Religion news in brief

AP News
Posted: Jan 03, 2013 12:26 PM

3D laser scanner project aims to make digital models of California historic missions

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California's centuries-old Spanish missions are getting cutting-edge 3D treatment.

An Oakland-based nonprofit called CyArk is using 3D technology to scan the historic missions in an effort to preserve them, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The idea is to make a virtual 3D model of the structures so if they're damaged in earthquakes or fires, for example, the model provides a precise outline down to the millimeter for easier reconstruction.

CyArk is the brainchild of retired civil engineer Ben Kacyra, who helped develop a portable 3D laser scanner that can send out 50,000 beams a second.

Kacyra, 72, said the device's invention was inspired by the Taliban's destruction of two, 1,500-year-old Buddha statues in Afghanistan in 2001. "This was a concentrated effort to destroy history by people who didn't agree with it," he said.

So far, CyArk's team has recorded 70 sites, including the Japanese-American internment camp at Manzanar, ruins at Pompeii, Italy, and a Frank Lloyd Wright synagogue in Pittsburgh.

A current project involves recording California's 21 historic missions, four presidios and three pueblos over the next two to three years. Most of the project's $700,000 to $800,000 cost will be paid by preservation groups and private donations.


Authorities search for masked man who robbed Monroe churchgoers at gunpoint on New Year's Eve

MONROE, N.C. (AP) — Police were searching for a masked man who robbed a church at gunpoint on New Year's Eve.

WCNC-TV in Charlotte reported that police were called to the Iglesia de Dios Nueva Vida (New Life Church of God) around 9 p.m. Monday night after several people reported a man carrying a large gun entered the building.

Authorities say the man wore a black mask, a black jacket, and khaki pants, grabbed women's purses while showing either a shotgun or rifle. A police report showed the suspect never said anything but did point his gun at several people.

Police said the thief walked out of the church and fled in an unknown direction.


Angola: 13 killed in stampede during religious gathering at stadium in capital, Luanda

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The death toll in a stampede on New Year's Eve at a sports stadium in Angola has risen to 13, and some of the victims were children, Angolan media reported Wednesday.

Officials said about 120 people were also injured in the incident, which happened when tens of thousands of people tried to enter a stadium in the capital, Luanda, for a religious gathering, according to Angop, the Angolan news agency.

Faustino Sebastiao, spokesman for the national firefighters department, said those who died were crushed and asphyxiated.

The event in the southern African nation was organized by the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, an evangelical group founded in Brazil.

In western Africa, a crowd in Ivory Coast stampeded after leaving a New Year's fireworks show early Tuesday, killing at least 60 people and injuring more than 200.


Palestinian statistical bureau says Palestinians will outnumber Israeli Jews by 2020

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Palestinian statistics bureau estimates that Arabs will outnumber Jews in the Holy Land by the end of the decade, a scenario that could have grave implications for Israel.

The bureau said Tuesday that 5.8 million Arabs live in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem. That compares to about 6 million Israeli Jews, according to Israeli data.

It said that based on current birth rates, the two populations would be equal in 2016, and in 2020, Arabs would outnumber Jews by 7.2 million to 6.9 million.

The demographic issue is a main argument for Israeli backers of creation of a Palestinian state. They say relinquishing control of the Palestinian territories and its residents is the only way to ensure Israel's future as a democracy with a Jewish majority.


Thailand launches Malay-language TV channel for Muslim viewers in restive south

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand's government has launched the first Malay-language television channel geared toward the insurgency-plagued south's Muslim-majority audience.

Muslims in Thailand's southernmost Muslim-dominated provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat say they are treated as second-class citizens by predominantly Buddhist Thai authorities.

More than 5,000 people have been killed there since an Islamic insurgency flared in 2004. Some militants, mainly ethnic Malays, have called for a separate Muslim state.

Project supervisor Chamroon Den-udom said Thursday that the new channel would foster an understanding between Malay Muslims and Thai Buddhists in the region.

The "TV Malayu" satellite television station will initially offer a half-hour of news programming a day before broadcasting for 24 hours a day starting next year.


12 NY parish schools face closure unless they come up with a plan to increase enrollment

HAVERSTRAW, N.Y. (AP) — A dozen Hudson Valley Catholic schools face closure by the end of the school year unless they can come up with a plan by Thursday to increase enrollment.

The schools are on a list of 26 "at risk" schools the Archdiocese of New York has targeted for closing.

The 12, along with 14 from the Bronx and Manhattan, have seen a dramatic drop in enrollment.

They have the option of submitting a proposal laying out a course for remaining open to a regional board.

But the archdiocese says it'll be difficult for the schools to get their names removed from the list.

Should the schools close, parents will be given the option of enrolling their child in a Catholic school near their home. The 12 schools serve about 2,155 students