Posted by Kendall Harmon

About sunset, it happened every Friday evening on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida seacoast. You could see an old man walking, white-haired, bushy eye-browed, slightly bent.

One gnarled hand would be gripping the handle of a pail, a large bucket filled with shrimp. There on a broken pier, reddened by the setting sun, the weekly ritual would be re-enacted.

At once, the silent twilight sky would become a mass of dancing dots...growing larger. In the distance, screeching calls would become louder.

They were seagulls, come from nowhere on the same pilgrimage… to meet an old man.

For half an hour or so, the gentleman would stand on the pier, surrounded by fluttering white, till his pail of shrimp was empty. But the gulls would linger for a while. Perhaps one would perch comfortably on the old man’s hat…and a certain day gone by would gently come to his mind.

Eventually, all the old man’s days were past. If the gulls still returned to that spot… perhaps on a Friday evening at sunset, it is not for food… but to pay homage to the secret they shared with a gentle stranger.

And that secret is THE REST OF THE STORY.

Anyone who remembers October of 1942 remembers the day it was reported that Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was lost at sea.

Captain Eddie’s mission had been to deliver a message of the utmost importance to General Douglas MacArthur.

But there was an unexpected detour which would hurl Captain Eddie into the most harrowing adventure of his life. . Somewhere over the South Pacific, the flying fortress became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran dangerously low, and the men ditched their plane in the ocean.

The B-17 stayed afloat just long enough for all aboard to get out. . Then, slowly, the tail of the flying fortress swung up and poised for a split second… and the ship went down leaving eight men and three rafts… and the horizon.

For nearly a month, Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, and the weather, and the scorching sun.

They spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed their rafts. Their largest raft was nine by five… the biggest shark ten feet long.

But of all their enemies at sea, one proved most formidable: starvation. Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water. It would take a miracle to sustain them. And a miracle occurred.

In Captain Eddie’s own words, “Cherry,” that was B-17 pilot, Captain William Cherry, “read the service that afternoon, and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk, but it tapered off in the oppressive heat. With my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off.”
Now this is still Captain Rickenbacker talking… Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a seagull. I don’t know how I knew; I just knew.
“Everyone else knew, too. No one said a word. But peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at the gull. The gull meant food… if I could catch it.”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten; its intestines were used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice.

You know that Captain Eddie made it.

And now you also know...that he never forgot.
Because every Friday evening, about sunset...on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida seacoast...you could see an old man walking...white-haired, bushy-eyebrowed, slightly bent.

His bucket filled with shrimp was to feed the gulls...to remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle...like manna in the wilderness.

--Paul Harvey's the Rest of the Story (Bantam Books, 1997 Mass paperback ed. of the 1977 Doubleday original), pp. 170-172

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

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Posted November 27, 2014 at 1:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamist suicide bombers have killed an estimated 60 people in a crowded market in Nigeria. The attack comes just days after the Islamist group Al Shabab hijacked a bus in Kenya and murdered 28 non-Muslim passengers.

Could Africa go down the path of Iraq and Syria? Dr Leah Farrall, research associate at the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney and a former terrorism analyst for the Australian Federal Police, explains.

Read it all.

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

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Posted November 26, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A cyber snooping operation reminiscent of the Stuxnet worm and billed as the world’s most sophisticated computer malware is targeting Russian and Saudi Arabian telecoms companies.

Cyber security company Symantec said the malware, called “Regin”, is probably run by a western intelligence agency and in some respects is more advanced in engineering terms than Stuxnet, which was developed by US and Israel government hackers in 2010 to target the Iranian nuclear programme.

The discovery of the latest hacking software comes as the head of Kaspersky Labs, the Russian company that helped uncover Stuxnet, told the Financial Times that criminals are now also hacking industrial control systems for financial gain.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 23, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian and Muslim leaders fear more violence in the coastal city of Mombasa after the government indefinitely closed four mosques over suspected terror activities.

On Friday (Nov. 21), religious and political leaders united to urge the government to reopen the mosques. Muslim leaders accused the government of insensitivity, while Christian leaders feared being targeted in revenge attacks.

“We have always advised the government against adopting these counterproductive and draconian measures. It is unfortunate they ignored the Muslim leaders,” said Sheikh Abdulghafur El-Busaidy, the chairman of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims.

Read it all

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Kenya* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 22, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two Palestinian assailants entered a synagogue in the quiet West Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof Tuesday morning with axes, knives, and a pistol and killed at least four worshipers in the single deadliest attack on Jews since tensions in this city began escalating this summer.

Three of the dead, all rabbis, were American immigrants to Israel. The fourth was a rabbi born in Britain.

Such an attack poses a challenge not only to Israeli security forces, but also to leaders on both sides as political tensions take on an increasingly religious tinge.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 19, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The number of deaths from terrorism increased by 61% between 2012 and 2013, a study into international terrorism says.

There were nearly 10,000 terrorist attacks in 2013, a 44% increase from the previous year, the Global Terrorism Index 2014 report added.

The report said militant groups Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and the Taliban were behind most of the deaths.

Iraq was the country most affected by terrorism, the report said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 18, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Nigerian army says it has recaptured the north-eastern town of Chibok, which was seized by Boko Haram militants on Thursday.

Boko Haram fighters kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls from the village in April, sparking global outrage.

The group, which says it is fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria, has repeatedly targeted villages in Borno state in recent months.

There are reports of many Boko Haram members being killed in Sunday's raid.

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 November 16, 2014 at 4:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Watch it all.

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Posted November 15, 2014 at 4:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The crisis in Ukraine is at risk of spinning out of control, a top U.S. diplomat said, as European leaders remained split over imposing deeper sanctions on Russia for backing a rebellion that’s killed thousands of people.

Russia must stop violating a Sept. 5 cease-fire agreement signed in Minsk, Belarus, Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, told journalists today, citing a growing number of military convoys in Ukraine’s rebel-held regions and increased shelling of the Donetsk airport. Ukraine’s foreign minister said his country is prepared to defend itself after NATO warned Russia was sending combat troops across its border. Russian President Vladimir Putin denies military involvement.

“Is there a risk that the situation is getting out of control? Yes, there is that risk,” Power said. It’s “an extremely worrying period.”

Read it all.

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2 Comments
Posted November 13, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A female suicide bomber has blown herself up at a college in northern Nigeria, killing at least three people, witnesses say.

The explosion went off outside a packed lecture hall at the college in Kontagora town, the witnesses added.

Casualty figures are unclear, but lecturer Andrew Randa told the BBC he had seen four bodies.

This is the second suicide attack on a school this week - on Monday, 46 boys were killed in Yobe State.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FirePsychologySuicideReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 12, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Richard Overton, 108, is thought to be the oldest living veteran in the United States. But he’s as active as ever.

On Tuesday, shortly after he served as grand marshal in Austin’s Veteran’s Day Parade, Overton was relaxing on the porch of his Texas home — the same house he bought when he returned from World War II (he paid $4,000 for the house, Austin Fox affiliate KTBC reported in May).

This year’s parade, Overton told The Post, was “fine, lovely beautiful. The best one I’ve seen yet.”

“It made me feel good. I appreciate everything they’re doing,” Overton said. “I had my name and age on the side of the car, and they couldn’t believe it. I was still walking and talking and riding along and everything.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyMilitary / Armed Forces* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted November 11, 2014 at 7:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Thursday 17 July a Beefeater planted a single ceramic poppy in the Tower of London moat.

Since that day over 800,000 have been added and more than four million people have visited the display - many of them taking photos as the poppies continued to swell in number.

We've collected some of the pictures posted by visitors and volunteers over the last four months - creating a fascinating record of how the display evolved from a single poppy to a vast sea of crimson.

Scroll down the page to see the installation grow before your eyes...

Please do not miss this (from the Telegraph).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted November 11, 2014 at 6:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I never meant to play you this story. Let me tell you why I had to.

