Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

This is the battle that Justin Welby is calling for.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Is Nigeria as bad as we read in news headlines?

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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Posted October 16, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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Posted October 15, 2014 at 3:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all and examine the map.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all from the SMH.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all from the WSJ.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted October 1, 2014 at 5:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 28, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted September 28, 2014 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all from USA Today.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 26, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.



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

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Posted September 24, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 23, 2014 at 5:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 20, 2014 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.



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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"As Scots now consider what kind of nation will now emerge from this campaign, the church must lead – and be allowed to lead – the way to ensure the new Scotland is one that reflects God's values in the economy, the family, our communities and our environment. As Christians we passionately believe that these values will shape our nation for good. There has been an exceptionally high level of engagement and this must not wane. The passion must continue.

"We recognise that while many are celebrating this morning there are also many in Scotland who are devastated at this result. It is now time to show grace and kindness to those on the other side and move quickly to bring reconciliation where it is needed in our land. I know it will be a difficult thing for some people to do but we must love our neighbour. We are all Scots and Scots at heart together. If we put God’s love at the heart of what we do, healing will be much faster, genuine and long-lasting.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted September 19, 2014 at 5:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of Scotland's most senior cleric has urged unionists and pro-independence campaigners to respect the outcome of the referendum and work together towards a stronger future.

In the hours after the result both sides must publicly declare that the matter has been democratically settled, the Moderator of the Kirk's General Assembly said.

The Rt Rev John Chalmers also suggested replacing posters and badges from the Yes and No campaigns with a "One Scotland" image, while opposing voters should pose together for selfies and share them on social media.

Read it all and please note there is a Service of Reconciliation at St Giles planned for this Sunday.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"This is a moment for reconciliation and healing not rejoicing or recrimination. Some of the wounds opened up in recent months are likely to take time to heal on both sides of the border. The historically close relationships that have existed between the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church of Scotland and the Church of England and our long involvement in mediation have a contribution to make as our societies not only reflect on the lessons of the referendum campaign but engage in delivering the radical restructuring of the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom for which commitments have been made." \

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 19, 2014 at 4:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many displaced Christians now see no future in Iraq, home to one of the most ancient Christian communities anywhere.

"Now we know there is no more security in this country," said Father Bahnam Lalo, pastor of Bartella's St. George Church, who, like most of his parishioners, fled to Irbil, capital of the relatively safe semiautonomous Kurdish region. "We love this land, we're rooted to this land, but it's hopeless."

International attention last month focused on the plight of the Yazidis, another minority group, and their harrowing escape to Mt. Sinjar. But about 100,000 Christians also have fled the Sunni militants since June, church leaders say.

Multitudes of displaced Christians are now hoping to join relatives in Europe, the United States, Australia and elsewhere.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 18, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The people of Scotland will go to the polls in record numbers today when two and a half years of campaigning culminate in the most important vote in the country’s history.

The future of Scotland and that of the 307-year-old United Kingdom will be determined by an unprecedented turnout of voters from Shetland to the Borders.

With last night’s polls indicating that the result is too close to call, the fate of the nation lies in the hands of 4,285,323 people – 97 per cent of the potential electorate – who have registered to vote.

Voters can cast their ballot at 5,579 polling stations from 7am until the polls close at 10pm. The question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” requires a straight Yes or No answer.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 18, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Bruce] Shipman didn’t understand Jewish connections to Israel, argued religion writer Mark Oppenheimer in a column for Tablet. Oppenheimer said Shipman failed to understand the difference between Israel and the action of Jews and anti-Semitism.

“You don’t say to Muslims, ‘If you have a problem with anti-Muslim bigotry, take it up with al-Qaida,’” Oppenheimer said in an interview. “That’s not the way American dialogue should proceed.”

However, Oppenheimer, who teaches a class at Yale, does not believe Shipman should have had to resign.

“I’m opposed to drumming people out of communities,” he said. “I don’t think the answer is to call for someone’s scalp.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchEducationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Having spent most of his youth as a drug addict in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Turkey’s capital, Can did not think he had much to lose when he was smuggled into Syria with 10 of his childhood friends to join the world’s most extreme jihadist group.

After 15 days at a training camp in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto headquarters of the group, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the 27-year-old Can was assigned to a fighting unit. He said he shot two men and participated in a public execution. It was only after he buried a man alive that he was told he had become a full ISIS fighter.

“When you fight over there, it’s like being in a trance,” said Can, who asked to be referred to only by his middle name for fear of reprisal. “Everyone shouts, ‘God is the greatest,’ which gives you divine strength to kill the enemy without being fazed by blood or splattered guts,” he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkeyMiddle East* Theology

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Posted September 17, 2014 at 3:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

BILL Shorten is considering proposals to boost the refugee intake, amid Left faction unrest over military intervention in Iraq.

The Opposition Leader’s move came as the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, appealed to Tony Abbott “as a Christian leader” to restore the intake to 20,000 a year to help protect Iraqi Christians.

