Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Nigerian army has relocated at least 260 women and children recently rescued from the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, officials say.

They were taken from a camp in the north-eastern city of Yola and flown to an unspecified military facility.

The women will receive medical help and support as part of their rehabilitation process, the BBC has learnt.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 22, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Southern Iraq’s long-shuttered museums are also finally reopening. The National Museum of Iraq reopened in February 2015 after a $40 million renovation. And in Nasiriya, a city famed for its step ziggurat, the director of the antiquities museum, Iqbal Ajeel, proudly displayed the museum’s exquisite Sumerian miniatures and naked figurines to her first group of high school visitors since the 1991 Gulf War forced its closure.

Few Iraqis in the south openly champion separation from the rest of the country, but the chasm is widening. It is not only a question of ISIS imposing its rules on personal behavior and punishing people only slightly out of line. While ISIS destroys museums, the south refurbishes them; while ISIS destroys shrines, the ayatollahs expand them; and while ISIS is burning relics and books, the Imam Ali shrine hosts a book fair where scripture shares space with romantic novels. On the new campus of Kufa University, a burned-down wreck under American occupation when last I saw it, three engineering professors spoke of the golden age that awaits a united Iraq, or at least its Arab provinces, once the militias defeat ISIS.

But a dissenting fourth engineer quietly questioned why the south should bother. As long as al-Sistani’s jihad was defensive he supported it, but why, he asks, shed blood against ISIS for a Sunni population that is neither welcoming nor particularly wanted? The further north the militia advances, the more lives are lost, and the returns from the battle diminish. Compared to the south’s mineral wealth, the Sunni provinces offer few natural resources. Much of their territory is desert, and their feuding tribes will only cause trouble. Better, he argued, to safeguard what the south already has. In short, he said, breaking a taboo by uttering a word he claims many privately already espouse, why not opt for taqsim, partition? A heavy silence followed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRural/Town LifeViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 21, 2015 at 4:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria have entered the Unesco World Heritage site of Palmyra after seizing the town next to the ancient ruins, reports say.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there were no reports yet of any destruction of artefacts.

The militants had taken control of the nearby airport, prison and intelligence HQ after government forces pulled out of the area, the monitoring group said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 21, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ten youths have been arrested by Canadian police on suspicion of planning to travel to Iraq and Syria to join Islamic State.

All 10 had their passports confiscated after they were detained at Montreal's Trudeau International Airport at the weekend.

Police said in a statement on Tuesday that none of the suspects had been charged, but investigations were ongoing.

Their families have been informed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryCanada

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Posted May 20, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

US regulators are increasingly concerned about the threat that cyber attacks pose to financial stability after assaults on Sony Pictures and Target highlighted the proliferating range of techniques used by digital raiders.

In a new report on risks to the financial system, regulators also sounded the alarm on risk-taking by institutions searching for higher investment yields, as well as the threat of rising interest rates triggering market volatility.

On cyber security, the annual report from the Financial Stability Oversight Council said “the prospect of a more destructive incident that could impair financial sector operations” was even more concerning than recent breaches that have compromised financial information.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock Market* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 20, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamic State leaders in Syria have sent money, trainers and fighters to Libya in increasing numbers, raising new concerns for the U.S. that the militant group is gaining traction in its attempts to broaden its reach and expand its influence.

In recent months, U.S. military officials said, Islamic State has solidified its foothold in Libya as it searches for ways to capitalize on rising popularity among extremist groups around the world.

“ISIL now has an operational presence in Libya, and they have aspirations to make Libya their African hub,” said one U.S. military official, using an acronym for the group. “Libya is part of their terror map now.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaLibya* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 19, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fear of civil war have gripped parts of the country, the Bishop of Gitega, the Rt Revd John Nduwayo, said this week.

More than 15 people have died since the demonstrations began on 26 April, and some of the 200 people injured are not being well treated because of the lack of medical fees, he has reported. More than 400 protesters are being jailed in "very harsh conditions", and a shut-down of private and social media by the government is preventing the population from getting "balanced information and reality of what is happening on the ground".

The UN reports that 105,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries, including Rwanda.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaBurundi* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 17, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Eighteen people have appeared in court in Burundi accused of helping to organise last week's failed coup against President Pierre Nkurunziza.

It comes amid what appears to be a crackdown against those suspected of involvement in the plot.

The BBC has seen evidence of retaliatory attacks, after a hospital where soldiers involved in the coup were being treated was attacked.

The alleged coup ringleader, Godefroid Niyombare, is still on the run.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaBurundi* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 16, 2015 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. Special Operations killed a senior Islamic State leader in a ground raid inside Syria on Friday night, the White House said in a statement Saturday.

The statement said that Abu Sayyaf, described as having a senior role in overseeing gas and oil operations that have been a key source of revenue for the militant group, had been killed when he “engaged U.S. forces” and resisted capture.

His wife, who was said to be an Islamic State member, was captured during the operation, and a young woman who appeared to be held as a slave of the couple was freed. The young woman was a member of the Yazidi sect in Iraq, the White House statement said.

“We intend to reunite her with her family as soon as feasible,” said National Security Council spokesman Bernadette Meehan.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 16, 2015 at 9:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Marte, the border town in the northern flank of Borno state has again fallen to the Boko Haram sect, security sources and government officials have confirmed.

Security sources said the terrorists, most of whom had fled Sambisa forests and their other strongholds across Borno State, have now regrouped in Marte, a town 112km north of Maiduguri, the state capital.

The deputy governor of Borno State, Zannah Mustapha, confirmed that Marte was seized on Friday.

The news came as soldiers sustained a 24-hour curfew imposed on Maiduguri, the state capital on Thursday after Boko Haram terrorists attempted an invasion of the city on Wednesday night.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 15, 2015 at 2:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In my previous post, I detailed the sordid story by which the Episcopal Church (USA) has gotten into the debt collection business. Refugees designated to migrate to the United States are advanced travel money by an arm of the U.S. State Department. They land here, and are placed in the hands of (among other agencies) Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), which helps them relocate into specific communities, find jobs, and settle in. Then EMM sees that they repay their travel advances to the Government, and pockets one-quarter of its debt collection proceeds for its trouble.

It's a nifty racket, and ensures that annually over $300,000 comes into the Episcopal Church's coffers, to help with its bottom line. Meanwhile, the U.S. Government reimburses EMM for all of its other refugee relocation expenses, to the tune of some $14 million annually.

Now thanks to our good friend and frequent commenter El Gringo Viejo, your Curmudgeon has been pointed to this illuminating video message, which tells "the rest of the story," so to speak. It turns out that a good portion of the refugees EMM is assisting are not just any refugees, but are Muslims from some of the countries to which America has sent troops, bombs or both: Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and (soon) Syria. Listen to Ann Corcoran as she explains what she discovered...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted May 15, 2015 at 12:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Burundian army has declared it is taking control of Burundi in a radio announcement, according to International Business Times in the UK.

Read it all and join me in prayer for Burundi and the church there.





Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaBurundi

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Posted May 13, 2015 at 7:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. military is considering using aircraft and Navy ships to directly contest Chinese territorial claims to a chain of rapidly expanding artificial islands, U.S. officials said, in a move that would raise the stakes in a regional showdown over who controls disputed waters in the South China Sea.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter has asked his staff to look at options that include flying Navy surveillance aircraft over the islands and sending U.S. naval ships to within 12 nautical miles of reefs that have been built up and claimed by the Chinese in an area known as the Spratly Islands.

Such moves, if approved by the White House, would be designed to send a message to Beijing that the U.S. won’t accede to Chinese territorial claims to the man-made islands in what the U.S. considers to be international waters and airspace.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaChina

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Posted May 13, 2015 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Booby traps, tunnels, mines and dense woodland cover thousands of miles.

The Nigerian military's push to invade the Sambisa Forest, the last stronghold of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, capture its leader and wipe the group out is delicate, highly dangerous and unlikely to be completely successful, analysts said.

Government forces have taken over numerous Boko Haram bases in the forest in Nigeria's northeast, rescued hundreds of women and children and released aerial images of terrorists retreating, but it has yet to capture the top leaders of the group or many of its fighters.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 12, 2015 at 3:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than 300,000 people are without "life-saving" aid in South Sudan's oil-rich Unity state after heavy fighting forced aid agencies to withdraw, the UN has said.

