Posted by Kendall Harmon

What a strange week it’s been in Hollywood. Tuesday night we actually had a thunderstorm. For those who don’t know Southern California, that’s like saying House Republicans think our country might have a race problem. Or Woody Allen is considering property in Malibu. Or the new Missal really seems to be catching on. (“Under our roof,” translators? “Under our roof”?)

There was even lightning, for God’s sake.

Then yesterday, hack-beleaguered Sony Pictures actually stopped distribution of major motion picture “The Interview,” maybe forever, after the United States’ five major theater chains refused to show it for fear of a 9/11-style attack on any theater that did.

To say the Internet was not happy with this series of events would be an understatement. Hollywood writer/director/producer Judd Apatow called the chains’ decision “disgraceful” and wondered, along with many others, what’s next: “Will they pull any movie that gets an anonymous threat now?” Many called it a sad day for creative expression, and feared that this forebodes a dangerous new self-censorship. Rob Lowe compared Hollywood to Neville Chamberlain (to which the nation of Czechoslovakia replied, “Mmm, Rob, I think not”). Newt Gingrich went so far as to call the hackers’ threat an “act of war,” forgoing the need for an act of war to involve an actual act. Forget the pesky details, there’s really never a bad time for a little preemption.

Read it all from America.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetLaw & Legal IssuesMovies & TelevisionScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaNorth Korea* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted December 20, 2014 at 10:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They are angry at the loss, frustrated that the battle for Mosul is on hold and that Baghdad has failed to support them. In the meantime, they have backing from the Americans who have visited this camp and offered to start training soon.

"Maybe in the next week. Maybe," says Hamdani. But the Americans have made no promises to provide the weapons Hamdani says he needs. "The weapons come from Baghdad."

So far, Baghdad has delivered one small shipment of 1,000 Kalashnikov rifles and 30 heavy machine guns. It's not nearly enough, says Hamdani, against a dangerous enemy that is well-armed with U.S. weapons seized in Mosul when the Iraqi army collapsed in June. The fleeing Iraqi army left behind millions of dollars worth of U.S. armaments.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq

0 Comments
Posted December 19, 2014 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Obama announced sweeping changes to U.S. policy with Cuba on Wednesday, moving to normalize relations with the island nation and tear down the last remaining pillar of the Cold War.

Under the new measures, the United States plans to reopen its embassy in Havana and significantly ease restrictions on travel and commerce within the next several weeks and months, Obama said. Speaking from the White House, he declared that a half-century of isolation of the communist country “has not worked.”

“It’s time for a new approach,” he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-Watch* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.CaribbeanCuba* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 17, 2014 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The ruble meltdown and accompanying economic slump marks the collapse of Putin’s oil-fueled economic system of the past 15 years, said an executive at Gazprombank, the lender affiliated to Russia’s state gas exporter. He asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The higher interest rate will crush lending to households and businesses and deepen Russia’s looming recession, according to Neil Shearing, chief emerging-markets economist at London-based Capital Economics Ltd.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussia* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 17, 2014 at 6:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Russia is in the middle of a currency crisis. On December 15th its currency lost 10% of its value, having already lost about 40% this year. The central bank increased interest rates sharply, but instead of calming the market the hike was seen as a sign of desperation. The following day the rouble was at one point down a further 20% (and ended the day 10% lower). The central bank reckons that GDP could fall by 5% in 2015. Inflation is currently at 10% but is expected to accelerate rapidly. Russians are panic-buying; banks are running out of dollars. What’s gone wrong with Russia’s economy?

The problems were long in the making. Russia is highly dependent on oil revenues (hydrocarbons contribute over half the federal budget and two-thirds of exports) and over the past decade it has failed to diversify its economy. It is horribly corrupt, has weak institutions and no real property rights. The Kremlin distributes oil money via state banks to firms and projects which it selects on the basis of their political importance and their pro-Putin stance, rather than trusting the market to allocate capital to the most efficient firms. If you look at wealth, Russia is the world’s second-most unequal country. Its working-age population is shrinking fast.

Western sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s meddling in Ukraine have dealt a blow to the economy. But the proximate cause of the turmoil of the last few days is concern about Russia's corporate sector. During 2015 Russia’s firms must repay $100 billion-worth of foreign debt. But as the rouble falls, paying back dollars becomes more difficult.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsThe Banking System/SectorEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 17, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

She took the call herself the night the Islamic State came into Mosul. ‘Convert or leave or you’ll be killed,’ she was told. The callers, identifying themselves as Isis members, knew the household was Christian because her husband worked as a priest in the city. They fled that night.

Like many of their Christian neighbours they sought refuge in the monastery of St Matthew. But Isis took that over, tore down the Cross, smashed all Cross-decorated windows, used it for their own prayers and flew their black flag on top of the church. Across what was Nineveh, Iraq’s Christians spent this year fleeing from village to village, hoping to find safety somewhere.

This woman’s husband and son continued their ministry among the scattered congregations of Iraq. But the wife, who took the call, is now in west London. We spoke there one Sunday morning earlier this year. To attend the morning service in a Syriac church and hear the Lord’s Prayer uttered in the original Aramaic in which Jesus taught it is profoundly moving at any time. But this year the prayers of this beleaguered congregation of Iraqi Christians in Acton have taken on a terrible, plaintive urgency.

Read it all.

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

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Posted December 17, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Russia has lost control of its economy and may be forced to impose Soviet-style exchange controls after "shock and awe" action by the central bank failed to stem the collapse of the rouble.

“The situation is critical,” said the central bank’s vice-chairman, Sergei Shvetsov. “What is happening is a nightmare that we could not even have imagined a year ago...."

Lars Christensen, from Danske Bank, said the Kremlin’s actions have led to the “absolutely worst possible outcome” since the botched move is enough to do grave damage, without solving anything. “They should have let the currency go rather than killing the economy. Investment is in freefall, and I fear this shock is going to be even bigger than in 2008-2009. Nothing suggests that oil is going to rebound quickly this time,” he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsThe Banking System/SectorEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 16, 2014 at 3:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The findings suggest the supply glut that has sent prices tumbling could soon vanish as the oil majors delay big-ticket production projects — the lifeblood of future petrol supplies, heating fuels and chemicals.

Brent, the international benchmark, has fallen more than 45 per cent since mid-June amid surging US shale production, strong supply from the Opec cartel and weak oil demand in Europe and Asia.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSaudi Arabia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 16, 2014 at 5:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the high-stakes contest between the United States, the biggest shale oil producer, and Saudi Arabia, the biggest oil exporter, America has blinked first.

