Category : Defense, National Security, Military

(NPR) Stanislav Petrov, ‘The Man Who Saved The World,’ Dies At 77

Stanislav Petrov was a lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Union’s Air Defense Forces, and his job was to monitor his country’s satellite system, which was looking for any possible nuclear weapons launches by the United States.

He was on the overnight shift in the early morning hours of Sept. 26, 1983, when the computers sounded an alarm, indicating that the U.S. had launched five nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles.

“The siren howled, but I just sat there for a few seconds, staring at the big, back-lit, red screen with the word ‘launch’ on it,” Petrov told the BBC in 2013.

It was already a moment of extreme tension in the Cold War. On Sept. 1 of that year, the Soviet Union shot down a Korean Air Lines plane that had drifted into Soviet airspace, killing all 269 people on board, including a U.S. congressman. The episode led the U.S. and the Soviets to exchange warnings and threats.

Petrov had to act quickly. U.S. missiles could reach the Soviet Union in just over 20 minutes….

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, History, Russia

An Interesting Look Back in History–President Woodrow Wilson’s April 1917 Speech to Congress urging them to join the allies in World War I

We are accepting this challenge of hostile purpose because we know that in such a government, following such methods, we can never have a friend; and that in the presence of its organized power, always lying in wait to accomplish we know not what purpose, there can be no assured security for the democratic governments of the world. We are now about to accept gage of battle with this natural foe to liberty and shall, if necessary, spend the whole force of the nation to check and nullify its pretensions and its power. We are glad, now that we see the facts with no veil of false pretence about them, to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its peoples, the German peoples included: for the rights of nations great and small and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their way of life and of obedience. The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them.

Just because we fight without rancour and without selfish object, seeking nothing for ourselves but what we shall wish to share with all free peoples, we shall, I feel confident, conduct our operations as belligerents without passion and ourselves observe with proud punctilio the principles of right and of fair play we profess to be fighting for.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, France, Germany, History, Military / Armed Forces, Office of the President

(CT) Drone Dilemma: Should Christian Aid Groups Use a Military Symbol?

If someone gets ill in Contanama, Peru—a remote village in the Amazon rainforest—the nearest pharmacy is 50 miles away. The journey takes six hours by road. But medicines can be delivered by a small drone—or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)—to the local doctor in 35 minutes.

This technological breakthrough, like many others in history, was originally designed for use in war. Developed by the United States and the United Kingdom during the Iraq conflict, drones are becoming a mainstay of organizations delivering humanitarian aid to remote developing world communities. For example, last month drones surveyed the damage from coastal flooding in Peru, sending video footage otherwise too difficult to obtain.

The same month, President Donald Trump rolled back rules in order to make drone strikes even easier, including lowering the threshold for civilian casualties and pushing against the theology behind just war theory. Punctuating this shift from Obama-era policies, a disputed drone strike in Syria killed 42 people in mid-March. (The US government says it killed al Qaeda militants, while activists and local residents maintain that it attacked civilians at a mosque.)

Christians have debated whether drones should be used in war at all. The wartime reputation of drones means they are not always welcomed in aid efforts either.

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Posted in Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(FT) US and North Korea on collision course, says China

China’s foreign minister has warned the Trump administration that it is on a collision course with North Korea and called on Washington to halt military exercises with Seoul to avoid conflict.

While Wang Yi also called on North Korea to suspend its missile and nuclear programmes, his direct challenge to President Donald Trump — who has warned Pyongyang that its goal of building a nuclear warhead that can reach US soil “won’t happen” — was unusual in its bluntness.

“The two sides are like two accelerating trains coming towards each other with neither side willing to give way. The question is, are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision?” Mr Wang told reporters in Beijing. “Given the situation, our priority now is to flash the red light and apply brakes on both trains.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, North Korea, Politics in General

(ABC Aus) South Sudan famine declared as 100,000 people face starvation

It takes a lot to declare a famine.

If a population can’t find enough food it’s not strictly a famine. Nor is it famine if one third of the population is severely malnourished.

The United Nations’ definition of famine is when three conditions coincide: at least 20 per cent of a population faces extreme food shortages, 30 per cent of people experience acute malnutrition, and at least two people per 10,000 die every day.

This week both the UN and the World Food Program agreed with South Sudan’s decision to declare a state of famine in parts of the country’s south.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --South Sudan, Africa, Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Poverty, Sudan, Theology

([London] Times) Dementia patients in Austria and Germany are still fighting the war 75 years on

Pensioners in Germany and Austria are suffering from delayed trauma caused by their experiences in the Second World War, resulting in assaults and threatening behaviour towards care home staff.

The problem is getting worse because the generation of children born after 1929, who were too young to fight in the war but old enough to witness its horrors, are now entering homes and hospices where suppressed memories are resurfacing, home managers and psychologists said.

