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December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
14 July 2016
Greg Kandra




Smoke rises from the site of air strikes conducted jointly by Syrian government and Russian planes against opposition forces controlling the Anadan district of Aleppo, Syria, on 5 June. (photo: Ahmed Muhammed Ali/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

U.S. reportedly offering Russia military pact to battle ISIS (The Washington Post) The United States is offering Russia a new military pact against the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in Syria, according to a leaked U.S. proposal that, if finalized, could dramatically alter America’s role in the Arab country’s five-year civil war…

U.S. trying to confirm air strike killed high-ranking ISIS leader (CNN) The United States is trying to verify that an airstrike recently killed a high-ranking ISIS commander, and the Pentagon confirmed Wednesday that in a separate action it took out a commander of the Pakistani Taliban who was responsible for the deaths of more than 130 children…

Syrian refugees graduate from Caritas-run school in Jordan (CNS) Exuberant Syrian refugee children sang, danced and played with colorful clowns as they celebrated graduation at their Caritas-sponsored school in this sleepy suburb of the Jordanian capital, Amman. Some 170 Muslim children, ages 5 to 17, proudly strode up on the outdoor platform of the Latin Patriarchate School of Naour, festooned for the occasion with red, yellow and orange balloons. They wore big smiles as they collected their certificates allowing them to move from primary to secondary school, while others completed high school…

Gaza farmers seek damages for Israel’s crop-spraying (Al Jazeera) Ibrahim Abu Taaymeh has grown spinach on land in the Gaza Strip for more than a decade. But the Palestinian farmer from Khan Younis, in southern Gaza, says his harvest was destroyed after the Israeli army sprayed an unknown herbicide on lands in the buffer zone near the Israel-Gaza border fence in October 2014…

For Palestinians, raising Arabian horses is the ‘hobby of the poor’ (The New York Times) The two gleaming black horses, certified purebreds named Rawnaq and Furys, provided a glimpse of a Palestinian passion — some call it an obsession — for raising show horses, racehorses and more modest steeds in what might seem like impossible conditions. The horses are bred and to some extent trained in gritty East Jerusalem neighborhoods like Issawiya, Tur and Jabal al-Mukaber, often by families who struggle to share tiny, cramped homes. “In America, they call raising horses the hobby of the rich,” said Muhamed Hamdan, 25, a Palestinian trainer who studied in the United States. “Here, it’s the hobby of the poor…”

Film on Indian martyrs to be released in Kerala (Vatican Radio) A documentary film that captures the agony of Kandhamal villagers of the eastern Indian state of Odisha is all set for release in Kerala, India. Directed by K.P. Sasi, “Voice from the Ruins — Kandhamal in search of Justice,” will be screened at three different places in Kerala, southern India, in the second half of July…



Tags: Syria India Refugees Palestine War

13 July 2016
Greg Kandra




In this image from May, Syrian refugees arrive at the Jordanian military crossing point of Hadalat at the border with Syria after a long walk through the Syrian desert. Hadalat was reportedly bombed by a Russian jet Tuesday, killing at least 12 people. (photo: Jordan Pix/Getty Images)

Syrian rebels say Russian jet bombed refugee camp along Jordan border (Reuters) Jets believed to be Russian on Tuesday struck a refugee camp along Jordan’s north-eastern border with Syria, killing at least 12 people and injuring scores in the first such Russian strike near the Jordanian border, rebels said. Several jets flying at high altitudes struck at noon a makeshift camp where a few hundred, mostly women and children, are stranded in a no-man’s-land on the Syrian side of the border, they said. The Russian Defense Ministry was not immediately available for comment...

Holy See’s UN observer speaks on Israeli-Palestinian crisis (Vatican Radio) The halted Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the ongoing Syrian crisis were among the topics touched on by the Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in statement Tuesday. In his statement to the UN Security Council during an open debate on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question,” Archbishop Bernardito Auza reiterated Pope Francis’ denouncement of those responsible for the Syrian crisis, especially those who provide weapons to fighters...

Civilians killed in Indian state of Orissa (Fides) The Catholic Church in Orissa is on alert after the killing of five civilians, including two Christians in the district of Kandhamal in the Indian state of Orissa...

Refugees seen as resilient (CNS) Refugees arriving in the United States are resilient people who want to contribute to society, believes Darwensi Clark of the U.S. bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services. He’s seen it among the refugees he has worked with through the years...