The Coalition cut the intake to 13,750 when it came to power, arguing that the enlarged program sent the “wrong message” to asylum-seekers seeking to come by boat.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted September 17, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A less great Britain loses a quarter of its territory and almost all of its mountains. Scotland lays claim to the ski resorts (and, sadly, a bit more of the rain). It gets some of the oil in the North Sea. But for actors, athletes, tourism and treasure, the kingdom comprising England, Wales and Northern Ireland holds a generous lead. Among inventors, Scotland gets John Logie Baird who devised the first television, while England lays rights on Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web. The 18th century poet Robert Burns goes north, Shakespeare, Dickens, the Brontë sisters and others stay south. Among politicians, the Scots can claim Gordon Brown; the rest of Blighty gets Churchill. In music, Annie Lennox and the Bay City Rollers have to hold their own against England’s Bowie, Beatles and Stones.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 17, 2014 at 6:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If Scotland votes Yes to independence the knee-jerk response in the markets is easy to predict: sell sterling, sell UK equities, sell Scottish financials and short Spanish debt on Catalonia fears. UK gilts may offer a safe haven but this is not certain given questions about the allocation of debt in divorce, enhanced risk of rump UK exit from the EU and potential contingent liabilities associated with a messy break-up of the UK.

In particular there has been insufficient attention to the challenge that would be faced by the Bank of England maintaining unlimited liquidity provision to Scottish banks during the transition to independence, particularly if uncertainty about future currency arrangements were to result in cross-border capital flight. There is a non-trivial risk this could end in a credit crunch in Scotland.

The onset of divorce negotiations would lay bare that Scotland faces an impossible trinity: full independence, financial stability and deep economic integration with the UK. It can have any two of these but not all three.

Read it all Krishna Guha of the FT.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted September 17, 2014 at 6:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian minorities are in danger of being eradicated in the Middle East, leaders of evangelical and Protestant denominations in Syria and Lebanon said in a joint statement Aug. 29.

Leaders of the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon, the highest representative body of all the Evangelical and Protestant denominations in the two countries, issued a “state of emergency” to preserve “what remains of the Christian and moderate non-Christian presence” in the region “and to circumvent its complete demise.”

“The issue of Christian presence in the Middle East has gone beyond the stage of calling for equal rights and protection from persecution,” the statement said. “It has become a cry of warning before further events cause the annihilation of Christian presence in the Middle East.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastLebanonSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted September 17, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the Edinburgh rain, a striking number of voters have recently changed their minds. Michael Constantine says he and his parents all switched sides.

"My dad, he was a 'no,' " says Constantine, 25. "In the past two months, he's become a 'yes.' And then my mum was a 'no' initially. She became a 'yes.' "

All three of them used to support keeping the U.K. intact. Now, they plan to vote for Scottish independence. Constantine says he wasn't so much drawn to the 'yes' campaign; it's more that unity drove him away.

"The 'no' campaign, the scaremongering and the fear they're putting into people, really upset me," Constantine says.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A “Yes” vote for independence would be an economic mistake for Scotland and a geopolitical disaster for the west, senior US figures – including Alan Greenspan – tell the Financial Times as Washington wakes up to the chance that its closest ally could break up this week.

Having assumed for months that “No” would win comfortably, Washington has reacted with alarm to opinion polls showing that Thursday’s referendum is going down to the wire. “We have an interest in seeing the UK remain strong, robust and united,” said Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK--Scotland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all from the WSJ.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The official reason for [Bruce] Shipman’s resignation, according to the Episcopal Church at Yale, was not the letter but “dynamics between the Board of Governors and the Priest-in-Charge.” Ian Douglas, bishop of Connecticut and president of the board of governors for the Episcopal Church at Yale, emphasized this distinction to the Yale Daily News. “It’s not as glamorous a story to hear that Priest-in-Charge Bruce Shipman resigned because of institutional dynamics within the Episcopal Church at Yale and not the debates related to Israel and Palestine — but it’s the truth,” he said.

Shipman disagrees. “This story cannot be simply dismissed as the inner problems of the Episcopal Church at Yale. It was not,” he says. “It was this letter that set off the firestorm.”

For Shipman, the controversy raises a number of “troubling questions” about free speech on campus. In addition to the hate mail, Shipman says he has also received letters of support from people thanking him for taking a courageous stand for Palestinian rights. University chaplains, he adds, have a long history advocating unpopular cultural positions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchEducationYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 15, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the heart of the nationalist campaign is the claim that Scotland would be a more prosperous and more equal country if it went solo. It is rich in oil and inherently decent, say the nationalists, but impoverished by a government in Westminster that has also imposed callous policies. They blame successive British governments for almost every ill that has befallen Scotland, from the decline of manufacturing industry to ill-health to the high price of sending parcels in the Highlands. Alex Salmond, Scotland’s nationalist leader, is broad in his recrimination: Labour and the Tories are of a piece, he suggests, in their disregard for Scotland.

