Posted by Kendall Harmon

The destruction of the weapons would be one of the few positive developments in three years of war that has left tens of thousands of Syrians dead and forced millions from their homes. And it would allow the Obama administration to claim a success in its response to the use of chemical weapons in suburbs of Damascus, the Syrian capital, last August.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hundreds of people were killed because of their ethnicity after South Sudan rebels seized the oil hub of Bentiu last week, the UN has said.

They were targeted at a mosque, a church and a hospital, the UN Mission in South Sudan said in a statement.

It added that hate speech was broadcast on local radio stations, saying certain groups should leave the town and urging men to rape women.

The Nuer community are seen as supporters of rebel leader Riek Machar

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted April 22, 2014 at 6:58 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Given what we’ve seen in Ukraine, the US and the EU need to work much more closely together on policy vis a vis the non-Russian former Soviet states. This policy can’t be seen as simply legalistic or commercial, expanding free trade zones or supporting the rule of law and the development of institutions; security issues are also involved.

More, Europe’s failure to develop coherent energy policy is clearly a contributing factor to Putin’s transparent contempt for the bloc as well as to Europe’s continuing vulnerability to Russian pressure. Europe’s countries have many voices when it comes to energy policy; the United States needs to play a larger and more constructive role in the continent’s musings over energy policy, and the new American reserves now coming on line could be part of a long term strategy to reduce Europe’s vulnerability to energy blackmail.

The US may also need to consider how it can play a more useful role in Europe’s internal debates over economic policy. Europe’s weakness before Russian pressure is both directly and indirectly attributable in part to the fallout from the euro disaster. Economic pain has divided the union, alienated many voters both from Brussels and their national authorities, reduced Europe’s energy and resources for external policy ventures, contributed to the bitterness over immigration and fueled the rise of the extreme right wing parties Putin now seeks to mobilize. Important American interests have been seriously harmed by the monetary muddle in Europe, and Washington needs to think more carefully about how it can play a more consequential and constructive role.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 16, 2014 at 7:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe, has been given until Tuesday to propose measures in response to the ongoing presence of Russian troops along the border with eastern Ukraine

NATO troops, including Americans, could be deployed to Eastern Europe in an effort to shore up defenses in allied countries that share a border with Russia, a top U.S. military official said Wednesday.

Read it all.

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

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Posted April 10, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

America’s latest “reality check” came last week with the near collapse of the Arab-Israeli peace process. Having bent over backwards to keep it on track and undertaken 12 visits to the region, John Kerry, US secretary of state, is not floundering for lack of effort. Nor, as is often rumoured, has he been hung out to dry by the White House. The truth is that the US has limited sway over either side. Mr Kerry only drew attention to the US’s weak leverage last week with his offer to release Jonathan Pollard, the Israeli spy, in exchange for a minimal commitment by Israel to keep things on track. The notion was quickly booed offstage.

The US’s success as a hegemon has traditionally been about magnifying its power through friendship. Yet its ability to rally existing friends behind it and make new ones to replace them is diminishing. Last month Mr Obama made his first visit to Brussels as president to try to galvanise Europeans following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea. His speech was well received, although it was not once interrupted by applause. Yet there is little sign that his visit succeeded in persuading Germany, Britain and others to take a radically tougher line on Russia. The US’s ability to contain Mr Putin will hinge on building a viable government in Ukraine. The odds of that happening remain poor. Nor did Mr Obama’s trip appear to breathe new life into the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership talks, as many expected. If the Russian wolf cannot unify the west, what can?

While its closest allies are getting weaker, the US is finding it hard to replace them with new ones. Mr Obama cannot be faulted for trying. Since taking office, he has made overtures to India, Brazil, Indonesia – and even Russia, during the brief period of Mr Putin playing second fiddle to Dimitri Medvedev, then Russia’s president. In most cases, the US has been either rebutted or ignored.

Read it all.

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

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Posted April 6, 2014 at 2:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New Zealand came first in a global index published on Thursday that ranks countries by social and environmental performance rather than economic output in a drive to make social progress a priority for politicians and businesses.

The Social Progress Index (SPI) rates 132 countries on more than 50 indicators, including health, sanitation, shelter, personal safety, access to information, sustainability, tolerance and inclusion and access to education.

The SPI asks questions such as whether a country can satisfy its people's basic needs and whether it has the infrastructure and capacity to allow its citizens to improve the quality of their lives and reach their full potential.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 3, 2014 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II will meet with Pope Francis at a private audience in the Vatican on Thursday afternoon. The Queen, who’ll be accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, will also have a private encounter with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano during the one day visit to Rome.

The audience with Pope Francis will mark the 87-year-old Queen’s fifth encounter with a Roman pontiff here in the Vatican, beginning with Pope Pius XII whom she met in 1951, the year before her accession to the throne. In 1982 she became the first monarch since the Reformation to welcome a pope to Britain during John Paul II’s pastoral visit to the country and in 2010 she also hosted Pope Benedict XVI on his state visit to the United Kingdom.

Read and listen to it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeItaly* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis

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Posted April 3, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My own view is that today’s global economic and technological interdependence can’t, of course, make war obsolete — human beings will always surprise you — but globalization does impose real restraints that shape geopolitics today more than you think....For reinforcement, I’d point to the very original take on this story offered by Michael Mandelbaum, the Johns Hopkins foreign policy expert whose new book, “The Road to Global Prosperity,” argues that while global economics does not eliminate geopolitics, it does indeed trump global geopolitics today. It’s the key to trumping Putin, too.

As Mandelbaum (my co-author on a previous work) explains in his book, it is not either-or. Geopolitics never went away, even as globalization has become more important. For globalization to thrive, it needs a marketplace stabilized by power. Britain provided that in the 19th century. America does so today and will have to continue to do so even if Putin becomes a vegetarian pacifist.

But get a grip, Mandelbaum said in an interview: “Putin is not some strange creature from the past. He is as much a product of globalization as Davos Man.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 2, 2014 at 4:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The National Council of Churches (NCC) has sent a letter to President Barack Obama expressing concern about the plight of Christian communities in Syria, especially the depopulation of the Armenian community of Kessab, stating: “While Syrians of all religious communities are caught up in this horrible conflict, of particular concern to us are the Christian communities, which are often the most vulnerable.”

“One situation that has just come to our attention is the attack on the Armenian villages of Kessab. Though this attack comes in the wider context of the overall Syrian conflict, it nevertheless has brought death and destruction to the Christian communities there,” the NCC letter reads in part. The letter specifically urges the President to “safeguard the vulnerable Christian communities” and to “restore stability to the Armenian communities of Kessab.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical Relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 31, 2014 at 3:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A United Nations panel of scientists is joining the list craze with what they call eight "key risks" that are part of broader "reasons for concern" about climate change.

It's part of a massive report on how global warming is affecting humans and the planet and how the future will be worse unless something is done about it. The report is being finalized at a meeting this weekend by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

They assembled the list to "make it understandable and to illustrate the issues that have the greatest potential to cause real harm," the report's chief author, Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution of Science in California, said in an interview.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 31, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

US Secretary of State John Kerry has diverted his homebound flight at the last minute, for hastily arranged talks on the Ukraine crisis with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The decision came after President Vladimir Putin spoke to President Barack Obama by phone late on Friday.

Mr Obama has called on Russia to pull its troops back from Ukraine's border.

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted March 29, 2014 at 1:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After speaking [with Vyacheslav Nesteruk, president of the Baptist Union of Ukraine] on a number of points of mutual interest, we discussed specific prayer requests. Brother Nesteruk specifically asked Southern Baptists to pray for the following:

-- That there would be no war in Ukraine, but peace.

-- That there would be a sense of peace in the hearts of Ukrainian people, rather than a sense of unrest or anxiety.

-- For the economic situation, as sanctions imposed by Russia have already begun making life difficult in Ukraine.