Residents of Gaza turn to Turkey for medical care (The Los Angeles Times) More than 40 Palestinian men from Gaza... are sharing a rented apartment building [in Istanbul] while undergoing surgery and rehabilitation for injuries related to the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. They said they have no ties to the militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza. The United Nations has said the few hospitals in Gaza are unable to cope with the demands for surgery and rehabilitation. Thousands of people wait long periods for appointments or apply for treatment in countries such as Turkey, Egypt, Israel or Jordan...

U.S churches to Russia: we’re not leaving (RNS) Several American-based religious denominations remain defiant in the face of new laws that would ban them from proselytizing in Russia. The so-called “Yarovaya laws” make it illegal to preach, proselytize or hand out religious materials outside of specially designated places. The laws also give the Russian government wide scope to monitor and record electronic messages and phone calls...

Iraqis to pray ‘Our Father’ in Aramaic at World Youth Day (Fides) There will be more than two hundred young Iraqi Christians who from all the dioceses of the Country will participate in the forthcoming World Youth Day, to be held in Krakow in late July. And in that context, during the Via Crucis, some of them will have the chance to recite the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic, Jesus’ language, before the Pope. “It will be an important moment for all of us, to be confirmed in faith and communion with the whole Church of Christ,” says Chaldean Bishop Basel Salim Yaldo, who will accompany the young Iraqis in their trip to Poland with Archbishop Bashar Warda, a dozen young priests and seven nuns...



12 July 2016
Greg Kandra




In this image from 3 July, Iraqis who fled from their villages due to the clashes, go to Dibege Tent Camp in Mosul’s Mahmur district as Mosul rescue operation continues. The United States announced plans to send more troops to Iraq to help retake Mosul.
(photo: Hemn Huseyin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


U.S. deploying more troops to Iraq to retake Mosul from ISIS (The New York Times) President Obama will send 560 more troops to Iraq to help retake Mosul, the largest city still controlled by the Islamic State, a deployment intended to capitalize on recent battlefield gains that also illustrates the obstacles that Mr. Obama has faced in trying to wind down America’s wars. The additional troops are the latest escalation of the American military role in Iraq by Mr. Obama, who withdrew the last American soldiers from Iraq at the end of 2011...

Group works to save Syria’s ancient sites from destruction (Al Jazeera) A group of scholars, historians and activists have been working to protect and preserve the rich cultural heritage of war-torn Syria. The members of the initiative, a joint effort by people on the ground and an organisation called “The Day After — Heritage Protection initiative (HPI)” have been carrying out the dangerous work in places such as the Ma’ara mosaic museum, in Idlib province’s Maarat al Numan. They use sandbags in a bid to shield Roman and Byzantine era mosaics, some of which are 600-years-old, from bombs and shrapnel...

Ethiopian Jews on life in Israel: ‘It was always my dream to come to Jerusalem’ (The Washington Post) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s historic trip to East Africa last week was aimed at boosting relations. But his last stop, in Ethiopia, held special meaning for many of the 135,000 Jews of Ethiopian origin who live in Israel today. Netanyahu is the first Israeli leader to visit the East African country. Formal ties were established between the two states in 1992...

Vatican sends official to Cairo, hopes to restart dialogue with Sunnis at university (CNS) The Vatican and Sunni Islam’s leading institution of higher learning have begun looking for ways to restart formal dialogue. Acting on Pope Francis’ expressed desire, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue was sending a top-level official to Cairo to visit al-Azhar University, the council said in a written press release 12 July...

India aims to plant a record 50 million trees (Vatican Radio) Hundreds of thousands of people in India’s most populous state are jostling for space as they attempt to plant 50 million trees over the next 24 hours in hopes of setting a world record...

Russian Orthodox priest attempts to fly around the world in a balloon (International Business Times) Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov is attempting to fly around the world in a hot air ballon in record time. Lifting off from The Northam Aero Club, western Australia on 12 July, the 64-year-old Orthodox priest was given a warm send off by his wife and children, who watched him depart at sunrise. The Aero Club was used by American aviator Steve Fossett on his 4th solo attempt to fly around the world in a balloon. It took Fossett 13 and a half days — a time that Konyukhov hopes to beat...