But Scotland’s relative economic decline is the result not of southern neglect but of the shift of manufacturing and shipping to Asia. If Westminster has not reversed all the deleterious effects of globalisation and technology, that is because to do so is impossible. The nationalists know this, which is why, sotto voce, they would continue many of Westminster’s policies. Instead they make much of minor adjustments, such as abolishing the “bedroom tax”, a recent measure designed to nudge people out of too-large social housing. To break up a country over such small, recent annoyances would be nuts.

The nationalists’ economics are also flawed. Scotland would not, in fact, be richer alone. The taxes that would flow to it from the North Sea would roughly compensate for the extra cost of its lavish state, which would no longer be funded by Westminster (last year spending was some £1,300 per person higher in Scotland than elsewhere in Britain). But oil revenues are erratic.

Read it all.

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Posted September 14, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are three reasons for this invisibility. The political left in the West associates Christian faith with dead white male imperialism and does not come naturally to the recognition that Christianity is now the globe’s most persecuted religion. And in the Middle East the Israel-Palestine question, with its colonial overtones, has been the left’s great obsession, whereas the less ideologically convenient plight of Christians under Islamic rule is often left untouched.

To America’s strategic class, meanwhile, the Middle East’s Christians simply don’t have the kind of influence required to matter. A minority like the Kurds, geographically concentrated and well-armed, can be a player in the great game, a potential United States ally. But except in Lebanon, the region’s Christians are too scattered and impotent to offer much quid for the superpower’s quo. So whether we’re pursuing stability by backing the anti-Christian Saudis or pursuing transformation by toppling Saddam Hussein (and unleashing the furies on Iraq’s religious minorities), our policy makers have rarely given Christian interests any kind of due.

Then, finally, there is the American right, where one would expect those interests to find a greater hearing. But the ancient churches of the Middle East (Eastern Orthodox, Chaldean, Maronites, Copt, Assyrian) are theologically and culturally alien to many American Catholics and evangelicals. And the great cause of many conservative Christians in the United States is the state of Israel, toward which many Arab Christians harbor feelings that range from the complicated to the hostile.

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Posted September 14, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Running through the Bible and Christian thought is the conviction that the idea of covenant lies at the heart of God's relationship with human beings. It is therefore at the heart of how we as peoples relate to one another. 'Better together' is almost an echo of 'It is not good for a human being to be alone' in the book of Genesis. Therefore, any covenanted relationship based on mutual trust, fidelity, common purpose, interdependence and a care for one another's welfare is always better than being independent and alone. The breakup of the united kingdom of Israel and Judah was regarded as a disaster by the prophets because it flew in the face of a covenant between peoples.

This is why I think that for Scotland to say no to the Union of which we have all been a part for 300 years would not only be a tragedy, but also a denial of a hard-won principle of human society that the United Kingdom expresses. The point is not whether Scotland could be a successful, prosperous nation on its own. I am sure it could. But the Christian ideals of mutuality, partnership and service surely point in the opposite direction from narrow nationalisms and self-interest. They suggest that we should be reinvigorating the relationships between us, not dismantling them.

The United Kingdom is not a perfect union: far from it. The English have a long history of treating the Scots with disdain, even contempt. Durham Cathedral, 'half church of God, half castle 'gainst the Scot' in Sir Walter Scott's famous words, epitomises an often violent, destructive relationship. We English need to repent of this, and start treating Scotland as an equal partner in the Union.

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Posted September 13, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Why was there such a wave of opposition? In part because Americans had no confidence their leaders understood the complications, history and realities of Syria or the Mideast. The previous 12 years had left them distrusting the American foreign-policy establishment. Americans felt the U.S. itself needed more care and attention. By 2013 there was a new depth of disbelief in Mr. Obama's leadership.

But there was another, powerful aspect to the opposition.

Evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics who would normally back strong military action were relatively silent in 2013. Why? I think because they were becoming broadly aware, for the first time, of what was happening to Christians in the Middle East. They were being murdered, tortured, abused for their faith and run out of the region. And for all his crimes and failings, Syria's justly maligned Assad was not attempting to crush his country's Christians. His enemies were—the jihadists, including those who became the Islamic State.

In the year since, the brutality against Middle Eastern Christians, and Islamic State's ferocious anti-Christian agenda, has left many Christians deeply alarmed. Jihadists are de-Christianizing the Mideast, where Christianity began.Read it all.

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Posted September 13, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 307-year-old union between England and Scotland has been one of history's most successful, but a possible split has investors and lawmakers fearing the potential aftershocks.

A "no" vote against Scottish independence was once a foregone conclusion for the Sept. 18 referendum, but a recent narrowing of polls — with some putting "yes" in the lead — has made the United Kingdom's biggest constitutional change since the Irish Free State's creation in 1922 a distinct possibility.

Secession could throw a wrench into the U.K.'s economic recovery, which has been among Europe's strongest. Scotland's share of U.K. gross domestic product is around 9.2%, or 148 billion pounds ($238.3 billion). Its 5.3 million residents comprise 8.3% of the total population.

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Posted September 10, 2014 at 5:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On her 27th day of living in a tiny room at a Tucson church known for pioneering the popular immigrant sanctuary movement in the 1980s, Rosa Robles Loreto swept a courtyard, prayed with a group of parishioners and greeted her uniformed son fresh off his baseball practice.

