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Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
14 August 2019
Greg Kandra




The video above shows dramatic footage of the flooding that has swept through parts of Kerala, killing more than 200 people. (video: VOA/YouTube)

India issues new flood alert as death toll tops 200 (The Guardian) India has issued a fresh flood alert for parts of the southern state of Kerala as the nationwide death toll from the annual monsoon rose to at least 244. On Wednesday authorities warned Kerala residents of heavy rainfall over the next 24-48 hours in some of the worst-affected regions of the state…

Hamas leader vows to shower Israel with missiles if IDF invades Gaza (The Times of Israel) Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar vowed on Tuesday that the terror group would prevail over the IDF should Israel send troops into the coastal enclave in any future conflict. We will defeat the occupation army, if it crosses into Gaza, if God, the ruler of the universe, wills,” Sinwar said in a short speech delivered to Palestinian families in his hometown Khan Younis in southern Gaza...

Armenians prepare to elect new patriarch (Fides) The Armenian apostolic community headed by the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, based in Istanbul, is preparing to elect the new Patriarch, and in recent days has launched its organizational work that will lead to the election of the successor of Mesrob II Mutafyan, who died in March. A new patriarch will be elected by spiritual and secular delegates, who themselves are yet to be elected. The election of these delegates will take place on 7 and 8 December…

What life is like on the Syria-Turkey border (Business Insider) Turkey’s involvement in the ongoing Syrian civil war is just one reason the border between the two countries is one of the most dangerous in the world. Millions of refugees fleeing the brutal regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and extremist groups like the Islamic State have fled the conflict, which has turned into a proxy war between Turkey, Russia, Iran, Israel, and the US…

The YouTube nun who is helping Russian Orthodoxy stay relevant (Ozy.com) It’s not every day you encounter a monastic who waxes poetic about the perils of modern partisanship. Or who cites Ricky Gervais as an example of how not to think about theology. And although black-habit-clad Sister Vassa Larin looks every bit the Russian Orthodox nun, little else about her conforms to what you might expect to be “nunlike…”



Tags: Israel Kerala Turkey Russian Orthodox

13 August 2019
Greg Kandra




Kerala churches are stepping in to respond to the flood emergency devastating parts of India. (video: BBC/YouTube)

Kerala churches respond to flood emergency (Vatican News) As floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains continue to submerge vast areas of states in southern and western India, Church agencies are joining in rescue and relief efforts. At least 200 people have died in floods and landslides following incessant rains that have particularly hit Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat states. Over 1.2 million have been affected. Kerala, where unprecedented rain and floods killed 480 people last August, is also the worst-hit this year…

Syrians celebrate Eid amid bombing (Al Jazeera) People in northern Syria are celebrating the Eid festival against a backdrop of increasing violence. Government forces have been bombarding targets in northern Hama and southern Idlib since last week’s short-lived ceasefire. It is in stark contrast to festivities for Syrian refugees living in security in southern Turkey…

Ethiopian Muslims mark Eid al-Adha (Andalou Agency) Muslims in Ethiopia have been celebrating the first day of the Eid al-Adha, a four-day religious holiday, on Sunday. In the capital Addis Ababa, hundreds of thousands of Muslims turned out for the Eid prayer in and around the city’s old stadium, which is located in the capital downtown…

Archeologists find evidence of Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem (CNN) Archaeologists excavating on Mount Zion in Jerusalem have uncovered evidence of the Babylonian conquest of the city, appearing to confirm a Biblical account of its destruction. Academics from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte made significant finds, including ash deposits, arrowheads and broken pieces of pots and lamps. The most surprising discovery, however, was an item of jewelry, which appears to be a tassel or earring with a bell-shaped upper portion, the researchers said...



