Category : Asia

(Economist) Hindu bigots are openly urging Indians to murder Muslims

All hindus must pick up weapons and conduct a cleanliness drive,” bellowed a Hindu priest at a three-day “religious parliament” in north India last month. Another speaker fired up the large crowd even more crudely: “If a hundred of us become soldiers and kill two million of them, we will be victorious.” By “them”, she meant India’s 200m Muslims.

Those priests baying for blood are not isolated bigots. Under the Hindu-nationalist government of Narendra Modi, the world’s most populous democracy has seen a growing wave of intolerance. In Gurgaon, a satellite city of Delhi, Muslims have been denied the use of open space to pray because it “offends sentiments”. They have also been denied permission to build mosques. Elsewhere Muslims accused of transporting cattle for slaughter, or of being in possession of beef, are sometimes lynched. Muslim businesses are boycotted. In recent months young Hindu radicals have persecuted high-profile Muslim women by creating apps to “auction” them off.

Muslims are not the only target of Hindu chauvinism. In Varanasi, a Hindu temple town, posters warn non-Hindus to stay away. Attacks on Christians, a tiny minority, have risen in recent years. Last week, after Mr Modi, the prime minister, was briefly delayed on an overpass in Sikh-majority Punjab, people associated with his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (bjp) warned darkly of a repeat of 1984, when thousands of Sikhs were killed in pogroms after the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. In an index of societal discrimination against minorities compiled by Bar Ilan University in Israel, India scores worse than Saudi Arabia and no better than Iran. It is impossible to know the number of hate crimes in the country: independent trackers were shut down in 2017 and 2019, and the government stopped collecting data in 2017.

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Posted in Hinduism, India, Islam, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Telegraph) Mother gives up baby for adoption over dishonest sperm donor

A Japanese woman has given up her baby for adoption after discovering the sperm donor lied about his education and ethnicity.

The woman, identified only as a Tokyo resident in her 30s, is suing the man in a case that has cast light on Japan’s widely unregulated sperm donation industry.

She is seeking around 330 million yen (£2m) for emotional distress, claiming he lied in order to have sex with her, in the first legal case of its kind, according to Japanese media.

The woman and her husband reportedly came into contact with the man, who is in his 20s, via a social media sperm donation account while trying to conceive their second child.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Japan, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology

A Prayer for Epiphany from the Church of South India

O God, who by a star didst guide the wise men to the worship of thy Son: Lead, we pray thee, to thyself the wise and the great in every land, that unto thee every knee may bow, and every thought be brought into captivity; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Epiphany, India, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Samuel Azariah

Emmanuel, God with us, who didst make thy home in every culture and community on earth: We offer thanks for the raising up of thy servant Samuel Azariah as the first indigenous bishop in India. Grant that we may be strengthened by his witness to thy love without concern for class or caste, and by his labors for the unity of the Church in India, that people of many languages and cultures might with one voice give thee glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, India, Spirituality/Prayer

(Nikkei Asia) China hoards over half the world’s grain, pushing up global prices

Less than 20% of the world’s population has managed to stockpile more than half of the globe’s maize and other grains, leading to steep price increases across the planet and dropping more countries into famine.

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Posted in China, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General

(BBC) Pillar of Shame: Hong Kong’s Tiananmen Square statue removed

A famous statue at the University of Hong Kong marking the Tiananmen Square massacre was removed late on Wednesday.

The statue showed piled-up corpses to commemorate the hundreds – possibly thousands – of pro-democracy protesters killed by Chinese authorities in 1989.

It was one of the few remaining public memorials in Hong Kong commemorating the incident.

Its removal comes as Beijing has increasingly been cracking down on political dissent in Hong Kong.

The city used to be one of few places in China that allowed public commemoration of the Tiananmen Square protests – a highly sensitive topic in the country.

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Posted in Art, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Hong Kong, Politics in General

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Lottie Moon

O God, who in Christ Jesus hast brought Good News to those who are far off and to those who are near: We praise thee for awakening in thy servant Lottie Moon a zeal for thy mission and for her faithful witness among the peoples of China. Stir up in us the same desire for thy work throughout the world, and give us the grace and means to accomplish it; through the same Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in China, Church History, Missions, Spirituality/Prayer

(C of E) ‘It is wonderful to welcome a new generation’ – how a diocese is supporting arrivals from Hong Kong

More than 70 new arrivals from Hong Kong have been warmly welcomed to the Diocese of Leeds at a special church event.