Every so often I record interviews as part of a school benefit. People ask me to question their parents, or grandparents, to preserve family history. The stories that emerge are a little like our series StoryCorps.

When the McHone family arranged for me to interview Sylvia and Ron of Crystal Lake, Ill., I didn't know their story. Only shortly beforehand did I learn that they wanted to set down some memories of their son, Capt. Nathan McHone, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2012 at age 29.

This recorded interview was meant to be private, but their story felt so important that I asked if I could share it. They agreed. Thousands of Americans have been through the same experience as the McHone family — but it's rare to hear it told in such a raw and honest way.

But there's no point trying to describe it. Just listen.

Listen to it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted November 11, 2014 at 6:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A record 85 entries participated in the annual Veterans Day parade in downtown Columbia Tuesday - one of the largest in the Southeast.

The parade was wending its way around Sumter and Pendleton streets Tuesday morning, starting at 11 a.m. It was set to end near the State House shortly after lunchtime.

Dignitaries included Congressman Jim Clyburn; Major Gen. Bradley Becker, commander of Fort Jackson; and Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina

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Posted November 11, 2014 at 5:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Look at them all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyMilitary / Armed Forces* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted November 11, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is a fabulous resource for this courtesy of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. There are many themes from which to choose, and various letters to see the text of and listen to. Take a moment a drink at least one in, and, if you have a moment, tell us your thoughts in the comments.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military

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Posted November 11, 2014 at 4:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today”

-- On many memorials to the dead in war worldwide, as for example that for the British 2nd Division at Kohima, India; there is a debate about its precise origins in terms of who first penned the lines

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyMilitary / Armed Forces* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military

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Posted November 11, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the nation commemorates Veterans Day, hundreds of thousands of those who served will mark the occasion by marching on canes, walkers or with replacement devices meant to supplement lost or weakened limbs. That's true in Charleston where the Ralph H. Johnson VA hospital fills more than 60,000 prosthetic prescriptions a year.

While Charleston doesn't specialize in the sort of high-tech replacement limbs that most recently have been in demand for soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, the VA does see its share of veterans coming in with needs that have gone unfilled or are now just beginning to materialize as aging catches up.

Nesbitt's story is similar to many who served in Vietnam. He joined the Army out of high school in 1966 after his life had become "shooting pool and goofing off," he admits. After boot camp, he became a forward observer for the artillery and was shipped off to Vietnam. He saw a lot of action in the Iron Triangle area about 25 miles north of Saigon.

When he left Vietnam a year later, he brought home a number of wartime ailments with him, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, exposure to Agent Orange and bouts of internal bleeding he thinks grew out of the tension of combat.

That bleeding would eventually cost him his foot.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* South Carolina

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Posted November 11, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Warrior and Warhorse from The Seventh Movement on Vimeo.

Saratoga Springs, N.Y., famous for its historic racetrack, is among the most idyllic places in America. But on a recent fall weekend, not far from the track, horses were serving a different mission: retired thoroughbreds were recruited to help returning veterans at Song Hill Farm. A group from the US Army 2nd Battalion, 135th infantry, united in grief over the death of a fellow solider, gathered for the first time in five years to be part of Saratoga Warhorse, a three-day program that pairs veterans with horses. Tom Rinaldi reports the emotional story of the veterans, paired with their horses, undergoing a rebirth of trust and taking a first step toward healing.

Watch it all, and, yes, you will likely need kleenex--KSH.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* General InterestAnimals

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Posted November 11, 2014 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

2 Comments
Posted November 11, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

25 year-old Kyle Carpenter should not be alive today. But he is, and he wears his scars with pride. After nearly 40 surgeries and two and a half years in the hospital, he got back to fighting shape and completed the Marine Corps Marathon. This summer, Kyle became the second living Marine since the Vietnam War to receive the nation's highest military decoration -- the Medal of Honor.

Watch it all and you can read more about the amazing Marine veteran Cpl. Kyle Carpenter there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted November 11, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My favorite resource--read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryMilitary / Armed Forces* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted November 11, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can find four pages of graphs here. There is also a very helpful interactive state by state map there. There are approximately 417,554 Veterans in South Carolina where I live (last year there were 421,500)--check the numbers for your state if they apply.

There is also a map to find Veterans Day events near where you live.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. Government

0 Comments
Posted November 11, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a world tormented by tension and the possibilities of conflict, we meet in a quiet commemoration of an historic day of peace. In an age that threatens the survival of freedom, we join together to honor those who made our freedom possible. The resolution of the Congress which first proclaimed Armistice Day, described November 11, 1918, as the end of "the most destructive, sanguinary and far-reaching war in the history of human annals." That resolution expressed the hope that the First World War would be, in truth, the war to end all wars. It suggested that those men who had died had therefore not given their lives in vain.

It is a tragic fact that these hopes have not been fulfilled, that wars still more destructive and still more sanguinary followed, that man's capacity to devise new ways of killing his fellow men have far outstripped his capacity to live in peace with his fellow men.Some might say, therefore, that this day has lost its meaning, that the shadow of the new and deadly weapons have robbed this day of its great value, that whatever name we now give this day, whatever flags we fly or prayers we utter, it is too late to honor those who died before, and too soon to promise the living an end to organized death.

But let us not forget that November 11, 1918, signified a beginning, as well as an end. "The purpose of all war," said Augustine, "is peace." The First World War produced man's first great effort in recent times to solve by international cooperation the problems of war. That experiment continues in our present day -- still imperfect, still short of its responsibilities, but it does offer a hope that some day nations can live in harmony.

For our part, we shall achieve that peace only with patience and perseverance and courage -- the patience and perseverance necessary to work with allies of diverse interests but common goals, the courage necessary over a long period of time to overcome...[a skilled adversary].

Do please take a guess as to who it is and when it was, then click and read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

2 Comments
Posted November 11, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Governor of Nations, our Strength and Shield:
we give you thanks for the devotion and courage
of all those who have offered military service for this country:

For those who have fought for freedom; for those who laid down their lives for others;
for those who have borne suffering of mind or of body;
for those who have brought their best gifts to times of need.

On our behalf they have entered into danger,
endured separation from those they love,
labored long hours, and borne hardship in war and in peacetime.

Lift up by your mighty Presence those who are now at war;
encourage and heal those in hospitals
or mending their wounds at home;
guard those in any need or trouble;
hold safely in your hands all military families;
and bring the returning troops to joyful reunion
and tranquil life at home;

Give to us, your people, grateful hearts
and a united will to honor these men and women
and hold them always in our love and our prayers;
until your world is perfected in peace
through Jesus Christ our Savior.

--The Rev. Jennifer Phillips

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchMilitary / Armed Forces* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military

1 Comments
Posted November 11, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was injured in a strike in Iraq's western Anbar province on Saturday, Iraqi security officials told The Associated Press.

The officials said that they did not know the extent of the top militant's injuries. Their accounts could not be independently confirmed, and it was unclear if the strike that might have wounded him was carried out by U.S. forces, which had targeted Islamic State leaders in the north of the country on Friday.

American officials said on Saturday that military aircraft had struck a convoy of armed trucks near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul the day before, and that they believed the vehicles had been ferrying some of the group's commanders. A spokesman for the U.S. Central Command said he could not confirm whether Baghdadi had been in the convoy, which was destroyed in the raids, officials said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq

0 Comments
Posted November 9, 2014 at 4:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Remembrance Sunday, the second Sunday in November, is the day traditionally put aside to remember all those who have given their lives for the peace and freedom we enjoy today. On this day people across the nation pause to reflect on the sacrifices made by our brave Service men and women.

Remembrance Sunday will fall on Sunday 9 November in 2014.

Read it all and make sure to look at other links on the site including how the nation remembers.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

3 Comments
Posted November 9, 2014 at 6:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Probably the most famous and widely read war poem in English and also known, in extract form, as the Ode of Remembrance, For the Fallen was first published in The Times on September 21 1914, just a few weeks after the First World War began on July 28 that year. Binyon was too old to enlist as a soldier in the Great War, but volunteered in hospitals helping wounded French soldiers, and wrote For the Fallen in Cornwall shortly after the Battle of the Marne.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryPoetry & LiteratureReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

1 Comments
Posted November 9, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Queen has led the nation in remembering service personnel who have died during conflicts, as Remembrance Sunday services are held around the UK.