Government forces have been advancing towards Leer, the birthplace of rebel leader Riek Machar, reports say.

Emergency relief has come to a stop in areas worst-affected by fighting, the UN said.

International mediation efforts to end the 17-month conflict have failed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionPovertyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 12, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMilitary / Armed Forces* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope

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Posted May 8, 2015 at 7:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The women said several were killed in the stoning, but they did not know how many.

The survivors said that when they were initially captured, the militants had killed men and older boys in front of their families before taking women and children into the forest.

Some were forced into marriage.

They said the Islamists never let them out of their sight - not even when they went to the toilet.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceWomenYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 3, 2015 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Britain’s nail-biting election, and the fragile coalition government it seems likely to produce, are confirming many of Washington’s worst fears about the country’s dwindling influence in the world.

Once the US’ most reliable ally, the UK is now seen as a distant player in the crisis over the Ukraine and the euro, has introduced swingeing cuts to its military and recently rebuffed Washington by joining a China-led bank.

On top of that, the Obama administration is waking up to the prospect that the next government in London could be even more inward-looking as it grapples with Britain’s membership of the European Union and strong support for Scottish independence.

US officials say they still value close intelligence and military ties with the UK, but at times sound almost dismissive about the current British government’s reluctance to play a bigger role in the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 3, 2015 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigeria’s military announced last week that it was raiding the Sambisa Forest, one of the last strongholds of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram. Liberating the forest might be the hardest part of the campaign against the group.

Aided by regional troops and foreign mercenaries, Nigeria’s military has managed to take back nearly all of the towns and villages controlled by Boko Haram in Nigeria’s northeast over the past few months.

But one area remains mostly under their control: Sambisa, a massive expanse of forest that spreads thousands of square kilometers over several states.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 22, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The confirmation of the murder of Ethiopian Christians by Daesh (IS) in Libya has been received with deep sadness. These executions that unnecessarily and unjustifiably claim the lives of innocent people, wholly undeserving of this brutality, have unfortunately become far too familiar. Once again we see innocent Christians murdered purely for refusing to renounce their Faith.

The Christians of Egypt and Ethiopia have had a shared heritage for centuries. Being predominantly Orthodox Christian communities with a mutual understanding of life and witness, and a common origin in the Coptic Orthodox Church, they now also share an even greater connection through the blood of these contemporary martyrs.

This sad news came on the day that His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury visited His Holiness Pope Tawadros II in Egypt to personally express his condolences following the similar brutal murder of 21 Coptic Orthodox Christians in Libya by Daesh in February of this year.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaEthiopiaLibya* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox ChurchOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted April 20, 2015 at 4:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some religious leaders have been quick to bless the “framework agreement” with Iran that emerged from deliberations earlier this month in Switzerland over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. That was a mistake.

Christian pastors and lobbyists representing various factions of Mennonites, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists and other denominations took out a full-page ad in Roll Call this week to “welcome and support” a deal they say “offers the best path to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-armed state.” The letter cited Matthew 5:9—“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God”—as one Biblical motive for endorsing the framework. It also ticked off reasons why it was “better than alternatives” like “yet another U.S. war with a Muslim country.”

Pope Francis lent his imprimatur to the framework during his Easter blessing, and in an April 13 letter to Congress the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops went so far as to oppose congressional review. The bishops wrote: “Our Committee continues to oppose Congressional efforts that seek to undermine the negotiation process or make a responsible multiparty agreement more difficult to achieve and implement.” Bishops also reminded Congress not to “take any actions, such as passing legislation to impose new or conditional sanctions on Iran.”

The mullahs don’t seem moved by the display of Christian charity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 17, 2015 at 7:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The US could spend more than $1 trillion (£675bn) over the next 30 years modernising its arsenal of nuclear weapons.

It wants to make them faster and more accurate.

Other nuclear states are trying to do the same, raising questions about their commitment to disarm.

Are we entering a new nuclear arms race?

The BBC World Service's The Inquiry programme hears from four expert witnesses.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 15, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Days after Islamists killed 148 people at Garissa university, Kenya's president held out an olive branch to Muslims and urged them to join Nairobi in the struggle against militant Islam by informing on sympathisers.

But as Uhuru Kenyatta launches a battle for Muslim hearts and minds, his security forces must first reckon with the deep mistrust among ethnic-Somali Muslims in the country's northeast regions bordering Somalia.

Kenyatta also faces an uphill task in reforming the violent ways of troops on the ground. A day before he spoke, a soldier in Garissa was seen by a Reuters reporter lashing at a crowd of Muslim women with a long stick.

"We live in fear," said Barey Bare, one of a dozen veiled Somali-Kenyan women targeted by the soldier.

"The military are a threat and al Shabaab are a threat. We are in between."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 15, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A handful of families have taken refuge in the monastery, as Christians have done for centuries since Islamic armies first swept across the plain in the 7th Century with the Arab conquest.

Thirteen-year-old Nardine is all too aware of what IS fighters do to girls they regard as infidels. "They are very cruel, they are very harsh," Nardine whispered fearfully. "Everyone knows, they took the Yazidi girls and sold them in the market."

"Isis have no mercy for anyone. They select women to rape them," said Nardine's mother. "We were afraid for our daughters so we ran away."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted April 15, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...most Americans are less familiar with a related, if distinct, affliction known as moral injury, with roots in foundational religious or spiritual beliefs violated during war. And increasingly, military chaplains are on the front lines, tending to these misunderstood wounds.

Psychiatrists have used the term since the 1990s, but the concept has only recently been the subject of serious research by clinicians, some affiliated with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“We’ve come a long way in defining moral injury, but it takes a long time to develop a tool to measure it,” said Shira Maguen, a psychologist at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and one of those developing treatment models for moral injury.

Maguen has helped the VA define an event as morally injurious if it transgresses “deeply held moral beliefs and expectations.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyMilitary / Armed ForcesPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted April 11, 2015 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Despite the images we’ve seen splashed across the web of Islamic State fighters driving around Syria and Iraq in American Humvees and waving U.S.-made weapons, there really isn’t all that much American military gear floating around out there.

But what equipment has been captured by the radical Islamists has the tendency to float upward toward the leadership who covet the “elite” U.S. gear, according to a group cataloging illicit arms transfers.

Speaking to a small April 7 gathering at the Stimson Center in Washington, Jonah Leff, director of operations for Conflict Armament Research said that American equipment actually “represents a small fraction” of the 40,000 pieces of gear his teams have cataloged in northern Iraq and Syria since last summer. He said that includes only about 30 U.S.-made M-16s and roughly 550 rounds American-produced ammunition.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 8, 2015 at 4:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just because the Middle East’s descent into chaos is hardly the fault of the Obama administration, that doesn’t mean its policies in the region are not an egregious failure.

The situation in the region is unprecedented. For the first time since the World Wars, virtually every country from Libya to Afghanistan is involved in a military conflict. (Oman seems to be the exception.) The degree of chaos, uncertainty, and complexity among the twisted and often contradictory alliances and enmities is mind-boggling. America and its allies are fighting alongside Iran to combat the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria but in Yemen, the United States and many of those same regional partners are collaborating to push back Iranian-backed Houthi forces. Israel and Saudi Arabia are closely aligned in their concerns about Iran while historical divisions between the two remain great. Iran supports Bashar al-Assad in Syria; the United States and Western allies deplore his policies but tolerate his presence while some of the rebel forces we are supporting in the fight against the Islamic State in that country seek his (long overdue) removal. The United States wants the states of the region to stand up for their own interests — just not in Libya or when they don’t get America’s permission first.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle East* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 28, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last month I visited the Syrian refugee camp in Jordan known as Za’atari. With 80,000 occupants, the camp would be the fourth-largest city in Jordan. It occupies a vast desert plain, filled with endless rows of tents that are gradually being replaced with rows of metal-sided caravans. Za’atari is a dreary place, but it is teeming with resilient people.

Residents of camps like Za’atari make up only 20% of the nearly four million refugees who have fled Syria. The rest live in cities, where they are often unregistered and therefore ineligible for services. These refugees tend to live in squalor and are vulnerable to exploitation. Nearly 80% of the refugees are women and children. These figures don’t include the 12.2 million within Syria who are either internally displaced or in urgent need of help.