-- Most of all, that people would be open to the Gospel and actively seek the Gospel during these troubled times.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussiaUkraine* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

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Posted March 29, 2014 at 9:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. military satellites spied Russian troops amassing within striking distance of Crimea last month. But intelligence analysts were surprised because they hadn't intercepted any telltale communications where Russian leaders, military commanders or soldiers discussed plans to invade.

America's vaunted global surveillance is a vital tool for U.S. intelligence services, especially as an early-warning system and as a way to corroborate other evidence. In Crimea, though, U.S. intelligence officials are concluding that Russian planners might have gotten a jump on the West by evading U.S. eavesdropping.

"Even though there was a warning, we didn't have the information to be able to say exactly what was going to happen," a senior U.S. official says.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeRussia

0 Comments
Posted March 24, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When President Obama visits Saudi Arabia next week, he will have an opportunity to follow through on his inspiring words at the Feb. 6. National Prayer Breakfast. There, he told thousands of Christian leaders that "the right of every person to practice their faith how they choose" is central to "human dignity," and so "promoting religious freedom is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy."

The freedom so central to human dignity is denied by the Kingdom. The State Department has long ranked Saudi Arabia among the world's most religiously repressive governments, designating it a "Country of Particular Concern" under the International Religious Freedom Act. Yet the Obama administration, like its predecessors, has not pressed Riyadh to respect religious freedom.

Saudi Arabia is the only state in the world to ban all churches and any other non-Muslim houses of worship. While Saudi nationals are all "officially" Muslim, some two to three million foreign Christians live in the kingdom, many for decades. They have no rights to practice their faith.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSaudi Arabia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 21, 2014 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For decades a school of American strategists has bewailed what they call the nation's military "overreach" and urged a radical reduction in defense spending as good for world peace.

We are about to find out if they were right.

On the other side of the argument, proponents of a strong military noted that it is the U.S. military's presence abroad, backed by strong reinforcements, that has put a lid on regional wars and kept the sea lanes open.

And that, in turn, has created peaceful conditions necessary for an historic expansion of world trade that has lifted billions out of poverty and kept the United States the world's strongest economy.

We are also about to find out if they were wrong.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

1 Comments
Posted March 19, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

RICHARD HAASS, Council on Foreign Relations: Not a lot to add, actually, Judy.

The real question for all of us is whether what we’re hearing is one of what you might call a Crimea exceptionalism. He did this in order, say, to compensate for the loss of Kiev. And this was his way of saving face and saving some strategic position.

That’s one — it’s one set of problems that poses to us, mainly the way he went about it. On the other hand, if this presages something more, an effort to rebuild parts of a lost empire, then, obviously, it’s far more worrisome.

We simply don’t know. Interestingly enough, I’m not sure Mr. Putin knows. One always assume that the adversary, the guy across the table has a fully articulated and elaborated game plan. It’s quite possible he’s improvising and making this up as he goes along, and what he does next will depend in part upon what domestic reactions are and obviously, even more, what the international response is.

Read it all.

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

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Posted March 19, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The referendum will have done nothing to have diminished the risk of inter-ethnic violence.

Against this uncertain and volatile background, the Christian churches of Europe, through the Conference of European Churches, have been in contact with the All Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organisations, a body that includes Jewish and Muslim representatives as well as Christian churches. A letter signed by the present CEC president, known to many Members of your Lordships’ House as the recently retired Bishop of Guildford, expresses solidarity and support, urges an end to further polarisation in Ukrainian society and assures them that churches elsewhere in Europe are urging a democratic and diplomatic solution to the problems facing Ukraine. I know that Bishop Christopher Hill will be talking later this week to other European church leaders about how this solidarity and support can be given more tangible shape through the Conference of European Churches.

Even if this crisis has cast a Cold War shadow over Europe, it is important that we remain in dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church. That is not always an easy task given the Russian orthodox world view. I am encouraged that only last month the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London met representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church to discuss the theological education of students from the Russian Orthodox Church here in the UK. However this crisis plays out, and I pray as I am sure many of us do for a speedy and peaceful resolution, it is important that we do not sanction measures that put such dialogue at risk.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeRussiaUkraine* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesOrthodox Church

2 Comments
Posted March 18, 2014 at 6:03 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than 130,000 people are said to have died in Syria’s civil war. United Nations reports of atrocities, Internet images of attacks on civilians, and accounts of suffering refugees rend our hearts. But what is to be done – and by whom?

Recently, the Canadian scholar-politician Michael Ignatieff urged US President Barack Obama to impose a no-fly zone over Syria, despite the near-certainty that Russia would veto the United Nations Security Council resolution needed to legalize such a move. In Ignatieff’s view, if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is allowed to prevail, his forces will obliterate the remaining Sunni insurgents – at least for now; with hatreds inflamed, blood eventually will flow again.

In an adjoining article, the columnist Thomas Friedman drew some lessons from the United States’ recent experience in the Middle East. First, Americans understand little about the social and political complexities of the countries there. Second, the US can stop bad things from happening (at considerable cost), but it cannot make good things happen by itself. And, third, when America tries to make good things happen in these countries, it runs the risk of assuming responsibility for solving their problems.

So what are a leader’s duties beyond borders?

Read it all.

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

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Posted March 18, 2014 at 6:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A group, Nigeria Arise Against Terror (NAAT), has called on the international community to help the federal government in the fight against terrorism.

NAAT stated this in support of the clarion call by the Bauchi State Governor, Isa Yuguda, for global effort to urgently end the orgy of terrorism ravaging the North-east region of the country.

In a statement issued by NAAT Publicity Secretary, Malam Abba Aliyu, at the weekend in Abuja, the interim National Coordinator of the group, Hon. Emeka Kanu-Nwapa, said NAAT had reasons to believe that most of the attacks in the region recently suggested that the war has gone beyond the Boko Haram insurgency and has now gone international.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 18, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Vladimir Putin put the annexation of Crimea on a fast track Tuesday morning, ordering the drafting of an accession agreement between Crimea and Russia.

Later in the day he will be making an unusual address to a joint session of the Russian parliament, where he will lay out his plans for the region.

The speech comes as a defiant Russia shows no sign of bending to American or European pressure over the Crimea crisis, which has turned into the sharpest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

Read it all.



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

1 Comments
Posted March 18, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Having failed to prevent a Russian-sponsored referendum in Crimea, the Obama administration and its European allies refocused their efforts Sunday on keeping Moscow from annexing the autonomous Ukrainian region and expanding its military moves into other parts of Ukraine.

In a telephone call to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin — his third in two weeks — President Obama said that the referendum “would never be recognized by the United States and the international community” and that “we are prepared to impose additional costs on Russia for its actions,” the White House said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeRussiaUkraine

3 Comments
Posted March 16, 2014 at 9:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have been called several times in the last few days, including by journalists, for opinions on our involvement in Afghanistan. The most often asked question is rather simplistic – understandable when a story has to fit into the bookends of other news events, but revealing in that Canadians desire that 12 years should be summarized into a thumbs-up or thumbs-down question. It is also indicative of the collective national withdrawal symptom and its accompanying amnesia.

To that simple question – “Was it worth it?” – the answer is yes. Afghanistan is far better off than what it was in 2001 by almost every possible metric. Certainly, many have died and continue to do so through insurgent actions and improvised explosive devices. Undeniably governance is weak and corruption embedded, but there are no longer public amputations and executions, there is no longer ethnic repression on the scale there once was, health care has improved and there remains a sense of hope. Hope that women won’t just be chattel once again and girls can continue to be schooled, hope that governance will improve, and hope that the roots of democracy and of an improving economic condition can continue to grow.

The Canadian Forces, our police and our diplomats did what they were asked and aside from the broader legacy it can be said that Canada’s presence in Kandahar prevented a Taliban takeover and that Canada set the conditions for the subsequent U.S. surge.

Read it all from the Globe and Mail.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistanCanada

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Posted March 15, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The West is not about to go to war over Ukraine, nor should it. Not enough of its interests are at stake to risk a nuclear conflict. But the occupation of Crimea must be punished, and Mr Putin must be discouraged from invading anywhere else.