The OPEC refusal to cut production at its November meeting was widely seen as the declaration of a price war against booming U.S. shale oil producers, which had sent their country’s oil production soaring. Saudis had watched as their market share dropped precipitously in the world’s biggest oil-consuming nation, and they wanted to send a clear message across the global energy market that they weren’t about to back off.

Oil prices have been in freefall ever since. Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, sank another 3 per cent Friday to $61.85 (U.S.) a barrel, while West Texas intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, dropped 3.6 per cent to $57.81, extending its slide from well over $100 a barrel in the summer.

If the global oil standoff pits the industry stalwart Saudi Arabia against the surging U.S. rival, other global players are coping with the pricing fallout, including Canada. Oil companies around the world are being forced to revisit their spending and production plans for 2015, and in the offices towers of downtown Calgary, those changes are already well under way.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.CanadaMiddle EastSaudi Arabia

3 Comments
Posted December 15, 2014 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the school year began in Mosul, the largest city controlled by the Islamic State, the extremists sent a message to teachers: Report for work or lose your jobs.

Then, directives bearing the group’s black flag and hung in schools dictated the new order. Males and females were split up. Girls were to swap their gray skirts and blouses for black gowns and veils that covered their faces. Sports were only for boys. Civics classes were scrapped. At the University of Mosul, one of Iraq’s top institutions, the schools of fine arts, political science and law were deemed un-Islamic and shuttered.

The teachers were in a bind. Not showing up meant defying a group that often murdered its foes. But going to work could anger the government in Baghdad, which still paid their salaries. Out of fear, many teachers complied.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted December 15, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

By October, it was becoming clear to us and others that Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Emirate allies could not afford to continue petro-pricing business as usual with sectarian wars exploding out of control, threatening the entire region.

In particular, they were infuriated that the Shia regime in Syria was being propped up by Iran and Russia. Moreover, Iran seemed to be getting closer to becoming a nuclear power with each month. Amid the chaos, the Islamic State terrorists had suddenly become a formidable challenge to the entire region, and they were getting increasing revenues from oil properties they had seized.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussiaMiddle EastIranSaudi ArabiaSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted December 14, 2014 at 12:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Chinese construction workers are welding the final floor of the Juba’s tallest building — a $22m project with a rooftop cigar club for the dusty city’s elite. Around the South Sudanese capital billboards advertise whisky, banks and mobile phones.

This does not look like a city at war.

But Juba defies first impressions. Come nightfall, more than 30,000 mostly ethnic Nuer shelter in makeshift tents at UN bases across the city. Many of their original homes have been destroyed or taken over by ethnic rivals since civil war broke out on December 15 last year; some neighbourhoods have become ghost towns.

Read it all.

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

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Posted December 14, 2014 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S.-led coalition of countries involved in airstrikes against Islamic State will never bomb the jihadist group out of existence, a Nobel peace prize winner warned Friday.

Shirin Ebadi was one of Iran’s first female judges. She was demoted after the 1979 Islamic revolution and went on to become the country’s most prominent rights campaigner. She won the Nobel price in 2003 and was forced into exile in 2009.

After spending most of her adult life coping with and combating the impact a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam has had on herself, her family and her homeland, she is convinced that there is no military remedy to a problem that appears to intensify with every passing year.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 14, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than a thousand participants carried touches and banners through the Christmas-decorated streets of Vienna, with messages such as “Freedom of Religion is a Human Right”, “100 millions Christians suffer persecution”, “Stop the Genocide against Christians”, and not least the leading banner with the text “Murder — Rapes — Burning churches — Forced Islamization”, a clear protest against Islamist behaviour in many countries. The march was led by a priest holding a large crucifix, while Dr. Elmar Kuhn of CSI gave a speech while walking. The Maltese Church, which is located in the middle of the march, was rang its bells in support.

In addition to the usual flyers with information about the situation, the organizers also distributed buttons with the Arabic letter ‘N’. This is the sign that Islamic State and other Islamists paint on the walls of homes and other property belonging to Christians, marking them as targets of attacks, abductions, killing and destruction — a sign now used extensively in the formerly Christian country of Syria. This practice strongly resembles the methods used by German national socialists during the 1930’s to mark up Jewish property. This is a cause of reflection in times where Christians even in the West frequently need police protection due to their conversion from Islam, or due to being too clear and outspoken in their criticism of Islamic ideology.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeAustria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted December 12, 2014 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fighting the "evil giant" of climate change and ending violence against women and girls should be among the key themes for new global development goals from 2015, the Bishop of Sheffield has told the House of Lords.

The Rt Rev Steven Croft said there had been "major" achievements as a result of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by world leaders in 2000.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General

0 Comments
Posted December 12, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the ECB is split over whether to embark on full-blown quantitative easing as a way to achieve growth. Such a policy is strongly opposed by Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann and other hawkish members of the bank’s governing council.

They believe the central bank’s existing measures, which include buying covered bonds and asset-backed securities and auctioning cheap cash to eurozone lenders, are enough to lift inflation to the ECB’s target of below but close to 2 per cent.

But analysts think the disappointing take-up at Thursday’s auction has weakened their hand. “The result reduces the strength of the ECB hawks’ argument that existing policy measures are enough,” said Nick Matthews, economist at Nomura.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 12, 2014 at 5:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Google is shutting down its Google News service in Spain next week in response to new legislation that requires the search giant to pay for content from Spanish news organizations.

Richard Gingras, the head of Google News, announced the decision on Google’s Europe blog Thursday. “With real sadness,” he wrote, Spanish publishers will be removed from the site on Dec. 16.

The change to Spain's copyright law, which goes into effect in January, allows Spanish newspapers and other publishers to charge Google each time their content appears on Google News. The so-called “Google tax” applies to all news aggregation sites, including Menéame, Google’s Spain-based rival.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesMedia* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 12, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams has waded into the debate over withdrawal from the European Union insisting it could leave the UK “dangerously dependent” on the City.

He said leaving the EU would be a “deeply regressive” step and claimed Britain would have almost nothing else “distinctive” to offer outside it. Going it alone could turn the country into an “offshore financial facility”, he added.

The former Archbishop also said it was also becoming impossible to have a “reasonable conversation” about immigration in the UK at present.

And he suggested that hostility towards the EU was being fuelled by an increasingly assertive sense of English identity, partly as a response to Scottish nationalism.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

6 Comments
Posted December 10, 2014 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An exhaustive, five-year Senate investigation of the CIA’s secret interrogations of terrorism suspects renders a strikingly bleak verdict of a program launched in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, describing levels of brutality, dishonesty and seemingly arbitrary violence that at times brought even agency employees to moments of anguish.