About 200,000 people have been killed in Syria, many after torture. A photographer, who documented these horrors for the regime but defected, smuggled his photos out of Syria; they were passed on to me by a Syrian non-governmental organization. These emaciated, disfigured corpses could be skeletal Jewish inmates photographed during the liberation of Dachau, but they aren’t. They are Syrian Muslims and Christians—and this is happening now.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 27, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The NZ Bible Society has published a commemorative Defence Force New Testament to mark the centennial of WWI.

1500 of the newly minted New Testaments (with Proverbs and Psalms) will be gifted to the NZ Defence Force in an official ceremony next month.

Defence Force Chief, Lieutenant General Tim Keating, says in his foreword to the edition,

"This commemorative edition of the New Testament reminds us of this sacrifice made by New Zealanders 100 years ago, and of the book that brought so many of them peace and comfort as they fought."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ

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Posted March 27, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anti-IS Sunnis think they should be armed again, as they were when the Americans fought al-Qaeda in Iraq, IS’s predecessor. But nobody is willing to give them weapons. “We wanted a national army,” says Ghazi Faisal al-Kuaud, a tribesman fighting alongside the government in Ramadi. “Instead they formed the Shia equivalent of IS.”

And Shia distrust of the Sunnis grows at a pace that matches that of the losses from its militias. Overlooking Najaf’s sprawling tombs, gravediggers talk of the brisk business they are doing burying militiamen. “I’ve never had it so busy,” says one. “Not even after 2003 or 2006 [the height of Iraq’s civil war].” The Sunnis “never accepted losing power from the time of Imam Ali, so why would they now?” asks Haider, a Shia shop owner. “Wherever you find Sunnis and you give them weapons, you will find IS,” says Bashar, a militiaman. Many Shias feel that the fight against IS justifies them in excluding Sunnis from government and the security apparatus.

The state that IS wanted to build looks more unlikely than ever to become a lasting reality, and that is good. The ruined territory on which it hoped to build, though, may end up even more damaged than it was at the outset.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 26, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Each week that passes we learn of more brutal Boko Haram abuses against civilians,” Mausi Segun, Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in the statement. “The Nigerian government needs to make protecting civilians a priority in military operations against Boko Haram.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 26, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What happens as the world becomes even more interconnected…and even more leaderless?

Some argue that globalization is grinding to a screeching halt. In a world of increased conflict and turmoil, where major powers jockey for influence, financial sanctions have become a go-to weapon and even the Internet threatens to splinter, then surely the cross-border flow of money, ideas, information, goods and services will begin to slow—or even reverse.

Others argue that globalization is really just Americanization by other means. After all, the United States still dominates the international financial system. Information hurtling through cyberspace promotes the democratization of information, because it creates demand for still more information and forces autocrats to care more about public opinion. As developing countries develop, aren’t they becoming more like America?

Not anymore.

Read it all and note the link to the full report provided.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 26, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The FBI improved its ability to fight terrorism in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but a new report says the bureau still faces significant challenges as it strengthens its intelligence capabilities to deal with nimble enemies.

The finding was part of an exhaustive review requested by Congress to evaluate the FBI’s response to the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations in 2004 and determine if the domestic law enforcement agency was moving quickly enough to deal with fast-moving threats.

The lengthy report, “The FBI: Protecting the Homeland in the 21st Century,” is perhaps the most detailed, public examination of the FBI’s post-9/11 capabilities, highlighting the successes and limitations of the traditional crime-fighting bureau.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentTerrorism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 26, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. veterans gather on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the one the most iconic battles of World War II.

Watch it all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaJapan

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Posted March 24, 2015 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You and President George H.W. Bush oversaw the fall of the Soviet Union. Is there anything to stop Vladimir Putin from going back to some version of that system?

Our response has been severely tepid. I don’t think you can stand up and say that if they keep doing this, there are going to be grave consequences, and then they keep doing it and we don’t do anything....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 21, 2015 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The proximate cause of Iraq’s unraveling was the increasing authoritarian, sectarian and corrupt conduct of the Iraqi government and its leader after the departure of the last U.S. combat forces in 2011. The actions of the Iraqi prime minister undid the major accomplishment of the Surge. [They] alienated the Iraqi Sunnis and once again created in the Sunni areas fertile fields for the planting of the seeds of extremism, essentially opening the door to the takeover of the Islamic State. Some may contend that all of this was inevitable. Iraq was bound to fail, they will argue, because of the inherently sectarian character of the Iraqi people. I don’t agree with that assessment.

The tragedy is that political leaders failed so badly at delivering what Iraqis clearly wanted — and for that, a great deal of responsibility lies with Prime Minister Maliki.

As for the U.S. role, could all of this have been averted if we had kept 10,000 troops here? I honestly don't know. I certainly wish we could have tested the proposition and kept a substantial force on the ground.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistanMiddle EastIraq* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 20, 2015 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ukraine urged the European Union on Thursday to stay united in keeping up sanctions pressure on Russia over the conflict in eastern Ukraine, as EU leaders gathered for a two-day summit.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to divide Europe over Ukraine and that this would be a "disaster for the free world."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 19, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Syrian activists and the Western-backed opposition have accused the government of carrying out a chlorine gas attack against a rebel-held town that killed at least six people and left dozens, including children, choking and gasping for breath.

The purported use of poison gas on the town of Sarmin in northwestern Idlib province is the first alleged chemical attack since the UN Security Council approved a US-drafted resolution this month that condemns the use of toxic chemicals such as chlorine in Syria.

That measure also threatens military action in case of further violations.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

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Posted March 18, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Nigerian army said on Tuesday it had repelled Boko Haram from all but three local government districts in the northeast, claiming victory for its offensive against the Islamist insurgents less than two weeks before a presidential election.

At the start of this year, Boko Haram controlled around 20 local government areas, a territory the size of Belgium, in its bloody six-year-old campaign to carve out an Islamic state in religiously mixed Nigeria.

But a concerted push by Nigeria's military and neighbors Chad, Cameroon and Niger has regained considerable ground. At the weekend, Nigerian government forces recaptured the city of Bama, the second biggest in northeasterly Borno state.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 17, 2015 at 5:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Punch reports that the bishop said leaders across the nation must come together, stop working against the country and work with one another for the greater good of the country.

He said if such was done, the country would become better for present and future generations, adding that Nigerians must also rally round their leaders to ensure their success.

Adeyemi said, “I believe if our leaders work with a sense of togetherness, Nigeria will be good for us and the future generations.

“I don’t believe in those predicting doom for the nation. Your leaders should allow things to work. They are the enemies of themselves.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria

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Posted March 16, 2015 at 5:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As our nation honours at this service all of you who served in Afghanistan – forces personnel and many others, alongside so many of other nations – I ask you to hear those same words today, reverberating around our land: great is your faithfulness. You know about faithfulness.

Today is a moment for us to say thank you: thank you to all who served, whatever your role.

We thank you for your faithfulness: you who left family behind, you who trained hard, you who did not turn from danger, you who suffered injury and you who risked yourselves to care for the injured. I’m told that each wounded person was supported by up to 80 others by the time they got home. Great is your faithfulness.

We also thank those of you who stayed behind, who let your loved ones go

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryWar in Afghanistan

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Posted March 16, 2015 at 1:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Armed Forces charity bosses believe the full impact of the Afghanistan conflict is "yet to be seen" as the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and senior members of the Royal Family prepare for a service of commemoration at St Paul's Cathedral.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke of Cambridge, his heavily-pregnant wife Kate, and Prince Harry - who served two tours during the conflict - will also attend tomorrow's ceremony, held to mark the end of combat operations in the country, honour veterans of the campaign and remember the servicemen and women who lost their lives.

The families of some of those killed will also take part in the commemorations and v eterans of the 13-year campaign will march past the cathedral in a parade.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

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Posted March 13, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Isis is allegedly attacking Iraqi soldiers with roadside bombs containing chlorine gas as allied forces continue a huge assault against the group in Tikrit.

Footage captured by an Iraqi bomb disposal team shows plumes of thick orange gas emerging from a detonated roadside bomb.

The team told the BBC it has diffused “dozens” of chlorine bombs left by Isis militants, which it says are used more as a means to create fear than harm.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 12, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The suicide rate among today’s male military combat veterans is two and a half times that of any previous war and three times the rate of the male civilian population. That as many as 44 young veterans are killing themselves every day (more often than not by gunshot) is considered a crisis by those responsible for our veterans’ well-being.

