Belgian police have arrested two people suspected of planning attacks in Brussels on New Year’s Eve. Raids took place on Sunday and Monday in Brussels and the provinces of Flemish Brabant and Liege. Police seized military clothing and computer equipment in the raids, but no weapons or explosives.
Belgium has been on high alert since the attacks of 13 November in Paris. Several of the perpetrators are thought to have been based in Belgium. However, the latest arrests are not linked to the Paris attacks, prosecutors say. One of those arrested is suspected of leading and recruiting for a terrorist cell.
The suspects are accused of planning attacks against several “symbolic targets” in Brussels, as well as on the police, according to the Belgian broadcaster RTBF. BBC
A top Israeli politician heads to prison after a long corruption scandal. Israel’s Supreme Court Tuesday partially overturned a bribery conviction against former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. His sentence was reduced from six years to 18 months in prison.
Olmert expressed relief, saying a great burden has been lifted from his heart. The ex-prime minister, who is 70, was convicted two years ago by a lower court of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to promote a controversial real-estate project in Jerusalem. This allegedly occurred when he served as the mayor of Jerusalem, prior to becoming prime minister in 2006.
Olmert denies it. He said, “I was never offered and I never took a bribe.” Olmert led the centrist Kadima party when he was prime minister and worked on pushing forward peace talks with the Palestinians, before leaving office in 2009. VOA
The Committee to Protect Journalists says 2015 was one of the deadliest years on record for members of the press worldwide, with 69 journalists killed on-assignment. According to the CPJ, 2015 was the sixth year out of the last ten (and eighth since 1992) in which more than 60 journalists were killed in the line of duty—a figure that includes those targeted for their profession as well as those killed in combat, crossfire or while covering other assignments deemed dangerous.
For the fourth consecutive year, the death toll among journalists in Syria topped CPJ’s 2015 list—a figure currently at 13, and a steep decline from previous years: 31 journalists were killed in Syria in 2012; 29 and 17 were killed in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
Of the 69 journalists killed in 2015, 28—or roughly 40%—came at the hands of Islamic militant groups including Islamic State and al-Qaida. Nine were killed in France: eight at the office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on January 7, and one (43-year-old freelance journalist Guillaume B. Decherf) who was reporting on a concert at the Bataclan Theater in Paris when gunmen attacked on November 13.
In additional 2015 findings, CPJ reported that at least 28 murder victims received threats before they were killed. The most common “beat” topics covered by victim journalists were politics, war, and human rights. VOA
A woman told police she shot another woman because she didn’t believe in God and kept her body for three days as a shrine in her Phoenix apartment, according to arrest records.
Phoenix officers arrested Anitra Braxton, 39, on suspicion of first-degree murder Saturday after finding an unidentified body in her apartment in the 1500 block of West Missouri Avenue. Braxton told investigators that the body was a “shrine from God” and that she had shot the woman in the eye for not believing in God, the records said. The murder weapon has not been recovered.
She also reportedly told investigators that the body had been at her home for two to three days. Braxton maintained that the corpse on the sofa was actually her own body, the records added. USA Today
Churches seek to aid illegal immigrants
A number of U.S. churches are providing sanctuary to undocumented immigrants after the government announced that it will be launching new efforts to deport those who are in the country illegally. Christian Today reports that the Department of Homeland Security plans to conduct large-scale raids in an effort to deport illegal immigrants. The raids could begin as early as January.
Some churches, however, believe it is their job to provide asylum to those who came to the U.S. seeking a better life and an escape from poverty, drugs, and violence in their home countries. The churches have started what is called the Sanctuary Movement. The Movement has sheltered at least 10 immigrants who were facing deportation in the past 18 months.
“As pastors we know that each and every family is a holy family,” said the Rev. Alison Harrington, pastor of Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona, according to Reuters. “We open our doors to today’s Josephs and Marys. The gift we have to offer on Christmas Day is the gift of sanctuary.”
Rev. Noel Anderson added that there are about 300 congregations that support the Movement nationwide. Christian Headlines
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