11 July 2016
Greg Kandra




A man carries an injured girl after an airstrike in Aleppo, Syria, on 8 July. Rebel fighters have launched an assault on some districts of the city. (photo: CNS/Abdalrhman Ismail, Reuters)

Syrian rebels launch attack in Aleppo (BBC) Syrian rebel fighters have launched an assault on government-held districts of Aleppo, after troops cut their only route into the divided northern city. The rebel operation began at dawn on several fronts, with hundreds of shells being fired at western areas. State media said eight people were killed and dozens hurt by the barrage...

Report details life of Syrians under al-Qaeda affiliate (Al Monitor) Amnesty International released on 5 July a groundbreaking account of the “reality of life” for Syrians living in Idlib and Aleppo under the rule of Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s affiliate, and other armed groups, including those backed by US regional allies...

Vatican outlines pope’s upcoming trip to Georgia, Azerbaijan (Associated Press) The Vatican says Pope Francis will meet with Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders during his 30 September-2 October trip to the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan, adding a strong interreligious dimension to an already politically delicate trip. The Vatican on Monday released the itinerary for the Caucasus trip, which was originally planned as an extension of Francis’ recent visit to Armenia but was split up...

Report: Child labor surging in Iraq (Reuters) More than half a million Iraqi children are estimated to be at work rather than at school as violence and displacement hurt the income of millions of families, according to UNICEF. The number of children currently working, more than 575,000 has doubled since 1990, the year when Iraq attacked Kuwait, setting off a chain of events that led to the 2003 US-led invasion and the sectarian strife that continues to this day...

CNEWA food program keeping girls in Ethiopia’s classrooms (Catholic Register) Most of the more than 10 million Ethiopians now dependent on direct food handouts will survive the country’s worst drought in 60 years, but how they survive will depend on the generosity of Catholics abroad. The Catholic Near East Welfare Association has launched a cash appeal to help feed students at Catholic schools and youth in parish summer programs. The food aid will keep students in school and help secure their futures once the drought is over...

Russian Orthodox monastery may open in Washington, D.C. (Sputnik) The first Russian Orthodox monastery could be opened in the US capital of Washington D.C. or in its vicinity, Metropolitan Jonah, a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), told Sputnik. “In the area, not necessarily in D.C.... It will be Russian tradition, of course, you know, the services will also be in English, as well as in [Church] Slavonic... [The monastery] has a very specific outreach [program] to educate people about Orthodoxy and Russian culture and Russian spiritual culture,” Metropolitan Jonah said, answering a question about his plans to establish a monastery in Washington D.C....

American journalist Greg Burke appointed to succeed retiring Vatican spokesman Lombardi (Vatican Radio) The Rev. Federico Lombardi S.J. is stepping down after ten years as Director of the Holy See’s Press Office. Father Lombardi, who also served as Director of Programs and later, Director General of Vatican Radio from 1991 to February 2016, will be replaced by 56 year old American journalist Greg Burke, currently Vice Director of the Vatican Press Office. Father Lombardi, who turns 74 in August, was also Director General of Vatican television (CTV) from November 2005-January 2013...



8 July 2016
Greg Kandra




In the video above, the Armenian archbishop of Aleppo says that Syria has been deeply wounded by war, with many of the victims being children. (video: Rome Reports)

Syrian civilians killed in air strike (AFP) At least 22 civilians including a child were killed in air strikes on an Al-Qaeda-held town in northwest Syria on Friday, a monitoring group said. Dozens of people were also wounded in the strikes on Darkush, near the Turkish border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, updating an earlier casualty toll. “The toll of the attack is now 22 people, including a child and seven women,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman...

Dozens killed in ISIS attack on Shia shrine in Iraq (Al Jazeera) At least 30 people have been killed in an ISIS suicide bomb, gun and mortar attack on a Shia shrine north of Iraq’s capital Baghdad, officials said. The incident comes just days after the worst bombing in the country since the US-led invasion of 2003, which was also claimed by ISIL. That attack, in a bustling Baghdad street packed with shoppers, killed 292 people, according to the health ministry...

UN: Some 70 percent of Syrian refugees in Lebanon live in poverty (Haaretz) More Syrian refugees in the Middle East are falling into debt and facing poverty, partly as a result of exhausting their savings with shortages of essential aid worsening their plight, UN agencies and local governments said on Tuesday. Some 70 percent of refugees in Lebanon are living below the poverty line, compared with 50 percent in 2014, according to the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan mid-year review, carried out by UN agencies, local governments and aid groups...

