Posted by Kendall Harmon

Among almost a million people displaced from their homes through conflict in the Central African Republic are 9,000 people who have found refuge at a seminary in the capital, Bangui.

An “unbelievable number of children” are among these refugees at St Mark’s Major Seminary, said Bishop Richard E Pates of Des Moines, in the United States.

“Everyone there has been traumatised. They have all witnessed atrocities,” he said, noting that the “generosity and kindness” of the Church authorities who keep the seminary’s gates open to those fleeing violence “serve as an example of how to react in a crisis.”

Bishop Pates, chairman of the US bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, visited the conflict-ridden neighbours South Sudan and the Central African Republic from July 10 to 21.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaCentral African Republic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iraq’s prime minister on Sunday condemned the Islamic State extremist group’s actions targeting Christians in territory it controls, saying they reveal the threat the jihadists pose to the minority community’s “centuries-old heritage.”

The comments from Nouri al-Maliki come a day after the expiration of a deadline imposed by the Islamic State group calling on Christians in the militant-held city of Mosul to convert to Islam, pay a tax or face death. Most Christians opted to flee to the nearby self-ruled Kurdish region or other areas protected by Kurdish security forces.

“What is being done by the Daesh terrorist gang against our Christian citizens in Ninevah province, and their aggression against the churches and houses of worship in the areas under their control, reveals beyond any doubt the extremist criminal and terrorist nature of this group,” al-Maliki said in a statement released by his office, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 21, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. leveled its most-explicit allegations yet of Russia's involvement in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and subsequent efforts to conceal evidence, and European leaders threatened broad new sanctions against Moscow, marking a turning point in the standoff between the West and the Kremlin.

Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday warned Russian President Vladimir Putin "for the last time" to accede to Western demands to disarm pro-Russian separatists and stabilize Ukraine.

Officials in Europe, meanwhile, departed from their initially muted reaction as anger grew across the continent over the attack that left 298 people dead and the chaos at the crash area in eastern Ukraine. Reports that bodies were being handled haphazardly and that separatist guards on the scene were drunk have caused fury in European countries where victims came from, including the Netherlands.

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

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Posted July 21, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...in the past 48 hours, open-source intelligence – and information gathered by national intelligence agencies – has built up a compelling body of evidence that seems to point to what – and who – shot down the Malaysia Airlines jet and its 298 innocent passengers over eastern Ukraine.

It suggests pro-Russian separatists and Russian military personnel shot down MH17, by mistake, with a Buk-M1 surface-to-air missile launcher from near the towns of Snizhne and Torez, according to briefings given by Ukrainian and US intelligence officials at the weekend.

The officials say the missile system was probably supplied by Russia and smuggled across the border into eastern Ukraine in recent weeks.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesTravel* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 20, 2014 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Seventy Palestinians were killed Sunday in a heavy bombardment of a Gaza neighborhood and 13 Israeli soldiers were slain in the most intense day of fighting in Israel’s current offensive against Hamas fighters, officials said. The Hamas military also announced that its fighters had captured an Israeli soldier.

Abu Obaida, a spokesman for the Al Qassam Brigades, appeared on Hamas TV to announce the soldier had been taken prisoner. Minutes later, there were fireworks and shouts of “God is great!” from loud speakers.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the army was investigating the claim.

Read it all and join in as we continue to pray for peace.


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

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Posted July 20, 2014 at 4:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian families streamed out of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Saturday after Islamist fighters said they would be killed if they did not pay a protection tax or convert to Islam.

“For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians,” Patriarch Louis Sako lamented as hundreds of families fled ahead of a noon deadline set by Islamic State for them to submit or leave.

The warning was read out in Mosul’s mosques on Friday afternoon, and broadcast throughout the city on loudspeakers.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted July 19, 2014 at 2:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iran is discussing with the IAEA its development of exploding bridgewire (EBW) detonators, which are safer and more controllable than other detonators and are used by other countries in nuclear weapons. Iran says that their EBW detonators are for oilfield applications. Iran has provided materials to the IAEA, and the IAEA has not come to any conclusions yet.

The IAEA was investigating PMD long before the JPOA went into effect and has many more questions. The EBW discussion is a first step, but the IAEA would like a more systematic approach. However, they leave the door open to piecemeal discussions, requesting further information on neutron transport modeling and calculations (how neutrons split atoms – in a reactor or a bomb) and a site visit to Parchin, where explosives experiments may have been done to give information that is useful only for a bomb.

For the past six months, both sides have stuck by their word as expressed in the JPOA. They are closer to an agreement than ever before.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 18, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pro-Russian rebels shot down a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine after mistaking it for a military transport plane, according to phone-tapped recordings released by authorities in Kiev.

The recordings suggest that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, which had 283 passengers and 15 crew aboard, was targeted by a Cossack unit supporting the separatist forces in the Donetsk region.

It took the rebels about an hour to get to the scene of the crash and work out that the plane was not, as they had thought, a Ukrainian air force Antonov-26 but a passing passenger plane - prompting a Cossack commander to suggest that the aircraft must have been carrying spies.

”They shouldn’t be ****ing flying. There is a war going on,” he says.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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

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Posted July 18, 2014 at 6:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...now, things have changed. Some may point to the pressure Netanyahu was facing from his own cabinet. Only days into the recent round of fighting, Netanyahu’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, announced that his Yisrael Beitenu faction would end its partnership with Netanyahu’s Likud party, a partnership that had guaranteed Netanyahu the largest party in the Israeli coalition. Lieberman cited “essential differences” with Netanyahu over the latter’s overly restrained response to Hamas’ rocketfire. And just yesterday, Netanyahu fired his incendiary deputy defense minister, Danny Dannon, over his unrelenting criticism of the Israeli government’s handling of the current campaign—particularly its acceptance of a ceasefire proposed by Egypt. (The ceasefire, unfortunately, was rejected by Hamas.)

But the more likely explanation is that Israel just didn’t have any other options. Israel could have continued its aerial and artillery exchanges with Hamas, but this campaign did not appear to be damaging either the will or the capability of Hamas. It could have loosened its rules of engagement and struck Hamas more effectively—but doing so would have inflicted unconscionably disproportionate civilian damage. It could have capitulated to Hamas’s ultimatums to release hundreds of security prisoners and reopened Gaza to shipments of arms- and tunnel-making materials. Apart from the moral implications of such a concession, doing so would simply have strengthened Hamas and ensured additional fighting. An extended cease-fire would be ideal. But so far, Egyptian attempts to broker such a cease-fire seem to have fallen on deaf ears. So Netanyahu was left with a choice that wasn’t really much of a choice.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 18, 2014 at 5:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Vladimir Putin’s intransigence over Ukraine risks turning him into a global pariah should the blame for downing a Malaysian Air jet fall on pro-Russia rebels.

The crash of the Boeing Co. (BA) 777, which had 298 passengers on board, follows by less than 24 hours the imposition of new sanctions against Russia that targeted major energy companies and banks. While the rebels denied accusations by the Ukraine government that they shot down the flight, the U.S. said this week that the separatists were being supplied with more heavy weaponry from Russia.

“If there is solid evidence that it is the militants who did it and the weapon originated in Russia, there will be really strong pressure on Putin to really contribute to de-escalation,” Masha Lipman, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center, said by phone. “This should change the way all nations, and not just the West, regard this conflict in Ukraine, and Russia’s role in it.”

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

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Posted July 18, 2014 at 4:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Shorty after the sanctions were unveiled, US President Barack Obama made a statement where he said these measures were designed to bring no inconveniences to US companies and its allies.

"These sanctions are significant, but they are also targeted - designed to have the maximum impact on Russia while limiting any spillover effects on American companies or those of our allies," Obama vowed.

But Putin reminded about the existing agreement between Russia’s oil giant Rosneft and ExxonMobil that has granted the US-based energy corporation access to the Russian hydrocarbon reserves in the Arctic.

“So, don’t they want it [ExxonMobil] to work there? They are dealing damage to their biggest energy companies - and to what purpose?” Putin wondered speaking at a press conference on Thursday.

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

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Posted July 17, 2014 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A lawsuit brought by a Sudanese Muslim father against a Christian woman to formally establish her as his Muslim daughter was dropped on Wednesday, the lawyer handling the case said, a move that could allow her to depart for the United States.