A two-minute silence was observed before the monarch laid a wreath at the Cenotaph in central London.

Events are being held across the UK and abroad, including in Afghanistan.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryMilitary / Armed ForcesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEschatology

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Posted November 9, 2014 at 5:48 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even as the Nigerian military stepped up efforts at beating back the extremist Boko Haram sect from the areas it currently occupies, including the commercial border town of Mubi in Adamawa state, the militants are intensifying attacks on remote communities and villages, residents have told PREMIUM TIMES.

Also, there are reports that three retired Generals of the Nigerian Army narrowly escaped death when Boko Haram insurgents stormed their village asking for their whereabouts.

The insurgents did not succeed in their mission as they (the army Generals) were reportedly not around when the Boko Haram terrorists struck their village of Gashala in Hong Local Government, few kilometers away from Mubi town.

Read it all.

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

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Posted November 8, 2014 at 4:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[The Diocese of South Carolina]...is blessed with many military families, and countless retirees and veterans and their families. On Nov 9, the Sunday before Veteran's Day, we ask that you remember and say a prayer of thanksgiving and for God's safety for all those who have served our nation, all those still serving, and especially for their families.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryPastoral Care* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military

0 Comments
Posted November 8, 2014 at 8:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ukraine’s east lurched back toward open war as the government in Kiev and pro-Russian rebels accused each other of starting major offensives in the region.

The Ukrainian government said there were 26 outbreaks of fighting yesterday between its forces and separatists in the east, while the rebels said the Kiev government’s troops had gone on a large-scale military push there.

The standoff is coming to a head after Ukraine and its allies accused separatists of undermining peace efforts with Nov. 2 elections in Donetsk and Luhansk. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Nov. 5 that Ukraine’s “civil war” isn’t subsiding as cities continue to come under shelling and the civilian death toll rises.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted November 6, 2014 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. officials are weighing whether to broaden the air campaign in Syria to strike a militant group that is a rival to the Islamic State and that is poised to take over a strategically vital corridor from Turkey.

Extremists from the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra group were said Monday to be within a few miles of the Bab ­al-Hawa crossing in northwestern Syria on the Turkish border, one of only two openings through which the moderate Free Syrian Army receives military and humanitarian supplies provided by the United States and other backers.

Over the weekend, rebels said Jabhat al-Nusra forces swept through towns and villages controlled by the Free Syrian Army in Idlib province, west of Aleppo. Rebel groups associated with the Free Syrian Army were routed from their main strongholds, with scores of fighters fleeing toward Turkey or defecting to join the militants, according to opposition activists.

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted November 4, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 1999, Desert Storm veteran Dale Sutcliffe asked his father-in-law, a Korean War veteran, if he would attend a hypothetical reunion with his old Army unit.

"I'd be on the next plane to Korea to see those guys," Sutcliffe remembers his father-in-law, David Mozingo, saying.

That led Sutcliffe, now of Mount Pleasant but living in Boston at the time, to think about developing an online registry for veterans to reconnect with one another.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* South Carolina

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Posted November 3, 2014 at 3:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I wrote about poppies last year. You write about them at your peril....

This week I read a piece about an ITV newscaster who had opted not to wear a poppy on screen. It wasn't that she was against it: she did wear one when not in front of the camera. Her argument was that ITV didn't allow her to wear anything as a broadcaster that identified her as a supporter of other charities such as breast cancer awareness, mental health or child poverty (I've forgotten her actual examples). So why, she argued, should the poppy, paid for and worn in support of the Royal British Legion, be an exception to that rule?

I admire the logic and the ethics, but I'm afraid she is misreading the symbolism. She hasn't quite cottoned on to what the public mostly think they are doing when they wear the poppy. In social sciences-speak, she has got the semiotics wrong.

The poppy is far more than the logo of a particular veterans' charity. As the poppy field in the Tower of London moat demonstrates, it is not quite like most other symbols.

Read it all.

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Posted November 2, 2014 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram has claimed that the 219 schoolgirls it kidnapped more than six months ago have converted to Islam and been "married off", shocking their families and confirming their suspicions about a supposed ceasefire and deal for their release.

The Islamist group's leader, Abubakar Shekau, made the claim in a new video obtained by AFP on Friday in which he also denied government assertions of an agreement to end hostilities and peace talks.

The mention of the girls, who were abducted from the remote northeastern town of Chibok on April 14, is the first by Shekau since May 5, when about 100 of the teenagers were shown on camera.

Read it all.

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Posted November 1, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryCanada

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Posted November 1, 2014 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Galway Kinnell, who was recognized with both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award for a body of poetry that pushed deep into the heart of human experience in the decades after World War II, died on Tuesday at his home in Sheffield, Vt. He was 87.

The cause was leukemia, his wife, Barbara K. Bristol, said.

Mr. Kinnell came of age among a generation of poets who were trying to get past the modernism of T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound and write verses that, as he said, could be understood without a graduate degree. He succeeded well enough that all of the volumes of poems he published from 1960 to 2008 — evocations of urban streetscapes, pastoral odes, meditations on mortality and frank explorations of sex — are still in print.

Read it all.

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

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Posted November 1, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The protests that on Friday ended the rule of Burkina Faso’s long-serving president may have seemed like another African drama in an isolated corner of the continent. However, they have created a possible problem for the US and France, which rely heavily on the west African nation in their fight against Islamic extremism in the semi-desert south of the Sahara.

Much as the Arab spring toppled western allies in north Africa such as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, what demonstrators called Burkina’s “black spring” led to the resignation of President Blaise Compaoré. His departure removes an important regional supporter of both Washington and Paris, the former colonial power, in the volatile Sahel, where the jihadist threat is growing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaBurkina Faso* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 31, 2014 at 3:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S.-led airstrike campaign is hardly a plausible solution to quelling the encroaching and horrific reign of Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, says the Rev. Nadim Nassar, the lone Syrian Anglican minister and director of the London, England-based, Christian charity, Awareness Foundation.

“It can’t be the solution because it only adds to the casualties and destruction to the region,” said Nassar, who spoke at a gathering Oct. 28 at St. John’s (Stone) Church. “The only solution is to dry out external resources that it relies on and all the veins that are feeding it.”

Military response merely provides a distraction, he said, ­­ a “show that they are doing something” —while the situation worsens daily as more than a million dollars a day is pumped into the operations of the Islamic State (known as ISIS or ISIL), a radical group of insurgents in Iraq and Syria and an offshoot of the Islamist militant organization al-Qaeda.

The alternative, said Nassar, is to pinpoint the source of its funding rather than to raise arms.

Read it all.

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

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Posted October 31, 2014 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While no one would argue that the United States has more bombs, bullets and boots, the question is, “Why does the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) continue to gain territory and to recruit young people to their cause from the western world?”

The Jihadists see themselves in a struggle against evil and we are the face of their evil. We are attempting to win on the battlefield but we are losing the battle for hearts and minds.

Former Senator Birch Bayh referred to the Jihadist ideology as “empty” on Fox New Sunday (October 26th) If only. If only he was correct. We may kill their soldiers but their ideology, while evil, is robust, certain and virulent. The western world in general and the U.S. lack the courage of their convictions because they lack convictions. We have no vision and are lacking in moral authority. Do we honestly think that we could reinstate the draft to compel young men once again to fight this war?

Read it all.

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Posted October 29, 2014 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As he donned the distinctive red and white Glengarry hat worn by members of his father’s regiment, 5-year-old Marcus Cirillo walked slowly behind his the flag-draped casket alongside the family, friends and colleagues of fallen soldier Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.