Interfaith Ramadan dinner builds bonds in Canada (Catholic Register) During Ramadan, Muslims across the globe share the Iftar meal each evening. Iftar allows Muslims to physically replenish the body’s energy after fasting from dawn until dusk and to mentally reflect on the beauty and sacrifice of their faith. This year, this combination of sustenance and contemplation was opened to Torontonians of all faiths as part of the Intercultural Ramadan Friendship Dinner series...



7 July 2016
Greg Kandra




Orthodox leaders attend a 25 June session of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church on the Greek island of Crete. During the week following the meeting, Orthodox clergy in the U.S. reflected on what the council would mean for Orthodox Christians in the United States.
(photo: CNS/Sean Hawkey, handout)


Syrian forces reportedly cut road into Aleppo (BBC) Syrian government forces have effectively cut the only road into rebel-held areas of the city of Aleppo, a monitoring group and rebels say. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said troops had advanced to within 1km (0.6 miles) of the Castello Road, within range of their light weapons. Rebels said that meant no-one could now get into or out of the east of the city, home to up to 300,000 people...

Baghdad death toll continues to climb (Al Jazeera) The death toll from a car bombing at a crowded shopping area in Iraq’s capital Baghdad last weekend has risen to 281, Health Minister Adeela Hammoud said. DNA samples have been collected from 150 families to identify bodies charred beyond recognition, Hamoud told al-Iraqiya state TV on Thursday. It was the country’s worst attack since the 2003 US-led invasion...

U.S. Orthodox leaders have mixed, hopeful reactions to council (CNS) During the week following the pan-Orthodox council, which wrapped 26 June in Crete, Greece, Orthodox clergy in the U.S. reflected on what the council would mean for Orthodox Christians here. Going into the council, the most pressing issue for American Orthodox Christians was the question of the diaspora: how the church’s hierarchy should work in lands that are not traditionally Orthodox, but where different groups of Orthodox Christians now live, like in America and Australia...

Netanyahu arrives in Ethiopia (AfricaNews.com) Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has arrived in Ethiopia today on the final leg of his historic African tour that has seen him visit Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda, holding high level discussions with leaders of the respective countries. Netanyahu and his wife left Rwanda, where he visited the Kigali memorial center, laid a wreath and left a condolence message, he also held a joint press conference with president Kagame with the announcement of major policy cooperation...

Istanbul travelers defy terror (Huffington Post) It’s Eid season here, the celebration that marks the end of Ramadan, a time when domestic and international travel volume often increases. Yet the mood on this New York-Istanbul flight is somber — but defiant. The staff shows every sign of pride and resilience...

‘The Survivor’s Guide to Gaza’ (SBS.com.au) Gaza is home to 1.9 million people, but has little fresh water, food or power. It’s one of the most densely populated places on the planet, with the world’s highest unemployment rate. “We live in a prison,” rapper MC Sari tells Brett Mason on Tuesday’s Dateline. “[But] it’s our culture to be positive...”



6 July 2016
Greg Kandra




Rebel fighters carry their weapons as they take part in military training 19 June in Daraa, Syria. The Syrian military has declared a three-day truce during the Islamic festival of Eid al-Fitr.
(photo: CNS/Alaa Al-Faqir, EPA)


Syria declares 72-hour truce (BBC) The Syrian military has unilaterally declared a three-day truce covering the whole country, state media report. A statement by the general command said the “regime of calm” began at 01:00 on Wednesday (22:00 GMT on Tuesday) and would last until midnight on Friday. The period covers the Islamic festival of Eid al-Fitr...

Pope’s visit to Armenia has left spiritual legacy (Vatican Radio) The head of the Catholic Church in Armenia says Pope Francis’ recent visit to the country has helped to strengthen and confirm people in their faith. The Pope visited the Armenian capital Yerevan, the northern city of Gyumri and the ancient monastery of Khor Virap on the Turkish border from 24 to 26 June. He will return to the region for a visit to Azerbaijan and Georgia at the end of September...

Coptic nun killed by stray bullets (Fides) It was not a targeted attack, but a tragic accident caused the death of Sister Athanasia, the Coptic Orthodox nun killed yesterday, Tuesday, 5 July, while she was traveling by car on the road connecting Cairo to Alexandria, heading towards the monastery of Mar Girgis in Khatatba. The vehicle in which the nun was travelling with the driver and two of her sisters was involved in a shooting in progress on the road between two local family clans. A few stray bullets reached the car, causing the death of Sister Athanasia...