Families and individuals who have settled in Leeds attended St Barnabas Church in Alwoodley, Leeds, despite freezing temperatures and high winds.

This was the first welcome event for people from Hong Kong held in the Diocese of Leeds since the announcement of the British National Overseas passport scheme to allow Hong Kong citizens to come and reside in the UK.

Chinese and English food was shared together, there were games for families, and the opportunity for newcomers to meet parishioners. Guest speakers also gave advice, including representatives from schools and GP surgeries.

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Posted in England / UK, Hong Kong, Immigration, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Telegraph) Is the world is at the most dangerous strategic juncture since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962? Ambrose Evans-Pritchard thinks so

While Britain’s political class is distracted by a Downing Street party, the world is at the most dangerous strategic juncture since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.

The West faces escalating threats of conflict on three fronts, each separate but linked by unknown levels of collusion: Russia’s mobilisation of a strike force on Ukraine’s border, China’s “dress rehearsal” for an attack on Taiwan, and Iran’s nuclear brinkmanship.

Each country is emboldening the other two to press their advantage, and together they risk a fundamental convulsion of the global order.

You have to go back yet further to find a moment when Western democracies were so vulnerable to a sudden change in fortunes. Today’s events have echoes of the interlude between the Chamberlain-Daladier capitulation at Munich in 1938 and consequences that followed in rapid crescendo, from Anschluss to the Hitler-Stalin Pact.

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Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Iran, Politics in General, Russia, Taiwan, Ukraine

(Nikkei Asia) 80 years since Pearl Harbor: How the attack reshaped Asia

President Franklin Roosevelt’s somber speech to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives the day after “naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan” attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, home to the U.S. Pacific Fleet — “a date which will live in infamy,” in his estimation — has indeed never been forgotten.

“It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days, or even weeks ago,” said Roosevelt. He noted that Malaya, Guam, the Philippines, Wake Island and Midway Island were also attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, but neglected to mention that Japanese forces had begun invading Thailand hours earlier, on Dec. 8, across the international date line.

Some scholars have pondered what might have happened if Japan had only moved in Southeast Asia and not attacked Pearl Harbor. Where would the Americans have been? Would Japan have kept its Asian conquests

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Asia, History, Military / Armed Forces

Looking Back 80 years–Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Japan, Military / Armed Forces, Office of the President

(WSJ) China Seeks First Military Base on Africa’s Atlantic Coast, U.S. Intelligence Finds

Classified American intelligence reports suggest China intends to establish its first permanent military presence on the Atlantic Ocean in the tiny Central African country of Equatorial Guinea, according to U.S. officials.

The officials declined to describe details of the secret intelligence findings. But they said the reports raise the prospect that Chinese warships would be able to rearm and refit opposite the East Coast of the U.S.—a threat that is setting off alarm bells at the White House and Pentagon.

Principal deputy U.S. national security adviser Jon Finer visited Equatorial Guinea in October on a mission to persuade President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and his son and heir apparent, Vice President Teodoro “Teodorin” Nguema Obiang Mangue, to reject China’s overtures.

“As part of our diplomacy to address maritime-security issues, we have made clear to Equatorial Guinea that certain potential steps involving [Chinese] activity there would raise national-security concerns,” said a senior Biden administration official.

The great-power skirmishing over a country that rarely draws outside attention reflects the rising tensions between Washington and Beijing. The two countries are sparring over the status of Taiwan, China’s testing of a hypersonic missile, the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic and other issues.

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Posted in Africa, America/U.S.A., China, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Politics in General

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Church of South India

Almighty God, who in many and various ways didst speak to thy chosen people by the prophets, and hast given us, in thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of the hope of Israel: Hasten, we beseech thee, the coming of the day when all things shall be subject to him, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.