The report by the Senate Intelligence Committee delivers new allegations of cruelty in a program whose severe tactics have been abundantly documented, revealing that agency medical personnel voiced alarm that waterboarding methods had deteriorated to “a series of near drownings” [among many other things]...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralSenate* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

50 Comments
Posted December 9, 2014 at 2:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The British embassy in Cairo suspended public services on Sunday for security reasons, an embassy spokesperson said.

The embassy declined to give more details due to the sensitive nature of the matter but one official said efforts were under way to make sure it could reopen “safely”. It was not clear when the facility would reopen.

The British embassy website said the office of the British Consulate-General in Alexandria was operating as normal.

Days earlier, the US embassy had released a statement warning staff not to stray too far from their homes.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastEgypt* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 7, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A deadly fire is all that betrayed a suspected Chinese hacker group in Kenya believed to be trying to infiltrate banks, mobile money transfer networks, and ATMs.

So far, police have arrested and charged 77 Chinese nationals in connection with activities in an upscale Nairobi suburb. During the raids, police found soundproof rooms fashioned like military dorms that were full of computer equipment and outfitted with high-speed Internet connections, which is uncommon in Kenya.

The discovery of what police call a cybercrime command center comes as Kenya is experiencing a wave of computer crime, with criminal hackers carrying out phishing campaigns to extort money from citizens and launching attacks on banks. The arrests are a fortunate break for a police force struggling to contain the problem.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenyaAsiaChina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 5, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

First, the report makes it clear that there is no avoiding the need for the exercise of soft power, and in fact the exercise of hard power (from sanctions to the use of violence) is itself only effective as an addition to the impact of soft power. It is soft power in its many ramifications that makes it possible for this country to exert a benevolent and beneficial influence in the world around.

I saw an example of that when at the degree awards ceremony for Coventry University some two or three weeks ago, one of the best modern universities: 60 per cent of students were from overseas; they are a powerful source of earnings, and they will return home with a brilliant education and an exceptional experience of the UK, in most cases they will be our friends for life.

Secondly, the report points especially to the rapid increase in complexity and what it calls hypersensitivity in the modern world. There has been an introduction of information technology, with more than five billion mobile telephones around the world; we have the growth of access to the world-wide web, which means you can sit in Kaduna and look at what is happening in London, you can look at the shops in New York, you have access to cultural influences of the most extraordinary kind; and the possibilities of this both for governments and for non-state actors are ever more powerful with the advent of the sophistication of modern computers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetGlobalizationReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 5, 2014 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If you think the fight against Ebola is going well, here's a grim new number: 537.

That's how many new infections were reported in Sierra Leone in the past week. It's the highest weekly tally in any country since the West African outbreak began.

International governments and aid groups have scrambled to open Ebola treatment centers in the country. But, because of safety concerns, many of these centers are accepting only a fraction of the number of patients they were built to serve.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAfricaSierra Leone* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 5, 2014 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, joined Pope Francis and other world Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish leaders in Rome today to sign a historic declaration to end modern slavery.

The ground-breaking Global Freedom Network – which launched with backing from Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis in March 2014 [link] – brings together faith leaders in a commitment to eradicate modern slavery by 2020 throughout our world and for all time.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 3, 2014 at 7:51 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Air strikes carried out by the US-led coalition on Islamic State (IS) have inflicted "significant" damage on the group's capabilities, US Secretary of State John Kerry says.

Mr Kerry said the campaign against the militant group could take years, but that the coalition would remain engaged "as long as it takes".

The US said earlier that Iran, not a coalition member, had carried out air strikes against IS in Iraq.

However, Iran has denied this.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted December 3, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The sea is a dangerous way to enter Europe. Nearly 3,000 people have died crossing the Mediterranean this year. Those rescued by the Chios Coast Guard arrive to a bare-bones shelter with no toilet, shower or running water. There, I visit Joud al-Bakri, an 18-year-old aspiring pilot from Aleppo. She sits on the floor of a wooden shack the size of a bedroom.

How many people are in this little house here?

JOUD AL-BAKRI: I guess 20.

KAKISSIS: Twenty.

AL-BAKRI: Maybe, yeah.

KAKISSIS: Is it comfortable?

AL-BAKRI: No, it's not. Actually, when you're sleeping, you just can't move.

KAKISSIS: The shack is crowded. Everyone sleeps on the floor.

AL-BAKRI: It's really hard even to sleep here without anything. And some people are sleeping outside, which is freezing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGreeceMiddle EastSyria* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 1, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Foreigners are dreaming big, but the locals seem a bit overwhelmed with all the interest in a new law that was passed legalizing marijuana in the last year.

The law allows Uruguayans to register to grow their own weed, or join growing clubs — cooperatives of up to 45 people — for personal consumption.

Under President Jose Mujica's maverick leadership, Uruguay went further than any country in the world: The government will plant, cultivate and ultimately distribute marijuana, too.

Mujica says decades of failed drug war policies necessitated a radical new approach to curb drug violence and addiction. If the government sells dope, the idea goes, the criminals can't. But the reality has proven complicated, and some advocates say the government has bitten off more than it can chew.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionGlobalizationHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentarySouth AmericaUruguay* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 30, 2014 at 12:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The number of people killed by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has risen to 6,928, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says.

The toll has increased by over 1,000 since the WHO's last report on Wednesday, but it includes unreported deaths from earlier in the outbreak.

Experts say the infection rate is more significant that the death toll, as it reflects how the virus is spreading.

Infection rates are decreasing in Liberia, but are high in Sierra Leone.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaGuineaLiberiaSierra Leone* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 30, 2014 at 12:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In November a third American was beheaded by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which has taken control of parts of those two countries. Peter Kassig was captured in Syria, where he was working as a volunteer medical assistant, trying to address what a top United Nations official has called “the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era.”

According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as many as 13.6 million people have been displaced by the conflict in Iraq and by civil war in Syria. Over 3 million Syrian refugees are now encamped in the neighboring countries of Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. Nearly 2 million Iraqis have been displaced this year.

The refugees put a huge burden on their host countries. Lebanon, a country of 4 million, has over 1 million registered refugees. With winter approaching, these refugees face bleak prospects. Their plight is exacerbated, the UNHCR claims, by an underfunded relief effort, which faces a shortfall of $58 million. The charity Oxfam charges the United States with negligence in supporting refugee efforts, claiming that it has contributed only 60 percent of its fair share.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 29, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Although Saudi Arabia and several of the Gulf states are also major oil exporters, they differ from other producers in two important ways. First, their cost of extracting oil is extremely low, which means that they will be able to produce profitably at the current price – or even at a much lower price. Second, their enormous financial reserves allow them to finance their domestic and international activities for an extended period of time, as they seek to transform their economies to reduce their dependence on oil revenue.