Robles Loreto is a 41-year-old immigrant who lacks legal status and is facing deportation after getting pulled over for a traffic infraction four years ago. She has vowed to remain in Southside Presbyterian Church until federal immigration authorities grant her leniency.

Robles Loreto is the third immigrant to take sanctuary in a church this year in Arizona, reviving a popular movement from the 1980s that sought to help Central American migrants fleeing civil wars stay in the U.S. by letting them live inside churches, where immigration officials generally do not arrest people.

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Posted September 9, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Scottish independence increasingly looks like an iceberg that could sink Prime Minister David Cameron’s government and the opposition Labour Party. And like the passengers on the Titanic, they never saw it coming.

Yesterday’s YouGov Plc (YOU) poll putting the Yes vote on 51 percent sparked a fresh effort from supporters of the union to urge Scots to come back from the brink. About 100 Labour lawmakers will travel to Scotland this week to campaign for a No vote, while Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne offered more powers over taxes and spending to the Scottish Parliament -- if voters opt to stay part of the U.K.

Cameron was staying with Queen Elizabeth II at Balmoral Castle in northeast Scotland when he learned that the independence campaign had moved into the lead.

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Posted September 8, 2014 at 4:43 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Nato leaders met in Wales yesterday to discuss how the international community should respond to religiously motivated violence in the Middle East, Shimon Peres, the former Israeli President, visited Pope Francis in the Vatican to propose a “United Nations of Religions” to counter the rise of religious extremism.

“In the past, most wars were motivated by the idea of nationhood. Today, though, wars are launched using above all religion as an excuse,” Mr Peres told the Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana (Christian Family), before explaining his proposal at a meeting with the Pope.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who joined Palestinian President Abu Mazen and Pope Francis to pray for peace in the Vatican a month before the outbreak of war in Gaza, said the real United Nations was no longer up to the challenge, since it lacked the armies possessed by states and the conviction produced by religion.

Read it all (requires subscription).


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Posted September 5, 2014 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian groups and other faith were out in force to support a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution to urgently explore abuses of international law in Iraq committed by the Islamic State and associated terrorist groups.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican representative to the United Nations in Geneva told Vatican Radio he believed the meeting came as direct consequence of Pope Francis' letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The letter was regarding the need to take action to protect those persecuted by IS terrorists.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Granting asylum to persecuted Iraqi Christians and religious minorities could unwittingly aid Jihadists in their goal of “cleansing” the Middle East of non-Muslims, a bishop has insisted.

The former Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, said well-intentioned calls for Britain to welcome refugees from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) could play into the hands of militants and spell the end of a Christian presence dating back almost 2,000 years.

His remarks, reinforced in a letter to The Telegraph, effectively break ranks with the official stance of the Church of England which has repeatedly pressed David Cameron and other ministers to accept refugees fleeing persecution because of their faith.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Reports of churches and Christians being targeted for persecution continue to emerge, with two of the latest occurring in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou and the beleaguered coastal city of Wenzhou, which has been at the center of this year's crackdown on Christianity.

In Guangzhou, which borders Hong Kong, nearly 90 police officers stopped a five-year anniversary celebration of the Revival Church in the Yiexiu district and rounded up and took to the police station the approximately 80 people in attendance.

The police banned the celebratory gathering, which they called “an illegal meeting,” and interrogated and photographed everyone who was at the scene.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

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Posted September 3, 2014 at 5:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday announced a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, although major questions remained about whether it would be implemented.

The surprise decision comes as Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine have made rapid strides to retake territory in the last week, after apparently receiving an infusion of support from Russia, which the Kremlin denies.

Poroshenko’s office announced the cease-fire in the eastern Donets Basin region, also known as Donbas, after a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The pattern is becoming all too familiar to residents of Nigeria’s embattled northeast: Gunmen believed to be members of the militant Islamist sect Boko Haram descend on a village, burn houses, round up scores of young people, load them onto trucks and then drive away.

Four months after Boko Haram shocked the world by abducting nearly 300 girls from a rural school, fighters shouting “God is great” snatched dozens more young people from another village in recent days, according to officials, local journalists and Nigerian news media.

This time, the target was boys and young men, who were waved into trucks at gunpoint, prompting fears that they would be hauled off and forced to fight for the militants in their war against the Nigerian state.

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Posted August 16, 2014 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Christ Church congregation listened in silence as Canon Andrew White talked about one of his parishioners who had been visiting Mosul when Isis overran it. After the jihadis had robbed this widow of her life savings they forced her wedding ring from her fingers. She was lucky. The ring came off. People with stickier rings have had their fingers chopped in half, then been ordered to flee to save their lives.

Many haven’t saved theirs. On his Facebook page Andrew White told of a Christian family of eight who had been shot through their faces after refusing to renounce their faith. A photo that was too horrific for him to publish captured the blood-soaked scene and the family Bible on the couch — still open but never to be read by them again. Elsewhere in Mosul there is a park where the heads of children who’ve been cut in half are put on a stick to warn others that anyone, however young, who refuses to convert to Islam will be put to the sword.