Posted in Advent, India, Spirituality/Prayer

(Economist Leader) What the Omicron variant means for the world economy

The final danger is the least well appreciated: a slowdown in China, the world’s second-biggest economy. Not long ago it was a shining example of economic resilience against the pandemic. But today it is grappling with a debt crisis in its vast property industry, ideological campaigns against private businesses, and an unsustainable “zero-covid” policy that keeps the country isolated and submits it to draconian local lockdowns whenever cases emerge. Even as the government considers stimulating the economy, growth has dropped to about 5%. Barring the brief shock when the pandemic began, that is the lowest for about 30 years.

If Omicron turns out to be more transmissible than the earlier Delta variant, it will make China’s strategy more difficult. Since this strain travels more easily, China will have to come down even harder on each outbreak in order to eradicate it, hurting growth and disrupting supply chains. Omicron may also make China’s exit from its zero-covid policy even trickier, because the wave of infections that will inevitably result from letting the virus rip could be larger, straining the economy and the health-care system. That is especially true given China’s low levels of infection-induced immunity and questions over how well its vaccines work.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, China, Economy, Globalization, Health & Medicine

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Channing Moore Williams

O God, who in thy providence didst call Channing Moore Williams to the ministry of this church and gave him the gifts and the perseverance to preach the Gospel in new lands: Inspire us, by his example and prayers, to commit our talents to thy service, confident that thou dost uphold those whom thou dost call; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Asia, Church History, Missions, Spirituality/Prayer

(Bloomberg) Disney+ Omits ‘The Simpsons’ Tiananmen Episode in Hong Kong

On Disney+, which launched in Hong Kong on Nov. 16, episodes 11 and 13 of season 16 are viewable in the Chinese territory, but not episode 12, which first aired in 2005. That episode was available over the weekend in Singapore, where Disney+ launched earlier this year.

“This is the first notable time an American streaming giant has censored content in Hong Kong,” said Kenny Ng, an associate professor specializing in film censorship at Hong Kong Baptist University.

“Basically, the whole story is for streaming companies to be more tailored to a Chinese audience and to not offend the Chinese government,” he added. “This is likely to continue in the future with more companies with financial interests in China.”

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Posted in China, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Movies & Television

(WSJ) Walter Russell Mead–China and Russia form an entente to hobble America, with a little help from Iran.

Asia First does not mean Asia Alone. That is the hard lesson the world is busy teaching the Biden administration and the U.S. In Europe, American diplomats last week scrambled to respond to Belarus’s weaponization of migration on its border with Poland, warned that Russia is positioning itself to invade Ukraine, and worked to defuse a crisis in the western Balkans. In the Middle East, as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin tried to reassure key allies about America’s continuing commitment to their security, U.S. naval forces participated with Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in the unprecedented joint Arab-Israeli military exercises in the Red Sea.

This shift from an Asia First policy to Global Engagement isn’t something the Biden administration is voluntarily choosing. It is a change forced on the U.S. by the actions of adversaries who believe that by keeping America off-balance and overcommitted, they can hasten the process of American decline.

President Biden’s original plan to focus on Asia made good political sense. Progressive Democrats are dead-set against the military spending and political engagement that a truly global American foreign policy would require. And it isn’t only progressive Democrats who are weary of endless wars, freeloading allies, and American diplomatic and sometimes military engagement in faraway hot spots like the western Balkans and Sudan. If we could get Iran back into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal and reach at least a temporary understanding with Russia on some issues, Team Biden hoped, reduced engagement in Europe and the Middle East would help make a tougher China policy easier to sell back home—and to pay for.

Team Biden is right about that. Unfortunately, China, Russia and Iran understand the situation as clearly as the White House does, and these powers want Mr. Biden and the nation he leads to fail.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia

(NYT) ISIS Poses a Growing Threat to New Taliban Government in Afghanistan

Aref Mohammad’s war against the Islamic State ended earlier this fall when his unit of Taliban fighters was ambushed by the terrorist group in eastern Afghanistan. A bullet shattered his femur, leaving him disabled and barely able to walk, never mind fight.

But for the Taliban movement he served under, now the government of Afghanistan, the war against the Islamic State was just beginning.

“If we knew where they were from, we would pursue them and destroy them,” Mr. Mohammed, 19, said from his hospital bed in Jalalabad, the capital of Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar Province where the Islamic State has maintained a presence since 2015.