Last month, an 83-year-old man pulled a pistol on two nurses in a care home in Altheim, Austria, after they found him in a corridor in his wheelchair during the night. They fled and called the police, who overpowered him. Last August, in the western German city of Münster, an 83-year-old man in a care home killed a 74-year-old man with whom he shared a room.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Austria, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, Health & Medicine, History, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology, Violence

(The Hill) Evangelical leaders buy ad denouncing Trump refugee ban

“As Christians, we have a historic call expressed over two thousand years, to serve the suffering. We cannot abandon this call now.”

The evangelical leaders acknowledge the world is dangerous, adding that they “affirm the crucial role of government in protecting us from harm and in setting in terms on refugee admissions.”

“However, compassion and security can coexist, as they have for decades,” the ad says. “For the persecuted and suffering, every day matters; every delay is a crushing blow to hope.”

“While we are eager to welcome persecuted Christians, we also welcome vulnerable Muslims and people of other faiths or no faith at all,” the ad says.

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

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(FT) David Pilling–Nigeria’s president is missing in action

There are signs that Nigerians ”” among the most resilient and adaptive people on the continent ”” are losing patience. This week, there were small, but rowdy, protests in Lagos and Abuja, at which demonstrators complained about their “missing president”.

There is an irony that Mr Buhari, a retired major general, is missing in action. He ran the country as a military ruler in the mid-1980s after seizing power in a coup. In civilian guise, his leadership style has verged on the invisible. After winning power in 2015 on the fourth attempt at the ballot box, he set out at a pace that has marked his presidency: it took him six months to name a cabinet. Hopes that he had surrounded himself with a lean team of capable technocrats empowered to get policy cranking have come to naught. Policymaking ”” such that it is ”” has been crafted instead by a tiny cabal of loyal, less qualified, stalwarts. Mr Buhari has failed to articulate anything approaching a vision.

During his campaign, Nigeria’s soldier-turned-politician promised to train his sight on three main objectives: to improve security, crack down on corruption and diversify the oil-dependent economy. Progress on the first two has been patchy, and on the third dismal.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Nigeria, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology

(Telegraph) ISIS recruiting child refugees as they head to Europe

Hundreds of asylum-seeking young people are going missing from care once they arrive in Britain, amid concerns they have been targeted for radicalisation by extremist groups during their journey to the UK, a think tank report has warned.

Militant groups such as Islamic State are deliberately preying on vulnerable young people for recruitment, as they make the perilous journey across the Middle East and north Africa, to Europe.

Extremists try to “buy” the allegiance of migrants and make them feel indebted, by working with people traffickers and funding their travel, the research by the Quilliam Foundation found.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Immigration, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Theology, Violence

(WaPo) Trump wants to push back against Iran, but Iran is now more powerful than ever

President Trump’s tough talk on Iran is winning him friends in the Arab world, but it also carries a significant risk of conflict with a U.S. rival that is now more powerful than at any point since the creation of the Islamic republic nearly 40 years ago.

With its warning last week that Iran is “on notice,” the Trump administration signaled a sharp departure from the policies of President Barack Obama, whose focus on pursuing a nuclear deal with Iran eclipsed historic U.S. concerns about Iranian expansionism and heralded a rare period of detente between Washington and Tehran.

Many in the region are now predicting a return to the tensions of the George W. Bush era, when U.S. and Iranian operatives fought a shadow war in Iraq, Sunni-Shiite tensions soared across the region and America’s ally Israel fought a brutal war with Iran’s ally Hezbollah in Lebanon.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East, Politics in General, Theology

(CC) Philip Jenkins–Ethiopia's Martyred Monks

Italian television recently broadcast a heartrending documentary about one of the largest single acts of mass Christian martyrdom in the 20th century. This happened in 1937 when soldiers and militias slaughtered some 300 Ethiopian monks at one of the country’s holiest religious houses. In this instance, the perpetrators were neither communists nor Islamists but Catholic Italians, serving the fascist regime of Benito Mus­solini. That massacre at Debre Libanos was one in­stance in a larger campaign of several years’ duration in which Ethi­o­pian monasteries and churches were systematically bombed and subjected to mustard gas attacks. Outside Ethiopia, the persecutions remain largely unknown.

In popular memory, fascist Italy has always been regarded as a less pernicious member of the Axis powers, but in his colonial policies Mussolini yielded nothing to Hitler. In 1935, Italy invaded Ethiopia, and in the words of its local commander, Rodolfo Graziani, “the Duce will have Ethiopia, with or without the Ethiopians.”

The savage Italian campaign ultimately killed several hundred thousand Ethio­pians””some sources say a million. Graziani envisaged the extermination of all local chiefs and elites, much as Hitler would later attempt in Poland. Given the profound identification of the Ethiopi­an church with national spirit, Italian forces particularly targeted religious establishments….

A global church must have a global memory. Let’s never forget Debre Libanos.

Read it all (this appeared in the Christian Century print edition of January 18, 2017 on page 45).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anthropology, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ethiopia, Europe, Italy, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Violence

Who will protect Nigeria’s northern Christians?