Thousands of mourners lined Hamilton’s streets to say goodbye at the regimental funeral held for Cirillo on Tuesday, watching scores of military personnel slowly march alongside the reservist’s casket in a procession to Christ’s Church Cathedral.

In an emotional service inside a church filled with family, fellow soldiers and dignitaries, Prime Minister Stephen Harper paid tribute to the 24-year-old member of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, killed while standing guard at the National War Memorial last Wednesday.

Harper called Cirillo’s death at the memorial — intended to be a national place of solemn remembrance — a “bitter and truly heart-wrenching irony.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryCanada* Theology

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Posted October 28, 2014 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They were among the final holdouts. Even as many of their neighbors fled the violence that engulfed Iraq after the American invasion, the three men stayed put, refusing to give up on their country or their centuries-old Christian community.

Maythim Najib, 37, stayed despite being kidnapped and stabbed 12 times in what he believed was a random attack. Radwan Shamra, 35, continued to hope he could survive the sectarian war between his Sunni and Shiite countrymen even after losing two friends shot by an unknown gunman who left their bodies sprawled in a Mosul street. And a 74-year-old too frightened to give his name said he remained despite the trauma of spending three anguished days in 2007 waiting to learn if his kidnapped 17-year-old son was dead or alive.

Now all three men from Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, and its environs have fled with their families to Jordan, forced out by Islamic State fighters who left them little choice. After capturing the city in June, the Sunni militant group gave Christians a day to make up their minds: convert, pay a tax, or be killed.

Read it all.

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Posted October 27, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For six months the world has waited for news of the fate of more than 200 girls abducted by Nigerian militant group Boko Haram. As the Nigerian government insists a deal to release the "Chibok girls" is being negotiated, three girls who escaped their captors have told their story to BBC Hausa.

Lami, Maria and Hajara were at school in Chibok, north-eastern Nigeria, when they were kidnapped in April. Best friends Lami and Maria escaped by jumping from the back of a truck. Hajara was taken to a camp but later fled with another girl.

To protect the girls' identity we have portrayed their story as an animation, and provided an edited transcript of their account below.

The girls' names have been changed for their protection.

Read it all.

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Posted October 27, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iraq's fractured army has begun to regroup and stage modest, localized attacks on the Islamic State militants who routed them last spring and summer, but they are unlikely to be ready to launch a major counteroffensive for many months, senior U.S. military officials say.

"We've seen them start to act like an army," one official said Thursday in a lengthy exchange with a group of Washington reporters who were invited to U.S. Central Command headquarters for the command's most extensive briefings on operations in Iraq and Syria.

The Iraqi security forces, trained for years by the U.S. prior to its departure from Iraq in 2011, have suffered sectarian divisions, a breakdown in leadership and a loss of confidence. To compound the problem, they surrendered tanks, armored personnel carriers and other U.S.-supplied equipment several months ago when IS fighters overtook Mosul.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq

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Posted October 24, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Reflecting on how other soldiers are responding to the deaths of Cirillo and Vincent, the Bishop Ordinary to the Canadian Forces, Peter Coffin, emphasized the professionalism of Canadian troops. “[They] know that they stand in danger. In our country it’s not really expected, but when something like this happens, they just react with the professionalism that is so characteristic of their work.”

However, Coffin was also clear about the grief that soldiers feel when a comrade falls, noting that “Military units are very close, and what happens to one happens to all. That closeness is such that the pain is widely shared and carried together.”

When asked if this event is likely to change anything about the way the Canadian Forces operate, he said, “People are always aware that this can happen, and I don’t think there will be any changes.” He added that “our Parliament Hill has always been an open place, and we don’t want it to become a fortress.”

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Posted October 24, 2014 at 5:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With all Canadians my heart is very heavy with the news of the killing of a Canadian soldier, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, while on honour guard duty at the National War Memorial in Ottawa today.

This follows all too soon on the killing of another member of the Canadian Armed Forces in Quebec, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, just days ago.

I ask your prayers for these men, for their loved ones stricken with grief, and for the Canadian Armed Forces chaplains who are ministering to them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryCanada

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Posted October 22, 2014 at 5:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted October 20, 2014 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

the Pentagon announced Sunday it is putting together a 30-person rapid-response team that could provide quick medical support to civilian healthcare workers if additional cases of the Ebola virus are diagnosed in the United States.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered U.S. Northern Command Commander Gen. Chuck Jacoby to assemble the team, which was requested by the Department of Health and Human Services, said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby.

The team will consist of 20 critical-care nurses, five doctors trained in infectious disease, and five trainers in infectious-disease protocols.

Read it all.

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Posted October 19, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This “different spirit” is the key to Welby’s thinking, and it is not one that can be entrusted to our politicians. Whether we choose to accept religious belief or not, it does not alter the reality that religious faith and ideologies hold far more power than guns and bombs. In the first three centuries of the Church it had no armies and pitched no battles, yet it overcame the Roman Empire through love and a gospel of God’s peace. Religious leaders need to be given a place at the top table as much as military commanders. Their insights into the role of religious belief as a driving force in individuals’ lives, along with their status, hold great value and potential to change the stakes.

There is an onus, too, on all of our religious leaders to take the initiative and become more outspoken, addressing those both inside and outside of their respective religions:
Religious leaders must up their game and engage jihadism in religious, philosophical and ethical space. Religious justifications of violence must be robustly refuted. That is, in part, a theological task, as well as being a task that recognises the false stimulation, evil sense of purpose and illusory fulfilment that deceive young men and women into becoming religious warriors. As we have seen recently, many religious leaders have the necessary (and very great) moral and physical courage to see the need for an effective response to something that they have condemned. It is essential that Christians are clear about the aim of peace and the need for joint working and that Muslim leaders continue explicitly to reject extremism, violent and otherwise. Any response must bring together all those capable of responding to the challenge.
Justin Welby talks about treasuring and preserving our values, but also of reshaping them. This would appear to be contradictory, but the context suggests that he is referring to both the values that have built peace and progress and also those that we have developed that bear the hallmarks of selfishness and self-preservation.

This is the battle that Justin Welby is calling for.

Read it all.

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Posted October 17, 2014 at 3:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A leading Nigerian evangelical, Samuel Kunhiyop, author of African Christian Ethics,serves as general secretary of Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), a 5-million-member denomination in Nigeria. ECWA has been doing frontline evangelism in Nigeria since 1954. In recent years, this group has planted hundreds of congregations in Muslim areas of Nigeria. Kunhiyop spoke with Timothy C. Morgan, CT's senior editor for global journalism.

Is Nigeria as bad as we read in news headlines?

It’s even worse. Hundreds of churches have been destroyed, over 50 in Kano alone. One church and ministry has been built seven times and destroyed seven times. Another has been built three times and destroyed three times. Pastors have been murdered in their houses. Another was murdered in the church during a prayer service.

The situation is much worse further north in Yobe and Borno states, the headquarters of Boko Haram. People have fled residences where their forefathers lived for generations. Christians have been the victims.

Read it all.

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Posted October 16, 2014 at 4:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Sudanese Air Force dropped four bombs on an Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) complex in the Nuba Mountains on Friday (Oct. 10), church leaders said.

“The bombs have completely destroyed our church compound in Tabolo,” the Rev. Youhana Yaqoub of the ECS in Al Atmor, near the Tabolo area in South Kordofan state, told Morning Star News. “A family living at the church compound miraculously escaped the attack, although their whole house and property were destroyed.”

Kamal Adam and his family thanked God for their safety as they watched their house burn from the bombing, he said.

Read it all.

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Posted October 16, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This struggle is not simply a religious conflict, but a terrible mix of ethnicity, economics, social unrest, injustice between rich and poor, limited access to resources, historic hatreds, post-colonial conflict and more. It is impossible to simplify accurately. We cannot tolerate the complexities and so we seek to hang the whole confusion on the hook of religious conflict. And because even to do that on a global scale is complicated, we focus on one area, at present Iraq and Syria, while others—Sudan, Nigeria and most recently Israel and Gaza—are forgotten. Or, equally dangerously, we deny it is religious, in the illusion that religion makes it unfixable.