A further decline in the price of oil could have major geopolitical repercussions. A price of $60 a barrel would create severe problems for Russia in particular. President Vladimir Putin would no longer be able to maintain the transfer programs that currently sustain his popular support. There would be similar consequences in Iran and Venezuela.

It is not clear whether these countries’ current regimes could survive a substantial and sustained future decline in oil prices. By contrast, it is obvious that oil-importing countries would benefit greatly – as they already are.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 29, 2014 at 7:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr. Basuki, a 48-year-old Protestant whose grandfather was a tin miner from Guangzhou, China, was sworn in Wednesday [of last week] at the State Palace by President Joko Widodo.

None of Jakarta’s previous governors have been Christian or of Chinese ancestry, except for one who served briefly as an appointee half a century ago (like Mr. Basuki, he was both). And despite Indonesia’s history of discrimination — and, at times, savage violence — against ethnic Chinese, Mr. Basuki says he considers neither his faith nor his ethnicity to be a political handicap.

“When people told me ‘the Chinese are a minority,’ my father would say to tell them that we are more patriotic,” Mr. Basuki said in a recent interview. “If one day Indonesia is occupied by a foreign country, my father said he would be in front of the front line to fight for our independence again.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChinaIndonesia* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 24, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Barack Obama’s immigration plan offers “a word of mercy and a measure of justice,” said United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcaño, co-chair of the denomination’s interagency task force on immigration reform.

The plan means undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for more than five years and have children who are U.S. citizens or residents “can now come out of the shadows,” said Carcaño, episcopal leader for the California-Pacific Conference.

The United Methodist Council of Bishops has long supported immigration reform and encouraged local communities “to participate in ministries of mercy and justice,” said Bishop Julius C. Trimble, co-chair of the interagency task force on immigration reform and episcopal leader of the Iowa Conference.

Trimble said critics have attacked the president’s action before, saying reform is the responsibility of Congress.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted November 22, 2014 at 5:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anglicans and Episcopalians from Communion provinces worldwide are being invited to share their thoughts on the ministry priorities and qualities of the next Secretary General of the Anglican Communion.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Consultative CouncilAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Theology

2 Comments
Posted November 20, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sen. Mary Landrieu’s bid to pass a Keystone XL pipeline bill fell short by the slimmest of margins Tuesday, leaving the $8 billion pipeline still on the table for the ascendant Republican Party to push the project to President Barack Obama’s desk in January.

The 59-41 Senate vote was just shy of the 60 votes needed to pass the bill, following a dramatic six days of whipping by the embattled Louisiana Democrat on an issue that almost all of Washington had expected to sit idle until next year.

The defeat deals a blow to Landrieu’s campaign ahead of her Dec. 6 runoff against GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy, whom polls show running comfortably ahead. Winning on Keystone would have helped her demonstrate her clout on the Hill as a champion of her state’s influential oil and gas industry.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 19, 2014 at 7:00 am [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.

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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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The upcoming OPEC meeting is going to be the most difficult one during this century,” said Mohammad al-Sabban, a former senior adviser to Mr. Naimi. “It seems that OPEC has forgotten how to cooperate.”

Within the group, officials are increasingly worried its divisions contribute to weaker prices. “If OPEC fails to reach an agreement,” one OPEC official said, “oil prices will keep on falling....”

A collective move to cut output could boost prices, but it would also rob OPEC members of revenue. It is unclear how long such vulnerable OPEC economies as Venezuela and Nigeria could afford to limit production without reopening the spigots.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaMiddle EastSouth AmericaVenezuela* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 18, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As she hobnobs with the other G20 heads of state in Brisbane this weekend, Dilma Rousseff, re-elected last month to a second four-year term as Brazil’s president, will have precious little besides her (narrow) victory to boast about. Every day seems to bring more evidence of just how big a mess she has left herself. Official data released in the past three weeks have shown a bulging budget deficit, falling industrial production and rising poverty. Even the job market, until recently a rare bright spot, with unemployment near historic lows of around 5%, is beginning to falter. This week payroll numbers showed a net loss of 30,000 jobs in October, the worst result for the month since 1999 and well below the average market expectations of a gain of 56,000.

Days before a kerfuffle broke out over a bill sent to Congress that would let Ms Rousseff in effect turn a primary fiscal surplus (before interest payments) of 1.9% of GDP promised in the 2014 budget into a deficit. Since the primary balance showed a hole equal to 0.5% of GDP in the nine months to September (because of a pre-election spending splurge), the government was merely facing up to reality. The opposition leapt on the opportunity to bash Ms Rousseff for fiscal incontinence and obfuscation. Some threatened to contest this budgetary meddling before the Supreme Court.

If that weren’t enough, on November 14th the federal police rounded up dozens of suspects in an ongoing corruption probe into Petrobras, the state-controlled oil giant, in which Ms Rousseff’s left-wing Workers’ Party (PT) and some coalition parties have been implicated. They include a former Petrobras director, as well as executives at several big construction firms with contracts worth 56 billion reais ($21.5 billion) with the company; 720m reais-worth of their assets were frozen.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentarySouth AmericaBrazil

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Posted November 17, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While international observers fixate on the Sunni-Shia rivalry’s role in shaping geopolitics in the Islamic world, deep fissures within the Sunni arc that stretches from the Maghreb-Sahel region of North Africa to the Afghanistan-Pakistan belt are increasingly apparent. Moreover, it is Sunni communities that produce the transnational jihadists who have become a potent threat to secular, democratic states near and far. What is driving this fragmentation and radicalization within the ranks of Sunni Islam, and how can it be managed?

The importance of addressing that question cannot be overstated. The largest acts of international terror, including the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, DC, and the 2008 Mumbai attack, were carried out by brutal transnational Sunni organizations (Al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba, respectively).

The Sunni militant group Boko Haram, known internationally for abducting 276 schoolgirls in April and forcing them to marry its members, has been wreaking havoc in Nigeria for years. And the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State, whose dramatic rise has entailed untold horrors to Iraq and Syria, are seeking to establish a caliphate, by whatever means necessary.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 14, 2014 at 6:15 am [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.”

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Liberia lies just north of the equator and is home to part of the last great rainforest in West Africa, where the Ebola virus thrives in tropical, humid conditions.