Sixteen weeks of training, no matter how professional and intense, cannot prepare a young man for combat when he has been coddled all of his life by well-intentioned but ignorant parents — parents who honestly believe their children are in a constant state of jeopardy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Violent crime against children is down more than 20 percent since the 1950s.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMilitary / Armed ForcesPsychologySuicide* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 11, 2015 at 9:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Les] Modder's 19 years of service includes many glowing fitness reports. He spent several years providing spiritual counsel to Navy SEALS, and in December received a letter of commendation from the head of the Navy Special Warfare Command, who called Modder the "best of the best" and a "talented and inspirational leader."

Modder's Liberty Institute attorney, Michael Berry, said the effort to fire him reflects a broader cultural change in the military.

"I think what we are seeing is a hostility to religious expression in the military now," Berry said. "What we're seeing is this new modern, pluralistic, Navy where service members are encouraged to be hypersensitive, especially about issues of faith, marriage and family."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted March 11, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some countries want nuclear weapons to prop up a tottering state. Pakistan insists its weapons are safe, but the outside world cannot shake the fear that they may fall into the hands of Islamist terrorists, or even religious zealots within its own armed forces. When history catches up with North Korea’s Kim dynasty, as sooner or later it must, nobody knows what will happen to its nukes—whether they might be inherited, sold, eliminated or, in a last futile gesture, detonated.

Others want nuclear weapons not to freeze the status quo, but to change it. Russia has started to wield nuclear threats as an offensive weapon in its strategy of intimidation. Its military exercises routinely stage dummy nuclear attacks on such capitals as Warsaw and Stockholm. Mr Putin’s speeches contain veiled nuclear threats. Dmitry Kiselev, one of the Kremlin’s mouthpieces, has declared with relish that Russian nuclear forces could turn America into “radioactive ash”.

Just rhetoric, you may say. But the murder of Boris Nemtsov, an opposition leader, on the Kremlin’s doorstep on February 27th was only the latest sign that Mr Putin’s Russia is heading into the geopolitical badlands.... Resentful, nationalistic and violent, it wants to rewrite the Western norms that underpin the status quo. First in Georgia and now in Ukraine, Russia has shown it will escalate to extremes to assert its hold over its neighbours and convince the West that intervention is pointless. Even if Mr Putin is bluffing about nuclear weapons (and there is no reason to think he is), any nationalist leader who comes after him could be even more dangerous.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKEuropeRussiaMiddle EastIran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 8, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Forces from the group calling itself Islamic State launched a fresh offensive to overrun a string of Christian towns in northeastern Syria on Saturday, setting off violent clashes with local fighters mobilized against the militants.

A mixture of Assyrian Christians and Kurds fought off the Islamic State assault, activist groups said, just a week after extremists took about 250 people in the area—many women, children and elderly men.

The contested towns are along the Khabur river in al-Hasaka province, a strategic gateway that would help Islamic State consolidate territory it holds in Iraq and Syria. The population of the area is predominately Christian, while the Kurds are a minority.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 8, 2015 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

CORNISH: Sitting next to Ala is Magdy Khaleel. He's 46 and Egyptian. He teaches architecture at the Technical University of Dresden. He says the fear of the protesters was very real.

MAGDY KHALEEL: We have families here and some people have been attacked, so we are a little bit worried. When you are sitting, you don't know who is with you in the metro or in the tram. You don't know he's with PEGIDA or against PEGIDA, so this has increased the feeling among people - so I should be careful, maybe he stab me. This is not comfortable life, you know? But we found some solidarity from different communities here in Dresden as well.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted March 8, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“We’re moving on Salahaddin,” said Badr Organization spokesman and military commander Karim al-Nouri. “And there are three names that strike fear in the heart of daesh: Hajj Qassem Suleimani, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and Hadi al-Amiri.”

These three figures might not be household names in Indiana, but in Iraq they are the biggest stars within the constellation of Shiite militias that are now trying to drive the Islamic State out of Tikrit, the capital of Salahaddin province. Suleimani, who is the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, regularly travels around the Middle East to lend support to Tehran’s allies; Muhandis, who is the leader of the Kataib Hezbollah militia, was convicted for the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait; and Amiri is the commander of the Badr Organization, one of Iraq’s largest and most prominent Shiite militias. Together, they form the backbone of Iranian influence in Iraq, which is at its highest point in almost four centuries.

Iraq’s Shiite militias have seen their influence skyrocket since last summer, as they have played a central role in beating back the Islamic State’s advance in Baghdad and the surrounding area. Tikrit, however, presents them with new challenges: It is the largest predominantly Sunni city that they have sought to reclaim, and U.S. officials have warned of a sectarian bloodbath if the militias launch an offensive there.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 7, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Peace talks aimed at ending the South Sudan conflict have been extended indefinitely after the government and rebels missed the deadline for a deal.

The talks in Ethiopia are being mediated by the East African regional bloc, Igad, which had given both sides until Thursday to reach agreement.

The UN imposed limited sanctions this week and the US warned both sides of further steps if no deal was reached.

The 14-month conflict has displaced 1.5 million people and killed thousands.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 6, 2015 at 12:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya Eliud Wabukala and his South Sudan counterpart Daniel Dena Bul have appealed to the international community to fast-track peace efforts to resolve the conflict in South Sudan.

Speaking in Mogotio during a church function, the clerics said the on-going war was all about power struggle and not ethnic difference.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of KenyaEpiscopal Church of the Sudan* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 5, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The area that the MNJTF will be covering draws the force's first limit.

Military and diplomatic sources have confirmed that MNJTF soldiers will only operate between the outskirts of Niger's Diffa border town, and the towns of Baga and Ngala in Nigeria.

In other words, the regional force's main task will be to secure the Nigerian side of Lake Chad, which represents "only 10 to 15% of the entire area where Boko Haram operates", according to a diplomat based in the region, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 3, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the wake of the Sony Pictures hack, the cybersecurity firm FireEye demonstrated that the sort of breach that Sony experienced is not likely preventable with conventional network defenses.

Instead, the firm noted that “organizations must consider a new approach to securing their IT assets ... [they] can’t afford to passively wait for attacks. Instead, they should take a lean-forward approach that actively hunts for new and unseen threats.”

But what constitutes a "lean-forward" approach to cybersecurity, and why are more organizations not already taking one?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 3, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Russian social media, liberal Moscow has struggled to wrap its head around something that seemed like it simply couldn’t happen, until it did. It had been years since Nemtsov, a rising star in Yeltsin-era politics, had been the standard-bearer of Western liberalism, and he could be a silly bon vivant. But he was deeply intelligent, witty, kind and ubiquitous. He seemed to genuinely be everyone’s friend; when I lived in Moscow as a journalist, he was always willing to jaw over endless glasses of cognac. And he was a powerful, vigorous critic of Vladimir Putin, assailing him in every possible medium, constantly publishing reports on topics like the president’s lavish lifestyle and the corruption behind the Sochi Olympics.

How could such a prominent politician — a founder of the opposition Solidarity Party, a sitting member of the Yaroslavl city parliament — be gunned down so brazenly, within steps of the Kremlin? “We didn’t kill members of government,” Gleb Pavlovsky, an independent political consultant who used to work for Putin, told me over the phone. “It’s an absolutely new situation.” Olga Romanova, a prominent opposition activist and a close friend of Nemtsov, said, “There are more cameras in that spot than there are grains in a packet of grain.” When I called her last night, she had just come from the scene of the crime, where her friend still lay on the ground, surrounded by laughing policemen. “It’s the first time I’ve seen a very close person murdered, lying on the pavement,” she said. “It’s terrifying.”
Continue reading the main story

Putin promptly called Nemtsov’s mother to offer his condolences and threw what seemed like the entire Ministry of Internal Affairs on the case. Yet we can be sure that the investigation will lead precisely nowhere.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/Fire* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 2, 2015 at 5:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...look where Greece has ended up after five years of crisis resolution. It has had one of the worst performances in economic history; yet we have just concluded an extension of the same policy.

Can this be sustainable? The pragmatists in Europe’s chancelleries say they can roll over loans indefinitely at very low interest rates. Economically, this is the equivalent of a debt writedown; yet politically it is easier to deliver because you do not need to recognise losses. The equivalent statement in a military conflict would be: if you renew a ceasefire often enough, you end up with peace.