The case of Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, raised an international furore when a Sudanese court sentenced her to death in May on charges of converting from Islam to Christianity and marrying a Christian South Sudanese-American.

Ibrahim says she was born and raised as a Christian by an Ethiopian family in Sudan and was later abducted by the Sudanese Muslim family. The Muslim family denies that and insists she belongs to them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 16, 2014 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We should have learned a lot from the Vietnam War. It showed how ill-suited we are to engineer “regime change.” We signed on with a very corrupt, French-speaking Catholic minority government. When we tried to change horses to a series of generals, things got worse, not better. Vietnam also made it clear that pouring U.S. troops into a place like that doesn’t change the situation on the ground, and it eventually fractured our own society and wore out our own military.

Mr. Just’s protagonist gets it. It takes two deaths to teach him. The first is when he visits a village to inspect an aid project and faces a man carrying a dead woman in his arms. The second is when he is trying to find his way out of the jungle and has to kill a young boy who otherwise would have killed him.

This doesn’t mean the United States can’t interact with the rest of the world without causing damage or getting banged up itself. It simply means that we must make a mighty effort to understand the people with whom we are interacting, and, even more crucially, resist meddling in their affairs, particularly with military force, until we are absolutely certain we know what we are doing. In nearly all cases, that will mean we do not.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 16, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram sect yesterday invaded the Dille Village in Askira-Uba Local Government Area of Borno State, killing five civilians and setting ablaze three churches including the Church of Brethern in Nigeria, EYN, as well as shops and residential buildings.

Unconfirmed reports revealed that unspecified number of the attackers were also killed by military fighter jets that arrived the scene of the incident and bombed them.

This was even as the Nigerian Army High Command yesterday declared that the battle against Boko Haram and terrorism will be defeated though it urged the citizenry to be patient as the development was a new phenomenon whereas the army is a conventionally trained force.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 15, 2014 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Egypt has proposed a ceasefire to end a week of cross-border fire between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

The initiative, announced by the foreign ministry, urges a ceasefire starting on Tuesday morning followed by a series of meetings in Cairo with high-level delegations from both sides.

It comes ahead of an urgent meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo.

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

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Posted July 14, 2014 at 3:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Cyberspace has become shorthand for the computing devices, networks, fibre-optic cables, wireless links and other infrastructure that bring the internet to billions of people around the world. The myriad connections forged by these technologies have brought tremendous benefits to everyone who uses the web to tap into humanity’s collective store of knowledge every day.

But there is a darker side to this extraordinary invention. Data breaches are becoming ever bigger and more common. Last year over 800m records were lost, mainly through such attacks.... Among the most prominent recent victims has been Target, whose chief executive, Gregg Steinhafel, stood down from his job in May, a few months after the giant American retailer revealed that online intruders had stolen millions of digital records about its customers, including credit- and debit-card details. Other well-known firms such as Adobe, a tech company, and eBay, an online marketplace, have also been hit.

The potential damage, though, extends well beyond such commercial incursions. Wider concerns have been raised by the revelations about the mass surveillance carried out by Western intelligence agencies made by Edward Snowden, a contractor to America’s National Security Agency (NSA), as well as by the growing numbers of cyber-warriors being recruited by countries that see cyberspace as a new domain of warfare. America’s president, Barack Obama, said in a White House press release earlier this year that cyberthreats “pose one of the gravest national-security dangers” the country is facing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 14, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Afghanistan is set to begin an unprecedented audit of the 8.1 million votes cast in the June 14 presidential election, a process that is expected to take at least three weeks and will delay the inauguration of a new president.

Former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani and former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah agreed after marathon talks with Secretary of State John Kerry this weekend to a full audit of the bitterly contested election, which had threatened to split the country along ethnic and territorial lines.

In a political deal also brokered by Mr. Kerry, the two candidates said that in addition to accepting the results of the audit, they agreed that the winner of the election would form a "national unity government" that would include the losing side.

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

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Posted July 14, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Up to 20 people have been killed in the deadliest night of Israeli air raids on Gaza since its current offensive began, Palestinian officials say.

The health ministry said most died in attacks on a house and a cafe in Khan Younis in the south, bringing the overall death toll to 76.

Militants in Gaza continued firing rockets into Israel on Thursday, with sirens sounding over southern towns.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned the situation was "on a knife-edge".

Read it all.


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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Anyone who can afford it chooses the United States,” said Lesa A. Slaughter, a fertility lawyer in Los Angeles.

Some lawyers who handle surrogacy tell of ethical problems with intended parents from abroad. Melissa Brisman, a New Jersey lawyer who handled Paulo and João’s surrogacy, had a prospective client from China who wanted to use five simultaneous gestational surrogates. She turned him down.

Mr. Vorzimer, in California, had an international client who wanted six embryos implanted.

“He wanted to keep two babies, and put the rest up for adoption,” Mr. Vorzimer said. “I said, ‘What, like the pick of the litter?’ and he said, ‘That’s right.’ I told him I wouldn’t work with him.”

Read it all from Sunday's New York Times.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 9, 2014 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post.

Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.

Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S.residents.

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* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hong Kong has beautiful vistas, per capita income of $38,000 and partial autonomy from China that includes broad civil liberties, but on Tuesday it also had as many as 500,000 people in the streets in the largest public rally in a decade. Days before, 800,000 Hong Kongers—nearly a quarter of the electorate—ignored government warnings and voted in a mock referendum calling for democratic rights.

These developments in a vital economic hub have China displeased. The Beijing government tried to head them off last month by clarifying its Hong Kong policy in an official white paper, but the effect was to highlight Beijing's heavy hand, stoking local anger. Soon cyberattacks targeted the online polling system of the pro-democracy referendum. And as Hong Kongers rallied on Tuesday, China's mainland Web censors were in overdrive, erasing even more material than on the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre last month.

Beijing won't find much relief ahead if Benny Tai has his way. Over the past year, the youthful 49-year-old law professor has gone from leading legal seminars for Hong Kong civil servants to being branded an "enemy of the state" by Beijing-backed media. His offense: founding a group called Occupy Central with Love and Peace, which threatens civil disobedience in Hong Kong's main business district unless China delivers free elections for the local chief executive in 2017. Mr. Tai believes that if 10,000 people credibly threaten to paralyze the city's commercial core, Beijing will sue for peace.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 5, 2014 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even the future role of the country’s warlords is uncertain. Karzai has kept most of these men off balance and relatively weak during his tenure, and deserves credit for doing so. Yet these men are not gone from public life. They have continued to profit from contracts and investments largely tied to the presence of foreign militaries: vested economic interest is a major factor that keeps them loyal to the democratic system. Indeed, in the 12 and a half years of Karzai’s rule, many have sanitized their images—shorter beards, fancier suits, more politically correct language. For better or worse, their sons and daughters, who seem more attuned to democratic practices, are now beginning to step into their fathers’ shoes.

Spanta says he doubts anyone could have fared better than Karzai in such a fragmented society. And yet the next president of Afghanistan will inherit a broken chain of command, weak institutions, and a variety of local powers that may prove difficult to bring to heel—all the more so because he will lack the personal connections that Karzai worked so hard to cultivate. “The question of whether the forces from the past will succeed again” or whether modernizing forces will take the country forward—“this has not been finalized.” Almost none of the achievements made under Karzai appear irreversible, Spanta lamented. Instead, Afghanistan remains a place stuck between modernity and its own splintered history. Which way it will move next is anyone’s guess.

Read it all.


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

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Posted July 5, 2014 at 3:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Violence in Ukraine escalated sharply Tuesday, as artillery shells and airstrikes pierced the relative calm of a 10-day cease-fire hours after President Petro Poroshenko allowed it to expire.

Both sides appeared to be readying for a protracted battle after days in which the fighting diminished but did not disappear. It remained unclear whether the Ukrainian military, which has battled pro-Russian separatists since mid-April, would be able strike a decisive blow against the rebels, who have seized territory in eastern Ukraine.

The longer a conflict drags on, the greater the risk of further civilian casualties and the harder it will be for Ukraine’s new government to stitch the society back together. Ukraine’s economy presented a formidable challenge even without a growing insurgency in the country’s industrial heartland. The foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France planned to meet Wednesday in Berlin in a last-ditch effort to restart negotiations, the Russian Foreign Ministry said late Tuesday.