With their hospitals overwhelmed, special centers for the sick, called Ebola treatment units, are being built as fast as possible. One of them is run by an American relief-group, the International Medical Corps -- where Lara Logan, who is currently self-quarantined for 21 days, reported this story.

To get to the Ebola treatment unit, we traveled north from the Liberian capital along pitted roads toward the border with neighboring Guinea where this outbreak began. American virologist Joseph Fair, who's been here for most of the epidemic, came with us.

Read or watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPoverty* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaLiberia* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 10, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Myanmar government has given the estimated one million Rohingya people in this coastal region of the country a dispiriting choice: Prove your family has lived here for more than 60 years and qualify for second-class citizenship, or be placed in camps and face deportation.

The policy, accompanied by a wave of decrees and legislation, has made life for the Rohingya, a long-persecuted Muslim minority, ever more desperate, spurring the biggest flow of Rohingya refugees since a major exodus two years ago.

In the last three weeks alone, 14,500 Rohingya have sailed from the beaches of Rakhine State to Thailand, with the ultimate goal of reaching Malaysia, according to the Arakan Project, a group that monitors Rohingya refugees.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaMyanmar/Burma* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted November 7, 2014 at 11:30 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.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The [Religious Freedom in the World] Report [2014] concludes that in order to begin to establish any form of consensus, responsibility for combatting violence and persecution rests, first and foremost, within religious communities themselves. The necessity for all religious leaders to loudly proclaim their opposition to religiously-inspired violence, and to re-affirm their support for religious tolerance, is becoming ever more urgent.

Although not explicitly phrased, this would appear to be directed toward Muslim leaders who too often have been unwilling or slow to condemn acts of violence carried out in the name of Islam. The Report has identified places where positive inter-religious bridges are being built at a local level, but these are few and far between.

There is certainly a need for this to happen in the UK, too, if the current national tensions surrounding the Islamic faith are to improve. And this an issue that our politicians must do more to address. The Report states that there is a pressing “need for the West to develop a fuller and more sophisticated understanding of religious motivation. The religious illiteracy of Western policy makers is creating a formidable barrier of understanding between the West and other parts of the world”. This is “hampering productive dialogue and effective policy making”.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 6, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Muslim leaders have a duty to warn their own followers about the “indescribable tragedy” of the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and around the world, the Prince of Wales has insisted.

He said that faith leaders must ensure their followers respect believers in other faiths “rather than remaining silent”.

His comments came in a special message recorded for the publication of a new report which concludes that Christians are the “most persecuted religious minority” in the world and that Muslim countries dominate the list of places where religious freedom is most under threat.

While emphasising the importance of his own personal Christian faith, he also signalled that he saw his role as to “defend” followers of other faiths including Islam.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 4, 2014 at 3:02 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.

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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

Archbishop Justin Welby said: “This week you have gathered to consider how our Anglican Communion can be more effective in working together and collaborating with other faith communities and secular partners to end modern slavery.

“It is a huge and daunting challenge – but it is a task that we must face. Evil will thrive if humanity stands by and does nothing while the most vulnerable suffer at the hands of traffickers and slavers.”

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesSexualityTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 3, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The coastal city of Wenzhou is sometimes called China’s Jerusalem. Ringed by mountains and far from the capital, Beijing, it has long been a haven for a religion that China’s Communist leaders view with deep unease: Christianity. Most cities of its size, with about 9m people, have no more than a dozen or so visibly Christian buildings. Until recently, in Wenzhou, hundreds of crosses decorated church roofs.

This year, however, more than 230 have been classed as “illegal structures” and removed. Videos posted on the internet show crowds of parishioners trying to form a human shield around their churches. Dozens have been injured. Other films show weeping believers defiantly singing hymns as huge red crosses are hoisted off the buildings. In April one of Wenzhou’s largest churches was completely demolished. Officials are untroubled by the clash between the city’s famously freewheeling capitalism and the Communist Party’s ideology, yet still see religion and its symbols as affronts to the party’s atheism.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther Churches* Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 2, 2014 at 3:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Canada is following in Australia's footsteps and has suspended, effectively immediately, the issuance of visas to residents of the West African countries battling Ebola.

In a move that puts Canada at odds with the World Health Organization, the federal government said Friday it is suspending visa applications for residents and nationals of countries with "widespread and persistent-intense transmission" of Ebola virus disease.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanada

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Posted October 31, 2014 at 4:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For average Sierra Leoneans, the timing of the Ebola crisis could not be worse. It is the rainy season and, thanks to government-sanctioned quarantines, crop harvests are at a low. The price of food has skyrocketed and forced people to go into the bush for food and firewood. Quarantined areas such as Waterloo, about 20 miles east of Freetown, have seen severe food shortages, and the United Nations Food Program has had to step in to provide rice to thousands of residents there, many of whom were queuing up shoulder-to-shoulder in public areas — precisely the kind of gathering a quarantine is meant to prevent. Add to this the further dependence on the world community for survival and the demoralization of the people takes deeper root.

Economic forces are also jeopardizing national stability. Growth rates — in some sectors topping 15 percent in investments in the last few years — have been obliterated. London Mining, one of the key contracts secured by the Sierra Leonean government during this period, has announced it will be going into bankruptcy. The extractives industry is not what it used to be and stock for the London-based company tumbled dramatically in the last year as the price of iron ore declined. As a result, the company is reneging on a covenant with the people of Sierra Leone for thousands of jobs at its mine in Marampa and a needed injection of tax revenue.

When young people are unemployed and desperate, mischief occurs. In the southeastern city of Bo, for instance, crime — too often violent crime — has been rising. With police now occupied in responding to calls from infected households or keeping the curious away from dead bodies, they cannot monitor the city as before.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePovertyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaLiberia

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Posted October 31, 2014 at 4:05 pm [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.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Roma constitute the largest ethnic minority in Europe. While many think the continent would be better off without them, the Roma have lived in Europe for more than 1,500 years, and represent one of Europe’s last, great hopes.

But currently, the Roma are among the continent’s most underserved communities. And like Europe’s Jews, and newcomers from Africa and the Middle East, they’re finding themselves caught up in a resurgence of racism and xenophobia.

The unemployment rate for Roma in Bulgaria was 59% in 2010, and 50% in Romania according to a seminal World Bank report, while average unemployment in Bulgaria was 11.6%, and 7.3% in Romania in 2013.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--Eastern EuropeBulgariaRomania* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 31, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I accept the doctors' conclusion -- mandatory quarantine is a bad idea -- but not the way they justify it. You don't have to be a cynic, a slanted term, to argue for "better safe than sorry." The calculus isn't simple, either. The crucial thing, though, is that the doctors' sensible conclusion doesn't rest solely on the science.