The clear religious and ideological aspects of the conflicts have to be tackled ideologically, including through the leadership of those who see the world in religious terms. Religious leaders must up their game and engage jihadism in religious, philosophical and ethical space. Religious justifications of violence must be robustly refuted. That is, in part, a theological task, as well as being a task that recognises the false stimulation, evil sense of purpose and illusory fulfilment that deceive young men and women into becoming religious warriors. As we have seen recently, many religious leaders have the necessary (and very great) moral and physical courage to see the need for an effective response to something that they have condemned. It is essential that Christians are clear about the aim of peace and the need for joint working and that Muslim leaders continue explicitly to reject extremism, violent and otherwise. Any response must bring together all those capable of responding to the challenge.

It is hard to exaggerate this point, and it is one that was picked up recently by Richard Dannatt, former Chief of the General Staff of the British army. We should be quite hesitant about considering this only as a war of self-defence. The justification for our use of military force rests principally in the extreme humanitarian need of the local communities.

Read it all.

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Posted October 16, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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Posted October 15, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At least 17 Ebola cases have been treated outside of West Africa in the current outbreak, including two Dallas hospital workers who have tested positive for Ebola. Most of these involve health and aid workers who contracted Ebola in West Africa and were transported back to their home country for treatment. Four cases were diagnosed outside of West Africa: A Liberian man who began showing symptoms four days after arriving in Dallas, a Spanish nurse who became ill after treating a missionary in a Madrid hospital and the two Dallas hospital workers who were involved in the treatment of the Liberian man. These cases are compiled from reports by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders and other official agencies.

Read it all and examine the map.

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Posted October 15, 2014 at 1:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Attalaf al Nour, a farmer who lives in Iraq’s Sunni heartland, long enjoyed a simple life that revolved around livestock, crops and trips to the city to sell his grain.

But since July, when Islamic State militants swept into Iraq, his world has been upended by new geographic and political borders that don’t yet appear on any map. They are fracturing Iraq’s fragile cohesion by forcing thousands of families to cross, at their peril, militant checkpoints to reach their markets, schools and jobs.

“Iraq is broken like never before, thanks to Daaesh,” said Mr. Nour, using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State. “We are all divided and our lives are now upside down.”

Read it all.

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Posted October 15, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Iraqi provincial leader has issued a plea for US ground forces to head off total collapse in the country's largest province, a swathe of territory that could serve as a springboard for an assault on Baghdad by forces of the so-called Islamic State.

The call by Sabah al-Karhout, the president of Anbar's provincial council, will test the nerve of officials in the Iraqi and American capitals. It comes as a rash of suicide bombings in Baghdad late on Saturday killed more than 50 people and wounded nearly 100, mostly in Shiite districts of the city.

Set beside the ongoing failure of US-led airstrikes to turn the tide in the battle for Kobane, a small Kurdish community in the north of neighbouring Syria, and desperate fighting in the oil refinery town of Baiji, north of Baghdad, Mr Karhout's appeal will leave many in the region and beyond wondering how the US and its allies intend to save an entire country, when seemingly they can't save a single town.

Read it all from the SMH.


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5 Comments
Posted October 12, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With food and jobs scarce, and their savings depleted, Syrian Christians and their neighbors are struggling to provide for their families.

Despite their own trauma, many believers are choosing to stay in their beleaguered communities and reach out in love amid their neighbors' pain.

Christians in Syria have been able to distribute food with the help of Baptist Global Response, a Southern Baptist-related relief organization. Families also are receiving blankets and medical care. Children who have been out of school for years once again are being educated.

Read it all.

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Posted October 11, 2014 at 1:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The US-led coalition has unleashed more than 40 airstrikes on Anbar since August, helping drive Isis back from the critical Haditha dam.

However, the strikes have failed to blunt the militants’ overall advance, which has accelerated dramatically in the past three weeks. They have taken two military bases and a string of strategic towns, putting the Iraqi government’s already tenuous presence in Anbar at risk. Daily attacks on Iraqi security forces are taking place around the provincial capital, Ramadi.

After the capture of Hit last week, Ramadi and Haditha are now the only two government-held enclaves standing in the way of an unbroken Isis supply line running along the Euphrates river from Raqqa, its de facto capital in Syria, to Baghdad.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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Posted October 11, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Turkey is warning that the city of Kobani, which sits on the Syria-Turkey border, could at any moment fall to fighters affiliated with the Islamic State. That development would represent a huge setback for the U.S.-led air campaign in Syria and could portend a humanitarian catastrophe. Kurdish forces are warning of a possible massacre if Kobani falls to the Islamic State, which would solidify the group's control of a large chunk of territory along Syria's border with Turkey.

Kobani is now the sole remaining Kurdish-controlled town along a huge stretch of the Syrian border. To understand how isolated it is from the rest of the country, consider the map below. Syrian Kurds have in recent weeks been battling with Islamic State militants elsewhere in Syria, but it is in Kobani where that fighting has entered a key phase, as the militant group attempts to consolidate its rule in the north. Kobani is the small blot of yellow due east from where the Euphrates crosses into Syria.

Read it all.

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1 Comments
Posted October 9, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This year Robert Wilson has been back to Helmand to mark the end of Britain's long conflict. His pictures are going up on huge billboards across Britain this week, some close to military bases, others not. For the images, Wilson was looking for ordinary human details to personalise the war, and has chosen sites across the UK where he can juxtapose his photographs with scenes of normal life.

For example a billboard showing a makeshift military bus stop in Camp Bastion will go up on the side of a bus stop in Yeovil and a photograph of a makeshift garrison church will be displayed opposite a church in Camden, London.

Read it all and make sure to enjoy the photographs.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle East

1 Comments
Posted October 6, 2014 at 7:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The American official coordinating the international coalition fighting the Islamic State said on Friday that the Iraqi military would not be ready for a campaign to retake Mosul, the largest Iraqi city under insurgent control, for as much as a year.

Mosul has become a symbol of the strength of the Islamist insurgency, which has made the city its stronghold, and of the failure of the Iraqi security forces, which wilted in June as militants swept across the Syrian border and overran the city as they pushed toward Baghdad.

The broad timeline given by the official, retired Gen. John R. Allen, seemed to reflect the immense challenges facing the Iraqi military command and its international partners, including about 1,600 American troops deployed by President Obama, as they seek to rebuild the Iraqi security forces.

Read it all.

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Posted October 5, 2014 at 11:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Air strikes ordered against Islamic State (IS) terrorists in Iraq have the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Several Free Church leaders have expressed their doubts, however.

Recalled to Parliament last Friday, MPs voted in favour of Britain's third intervention in Iraq in 24 years. Since then, RAF Tornado jets have flown a number of sorties into Iraq. It was revealed on Tuesday that British planes had bombed vehicles and fighters in Iraq for the first time, aiding Kurdish forces who are battling IS in north-western Iraq.

Speaking in Friday's debate in the House of Lords, Archbishop Welby said that this was a just cause. But he warned that the world would not be able to defeat Islamist extremism by force of arms alone.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 3, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamic State extremists have herded hundreds of women to be given to its fighters in Syria as a reward or sold as sex slaves and have summarily executed women in professions, according to the United Nations.

About 500 women and girls of the Yezidi and Christian minority communities were given to Islamic State fighters or trafficked for sale in markets in Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, according to a report published today by the UN mission in Iraq and the world body’s human-rights office in Geneva.

“Women and girls are brought with price tags for the buyers to choose and negotiate the sale. The buyers were said to be mostly youth from the local communities,” according to the 29-page report, which cites testimony from witnesses and surviving victims. “Apparently ISIL was ‘selling’ these Yezidi women to the youth as a means of inducing them to join their ranks.” ISIL is an acronym for Islamic State’s former name.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 2, 2014 at 3:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamic State insurgents in Iraq have carried out mass executions, abducted women and girls as sex slaves, and used children as fighters in systematic violations that may amount to war crimes, the United Nations said on Thursday.