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was late when John heard a knock at the door of his house in a village in Borno state, north-eastern Nigeria. “Today”, a voice outside shouted, “will be the end of your life”. Nine gunmen then burst into his house and dragged him outside. After setting fire to his car, they beat him to the ground, shot him twice in the head and left him for dead. Rushed to the nearest decent hospital, he was lucky to survive. A pair of cavernous scars bears testimony to his ordeal. That was two years ago. He is still too frightened to go home.

He is one of a rising tide of people who have been forced out by members of Boko Haram, the extreme Islamist group that has been tightening its stranglehold across the country’s north, while the armed forces strive heavy-handedly and in vain to bring it under control. It has attacked targets farther south, too. On June 25th a bomb it was presumed to have planted went off in Abuja, the capital, killing at least 21 people.

No one is certain how many people have been uprooted. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, a Swiss-based, Norwegian-backed group, reckons that 3.3m Nigerians have fled their homes, not just because of Boko Haram. Inter-communal fighting and floods have added to the toll of families forced to flee. If this figure is correct, Nigeria now has the world’s third-highest number of displaced people, after Syria and Colombia.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 29, 2014 at 1:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over the past two weeks, the specter that has haunted Iraq since its founding 93 years ago appears to have become a reality: the de facto partition of the country into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish cantons.

With jihadists continuing to entrench their positions across the north and west, and the national army seemingly incapable of mounting a challenge, Americans and even some Iraqis have begun to ask how much blood and treasure it is worth to patch the country back together.

It is a question that echoes not only in Syria — also effectively divided into mutually hostile statelets — but also across the entire Middle East, where centrifugal forces unleashed by the Arab uprisings of 2011 continue to erode political structures and borders that have prevailed since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 27, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Meriam Yeya Ibrahim Ishag, the 26-year-old Christian woman whose death sentence for apostasy was revoked, has been released and was taken from Khartoum airport to a safe place while she waits for her travel documents to be sent through. This is according to Antonella Napoli, president of Italian s for Darfur, who posted a message on the association’s Facebook page.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan

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Posted June 26, 2014 at 1:27 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Suspected Boko Haram militants have abducted more than 60 women and girls, some as young as three, in the latest kidnappings in northeast Nigeria and over two months since more than 200 schoolgirls were seized.

Analysts said the kidnapping, which happened during a raid on Kummabza village in the Damboa district of Borno state, could be an attempt by the Islamist group to refocus attention on its demands for the release of militant fighters.

Boko Haram has indicated that it would be willing to release the 219 schoolgirls that it has held hostage since April 14 in exchange for the freedom of its brothers in arms currently held in Nigerian jails.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 25, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Sudanese woman freed from death row on Monday has been arrested with her family at Khartoum airport, sources have told the BBC.

Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to hang in May for renouncing Islam, sparking widespread outrage at home and abroad.

About 40 security agents detained Mrs Ibrahim - along with her husband Daniel Wani and two sons - at the airport, the sources said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan

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Posted June 24, 2014 at 8:23 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many find it hard to understand why China is acting so aggressively in regard to its territorial claims in the East and South China Seas. What do leaders in Beijing hope to achieve by alienating its neighbors and undermining regional stability?

Their reasoning is actually simple enough. China wants to wield much more power and influence in Asia than it has for the past few centuries. And for China to have more power, the United States must have less.

They know that America’s position in Asia is built on its network of alliances and partnerships with many of China’s neighbors, including Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam. And they believe that weakening these relationships is the easiest way to weaken US regional power.

Read it all.


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

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Posted June 21, 2014 at 9:36 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a darkened living room in the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, a gray-haired militia commander picked up his phone Friday to read a text message from one of his colleagues on the battlefield.

“Captured six ISIS members in an ambush,” it said, referring to militants from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, an al-Qaeda splinter group whose advance over the past 10 days has nearly brought the Iraqi state to its knees. “At dawn I killed two, four I gave to the army.”

The message was an example of what members of Iraq’s Shiite militias describe as growing cooperation with the country’s army. As Iraq spirals into chaos, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is now relying on the militias, which once carried out hundreds of attacks on U.S. soldiers, to help him cling to power.

The lines between Shiite militias and the Iraqi armed forces have been increasingly blurred since the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2011.

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

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Posted June 21, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Rev. Enoch Mark heard American drones were flying into Nigeria to find his two kidnapped daughters—among the 223 schoolgirls held hostage by Boko Haram—he thought his prayers for a speedy rescue might be answered. Two months later, he has lost faith.

As U.S. officials stitch together preliminary intelligence gleaned from the skies, the insurgency on the ground is rapidly seizing territory and eliminating Christians and Muslims who oppose it.

On Sunday, Boko Haram burned down a village called Kwaraglum near Chibok, the town where girls were abducted from their boarding school in April, said a local vigilante stationed nearby. That same day, they also struck another nearby town, Ndagu, said Simon Jasini, whose older brother was among 10 people killed in the raid. The group is suspected of a bombing on Tuesday that killed 14 people watching the World Cup in the city of Damaturu, said a resident who accompanied state officials to the hospital.

Back in Chibok, Rev. Mark and what family he has left head up a mountain each night so they can sleep hidden behind rocks.

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

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Posted June 19, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Obama administration is signaling that it wants a new government in Iraq without Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, convinced the Shiite leader is unable to reconcile with the nation's Sunni minority and stabilize a volatile political landscape.

The U.S. administration is indicating it wants Iraq's political parties to form a new government without Mr. Maliki as he tries to assemble a ruling coalition following elections this past April, U.S. officials say.

Such a new government, U.S., officials say, would include the country's Sunni and Kurdish communities and could help to stem Sunni support for the al Qaeda offshoot, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, that has seized control of Iraqi cities over the past two weeks. That, the officials argue, would help to unify the country and reverse its slide into sectarian division.

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

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Posted June 19, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Obama is considering a targeted, highly selective campaign of airstrikes against Sunni militants in Iraq similar to counterterrorism operations in Yemen, rather than the widespread bombardment of an air war, a senior administration official said on Tuesday.

Such a campaign, most likely using drones, could last for a prolonged period, the official said. But it is not likely to begin for days or longer, and would hinge on the United States’ gathering adequate intelligence about the location of the militants, who are intermingled with the civilian population in Mosul, Tikrit and other cities north of Baghdad.

Even if the president were to order strikes, they would be far more limited in scope than the air campaign conducted during the Iraq war, this official said, because of the relatively small number of militants involved, the degree to which they are dispersed throughout militant-controlled parts of Iraq and fears that using bigger bombs would kill Sunni civilians.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 18, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like a trailer for a summer blockbuster, the video begins with loud music and the words “Coming Soon.”

But instead of superheroes or comedians on screen, there are images of a burning American flag and a jetliner hitting the World Trade Center, and the words: “Join the Caravan of Jihad and Martyrdom.”

As the music fades away, the blurred face of a man appears. He makes a direct appeal to Americans to join the fight.

The video ends with footage of a United States passport being burned. Men are heard laughing and shouting an Arabic phrase about God’s greatness.

Although the recruitment video has circulated among extremist groups for some days, intelligence analysts now believe the man with the blurred face is a 22-year-old from Florida who blew himself up last month in a suicide attack on Syrian government forces that killed 37, according to senior American government officials....

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMovies & TelevisionReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.Middle East

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Posted June 14, 2014 at 7:36 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So absolute was the rout of Iraq’s army in Mosul that soldiers stripped off their uniforms in the street and fled. The bodies of those left behind, some mutilated, were strewn amid burned-out troop carriers. Roughly 1,500 jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), outnumbered by more than 15 to one, reportedly seized six Black Hawk helicopters as well as untold plunder from the vaults of Mosul’s banks. They released thousands of prisoners from Mosul’s jails. As the black flag of jihad rose above government buildings, as many as half a million refugees sought sanctuary.

Two and a half years ago, as the last American troops left, President Barack Obama described Iraq as “sovereign, stable and self-reliant”. Today jihadists are tearing the country apart. Mosul is its second city. On June 10th the prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, called for a state of emergency and pleaded for outside help. The next day, in league with rebellious Iraqi Sunnis, ISIS took Tikrit, the home of Saddam Hussein, just two and a half hours’ drive north of Baghdad.