Another day in northern Nigeria, another Christian village reeling from an attack by the Muslim Fulani herdsmen who used to be their neighbours ”” and who are now cleansing them from the area. The locals daren’t collect the freshest bodies. Some who tried earlier have already been killed, spotted by the waiting militia and hacked down or shot. The Fulani are watching everything closely from the surrounding mountains. Every week, their progress across the northern states of Plateau and Kaduna continues. Every week, more massacres ”” another village burned, its church razed, its inhabitants slaughtered, raped or chased away. A young woman, whose husband and two children have just been killed in front of her, tells me blankly, ”˜Our parents told us about these people. But we lived in relative peace and we forgot what they said.’

For the outside world, what is happening to the Christians of northern Nigeria is both beyond our imagination and beneath our interest. These tribal-led villages, each with their own ”˜paramount ruler’, were converted by missionaries in the 19th and 20th centuries. But now these Christians ”” from the bishop down ”” sense that they have become unsympathetic figures, perhaps even an embarrassment, to the West. The international community pretends that this situation is a tit-for-tat problem, rather than a one-sided slaughter. Meanwhile, in Nigeria, the press fails to report or actively obscures the situation. Christians in the south of the country feel little solidarity with their co-religionists suffering from this Islamic revivalism and territorial conquest in the north. And worst of all, the plight of these people is of no interest to their own government. In fact, this ethnic and religious cleansing appears to be taking place with that government’s complicity or connivance.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Nigeria, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(NYT) Not ”˜Lone Wolves’ After All: How ISIS Is Guiding Terror Plots From Afar

Until just moments before the arrest of the Indian cell, here last June, the Islamic State’s cyberplanners kept in near-constant touch with the men, according to the interrogation records of three of the eight suspects obtained by The New York Times.

As officials around the world have faced a confusing barrage of attacks dedicated to the Islamic State, cases like Mr. [Mohammed Ibrahim] Yazdani’s offer troubling examples of what counterterrorism experts are calling enabled or remote-controlled attacks: violence conceived and guided by operatives in areas controlled by the Islamic State whose only connection to the would-be attacker is the internet.

In the most basic enabled attacks, Islamic State handlers acted as confidants and coaches, coaxing recruits to embrace violence. In the Hyderabad plot, among the most involved found so far, the terrorist group reached deep into a country with strict gun laws in order to arrange for pistols and ammunition to be left in a bag swinging from the branches of a tree.

For the most part, the operatives who are conceiving and guiding such attacks are doing so from behind a wall of anonymity.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

[Telegraph] Mystery death of ex-KGB chief linked to MI6 spy's dossier…

An ex-KGB chief suspected of helping the former MI6 spy Christopher Steele to compile his dossier on Donald Trump may have been murdered by the Kremlin and his death covered up. it has been claimed.

Oleg Erovinkin, a former general in the KGB and its successor the FSB, was found dead in the back of his car in Moscow on Boxing Day in mysterious circumstances.

Erovinkin was a key aide to Igor Sechin, a former deputy prime minister and now head of Rosneft, the state-owned oil company, who is repeatedly named in the dossier.
……
Christo Grozev, an expert on Russia-related security threats, believes Erovinkin is the key source to whom Mr Steele refers in his dossier.

Mr Grozev said on a blog: “Insiders have described Erovinkin to me alternately as ”˜Sechin’s treasurer’ and ”˜the go-between between Putin and Sechin’. One thing that everyone seems to agree ”“ both in public and private sources ”“ is that Erovinkin was Sechin’s closest associate.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military

The story behind the Longfellow poem that became a Hymn–I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

While dining at home on December 1, 1863, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow received a telegram that his son had been severely wounded four days earlier. On November 27, 1863, while involved in a skirmish during a battle of of the Mine Run Campaign, Charley was shot through the left shoulder, with the bullet exiting under his right shoulder blade. It had traveled across his back and skimmed his spine. Charley avoided being paralyzed by less than an inch.

He was carried into New Hope Church (Orange County, Virginia) and then transported to the Rapidan River. Charley’s father and younger brother, Ernest, immediately set out for Washington, D.C., arriving on December 3. Charley arrived by train on December 5. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was alarmed when informed by the army surgeon that his son’s wound “was very serious” and that “paralysis might ensue.” Three surgeons gave a more favorable report that evening, suggesting a recovery that would require him to be “long in healing,” at least six months.

On Christmas day, 1863, Longfellow””a 57-year-old widowed father of six children, the oldest of which had been nearly paralyzed as his country fought a war against itself””wrote a poem seeking to capture the dynamic and dissonance in his own heart and the world he observes around him. He heard the Christmas bells that December day and the singing of “peace on earth” (Luke 2:14), but he observed the world of injustice and violence that seemed to mock the truthfulness of this optimistic outlook. The theme of listening recurred throughout the poem, eventually leading to a settledness of confident hope even in the midst of bleak despair.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Christmas, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Defense, National Security, Military, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family