Mr Putin expects a slap on the wrist. Sanctions must exceed his expectations. Shunning the G8 summit, which he is due to host in June, is not enough. It is time to impose visa bans and asset freezes on regime-connected Russians (the craven parliamentarians who rubber-stamped their army’s deployment should be among the first batch); to stop arms sales and cut Kremlin-friendly financial firms from the global financial system; to prepare for an embargo on Russian oil and gas, in case Ukrainian troops are slaughtered in Crimea or Russia invades eastern Ukraine. And the West should strengthen its ability to resist the Kremlin’s revanchism: Europe should reduce its dependence on Russian gas (see article); America should bin restrictions on energy exports; NATO should be invigorated.

Ukraine needs aid, not only because it is bankrupt, but also because Russia can gravely harm its economy and will want to undermine any independent-minded government. America and the EU have found some billions in emergency funds, but Ukraine also needs the prospect, however distant, of EU membership and a big IMF package along with the technical assistance to meet its conditions. A vital start is a monitored election to replace today’s interim government and the parliament, which is for sale to the highest bidder.

Read it all.


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

0 Comments
Posted March 9, 2014 at 1:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What with the impending centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, it's understandable that commentators should reach back to the European crisis of 1914 for possible parallels to the European crisis of 2014.

But watching the "debate" in the upper house of the Russian parliament on 1 March, as the solons "considered" President Vladimir Putin's "request" for "authorization" to deploy Russian armed forces in Ukraine, the thought occurred that the proper analogy to all this is not Sarajevo 1914, but Berlin 1935, when the German Reichstag approved the notoriously anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws. The same dynamics were in play: blatant racism and xenophobia, a crude and violent nationalism impervious to moral scrutiny, the multiplication of lies by ranting lawmakers. Amid the polymorphous moral confusions of postmodernity, Nazism is perhaps the one available icon of unambiguous and unadulterated evil; that iconography should not be marred by inappropriate analogizing for the sake of rhetorical effect. But the utter abandonment of reason, decency, and honesty in Moscow 2014 did seem eerily familiar.

That those Russian parliamentarians, and the Putinesque "managed democracy" they embody, will not face serious internal opposition from Russian leaders who might be expected to challenge xenophobic nationalism in the name of higher truths was made painfully clear a day later. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the leader of Russian Orthodoxy, shares a KGB background with President Putin and leads a Church that, as a senior Catholic official once put it to me, "only knows how to be chaplain to the czar - whoever he is." For years now, Kirill and his "foreign minister," the youthful Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, have been engaged in a massive campaign of seduction aimed at the Vatican, American Evangelicals and other vibrant and influential Christian forces in the West - a campaign putatively in aid of forging a united front against decadent secularism and materialism.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussiaUkraine* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the political situation in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula heats up and Ukrainians are still reeling from three months of determined occupation protests in Kiev that culminated in dozens of deaths and injuries, churches and religious officials have taken an active role.

“Our own Church stayed with the people as the struggle widened from a political one over integration with Europe into a larger one for basic human rights and dignity,” said Bishop Hlib Lonchyna, from Ukraine’s Greek Catholic Church, which combines the Eastern Rite with loyalty to Rome. “It supported the people’s just aspirations throughout, while our priests led prayers and administered sacraments. It’s important we now look at things in a Christian way — seeking justice without revenge.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 6, 2014 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

#WithSyria is a global coalition urging world leaders to end the violence and suffering of millions of Syrians. The Church of England has joined the campaign and opens the call to provinces across the Communion.

March 15th marks the third anniversary of the crisis. #WithSyria wants to make sure this year is the last. They said:

"After three years of violence, we must show our leaders that we will not give up on the people of Syria, that they must act to bring an end to the bloodshed and to get aid to all those who need it."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

1 Comments
Posted March 6, 2014 at 11:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read and look through it all.


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

1 Comments
Posted March 5, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Russia has told the United Nations Security Council that it has occupied Crimea at the request of the ousted Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovich, in order to protect civilians from armed extremists....

The American ambassador, Samantha Power, dismissed the Russian position. “Listening to the representative of Russia, one might think that Moscow had just become the rapid response arm of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,” she said. “So many of the assertions made this afternoon by the Russian Federation are without basis in reality.

“It is a fact that Russian military forces have taken over Ukrainian border posts. It is a fact that Russia has taken over the ferry terminal in Kerch. It is a fact that Russian ships are moving in and around Sevastapol. It is a fact that Russian forces are blocking mobile telephone services in some areas. It is a fact that Russia has surrounded or taken over practically all Ukrainian military facilities in Crimea. It is a fact that today Russian jets entered Ukrainian airspace.”

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted March 3, 2014 at 6:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Whatever course the Russian intervention may take, it is not an attempt to stop a fascist coup, since nothing of the kind has taken place. What has taken place is a popular revolution, with all of the messiness, confusion, and opposition that entails. The young leaders of the Maidan, some of them radical leftists, have risked their lives to oppose a regime that represented, at an extreme, the inequalities that we criticize at home. They have an experience of revolution that we do not. Part of that experience, unfortunately, is that Westerners are provincial, gullible, and reactionary.

Thus far the new Ukrainian authorities have reacted with remarkable calm. It is entirely possible that a Russian attack on Ukraine will provoke a strong nationalist reaction: indeed, it would be rather surprising if it did not, since invasions have a way of bringing out the worst in people. If this is what does happen, we should see events for what they are: an entirely unprovoked attack by one nation upon the sovereign territory of another.

Insofar as we have accepted the presentation of the revolution as a fascist coup, we have delayed policies that might have stopped the killing earlier, and helped prepare the way for war. Insofar as we wish for peace and democracy, we are going to have to begin by getting the story right.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 3, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. and its European allies can take steps to isolate Russia diplomatically, which would undermine Putin's claim that his country is again ascendant as a world leader. They can also take steps that would pinch the Russian elite, which relishes its access to Western Europe.

Some of the moves would sting. But none is likely to greatly change the behavior of Putin, experts say.

"Putin is prepared for this kind of international backlash," said Eugene Rumer of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who was the U.S. national intelligence officer for Russia until December. "In his mind, this won't be paying too much of a price."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeRussiaUkraine

8 Comments
Posted March 2, 2014 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sudanese authorities arrested a pastor in Omdurman as he was preaching on Sunday (Feb. 23) and threatened that he would “face justice” unless he resigned his position, sources said.

Personnel from the Criminal Investigation Department entered the compound of Omdurman Evangelical Church and arrested the Rev. Yahya Abdelrahim Nalu as part of a government plan to take over properties of the church’s denomination, the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC), the sources said. Omdurman is opposite Khartoum on the River Nile.

The Federal Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments seeks to replace Nalu, senior leader at the church and moderator of the SPEC Synod, with a government-appointed committee that favors turning SPEC properties over to the government, they said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 2, 2014 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the moment, Putin is doing very well in Ukraine. Clueless arrogance by both US and EU policymakers gave Putin a heaven-sent opportunity to block a worst-case scenario for Russia in Ukraine last fall. Then-President Yanukovych, a man of the east long associated with Russia, was moving toward signing an Association Agreement with the EU that offered a historic opportunity for a united Ukraine to move firmly west. But both Washington and the EU underestimated Putin’s determination to block that outcome and failed to ensure that Yanukovych went all the way. Putin seized the opportunity and with a combination of official and perhaps unofficial, more personal incentives, was able to keep Yanukovych from finalizing the deal.