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

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Posted June 14, 2014 at 2:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The summit was opened by the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, and the Hollywood star Angelina Jolie. It ran from Tuesday to Friday, and brought together hundreds of politicians, activists, and survivors to discuss how to tackle the scourge and stigma of sexual violence.

Speaking at the opening to the summit, Ms Jolie, a special envoy to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said that she wanted to dedicate the summit to one rape victim she had met in Bosnia. "She felt that having had no justice for her particular crime . . . and having seen the actual man who raped her on the streets free, she really felt abandoned by the world. This day is for her."

Mr Hague announced a further £6 million in government funding for programmes to combat sexual violence, and said that he hoped other nations would pledge more money.

"We began campaigning two years ago, because we believe the time has come to end the use of rape in war, once and for all," he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesSexualityViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 13, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mosul's fall matters for what it reveals about a terrorism whose threat Mr. Obama claims he has minimized. For starters, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) isn't a bunch of bug-eyed "Mad Max" guys running around firing Kalashnikovs. ISIS is now a trained and organized army.

The seizures of Mosul and Tikrit this week revealed high-level operational skills. ISIS is using vehicles and equipment seized from Iraqi military bases. Normally an army on the move would slow down to establish protective garrisons in towns it takes, but ISIS is doing the opposite, by replenishing itself with fighters from liberated prisons.

An astonishing read about this group is on the website of the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War. It is an analysis of a 400-page report, "al-Naba," published by ISIS in March. This is literally a terrorist organization's annual report for 2013. It even includes "metrics," detailed graphs of its operations in Iraq as well as in Syria.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq

3 Comments
Posted June 12, 2014 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Ninety-nine percent of the Christians have left Mosul,” pastor Haitham Jazrawi said today following the takeover of Iraq’s second largest city—and its ancient Christian homeland—by al-Qaeda-linked jihadist militants.

A mass exodus of Christians and Muslims is underway from the city of 1.8 million after hundreds of gunmen with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) overran the city and forced out the Iraqi army and the police. Reports indicate Iraqi army units abandoned their posts, in the process giving up U.S.-provided weapons and vehicles, including Humvees, in what was a key base of operations for U.S. military forces throughout the Iraq war. Long a city of diverse religious and ethnic makeup—with Arabs and Kurds, and a large population of Assyrian Christians—Mosul was a flashpoint during the eight-year conflict.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Christian woman condemned to be hanged for apostasy in Sudan is being kept in comfortable conditions in prison and will have her appeal verdict next month, according to her lawyers, amid indications that the international campaign to free her is having an effect.

Meriam Ibrahim gave birth in chains, in Omdurman women’s prison, after she had been sentenced to 100 lashes and condemned to death last month for renouncing Islam. She was jailed after a judge ruled that she was a Muslim because of her absentee father’s religion. Her marriage to Daniel Wani, an American-Sudanese Christian, was annulled by the court.

After an international outcry, there are indications that the Sudanese government of President al-Bashir is beginning to take heed of her case.

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted June 11, 2014 at 7:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I sincerely hope,” he continued, “that the international community can offer social protection to minors to defeat this plague.” The Holy Father went on to say, “Let us all renew our commitment, especially families, to ensure the tutelage of every boy’s and girl’s dignity and the chance to grow up healthy.”

“A serene childhood,” he concluded, “allows children to look with confidence to the life and future.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPovertyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 11, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Q. What is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria?

A. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has been designated by the United States as an international terrorist organization. It operates in Iraq and Syria and has as its goal the establishment of an Islamic caliphate, or state, in the area now occupied by Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. It is also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and sometimes as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.

Q. What is its relationship to al Qaida?

A. ISIS was once considered an affiliate of al Qaida, but the two groups have broken over ISIS’ role in Syria. Al Qaida has criticized ISIS for being too brutal and has complained that ISIS’ zeal to establish an Islamic state has distracted from the current push to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad. Last year, al Qaida chief Ayman al Zawahiri ordered ISIS’ leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, to withdraw his forces from Syria. Baghdadi ignored the order.

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Posted June 11, 2014 at 6:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"A few weeks back I was with my wife in the eastern DRC and seeing what – funded by the British government – churches and NGOs are doing to combat sexual violence. And when you see what happens to people, it is breathtakingly terrible; and when you see what targeted, careful work does it is extraordinary in what can be achieved.

"Let me give you an example. On both visits over the last few years I’ve gone to see churches working with women who had been raped. The society of the eastern DRC is being progressively more brutalised by war, by rampaging militias, by extractive industries misbehaving, and that brutalisation is slipping into the general population. The churches are the main bulwark against this brutalisation. They love the women who come to them for help. They show them love and human dignity – that is extraordinary in itself.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The government and rebels in South Sudan have agreed to end fighting and form a transitional government within 60 days, Ethiopia says.

The regional Igad bloc, mediating the conflict, has threatened sanctions if they fail to abide by the agreement.

It follows a rare meeting between President Salva Kiir and rebel chief Riek Machar in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Previous deals to end the violence have been broken by both sides, compounding the worsening humanitarian crisis.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nine European countries endorsed plans on Thursday [this past week] to step up intelligence-sharing and take down radical websites to try to stop European citizens going to fight in Syria and bringing violence back home with them.

The initiative by states that deem themselves most affected by jihadist violence was given new urgency by the killing of three people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels last month.

A 29-year-old Frenchman arrested on suspicion of the shooting is believed to have recently returned from fighting with Islamist rebels in Syria’s civil war, authorities said.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 10, 2014 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Suspected Boko Haram militants have abducted at least 20 women close to where 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped in northern Nigeria, eyewitnesses say.

The women were loaded on to vans at gunpoint and driven away to an unknown location in Borno state, they add.

The army has not commented on the incident, which occurred on the nomadic Garkin Fulani settlement on Thursday.

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

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Posted June 10, 2014 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hundreds more Nigerian schoolgirls may be living in jungle slavery after being captured by Boko Haram militants, according to a mediator.

Stephen Davis, a friend of Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said that the number of captives could be twice as many as the 300 students taken from a school in the restless north of the country in April.

He suggested that senior figures in Nigeria were supporting the extremists and cautioned that any rescue attempt would simply result in many of the girls being killed. The kidnappers would then seize more students in the following days, according to Mr Davis, a former Canon Emeritus at Coventry Cathedral, who has been in Nigeria for the past month.

He said that the only way to resolve the hostage crisis would be for a peace deal to be reached with members of the Boko Haram leadership, who appeared to be open to talks.

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

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Posted June 9, 2014 at 6:42 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian Christian schoolgirls focused the world’s attention, at last, on the outrages committed by Boko Haram (“No western education”) in Nigeria. Scores of churches have been destroyed and many Christians killed by Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria, but the world kept quiet. Now more people realize that there is a serious problem in Nigeria. But what is the problem? Prime Minister David Cameron correctly identified it recently, according to the Rt Rev Dr Ben Kwashi, the Anglican Archbishop of the area where the girls were kidnapped and where most of the atrocities have taken place. Mr Cameron said: “This is not just a problem in Nigeria. We’re seeing this really violent extreme Islamism. We see problems in Pakistan, we see problems in other parts of Africa, problems in the Middle East. Also, let’s be frank, here in the UK there is still too much support for extremism that we have to tackle, whether it’s in schools or colleges or universities or wherever,” (Quoted in The Times, 12 May 2014). Archbishop Kwashi, on a recent visit to the UK, insists that the violence of Boko Haram does not arise out of their poverty or alienation. They have enough funding to arm themselves with weapons that can take on modern armies. There are many poor and alienated groups in Nigeria who do not resort to violence. And if they are representing the poor and alienated then why did they blow up a major fish market which is a centre for food, income and the export of fish many times over? Those fighting on behalf of the poor do not kill the poor or their children. This is a civilizational conflict that roots itself in religious justification. Islam is of the view that it should be supreme in political and economic power. The North of Nigeria is by and large Muslim. The south is by and large Christian.

Nigeria is an uneasy federation of the two.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 6, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Despite disappointment that word of his involvement in the negotiations for the release of the Chibok schoolgirls was leaked to media last week, the Australian cleric appointed as the Nigerian President’s envoy in the negotiations with Boko Haram remains hopeful that they will succeed in getting the girls released.