Mr White didn’t stay in Guildford for long. He keeps returning to the most dangerous place on earth and his explanation is simple: you can’t abandon the people you love. It is to the enormous shame of Britain and America that we did not live by the Andrew White principle. America stayed in Germany and South Korea for decades to help to ensure they became the stable nations that they are today. Iraq needed a similar level of commitment. It didn’t get it.

Read it all (if you click on the picture it enlarges).

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Posted August 10, 2014 at 6:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Barack Obama on Saturday signaled the likelihood of an enduring U.S. military involvement in Iraq, but said airstrikes and other aid would only keep a lid on the crisis until the country's leaders form an inclusive government able to confront the threat from extremists.

"Ultimately, only Iraqis can ensure the security and stability of Iraq," Mr. Obama said from the White House's south lawn. "The U.S. can't do it for them."

Mr. Obama spoke to reporters for the first time since the U.S. launched airstrikes in northern Iraq. The president authorized military and humanitarian operations on Thursday to support Kurdish forces trying to halt the Sunni extremist group calling itself the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

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Posted August 9, 2014 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A 72-hour truce in the Gaza fighting expired at 8 a.m. Friday as Palestinian militants fired a barrage of rockets into southern Israel, signaling Hamas’s refusal to extend the lull and its desire to apply pressure for its demands to be met at talks in Cairo for a more durable cease-fire agreement.

In response, the Israeli military said it had targeted “terror sites” across the Gaza Strip, and there were reports of airstrikes and artillery fire.

Israel had said it was willing to extend the truce unconditionally and had vowed to respond to any fire from Gaza. Israel has withdrawn its ground troops from the Gaza Strip, but the air force has been on standby, and forces have remained on alert along the border.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

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Posted August 8, 2014 at 5:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two Americans with Ebola received at least half of the world's supply of a drug that might be able to change the course of the deadly virus.

Some people are asking how to allocate additional doses of this drug and whether it was ethical to give those drugs to American missionaries when they weren't available to West Africans suffering from or fighting the outbreak.

The World Health Organization will convene a panel of medical ethicists early next week to discuss the use of such experimental treatments. The group will probably decide how to allocate medications should more become available.

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Posted August 7, 2014 at 5:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Recent U.S. surveillance flights over northeastern Nigeria showed what appeared to be large groups of girls held together in remote locations, raising hopes among domestic and foreign officials that they are among the group that Boko Haram abducted from a boarding school in April, U.S. and Nigerian officials said.

The surveillance suggests that at least some of the 219 schoolgirls still held captive haven't been forced into marriage or sex slavery, as had been feared, but instead are being used as bargaining chips for the release of prisoners.

The U.S. aerial imagery matches what Nigerian officials say they hear from northern Nigerians who have interacted with the Islamist insurgency: that some of Boko Haram's most famous set of captives are getting special treatment, compared with the hundreds of other girls the group is suspected to have kidnapped. Boko Haram appears to have seen the schoolgirls as of higher value, given the global attention paid to their plight, those officials said.

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Posted August 6, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The income gap between rich and poor nations is more severe than the more highly publicized disparities between the top and bottom of the U.S. income ladder, according to a new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

“While not to diminish the ample income inequality in the U.S., a focus on absolute inequality would suggest income disparity among the world’s population is a far greater concern,” write Lowell Ricketts and Christopher Waller, economic researchers at the St. Louis Fed.

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Posted August 2, 2014 at 3:49 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England has demanded that the British government offers sanctuary to thousands of Christians fleeing jihadists in northern Iraq, warning that ignoring their plight would constitute a "betrayal of Britain's moral and historical obligations".

A number of bishops have revealed their frustration over David Cameron's intransigence on the issue, arguing the UK has a responsibility to grant immediate asylum to Iraqi Christian communities recently forced to flee the northern city of Mosul after militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) threatened them with execution, a religious tax or forced conversion.

On Monday, France responded to the so-called religious cleansing by publicly granting asylum to Christians driven from Mosul. The Anglican Church argues the UK has an even greater responsibility to intervene, citing its central role in the 2003 allied invasion, which experts say triggered the destabilisation and sectarian violence that shaped the context for Isis to seize control of much of northern Iraq.

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Posted August 2, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Across Europe, the conflict in Gaza is generating a broader backlash against Jews, as threats, hate speech and even violent attacks proliferate in several countries.

Most surprising perhaps, a wave of incidents has washed over Germany, where atonement for the Holocaust and other Nazi crimes is a bedrock of the modern society. A commitment to the right of Israel to exist is ironclad. Plaques and memorials across the country exhort, “Never Again.” Children are taught starting in elementary school that their country’s Nazi history must never be repeated. Even so, academics say the recent episodes may reflect a rising climate of anti-Semitism that they had observed before the strife over Gaza.