In the two months since the Taliban took control of the country, the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan — known as Islamic State Khorasan or ISIS-K — has stepped up attacks across the country, straining the new and untested government and raising alarm bells in the West about the potential resurgence of a group that could eventually pose an international threat.

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Posted in Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Foreign Relations, Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Terrorism, War in Afghanistan

(AP) Pentagon rattled by Chinese military push on multiple fronts

China’s growing military muscle and its drive to end American predominance in the Asia-Pacific is rattling the U.S. defense establishment. American officials see trouble quickly accumulating on multiple fronts — Beijing’s expanding nuclear arsenal, its advances in space, cyber and missile technologies, and threats to Taiwan.

“The pace at which China is moving is stunning,” says Gen. John Hyten, the No. 2-ranking U.S. military officer, who previously commanded U.S. nuclear forces and oversaw Air Force space operations.

At stake is a potential shift in the global balance of power that has favored the United States for decades. A realignment more favorable to China does not pose a direct threat to the United States but could complicate U.S. alliances in Asia. New signs of how the Pentagon intends to deal with the China challenge may emerge in coming weeks from Biden administration policy reviews on nuclear weapons, global troop basing and overall defense strategy.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(WSJ) Elbridge Colby–The Fight for Taiwan Could Come Soon

The U.S. and China are engaged in a “strategic competition,” as the Biden administration has put it, with Taiwan emerging as the focal point. But an ascendant view inside the administration seems to be that while China represents a serious economic, political and technological challenge to American interests, it doesn’t pose a direct military threat. This is a very imprudent assumption that could lead to war and, ultimately, American defeat. To avoid that disastrous outcome, the U.S. must recognize that China is a military threat—and conflict could come soon.

What makes China an urgent military threat? First, Beijing has made clear it is willing to use force to take Taiwan. Subordinating the island isn’t only about incorporating a putative lost province—it would be a vital step toward establishing Chinese hegemony in Asia. And this isn’t mere talk. The Chinese military has rehearsed amphibious attacks, and commercial satellite imagery shows that China practices large-scale attacks on U.S. forces in the region.

Second, China doesn’t merely have the will to invade Taiwan, it increasingly may have the ability to pull it off. China has spent 25 years building a modern military in large part to bring Taiwan to heel. China now has the largest navy in the world and an enormous and advanced air force, missile arsenal and network of satellites. This isn’t to say China could manage a successful invasion of Taiwan tomorrow—but Beijing could be very close. It will be “fully able” to invade by 2025, Taiwan’s defense minister said recently. China’s military power is improving every month.

Third, China may think its window of opportunity is closing. Many wars have started because one side thought it had a time-limited opening to exploit. Certainly this was a principal factor in the outbreaks of the two world wars. Beijing may reasonably judge this to be the case today.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Taiwan

(WSJ) Terror Groups in Afghanistan Could Be Ready to Attack West in 6 Months, U.S. Says

The Islamic State in Afghanistan could be able to launch attacks on the West and its allies within as soon as six months, and al Qaeda could do so within two years, a top Pentagon official told lawmakers on Tuesday.

The testimony by Colin Kahl, undersecretary of defense for policy, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, diverged from an earlier Biden administration view that al Qaeda had been “degraded” in Afghanistan.

Mr. Kahl said the U.S. is fairly certain that both terror groups “have the intention to” launch such attacks.

“We could see ISIS-K generate that capability in somewhere between six or 12 months, according to current assessments” by the intelligence community, Mr. Kahl said, using an acronym referring to Islamic State’s branch in Afghanistan. “And for al Qaeda, it would take a year or two to reconstitute that capability. We have to remain vigilant against that possibility.”

Mr. Kahl’s testimony offered a more detailed assessment of militant capabilities than was provided by Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who told the same committee on Sept. 28 that terror groups generally could pose a threat between six and 36 months.

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Posted in Afghanistan, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Terrorism, War in Afghanistan

(WSJ) Does Taiwan’s Military Stand a Chance Against China? Few Think So

The concern that China might try to seize Taiwan is preoccupying American military planners and administration officials. Few of them think Taiwan’s military could hold the line.