Dr. Stephen Davis, an Anglican cleric, told media the fact that his name was leaked is not helping the negotiations, but he remains confident nonetheless that they will succeed.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 5, 2014 at 7:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby made a last minute visit to Nigeria today to offer his heartfelt sympathy for the recent events affecting the country, including the recent bombings in Jos and the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls who have now been missing for almost two months.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just for a moment, do your best to imagine this scenario:

You’ve been brought up as a Christian in a Christian home and have accepted this faith as your own. This is not a nominal faith; you have chosen to follow Jesus and give your life fully to him. Now as an adult you are married to a fellow Christian, have a son who is nearly two years old and are pregnant with your second child. Your husband is a citizen of another country and you are planning to emigrate. Life where you live is not always easy and you are looking forward to a new start in a place where your children will have far more opportunities available to them as they grow up than will ever be the case if you stay where you are.

One day out of nowhere the police arrive at your door, arrest you and throw you into prison. Apparently your half-brother is furious that you have gone your own way, choosing your own husband and are now intending to move abroad. For him this is simply not acceptable behaviour for a woman in his family. He publicly cries “apostasy” and accuses you of converting to Christianity from Islam. The sole justification for this is that your father had been a Muslim, even though he abandoned your mother while you were still young. In law as a woman your faith is legally determined by your father’s. Up until this point such a technicality has had no bearing on your life, but now that a relative has a grudge against you, everything that you have counts for nothing.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* 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 June 3, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If true, this is a testament to the power of advocacy, as well as an answer to the prayers of many around the world. Trust and verify comes to mind. Too often, the U.S. government has trusted the promises and declarations of Khartoum, and while the U.S. has acted according to the “carrots” it has promised for good behavior, Khartoum’s failed to honor its promises. Hopefully, this is not the case with the pending release of Ibrahim. The U.S. offered no incentives to Khartoum to release Ibrahim, but her imprisonment drew international outrage. Khartoum felt the sting and decided that the reward of pardoning Ibrahim outweighs the approval of the hard-core Islamists who want her dead.

Ibrahim's release will be only the beginning of the push to halt the draconian implementation of Sharia law. Advocates understand that they cannot relax the pressure on the Islamic Republic of Sudan.

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

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Posted June 1, 2014 at 4:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, who was sentenced to death in Sudan after she married a Christian man, is to be freed, a Sudanese foreign ministry official has said.

The decision comes after the Sudanese government faced mounting pressure from the international community over her “barbaric” treatment.

Abdullahi Alzareg, an under-secretary at the foreign ministry, said the county was committed to protecting the woman and guaranteed religious freedom.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & 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 June 1, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf, Vietnam, Korea, World War II and others across history had noble intent and, like all wars, had their share of tragic consequences. Even “good” wars are filled with suffering by the innocent. Wars are morally justified only when the alternatives are even worse.

Veterans in America’s wars, whether the volunteers of the last 40 years, or the draftees of earlier decades, were not “victims.” They were and are Americans who sacrificially served their country. They should be honored, not romanticized, nor condescended to.

Wallis suggests Memorial Day as a time for asking “hard questions about our wars, what we have learned, and whether such painful losses are truly worth the terrible cost.” Perhaps those questions should also include asking what the world might look like absent the service of America’s veterans and the willingness of America to resist aggression and tyranny.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan

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Posted May 31, 2014 at 1:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bergdahl, 28, was freed in exchange for five prisoners who were held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center and is back in the hands of the U.S. military, the officials said.

Bergdahl disappeared when he reportedly walked away from a U.S. military base in eastern Afghanistan in June 2009, carrying only a compass and a bottle of water. He was the only U.S. service member ever to be held captive by enemy forces in Afghanistan.

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Filed under: * 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 May 31, 2014 at 1:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A woman sentenced to death in Sudan after marrying a Christian could be released within days, according to reports.

A senior Khartoum official has told the BBC that Meriam Ibrahim will be freed following worldwide protests about her treatment.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & CultureWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted May 31, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr Wani, 27, said his wife was “frustrated” by her situation but was committed to maintaining that she was Christian.

He told CNN: “There is pressure on her from Muslim religious leaders that she should return to the faith. She said, ‘How can I return when I never was a Muslim? Yes my father was a Muslim, but I was brought up by my mother.’

” I know my wife. She’s committed. Even last week, they brought in sheikhs and she told them, ‘I’m pretty sure I’m not going to change my mind’....I’m standing by her to the end. Whatever she wants, I’ll stand by her.”

Read it all (requires subscription) and a picture is there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted May 30, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The courts have judged that she was born a Muslim (because her absent father was one) and therefore that her claim to be a Christian, following marriage to a Christian man, meets the criteria under Sudan’s version of Sharia for the death penalty. The hanging will not, however, be carried out if she renounces her faith and embraces Islam. This she refuses to do. The sentence of 100 lashes for adultery remains to be carried out some time before her execution.

Pinch yourself. This is 2014 not 1014. Meriam’s imprisonment is an offence against basic human rights. Under any civilised code her crime would be no crime at all, but her murder by the Sudanese state most certainly would be a terrible one. A campaign by Amnesty International for Meriam’s release has already received the support of 147,000 people and we hope that many more will sign up.

But such private pressure, while admirable and necessary, is not enough. It is clear that in many countries of the world archaic religious laws or cultural practices are increasingly becoming a major threat to women and religious minorities.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Sudanese woman sentenced to death for marrying a Christian was forced to give birth with her legs chained, it has been revealed today.

Meriam Ibrahim was shackled as her baby daughter was born in jail in Sudan where she is awaiting execution for marrying a Christian U.S. citizen.

Amid the joy of seeing his child for the first time, her husband Daniel Wani has spoken of his anger at the treatment she received during labour.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* 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 May 30, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has said the Christians of Pakistan are a people under siege and joined calls for their churches to be protected and for them to be able to worship in safety.

“Freedom of worship is a universal human right around the world, and all countries need to pay attention to that,” he said.

Meanwhile, condemning the "revolting lynching" of a pregnant Pakistani woman who was stoned to death by her family in front of hundreds of people outside the Lahore high court, the Archbishop told the Times: “I was utterly horrified and every Pakistani I have spoken to is also horrified. It (the stoning) was in no sense a punishment, but but a revolting lynching.”

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The threat facing minorities in Pakistan was laid bare on Monday, the day of the Archbishop of Canterbury's arrival in the country, when an American doctor was shot dead in the Punjab province.

Mehdi Ali, a volunteer cardiologist born in Pakistan, was a member of the minority Ahmadi community, which faces persecution in the country.

Security is tight for Archbishop Welby's visit to the country. On Tuesday, he met the diocesan bishops of the Church of Pakistan, the Governor of Punjab, and leaders from a range of faith communities.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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Posted May 29, 2014 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Churches in Sudan, including the Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference, have condemned the death sentence handed to a Christian woman who refused to renounce her faith.

Meriam Ibrahim, whose father was Muslim but whose mother was an Orthodox Christian from Ethiopia, was convicted of apostasy by a court in Khartoum in mid-May for marrying a Christian.

In a joint statement, the Sudanese churches said the charges against Ibrahim are false. They appealed to the Sudanese government to free her from prison, according to the social communications department of AMECEA, the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa, based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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Posted May 28, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

India, a giant economic mediocrity, is cursed by having too many economists. Its outgoing prime minister, Manmohan Singh, has a doctorate from Oxford, ran the central bank in the 1980s and led the liberalisation programme that India put in place in 1991 after a currency crisis. Yet as prime minister Mr Singh had little grip or public support, serving at the pleasure of Sonia Gandhi, the populist leader of the Congress party. By the end of his ten-year term he admitted he had failed. In August, as the rupee tumbled, he addressed a gathering of India’s policymaking elite at his house in Delhi. The economy faced “very difficult circumstances”, he whispered.

Mr Singh’s successor could not be more different. Narendra Modi’s economic views have been formed while running the business-friendly state of Gujarat for the past 12 years. Asked some time ago about his economic influences, he described his homespun framework, jotting diagrams on a pad as he spoke. He has studied Singapore and China, but thinks that “India is a democracy and has different requirements”. Striking a balance between farming, small firms and global companies is required, with limited but muscular administration and populist appeal: “Men, machines and money must work together.”