This type of argument is not only immoral and dishonest. It also does not work. While you play this game of ex­tend-and-pretend, the real economy implodes: austerity has caused a meltdown in income and employment. Monetary policy mistakes caused a fall in eurozone-wide inflation rates that made it impossible for Greece and other periphery countries to improve the competitiveness they lost in the early years of monetary union.

If the EU deals with Ukraine in the same way it dealt with Greece, you can expect to see a parallel development in a few years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGreeceRussiaUkraine

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Posted March 2, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Russia has become a danger to Britain and the country must be prepared to take steps to defend itself and its allies, the former head of MI6 says.

Sir John Sawers, who recently retired after five years as chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Russia poses a "state to state threat".

Sir John said dealing with such threats would require more defence spending.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeRussia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 28, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Russian opposition leaders on Saturday accused the Kremlin of being behind the death of a towering figure of post-Soviet politics, Boris Nemtsov, as they struggled to come to grips with the highest-profile assassination of President Vladimir Putin’s 15 years in power.

Nemtsov was gunned down late Friday, steps from the Kremlin and underneath the swirling domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral — the heart of power in Russia and one of the most secure areas in the nation. The slaying of one of Putin’s most biting critics swept a wave of fresh vulnerability over those in the opposition, and some expressed new fears for their lives.

Putin and other allies said that the assassination was a provocation intended to discredit the Kremlin. There were no immediate suspects brought into custody in the drive-by shooting. Authorities said they were working hard to track down a light-colored sedan that was captured on surveillance cameras as Nemtsov crossed a bridge over the Moscow River on an unseasonably warm February night.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 28, 2015 at 9:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An interim government would be “alien to the constitution” says Mohammed Bello Adoke, the attorney-general. Mr Jonathan told the FT such a government could only emerge from a military coup. However, he could theoretically push back the polls and extend his tenure on a rolling six month basis by declaring the nation at war with Boko Haram insurgents. This would require the — unlikely — endorsement of two-thirds of the National Assembly. Alternatively if for whatever reason no winner emerges by May 29, the senate president, former army colonel David Mark, would stand in with 60 days to organise elections.

The fear is that without popular legitimacy, any government — military or civilian — will struggle to repair the fissures that will appear should Gen Buhari’s followers in the north believe him to have been cheated of victory. The same applies to a lesser degree to Mr Jonathan’s supporters, with former warlords in the oil-producing Niger delta threatening to take up arms again should he be bullied out of office. In such a febrile environment, there is a risk of ethnic killing especially in the north — as happened in 1965 in the run up to the Biafran civil war.

Nigeria has withdrawn from the brink on a number of occasions since. This time the army, potentially divided and already pinned down by Boko Haram, might have difficulty containing violence across many fronts, and the country’s future as one nation would be at stake. “These next five weeks are among the most dangerous in Nigeria’s history,” says Nasir el-Rufai, a former government minister contesting the Kaduna state governorship.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

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Posted February 26, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last month, the speaker of the Russian parliament solemnly instructed his foreign affairs committee to launch a historical investigation: was West Germany’s ‘annexation’ of East Germany really legal? Should it be condemned? Ought it to be reversed? Last week, the Russian foreign minister, speaking at a security conference in Munich, hinted that he might have similar doubts. ‘Germany’s reunification was conducted without any referendum,’ he declared, ominously.

At this, the normally staid audience burst out laughing. The Germans in the room found the Russian statements particularly hilarious. Undo German unification? Why, that would require undoing the whole post-Cold War settlement!

Which is indeed a very amusing notion — unless you think that this is exactly what the Russian speaker, the Russian foreign minister, and indeed the Russian President, a man who once called the collapse of the Soviet Union ‘the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century’, are in fact trying to achieve.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 26, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thirty-seven percent of Americans are satisfied and 61% dissatisfied with the position of the U.S. in the world today. These views are unchanged from last year, even after a series of significant challenges for U.S. foreign policy. Americans' satisfaction is a bit higher than at the end of the Bush administration and at the beginning of the Obama administration, but remains well below where it was in the early 2000s.

The results are from Gallup's annual World Affairs survey, conducted Feb. 8-11. Americans' satisfaction held steady in the past year, even as the U.S. was forced to deal with the rise of Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria, a dispute with Russia over Ukrainian separatists in the eastern part of Ukraine, heightened tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians, and ongoing policy disagreements involving North Korea and Iran. The lack of change may be attributable to Americans' already high level of dissatisfaction with the nation's world position, with those events and the way the U.S. handled them serving to reinforce the dissatisfaction rather than to worsen or even improve it.

Americans have been more likely to be dissatisfied than satisfied with the position of the U.S. in the world since 2004, about the time it became clear that the U.S. military action in Iraq was running into problems that could -- and did -- lead to a prolonged U.S. commitment there. Satisfaction fell to a low of 30% in the final year of George W. Bush's administration and remained low in the very early stages of Barack Obama's presidency. Americans' satisfaction is modestly higher now than at that point, but has leveled off.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPsychologySociology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 25, 2015 at 3:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I did know he was a vet and so I did what seemed natural: I thanked him for his service.

“No problem,” he said.

It wasn’t true. There was a problem. I could see it from the way he looked down. And I could see it on the faces of some of the other vets who work with Mr. Garth when I thanked them too. What gives, I asked? Who doesn’t want to be thanked for their military service?

Many people, it turns out. Mike Freedman, a Green Beret, calls it the “thank you for your service phenomenon.” To some recent vets — by no stretch all of them — the thanks comes across as shallow, disconnected, a reflexive offering from people who, while meaning well, have no clue what soldiers did over there or what motivated them to go, and who would never have gone themselves nor sent their own sons and daughters.

To these vets, thanking soldiers for their service symbolizes the ease of sending a volunteer army to wage war at great distance — physically, spiritually, economically. It raises questions of the meaning of patriotism, shared purpose and, pointedly, what you’re supposed to say to those who put their lives on the line and are uncomfortable about being thanked for it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMilitary / Armed ForcesPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 25, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[ISIS] ...militants have kidnapped dozens of people from Christian villages in Syria, a human rights watchdog has said.

According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the militants stormed at least two villages, inhabited by the ancient Assyrian Christian minority, shortly after dawn, taking some 90 civilians captive.

Nuri Kino, the head of the activist group A Demand For Action, quoted villagers who fled the attacks as saying between 70 and 100 people are being held.

A number of children are understood to be among them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 24, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To state the obvious, Europe does not have state-sponsored pogroms or discriminatory Nuremberg laws. In western Europe Jews are more integrated than ever; often their real worry is of decline through assimilation. In much of the east, there has been a flowering of Jewish life since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Berlin itself boasts Europe’s fastest-growing Jewish community. The far right in Hungary really is anti-Semitic, but in France and the Netherlands these days populists now abjure anti-Semitism, even as they denounce Muslim migrants.

Moving to Israel may fulfil a religious, cultural or political longing for some Jews—but it is hardly safer. As the Danish chief rabbi rightly put it, emigrating to Israel should be out of love, not fear. European democracies must ensure that this remains so. Given their dire history of Jew-hatred—from the Norwich blood libel in 1144 to the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492 to the Nazi Holocaust—Europeans must be ever-vigilant against any sign of anti-Semitism, whether of the old endemic Christian sort or the newer Islamist variety.

Like all Europeans, Jews must be able to live free from the fear of violence. This means greater protection for Jewish institutions. Security forces must try to protect innumerable soft targets, and these days these almost always include Jews.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 22, 2015 at 2:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“There’s Moore’s Law and there are Moore’s Outlaws,” he says. Goodman has worked for Interpol, the FBI, even the U.S. Secret Service, and through his new book "Future Crimes"
he’s feverishly trying to sound the alarm that we will soon be more vulnerable than we have ever been. Why?

“Our cell phones and computers are now online,” Goodman says. “But in the future it’s going to be our cars, airplanes, pacemakers, pets, elevators, prisons. Every physical object is going online because of something called 'the Internet of things.'”

Somewhere between 50 and 200 billion things will be connected soon, he says, and that will take the new crime paradigm to a terrifying level.