It requires a delicate judgment about many different risks and costs -- the risk of extra U.S. cases in the short run, the risk of discouraging health workers from traveling to West Africa so that the disease keeps spreading there, the cost in civil liberty of restricting people's movements, and so on. I agree with the doctors about where the balance lies, but the issue isn't easy and, in any event, it isn't just about the science of Ebola.

The doctors conclude, "We should be honoring, not quarantining, health care workers who put their lives at risk..." We should indeed be honoring them -- and, unless I'm mistaken, we are -- but that comment isn't science; it's pure politics. Forgive me for stating what should be obvious, but if the facts about the transmission of Ebola were different, one could imagine that mandatory quarantine would be justified; and if it were, the policy would imply no disrespect to the health professionals involved.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesMedia* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 31, 2014 at 7:30 am [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.

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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?

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigeria says it is still holding talks with Boko Haram, two weeks after the government said it had agreed a truce with the Islamist militant group.

A presidential spokesman said he was optimistic that something "concrete and positive" would come out of the talks.

There has been no comment from Boko Haram, and violence in northern Nigeria has continued.

More than 200 schoolgirls are still being held by the group, which has been fighting an insurgency since 2009.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 29, 2014 at 4:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hanging on by a wing and a prayer, the Lords Spiritual fight for their survival, writes David Maddox

For constitutional geeks the years 1871 and 1920 bear a special significance in terms of reform of that much debated body the House of Lords. The first date was the removal of the Irish Episcopalian bishops from the Upper Chamber, when it was finally accepted that Roman Catholicism and Presbyterian Protestantism were the churches of its peoples. The second was the removal of Welsh bishops, making the Lords Spiritual – as they are collectively known – an English-only body.

It is worth noting that there were never any Scottish bishops given seats in the House of Lords, because of the success of Scotland’s politicians in keeping the Church separate in their negotiations for the 1707 Act of Union.

So with this in mind, Archbishop Justin Welby’s appearance at the Press Gallery lunch yesterday was poignant at a time when political reform, devolution and English votes for English laws are so high on the agenda.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted October 28, 2014 at 11:22 am [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.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqJordan* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations called attention to the need for a greater response to the Ebola outbreak that has killed nearly 5,000 people in West Africa.

Samantha Power posted on Twitter early Monday, after spending a day in Guinea, that the "scale of need is staggering" and that the "most basic resources will help save lives."

She is on a multistop tour this week of the worst-hit countries, including Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Power also highlighted the efforts of those already working in Guinea to treat patients, build treatment facilities and educate people, including Doctors Without Borders and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaGuineaLiberiaSierra LeoneAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 27, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The much heralded asset-backed securities purchase programme will only yield about €250bn-€450bn in assets over the next two years. More LTRO (or the newer targeted LTRO) will prove a challenge as sovereign bond yields in Europe are so low that a large balance sheet expansion through this means seems impractical. Perhaps there is another €500bn-€750bn to do over the next year or two. Outright purchases of sovereign debt would prove politically difficult, as many would interpret such purchases as violating the ECB’s mandate and the matter would probably end up in the European courts.

The bottom line is that none of the tools currently on the table will get the job done. There are not enough assets to purchase or finance and the timetable to get anything done is too long. Policy makers do not have the luxury of a year or two to figure this out. The ECB balance sheet shrinks virtually daily and as it shrinks, the monetary base of Europe is contracting and putting downward pressure on prices. Europe is clearly in danger of falling into the liquidity trap, if it is not already there. The likelihood of a “lost decade” like that experienced in Japan is rapidly increasing. The ECB must act and act quickly.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 27, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The question for our government” says Lenni Benson, executive director and founder of the nonprofit Safe Passage Project, “will be, even if they have deportation orders, is it ethical and legal to remove a child to a country of origin if we aren’t assured that child will be safe upon return?”

Read or watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 26, 2014 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 24, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

China's newly announced switch to a two-child population control policy does not resolve the coercive nature of the program, pro-life leaders say.

The disclosure of the change came even as the communist government imposes the most severe oppression in four decades, according to a leading advocate for the Chinese church.

Christians face the "worst persecution in China since the Cultural Revolution," Bob Fu, president of ChinaAid, said in an article by Christian Today on Oct. 9.

That description is justified, Fu explained to BP in written comments in an email interview...[yesterday] (Oct. 22), due to "both the large scale and the severe degree of [the] violent crackdown" against not only the unregistered house churches but against the government-approved Three-Self Patriotic Movement congregations. About 300 churches have either been destroyed or had crosses forcibly removed recently in an ongoing campaign, and various believers have been arrested, Fu said.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 23, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In addition to many drug candidates, there are vaccines in development. In early September, the National Institutes of Health began testing a vaccine, made by a division of GlaxoSmithKline and based on an adenovirus, on twenty volunteers. Another vaccine, called VSV-EBOV, developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and licensed to NewLink Genetics, started human trials last week. It seems possible that some time next year a vaccine may be available for use on people who have already been exposed to Ebola, though it will still not be cleared for general use. If a vaccine is safe and shows effectiveness against Ebola, and if it can be transported in the tropical climate without breaking down, then vaccinations against Ebola could someday begin.

If a vaccine works, then the vaccinators might conceivably set up what’s known as ring vaccinations around Ebola hot spots. In this technique, medical workers simply vaccinate everybody in a ring, miles deep, around a focus of a virus. It works like a fire break; it keeps the fire from spreading. Ring vaccination was the key to wiping out the smallpox virus, which was declared eradicated in 1979, but whether the ring technique—provided there was a good vaccine—would work against Ebola nobody can say. In any case, epidemiologists would not give up trying to trace cases in order to break the chains of infection.

In the U.S. and Europe, hospitals have made fatal mistakes in protocol as they engage with Ebola for the first time—errors that no well-trained health worker in Africa would likely make. But they will learn. By now, the warriors against Ebola understand that they face a long struggle against a formidable enemy. Many of their weapons will fail, but some will begin to work. The human species carries certain advantages in this fight and has things going for it that Ebola does not. These include self-awareness, the ability to work in teams, and the willingness to sacrifice, traits that have served us well during our expansion into our environment. If Ebola can change, we can change, too, and maybe faster than Ebola.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationGlobalizationHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted October 21, 2014 at 7:00 am [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.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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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.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The leader of the Anglican Church of Hong Kong has issued a statement calling for "dialogue" between pro-democracy protestors and government officials.