Having run Gujarat well, Mr Modi now faces the far harder task of running India. He has big advantages—administrative competence, control over his party and a majority in Parliament—that should ease decision-making. Unlike Mr Singh, he has also campaigned and won on a platform of aspiration and economic reform. India needs “less government and more governance”, he declared on the campaign trail.

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Posted May 27, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Jos, Most Reverend Benjamin Kwashi, has instructed security agencies to comb Jos for 6 out of the 10 bombs planted in the city by Boko Haram as confessed by one of the suspects arrested in connection with the twin bomb blast that rocked the city last week.

He gave the instruction on Sunday in Minna when delivering sermon titled “the good shepherd” at the dedication of the Minna Cathedral of the Anglican Communion and the presentation of four Archbishops.

“There was a twin bomb blast few days ago in Jos in which many people were killed. Just yesterday when I was about to come to Minna, another bomb exploded in Jos again. We are aware that one of the Boko Haram arrested by the security has confessed that they planted 10 bombs in the city. We are also aware that one of the bombs has been seen and detonated by the police. But where are the remaining six? The police must urgently search and recover the hidden bombs to save lives and property”, he said.

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Posted May 25, 2014 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Arriving here on Sunday, Pope Francis made an impassioned appeal for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and gave the Palestinians an uncommon boost by openly endorsing “the State of Palestine.”

Francis called for “a stable peace based on justice, on the recognition of the rights of every individual, and on mutual security,” and for intensified efforts for the creation of two states — meaning a Palestinian state alongside Israel — within internationally recognized borders.

“In expressing my closeness to those who suffer most from this conflict, I wish to state my heartfelt conviction that the time has come to put an end to this situation, which has become increasingly unacceptable,” he said in remarks after a meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority.

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Posted May 25, 2014 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Suspected Islamist Boko Haram gunmen have attacked three villages in northern Nigeria, killing 28 people and burning houses to the ground in a pattern of violence that has become almost a daily occurrence, police and witnesses have said.

Separately, a suicide bombing that was meant to happen at the TV screening of a football match in the central Nigerian city of Jos on Saturday killed three people before the bomber reached the target, a witness told Reuters.

The bomber approached the Jos Viewing Centre while people were watching Real Madrid play Atletico Madrid, but he failed to get there before his car exploded, a local journalist at the scene, Mohammed Shittu, said.

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

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Posted May 25, 2014 at 4:49 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the Co-Chairs of the Christian Muslim Forum we call for compassion in this situation and for the death sentence against Mariam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag to be dropped.

Our religions tell us that human interactions should be shaped by compassion and humanity, not by death sentences. It is vital that all people should enjoy freedom of conscience and be able to follow their own religion, as we have already highlighted in our Ethical Witness Guidelines. Christians and Muslims should be able to coexist alongside each other, we emphasise that force and compulsion are not characteristics of either faith.

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Posted May 24, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is to attend the inauguration of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister of India on Monday.

It is the first time since the two countries won independence in 1947 that a prime minister from one state will attend such a ceremony in the other.

The two nuclear-armed rivals have fought three wars in the past 60 years.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndiaPakistan

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Posted May 24, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Intelligence agents from all over the globe have poured into this city, Nigeria’s capital, to help find the nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram more than a month ago — but there has been little or no progress in bringing the young women home.

The problem, many involved in the rescue effort say, is the failings of the Nigerian military.

There is a view among diplomats here and with their governments at home that the military is so poorly trained and armed, and so riddled with corruption, that not only is it incapable of finding the girls, it is also losing the broader fight against Boko Haram. The group has effective control of much of the northeast of the country, as troops withdraw from vulnerable targets to avoid a fight and stay out of the group’s way, even as the militants slaughter civilians.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The most important change in the world over the past 30 years has been the rise of China. The increase in its average annual GDP per head from around $300 to $6,750 over the period has not just brought previously unimagined prosperity to hundreds of millions of people, but has also remade the world economy and geopolitics.

India’s GDP per head was the same as China’s three decades ago. It is now less than a quarter of the size. Despite a couple of bouts of reform and spurts of growth, India’s economy has never achieved the momentum that has dragged much of East Asia out of poverty. The human cost, in terms of frustrated, underemployed, ill-educated, unhealthy, hungry people, has been immense.

Now, for the first time ever, India has a strong government whose priority is growth. Narendra Modi, who leads the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has won a tremendous victory on the strength of promising to make India’s economy work. Although we did not endorse him, because we believe that he has not atoned sufficiently for the massacre of Muslims that took place in Gujarat while he was chief minister, we wish him every success: an Indian growth miracle would be a great thing not just for Indians, but also for the world.

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Posted May 23, 2014 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram, the insurgent terrorist group bearing down on Nigeria, has attacked again. This time, officials say, the militant Islamist group hit three villages Wednesday, not far from where they took hundreds of schoolgirl’s hostage.

It’s not even 24 hours after a twin bombing in Jos, which killed 118 Tuesday. On Sunday, a suicide bombing rattled nerves in Sabon Gari, Kano State.

The tactics point to a new terror technique by the insurgent group: the use of random attacks and explosives in a deadly sequence. It means they’re no longer a small insurgency. The United Nations has linked them to another menace.

Jerry Dykstra, a spokesman for Open Doors USA, echoes those concerns. “They’re being empowered by other terrorist groups like al-Qaeda. [sic] It’s disturbing, and we as Christians need to pay attention because [Nigeria is] the most...[populous] Christian country in all of Africa.”

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Posted May 22, 2014 at 4:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) will strike on Thursday to demand the prompt release of schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram militants last month and compensation for teachers killed in the restive northeast region so far.

“All schools nationwide shall be closed as Thursday will be our day of protest against the abduction of the Chibok female students and the heartless murder of the 173 teachers,” NUT President Michael Olukoya said in a statement.

The union has directed members to hold processions across the capitals of Nigeria’s states and federal capital Abuja.

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Posted May 22, 2014 at 7:13 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

South Sudan's problems...are far from over. Relief experts said famine and disease pose great risk. The rainy season has begun, making delivery of food more difficult in this France-sized nation with few paved roads. Families in some cases have survived by eating leaves. Malnourished children will die of starvation before the end of the year unless relief aid arrives now. Health officials say nine people have died from cholera so far in May.

"We are now in a race against time to prevent the deaths of 50,000 children under the age of five who are already suffering high levels of malnutrition," said Perry Mansfield, South Sudan National Director, World Vision.

"The numbers of very hungry is staggering. Almost 5 million people are desperately in need of humanitarian assistance. People have fled their homes and so cannot plant their crops. Almost a quarter of a million children will be severely malnourished by the end of the year. But the costs of air dropping and flying in food is more expensive than trucking it in, but delivery options and time are running out."

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenDieting/Food/NutritionPovertyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan

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Posted May 21, 2014 at 3:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The women of Iran deserve to have freedom of choice about their chadors. It is a disgrace that their mullahs deny them a basic human freedom.

But almost no one in the gallery of gushing approval is raising her voice to defend Meriam Yehya Ibrahim who was condemned to death in Sudan on May 1. Meriam is eight months pregnant, but a court in Khartoum found her guilty of adultery and apostatising from Islam.

The case against her is an absurd travesty of justice by all standards except the standards of the fundamentalist regime which currently governs Sudan. Twenty-seven-year-old Meriam is the daughter of a Muslim father and a Ethiopian Coptic Orthodox mother. Meriam’s father deserted the family when she was a baby and she was raised as a Christian. She qualified as a doctor at University of Khartoum Medical School and married a Christian man from South Sudan, Daniel Wani. Mr Wani is an American citizen who lives in New Hampshire. They have a 20-month-old son and were hoping to emigrate to the US.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesViolenceWomen* 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 May 21, 2014 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians believe that Jesus was immersed in the waters of the Jordan River by John the Baptist, who wore a cloak of camel’s hair and lived on locusts and honey in the desert wilderness.

But the Gospels are not precise about which side of the river the baptism took place on — the east bank or the west.

Although it might not matter much to a half-million annual visitors who come to the river for sightseeing or a renewal of faith, it matters very much to tourism officials in Israel and Jordan, who maintain dueling baptism sites, one smack-dab across from the other, with the shallow, narrow, muddy stream serving as international boundary.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelJordan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsIslamJudaism* TheologySacramental TheologyBaptism

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Posted May 21, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the global stage hasn’t been a second-term refuge for President Obama; it’s been an arena of setbacks, crises and defeats. His foreign policy looked modestly successful when he was running for re-election. Now it stinks of failure.