Floods deal ‘staggering’ blow to families recovering from Ethiopia’s drought (UN News Centre) The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) announced that floods across Ethiopia have severely impacted the recovery processes, particularly for livestock-dependent families, following more than 18 months of dry spells and poor rainfall induced by an El Niño drought phenomenon. Estimates rose significantly in June, as updated reports from the Ethiopia’s National Flood Task Force show that close to 690,000 people are now likely be affected, with over 320,000 estimated to be displaced, said the agency in a report...

Patriarch urges mediation to end Middle East crises (America) The plight and vulnerability of Lebanon, enwrapped by the chaos of Syria on its north and east and threatened by the tensions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on its south, were brought into sharp focus during a U.S. visit by Cardinal Bechara Rai, patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church. During his cross-country pastoral visit, Cardinal Rai stopped in New York at the headquarters of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association on 27 June where he implored reporters to remain mindful of the precarious state of Lebanon as it grapples with the region’s various crises...

Fundraiser launched for demining site of Christ’s baptism (Fides) The demining project of Qasr al-Yahud area, which extends around the west bank of the Jordan River, the site where many Christian traditions believe Jesus was baptized, will last two years and cost at least $4 million to complete the demining. For this reason, the Halo Trust, a UK based demining group, has launched a subscription to finance the project, aimed in particular at Churches and Christian communities all over the world...



5 July 2016
Greg Kandra




In the video above, released Tuesday, Pope Francis urges a political solution to the war in Syria.
(video: Caritas Internationalis/YouTube)


Death toll from attack in Baghdad reaches 175 (Associated Press) As Iraqis mourned in shock and disbelief, more dead bodies were recovered Tuesday from the site of a massive Islamic State suicide bombing this weekend in central Baghdad, bringing the death toll to 175, officials said. The staggering figure — one the worst bombings in 13 years of war in Iraq — has cast a pall on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan and which begins Wednesday in Iraq...

Pope supports ‘Peace is possible’ campaign for Syria (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is urging governments to find a political solution to the war in Syria. In a video message released on Tuesday in support of a new Caritas Internationalis campaign, “Syria: Peace is Possible,” the Pope reiterates his belief that “there is no military solution for Syria, only a political one...”

Holy See: Peace is possible in Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Vatican Radio) The Permanent Observer to United Nations Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič has offered an intervention at the United Nations International Conference in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace. “The Holy See believes that the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians can move forward only if it is directly negotiated between the Parties,” Archbishop Jurkovic said, with the strong support of the international community, as this international conference is meant to catalyze...”

Patriarch Twal: ‘My mission continues’ (Fides) “I have reached the end of my mission as Patriarch, however my mission as a priest, friend and citizen continues,” says the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, who has reached the age limit of 75 years and is about to retire. In an interview published on the website of the Latin Patriarchate, the patriarch also talks about the legacy that he now leaves in the hands of the new Apostolic Administrator, the Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa: “Among the assets that the new Administrator can count is the fact that he served for 12 years as Custos of the Holy Land and was the Vicar of the Latin Patriarch for the Hebrew speaking Catholic community. He knows very well the challenges and problems of the Church in the Holy Land...”

Ethiopian cardinal celebrates 40th anniversary of ordination (Vatican Radio) Ethiopia’s Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel, C.M., celebrated his 40th anniversary of priestly ordination Monday 4 July 2016. He used the occasion to recall the harsh reality of time in Ethiopia when citizens professing religious belief were persecuted. As a young priest, the Cardinal was himself arrested and isolated in a dark room for one month. On this 40th anniversary, the Cardinal says he thanks God for the protection bestowed on him...



1 July 2016
Greg Kandra




Airport employees mourn for their colleagues during a 30 June ceremony for victims of the suicide attacks at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport in Turkey. Officials now say a Chechen extremist was behind the attacks. (photo: CNS/Murad Sezer, Reuters)

U.S. Congressman says a Chechen extremist masterminded Istanbul suicide bombing (Associated Press) A Chechen extremist masterminded the triple suicide bombing at Istanbul’s busiest airport that killed at least 44 people, a U.S. congressman said Friday. Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, told CNN that Akhmed Chatayev directed Tuesday night’s attack at Ataturk Airport, one of the world’s busiest, which also wounded more than 230. Turkish and Swedish media have also identified Chatayev as the organizer, although Turkish authorities have not confirmed his involvement...

