JBS CEO Art Thompson's weekly video news update for October 17-23, 2011.
There has been a series of varying reports on the latest news concerning 32-year-old Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who had been condemned to death by an Iranian court for refusing to renounce his Christian faith. According to Baptist Press News, Reuters News Service had reported on October 11 that Iran’s Supreme Court had sent the case back to the original court that had tried him, ruling that there had been insufficient investigation into the charges against the pastor. “The court will issue a new verdict,” Reuters reported, citing the Iranian Student’s News Agency (ISNA) as its source.
In another October 11 story, Agence France-Presse reported that Nadarkhani would face a retrial on the original charge of apostasy against Islam. “In its statement, the supreme court noted it had quashed the initial conviction and sentencing ‘due to a technicality in the investigation,’” AFP reported.
Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, which has been monitoring Nadarkhani’s case since it appeared that the pastor’s execution was imminent, said the news coming out of Iran is most likely months old and does not offer firm evidence of a new trial for the pastor. “While it is possible that this is a new development at the urging of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, we have no confirmation of this from Pastor Youcef’s attorney in Iran,” wrote Sekulow. “More likely, it is rehashing of old news. As we have been reporting, the Supreme Court of Iran had heard his case earlier this year and remanded it to the trial court to determine if Pastor Youcef was a Muslim after reaching the age of majority before converting to Islam.”
British authorities have rescued at least 400 children who were brought to Britain often for use in blood rituals conducted by witch doctors, the BBC reported this week. The BBC’s data come from child protection organizations and Scotland Yard, and document the problem: the superstition of juju, or the use of objects in rituals of witchcraft.
BBC reporter Chris Rogers, who broke the story, traveled to Uganda and contacted child kidnappers willing to provide as many children for juju as the reporter wanted. One kidnapper he contacted, witnesses told him, was involved in the mutilation of a boy who survived.
"He Would Need My Head"
According to Rogers, the witch doctors seek children through leaflets and newspaper advertisements, and “there is evidence that some are involved in the abuse of children who have been abducted from their families in Africa, and trafficked to the UK.”
Quoting Christine Beddoe, director of the anti-trafficking charity Ecpat UK, Rogers reported that immigrants believe in the magical power of human blood. “Our experience tells us that traffickers can be anybody,” she told the network, explaining:
The anti-Christian policy of the Egypt military rulers became even more readily apparent as they blamed Christian victims and “enemies of the revolution” for a series of violent clashes which left over two dozen people dead. In another tragic example of a military junta blaming its victims for its oppressive actions, Major General Adel Emara denied widespread reports of the military’s actions, which murdered dozens of Christians, According to one Associated Press report, Emara “tried to clear the military of any blame in the killings. He denied troops opened fire at protesters, claiming their weapons did not even have live ammunition. He said it was not in ‘the dictionary of the armed forces to run over bodies ... even when battling our enemy.’ "
The Coptic Church — which Emara seems to consider the “enemy” of the ruling council of Egypt of which he is a member — experienced a very different side of Egypt’s military than that which is being creatively constructed by the regime. As Alex Newman wrote previously for The New American:
Anti-Coptic violence in Egypt, of course, is hardly a new phenomenon. Islamic extremists have been bombing Christian churches there for years. But in the post-Mubarak era the attacks have intensified — and this weekend's state-sponsored violence might be the start of a whole new chapter. ...
American Christians may not see eye-to-eye on the justness or wisdom of their government’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but one thing on which they should be able to agree — because the facts are indisputable — is that the wars have been devastating for their coreligionists in those countries. Hundreds of thousands of Christians, including members of one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, have either fled from or been killed in Iraq since 2003. Now, according to the U.S. State Department, the situation for Christians in Afghanistan has become so dire that not a single church remains in that country.
CNSNews.com quotes the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for the second half of 2010:
There is no longer a public Christian church; the courts have not upheld the church's claim to its 99-year lease, and the landowner destroyed the building in March . [Private] chapels and churches for the international community of various faiths are located on several military bases, PRTs [Provincial Reconstruction Teams], and at the Italian embassy. Some citizens who converted to Christianity as refugees have returned.
Furthermore, says the report, “there were no Christian schools in the country.”
Wall Street and the Fed demonstrations send the wrong message to average Americans.
The military regime ruling Egypt is under fire after it responded to weekend protests by Coptic Christians in Cairo with deadly force, leaving hundreds wounded and dozens dead. An official investigation is ongoing.
Following another church attack last week blamed on Islamist extremists, Christian activists marched to the state-run TV station headquarters in the capital. The demonstrators were demanding government protection from Muslim attacks and the resignation or firing of a provincial governor.
“Down, down, Field Marshal Tantawi!” the protesters were also reportedly chanting, calling for the Egyptian regime’s chief to step down. Then the situation spiraled out of control.
According to news reports, thugs in civilian clothing unleashed a wave of violence against the Christians using swords, clubs, and other weapons. The government then sent armored personnel carriers and mowed down dozens of protesters. At least 25 were killed, probably more — some crushed under tanks, others shot.
“When it comes to foreign policy, if you like George W. Bush and Barack Obama, you’ll love Mitt Romney.” That was the unspoken theme of a speech the former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 Republican presidential contender delivered Friday at the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. Inveighing against “crawl[ing] into an isolationist shell,” Romney offered instead a program of hyper-interventionism in which no problem anywhere in the world is too small or remote for Washington’s involvement.
Romney pledged to “devote [himself] to an American Century” in which “America has the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world.” Romney issued his rather underwhelming economic plan a month ago. His proposal to strengthen the military by spending more money on it and deploying it in ever more far-flung locales, not by reducing its responsibilities — and therefore its costs — to those befitting a constitutional republic, is little more reassuring. As Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), one of Romney’s rivals for the GOP nomination, has long pointed out, excessive military spending is one of the causes of our nation’s economic woes. Like the Soviet Union in its dying days, Romney’s America would continue to burden the economy with diktats from the central government while pursuing a military buildup — a combination guaranteed to bankrupt the nation.
First Lady Michelle Obama’s June 2011 African safari is now being considered a half-million-dollar taxpayer-funded boondoggle, due to newly-released accounting information gathered by Judicial Watch, a nonpartisan government watchdog. Judicial Watch acquired passenger manifests and expense records from the U.S. Air Force pursuant to an August 19 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. Although touted as a working tour intended to spread goodwill in Africa, the trip’s travel amenities and recreational "distractions" have brought political turbulence to the White House.
The objective of the First Lady’s excursion to Africa, the White House stated, was to inspire and interact with young people who have meaningful influence in academics and civic leadership. Trekking through Botswana and parts of South Africa, Michelle and her two daughters, Malia and Sasha, were to promote health and wellness and encourage young people to become active in national affairs.
But Mrs. Obama’s professed "work trip" was not exclusively bound to spreading the goodwill of "democracy" and global unity.
A Libyan Jewish man who fled the nation with his parents decades ago has become a celebrity in recent days for his quest to restore Tripoli’s main synagogue. But shortly after 56-year-old David Gerbi took a sledgehammer to the wall blocking the entrance, armed men threatened his life and forced him to abandon the project — for now.
Gerbi said he had obtained permission from members of the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) and a local leader to start fixing up the Dar al-Bishi synagogue, which was shut down and sealed off under the Gadhafi regime following a wave of anti-Semitic persecution in the late 60s. Most of the other synagogues in Libya were destroyed or turned into mosques as Jewish property was confiscated and Jews were expelled.
But Gerbi was hoping the rebellion would be a new start — that the exiled Jews could return to Libya if they chose to. He called the reconstruction effort a “test” of the new regime’s tolerance.