This week, the police in the western city of Wuppertal detained two young men on suspicion of throwing firebombs at the city’s new synagogue; the attack early Tuesday caused no injuries. In Frankfurt on Thursday, the police said, a beer bottle was thrown through a window at the home of a prominent critic of anti-Semitism. She heard an anti-Jewish slur after going to the balcony to confront her assailant, The Frankfurter Rundschau reported. An anonymous caller to a rabbi threatened last week to kill 30 Frankfurt Jews if the caller’s family in Gaza was harmed, the police said.

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Posted August 2, 2014 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It has become a commonplace idea that today’s frothy financial markets are oblivious to the stream of bad news from eastern Europe, not to mention the Middle East. But that does not mean the news is not really bad at all. New York and London were equally blasé about the origins of the first world war. It was not until three weeks after the Sarajevo assassination that the London Times even mentioned the possibility that a European political crisis might lead to financial instability. Nine days later the stock exchange closed its doors, overwhelmed by panic selling as investors suddenly woke up to the reality of world war. Let no one reassure you that this crisis has somehow been “priced in”. No one priced in the guns of August 1914.

This should give not only historians pause. If great historical events can sometimes have causes that are too small for contemporaries to notice, might not a comparable crisis be in the making today? What exactly makes our July crisis different? Is it because we now have the UN and other international institutions? Hardly: with Russia a permanent member of the UN Security Council, that institution has been gridlocked over Ukraine. Is it because we now have the EU? Certainly, that eliminates the risk that any west European state might overtly take Russia’s side, as France and Britain did in 1914, but it has not stopped EU members with significant energy imports from Russia fighting tooth and nail against tougher sanctions.

What about the role of globalisation in diffusing international conflict? Sorry, you could have made the same argument 100 years ago (indeed, Norman Angell did, in his book The Great Illusion). Very high levels of economic interdependence do not always inoculate countries against going to war with each other.

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

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Posted August 2, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How, then, should Christians respond to Isis?

First of all, they need to respond with steadfast witness to Christ and the truth of the Gospel. The Book of Revelation is concerned with how the powers of evil that assault God’s people are defeated and what it tells us is that this is achieved through Christians remaining faithful to Christ to the point of death. ‘And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death’’ (Revelation 12:10-11).

Secondly, they need to pray. As Revelation also makes clear, it is ultimately God who sustains his Church and defeats its persecutors and so Christians need to take seriously Jesus’ injunction to ‘ask, seek and knock’ (Matthew 7:7-8) and pray hard for those who are suffering because of the activities of Isis. The charity Open Doors, for example, has asked for prayers:

for God to change the hearts of those who are persecuting Christians;
for God to uphold Christian refugees who are weary and exhausted through the support of the body of Christ;
for God to give wisdom and strength to the government in Baghdad to resolve this crisis.

Thirdly, they need to give to support those in need because of Isis’ activity, such as the Christians who have been forced to flee their homes in Mosul.

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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: Commentary* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

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Posted August 1, 2014 at 6:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Calls for an immediate ceasefire have come from all over the world. Pope Francis last Sunday deviated from his script to make an impassioned plea, apparently choking back tears as he spoke: "Please stop, I ask you with all my heart, it's time to stop. Stop, please."

The Evangelical Episcopal Church's Bishop in Israel & the Palestinian territories, Dr Hani Shehadeh, and four other churchmen from the Holy Land wrote to the Church Times this week urging Christians to pray for peace.

They urge all Christians to stand up for the rights of the Christian family in the Middle East: "Lobby your parliament, speak up in your media, and pray for the well-being and safety of Christians facing persecution." The letter said that the latest conflict in Gaza meant that "the Christian community of this corner of the Holy Land faces extinction."

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Russians largely back their country's tough stance on Ukraine, which earned Russia more economic sanctions from the U.S. and Europe this week. Nearly two-thirds of Russians surveyed before the latest round of sanctions believe Russia needs to have a "very strong position" in relations with its neighbor. One in five Russians still believe their country needs to have good relations with Ukraine by all means.

Russians' attitudes could reflect the stronger position they may feel their country is already in after Russia's seizure and annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region in March. Although the U.S. and other Western powers largely condemned the action, imposing sanctions and other penalties against specific individuals and businesses in Russia, nearly all Russians (95%) who are following the news about Crimea say they support Crimea joining Russia.

The earlier sanctions did little to dampen the average Russian's enthusiasm for the country's leadership, with President Vladimir Putin's popularity in Russia vaulting to its highest level in years, and record-level confidence in the country's military, the national government, and the honesty of elections. The previous sanctions also did not appear to affect Russians' views of their country's economy, with more Russians seeing their economy as getting better now than has been the case since 2008.

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

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Posted July 31, 2014 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At a Vatican conference held July 29 to mark the World Day Against Trafficking, a U.S. diplomat said that the scourge of modern slavery will not be ended until the economic attitudes that lead to human trafficking are changed.