Tags: Syria India Jerusalem

12 August 2019
Greg Kandra




As the death toll climbs and more people in southern India are displaced, Pope Francis has sent condolences to the victims of the disaster. (video: Hindustan Times/YouTube)

Pope sends condolences to India flood victims (Vatican News) Pope Francis has expressed his condolence for the victims of the floods and mudslides in the southern Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat following days of torrential monsoon rains. At least 184 people have been killed and more than 400,000 displaced. ”Deeply saddened to learn of the tragic loss of life in the monsoons of recent days in Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat, and mindful of all those who have lost homes and livelihood, His Holiness Pope Francis sends his heartfelt condolences to the relatives of the deceased and injured,” Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, wrote in a telegram to local authorities on behalf of Pope Francis…

Syrian troops capture key village in Idlib (The Washington Post) Syrian government forces captured an important village in the northwestern province of Idlib on Sunday, drawing close to a major town in the last rebel stronghold in the country, state media and opposition activists said…

Israeli police clash with Muslims at Temple Mount (The Guardian) Israeli police have clashed with Muslim worshippers at a major Jerusalem holy site during prayers to mark the Eid al-Adha holiday. Palestinian medics said at least 14 people has been wounded, one seriously, in the skirmishes at the site, which Muslims refer to as the al-Aqsa mosque and Jews as the Temple Mount. Police said at least four officers had been wounded. Officers fired teargas, stun grenades and rubber bullets in the worst violence at the contested site in months. Witnesses said at least two people had been arrested…

India Catholics observe ‘Black Day’ (Vatican News) India’s Catholic Church observed ”Black Day” on Saturday, to protest against the discrimination that low-caste Christians and Muslims continue to face in the country. Indian bishops want to remind the people that the country bears constitution-based discrimination against Dalit Christians, i.e. Dalits who embrace Christianity…

Ukrainian president meets with Bartholomew in Constantinople (AsiaNews) Four months after his election as president of the Ukraine, Volodymir Zelensky met Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch, in Constantinople, yesterday. The visit comes eight months after the Kiev-based Orthodox Church of Ukraine was granted autocephaly, which led the Moscow Patriarchate to unilaterally cut sacramental ties with Constantinople...



Tags: Syria India Jerusalem Kerala

9 August 2019
Greg Kandra




Unusually heavy rains continue to pound India, causing massive flooding and forcing thousands to be evacuated to relief camps. (video: Down To Earth/YouTube)

Heavy rains pummel Kerala; thousands evacuated to relief camps (India Today) As incessant rains continued to wreak havoc in Kerala leading to a flood-like situation, 14 people have died since yesterday and over 22,000 have been evacuated to 315 relief camps. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has sought the army’s help and additional 13 more units of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for the relief and rescue operations…

How plastics are both a curse and a blessing for Gaza (National Geographic) Gaza’s plastic recyclers are at the forefront of work to stave off economic, humanitarian, and environmental collapse. In recent years a new culture and economy have risen up around recycling plastics: from collecting and cleaning to sorting and repurposing, people have created direly needed business opportunities…

Population control efforts gaining ground in India (Al Jazeera) Across northern and central India, a campaign advocating for a population control law is gaining momentum. The movement ostensibly seeks to raise awareness over the need to restrain India’s population of 1.34 billion, second only to China’s 1.39 billion. But its subtext reflects a core belief of right-wing Hindu organisations: that Muslims are trying to “overtake” Hindus…

In Ethiopia’s mountains, a glimpse at how ancient human lived (The New York Times) Scientists have discovered what is by far the oldest evidence of human occupation at extreme altitudes: a rock shelter strewn with bones, tools and hearths 11,000 feet above sea level. People lived at the site, in the mountains of Ethiopia, as long as 47,000 years ago…



Tags: India Ethiopia Gaza Strip/West Bank Kerala

8 August 2019
Greg Kandra




The video above has the latest about widespread flooding that has hit Kerala this week, sparking red alerts across the region. (video: India Today/YouTube)

Heavy rains, landslides wreak havoc in Kerala (Business Today) Water levels in most of the rivers and dams across the state have risen flooding nearby areas. Major rivers like Manimala, Meenachal, Moovattupuzha, Chaliyar, Valapattanam, Iruvazjinjpuzha and Pamba are have risen. The Chief Minister’s office has asked district collectors to evacuate people from danger-prone areas. A holiday has also been declared for all educational institutions in most of the northern districts including Kannur, Wayand and Malappuram, authorities said…

