Category : Defense, National Security, Military

(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.

Read it all.

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.

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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

Christmas Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Christmas, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Defense, National Security, Military, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture

A Great anecdote about General Mattis at Christmas from Mark Shields

Found here:

….the one quick anecdote, and that is, when General Charles Krulak was commandant of the Marine Corps, every Christmas ”” this was in the late ’90s ”” he and his wife would bake cookies for the last couple weeks before Christmas. And he would get up at 4:00 in the morning with General Krulak and deliver them in little packages to the Marines who were standing duty that day, because every Marine base, every Marine post has be somebody standing duty.

And he showed up at Quantico and he asked the Marine lance corporal who was on duty, where is the officer of the day and who it is? He said, it’s General Mattis, sir. He said, no, no, it’s not General Mattis. I mean, who is the officer of the day? And he said, it’s General Mattis, sir.

And up comes Jim Mattis and a general, brigadier general, and he is on duty and he has got his sword. And the commandant says, what are you doing here? He said, well, there was a young lieutenant who was on duty today, and he has a wife and two children. And I thought it was better that he have Christmas with his family.

That’s the kind of man he is. It’s the kind of values he’s embodied. He’s independent. He’s strong. And he will be good for the country.

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

(Guardian) Five in custody over alleged Melbourne Christmas terrorism plot

Victoria police say they have foiled an alleged plot by terrorists to attack landmark locations in Melbourne’s CBD including St Paul’s Cathedral, Flinders Street station and Federation Square with explosives and other weapons, possibly on Christmas Day.

The chief police commissioner, Graham Ashton, told reporters on Friday morning that five search warrants were conducted at properties in Flemington, Meadow Heights, Dallas, Campbellfield and Gladstone Park on Thursday night.

Seven arrests were made, with five people remaining in custody, he said. Some of the men would appear in court on Friday afternoon, he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Consumer/consumer spending, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Terrorism