Yanukovych’s obvious yielding to Moscow’s blandishments touched off the unrest that would ultimately bring him down and set the current crisis afoot. When pro-European street protesters overthrew Yanukovych, there were plenty of Western analysts (some, unfortunately, working for governments) who drew the comforting but deeply false conclusion that these events represented a triumph of the West. Instead, the revolution (Kiev’s third since 1990), unleashed the chaos that gave Putin his chance for his Crimean gambit. Now Putin seems to be seizing the most important military assets Russia holds in the country and can reasonably hope to increase Russia’s influence throughout the country as a weak government struggles with intractable problems.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeRussiaUkraine

0 Comments
Posted March 1, 2014 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ukraine's interior minister has accused Russian naval forces of occupying Sevastopol airport in the autonomous region of Crimea.

Arsen Avakov called their presence an "armed invasion".

But Russia's Black Sea Fleet has denied that Russian servicemen are taking part.

The other main Crimean airport, Simferopol, has also been occupied by armed men. The men are thought to be pro-Russia militia.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted February 28, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Unfortunately, in the eyes of many Central Asians, America’s interest does not extend beyond gas and oil. Washington’s decision to pull back from Afghanistan in 2014 will likely erode American influence at the very moment when it could do the most good — especially as rising prosperity increases pressure for governments to loosen their grip. Greater freedom presents great dangers, as the disillusions of the Arab Spring have so sadly demonstrated.

Yet it may be in Central Asia, rather than the Middle East, Pakistan or Indonesia, where the ideals that both Presidents Bush and Obama have espoused will be most actively pursued in coming years. This is not to suggest that Washington pay less attention to the Arab world, but perhaps it is time for us to listen to our own lectures on the possibilities of a peaceful and intellectually open version of Islam, and to back those societies that are trying most successfully to advance it today.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted February 27, 2014 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Niebuhr would ask, about drones: “given the resentments among local populations,...how many terrorists are we creating for every one we kill?” What sort of precedents are we creating with a program of “targeted assassinations?” “Will targeted assassinations ever eliminate or even reduce the causes of violent Islamic radicalism?”

So [Andrew] Bacevich thinks that Niebuhr would condemn the drone campaign as ill-conceivedand immoral.

Yes, after 9/11 "doing nothing may not be an option,” but is it the only option? Let the questioning and debate continue, with IRONY not only on our sweatshirts, but as a perspective on what has to be on the minds of the thoughtful. - See more at: http://divinity.uchicago.edu/sightings/niebuhrian-irony-and-drones-%E2%80%94-martin-e-marty#sthash.P1sXnXFg.dpuf

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in GeneralTerrorismWar in Afghanistan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 25, 2014 at 5:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Russia has stepped up its rhetoric against Ukraine's new Western-leaning leadership as tensions rise over the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych.

Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev said interim authorities in Kiev had conducted an "armed mutiny".

And the Russian foreign ministry said dissenters in mainly Russian-speaking regions faced suppression.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 24, 2014 at 11:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ukraine's new interim President Oleksandr Turchynov has said the country will focus on closer integration with the EU.

Mr Turchynov was appointed following the dismissal of President Viktor Yanukovych by MPs on Saturday.

Mr Yanukovych's rejection of an EU-Ukraine trade pact triggered the protests that toppled him.

The interim president also said he was "ready for dialogue" with Russia, which has backed Mr Yanukovych.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 23, 2014 at 5:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The escalation in violence in Kiev...poses a huge challenge to the EU. What, exactly, can it do here to prevent continuing civil disorder on its doorstep?

As ever when it comes to EU foreign policy, the first hurdle is to actually secure an agreement among 28 member states which is difficult in itself. As we've said on a number of occasions, Catherine Ashton's European External Action Service cannot magically replace 28 foreign policy positions - this has been proved time and again over Israel/Palestine, Libya, Syria etc. When it comes to the Ukraine, these differences have been apparent in how to deal with Russia in the first place, how hard it was to push for the EU-Ukraine trade agreement, then over how to deal with the anti-government protests, and now it looks likely they will appear in whether to impose sanctions

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted February 20, 2014 at 7:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Russia has been showing the world glistening scenes of the Winter Olympics. It's a rare opportunity to brighten a national image that often skates on the thin ice of corruption. One authority estimates that 20 percent of the Russian economy is skimmed by graft and a lot of that by government officials. It may be that no one knows more about this than American-born businessman Bill Browder.

Browder tells a story of thievery, vengeance and death worthy of a Russian novel. He's a thorn in the side of Vladimir Putin and he has torn a rift between Moscow and Washington. When you hear what he has to say about Russia you'll know why Russia thinks of Bill Browder as an enemy of the state.

Bill Browder: The Russian regime is a criminal regime. We're dealing with a nuclear country run by a bunch of Mafia crooks. And we have to know that.

Read (or better watch) it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted February 18, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are still many things to love about Argentina, from the glorious wilds of Patagonia to the world’s best footballer, Lionel Messi. The Argentines remain perhaps the best-looking people on the planet. But their country is a wreck. Harrods closed in 1998. Argentina is once again at the centre of an emerging-market crisis. This one can be blamed on the incompetence of the president, Cristina Fernández, but she is merely the latest in a succession of economically illiterate populists, stretching back to Juan and Eva (Evita) Perón, and before. Forget about competing with the Germans. The Chileans and Uruguayans, the locals Argentines used to look down on, are now richer. Children from both those countries—and Brazil and Mexico too—do better in international education tests.

Why dwell on a single national tragedy? When people consider the worst that could happen to their country, they think of totalitarianism. Given communism’s failure, that fate no longer seems likely. If Indonesia were to boil over, its citizens would hardly turn to North Korea as a model; the governments in Madrid or Athens are not citing Lenin as the answer to their euro travails. The real danger is inadvertently becoming the Argentina of the 21st century. Slipping casually into steady decline would not be hard. Extremism is not a necessary ingredient, at least not much of it: weak institutions, nativist politicians, lazy dependence on a few assets and a persistent refusal to confront reality will do the trick.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 16, 2014 at 1:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. military has revised plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan to allow the White House to wait until President Hamid Karzai leaves office before completing a security pact and settling on a post-2014 U.S. troop presence, officials said.

The option for waiting reflects a growing belief in Washington that there is little chance of repairing relations with Mr. Karzai and getting him to sign the bilateral security agreement before elections scheduled for the spring.

"If he's not going to be part of the solution, we have to have a way to get past him," said a senior U.S. official. "It's a pragmatic recognition that clearly Karzai may not sign the BSA and that he doesn't represent the voice of the Afghan people."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 11, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Aleppo, Syria's largest city, has seen thousands of different rulers in its 7,000-year history, including Alexander the Great, Saladin and Tammerlane. It also has seen dozens of sieges.

But no ruler and no siege have been more brutal than the present ones.

As Syrian President Bashar al-Assad tries to drive rebels and their followers out of Aleppo, his army, with complete control of the nation's air space, has attacked the city's civilian areas with aircraft, missiles, artillery, mortars and, in a new twist, "barrel bombs" dropped from helicopters flying at 7,000 feet.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

0 Comments
Posted February 11, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted February 10, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to [Lindsey ] Graham, Kerry gave the clear impression that Syria is slipping out of control. He said Kerry told the delegation that, “the al-Qaeda threat is real, it is getting out of hand.” The secretary, he said, raised the threat of al-Qaeda unprompted. “He acknowledged that the chemical weapons [delivery] is being slow-rolled; the Russians continue to supply arms [and that] we are at a point now where we are going to have to change our strategy. He openly talked about supporting arming the rebels. He openly talked about forming a coalition against al-Qaeda because it’s a direct threat.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

2 Comments
Posted February 3, 2014 at 6:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted February 2, 2014 at 6:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop Stanley Ntagali responded that "homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture".

He said he hoped the Church of England would "step back from the path" it had set itself on "so the Church of Uganda will be able to maintain communion with our own Mother Church".

Archbishop Ntagali said the Church of Uganda had been encouraged that the country's parliament had amended the Anti-Homosexuality Bill to remove the death penalty, and make other provisions of the bill less severe - all amendments which he said the Church had recommended..

"The Church is a safe place for individuals, who are confused about their sexuality or struggling with sexual brokenness, to seek help and healing," said Archbishop Ntagali.

