeking to become citizens no longer have to pledge to ‘bear arms on behalf of the United States.’ They can opt out of that part of the Oath. Nor do they have to cite any specific religious belief that forbids them to perform military service….

“It’s true that other Presidents [besides President Obama] have made changes in the Naturalization process by administrative decree and without congressional approval. In 2002, in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attack, President George Bush by executive order expedited the naturalization process for 89,000 immigrants serving in the armed forces. While many will agree with Bush’s action and even applaud, that change should have been done by act of Congress, not a presidential executive order.”

However, the statements in the article are misleading, at best.

The following “policy alert” is published on the USCIS website, dated July 15, 2015:

“In general, a naturalization applicant must take an oath of allegiance in a public ceremony, in addition to meeting other eligibility requirements, in order to naturalize. The oath includes the clauses to bear arms on behalf of the United States and to perform noncombatant service in the U.S. armed forces when required by law. An applicant may be eligible for certain modifications to the oath to exclude the clauses based on religious training and belief or a conscientious objection.

“This guidance updates Volume 12 of the Policy Manual to clarify the eligibility requirements for the modifications… an applicant may be eligible for modifications based on religious training and belief, or conscientious objection arising from a deeply held moral or ethical code… an applicant is not required to belong to a specific church or religion, follow a particular theology or belief, or to have had religious training in order to qualify… an applicant may submit, but is not required to provide, an attestation from a religious or other type of organization, as well as other evidence to establish eligibility.”

As can be seen, the statements in the quoted Breitbart article are incorrect or at least misleading. For more than half a century, candidates for naturalized citizenship have been permitted to give a “qualified oath,” exempting him or her from serving as a combatant, if his or her religious convictions were opposed to bearing arms. Many court decisions have upheld this right as well, dating back at least to the fifties. The latest USCIS policy change merely establishes guidelines of procedure as to how to uphold the right to a qualified oath in a given situation.

More From the Pope

The National Catholic Reporter wrote on June 26:

“The Catholic church and other Christian communities must apologize to gay people and to many groups they have let down or offended throughout history, Pope Francis has said… ‘When I say the church: [I mean:] Christians,’ Francis clarified. ‘The church is holy. We are the sinners.’

“The pope was responding to a question about remarks German Cardinal Reinhard Marx made last week that the Catholic church should apologize to the gay community for marginalizing them… ‘I will repeat the same thing I said on the first trip,’ Francis said today, referencing the press conference he held on a return flight from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2013. ‘I will also repeat what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: that [gay people] should not be discriminated against, that they have to be respected, pastorally accompanied.’ ‘The matter is a person that has that condition [and] that has good will because they search for God,’ said the pontiff…

“Francis was asked about Martin Luther, and the possibility of removing his excommunication, in relation to the pope’s upcoming October trip to Sweden for the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. ‘I believe the intentions of Martin Luther were not wrong,’ the pontiff responded. ‘He was a reformer.’ ‘Maybe some methods were not the right ones,’ the pope continued. ‘But in that time … the church was not really a model to imitate. There was corruption in the church. There was worldliness; there was attachment to money, power…’ After 500 years, Francis said, it’s time to ‘take up again the path of meeting each other,’ adding that Lutherans and Catholics must pray and work together. ‘This is a very long path,’ the pontiff said. ‘One time I said I know when the day of full unity will come: the day after the coming of the Son of Man.'”

On June 27, CNN added more information regarding the pope’s statements:

“‘I believe that the church not only should apologize to the person who is gay whom it has offended,’ he added, ‘but has to apologize to the poor, to exploited women, to children exploited for labor; it has to ask forgiveness for having blessed many weapons.’… James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor at large of America magazine, called the Pope’s apology to gays and lesbians ‘a groundbreaking moment.’ ‘While… John Paul II apologized to several groups in 2000 — the Jewish people, indigenous peoples, immigrants and women, among them — no pope has ever come close to apologizing to the LGBT community. And the Pope is correct of course. First, because forgiveness is an essential part of the Christian life. And second, because no group feels more marginalized in the church today than LGBT people.’…

“In response to a question about whether there are two Popes in the Vatican, a story which had received headlines recently because of a comment by Pope Benedict’s personal secretary who said that the Pope Emeritus was part of an ‘expanded papacy,’ Francis said, ‘There is only one Pope.’ ‘[Benedict] is the Pope Emeritus, the wise grandpa. He is the man who guards my back with his prayers.'”

Reuters wrote on June 28:

“Former pope Benedict made one of his rare public appearances on Tuesday to be feted by his successor Pope Francis, two days after Francis denied reports that Benedict was still exercising influence in the Vatican. Benedict, an 89-year-old German, stood without a cane for part of a ceremony in a Vatican hall to mark the 65th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. But Benedict, in his first public comments in the presence of his successor, did appear to have difficulty pronouncing a few words as he thanked Francis and a small group of cardinals in Italian.