In a report based on 500 interviews, it also said Iraqi government air strikes on the Sunni Muslim militants had caused "significant civilian deaths" by hitting villages, a school and hospitals in violation of international law.

At least 9,347 civilians had been killed and 17,386 wounded so far through September, well over half of them since the Islamic insurgents also known as ISIL and ISIS began seizing large parts of northern Iraq in early June, the report said.

Read it all.

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

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Posted October 2, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Vittorio] Roscio hasn't visited the construction site for ages because it is too dangerous. Instead, he reads the reports here, behind the walls of the Italian government's campus in Kabul. Over the years, the walls became thicker and thicker, the barbed wire higher and the security protocols stricter. In 2007, Rocio could still walk relatively freely through the streets of Kabul. Now, though, he climbs into a bullet-proof Toyota SUV even for the 30 meters to the Italian Embassy.

Like all international workers in Kabul, Roscio lives in the equivalent of a high security cage and is rarely allowed to go out. As such, his influence over the road to Bamiyan has fallen markedly over the years.

"It is unfortunately extremely difficult to understand Afghanistan from the perspective of Kabul," Roscio says tiredly. "And it is completely impossible to understand Afghanistan from Europe or America. No chance." He gets into one of the bullet-proof Toyotas and is driven to the Italian Embassy. The wall opens briefly to let him out and closes again immediately.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistan

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Posted October 1, 2014 at 3:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nearly two months on since the US began air strikes against Islamic State (IS) positions in northern Iraq, there are signs that the militants are adapting to the new reality.

Witnesses and tribal sources in IS-controlled areas have told Reuters news agency of a drop in the number of militant checkpoints and fighters using mobile phones less, apparently to avoid being targeted by air raids.

Reuters also reported that militants have been seen to ditch conspicuous convoys of armoured vehicles in favour of motorcycles.

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

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Posted October 1, 2014 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Canon White, the vicar of St George's Church - the only Anglican church in Iraq - said civilians were being killed by coalition air raids in Iraq.

He said: "I've never known the city like it is at the moment.

"Streets which are usually choc-a-bloc with traffic, cars and people are almost empty. People are too fearful to even leave their homes.

"We are at a crisis point. People know IS are coming nearer. People are being killed by the (air) attacks of the coalition."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq

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Posted September 29, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will preach at a special service for journalists who have died while reporting from conflict zones.

It will be the first time an Archbishop of Canterbury has attended the annual service, which has been held at St Bride’s Church on Fleet Street in London for the last seven years.

Held shortly before Remembrance Sunday each year, the service commemorates reporters, photographers, cameramen and support staff who have died on the frontline.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchGlobalizationMediaReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 29, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The village in eastern Congo lies at the epicenter of one of Africa’s most brutal and longest-running wars. It is both military base and refugee camp, both killing field and sanctuary, a place woven from chaos and resilience. Civilians trapped in relentless violence struggle to live. Death arrives in many forms — guns, machetes, disease and hunger.

It is a war that has claimed an estimated 5 million lives, many from starvation, disease and other conflict-related causes, since 1998 — more casualties than the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq combined, and more than any conflict since World War II. It is a war that the world’s largest and most expensive U.N. peacekeeping mission has failed to quell. The peacekeepers, heavily financed by Washington, are now engaged in their most ambitious effort in years to end the fighting.

And yet the war remains invisible to most outsiders, who have grown weary of the unending cycle of violence. Today, relief groups have trouble raising money to help Congo as more publicized upheavals in Syria, South Sudan and elsewhere grab the world’s attention.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPovertyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAfricaRepublic of Congo

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Posted September 28, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For more than three years, Barack Obama has been trying to avoid getting into a fight in Syria. But this week, with great tracts of the Middle East under the jihadist’s knife, he at last faced up to the inevitable. On September 23rd America led air strikes in Syria against both the warriors of Islamic State (IS) and a little-known al-Qaeda cell, called the Khorasan group, which it claimed was about to attack the West. A president who has always seen his main mission as nation-building at home is now using military force in six countries—Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

The Syrian operation is an essential counterpart to America’s attacks against IS in Iraq. Preventing the group from carving out a caliphate means, at the very least, ensuring that neither of these two countries affords it a haven (see article). But more than the future of IS is at stake in the streets of Raqqa and Mosul. Mr Obama’s attempt to deal with the jihadists is also a test of America’s commitment to global security. It is a test that he has been failing until now.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 28, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"But in the here and now, there is justification for the use of armed force on humanitarian grounds, to enable oppressed victims to find safe space. ISIL – and for that matter Boko Haram and others – have as their strategy to change the facts on the ground so as to render completely absurd any chance of helping the targets of their cruelty.

"It is clear from talking this week with Christian and other leaders across the region that they want support. The solidarity in the region is added to by the important statement from the Grand Imam of al-Azhar on Wednesday.

"The action proposed today is right, but we must not rely on a short-term solution on a narrow front to a global, ideological, religious, holistic and trans-generational challenge. We must demonstrate that there is a positive vision far greater and more compelling than the evil of ISIL and its global clones. Such a vision offers us and the world hope, an assurance of success in this struggle, not the endless threat of darkness."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 28, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

William Hague today warned of a “mushrooming” threat from Islamist terrorism as two Tornado strike aircraft carried out the RAF’s first combat mission over Iraq since Parliament backed military action.

The jets took off from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus armed with Paveway laser-guided bombs and full authority to attack ground targets in Iraq. Accompanied by one Voyager tanker aircraft, the Tornados returned safely to their base.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said they were not called upon to drop any bombs during this sortie, adding: “The intelligence gathered by the Tornados’ highly sophisticated surveillance equipment will be invaluable to the Iraqi authorities and their coalition partners.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted September 27, 2014 at 5:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New U.S.-led air strikes against Islamic State fighters failed to stop them from pressing their assault on a strategic Syrian town near the Turkish border on Saturday, hitting it with shell fire for the first time.

The U.S. Central Command (Centcom) said the air strikes destroyed an IS building and two armed vehicles near the border town of Kobani, which the insurgents have been besieging for the past 10 days.

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

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Posted September 27, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even with their technological head start, the U.S. and its allies are coming late to this battle for hearts and minds. Social media’s volume, velocity and verisimilitude have left the U.S. struggling to counter it and mine the communication for reliable information.

By the end of this year, the Geneva-based International Telecommunications Union projects that 55 percent of the world’s 2.3 billion mobile broadband subscriptions will be in developing countries, where unemployed youth can use them to access messages from Islamic State and other extremists.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationMediaScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 27, 2014 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Nigerian military said a man who appeared in recent videos claiming to be the leader of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, was killed in a battle last week.

The man, identified as Mohammed Bashir, died when government troops defending the northeastern town of Konduga killed some top Boko Haram commanders in an attack on a convoy of rebel vehicles on Sept. 17, Nigeria’s Defence Headquarters said late yesterday in an e-mailed statement.

Bashir “has been acting or posing on videos as the deceased Abubakar Shekau, the eccentric character known as leader of the group,” the army said.

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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 September 25, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Baltic countries are registering a dramatic increase in Russian military provocations, rattling nerves in a region which fears it could be the next frontier after Ukraine in Moscow’s quest at asserting its regional power.

Nato fighters policing Baltic airspace were scrambled 68 times along Lithuania’s borders this year, by far the highest count in more than 10 years. Latvia registered 150 “close incidents”, cases where Russian aircraft were found approaching and observed for risky behaviour. Estonia said its sovereign airspace had been violated by Russian aircraft five times this year, nearing the total count of seven over the previous eight years.

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

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Posted September 24, 2014 at 5:47 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian leader, they say, got everything he wanted by attacking Ukraine overtly in Crimea and covertly in the southeast.

The vague cease-fire terms in the southeast are likely to only freeze the conflict. It could leave Russia’s thuggish proxies running the area and create a permanent geographic Taser that Moscow could use to zap Ukraine at will, leaving it unstable and less than sovereign.