UN: Over 100,000 detained or missing in Syria (Time) Reports suggest more than 100,000 people in Syria have been detained, abducted or gone missing during the eight-year conflict, with the government mainly responsible, the U.N. political chief said Wednesday. Rosemary DiCarlo urged all parties to heed the Security Council’s call for the release of all those arbitrarily detained and to provide information to families about their loved ones as required by international law…

Report: climate change threatens world’s food supply (The New York Times) The world’s land and water resources are being exploited at ”unprecedented rates,” a new United Nations report warns, which combined with climate change is putting dire pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself. The report, prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and released in summary form in Geneva on Thursday, found that the window to address the threat is closing rapidly. A half-billion people already live in places turning into desert, and soil is being lost between 10 and 100 times faster than it is forming, according to the report…

What tourists might see if they were allowed to visit Gaza (NPR) I’m in search of a different Gaza than the Gaza of violence and misery you usually hear about. I’m retracing the route the tourists used to take. I walk through the old city market to the antique shop Saleem Elrayes has run for more than 30 years…

Church pays tribute to Indian politician who loved Christians (UCANews.com) Church leaders have expressed their condolences following the death of Sushma Swaraj, India’s former external affairs minister, recalling her role in securing freedom for two abducted Catholic priests. Swaraj, a prominent member of the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), died on 6 August following a heart attack. She was 67. ”She brought a human touch to all decisions of the ministry. As foreign minister, she was our best ambassador and projected a great image of the country in international circles,” said Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of the Indian bishops’ conference…



Tags: Syria India Gaza Strip/West Bank Kerala

7 August 2019
Greg Kandra




Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, Iraq, seen in this photograph from 2017, warned this week that Iraqi Christians face "extinction." (photo: CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

Archbishop warns Iraqi Christians facing ‘extinction’ (CNS) Iraqi Christians face “extinction” unless Islam recognizes the fundamental equality of all people and takes steps to overcome violent factions that seek to force religious minorities from the country, said Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil…

Hundreds stuck in Mumbai due to flooding (Reuters) Hundreds of passengers were stuck in India’s financial capital, Mumbai, and nearby towns after two days of heavy rain flooded rivers and undermined railway tracks, forcing authorities to cancel or divert dozens of long-distance trains. Rivers in the western state of Maharashtra were flooded after authorities released water from dams made full after many parts on the west coast received more than 200 mm (8 inches) of rain…

Pentagon report says ISIS is ‘re-surging in Syria’ (CNN) ISIS is “re-surging” in Syria less than five months after President Donald Trump declared the terror group’s caliphate there had been 100% defeated, according to a new Pentagon inspector general’s report on the fight against ISIS. Despite losing its territorial ‘caliphate,’ the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) solidified its insurgent capabilities in Iraq and was re-surging in Syria,” the report warned…

Indian state toughens punishment for mob lynching (UCANews.com) Church officials in India’s Rajasthan state have welcomed a new law that allows harsher punishment for mob violence and lynching despite opposition from pro-Hindu political groups. The state legislature on Aug. 5 passed the Rajasthan Protection from Lynching Bill 2019 amid vociferous protests from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Catholic officials have welcomed the new legislation as a necessity to stem increasing incidents of mob lynching, mostly connected with protecting cows, a revered animal in Orthodox Hinduism…



Tags: India Iraqi Christians ISIS

6 August 2019
Greg Kandra




Parts of India are coping with massive flooding, and Catholic charities have opened churches and institutions to help. (video: India Today/YouTube)

Catholic charities in India open churches for flood victims (UCANews.com) Catholic dioceses in flood-hit Mumbai have opened their churches and institutions to accommodate thousands of people stranded in the city by heavy rain and flooded streets. Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay and Bishop Thomas Elavanal of Kalyan Diocese asked their parish priests on 5 August to help stranded and homeless people as heavy rain continued in western India...