Read it all and note carefully the accompanying comments of BBC religious affairs reporter John McManus.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of Uganda* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaUgandaEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ultimately, the film’s central question—who are the heroes of the revolution?—scarcely seems to matter. Its answer—the liberal democracy activists—seems dubious. And was it even a revolution? Today some activists are in jail or back on the street, protesting against the new regime. Others have joined a large majority of Egyptians to cheer for the army as it withholds many of the freedoms the activists fought and died for.

Peter Hessler, a winner of the Macarthur “Genius” grant who reports for the New Yorker from Cairo, heard a common refrain around the city on the day of the referendum on the army’s constitution: “The country needs to move forward.” There were very few “no” votes that day. On Twitter, journalists joked that a citizen willing to admit he or she voted “no” couldn’t be found anywhere. Very few Egyptians seem to be willing to jeopardize stability and security to experiment with the Western-style values of democracy and accountability preached by the activists.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMovies & TelevisionViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Arriving in the capital Juba, Archbishop Justin said: “All our prayers are with the people of South Sudan at this testing time for the young nation. I have come with my wife, Caroline, and my colleague Joanna Udal who has long experience here, bringing the greetings, love and encouragement of your brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.

“The South Sudanese Church is an example to us all in its consistent speaking with one voice for peace, for unity and to an ending to the violence so horrifically perpetrated against so many people. With the South Sudanese Church leaders, I urge political differences to be set aside for the sake of the urgent task of bringing healing and reconciliation.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchHistoryViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South SudanEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted January 30, 2014 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written to the presidents of Nigeria and Uganda, after being asked about laws there penalising gay people.

The letter said homosexual people were loved and valued by God and should not be victimised or diminished.

Nigeria and Uganda have both passed legislation targeting people with same-sex attraction.

The letter is also addressed to all primates (heads of national Churches) in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican PrimatesArchbishop of York John Sentamu* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologySexuality* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaUgandaEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 30, 2014 at 5:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Tuesday (Jan. 28), the European Court of Human Rights found the government was liable in a case in which a principal sexually abused a student, then 9 years old, when she attended a state-funded Catholic school in the 1970s. An Irish court had rejected her claims on the grounds that the school wasn’t public, but the European court decided the government had failed in its duty to protect children.

The ruling touched on an issue that has taken on greater urgency in recent years as sexual abuse scandals have rocked the church and more nonreligious people have immigrated to the staunchly Catholic country: Who should run Ireland’s schools?

The Catholic Church runs 90 percent of primary schools in Ireland. The rest are mainly Protestant, and about 4 percent are managed by the nonprofit Educate Together, which is nonsectarian.

The arrangement is unsettling to some parents who have little choice in where to send their children.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Late in the evening of November 28 last year, Habila Adamu was at home with his wife and kids in the Yobe state of Northern Nigeria when visitors stopped by. He opened the door, shocked to find gunmen wearing robes and masks.

They demanded he step outside and they peppered him with questions. What was his name? Habila Adamu. Was he a member of the Nigerian police? No. Was he a soldier? No. Was he a member of the state security service? No. He told them he was a businessman.

OK, are you a Christian?” they asked.

“I am a Christian,” Habila said.

Initially fearful, Habila came to terms with the realization that it was the day of his death. He began praying for strength, forgiveness and salvation.


Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted January 28, 2014 at 6:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The temporary truce signed on Thursday by South Sudanese politicians may have halted hostilities that, according to United Nations and humanitarian estimates, have resulted in the deaths of more than 10,000 people – and displaced half a million more –since fighting began in December, but a sustainable peace remains far off, diplomats and experts say. “The country can fall apart; it’s sort of half unglued now. Even if there’s a ceasefire, who knows if that’s going to stick as it doesn’t resolve any the underlining problems,” said Tom McDonald, who worked on Sudan issues as U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe during the Clinton presidency. “A lot is at stake because we have invested time and diplomatic capital and lots of money there to stand up this country.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan

0 Comments
Posted January 26, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Frustrations with the dollar’s dominance are growing. The global fallout from the Federal Reserve’s stimulus policies, followed by Washington’s willingness to take budget talks to the brink of default last year, have made many governments reassess their reliance on US economic policy.

There is a general wish to stop the dollar being, as Richard Nixon’s Treasury secretary once told anxious Europeans, “our currency, your problem”. But it is far from clear what the alternative will be.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCurrency MarketsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 26, 2014 at 2:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to the late Roberto Goizueta, a former boss of The Coca-Cola Company, April 15th 1981 was “one of the most important days…in the history of the world.” That date marked the opening of the first Coke bottling plant to be built in China since the Communist revolution.

The claim was over the top, but not absurd. Mao Zedong’s disastrous policies had left the economy in tatters. The height of popular aspiration was the “four things that go round”: bicycles, sewing machines, fans and watches. The welcome that Deng Xiaoping, China’s then leader, gave to foreign firms was part of a series of changes that turned China into one of the biggest and fastest-growing markets in the world.

For the past three decades, multinationals have poured in. After the financial crisis, many companies looked to China for salvation. Now it looks as though the gold rush may be over.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

0 Comments
Posted January 26, 2014 at 1:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Through US Africa Command (AFRICOM), US Special Operations Command, Africa (SOCAFRICA), and the Office of Security Cooperation in the US Embassy in Abuja, the United States will be helping stand up the NASOC by providing training and a limited amount of equipment.

From the information I have, it sounds like NASOC will have a force up North to deal with Boko Haram, a force in the South to deal with security in the Niger Delta, a headquarters force to focus on hostage rescue, and an expeditionary force for external use – perhaps to contribute specialized capabilities for peacekeeping operations.

Unfortunately, I don’t know the precise size of NASOC or of its component forces.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMilitary / Armed ForcesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 25, 2014 at 3:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

God may well be an equal opportunity deity, but that’s never stopped political leaders and clergy from claiming the Creator favors their side over the other in armed conflicts. Indeed, the use and abuse of God and religion were never more evident than during the “War to End All Wars,” World War I, which began 100 years ago in 1914.

In his 2010 book “Faith in the Fight: Religion and the American Soldier in the Great War,” University of Illinois professor Jonathan Ebel examines American soldiers’ many attempts to find religious meaning in the midst of a perplexing and catastrophic war.

America didn’t enter the fighting until 1917, but when Woodrow Wilson, the son of a Presbyterian minister, urged Congress to declare war on Germany, the president used traditional religious language: “The day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness … God helping her, she can do no other.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMilitary / Armed ForcesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted January 25, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

South Sudan's government and rebels have signed a ceasefire agreement after talks in Ethiopia.

Under the deal, signed in a hotel in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, the fighting is due to come to an end within 24 hours.

In the past week, government forces have recaptured the two main cities under rebel control.

More than 500,000 people have been forced from their homes during the month-long conflict.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan

0 Comments
Posted January 24, 2014 at 4:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What have you discovered about evangelical global engagement?

Churches, nongovernmental organizations, lay leaders, and missionaries have played an important part in the United States' role in the world. Beyond preaching the Good News, missionaries built schools, established clinics, and learned about the world. They were really the first internationalists for the United States. Diplomats like Benjamin Franklin and John Adams went abroad, but it was really evangelicals—orthodox missionaries—who started it.

In the post–World War II era, we've seen a significant rise in missions-related organizations, groups like World Vision or, in the field of microenterprise, Opportunity International. Humanitarianism has been a very important component of evangelical action in foreign lands.

What this shows is that evangelism abroad hasn't always been propositional. Evangelical diplomats, businessmen, and physicians want to share the Good
News in places where missionaries aren't allowed, but the sharing of that Good News takes subtle forms.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

0 Comments
Posted January 23, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two protesters have been killed in clashes with police in the Ukrainian capital Kiev.

Prosecutors confirmed they had died from bullet wounds. They are the first fatalities since anti-government protests began in November.