The association agreement with the European Union — described by its advocates as the catalyst for broad reform — has been delayed until the beginning of 2016 because of Russian objections, leaving its fate uncertain.

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

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Posted September 24, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States and several Middle East partners pounded Islamic State targets in Syria Tuesday with waves of warplanes and Tomahawk cruise missiles in an aggressive and risky operation marking a new phase in the conflict.

A statement issued by the U.S. Central Command early Tuesday said that a “mix of fighter, bomber, remotely-piloted aircraft and Tomahawk” cruise missiles destroyed or damaged multiple Islamic State targets in several parts of Syria, where a civil war has been raging for more than three years.

The U.S. statement said “partner nations,” including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, “participated in or supported” the operation. The involvement of these regional allies are key for the legitimacy and logistics of the operation.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 23, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The dispatch of troops to west Africa may seem an odd priority when American forces are preparing to confront jihadists in Iraq and Syria and are stretched thin elsewhere. Ebola is a disease that is usually absent from human populations, has been quickly stamped out in the past and in its worst recorded outbreak has thus far caused 3,000 known deaths (see article). Moreover it is unlikely to spread widely in rich countries with good health-care systems. Set against killers such as HIV, the virus that kills some 1.6m people a year, or tuberculosis (TB), which takes another 1.3m lives, an expensive fight against Ebola may seem a misallocation of resources.

Yet Ebola is now growing exponentially, with the number of new cases roughly doubling every three weeks or so. In Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, it is thought to be doubling every two weeks. Previous outbreaks were usually in rural villages where it was easier to contain. At this rate of progress, small numbers quickly become big ones, and there is a real risk of the disease spreading to cities such as Lagos, which is home to more than 10m people. The longer Ebola is allowed to replicate in humans, the greater the risk that it will become more contagious. Some virologists fret that it might even acquire the ability to be transmitted through the air by coughs and sneezes. Although this seems unlikely, nobody wants to find out just how quickly Ebola can adapt to humans.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 22, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Barely three years after Britain helped to free Libya from Col Gaddafi's tyranny, anti-Western radicals hold sway. How could Britain's goal of a stable and friendly Libya have been thwarted so completely?

Step forward a fabulously wealthy Gulf state that owns an array of London landmarks and claims to be one of our best friends in the Middle East.

Qatar, the owner of Harrods, has dispatched cargo planes laden with weapons to the victorious Islamist coalition, styling itself "Libya Dawn".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAfricaLibyaEngland / UKMiddle EastQatar

4 Comments
Posted September 21, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Bishop of the diocese on the Niger, Rt. Rev. Dr. Owen Nwokolo, has predicted that if the activities of rampaging Boko Haram insurgents continues unchecked, it would result into the break-up of Nigeria.

Although, he would not want Nigeria’s disintegration, Bishop Nwokolo stressed that it might be inevitable if it becomes too difficult for all the citizens to live together, “as we are now trying to observe with the ongoing slaughtering of innocent Nigerians in the name of religion.”

The Bishop made this known at the St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Omagba Phase 1, Onitsha, Anambra State, during the confirmation and induction into the Girls Guide and Mothers Union. He regretted that a lot would go wrong if Nigeria breaks up.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States has made the same mistake in evaluating fighters from the Islamic State that it did in Vietnam — underestimating the enemy’s will, according to James Clapper, the director of national intelligence.

Clapper’s comments came in a telephone interview Wednesday, in which he summarized the elements of a new National Intelligence Strategy released this week. Clapper also answered some broader questions about intelligence issues confronting the country.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 19, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sketched out scenarios in which U.S. Special Forces might need to embed with Iraqi or Kurdish troops engaged in direct combat with Islamic State fighters.

Under questioning from lawmakers, Dempsey acknowledged that Obama has vowed not to send U.S. ground combat forces back into Iraq, less than three years after the president fulfilled a campaign promise to extricate the military from a long, costly and unpopular war there.

But the general revealed that U.S. commanders have already sought permission, on at least one occasion, to deploy small teams of U.S. advisers into battle with Iraqi troops. Dempsey also suggested that, while Obama has held firm, he might be persuaded to change his mind.

Read it all from the Washington Post.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 5:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan means that fewer American soldiers are in harm's way. But new data from the Department of Defense suggests that the drawdown has done little to solve the serious problem of military suicides. The rate of military self-inflicted deaths has stayed roughly the same even as combat deaths have fallen.

Last year alone, 475 active service members took their own lives according to a report published last week by the Department of Defense. In the same year, 127 soldiers lost their lives in the line of duty reported icasualties.org — a website that has been documenting war deaths since the Iraq War in 2003. That's the lowest level since 2008.

The same Department of Defense report said that 120 personnel took their own lives in the first quarter of 2014, a rate of nearly one soldier every day. That compares with 43 soldiers who lost their lives on the front line between January 1 and September 11, 2014.

Read it all.


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

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 6:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was the time of unraveling. Long afterward, in the ruins, people asked: How could it happen?

It was a time of beheadings. With a left-handed sawing motion, against a desert backdrop, in bright sunlight, a Muslim with a British accent cut off the heads of two American journalists and a British aid worker. The jihadi seemed comfortable in his work, unhurried. His victims were broken. Terror is theater. Burning skyscrapers, severed heads: The terrorist takes movie images of unbearable lightness and gives them weight enough to embed themselves in the psyche.

It was a time of aggression. The leader of the largest nation on earth pronounced his country encircled, even humiliated. He annexed part of a neighboring country, the first such act in Europe since 1945, and stirred up a war on further land he coveted. His surrogates shot down a civilian passenger plane. The victims, many of them Europeans, were left to rot in the sun for days. He denied any part in the violence, like a puppeteer denying that his puppets’ movements have any connection to his. He invoked the law the better to trample on it. He invoked history the better to turn it into farce. He reminded humankind that the idiom fascism knows best is untruth so grotesque it begets unreason.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaEngland / UK--ScotlandEuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 19th was a century of national consolidations — in the United States, Italy (the Risorgimento under Cavour), Germany (Bismarck hammered together numerous principalities and other entities) and Belgium, which was invented from various odds and ends. The 20th century, however, brought the breakup of empires — the British, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, Russian and then Soviet empires. The disintegrative impulse continues in, among other places, Spain, where Catalonians are asserting their particularities as Basques have long done.

Were Scotland now to become a sovereign nation, as it was until 1603, it would have a GDP ranking 16th among what would then be the 29 nations of the European Union (just behind Ireland and ahead of the Czech Republic) and would be the 20th-most populous. And the United Kingdom would have to redesign its flag, the Union Jack....

Scotland’s Royal Arms banner, emblazoned with a lion rampant, flies over Balmoral Castle when the Queen is not there. Which means it could be used even more after Thursday.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

French President François Hollande was set to order reconnaissance flights over Iraq on Monday as he kicked off an international conference aimed at shoring up a coalition to fight Islamic State militants.

On opening the conference, Mr. Hollande noted U.S. President Barack Obama's call for countries to join a broad military coalition to combat the militant group, which has seized territory straddling Iraq and Syria.

"Many countries have responded in the region and beyond. France will do its part," Mr. Hollande said, flanked by Iraqi President Fouad Massoum.

Read it all from the WSJ.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The story of how the Central Intelligence Agency came to operate a secretive program of rendition, detention, and interrogation under President George W. Bush has been made public by a number of investigations into the abuses that resulted. In 2007, the Red Cross detailed the methods used to interrogate suspects at CIA-run “black sites.” In 2010, the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility strongly criticized the Bush administration lawyers who wrote the legal memos permitting the CIA to use torture. And last year, the Constitution Project Task Force on Detainee Treatment—a nonpartisan group that included a number of former military and intelligence personnel—analyzed what is known about mistreatment of detainees and the policy decisions that led to such ugly consequences.