Syrian army resumes bombardment in Idlib (Al Jazeera) The Syrian army has resumed operations against armed rebels in Idlib, scrapping a ceasefire in the last opposition-held stronghold. In a statement carried by state media on Monday, the army accused the rebels of violating the truce that was brokered last week during talks in Kazakhstan following a three-month campaign supported by Russia…

Charity calls for rights to be respected after Gulf tanker seizures (Vatican News) The Catholic charity Apostleship of the Sea, has voiced concern for the safety of seafarers navigating vessels in the Gulf. It comes after a second tanker and its seven crew was seized north of the Strait of Hormuz for allegedly smuggling fuel…

Extreme water shortages affect a quarter of the world’s population (Vatican News) A quarter of the world’s population across 17 countries are living in regions of extremely high water stress, a measure of the level of competition over water resources, a new report reveals. Experts at the World Resources Institute (WRI) warn that increasing water stress could lead to more of what is called “day zero” — a term that gained popularity in 2018 as Cape Town in South Africa came dangerously close to running out of water…

Kerala tourism rebounds (Economic Times) Tourism, a top revenue earner for Kerala, has rebounded to the pre-floods level with tourist footfalls registering a growth of 14.81 percent in the second quarter of 2019 from a year ago. There was an increase of 639,271 tourists (both domestic and foreign) during April-June this year as compared with same period last year.…



Tags: Syria India Kerala

5 August 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2018, Syrian schoolchildren walk as U.S. troops patrol in Hassakeh, Syria. The Holy See has called for efforts to help children involved in armed conflicts.
(photo: CNS/Rodi Said, Reuters)


Holy See calls for efforts to save children from war (Vatican News) The Holy See is decrying the violence and rights abuse that children suffer in various ways in conflict situations and is urging the international community to increase efforts especially to release child soldiers and help the reintegration of young victims of other grave violations. Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York, made the appeal on Friday at a Security Council open debate on children in armed conflict…

U.S. launches last-ditch effort to stop Turkish invasion of Syria (The Washington Post) The Trump administration has launched a last-ditch effort to head off a Turkish invasion of northeast Syria that it expects will come within the next two weeks. With tens of thousands of Turkish troops massed near the border, a high-level Defense Department delegation plans to present what U.S. officials describe as a final offer to address Turkey’s concerns at a meeting Monday in Ankara…

One Syrian refugee’s mission to take Jordan to the world (The National) A group of budding entrepreneurs in Jordan watch avidly as Ehab Kahwati, 26, demonstrates how the colorful array of gadgets and wires laid out in front of them can be used to create remotely controlled technology. Kahwati is a Syrian refugee living in Amman who has chosen to dedicate his time to empowering young people who aspire to enter the tech industry, while simultaneously pursuing his own entrepreneurial dreams…

Pope Tawadros II offers Eid al-Adha greetings to Egypt’s Grand Imam (Egypt Independent) The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayyeb received on Sunday the Pope of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church Tawadros II, who offered felicitation for the occasion of Eid al-Adha and for the Imam’s return to his homeland following a successful therapeutic trip to Europe. Tayyeb thanked Tawadros, asserting that the relationship between Al-Azhar and the Coptic Orthodox Church is a model for shared values and noble morals…



Tags: Syria Egypt Muslim Holy See

2 August 2019
Greg Kandra




Late Thursday, Syria agreed to a cease-fire in the northwestern corner of the country.
(video: PressTV/YouTube


Syria agrees to cease-fire (AP) Syria’s government said it has agreed to a conditional cease-fire starting late Thursday in northwestern Syria, according to state media. Government troops and allied Russia warplanes have been carrying out a three-month offensive against the rebel’s last stronghold, which has displaced hundreds of thousands and has targeted health facilities and other infrastructure…

Interreligious summit in Lebanon seeks national unity (Fides) The Lebanese national unit represents an indispensable guarantee to build a better future for Lebanon, and the coexistence among the different components of the population must be preserved from any threat connected to the resurgence of sectarian impulses and conflicts. This is the most significant emphasis contained in the final declaration of the interreligious spiritual summit convened on Tuesday 30 July in Beirut, at the “House of Druze communities”…

Dilemma for Indian Church as idea of Hindu nationhood grows (UCANews.com) On 11 July, ten Congress lawmakers in Goa, eight of them Catholics, defected to the Hindu nationalist party — the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Ordinarily, defections and horse-trading are not new to a state like Goa where politics is controlled by corrupt casino operators and mining barons. But the move by Catholic lawmakers has shocked Christian voters as well as a section of the Church...

