Iraq, COVID-19 & Nursing Homes -- Twenty-Five Things That Caught My Eye

1. Sharon Nazarian, Aykan Erdemir: The Middle East’s religious minorities are facing extinction. The world must act.

Mideast religious minorities face a particularly potent threat from the insidious collaboration between authoritarian states and violent extremist groups, as proxy wars have come to replace conventional warfare between nation-states. The growing footprint of non-state actors has exacerbated the danger to religious minorities.

. . .

No scientific study, media report or opinion poll can give a more accurate account of the state of the Middle East’s minorities than demographic trends. As vulnerable minorities vote with their feet, we continue to witness a mass exodus of ancient communities. A 2019 report commissioned by the British foreign secretary warned that Iraq’s Christian population fell from 1.5 million before 2003 to possibly less than 120,000. Turkey’s Greek Orthodox, Jewish and Syriac Christian citizens are more likely to live in diasporas rather than in their original homes. Coptic Christians still number around 10 million in Egypt, but according to the Hudson Institute’s Samuel Tadros, the Coptic church is blossoming “outside Egypt’s borders.”

2. Grieving family says Cuomo to blame for nursing-home crisis: ‘Like their lives didn’t matter’

“It is like their lives didn’t matter,” Mary Ann Boniello told Fox News. “He needs to apologize to all the families, be made aware of who they are and accept his due punishment for the crimes he committed.”


4. Associated Press: Anti-abortion bills abound. Their fate in court is unknown

At an intense pace, lawmakers in Republican-governed states are considering an array of tough anti-abortion restrictions they hope might reach the Supreme Court and win approval from its conservative majority, overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a nationwide right to abortion.

A sweeping ban already has been signed into law in South Carolina, only to be swiftly blocked by a lawsuit from abortion-rights groups. Arkansas’ governor signed another ban this past week.

5. How the West Lost COVID

6. NZ Bishops pray for end to violence on anniversary of Christchurch massacre

7. On 10th anniversary of Syria’s war, Catholic charity urges US and EU to help aid reach poor

8. Cardinal Bo urges prayer octave for China

In February 2020 China began enforcing administrative measures to control every aspect of religious activity within the country, mandating that all religions and believers in China comply with regulations issued by the Chinese Communist Party, which must be acknowledged as the higher authority. 

9. Australian priest: More homeless in Hong Kong than he’s seen in 36 years

The city’s social welfare department said there were just over 1,100 homeless people in Hong Kong in 2017. But charities and nongovernmental organisations say the actual number is much higher now in this city with a population of about 7.5 million. Pro-democracy protests in 2019 crippled the economy and jobs were jettisoned. The economy reached a nadir as the pandemic intensified with waves of new infections.

Social distancing measures designed to stem the spread of Covid-19 have continued the stagnation. With the city government struggling to reverse the economic tailspin and unwilling to provide shelter for the growing number of homeless people, a crisis was in the making, Fr Wotherspoon said.

“In my opinion, this is the worst the homeless problem has ever been in Hong Kong,” said Fr Wotherspoon, 74, a native of Brisbane, Australia, who has been in Hong Kong for 36 years and in the Jordan neighbourhood on the Kowloon side of the city for 11 years.

10. Wall Street Journal: Vatican Rules Out Blessings For Same-Sex Relationships, Despite Calls for Liberalization

The Vatican on Monday forbade blessings of same-sex relationships, contradicting calls for the practice by progressive bishops in Germany and elsewhere, and setting a limit to the conciliatory approach to gay people that has marked Pope Francis’ pontificate.

. . .

A move by German bishops to approve blessings of same-sex unions would exacerbate tensions with more conservative parts of the church, including in Africa and the U.S. Conservative bishops in the U.S. have been critical of what they see as an excessively progressive drift away from traditional teachings, with the archbishop of Denver warning in 2019 that the German bishops are moving toward a schism.