Now a new report is expected from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which is charged with overseeing the activities of the CIA.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Late in the morning of the Tuesday that changed everything, Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney was on a runway at Andrews Air Force Base and ready to fly. She had her hand on the throttle of an F-16 and she had her orders: Bring down United Airlines Flight 93. The day’s fourth hijacked airliner seemed to be hurtling toward Washington. Penney, one of the first two combat pilots in the air that morning, was told to stop it.

The one thing she didn’t have as she roared into the crystalline sky was live ammunition. Or missiles. Or anything at all to throw at a hostile aircraft.

Except her own plane. So that was the plan.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted September 11, 2014 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Remember that the more specific you can be, the more the rest of us will get from your comments--KSH.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetHistoryUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

9 Comments
Posted September 11, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than half of China’s citizens expect their country to be at war with Japan in as little as six years, according to a new public opinion poll that finds a widening sense of mistrust and hostility between the two countries.

53 percent of Chinese respondents and 29 percent of Japanese respondents expected a war to break out by the year 2020, according to a joint survey conducted by newspaper China Daily and Genron, a Japanese NGO.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChinaJapan

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Posted September 10, 2014 at 3:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To defeat a disciplined and fanatical insurgency inspired by ideological fervour anywhere, disciplined leadership is fundamental. Without such leadership the security forces are reluctant to engage. When rampant corruption is added to the mix, it is no wonder that West Africa’s putatively most powerful military force has been unable and unwilling to reduce Boko Haram to the pitiful state in which it existed four years ago. Now that the security forces have the benefit of outside help and sophisticated surveillance techniques, it should be easy. But if armies are not fully at one with their political leaders, and if armies believe themselves to be abused, there is no fight.

Victory over Boko Haram is only possible if Mr. Jonathan makes such a victory a national cause and if he and his close followers find a way to strengthen the legitimacy of the state and of key state institutions such as the military. This would involve Mr. Jonathan demonstrating a real belief in the integrity of the nation, casting aside party and ethnic considerations, and showing that he really is the leader of all Nigerians, not just southerners, Christians or the denizens of Abuja.

Until and unless Mr. Jonathan rises to as yet untouched heights of leadership, Maiduguri may well be overrun, and a jejune and greedy movement constitute Nigeria’s first breakaway state. The 19th-century Kanemi-Bornu emirate will then have been recreated in the guise of a fanatical caliphate with no real indigenous roots.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 9, 2014 at 5:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ebola is spreading exponentially in Liberia, with thousands of new cases expected in the next three weeks, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

Conventional methods to control the outbreak were "not having an adequate impact", the UN's health agency added.

At least 2,100 people infected with Ebola have died so far in the West African states of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria this year.

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Posted September 9, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

DREW HINSHAW: That’s right. What they’ve been able to do here is empty out an entire countryside. The very far northeast part of Nigeria. Town after town after town is abandoned and Boko Haram has been able to do that just by sort of constantly, like you said, starting with hit and run attacks and eventually moving entire units into these towns scaring lots of people out.

You hear over and over again when you talk to people from these towns, the only people left in those towns are basically the elderly people, who don’t really want to move, or can’t move and don’t really pose a threat to Boko Haram. What’s interesting is they are raising their flags in some places, not all places. They’re not really sticking around and governing them, like you had in northern Mali.

They kind of go in, they make some weak effort to impose Sharia law, they tell women how to dress and then they go back into the caves and mountains and forests where they’re camped out. They don’t want to be sitting ducks in these towns.

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Posted September 8, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr Putin’s first choice was to suborn Ukraine without invading it, but by demonstrating his willingness to use force, he has sown fear—and, for Mr Putin, fear is the basic currency of politics. A puny, divided response has emasculated the West, which he thinks is bent on weakening and encircling Russia. For him, Russia’s post-Soviet history has been a catalogue of American-inflicted humiliation, which it is his mission to reverse. He wants his neighbours to be weak more than he wants Russians to be prosperous; he prefers vassals to allies.

This world view—a noxious compound of KGB cynicism and increasingly messianic Russian nationalism—propelled him into Ukraine. The idea that his adventurism will end in the Donbas is as naive as the theory that he would be satisfied when his troops wrenched Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia in 2008. This week Mr Putin rattled his sabre at Kazakhstan, still ruled by the elderly Nursultan Nazarbayev: any succession squabble would be an opportunity. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, small, ex-Soviet countries, have Russian-speaking minorities of the kind Mr Putin has undertaken to “protect”. These Baltic states joined NATO in 2004. But what if a Russian-financed separatist movement sprang up, a Baltic government claimed this amounted to an invasion and its NATO allies refused to help? The alliance’s bedrock—its commitment to mutual self-defence—would be shattered.

Mr Putin’s revanchism must therefore be stopped in Ukraine.

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Posted September 8, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every day around sunset, dozens of residents of this small Lebanese Christian village on the border carry their automatic rifles and deploy on surrounding hills, taking up positions and laying ambushes in case Muslim extremists from neighboring Syria attack.

"We all know that if they come, they will slit our throats for no reason," said one villager as he drove through the streets of Qaa, an assault rifle resting next to him.

For months, Lebanese Christians have watched with dread as other Christians flee Islamic extremists in Syria and Iraq, fearing their turn will come next. Fears multiplied after militants from Syria overran a border town last month, clashing with security forces for days and killing and kidnapping Lebanese soldiers and policemen.

Now, for the first time since the Lebanese civil war ended in 1990, Lebanese Christians are rearming and setting up self-defense units to protect themselves, an indication of the growing anxiety over the expanding reach of radical Islamic groups.

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Posted September 7, 2014 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...when Bishop Francis Y. Kalabat walked quietly from a side door into Mother of God’s sanctuary, it was with a grim sense that maybe now, finally, he and his flock would no longer be howling into the abyss. As he had written last month in an open letter that was posted in the church’s lobby, “We wish to scream, but there are no ears that wish to hear.”

For the last decade, in fact, the Chaldean Catholics of Iraq — members of an Eastern Rite church that is affiliated with Roman Catholicism while retaining its own customs and rites — have been suffering at the hands of the same kind of terrorists who killed Mr. Sotloff and Mr. Foley. During that period, the total Christian population of Iraq, the largest share of which is composed of Chaldean Catholics, has dropped to about 400,000 while as many as a million, by some estimates, have fled.

Churches have been destroyed, monasteries attacked, entire cities purged. Congregations have been bombed during worship. The bishop of Mosul, Paulos Faraj Rahho, was abducted and executed by Al Qaeda in Iraq six years ago. So the recent atrocities visited upon Iraqi Christians by ISIS are nothing remotely new. All that is new is an awareness of them outside the Chaldean-American enclaves of San Diego and metropolitan Detroit.

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Posted September 6, 2014 at 11:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States is preparing to launch a "major" border security program to help Nigeria and its neighbors combat the increasing number and scope of attacks by Islamic extremists, a senior U.S. official for Africa said Thursday.

Nigerian insurgents have begun attacking villages in neighboring Cameroon and have been seizing land in northeast Nigeria where they proclaimed an Islamic caliphate.

Assistant Secretary of State Linda Thomas-Greenfield told a meeting of U.S. and Nigerian officials in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, that "Despite our collective efforts, the situation on the ground is worsening.

"The frequency and scope of Boko Haram's terror attacks have grown more acute and constitute a serious threat to this country's overall security," she said. "This is a sober reality check for all of us. We are past time for denial and pride."

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Posted September 4, 2014 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Five months after Boko Haram abducted more than 200 girls in Nigeria’s Borno State, the Islamic extremist group has begun occupying churches in the country’s northeastern region, church officials there said.

The militant group, which church leaders and analysts view as an African variation of the Islamic State, is also beheading men, forcing Christian women to convert to Islam and taking them as wives, officials said.

“Things are getting pretty bad,” said the Rev. John Bakeni, the secretary of the Maiduguri Roman Catholic diocese in northeastern Nigeria. “A good number of our parishes in Pulka and Madagali areas have been overrun in the last few days.”

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Posted September 3, 2014 at 11:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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