Failure is a relative term, to be sure. His predecessor’s invasion of Iraq still looms as the largest American blunder of the post-Vietnam era. None of Obama’s difficulties have rivaled that debacle. And many of the sweeping conservative critiques of his foreign policy — that Obama has weakened America’s position in the world, that he’s too chary about using military force — lack perspective on how much damage the Iraq war did to American interests, and how many current problems can be traced back to errors made in 2003.

But the absence of an Iraq-scale fiasco is not identical to success, and history shouldn’t grade this president on a curve set by Donald Rumsfeld. Obama is responsible for the initiatives he’s pursued, the strategies he’s blessed and the priorities he’s set. And almost nothing on that list is working out.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted May 20, 2014 at 3:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wani, a Sudanese man with US citizenship who lives in Manchester in New Hampshire, is now in Sudan to try and help his wife.

“I was considered innocent and the marriage revoked — the revoking of this marriage means that my son is no longer my son and the one coming is not my son too, will not be my son — so this innocence means nothing and I will appeal for myself and I will appeal for my wife,” Reuters news agency reported.

“Martin [my son] and my wife, they are all in prison and she is pregnant — she could give birth at any time, from today to 1st of June, she may give birth. I am afraid that being in prison is dangerous for her so if they would allow me to take her to the hospital that she delivered Martin in — even if it was under the watch of security guards, I would be thankful.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* 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 May 20, 2014 at 6:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A mob torched Bature’s evangelical church last Monday, one of at least six churches and mosques destroyed in three days of religious clashes that took over the town of Kachia.

As many as 40 people died, police said, and hundreds of Christians and Muslims are now living in displacement camps.

Kachia is in the northwestern Nigerian state of Kaduna, which makes up part of the middle belt splitting the country’s largely Christian south from the mainly Muslim north. These bisecting regions are often home to mixed populations and have long simmered with sectarian friction.

Kachia sits right on top of the fault lines.

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Posted May 20, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Definitive pronouncements about the group are hazardous, since its communications with the outside world are fragmentary and its tactics and motivations remain murky. Even the group’s leadership is a mystery. The Nigerian government has claimed to have killed Mr. Shekau at least three times, although there is wide disagreement here on whether Mr. Shekau or a secret successor is in charge.

American intelligence officials say they have no reason to doubt the authenticity of the recent video or that the individual who appears in it is Mr. Shekau.

Said to be in his mid-30s to his early 40s, Mr. Shekau was born in a remote village on the border with Niger, in the neighboring state of Yobe. When he was a young boy he was taken by his father for Quranic studies to a mallam, or “learned one,” in Maiduguri, a center of Islamic teaching. “He was the most troublesome of all of his students,” the mallam’s son recalled last week, outside his one-story mud-walled house in a dense neighborhood here. “He was arguing with the mallam all the time,” said the teacher’s son, Baba Fanani.

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Posted May 19, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Years before Narendra Modi won this month’s election that now allows him to become India’s next leader, the former tea-stall worker asked this question on behalf of the world’s second most-populous nation:

“It is often said that India does not dream big and that is the root cause of all our problems. Why can’t we dream like China, Europe or America?”

Note how Mr. Modi compares India to other continental powers. This reveals just how much today’s 1.25 billion Indians, who are digitally hitched to the global flow of ideas, have adopted new views of their capacity for progress – not only for India but for themselves.

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Posted May 19, 2014 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

African leaders meeting in Paris have agreed to wage "war" on Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamic militants.

President Hollande of France, who hosted the summit, said regional powers had pledged to share intelligence and co-ordinate action against the group.

Last month it abducted 223 schoolgirls in north-eastern Nigeria, where it is based. Fresh attacks were reported in Nigeria and Cameroon overnight.

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Posted May 17, 2014 at 1:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Following the sentencing to death of a pregnant Sudanese woman for refusing to abandon her Christian faith, the Anglican Archbishops of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia are calling on all people of good-will to raise their voices in protest.

Archbishops Brown Turei, Philip Richardson, and Winston Halapua, say it is hard to find words to describe the plight of the woman. The Archbishops believe people across all faiths, who seek charity, love, and justice, will find the court’s decision hateful and heartless

Meriam Ibrahim and her Christian husband were married in 2011. They have an 18-month-old son. A court, in the Sudan capital of Khartoum, has sentenced Meriam to flogging for marrying a non-Muslim and to death for abandoning the Muslim faith for Christianity.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted May 16, 2014 at 5:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Chinese weapons supplier on Friday rejected claims that it sold Syria chlorine gas, an unusual statement from a tight-lipped company that reflects Beijing's desire to distance itself from chemical weapons.

In a statement, China North Industries Corp. said a "comprehensive review" of company records revealed that it has never exported chlorine or chlorine products to Syria. The company, known as Norinco, said it is "a responsible major international defense company" that conforms to the Chinese government's goals on non-proliferation.

The statement followed a report Tuesday from the group Human Rights Watch that documented what it said were signs of the use of chlorine gas in northern Syria in April. Images on the group's website showed yellow canisters with the markings "CL2," the chemical symbol for chlorine gas, and "NORINCO." Chlorine is lethal in high concentrations and was used in chemical warfare as early as the World War I.

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Posted May 16, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

India's main opposition BJP has risen like a phoenix from the depths of despair.

As the leads poured in on Friday morning, it was clear that the party is steaming ahead to its biggest victory in 30 years. This, after two losing two elections in a row - the party was able to mop up only 116 seats in 2009.

Today, the BJP on its own is on course to win more than the 272 which it needs to gain a simple majority, and its 28-party coalition is leading the vote count in over 300 seats.

Read it all.

Update: From an SMH article:
"It's a tsunami ... the BJP has levelled the Congress and this is a new era in Indian politics," BJP chief media spokesman Srikant Sharma told Fairfax Media.

"The Gandhi family is finished. They are no longer a force in Indian politics. India has moved past them, they are history," he said.


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Posted May 16, 2014 at 5:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The whereabouts of more than 200 schoolgirls abducted in northern Nigeria remain unknown a month after their kidnapping. Never the less, the Archbishop of Canterbury has cautioned against military intervention by Western nations to find them.

Writing in the Church Times (below), Archbishop Welby says that defeating Boko Haram, the Islamist militants who snatched the teenagers from their school in Chibok, would take a combination of local police work, winning the hearts and minds of Muslims inthe region, and economic development.

He also writes: "External intervention is always difficult. In the first place, our history as the colonial power, and the role of the USA in Iraq and Afghanistan, makes both countries (and indeed much of the 'Christian West') suspicious for many Muslims."

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The lands lying between the Baltic and the Black Sea have had many names: the “bloodlands” of the second world war, the “captive nations” of the cold war, the “ex-communist” countries of the post-Soviet era and, for many, the “new members” of the European Union. Before the 2003 Iraq war, Donald Rumsfeld, America’s defence secretary, praised “new Europe” as pro-American, unlike “old Europe” (ie, France and Germany). The French president, Jacques Chirac, then chided the easterners as having “missed a great opportunity to keep quiet”.

The nomenclature must now change again, because of Ukraine. In its response to Vladimir Putin’s revanchism, Mr Rumsfeld’s new Europe is remarkably similar to the old one: divided roughly between north and south. Poland and the Baltic three are hawkish, believing that Russia has irrevocably changed the post-war order; Bulgaria and Hungary are among those opposed to tough sanctions who hope that business with Russia will somehow return to normal.

This spectrum might be a welcome sign of normality, if only the stakes were not so high. The divisions of eastern Europe aggravate those of the EU as a whole. Nobody tells easterners to shut up any more; even France is wooing them. But if the countries closest to Russia, with direct experience of Soviet occupation, cannot agree on sanctions, why should others endanger their still-fragile economies?

Read it all.

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

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Posted May 15, 2014 at 3:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The church in South Sudan is 'leading the struggle against violence' says Archbishop Justin Welby in this interview with Episcopal News Service

Read and watch it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was like a scene from a movie, except there was no Iron Man swooping to the rescue. More than a hundred girls sitting in a clearing, chanting the Koran. Their eyes downcast, the girls were swathed in ghostly grey and black hijabs. Their captors said this was evidence that they had “converted to Islam”, but their fear was palpable. They held themselves unnaturally still, as though to move would mean death.