Stranded refugees face a world without food or medicine (The New York Times) For a week, since a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing seven Jordanian security officials, the refugees, now numbering at least 60,000, have not had access to food or medicine, as they had in previous months. Only three times since then have water trucks reached them, carrying what the medical aid group Doctors Without Borders estimated to be equivalent to a 1.5-liter bottle of water a day...

UNICEF says millions of children in Iraq are at risk (ABC Australia) UNICEF is calling for urgent action to protect children’s rights in Iraq after a report found escalating conflict in the country is putting a whole generation at risk. UNICEF’s A Heavy Price for Children report found one in five (3.6 million) children in Iraq are at serious risk of death, injury, sexual violence, abduction and recruitment into armed groups...

Gospel music in Ethiopia (MusicInAfrica.net) The Ethiopian Orthodox church, with a followership of about 44% of Ethiopia’s population, has a long tradition of gospel music. However, over the years its dominance has been challenged by the emergence of various other religious factions. Today Muslims make up an estimated 34% of the population and Protestants an estimated 18%. Nevertheless, any keen listener will notice that the music of the Ethiopian Orthodox church has an influence on most Christian music in the country...



30 June 2016
Greg Kandra




A relative of a victim killed at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport in Turkey is seen during a funeral in the capital on 29 June. (photo: CNS/Sedat Suna, EPA)

Turkish police make arrests in connection with airport bombing (NBC News) Turkish police arrested 13 people in connection with the deadly attack on Istanbul’s airport, officials said Thursday. More than 40 people died and over 200 were injured when assailants with guns and explosives hit the airport on Tuesday. Officials have said the coordinated assault on Ataturk airport bore the hallmarks of ISIS, but there has been no official claim of responsibility...

U.S. bishops speak out against Turkey attack (CNS) Following the June 28 terrorist attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk airport in Turkey, the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference and Chicago’s archbishop issued statements emphasizing the need to find comfort in faith and show support the suffering with prayer and generosity. The attack left over 40 people dead and over 230 injured. “Evil tests our humanity. It tempts us to linger in the terror of Istanbul, Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino (and) Orlando,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops...

Report: Airstrikes hit convoys carrying militants out of Falluja (CNN) Coalition airstrikes targeted two ISIS convoys leaving Falluja over two days, destroying about 175 vehicles carrying militants out of the city, the spokesman for the U.S. coalition said Thursday. Col. Chris Garver said Iraqi security forces destroyed other vehicles...

Refugees encounter a foreign word: welcome (The New York Times) Across Canada, ordinary citizens, distressed by news reports of drowning children and the shunning of desperate migrants, are intervening in one of the world’s most pressing problems. Their country allows them a rare power and responsibility: They can band together in small groups and personally resettle — essentially adopt — a refugee family. In Toronto alone, hockey moms, dog-walking friends, book club members, poker buddies and lawyers have formed circles to take in Syrian families. The Canadian government says sponsors officially number in the thousands, but the groups have many more extended members...

Coptic priest shot dead in North Sinai (Middle East Online) The Egyptian branch of ISIS claimed responsibility for a shooting attack that killed a Coptic priest in the Sinai Peninsula on Thursday. The jihadist group said a “squad” of its gunmen killed the 46-year-old priest for “combating Islam,” in a statement posted on social media accounts. At least one unidentified gunman killed an Egyptian priest in a city in North Sinai on Thursday where authorities are battling a jihadist insurgency, security officials and the Coptic Church said...

Ethiopian drought: ‘Life is very difficult... I’ve lost everything’ (Irish Independent) The unforgiving effect of El Nino has resulted in over 10.2 million people in Ethiopia in need of food aid. The country is experiencing the worst drought in three decades. Those who were already vulnerable before the climate change phenomenon are the worst affected. When crops failed last year, only those who could afford it had reserves. Leaving many people with nothing. Especially those who rely on working on farms for income...

In Syria, starving instead of fasting (The New York Times) Among the litany of calamities incubated by the Syrian civil war — the rise of the Islamic State, a refugee crisis that spans the world, a death toll of about 400,000 — the international community seems to consider the slow grind of life behind a blockade a second-order problem. But starving civilians to gain a military advantage is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions, and wasting away under siege can be just as traumatic as barrel bomb attacks and public beheadings...







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