Wednesday's clashes began after police moved in to dismantle a protest camp.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeUkraine

0 Comments
Posted January 22, 2014 at 6:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An American missionary who has been jailed in North Korea for more than a year appeared before reporters Monday and appealed to the U.S. government to do its best to secure his release.

The missionary, Kenneth Bae, made the comments at what he called a press conference held at his own request. He was under guard during the appearance. It is not unusual for prisoners in North Korea to say after their release that they spoke in similar situations under duress.

Wearing a gray cap and inmate's uniform with the number 103 on his chest, Bae spoke in Korean during the brief appearance, which was attended by The Associated Press and a few other foreign media in Pyongyang.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaNorth Korea

0 Comments
Posted January 21, 2014 at 3:42 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Senior U.S. officials said Monday they expect the United Nations to rescind its invitation to Iran to attend an international conference on Syria this week, and said prospects for the talks in Switzerland now are uncertain.

The officials said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had discussed the issue of Iran's invitation with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon over the weekend and was insistent that Tehran must publicly endorse terms set out for the Geneva conference more than 18 months ago.

Read it all.

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

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Posted January 20, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

National Religious Freedom Day, being marked today in the United States, reminds us that freedom of religion or belief is a pivotal human right, central to this country’s history and heritage. It is also recognized as such by the United Nations and other international bodies. Yet the issue frequently sparks debates that too often generate more heat than light.

That the mere mention of religious freedom triggers such powerful emotions, in the United States and overseas, helps explain why this critical right has not been accorded the centrality and respect it deserves, especially as a component of U.S. foreign policy. But whatever the reason, the United States must still look closely at the issue – and why it is key to successful U.S. foreign policy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General

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Posted January 20, 2014 at 9:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The National Security Agency has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world that allows the United States to conduct surveillance on those machines and can also create a digital highway for launching cyberattacks.

While most of the software is inserted by gaining access to computer networks, the N.S.A. has increasingly made use of a secret technology that enables it to enter and alter data in computers even if they are not connected to the Internet, according to N.S.A. documents, computer experts and American officials.

The technology, which the agency has used since at least 2008, relies on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 16, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A car bomb has exploded in the north-eastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, killing at least 17 people.

The Islamist group Boko Haram said it carried out the attack. A suspect has been arrested, the military says.

The bomb went off near a market, sending up a large plume of smoke. People were seen fleeing the scene covered in blood.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the past month, South Sudan has been engulfed in an expanding civil war. Unlike Sudan, where the Satellite Sentinel Project pioneered its work (and with a few exceptions) South Sudan’s government has been allowing both journalists and humanitarians to operate around the country, even as violence spreads.

As a result, harrowing videos, interviews, and photographs documenting the crisis have been emerging for weeks.

The United Nations estimates that over 395,000 people have been displaced by violence, 352,000 internally, of which 60,000 have sought shelter at UN compounds around the country. Another 43,000 are refugees in neighboring countries including Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda, with an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 people from South Sudan arriving daily in Uganda alone.

Read it all.

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

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Posted January 15, 2014 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Global religious hostilities reached a six-year high in 2012 and affected more people than government curbs on religious freedom, according to the Pew Research Center’s latest report on religious restrictions around the world.

The report, released Tuesday (Jan. 14) ahead of National Religious Freedom Day on Thursday, shows that 74 percent of the world’s population experienced high levels of social hostility toward religion, up from 52 percent in 2011.

The sharp rise is due to hostilities in China, which for the first time in the survey’s six-year history, scored a “high” level of religious strife. Home to more than 1.3 billion people, China experienced an increase in religion-related terrorism, mob violence and sectarian conflict in 2012.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 14, 2014 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Britain and the US have warned they will rethink support for Syria's main opposition group if it fails to take part in peace talks next week, a Syrian source has told the BBC.

The official from the Syrian National Coalition said the UK and the US were adamant the group must go to Geneva.

The coalition will hold a vote on Friday on whether or not to attend.

Syria's opposition remains deeply divided nearly three years after the uprising began.

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

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Posted January 13, 2014 at 2:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Iraq war may have never been declared lost. But the stunning surge in violence over the past year — and the return of al-Qaeda in the western province of Anbar this month — is forcing Americans who invested personally in the war’s success to grapple with haunting questions.

“Could someone smart convince me that the black flag of al-Qaeda flying over Fallujah isn’t analogous to the fall of Saigon?” former Army captain Matt Gallagher asked on Twitter. “Because. Well.”

Gallagher, 30, who left the Army to pursue a writing career in New York, has kept close tabs on Iraq since the end of his deployment as a platoon commander in the outskirts of Baghdad in 2009. He has a Google alert for Saba al-Bor, a small village northwest of Baghdad where his infantry platoon spent 15 months living in terror of armor-penetrating roadside bombs and in awe of the complexities of tribal politics.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIraq

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Posted January 12, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is the Central African Republic the world's next Rwanda? That's the question some are beginning to ask about a crisis that has been going on for most of this year but has only just burst through into the mainstream international mass media.

Warlords ruling the countryside by terror, a government that is almost toothless and the collapse of institutions have forced 0.4 million people to flee their homes and left a million dependent on aid.

And now reports of Muslim and Christian communities engaged in inter-communal violence have sparked concern about a slide into religious conflict. The "G-word" -- genocide -- has even been floated as a real risk by some observers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaCentral African Republic* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 10, 2014 at 3:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

South Sudan risks losing hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid if its government and rebel leaders do not end a wave of violence in the fledgling democracy formed with Washington's strong support, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

Three weeks of fighting, often along ethnic lines, is ringing alarm bells in Washington over the prospect that the conflict could spiral into full-blown civil war, spawning atrocities or making South Sudan the world's next failed state.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South SudanAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ITV News has found evidence that children are being targeted in one of Africa's bloodiest civil wars.

Many have suffered horrific injuries, as violence in the Central African Republic sinks to what the United Nations calls a "vicious new low".

Read it all and note the many video links available.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaCentral African Republic* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iraq's Shiite-led government paused on Wednesday on the brink of a military assault against al Qaeda-linked Sunni militants that posed the risk of exacting a high civilian toll and plunging the country deeper into sectarian conflict.

Senior U.S. officials, including Vice President Joseph Biden, have urged Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to secure the support of local Sunni leaders before attacking to drive the extremists from Fallujah, which sits in the heartland of Iraq's Sunni minority. Many Sunni tribal leaders, alienated and angered by Mr. Maliki, have refused.

The standoff tests the U.S.'s remaining leverage in Iraq, which has declined since American forces fought alongside Iraqis to subdue Islamist fighters in Fallujah in two large battles during the nearly decadelong U.S.-led occupation.

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

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Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged the Anglican Communion to pray and advocate for an end to the intense fighting which has overtaken large regions of South Sudan in recent days.

Over 500 people are feared dead in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, where fighting first broke out. The violence has since spread, particularly affecting Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile States.

Archbishop Justin wrote to Anglican primates and moderators... [yesterday] at the request of Archbishop Daniel Deng Yak, Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesEpiscopal Church of the Sudan* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--North Sudan--South Sudan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In much of the world this is a time of new beginnings. In Afghanistan, it is time to mark the beginning of an end: A dozen year commitment of foreign troops to fight the Taliban will wind down this year, meaning 51,000 American soldiers are poised to take their leave from a conflict that appears to be stumbling towards a stalemate, or worse.

The Afghanistan mission has been the longest military engagement in American history. For Canada, which saw 30,000 of its soldiers pass through the country over nine and a half years, it is the largest military operation since the Second World War. One hundred and fifty-eight Canadian soldiers and four civilians died, and by the end of 2010, a total of 1,859 military members had been wounded.

Those grim figures are just part of the reason why Afghanistan’s future should still matter – to Canada and its allies.

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

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Posted January 6, 2014 at 3:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul has written to the Archbishop of Canterbury and called on the Anglican Communion to help communities in South Sudan respond to those displaced by the widespread violence that is continuing in the nation.