Archbishop Paul Kwong issued the statement Tuesday where he said that he was "saddened and distressed by the increasing social conflict."

"In order to engage in real dialogue, we need to develop greater trust in one another. However this is not yet happening," stated Kwong.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 16, 2014 at 6:00 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.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England is being urged to pray for victims of human trafficking at services this Sunday.

Freedom Sunday, a global day of prayer, action and worship backed by major Christian denominations in Britain, takes place on October 19.

Organisers have produced a set of resources for churches with prayers, Bible studies, reflections, case studies and sermon notes to help mark the day.

In a foreword to the resources, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, warns that human trafficking is a "grave crime" against humanity.

"It is a form of modern day slavery and a profound violation of the intrinsic dignity of human beings," he wrote.

"It is intolerable that millions of fellow human beings should be violated in this way, subjected to inhuman exploitation and deprived of their dignity and rights."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesSexuality* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 15, 2014 at 3:35 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.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMedia* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaGuineaLiberiaSierra LeoneAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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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.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the American and British economies it has been a long road out of the woods, but the journey is nearing its end. America’s unemployment rate fell below 6% in September. Britain’s economy, where output was up 3.2% in the year to June, is growing faster than any other big rich country’s. Central bankers are counting the days until they can raise interest rates.

Virtually everywhere else, however, the news is grim and getting grimmer. The euro zone, the world’s second-biggest economic area, seems to be falling from a feeble recovery back into outright recession as Germany hits the skids. Shockingly weak industrial production and export figures mean Germany’s GDP is likely to shrink for the second consecutive quarter—a popular definition of recession. Japan, the world’s third-biggest economy, may also be on the edge of a downturn, because April’s rise in the consumption tax is hurting spending more than expected. Russia’s and Brazil’s economies are stagnant, at best. Even in China, still growing at a suspiciously smooth 7.5% a year, there are worries about a property bust, a credit bubble and a fall in productivity

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 15, 2014 at 5:15 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.


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

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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.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa, already ghastly, could get worse by orders of magnitude, killing hundreds of thousands of people and embedding itself in the human population for years to come, according to two worst-case scenarios from scientists studying the historic outbreak.

The virus could potentially infect 1.4 million people in Liberia and Sierra Leone by the end of January, according to a statistical forecast by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published Tuesday. That number came just hours after a report in the New England Journal of Medicine warned that the epidemic might never be fully controlled and that the virus could become endemic, crippling civic life in the affected countries and presenting an ongoing threat of spreading elsewhere.

Read it all.

Update: The elves also recommend the latest post on Ebola at Lent & Beyond, with a graph showing the cumulative number of cases of Ebola in West Africa. There are also suggested prayer points, and links to donate to several charities on the frontlines in the Ebola struggle.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaGuineaLiberiaNigeriaSierra Leone* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted October 11, 2014 at 9:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While Malala’s courage in defying the Taliban’s barbarism won her the admiration of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, her Pakistani detractors’ criticism reflects the national malaise that young Malala has committed herself to fight. Hundreds of young Pakistanis, most of them supporters of cricket icon Imran Khan, have started the #MalalaDrama hashtag on Twitter to describe Malala as a tool of the evil West who is seeking to impose Western values on Islamic Pakistan. A few on Twitter even called for her to be charged with blasphemy, the catch-all accusation frequently used in Pakistan against those advocating anything but the most primitive ideas. Luckily, she now lives in Birmingham, England, after having come to Britain for medical treatment for her head wound.

Malala began documenting life under the Taliban in 2009, after they took control in the Swat Valley of northwestern Pakistan and then tried to shut down her school. The Taliban and their Islamist supporters oppose education for girls, and their concept of education for boys is far from enlightened. A young village girl with little outside exposure, Malala wished to connect to the rest of the world. She says she was inspired by the Pakistani Benazir Bhutto, who became the Muslim world’s first woman prime minister and was killed in 2007 by terrorists for challenging their ideas.

By rejecting the Taliban’s version of Islam—which was being brutally imposed by force of arms—Malala showed greater foresight than many of Pakistan’s politicians, generals and public intellectuals who have gradually ceded space to extremist Islamists. She didn’t buy into the propaganda description of the Taliban as a nationalist reaction to U.S. dominance or Indian influence, recognizing them as a menace that would set the country back several centuries.

Read it all from the WSJ.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan

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Posted October 11, 2014 at 9:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I doubt anyone in the Church of England who knows Rev. Stephen Sizer was surprised that he would attend a conference critical of Israel. Sizer, the Vicar of Christ Church in Virginia Water, Surrey, is an outspoken critic of what he calls Christian Zionism, that is, Christian support for the nation-state of Israel on theological grounds.

What is surprising is that a vicar of the Church of England would attend a conference in Iran to speak to a group of anti-Semites on the subject of the Zionist lobby in England. Other attendees of the New Horizon conference in Tehran include a long list of Holocaust deniers and 9/11 truthers. The conference included a panel discussion called “Mossad’s Role in the 9/11 Coup d’Etat” with the subheading “9/11 and the Holocaust as pro-Zionist ‘Public Myths.’”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 9, 2014 at 7:00 am [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.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkeyMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted October 9, 2014 at 5:45 am [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

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi has issued a stern warning against any "illegal" protests in Hong Kong.

Visiting Washington, Mr Wang also warned that the matter was an "internal affair" for China.

His US counterpart, John Kerry, urged Hong Kong to exercise restraint in dealing with the protests.

Earlier, student demonstrators angry at China's vetting of candidates for 2017 elections vowed to step up protests if Chief Executive CY Leung did not quit.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 1, 2014 at 5:29 pm [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.

Read it all.

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

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

Should democratically elected leaders in more or less secular countries ever say that this or that religion is essentially good or essentially bad? The dilemma is especially acute, perhaps, if the religion that they want to speak about is one which they don't happen to practise, and presumably don't know about in any depth. But ever since September 2001, and especially over the last few weeks of intensifying conflict with Islamic State, it has been a question that Western heads of government cannot completely duck. The West is at war with an adversary which claims to be acting in the name of Islam. Does that mean that the West is, in any sense whatever, at war with Islam?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 29, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[This week]...the only person ever banned by the United States because of alleged religious freedom violations—India’s newly-elected prime minister, Narendra Modi—will begin a four-day tour on American shores.