Soldiers, strategists and government officials in Taiwan and the U.S. say the island’s military is riven with internal problems, many of which have built up over years of calm and economic prosperity and now are eating away at Taiwan’s ability to deter China.

Among the most pressing concerns are poor preparation and low morale among the roughly 80,000 Taiwanese who are conscripted each year and the nearly 2.2 million reservists.

Xiao Cheng-zhi, a 26-year-old from central Taiwan, said his four months of basic training that ended last year mainly involved sweeping leaves, moving spare tires and pulling weeds. Aside from some marksmanship training, he said, his classes were meaningless.

Mr. Xiao dismissed his cohorts as strawberry soldiers, a term used in Taiwan to describe young people raised by overprotective parents who bruise easily. While he said he is willing to serve, he doubted the island would stand much chance against China’s People’s Liberation Army.

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Posted in China, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Taiwan

(Foreign Affairs) John J. Mearsheimer: The Inevitable Rivalry–America, China, and the Tragedy of Great-Power Politics

Although their numbers have dwindled, advocates of engagement remain, and they still think the United States can find common ground with China. As late as July 2019, 100 China watchers signed an open letter to Trump and members of Congress rejecting the idea that Beijing was a threat. “Many Chinese officials and other elites know that a moderate, pragmatic and genuinely cooperative approach with the West serves China’s interests,” they wrote, before calling on Washington to “work with our allies and partners to create a more open and prosperous world in which China is offered the opportunity to participate.”

But great powers are simply unwilling to let other great powers grow stronger at their expense. The driving force behind this great-power rivalry is structural, which means that the problem cannot be eliminated with clever policymaking. The only thing that could change the underlying dynamic would be a major crisis that halted China’s rise—an eventuality that seems unlikely considering the country’s long record of stability, competence, and economic growth. And so a dangerous security competition is all but unavoidable.

At best, this rivalry can be managed in the hope of avoiding a war. That would require Washington to maintain formidable conventional forces in East Asia to persuade Beijing that a clash of arms would at best yield a Pyrrhic victory. Convincing adversaries that they cannot achieve quick and decisive wins deters wars. Furthermore, U.S. policymakers must constantly remind themselves—and Chinese leaders—about the ever-present possibility of nuclear escalation in wartime. Nuclear weapons, after all, are the ultimate deterrent. Washington can also work to establish clear rules of the road for waging this security competition—for example, agreements to avoid incidents at sea or other accidental military clashes. If each side understands what crossing the other side’s redlines would mean, war becomes less likely.

These measures can only do so much to minimize the dangers inherent in the growing U.S.-Chinese rivalry. But that is the price the United States must pay for ignoring realist logic and turning China into a powerful state that is determined to challenge it on every front.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Foreign Relations, History, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General

(AP) China vows no concessions on Taiwan after Joe Biden comments that he would defend it if attacked

China on Friday said there is “no room” for compromise or concessions over the issue of Taiwan, following a comment by U.S. President Joe Biden that the U.S. is committed to defending the island if it is attacked.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin reasserted China’s longstanding claim that the island is its territory at a daily briefing after Biden made his comment a day before at a forum hosted by CNN.

China has recently upped its threat to bring Taiwan under its control by force if necessary by flying warplanes near the island and rehearsing beach landings.

“When it comes to issues related to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and other core interests, there is no room for China to compromise or make concessions, and no one should underestimate the strong determination, firm will and strong ability of the Chinese people to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Wang said.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Taiwan

A Prayer for the Feast Day of William Carey

Merciful God, who didst call William Carey to missionary work in India and didst endue him with a zeal for thy Word that led him to translate Scripture into many local languages and dialects: Give us a heart for the spreading of thy Gospel and a thirst for justice among all the peoples of the world; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who sheds thy light and peace throughout humanity, and who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, India, Missions, Spirituality/Prayer

(WSJ) Writer Liu Cixin On How His Visions Of The Future Collide With Reality

What is the biggest technological shift we’ll see in the future?

It’s definitely going to be artificial intelligence. I don’t think AI will overtake humans in the short term, but it will have a profound impact on society. Recently, I stayed at a hotel near Beijing, and I didn’t encounter a single human worker during my stay. From checking in to ordering takeout, there wasn’t a single human interaction, everything was done on apps and with AI-powered bots.