With fighting continuing in South Sudan, Most Reverend Dr Daniel Deng, Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan has written a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

He calls for sustained prayer, for advocacy on an immediate peace process and for humanitarian support from across the Anglican Communion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan

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Posted January 6, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The return of South Sudan’s Lost Boys for the birth of this new nation was perhaps the perfect symbol of its hope for a new beginning. Many are American citizens who came back to vote in the 2011 referendum that split off this country from Sudan, with which it fought for decades. Others returned to try to provide the next generation of South Sudanese children with a better country than the one they were born into.

Now, many of these Lost Boys, who had already escaped the violence in their homeland but found themselves inexorably drawn back, are trying to survive the crisis that is threatening to tear their new country apart. Lost, found and lost again, Mr. Atem says that many of his comrades are now trapped in a dangerous and shaky South Sudan.

Some have not made it out alive.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistory* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

South Sudanese government officials and representatives of rebel groups agreed to face-to-face talks on a monitored ceasefire, with artillery fire in Juba's government district underlining the risk of all-out civil war.

The warring parties assured mediators they will strive to reach a political solution to the conflict that began in mid-December, Ethiopian envoy Seyoum Mesfin told reporters in Addis Ababa on Saturday.

There have been continued clashes between President Salva Kiir's SPLA government forces and rebels loyal to former vice president Riek Machar centred around the strategically located town of Bor. As delegates smiled in a luxury hotel in Ethiopia, heavy explosions from artillery fire were heard in a Juba district where most ministries, the presidential palace and the parliament are located.

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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 January 5, 2014 at 2:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that twelve Christians were brutally murdered by suspected Boko Haram militants in northern Nigeria over the weekend. According to reports, these Christians were killed in two attacks on separate Christian villages in Nigeria's Muslim majority state of Borno.

The first attack took place on Saturday, December 28, in the Christian village of Tashan-Alede where eight people attending a wedding celebration were killed when militants connected with Boko Haram opened fire on the Christians gathered. According to the Christian Broadcasting Network, "One attack took place at a pre-wedding bachelor party. Suspected fighters from Boko Haram opened fire on the group, killing eight people."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted January 2, 2014 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As many participate in religious celebrations at this time of the year, our country, the Central African Republic, remains on the brink of religious warfare. In a place that most of the world struggles to find on a map, more than 2 million people, nearly half of the nation’s population, are in desperate need of aid. As we write, approximately 40,000 people without shelter or toilets are crammed into the airport compound in the capital, Bangui. In just the past week in Bangui, hundreds have been killed, including patients dragged out of hospitals and executed. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that he is “gravely concerned about the imminent danger of mass atrocities.” We fear that without a wider international response, our country will succumb to darkness .

As the most senior faith leaders of our country’s Christian and Muslim communities, respectively, we recognize our responsibility to help define a path away from violence. Our colleagues, priests and imams alike, have paid the ultimate price for taking on their own part of this responsibility, and we fear the worst is yet to come.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPovertyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaCentral African Republic* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 28, 2013 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Christmas neared, an 85-foot-high tree presided over the little square in front of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. Kindergarten children with Santa Claus hats entered the church and listened to their teacher explain in Arabic the Greek inscriptions on the walls, while a group of Russian pilgrims knelt on their knees and whispered in prayer. In Nazareth's old city, merchants sold the usual array of Christmas wares.

This year, however, the familiar rhythms of Christmas season in the Holy Land have been disturbed by a new development: the rise of an independent voice for Israel's Christian community, which is increasingly trying to assert its separate identity. For decades, Arab Christians were considered part of Israel's sizable Palestinian minority, which comprises both Muslims and Christians and makes up about a fifth of the country's citizens, according to the Israeli government.

But now, an informal grass-roots movement, prompted in part by the persecution of Christians elsewhere in the region since the Arab Spring, wants to cooperate more closely with Israeli Jewish society—which could mean a historic change in attitude toward the Jewish state. "Israel is my country, and I want to defend it," says Henry Zaher, an 18-year-old Christian from the village of Reineh who was visiting Nazareth. "The Jewish state is good for us."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsJudaism

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Posted December 28, 2013 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Aside from President Rouhani’s occasional tweets wishing Jews and Christians well on Rosh Hashanah and Christmas, Iran’s track record on religious tolerance and freedom is dismal.

Last month, the president released a draft Charter of Citizens’ Rights. Nice title, but what’s inside leaves much to be desired according to Nazila Ghanea, who teaches international human rights law at the University of Oxford. Ghanea has studied Iran’s human rights record for nearly two decades with a particular focus on freedom of religion or belief and minority rights. I spoke with her about this new charter and more generally about religious freedom in Iran. This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 27, 2013 at 11:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The UN has renewed its call for rival forces in South Sudan to lay down their arms and says it expects the first UN reinforcements to arrive in 48 hours.

The plea came as South Sudan's President Salva Kiir met the leaders of neighbouring Kenya and Ethiopia in an effort to defuse the conflict.

Government officials say a number of oil wells are now in rebel hands.

Read it all.

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

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Posted December 26, 2013 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hymns echoed down the stairwell on a cold December morning. But they were not in English, or in the Norwegian of the Knudsens, Pedersens and other long-dead Scandinavians who are commemorated on the faded stained-glass windows.

Downstairs the descendants of the Norwegians continued to worship as they have done for decades at Our Saviour’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighborhood.

But the Arabic prayers and responses heard upstairs were from a newer congregation that shares the building. The Salam Arabic Lutheran Church has become a home for Arab Christians, many of whom fled the Middle East. Some escaped violence in Syria and Iraq. Others say life was made difficult by armed gangs, kidnappers and extortionists, jihadi extremists or Israeli soldiers and settlers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheran* Theology

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Posted December 24, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Prince of Wales’s powerful intervention last week on the persecution of Christians is a reminder that ancient Christian communities, pre-dating Islam, are on the verge of disappearing from their homelands in the Middle East.

After years of bringing together Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders in dialogue, Prince Charles admitted that in spite of many such efforts, “fundamentalist Islamist militants” were “deliberately” targeting Christians.

This is something that Western governments have been strangely and inexplicably reluctant to confront. In a recent House of Commons debate on the issue, the Government response was full of denial that this was a problem uniquely affecting Christian communities. But, then, successive governments have done little to speak up for Christians facing human rights abuses in Africa and the Middle East.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 24, 2013 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

South Sudan's government said on Sunday rebels had seized the capital of a key oil-producing region and fears grew of all-out ethnic civil war in the world's newest country.

The U.N. announced it was trying to rush more peacekeeping forces to landlocked, impoverished South Sudan as foreign powers urged both sides to stop fighting, fearing for the stability of an already fragile region of Africa.

The South Sudan government said on its Twitter account it was no longer in control of Bentiu, the capital of Unity State.

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 23, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

India’s one-year-old Aam Aadmi party, formed by a former tax official turned crusading anti-corruption activist, announced on Monday that it will form the local government in New Delhi, after a stunning electoral debut that tapped into public anger against India’s incumbent political elites.

Like Italy’s Five Star Movement led by comedian come politician Beppe Grillo, the AAP is an electoral insurgency, which has tapped into deep Indian disgruntlement – especially among its urban educated voters – at the lack of accountability of established politicians, many of whom seem to treat electoral victories as blank cheques.

The strong wave of support for the party, which has managed to capture 30 per cent of the city’s vote, has shocked and dismayed the political establishment, and triggered near euphoria among disillusioned urban voters hoping for radical change.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia

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Posted December 23, 2013 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On behalf of our churches we appeal to the leaders in South Sudan to lay down their weapons and co-operate in seeking peace through dialogue and negotiation.

As we approach the celebration of the birth of our Saviour, the Prince of Peace, this is a time for the vulnerable, the weak and the poor to be spared the trauma of civil conflict.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 23, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After a week of intense gunbattles, rebel factions allied with South Sudan's former vice president were solidifying control of seized territory while humanitarian organizations warned of being overwhelmed with refugees from the fighting.