11. Reason: The CDC Thinks 2-Year-Olds Should Wear Masks in Schools, Even If Everyone Else Is Vaccinated

The guidance stresses that masks should be worn at virtually all times, even by very young kids, in addition to social distancing. It also emphasizes frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces, even though surface-to-surface transmission is thought to be a relatively rare method of spreading COVID-19.


13. John Stonestreet, Robert Rivera: “Peace and Security” for the Ancient Church in Iraq?

14. New York Times: ‘I’d Much Rather Be in Florida’

“You can live like a human being,” Mr. DeSantis said. “You aren’t locked down. People aren’t miserable.” President Biden’s new hope of getting Americans together to celebrate with their families on the Fourth of July? “We’ve been doing that for over a year in Florida,” the governor boasted.

To bask in that feeling — even if it is only that — is to ignore the heavy toll the coronavirus exacted in Florida, one that is not yet over.

More than 32,000 Floridians have died, an unthinkable cost that the state’s leaders rarely acknowledge. Miami-Dade County averaged more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases a day over the past two weeks, one of the nation’s most serious outbreaks. And Florida is thought to have the highest concentration of B.1.1.7, the more contagious virus variant first identified in the United Kingdom.

15. Loneliness, COVID-19 Media Coverage, and Teen Mental Health

16. Pope Francis: Support working mothers amid the coronavirus pandemic

17. Business Insider: Pastors are leaving their congregations after losing their churchgoers to QAnon

A poll released in January by the Christian research organization Lifeway Research found that more than 45% of protestant pastors said they had often heard congregants repeating conspiracy theories about national news events.

Another survey by the conservative American Enterprise Institute found that more than a quarter of white evangelical respondents believed in QAnon and that three in five believed that President Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election was “not legitimate.” Those rates were the highest in any religious group.

18. Politico: France to introduce controversial age verification system for adult websites

Macron made the protection of children against adult content online a high-profile issue well before the coronavirus crisis hit. In January, tech companies, internet services providers and the adult movies industry signed a voluntary charter, pledging to roll out tools to help ensure minors don’t have access to pornographic content.

Within a broader law on domestic violence, the Senate decided in June to introduce an amendment requiring pornography websites to implement an age verification mechanism.

19. Sara Wolkenfeld: Loaves of Blessing

No one person can defeat the coronavirus. The fear that someone I love will fall ill is an enduring worry. Muttered prayers on my lips, I shape the loaves of bread. Though this may not actually ward off sickness, the primal act of feeding others allows me to strengthen them and help them to thrive. This is the role of bread, no matter your religion.

20. Daniel Flynn: Teaching is a vocation. So COVID couldn’t stop our Catholic school from serving students.

Our education plan speaks of fostering what is particularly both human and spiritual in the souls of our students, as we develop the art of wonder and the habits of learning through the senses, leading them to Christ. We draw on the Church’s long tradition of education, freeing the learning process to pursue the abiding things: faith, truth, beauty, goodness, wisdom, and virtue. We work hard to give our students something better to love. Because of this shared vision as Catholic educators, our plan would require as much in-person learning as possible.

21. Nobel Laureate James Heckman: ‘The Family Is the Whole Story’

Reading about Dr. Heckman’s work makes listening to Heckman himself incredibly surprising. In a recent conversation between Heckman and visiting AEI scholar Katharine B. Stevens hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, Dr. Heckman stressed his concern for the family unit rather than emphasizing the need for public programs. Whatever the program or system, he said many times over, “the whole activity has to engage the family.” 

“Nobody wants to talk about the family, and the family’s the whole story,” he told Stevens during the event. “And it’s the whole story about a lot of social and economic issues.”

22. Daily Mail: Ancient Christian monastery is discovered in Egypt including monks’ cells, churches and biblical graffiti dating back 1,500 years

The finds at the Tal Ganoub Qasr al-Agouz site in the Western Desert’s Bahariya Oasis shine a light on monastic life in the area in the fifth century AD, the team said.


24. Cuomo Invites All Accusers To Come Forward And Gather In New York Nursing Home

25. South Dakota Passes Controversial Law Banning Mountain Lions From Competing In Women’s Sports

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