This is more and more common in China. I used to think that AI would displace simple and repetitive jobs, but now I think the opposite: It will replace more “senior” positions like doctors, lawyers, teachers and stock analysts. On the other hand, it’s the jobs that are more labor intensive that will be harder to replace. I renovated my house recently, and needed an electrician to rewire the entire living room. I really can’t see a situation where AI can replace that kind of a job in the short term.

But AI’s effect on people will be sweeping, and an issue we will have to grapple with in the very near future. We’re past the agricultural and industrial age and firmly stepped into the era of AI.

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Posted in Books, China, Globalization, Poetry & Literature, Science & Technology

(WSJ) As Afghanistan Sinks Into Destitution, Some Sell Children to Survive

Desperate to feed her family, Saleha, a housecleaner here in western Afghanistan, has incurred such an insurmountable debt that the only way she sees out is to hand over her 3-year-old daughter, Najiba, to the man who lent her the money.

The debt is $550.

Saleha, a 40-year-old mother of six who goes by one name, earns 70 cents a day cleaning homes in a wealthier neighborhood of Herat. Her much older husband doesn’t have any work.

Such is the starkness of deepening poverty in Afghanistan, a humanitarian crisis that is worsening fast after the Taliban seized power on Aug. 15, prompting the U.S. to freeze $9 billion in Afghan central-bank assets and causing a halt in most foreign aid.

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Posted in Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Poverty, War in Afghanistan

(CT) Died: Evelyn Mangham, Who Convinced Evangelicals to Welcome Refugees

Churches weren’t always ready to help Evelyn Mangham. When she cold-called them in 1975 seeking sponsors for refugees from the Vietnam War, they often had other plans and other financial commitments.

But in call after call with Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) churches, and then any congregation affiliated with the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), Mangham pushed, quoted Scripture, told stories about Vietnamese people from her 20 years as a missionary, and applied moral pressure.

One pastor told Mangham his congregation couldn’t help because they were in the middle of a building project—working on a new parking lot. She sputtered, “But these are people.”

By the end of the year, she had convinced evangelical churches to sponsor 10,000 refugees from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Immigration, Vietnam

(FT) US has already lost AI fight to China, says ex-Pentagon software chief Nicolas Chaillan

The Pentagon’s first chief software officer said he resigned in protest at the slow pace of technological transformation in the US military, and because he could not stand to watch China overtake America.

In his first interview since leaving the post at the Department of Defense a week ago, Nicolas Chaillan told the Financial Times that the failure of the US to respond to Chinese cyber and other threats was putting his children’s future at risk.

“We have no competing fighting chance against China in 15 to 20 years. Right now, it’s already a done deal; it is already over in my opinion,” he said, adding there was “good reason to be angry”.

Chaillan, 37, who spent three years on a Pentagon-wide effort to boost cyber security and as first chief software officer for the US Air Force, said Beijing is heading for global dominance because of its advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning and cyber capabilities.

He argued these emerging technologies were far more critical to America’s future than hardware such as big-budget fifth-generation fighter jets such as the F-35.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Science & Technology

(Bloomberg) In America’s Next War, Machines Will Do the Thinking

TH: Where do you think that the Pentagon most needs to engage these innovative companies and people? Is it AI? Unmanned systems? Communications networks?

CB: All of it, but primarily autonomy. Autonomy — enabled by artificial intelligence, edge computing and other technologies — allows you to operate at scales and speeds that you simply cannot do under the traditional model of big, expensive, heavily manned systems that, no matter how much money you throw at them, will only be able to do a limited number of things. The problem is that China has been developing very precise capabilities to disrupt, disable, degrade and destroy those limited numbers of big things. This is our strategic problem. This is why our future force needs larger numbers of cheaper, more autonomous systems.

We’re not talking about photon torpedoes and intergalactic space travel. We’re talking about systems that are already in existence; that are imminently fieldable if we move with the right sense of urgency.

TH: In your book, you wrote a bit about the ethics of this and taking the human out of the “kill chain.” Is that something that’s going to happen?

CB: Yes, in time human beings will need to rely more on intelligent machines to help them understand, decide and act in warfare.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Books, China, Defense, National Security, Military, Science & Technology