After Modi failed to prevent the riot deaths of 1,000 Muslims in 2002 while he was chief minister of the western state of Gujarat, the State Department leaned on a little-known provision in the International Religious Freedom Act that says foreign officials responsible for “severe violations of religious freedom” shouldn’t be admitted to America. The Wall Street Journal offers more details.

The visa restriction might have been permanent, but this summer Modi was elected to the most powerful political position in India. He’ll meet with President Obama and major business corporations during his visit from September 26-30. One American legal group filed suit against Modi this week, though the move is largely seen as symbolic, reports Reuters.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia

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Posted September 28, 2014 at 4:00 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.

Read it all.

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

While Madison Square Garden’s sold-out shows usually include headliners like Bruce Springsteen, Madonna or Arcade Fire, Sunday’s reception for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to draw an equally massive crowd of nearly 20,000 Indian Americans. Modi’s appearance at the midtown Manhattan entertainment venue is part of his first trip to the U.S. as leader of the world’s largest democracy and comes at a time when people of both countries continue to see each other in a largely positive light.

In India, a majority of the public (55%) has a favorable view of the U. S., including 30% with a very positive outlook, according to a Pew Research survey conducted last spring. Only 16% see the U.S. unfavorably, while 29% offer no opinion. These high ratings are essentially unchanged from late last year, when 56% of the Indian public gave the U.S. positive marks.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Asia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 28, 2014 at 5:46 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

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is heading to New York this weekend to meet with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Haley's office said Friday the governor will be joined by her husband and her parents, who were born in India. Haley will also spend some time in private discussions with Modi on Sunday.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaIndia* South Carolina

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Posted September 27, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Colin Powell famously told President George W. Bush before the Iraq invasion, "If you break it, you own it." Well, it's safe to say we broke Iraq.

That's the story I heard last week from two people who live there. I met with the Rev. Canon Andrew White — "The Vicar of Baghdad" — who serves as the chaplain to St. George's Anglican Church in the heart of Baghdad. We were joined by Sarah Ahmed, a director at White's Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East. Ahmed was born and raised in Iraq. White has lived there for 15 years.

"I was in favor of the U.S. invasion," White told me. "But we are literally 5,000 times worse than before. If you look at it, you can see it was wrong. We have gained nothing. Literally nothing. We may have had an evil dictator, but now we have total terrorism. We used to have one Saddam. Now we have thousands."

Read it all from USA Today.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted September 27, 2014 at 8:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an article in this week’s The Tablet, Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme, half of whose diocese in northern Adamawa state is now under the control of Boko Haram, spoke of the appalling conditions for those Catholics who remained.

“We have our members who have been killed, those who have been abducted, among whom are men and women as well as children. There are those who are forced into marrying Boko Haram members, some have no houses to lay their heads. Also many have no food to eat nor do they have clothes to wear,” he said.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 26, 2014 at 6:00 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

Over a year after seeking refuge in a Montreal church, an ailing Pakistani woman threatened with deportation has been able to exchange her sanctuary in the church for what freedom her health permits under a $5,000 bond posted by Bishop Barry Clarke of Montreal.

Supporters and a daughter said at a Montreal press conference held Sept 22. in the dioceses’s Fulford Hall that Khurshid Begum Awan, 58, has been living with her daughter, between hospitalizations for her heart condition and other problems, since she left St. Peter’s TMR Church in the Town of Mount Royal in early August. She was not at the press conference for health reasons.

In August, she presented herself to Citizenship and Immigration Canada and applied for what is known as a Pre-Removal Risk-Assessment. She is entitled to remain in Canada, subject to the $5,000 bond, pending results of the assessment and of an earlier application for permanent residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 24, 2014 at 5:45 am [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

Many Yemenis believe that the Houthis are acting as agents of Iran, which backs them. To legitimize their rebellion, the Houthis had to come up with popular proposals to address rising energy prices and incompetence in the government. It was the poor performance of Yemen’s transitional government that allowed them to succeed.

President Hadi, and his government — including Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa, who just stepped down — failed miserably to deliver basic services, spur economic development and, most important, create jobs. Unemployment was one of the main drivers of the revolt against Mr. Saleh.

The international community should have supported Yemen to ensure its successful transition to stability and development. Instead, the international community largely turned its back on Yemen as it sank further into poverty, chaos and extremism. The United States concentrated almost solely on counterterrorism, continuing its drone strikes on Qaeda militants. Saudi Arabia turned its attention to other parts of the region, ignoring the potential chaos on its southern border.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaYemenEngland / UKEuropeMiddle EastIran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 23, 2014 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nine months ago Bol Olor Ding and his friend Kamis Ngor Ajack were in school studying math and science. Now, at the ages of 14 and 15, they’re veterans of the civil war in South Sudan that’s created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

After fighting forced their schools to close, the two boys exchanged their classrooms for the battlefield and received a government army uniform and a Kalashnikov assault rifle.

“If you don’t have a gun you will be killed,” Ajack said through an interpreter in the town of Wau Shilluk, whose population of 5,000 has swollen to 40,000 as violence spreads in the oil-rich state of Upper Nile. “I was afraid of fighting in the beginning, but when I got a gun and uniform I became brave.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 23, 2014 at 5:14 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

Turkish authorities say they have freed 49 hostages from one of the world’s most ruthless militant groups without firing a shot, paying a ransom or offering a quid pro quo.

But as the well-dressed men and women captured by the Islamic State group more than three months ago clasped their families Saturday on the tarmac of the Turkish capital’s airport, experts had serious doubts about the government’s story.

The official explanation “sounds a bit too good to be true,” said Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat who chairs the Istanbul-based Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies. “There are some very legitimate and unanswered questions about how this happened.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkey* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 20, 2014 at 11:02 am [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.

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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

That the majority of ISIL’s victims are Muslim does not exclude it from being a religiously motivated movement. For ISIL is part of the group within Islam whose motivation is religious - namely, the removal of apostasy.

We should take our opponents self-identity seriously. They are waging war in the name of Islam and in accordance with their Islamic beliefs. They wish to create the Caliphate. Their commitment is more than a power grab for land – it is a religious zeal and if we ignore it, we will seriously underestimate them.

We must not try to conform Islam to Christian ideals of religion. Jesus and Mohammed were very different in their life as well as in their teaching. Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey to be executed, a week later, for our sins. Mohammed arrived at Mecca in front of an army of 10,000 soldiers to take the city by force. In countries where Christianity has dominated, mosques can be built, the Qur’an can be read and studied and preached in the streets, and citizens can change religion without fear of persecution, let alone execution. None of these corresponding freedoms are available for Christians in countries where Islam holds sway.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 19, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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