In Jerusalem, a deeper divide in a divided city (Newsweek) Silwan [is] a bitterly contested piece of real estate, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in microcosm. Both Jews and Arabs say they were here first and both accuse the other of trying to rewrite history. Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem have few interactions that are not transactional, despite living side-by-side. Fear and suspicion are part of everyday life. And several contested archaeological digs in East Jerusalem, supported by Israeli groups and opposed by Palestinians, together with an influx of Jewish settlers and a boom in tourism, have heightened the tensions in Silwan…

1,900-year-old tomb discovered at Christian pilgrimage site in Turkey (Daily Sabah) Excavation works have revealed a rock tomb believed to date back to the second century A.D. in an ancient Christian pilgrimage site in northern Turkey’s Karabük province in the western Black Sea region. Birthplace of the Saint Alypius the Stylite, the ancient city of Hadrianopolis was an important site of pilgrimage for early Christians until the city lost its importance in eighth century A.D. It is also known as the Zeugma of Turkey’s Black Sea region due to the mosaics have been found in the area…



Tags: Syria India Lebanon Turkey

1 August 2019
Greg Kandra




Conditions in the Rukban camp in Syria — shown in this 2018 video — have been described as "catastrophic." (video: TRT/YouTube)

Thousands trapped in a desert settlement in Syria (CNN) Shukri Shehab and his wife have not slept in two nights. Their three-week-old granddaughter will not stop crying. She needs simple medicine for bloating, Shehab says, but it is nearly impossible for them to find. Shehab lives in Rukban, an informal settlement for Syria’s displaced people in a US-protected zone in southern Syria, roughly 10 miles away from an American military base. Shehab has been communicating with CNN over the last four months. For more than 1,200 days, Shehab says he and his family have lived in this cluster of shelters sprinkled along a stretch of desert on the Syrian-Jordanian border. Activists dubbed it the “Triangle of Death.” The United Nations called conditions “desperate,” “catastrophic” and “no place for a child”…

Catholic bishops say India’s government ignores Christians (UCANews.com) Catholic bishops have proposed a series of changes in a draft education policy prepared by the Indian government, criticizing its silence on the rights and contributions of Christians…

Indian leader says government should invite Pope Francis to visit (UCANews.com) The Indian government should invite Pope Francis to come to the populous nation as vast numbers of people were anxiously hoping for such a visit, according to an Opposition Congress Party Member of Parliament. Kodikunnil Suresh told the lower house that a papal visit would enhance the nation’s reputation for honoring individuals who enhance communal tolerance and understanding…

Religious sisters take lead against human trafficking (CNS) A worldwide network of 2,000 Catholic religious sisters marked the 10th anniversary of its efforts to combat human trafficking and slavery on 29 July. Speakers from the Talitha Kum organization headlined a United Nations panel on the eve of the U.N. annual observance of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. “Human trafficking is one of the darkest and most revolting realities in the world today, ensnaring 41 million men and women, boys and girls,” said the Rev. David Charters, second secretary of the Vatican’s permanent observer mission to the United Nations…

More than 500 congregations join Orthodox Church of Ukraine (The Christian Post) More than 500 congregations have joined the newly created Orthodox Church of Ukraine in the past seven months after leaving the Russian-affiliated church. Ukrainian Orthodox officials reported that in three months since the church was granted autocephaly, or leadership that does not need to answer to a higher ranked bishop, about 300 churches joined. In the four months after that, another 220 joined…

Archeologists say they have found Church of the Apostles (CNN) An ancient church long-rumored to be built over the house where the apostles Peter and Andrew lived has been found near the Sea of Galilee in Israel. A group of excavators — affiliated with Kinneret College in Israel, Nyack College in New York and the Center for the Study of Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins — said they made the discovery in June…



Tags: Syria India Refugee Camps Galilee





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