“Crime used to be a one-on-one affair. Go out and buy a gun or a knife if you’re a criminal, rob one person at a time,” Goodman says. “Now through technology it becomes possible for one person to reach out and touch over 100 million people.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 20, 2015 at 6:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Through marriage, it became clear, Mr. Callis had undergone the type of indelible change in a soul that no personal injury or earthly event can undo. “Having someone believe in me and waiting for me back home, that is what gives me purpose. I am more than myself because of our marriage,” he said, expressing his hope that people not give up on marriage even when the sparks of romance seem distant.

All this brought to mind the words of the German Lutheran pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, when he wrote from a Nazi prison to his niece before her wedding: “Marriage is more than your love for each other. . . . In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed in a post of responsibility toward the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal—it is a status, an office.”

The story of Ford and Daisy generated lots of discussion on hospital rounds that day. Theirs was not a tale of military or medical rescue, as exciting and perhaps technically interesting as those were. It was one of marital rescue. This covenant has liberated their souls and given them a higher purpose. Each of us that day, married or not, caught a glimpse of where our true north lies and a reminder of when we are at our best—in serving another.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 20, 2015 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...privately, the Saudi view is that the air campaign against ISIS, now more than six months old, is not working.

"Having simply these pinprick attacks on certain areas is not going to resolve the issue," says Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief who also served as the ambassador to the U.S. from 2005-7.

An outspoken member of the royal family, Faisal, 70, no longer holds a senior post. But his views are considered to reflect the general thinking of the Saudi leadership.

He says the air strikes against ISIS are too limited and not well coordinated. In addition, he insists the coalition effort is undermined by politics in Europe and mistrust in the Middle East.

Read it all.

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Posted February 20, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Authorities in the landlocked African nation of Niger have arrested 160 suspected Boko Haram militants allegedly involved in deadly attacks near that country's border with Nigeria, a national police spokesman said Tuesday.

The arrests happened over the last two days in Niger's Diffa region, which borders Nigeria. Those taken into custody include Kaka Bunu, who police spokesman Adil Doro said was "involved in the recruitment of (Boko Haram) members."

Some of the suspects fled south, only to be arrested while on the run or in "their hiding places," said Yakubu Sumana Gawo, the governor of Niger's Diffa region.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryImmigrationPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigerNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 17, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has called for a United Nations resolution allowing international forces to intervene in Libya.

There was no other choice, he told French radio. "We will not allow them to cut off the heads of our children."

Egyptian jets bombed IS targets on Monday in response to a militant video of the apparent beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians.

Rival militias have been battling for control in Libya since 2011.

Read it all.

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Posted February 17, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As an October chill fell on the mountain passes that separate the militant havens in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a small team of Afghan intelligence commandos and American Special Operations forces descended on a village where they believed a leader of Al Qaeda was hiding.

That night the Afghans and Americans got their man, Abu Bara al-Kuwaiti. They also came away with what officials from both countries say was an even bigger prize: a laptop computer and files detailing Qaeda operations on both sides of the border.

American military officials said the intelligence seized in the raid was possibly as significant as the information found in the computer and documents of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, after members of the Navy SEALs killed him in 2011.

In the months since, the trove of intelligence has helped fuel a significant increase in night raids by American Special Operations forces and Afghan intelligence commandos, Afghan and American officials said.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 14, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Seventy years ago our nations and peoples were at war. Over three days in February allied bombers brought death and destruction on a scale and with a ferocity it is impossible to imagine. In the rage of war our hearts inevitably harden and increasingly brutal and devastating force is unleashed.

Walking together as friends requires talking together in truth. As Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf challenges us: “To remember wrongdoing untruthfully is to act unjustly.”

Much debate surrounds this most controversial raid of the allied bombing campaign. Whatever the arguments, events here seventy years ago left a deep wound and diminished all our humanity. So as a follower of Jesus I stand here among you with a profound feeling of regret and deep sorrow.

Healing such wounds requires enemies to embark on the journey to become friends, which starts with our memories of the hurt we have suffered and ends with a shared understanding of the hurt we have caused each other.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeGermany

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Posted February 14, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Islamic extremists snatched more than 270 girls from the Chibok boarding school in Nigeria in the dead of night, protests broke out worldwide. The U.S. pledged to help find them, and the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag was born.

Some 10 months later, most are still missing. The Boko Haram extremist group sees the mass kidnapping as a shining symbol of success, and has abducted hundreds of other girls, boys and women. The militants brag to their new captives about the surrender of the Chibok girls, their conversion to Islam and their marriage to fighters.

"They told me the Chibok girls have a new life where they learn to fight," says Abigail John, 15, who was held by Boko Haram for more than four weeks before escaping. "They said we should be like them and accept Islam."

Read it all.

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Posted February 11, 2015 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What do the ancient Christian communities of the Middle East, many of them threatened with extinction in lands where they have survived since the dawn of their faith's existence, most need from their co-religionists in the West? Some want more military support, but others take a different view. That difference emerged during a visit to London by Archbishop Bashar Warda, the top Catholic cleric in Erbil, the only Iraqi city where Christians live in significant numbers.

At a meeting yesterday in the House of Lords, co-organised by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, the archbishop reminded people of the hard realities facing his flock. As of a result of last year's onslaught by Islamic State, perhaps 400,000 people fled their homes in Mosul and the neighbouring Nineveh Plain and many sought refuge in the adjacent area controlled by the Kurdish regional government. The displaced include Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities. Of the 300,000 or so Christians who remain in Iraq (down from 1.4m a couple of decades ago), the great majority now live in Kurdistan, of which Erbil is the capital.

Iraqi Christians are practical, energetic sorts, the archbishop told his British hosts, and they are not sitting around bemoaning their fate. Huge efforts are being made to get the displaced families, who are now holed up in tents, portakabins and half-built shopping centres, into better accommodation where they can become economically active and their children can pursue studies. The archbishop is working hard to start, by next autumn, a new university which will be Catholic in inspiration but open to all faiths.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 11, 2015 at 7:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram continues to strengthen its hold over Nigeria’s Muslim-majority north-eastern states, and the Nigerian government seems to be permanently on the back foot.

This week, the government announced it has decided to postpone the Presidential election that was due to be held on February 14th, saying that it needs more time to wrest control from Boko Haram, and ensure a safe and secure poll.

Boko Haram’s stated aim is to establish an Islamic Caliphate in the north of Nigeria, and ultimately to impose sharia law across the whole country. But the religious agenda doesn’t tell the whole story.

Listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 11, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians in Iraq "do not have much time left" without direct military action on the ground, the Archbishop of Irbil has told UK peers and MPs.

Archbishop Bashar Warda said air strikes were "not enough" to defeat Islamic State militants and "begged" for Western troops to be deployed.

He said Iraq's Christian population was declining and that he would speak to the UK government about further action.

The government has said efforts to defeat IS were "comprehensive".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 10, 2015 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 10, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram insurgents from Nigeria bombed a Niger border town, killing five people, and carried out attacks in neighbouring Cameroon, kidnapping a bus full of passengers, military and local sources said on Monday.

The jihadist sect has killed thousands of people and kidnapped hundreds in a bid to impose its rule in northeastern Nigeria, and stepped up cross-border incursions into Cameroon.

An intensification of attacks near Lake Chad, a crossroads between Nigeria, Chad, and Niger, has sent tens of thousands of Nigerians fleeing across the borders. The escalating crisis prompted Nigeria to postpone its 14 February presidential election.

With the Nigerian army struggling to contain the militants, bordering countries have launched a regional offensive against them, spurring a series of revenge attacks inside Niger and Cameroon.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaCameroonNigerNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 10, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This country’s opposition joined the U.S. and local business leaders on Sunday in criticizing the government for postponing a tight presidential election, as the political mood shifted sharply in Africa’s largest democracy.

Many voters here learned Sunday morning that the Feb. 14 election would be delayed six weeks. The decision came the night before from Nigeria’s electoral commission after the military said its campaign against Boko Haram, the Islamist group it has been battling for nearly six years, couldn’t spare the soldiers needed to ensure a safe election.

But the move—taken a week before what polls indicate would be the closest election in Nigerian history—touched a nerve in this country, whose military spent decades overturning or postponing elections until it allowed civilian rule in 1999.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 9, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Obama administration has touted the modest successes in recent months of Iraqi forces and paramilitary fighters, backed by U.S. air power, as they have fought to wrest towns, villages and parts of Iraq’s rugged countryside from the Islamic State.