“One cannot simply protect the victims, and bring the victims into a place of safety, if one doesn’t do anything to change the underlying cultural assumptions that help create and foster this slavery, this exploitation, if one does not change the underlying economic assumptions that treat people as commodities,” Luis CdeBaca, the U.S. ambassador at large for trafficking in persons, said July 29 via video conference.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureSexualityViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 31, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wearing long hijabs, the anonymous women squeeze quietly into crowds, barely noticed.

One slipped in among students gathered Wednesday at a notice board of a college campus in the northern Nigerian city of Kano. She detonated a hidden bomb, killing herself and at least five others, wire services reported.

On Sunday, a 15-year-old female suicide bomber blew herself up near a temporary university site, with no other casualties. Another pushed into a queue of women buying kerosene at a fuel station Monday, detonating a bomb that killed herself and at least three others. Hours later, an 18-year-old woman approached a shopping mall and detonated a bomb. She killed only herself.

No group has claimed responsibility for the rash of daily attacks in Kano, but experts say they bear the marks of the Islamist extremists led by Boko Haram. Police in adjacent Kastina state arrested a 10-year-old girl wearing a suicide vest Tuesday, government spokesman Mike Omeri said Wednesday. Two other Boko Haram suspects were arrested, he said.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireTeens / YouthViolenceWomenYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted July 30, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. and European Union sanctions against Russia’s Vladimir Putin threaten to shut off some of the world’s largest energy companies from one of the biggest untapped energy troves on the planet.

As violence escalates in eastern Ukraine between government and separatist forces, the EU yesterday sought to punish Russia for its involvement by restricting exports of deep-sea drilling and shale-fracturing technologies. The U.S. followed suit, with President Barack Obama announcing a block on specific goods and technologies exported to the Russian energy sector.

“Because we’re closely coordinating our actions with Europe, the sanctions we’re announcing today will have an even bigger bite,” Obama told reporters yesterday at the White House. “Russia’s energy, financial and defense sectors are feeling the pain.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 30, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Syriac Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan travelled to Washington to meet US government representatives to highlight the plight of Christians in Mosul.

He spoke out about the “mass cleansing” of Christians from the Iraqi city by what he called “a bed of criminals”.

“We wonder how could those criminals, this bed of criminals, cross the border from Syria into Mosul and occupy the whole city of Mosul … imposing on the population their Shariah (law) without any knowledge of the international community,” he said on Friday, referring to Islamic State fighters, formerly known by the acronyms ISIS or ISIL.

“What happened is really kind of a cleansing based on religion. You have heard about what they did: proclaim — they announced publicly with street microphones, the ISIS — there’s no more room for Christians in Mosul, that they either have to convert, pay tax, or just leave. And they have been leaving now since then with absolutely nothing,” he added.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Cameroonian military says members of the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram have abducted the wife of the country's deputy prime minister in the northern Cameroonian town of Kolofata.

A local religious leader and mayor was also abducted from the same town.

Separately, at least five people in northern Nigeria were killed in a blast - residents suspect Boko Haram.

Boko Haram has stepped up cross-border attacks into Cameroon in recent weeks, as the army was deployed to the region.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaCameroonNigeria

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Posted July 27, 2014 at 4:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Although we may refer to militants in eastern Ukraine as “pro-Russian separatists,” we are not confused by who, and what, they really are: an extension of the Russian state. They derive their material, political and logistical support from the Putin regime, and their criminal aggression and recklessness reflect the values of their Russian benefactors. Some have suggested that these agents of the Putin regime may have shot the plane down by accident. We do not, and may never, know. But accident or no accident, the blood is on the hands of the men who took such a risk and of the government that encouraged them to do so. Even if they did not intend to kill hundreds of innocent civilians, there is no denying their intent to continue waging a war on behalf of a regime that remains in violation of international law for its illegal occupation of Crimea.

Russia’s aggressive militarism and expansionism are a threat to more than just Ukraine; they are a threat to Europe, to the rule of law and to the values that bind Western nations. Canada will not stand idly by in the face of this threat.

That is why we have taken a strong stand, imposing a broad range of sanctions against those entities and individuals responsible for the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Since the start of the crisis in Ukraine, Canada has imposed sanctions on nearly 150 individuals and entities. Earlier this week we broadened our approach, announcing economic sanctions against key sectors of the Russian economy.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Palestinian and Israeli casualties are mounting at a pace that could surpass any other Israeli conflict in nearly a decade, amid signs of a deepening military and political stalemate driven by diplomatic gridlock, Palestinian militant resilience and the absence of a clear Israeli exit strategy.

The rising death toll in the Gaza Strip conflict propelled U.S. and European diplomats huddled in Paris to call for an extension of a 12-hour humanitarian truce Saturday that had afforded both sides a brief respite from the nearly three-week-old conflict.

Late Saturday, Israel approved a 24-hour extension of the truce but said it would retaliate if Hamas prevented its forces from continuing to destroy tunnel networks through which the militants have attempted to infiltrate Israel. Hamas fighters, though, resumed firing rockets and mortar rounds into Israel.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The West’s involvement in Afghanistan over the past 12 years has been dominated by one failed opportunity after another. Rather than focusing so massively on the military effort rather than well-informed and better-targeted recovery, for example, the international community could have made a significant difference by supporting a proposal made back in 2002, notably the introduction of electronic ID cards. But the idea was consistently ignored as “impractical.” And yet, in a society where mobile phones are now ubiquitous, it could have served as a relatively reliable voter ID, perhaps preventing stuffed ballots. It could also have helped monitor health, educational, and other crucial data, such as vaccination programs.