“In 2013 Benedict, citing health reasons, became the first pope to resign in some 600 years, ending a papacy of nearly eight years marked by a scandal centered around leaked documents that alleged corruption and mismanagement in the Vatican. He has since been living in relative isolation in a convent in the Vatican gardens and has made only a handful of brief public appearances, usually at major Church ceremonies together with Francis such as the investiture of new cardinals.”

Reuters added on June 26:

“Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said that the pope, by saying [that a gay person] ‘has that condition’, did not imply a medical condition but ‘a person in that situation’. In Italian, the word ‘condition’ can also mean ‘situation’.

“… Francis has been hailed by many in the gay community for being the most merciful pope toward them in recent history and conservative Catholics have criticized him for making comments they say are ambiguous about sexual morality. He told reporters on the plane ‘there are traditions in some countries, some cultures, that have a different mentality about this question (homosexuals)’ and there are ‘some (gay) demonstrations that are too offensive for some.’ But he suggested that those were not grounds for discrimination or marginalization of gays.

“The pope did not elaborate on what he meant by seeking forgiveness for the Church ‘having blessed so many weapons’, but it appeared to be a reference to some Churchmen who actively backed wars in the past.”

That puts it mildly, given the fact that throughout the history of the Catholic Church, it has promoted, supported and at times actively participated in brutal wars, especially in wars of extinction against religious minorities.

The Holocaust DID Really Happen!

JTA wrote on June 23:

“It’s been more than 50 years since the Nuremberg trials, yet proving the Holocaust actually happened remains an ongoing project. Why? For one, the Nazis covered their tracks, deliberately leaving gaps in the historical record. (In the death-camp blueprints that survive, for example, gas chambers were often labeled as morgues or ‘undressing rooms.’) As the years pass, survivors and eyewitnesses are dying or suffering dementia. Add in social media — including the rise of the ‘alt-right’ — and it creates an ideal environment for neo-Nazis to swiftly disseminate claims that the Shoah is a fiction.

“Filling the breach in our understanding of the Holocaust is a relatively new discipline called forensic architecture, which analyzes renderings, documents, videos and photographs of buildings and infrastructure and uses them to re-create atrocities, ranging from drone strikes on apartment buildings in wartime to the gassing of millions of Jews at Auschwitz.

“An example of how forensic architecture can be used to set the record straight is on display at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale. Titled ‘The Evidence Room,’ it runs through Nov. 27… Robert Jan van Pelt, the curator of ‘The Evidence Room’ and a professor at Canada’s University of Waterloo, tells JTA he considers Auschwitz’s crematoria ‘the most important building of the 20th century.’… ‘The Evidence Room’… re-creates some of the definitive evidence used in a landmark British court trial 16 years ago that pitted the American Jewish historian Deborah Lipstadt against the Holocaust-denying British historian David Irving. The trial — soon to be dramatized in a major motion picture — is viewed as a watershed in the ongoing campaign against Holocaust deniers because it relied on actual physical evidence as opposed to anecdotal accounts.

“Some of this evidence is on display in van Pelt’s exhibit, which is located in a 500-square-foot space at the Biennale’s Central Pavilion. The walls are white plaster and adorned with bas reliefs that depict blueprints for the gas chambers, photographs and illustrations based upon eyewitness accounts, including an image of a kneeling naked Jewish woman being shot in the back of the head by a German officer.

“What makes the exhibition stand out from familiar Holocaust museum exhibits, however, are three full-scale models of gas chamber apparatus designed by the Nazis. There’s a mechanical gas canister delivery system encased by sturdy metal grillwork; a rough-hewn door with a grill-covered peephole, and a wood ladder propped against a wall with a small, locked hatch. These items, designed and fabricated by University of Waterloo students and faculty based on photos and eyewitness testimony, are also painted white…

“‘The forensic study of architecture was able to show that Irving had deliberately misrepresented historical evidence,’ Aravena writes in his essay on ‘The Evidence Room’ in the Biennale’s catalog. Van Pelt… has spent decades studying the architecture of Auschwitz and gathering physical evidence to show the workings of the Nazis’ systems. Thanks to his research, many myths have been definitively debunked — including that deadly gas emanated from shower heads. (It actually came from gas canister delivery systems…)

“Van Pelt discovered many of the documents and plans for Nazi death camps in archives in Eastern Europe that were opened after the fall of communism in 1989… He says the history of Auschwitz serves as a warning for architects to be socially conscientious about the impact of the buildings they design. One example: the refugee housing being built in parts of Europe that van Pelt says ‘is starting to approach concentration camp conditions.’ ‘Architects should get the equivalent of the oath of Hippocrates,’ van Pelt says. ‘When I teach my class, I tell them the story of Auschwitz — and I say whatever you do with your career, don’t do this.’”

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