Now, the renewed U.S. campaign in Iraq faces a greater challenge as American advisers scramble to prepare Iraqi forces for an offensive to reclaim some of Iraq’s most important cities, which remain under the militant group’s control.

Attempting to take back the city of Mosul, the country’s ­second-largest, as well as Tikrit and Fallujah, will test not only the fighting power of Iraqi forces and the country’s fragile sectarian compact but also President Obama’s indirect strategy for containing the Islamic State.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 9, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

FAW: After deployment in Afghanistan, Navy reservist Witherspoon ended up living with her mother and felt, she says, like “damaged goods.”

WITHERSPOON: How did I become homeless? Like where do I begin to look? How do I pick up these pieces, because at that point I felt broken, like somebody just pushed me down, and I just fell apart.

FAW: Deployed abroad twice, Army reservist Chiquita Pena, whose husband was also abroad, was jobless and needed a place to live with her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Nayeli. Final Salute got her back on her feet.

PENA: We stereotype homelessness with, you know, for lack of a better term, a hobo or bum or someone who’s a wino or drinking on the street. This is the new face of homelessness.

Read or watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPovertyWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 9, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Nigerian government’s military campaign against the Islamist militants of Boko Haram began in 2009, but it was the abduction of the schoolgirls last year that thrust Nigeria into the spotlight and alerted the world to the growing threat of a force that now controls large swaths of Africa’s most populous country. As the continent’s top petroleum producer and the home to rapidly growing telecommunications and entertainment industries, a secure, efficient Nigeria could be a beacon of stability in tumultuous West Africa. But should the country crumble under economic mismanagement and an insurgency that already has free rein over territory roughly the size of Costa Rica in northeastern Nigeria, it risks pulling much of the unstable region down with it.

Whoever wins this month’s election won’t have an easy job. The next President will be tasked with addressing the corruption, military weakness and economic inequities that have enabled Boko Haram to thrive. He will also have to cope with the plunging price of crude, which has seen the oil-dependent government’s revenue tumble. Recent opinion polls conducted by research group Afrobarometer show that the election is too close to call.

Many Nigerians and outside observers fear that a long-standing rivalry between Buhari’s largely Muslim base in the north and Jonathan’s southern Christian supporters could erupt into bloodshed over election results that would benefit no one but Boko Haram. “You can be sure Boko Haram are watching what is happening with the elections,” says Jacob Zenn, an Africa analyst for the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington-based research institute. “They are likely to take advantage of any instability to carry out attacks.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 8, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But there’s something else. When you watch these clips there’s a troubling ambiguity to them now. One frame around them is: Williams pays tribute to the troops who fought the war and protected him in the desert. He does a lot to make that message explicit, and this part of the performance requires expressions of humility. I’m no solider, I’m no war correspondent, I had no business being there, I’m so grateful for these brave men and women.

When you watch it now, though, you may wonder: Why does this story keep coming up? How is it getting in front of audiences repeatedly over the years?

Let’s take the Lettermen appearance in 2013. Did the show’s producers say, “Hey, it’s the tenth anniversary of Brian almost getting shot out of the sky in the helicopter, let’s have him on…”? Seems unlikely. Letterman says in the clip he either forgot or never knew about the episode. More likely: Williams wanted to talk about it, so they programmed it in. That’s not so modest.

Why is Madison Square Garden halting a hockey game and directing the attention of fans to Brian Williams and his military buddy being “reunited?” Because they knew about this story and thought it would be nice to revisit it 12 years later? Or because NBC promotion people alerted them and asked for the story to be re-told over the PA system?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaMovies & TelevisionPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIraq* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 8, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On its face, taking the Iranian side in a sectarian war in which the Islamic State stands on the other side may make sense in an enemy-of-my-enemy way. What could be wrong with using Iran to kill the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, even if the price is keeping a few bad guys in power in Damascus or Sanaa? Unfortunately, lots.

There is no reason to believe that a Shiite version of the one-stop dictator shop that characterized U.S. diplomacy for much of the 20th century will work any better than the earlier Sunni compact that denied tens of millions their democratic aspirations and paved the way to today’s turmoil.

What eludes the Obama administration, as it did George W. Bush, is that the battle for the future of the Middle East is a war of ideas. Taking sides in the Sunni-Shiite sectarian war will not restore the illusory stability of old. Rather, the path to long-term stability means working with groups that eschew violence, respecting religious preferences without sacrificing minorities, pressing toward market economies that empower individuals and building toward a region that rests on the consent of the governed. There is no secret path to peace, not through Tehran, not through Riyadh, not at all.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 7, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A peace plan drawn up by France and Germany is "one of the last chances" to end the conflict in east Ukraine, French leader Francois Hollande says.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it was unclear if the plan would succeed, but it was "definitely worth trying".

Mr Hollande said the plan would include a demilitarised zone of 50-70km (31-44 miles) around the current front line.

The leaders are attempting to end the fighting in Ukraine between government troops and pro-Russia rebels.

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Posted February 7, 2015 at 9:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They came in the dead of night, their faces covered, riding on motorcycles and in pickup trucks, shouting “Allahu akbar” and firing their weapons.

“They started with the shootings; then came the beheadings,” said Hussaini M. Bukar, 25, who fled after Boko Haram fighters stormed his town in northern Nigeria. “They said, ‘Where are the unbelievers among you?’ ”

Women and girls were systematically imprisoned in houses, held until Boko Haram extracted the ones it had chosen for “marriage” or other purposes.

“They were parking” — imprisoning — “young girls and small, small children, parking them in the big houses,” said Bawa Safiya Umar, 45, whose 17-year-old son was killed when her town fell under Boko Haram’s control. “They parked 450 girls in four houses.”

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Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram fighters have killed about 90 civilians and wounded 500 in ongoing skirmishes in a Cameroonian border town near Nigeria, the latest sign of the Islamic extremist group’s extended threat across the region.

An estimated 800 Boko Haram militants have waged gruesome attacks, including burning to death civilians, on the town of Fotokol since Wednesday. Cameroon’s information minister, Issa Tchiroma, told The Associated Press that they’ve also burned churches and mosques in addition to looting livestock and food.

Security experts believe the fighters crossed into Cameroon from nearby Gamboru, a Nigerian border town that had been a Boko Haram stronghold since November. Gamboru was retaken earlier this week when Chadian and Nigerian air strikes, supported by Chadian ground troops, drove them out.

Read it all.

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Posted February 5, 2015 at 4:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The selflessness of four Army chaplains who saved others aboard a sinking ship during World War II continues to serve as an example to pursue "greater service," speakers said at a ceremony Sunday.

On Feb. 3, 1943, the U.S. Army Transport ship Dorchester, bound for Greenland, began sinking after an attack from the German submarine U-223. Four Army chaplains helped usher passengers to safety and ultimately gave up their own life jackets - and lives - to save others. In all, 230 out of 904 people aboard the Dorchester survived.

On Sunday afternoon, about 40 people honored the chaplains at the Peter Gallan American Legion Post 104. American Legion member Dennis A. Baptiste served as the master of ceremonies during the event that featured the parade of colors, the national anthem and speeches.

The event focused on the legacy of the four chaplains: Lt. George Fox, a Methodist minister; Lt. Alexander D. Goode, a rabbi; Lt. John P. Washington, a Roman Catholic priest; and Lt. Clark V. Poling, a Dutch Reformed Church minister.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesMethodistReformedRoman CatholicOther FaithsJudaism* Theology

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Posted February 3, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Holy God, who didst inspire the Dorchester chaplains to be models of steadfast sacrificial love in a tragic and terrifying time: Help us to follow their example, that their courageous ministry may inspire chaplains and all who serve, to recognize thy presence in the midst of peril; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsSpirituality/Prayer* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military

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Posted February 3, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram, the terrorist organization that controls vast swaths of territory in northeastern Nigeria and has expressed support for the Islamic State, has grabbed headlines around the world for recent outrages, including what may have been one of the worst terror attacks of the modern era and attacks using bombs strapped to girls, one perhaps as young as 10.

Little attention, however, is being paid to another humanitarian crisis spawned by Boko Haram that, if left unattended, has the potential to destabilize the region and bolster the group for years to come.

