U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must step down if things for the war-torn country are to get better. Meanwhile, Russia is stepping up its help for Assad by providing his government with military supplies, including armored vehicles and bombs.
"I believe as we begin to ... get into this process, that it will become clear there is no political solution whatsoever if Assad is not discussing a transition and if he thinks he is going to be part of that future. It is not going to happen," Kerry said at a news conference on Friday, Reuters reported.
"We are also not out of options with respect to what we may be able to do to increase the pressure and further change the calculus," he added. more >>
The United Nations is urgently calling on the nations of the world to donate $6.5 billion this year to combat the growing humanitarian crisis in Syria, noting that this aid is the difference between life and death for millions.
"Humanitarian aid is the difference between life and death, hope and despair. It has already assisted millions of people affected by this crisis," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said during the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference on Syria in Kuwait on Wednesday. "I count on you to show the Syrian people that the world is here to help."
Moshe Yaalon, Israel's defense minister, apologized late Tuesday for a jab at U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in an interview with an Israeli newspaper. He said Kerry's efforts at negotiating a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians were "based upon an unfathomable obsession and a messianic feeling."
The U.S. State Department called the remark offensive.
"The remarks of the Defense Minister if accurate are offensive and inappropriate especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel's security needs," spokesperson Jen Psaki said Tuesday. more >>
The U.S. has responded to stinging comments made by Israel's defense minister, who recently described Secretary of State John Kerry's approach to the Middle East peace initiative as "messianic" and said he hopes Kerry will ultimately leave the Middle Eastern country alone.
"The remarks of the Defense Minister if accurate are offensive and inappropriate especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel's security needs," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement released Tuesday.
Israel's defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, reportedly told the Yediot Aharonot , the biggest selling newspaper in the country, on Tuesday, "Secretary of State John Kerry came here very determined and operates based upon an unfathomable obsession and a messianic feeling." more >>
A high or very high social hostility toward religion was reported in a third of the 198 countries and territories analyzed by the Pew Research Center in a report released on Tuesday, marking an increase in almost every major region around the world.
The study showed that the 33 percent hostility reported in 2012 represents a six-year peak, up from 29 percent in 2011 and 20 percent in mid-2007. The sharpest spike was reported in the Middle East and North Africa, which Pew attributed to the recent political revolutions sometimes referred to as the Arab Spring.
Pew noted that six countries in total were found to have very high social hostilities in 2012, but not in 2011: Syria, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand and Burma (Myanmar). Those nations join several others already on that list, the vast majority of them from Asia and Africa. At the same time, 38 percent, or 76 countries were found to have low levels of religious hostility in 2012, which is down from 87 (44 percent) countries the year before. more >>
A recently-translated Hebrew text is being reported as offering greater detail into the treasures found inside King Solomon's temple, including the Ark of the Covenant, a chest described in the Old Testament that contains the Ten Commandments.
James Davila, a professor at the University of St. Andrews, has described the details of the recently-transcribed text, known as the "Treatise of the Vessels," or "Massekhet Kelim" in Hebrew, in the recently-released book Old Testament Pseudepigrapha More Noncanonical Scriptures Volume 1.
Davila explains in the book that the Treatise of the Vessels tells how the treasures of King Solomon's temple were "concealed by a number of Levites and prophets" and "[…] hidden in various locations in the Land of Israel and in Babylonia, while others were delivered into the hands of the angels Shamshiel, Michael, Gabriel and perhaps Sariel […]" more >>