Many of the girls were abducted on April 14 from a school in northern Nigeria, which means they have had less than a month to memorise those Koranic verses, or at least to have the chants beaten into them. More than half of the 276 stolen girls were missing from the terrorists’ video. Among them were Rebeccas and Esthers and Ruths – lovely, strong Biblical names. One girl was led to the front and told to give a Muslim name, not her Christian one. You wondered about her missing sisters and whether they had displeased their captors by refusing to surrender either their name or their faith.

“These girls you occupy yourselves with… we have indeed liberated them. These girls have become Muslims,” jeered Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram. He addresses the camera as if he were straight out of Evil Villain school.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop Justin gave an interview to Radio 4's The World This Weekend on Sunday about the kidnap of more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria.

Follow the link provided and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 13, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Monday for a special tribunal for South Sudan, saying there are grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed since widespread violence began five months ago.

The U.N. chief welcomed last Friday's cease-fire agreement by President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, Riek Machar, and demanded an immediate end to fighting, which flared over the weekend. He called for "30 days of tranquility" so farmers can plant crops in peace to avoid famine in the world's newest nation.

"If the conflict continues, half of South Sudan's 12 million people will either be displaced internally, refugees abroad, starving or dead by the year's end," Ban warned the U.N. Security Council.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigeria has immediately rejected a proposed deal to free the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls after the captives were paraded on a video released by the terror group Boko Haram.

Abubakar Shekau, the group’s leader, claimed in a 17-minute tirade that the girls have converted to Islam and said that they will not be released until all Boko Haram prisoners have been freed from Nigerian jails.

But President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria swiftly ruled out the possibility of a prisoner swap or of paying a ransom.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria

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Posted May 12, 2014 at 1:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby warned on Sunday of the difficulties of negotiating with an "utterly merciless" group like Boko Haram, but called for active contact with the Nigerian Islamists over their abduction of scores of schoolgirls.

Welby has experience of negotiating with violent groups in the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria, and with a predecessor to Boko Haram around Maiduguri, the capital of northeastern Borno state where the group started out.

In an interview with BBC radio about the fate of more than 200 schoolgirls seized by the Islamist group last month, the archbishop said the girls faced a "colossal" risk.

"They're in the hands of a very disparate group which is extremely irrational and difficult to deal with and utterly merciless in the example it's shown in the past, and it must be a huge concern," he said.

Read it all. The [London] Times also has Archbishop calls for talks with Boko Haram for those who have subscriber access.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What [Hillary] Clinton didn’t mention [in her May 4 tweet earlier this month] was that her own State Department refused to place Boko Haram on the list of foreign terrorist organizations in 2011, after the group bombed the U.N. headquarters in Abuja. The refusal came despite the urging of the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, and over a dozen senators and congressmen.

“The one thing she could have done, the one tool she had at her disposal, she didn’t use. And nobody can say she wasn’t urged to do it. It’s gross hypocrisy,” said a former senior U.S. official who was involved in the debate. “The FBI, the CIA, and the Justice Department really wanted Boko Haram designated, they wanted the authorities that would provide to go after them, and they voiced that repeatedly to elected officials.”

In May 2012, then-Justice Department official Lisa Monaco (now at the White House) wrote to the State Department to urge Clinton to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organization. The following month, Gen. Carter Ham, the chief of U.S. Africa Command, said that Boko Haram “are likely sharing funds, training, and explosive materials” with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. And yet, Hillary Clinton’s State Department still declined to place Boko Haram on its official terrorist roster.

Read it all.

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

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


Posted May 10, 2014 at 4:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Watch it all carefully and note especially the section beginning at 2:25 when he is asked about the American Government. "They're not interested..."


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 10, 2014 at 3:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But little attention has been paid to the group's formal Arabic name: Jam'at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-da'wa wal-Jihad. That roughly translates as "The Fellowship of the People of the Tradition for Preaching and Holy War." That's a lot less catchy than Boko Haram but significantly more revealing about the group and its mission. Far from being an aberration among Islamist terror groups, as some observers suggest, Boko Haram in its goals and methods is in fact all too representative.

The kidnapping of the schoolgirls throws into bold relief a central part of what the jihadists are about: the oppression of women. Boko Haram sincerely believes that girls are better off enslaved than educated. The terrorists' mission is no different from that of the Taliban assassin who shot and nearly killed 15-year-old Pakistani Malala Yousafzai—as she rode a school bus home in 2012—because she advocated girls' education. As I know from experience, nothing is more anathema to the jihadists than equal and educated women.

How to explain this phenomenon to baffled Westerners, who these days seem more eager to smear the critics of jihadism as "Islamophobes" than to stand up for women's most basic rights? Where are the Muslim college-student organizations denouncing Boko Haram? Where is the outrage during Friday prayers? These girls' lives deserve more than a Twitter hashtag protest.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

State Infrastructure Minister Christian Pegel has traveled to Russia twice since the Ukraine crisis broke out, in part to drum up business for the Sassnitz ferry. "We are especially closely connected" to Russia, Mr. Pegel says of his region. "Perhaps also especially dependent."

U.S. politicians have voiced frustrations in recent weeks about Germany's reluctance to take a more confrontational stand against Russia. But for Germans, the risk in pursuing a hard line is unmistakable. Places like Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania—a region of 1.6 million with the country's lowest average income—have much to lose.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermanyRussia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 10, 2014 at 1:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all and take up the challenge (w/thanks to Locusts and Wild Honey).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 10, 2014 at 1:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the front rows, the graduating class sat enthralled. At the back other students shifted excitedly in their seats, some whispering agreement as Provan's language soared.

“I charge you, most seriously . . . [to] be dangerous to all who, in the pursuit of [false] gods, damage other people, and damage God's good creation. Be dangerous to the powerful who want to use and oppress the weak, and to the rich who want to use and oppress the poor.

“Be dangerous to those who diminish the importance of the individual person, in the womb or in the twilight years, or in between – to those who trample the individual soul, out of deference to the convenience of other family members, the health of the economy, the good of the state, or the well-being of the planet.” An Australian listening may be forgiven for thinking that Provan is calling for his young charges to oppose pretty well everything that marks business as usual on Macquarie Street. Normally it might not be fair to use a young man's education as predictive of his future course, but Regent College is not a normal school. Unlike most seminaries, Regent was created not to prepare its graduates to become clergy, but to give them an evangelical Christian education with a view to returning them to the secular world to serve God in their chosen professions.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologySeminary / Theological Education

2 Comments
Posted May 10, 2014 at 10:18 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The morning after Mkeki Ntakai learned of the mass kidnapping by Boko Haram, he fired up his rickety motor scooter and sped down a dirt road in northern Nigeria to find his 16-year-old daughter.

Mr. Ntakai was joined by more than 100 fathers, uncles and big brothers, all seeking several hundred girls taken by force from a boarding school in the remote hamlet of Chibok. The men followed a trail of hair ties and scraps of clothing the girls dropped to lead rescuers. One found his daughter's flip-flop; another retrieved a remnant of a school uniform.

But the kidnappers had too big a head start. Three weeks later, the trail has gone cold for the 223 girls still missing. More than 50 managed to escape in the first few hours, jumping out of the beds of pickup trucks or slipping away while they were supposed to be washing dishes.

The rest are presumed held by the jihadi group, whose leader Abubakar Shekau said he would sell the girls as slaves.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMarriage & FamilyTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 10, 2014 at 9:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Forty American Anglican (U.S.) bishops, as well as the Most Rev. Robert Duncan, the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, (ACNA) have signed on to a Pledge of Solidarity & Call to Action on behalf of Christians and Other Small Religious Communities in Egypt, Iraq, and Syria.

The pledge was released at a Capitol Hill press conference on Wednesday, May 7, 2014, and hosted by U.S. Representatives Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), strong advocates for the persecuted and the co-chairs of the bipartisan Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus, collaborating with Nina Shea, the director and senior scholar at the Hudson Institute Center for Religious Freedom. Wolf, a firm believer in the power of prayer, observes “there are more churches than there are chambers of commerce in America.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 9, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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