As Boko Haram has advanced, tens of thousands of people have fled into fragile neighboring countries that are ill equipped to provide shelter. This influx of refugees is sowing the seeds of a prolonged humanitarian and security crisis. The United States should lead an urgent international response to address the emergency and prevent greater damage.

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Posted February 1, 2015 at 12:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is not much information on life in territories Boko Haram controls. Unlike ISIS, Boko Haram does not overtly intend to establish governance structures or provide public services. The administration of a heavily populated metropole like Maiduguri might be beyond Boko Haram’s capacity. Rather than occupying Maiduguri, Boko Haram might conduct a series of bloody raids targeting the federal facilities, military, and police. It would not be surprising if Boko Haram tries to take control of the airport and airbase.

Borno and the northeast generally support the political opposition instead of the governing power. A credible presumption is that most Nigerians in the northeast would support Mohammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) against incumbent Goodluck Jonathan and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). However given Boko Haram’s presence, it is unclear whether many in Borno will actually be able to cast ballots. Indeed, a large scale Boko Haram attack on Maiduguri, with the loss or destruction of the airport and the airbase, would be a major blow to the Nigerian government and could have consequences for the February 14 elections. It would also reinforce the widespread view among Nigerians outside the northeast that the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan is failing to provide for the security of its citizens, a view that increases support for Buhari in parts of Nigeria that have previously not supported him.

In this pre-election period, Boko Haram has been a political football between the PDP and the APC. Boko Haram’s perspective appears to be ‘a plague on both your houses.’ It may have tried to assassinate Buhari and the Shehu of Borno, and it has also threatened death to Jonathan many times.

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Posted January 30, 2015 at 4:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigeria's army failed to protect Baga's civilians despite warnings that militants were going to attack, rights group Amnesty International has said.

Some reports say as many as 2,000 people died in Boko Haram's raids on the north-eastern town this month, but the government puts the toll at 150.

Amnesty quotes an unnamed senior army source as saying the Islamist militants told residents about the offensive.

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Posted January 28, 2015 at 5:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now, with the new offensive in the Dontesk and Luhansk People’s Republics, Moscow is looking to decisively win the battle in the Donbas (the name for these two regions) by propagating terrorism and political instability across Ukraine. The terrorists’ training takes place at Novaya Rus (New Russia) coordinating centres in the Russian cities of Belgorod, Tambov, Taganrog, and Rostov; in Moldova’s frozen conflict zone of Transdniestr; and in Crimea’s port of Sevastopol, home of the Black Sea Fleet. Captured terrorists from the Svat group, who were active in the Mariupol region, have testified to attending training camps in Sevastopol. There, they say, they were taught how to build bombs, wage guerrilla urban warfare, and conduct reconnaissance and intelligence operations behind enemy lines. The Russian military intelligence service (GRU) and Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) lead the training.

At their training, the terrorists are given five strategic goals. First, blow up train lines and key government buildings, launch small-scale hit-and-run attacks on offices at military–industrial plants, and bomb pro-Ukraine rallies, military recruiting centres, and National Guard training facilities. Second, destabilize the country and provoke panic using whatever means at hand. The third goal is to collect intelligence on the movements of Ukrainian armed forces and National Guard battalions to help plan future terrorist attacks. Fourth, terrorists are supposed to establish underground print shops to publish pro-Russian separatist leaflets and newspapers. And finally, they are told to infiltrate Ukrainian National Guard battalions.

The training, to some degree, is working. ...

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 27, 2015 at 7:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In one of his last interviews in the job he's held since February 2013, Hagel refers to the "hidden consequences" of "nonstop war" faced by American combat forces since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. He calls the situation "unprecedented in the history of this country."

He tells Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep that such a protracted combat role means that the same people keep rotating back to the front lines: "four, five, six combat tours — [the] same people."

Hagel says that when spoke with a group of six promising young U.S. military officers in a recent meeting, "five out of the six said they were uncertain over whether they were going to stay in the service and most likely would get out.

"And why? Because of family issues, because of stress and strain," he tells Inskeep.

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Posted January 26, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is Boko Haram becoming Africa’s Islamic State? In its bloodlust and ambition to hold territory, it certainly resembles the jihadists in Iraq and Syria. Boko Haram has carved out a “caliphate” the size of Belgium in the impoverished north-eastern corner of Nigeria. And like IS, it is exporting jihad across post-colonial borders...

What started as a radical but mostly political movement in 2002 has turned, especially since a heavy-handed crackdown in 2009, into a jihadist insurgency that has grown more violent every year. In April 2014 it abducted 276 girls from the town of Chibok. Some fled, some died, and many were sold into slavery or forced to “marry” fighters. Now the uprising is spreading to other countries. A week ago, 80 Cameroonians were kidnapped. Chad is sending troops to help Cameroon; Niger and Benin also feel threatened.

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Posted January 26, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigerian Islamist Boko Haram fighters have attacked the strategically important north-eastern city of Maiduguri, with dozens reported dead.

Earlier on Sunday they captured the north-eastern town of Monguno.

The BBC's Will Ross in Lagos says that with the insurgents gaining ground, Maiduguri is increasingly at risk.

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Posted January 25, 2015 at 1:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Clemson University scientists have spent the past four months scraping away a heavy layer of encrusted sand, sediment and shell from the hull of the Civil War submarine that built up over the 136 years it lay hidden beneath the Atlantic floor.

Now, for the first time in more than 150 years, the Hunley’s bare skin is visible. And its iron hull doesn’t look that much older than, say, the Cold War-era sub Clamagore.

In fact, the results of the Hunley’s deconcretion so far are picture-perfect, which means the sub looks exactly as artist Conrad Wise Chapman depicted it in an 1863 painting.

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Posted January 24, 2015 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Relations between American military trainers and specialists advising the Nigerian military in the fight against Boko Haram are so strained that the Pentagon often bypasses the Nigerians altogether, choosing to work instead with security officials in the neighboring countries of Chad, Cameroon and Niger, according to defense officials and diplomats.

Major rifts like these between the Nigerian and American militaries have been hampering the fight against Boko Haram militants as they charge through northern Nigeria, razing villages, abducting children and forcing tens of thousands of people to flee.

Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to travel to Nigeria on Sunday to meet with the candidates in Nigeria’s presidential elections, and the Pentagon says that the Nigerian Army is still an important ally in the region — vital to checking Boko Haram before it transforms into a larger, and possibly more transnational, threat.

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Posted January 24, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigeria’s campaign against Islamist Boko Haram insurgents is being hampered by “cowards” in its armed forces, its presidential security adviser said in a rare public sign of high-level unhappiness with the effort.

In its bloody uprising to carve out a breakaway Islamic caliphate, Boko Haram has seized much of Nigeria’s northeast and poses an existential threat to Africa’s most populous state and biggest energy producer, as well as at least three of its neighbors.

Boko Haram claimed a Jan. 3 attack on the town of Baga that killed scores, possibly hundreds, of civilians and left the extremists in control of the headquarters of a regional multinational force, including troops from Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

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Posted January 23, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A man purporting to be the leader of the Boko Haram Islamist group has said in a video that his fighters carried out a deadly attacks on the Nigerian town of Baga earlier this month.

The man said to be Abubakar Shekau said people were killed "as our Lord instructed us", threatening more raids.

He taunted nearby countries' leaders.

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Posted January 21, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. has said it won’t be sending soldiers to fight ISIS but some Americans have found their own way there

When the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) surrounded the Yezidi tribes on Sinjar Mountain in August last year, Dean Parker was at his job as a commercial painter in the U.S.. That evening, he saw news reports of Kurdish fighters trying to liberate the mountain.

“I made the decision right there,” says Parker, now sitting in his hotel room in the northern Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah. “I was online booking a ticket.

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Posted January 21, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Chris Kyle, often described as the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history, wrote in his autobiography that he prioritized his life in the following order: God, country, family.

But God doesn’t make a central appearance in the film “American Sniper,” which opens nationwide on Friday (Jan. 16). The film offers a few similarities to “Unbroken,” Angelina Jolie’s recent World War II epic about POW Louis Zamperini.

Both stories focus on the dramatic stories of warriors who died before the movie versions of their lives came out. Both “American Sniper” and “Unbroken” include an early scene of their families sitting in church. Both men struggle with substance abuse after returning from war.

And both films largely skirt the faith that Kyle and Zamperini said were key to their identity — and their survival.

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Posted January 18, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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