Atheist Republic News Summary: Sikh Group Hailed as Legends

1. Sikh group giving free hot meals to bushfire victims hailed as 'legends'
Location: Victoria, Australia

2. UK-registered Islamic charity has described Qassim Soleimani as a “great martyr”
Location: United Kingdom

3. Iran's strikes seem intended to avoid US deaths. Here's why that might be the case
Location: Iraq

4. Dozens brutally attacked at Delhi university after opposing 'anti-Muslim' citizenship law
Location: Delhi, India

5. Jeremy Clarkson sparks outrage with bushfire column: 'God didn't want people to live in Australia'
Location: United Kingdom

6. Muslim population of England smashes three million mark for first time ever, figures reveal
Location: England, United Kingdom

7. Conservatives Want to Torture a Baby By Refusing to Take Her Off Life Support
Location: Texas, USA

8. Brazil judge orders Netflix to remove film with gay Jesus
Location: Brazil

9. House approves resolution to limit Trump's war powers on Iran
Location: USA

10. Study: Atheists Are More Likely Than Churchgoers to Own Cats
Location: USA

1. Sikh volunteers who are providing free food for bushfire victims in Victoria have been hailed as "legends". Members of the Melbourne-based Sikh Volunteers Australia have crisscrossed the fire-affected regions throughout the week, serving hundreds of people. SBS News talked to members of the group as they were giving out free meals at an evacuation centre in Bairnsdale. The group usually provides food twice a week for those in need around Melbourne.

2. A UK-registered Islamic charity has described Qassim Soleimani, the Iranian general assassinated by the US, as a “great martyr”. The Charity Commission said it was “currently assessing” the statement issued in praise of Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard by the Islamic Centre of England (ICE), who was killed in a drone strike last week. The charity, which is entitled to tax relief and gift aid, hosted a vigil for Soleimani at its headquarters in north London at the weekend.

3. Wednesday morning's missile strikes against al-Asad airbase and Erbil airport were clearly not an act designed to kill the most Americans possible. Iran will have known that the troops are normally asleep in the early hours of the morning. It will also have known the US has a strong air defense system that would have been on high alert. The missile attacks don't make sense if Tehran's goal was to really hurt US troops in large numbers -- as some had been pledging to do. There are three possible explanations for the action. First, that Khamenei, Iran's octogenarian Supreme Leader, is out of touch with what his military can achieve and overestimated the effectiveness of the strikes, which then failed. Second, that moderation won out, and this largely empty signal -- hitting military targets in the dead of night with a small number of missiles -- provides the off-ramp both sides might ultimately have been looking for. Third, it might be a bid by Iran to lull the US into a false sense of security -- that Iran is militarily weak and has done its worst -- while an asymmetrical and nastier response is plotted.

4. Around 200 masked men from a right-wing Hindu nationalist group stormed a university in Delhi attacking professors and students with wooden sticks and stones. The student body at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has vocally opposed a new 'anti-Muslim' citizenship law ever since it was introduced by Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, on December 11. The exact number of the injured is unknown but students said around 20 people were seriously injured and a further 50 nursing minor wounds.

5. Jeremy Clarkson has come under fire for a column in The Sun in which he blamed the Australian bushfires on religion, writing "God didn't want people to live in Australia." "Plainly, God is embarrassed. Because he's decided to set fire to it," wrote the 59-year-old. In the controversial article, Clarkson stated that Australians should "come home" because "Australia isn't meant for human habitation" due to "its stupid dangerous creatures" and current bushfire crisis.

6. England's Muslim population has smashed the three million mark in 2019. Some parts of London are now almost 50 per cent Islamic, according to analysis from the Office for National Statistics. If current trends continue the areas could become majority Muslim within ten years.

7. A group of “pro-life” activists in Texas are doing everything they can to prolong the suffering of an 11-month-old paralyzed girl who will never recover from her condition. Tinslee Lewis has suffered since birth due to a heart defect and lung disease, and doctors at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth have made it clear that there is nothing they can do to improve her situation. Allowing her to die would be the humane thing to do. The only other option is letting her suffer. Anti-abortion activists and Texas lawmakers have weighed in saying that they want the girl to suffer more. A judge  ruled in favor of the hospital, effectively saying they could take her off life support. The “pro-life” crowd is furious about it.

8. A Brazilian judge ordered Netflix to stop showing a Christmas special that some called blasphemous for depicting Jesus as a gay man and which prompted a gasoline bomb attack on the satirists behind the program. The ruling by Rio de Janeiro judge Benedicto Abicair responded to a petition by a Brazilian Catholic organization that argued the “honor of millions of Catholics” was hurt by the airing of “The First Temptation of Christ.” The special was produced by the Rio-based film company Porta dos Fundos, whose headquarters was targeted in the Christmas Eve attack. Netflix told The Associated Press it would not comment on the ruling.

9. The House passed a resolution to limit President Trump's ability to engage in hostilities against Iran under the 1973 War Powers Resolution, as Democrats attempt to reassert Congress' constitutional authority to declare war amid a tense standoff with the Islamic Republic. The vote passed mostly along party lines, with three Republicans joining the Democrats to vote in favor and eight Democrats voting against. Mr. Trump on Thursday called the strike that killed Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani "the anti-Benghazi." Mr. Trump said Wednesday Iran appeared to be "standing down" after a week of soaring tension between the two countries. By Thursday, however, there were mixed messages.

10. According to a new article in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, by Samuel L. Perry (University of Oklahoma) and Ryan P. Burge (Eastern Illinois University), there’s a statistically significant correlation between how often you go to church and how many pets you own. And the more you go to church, the less likely you are to own a cat. The researchers suggest the answer may lie in social behaviors.If you attend church and are already part of a social group, perhaps you have less of a need for pets. But if you’re not religious, you might not have a larger social group you see regularly, and therefore you’re more likely to have a cat or dog.

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