By Sunday, there were fewer reports of all-out clashes, but tens of thousands of South Sudanese continued to flee either to the relative safety of United Nations' camps or across the border to Kenya and Uganda. About 42,000 people have taken shelter in the U.N. camps, the organization said, and some 60,000 overall have been displaced.

At least 500 people have been killed in the week of fighting in South Sudan. Though a political power struggle appears to have sparked the violence, it quickly turned into bloody ethnic clashes and has threatened to split the country along ethnic lines.

Read it all.

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

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Posted December 22, 2013 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church in the West cannot intervene in conflicts in places such as Syria and Egypt - unless it is invited to do so, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

"We would be delighted to play a reconciliation role if there is one we can play. If someone in a viable position on both sides says, 'Come and help,' we'll be on the next flight."

But he ruled out any peace mission under present circumstances. "Nothing can be done until people are willing to let something happen. If people want to fight, they fight. When both sides think they can win, they will go on fighting."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 20, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States State Department announced that its ambassador in Juba met on Wednesday with South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir amid fears of an outbreak of civil war in the world’s newest nation.

"Today, Ambassador Page met with President Kiir in Juba to discuss our concern about the continued violence, increasing death toll, and growing humanitarian challenges," US Deputy State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters today.

"She raised the arrests of several opposition members and called on the government to ensure their rights are protected in accordance with South Sudan’s constitution and international humanitarian and human rights laws and norms," she added.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted December 19, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For myself, I have for some time now been deeply troubled by the growing difficulties faced by Christian communities in various parts of the Middle East. It seems to me that we cannot ignore the fact that Christians in the Middle East are, increasingly, being deliberately targeted by fundamentalist Islamist militants. Christianity was, literally, born in the Middle East and we must not forget our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters in Christ. Their church communities link us straight back to the early Church, as I was reminded by hearing Aramaic, Our Lord's own language, spoken and sung a few hours ago.

Yet, today, the Middle East and North Africa has the lowest concentration of Christians in the world – just four per cent of the population and it is clear that the Christian population of the Middle East has dropped dramatically over the last century and is falling still further.

This has an effect on all of us, although, of course, primarily on those Christians who can no longer continue to live in the Middle East: we all lose something immensely and irreplaceably precious when such a rich tradition dating back two thousand years begins to disappear. It is, therefore, especially delightful to see such a rich panoply of church life here to-day, including the Antiochian, Greek, Coptic, Syrian, and Armenian Orthodox Churches, the Melkite, Maronite, Syrian Catholic, Chaldean, and Roman Catholic Churches, as well as the Church of the East, and Churches established, dare I say it, somewhat more recently, including the Anglican Church!

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

3 Comments
Posted December 19, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The flood of North American crude oil is set to become a deluge as Mexico dismantles a 75-year-old barrier to foreign investment in its oil fields.

Plagued by almost a decade of slumping output that has degraded Mexico’s take from a $100-a-barrel oil market, President Enrique Pena Nieto is seeking an end to the state monopoly over one of the biggest crude resources in the Western Hemisphere. The doubling in Mexican oil output that Citigroup Inc. said may result from inviting international explorers to drill would be equivalent to adding another Nigeria to world supply, or about 2.5 million barrels a day.

That boom would augment a supply surge from U.S. and Canadian wells that Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) predicts will vault North American production ahead of every OPEC member except Saudi Arabia within two years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Mexico

0 Comments
Posted December 16, 2013 at 4:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some more active persecutors tell similar stories. “We harassed them and destroyed their houses. But they have no hatred or anger against us,” said Junos Digal, a member of the mob that attacked Christian targets. Squatting on a mat, with a Bible in front of him, he continued: “They are still suffering. But they have no complaints and they are living happily. There is certainly something special about how their faith enables them to overcome difficulties. This has brought me here. If Jesus could influence people’s lives to such an extent, I would prefer to be a part of that faith,” Digal said.

Asked whether he was worried that other Hindu fundamentalists would not turn their ire toward him for betraying their cause, Digal gave an interesting reply: “Many of us were misled. Now they will accept the reality. I am not worried about that.” Junos's wife, Sailama, embraced Christian faith before he did. She said simply: “My conscience made me take this decision.” She too is unworried about a possible angry reaction from militant Hindus. “ God will protect us,” she says. “If we live, we live for Christ and if we die, we die for Christ.”

The entry of more than a dozen such new converts to their congregation brought joy and comfort to the Christians who had held to their faith amid persecution. “In our suffering, our faith has been strengthened,” said Jayanti Digal. “Even when we were suffering, our faith kept us going. Now we are glad that even those who attacked us have started embracing our faith,” she said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsHinduism

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Posted December 16, 2013 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr Powell said that Mr Mandela was a guide to him when he became the first black US secretary of state:

What I liked telling people was I was the first secretary of state who happened to be black, and I put that descriptor behind the title. We have to get beyond these labels depending upon your gender or your colour or your background. I'm proud of being black, and I'm proud of being an immigrant of British subjects, but at the same time I want to be seen as an American. And I think Nelson Mandela was able to create that kind of an image within South Africa. We are not black South Africans or white South Africans, we are South Africans who happen to be black or white. We are one family, one nation, one people.

Read it all and watch the whole video clip (approximately 3 1/4 minutes).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race Relations* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 7, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Roosevelt, Stalin, Churchill, Hitler — these were the names that, for much of the world, defined the first half of the 20th century, the most destructive era in history.

Gandhi, King, Mandela — these, it could be argued, are the figures who will live longest in the public consciousness as we look back on the postwar world: leaders who had no real armies to speak of and who wielded little power in office but who helped create a new ethic through the power of their ideas and the example of their lives.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchPrison/Prison MinistryRace/Race Relations* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSouth Africa

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Posted December 5, 2013 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You may watch the announcement by Jacob Zuma here.

The Wall Street Journal now has an interactive obituary complete with some of his most memorable quotes, tweets and video there

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the Elderly* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSouth Africa

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Posted December 5, 2013 at 3:49 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States is appalled by today’s reports of the murder of innocent women and children outside of Bangui. This horrifying account is the latest in a string of reports that illustrate the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) that could lead to an escalation in violence and further atrocities.

We are working with our partners in the international community, including through our efforts on the United Nations Security Council, to find the swiftest and most effective vehicle for stabilizing the situation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaCentral African Republic

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Posted December 5, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An attack by suspected Islamist militants on a Nigerian air force base indicates the Boko Haram group retains its military capacity even after a seven-month offensive by government forces.

“It is a big deal, it shows the capability of Boko Haram is growing,” Murtala Touray, senior Africa analyst at IHS Country Risk in London, said today by phone. “For Boko Haram to plan this attack, it shows they are a force to be reckoned with, they can take on the Nigerian army.”

The pre-dawn raid took place yesterday in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, about 860 kilometers (535 miles) northeast of the capital, Abuja. Two air force personnel were wounded, 24 attackers were killed and three military aircraft and two helicopters were damaged, military spokesman Chris Olukolade said in a statement e-mailed to journalists....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 4, 2013 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram militants launched a daring raid against Nigerian troops on Monday in an attack that indicates the Islamist group is still capable of deadly strikes in spite of a six-month military crackdown.

The onslaught by what witnesses described as “hundreds” of militants against a military barracks and an air force base in Maiduguri, the capital of the north-eastern state of Borno, where Boko Haram is strongest, left scores dead, helicopters burnt and barracks destroyed, according to local news reports.

The authorities responded by imposing a 24-hour curfew across the state, and Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s president, summoned senior military officials to a meeting.

Read it all (if necessary, another link may be found there).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The interim accord with Iran that would limit its nuclear program in exchange for some sanctions relief “is greatly preferable to military action, which could have unpredictable and negative repercussions for the region,” said the chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in a November 27 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.

Read it all by following the link to the full letter.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 2, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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