For Afghans, the elections are broadly perceived as their last chance before the bulk of foreign troops leave and global development commitment drops even further. Nevertheless, even though Afghans have traditionally proved adept at compromise, the voting abuses may have gone too far. People went to the polls to have their say. To have their vote turned into a shared coalition government primarily because of corruption and abuse of the voting process may only be sending the message that there is no point in democracy.

Yet this does not mean the West should abandon Afghanistan. The last time the West lost interest was after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. This led to a ruthless civil war during the early 1990s followed by the rise of the Taliban supported by Al Qaeda, Pakistan, and even the United States. By the time Washington understood what was happening, it was too late.

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

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Posted July 26, 2014 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two of the EU’s most senior figures have urged the bloc’s prime ministers to approve a sweeping set of new sanctions against Russia next week.

The move marks the clearest signal to date that Europe is prepared to change its cautious approach towards the Kremlin over the Ukraine crisis.

In a letter sent late on Friday to Europe’s prime ministers, Herman Van Rompuy, the European Council president, said the sanctions package – which is directed at Russia’s financial, energy and defence industries – “strikes the right balance”.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 26, 2014 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With safe passage promised by a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire, residents of the areas hardest hit in Gaza fighting returned to their homes on Saturday. They could not believe what they saw.

Many roads were barely passable, and almost quiet. Women did not wail. The men looked stunned. Their neighborhoods were reduced to ugly piles of gray dust, shattered cement block and twisted rebar.

Huge bomb craters marked the spot where on Friday four-story apartment blocks stood. On some streets, it seemed as if every house was either riddled with bullet holes or shrapnel spray, charred by flames, or leveled.

The scale of the damage from Israeli airstrikes and artillery fire was the worst seen in 19 days. Much of the damage witnessed Saturday occurred in the past 24 to 48 hours, as diplomats debated the terms of a possible truce.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 26, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Vladimir Putin will resist mounting pressure to abandon pro-Russian rebels immediately while seeking to convince the world that Ukraine, not the insurgents, shot down Malaysian Air Flight MH17, according to three people familiar with Kremlin discussions.

Putin and his inner circle are nervous that the intensifying standoff with the U.S. and its allies over the insurgency in Ukraine may cripple Russia’s economy, the people said. Still, Putin won’t back down because he refuses to be seen as weak, one of the people said.

The international outrage over the attack on the Boeing Co. 777, which killed 298 people, and the sanctions imposed and threatened by the U.S. and the European Union over Russia’s policies in Ukraine have created a new reality that the leadership is struggling to adapt to, one Putin adviser said. The U.S. says the jet was probably downed by separatists using a Russian-supplied missile and launcher, which they deny.

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

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Posted July 25, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. pastor who took it upon himself to fly to Sudan to meet with and pray for imprisoned persecuted Christian mother Meriam Ibrahim was among those celebrating her freedom Thursday. He credited the 27-year-old married mother's release to the outcry of people from around the world who were captivated by her steadfast Christian witness in the face of impending death.

"Praise God for that," Pastor William Devlin told The Christian Post in response to Ibrahim's early morning flight out of Sudan, where she had been held imprisoned for nearly one year. Devlin returned to New York City on July 20 after a week-long trip to Sudan, where he says he spent an hour and a half with Ibrahim, her husband Daniel Wani and their two children.

"I think it was really the outcry of people from around the world," added Pastor Devlin, commenting on what he thought led to Ibrahim's release just days after his visit with her at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum. Indeed, the young woman's case resonated with many around the world and many were moved to petition for her release. One such petition, published on Change.org, had more than one million supporters.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted July 25, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The UN says militant Islamist group Isis has ordered all women and girls in Mosul, northern Iraq, to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM).

UN official Jacqueline Badcock said the fatwa, or religious edict, applied to females between the ages of 11 and 46.

She said the unprecedented decree issued by the Islamists in control of the city was of grave concern.

Iraq is facing a radical Isis-led Sunni insurgency, with cities in the north-west under militant control.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 24, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim and her family landed in Italy en route to a new life in the U.S.

A woman in Sudan who faced the death sentence for refusing to renounce Christianity safely landed in Italy en route to the U.S. on Thursday after the international community intervened to secure her safe exit, NBC News reports.

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, was imprisoned for apostasy in February under Sudan’s strict Islamic law, after converting from Islam to marry her Christian husband, a U.S. citizen. Born to a Muslim father but raised Orthodox Christian, she refused to convert back under threat of death.

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Update: Per Catholic News Service--#PopeFrancis spent 30mins with #Meriam&family. Thanked her for her "constant witness" to faith. She thanked him for church's prayers,support

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 24, 2014 at 7:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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