Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is traveling in the Middle East this week and will meet with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
Israel is a common destination for U.S. presidential candidates and Rubio is a top choice among some Republicans to be their party's nominee in 2016. On Monday, he was in Jordan and met with King Abdullah II.
Rubio is making the trip as a member of the Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence and the Foreign Relations Committee. According to a press release, he discussed with Abdullah how Jordan and the United States could cooperate on economic and security issues. The Syrian civil war was also a topic of concern and he met with former Syrian Prime Minister Riad Hijab, who defected to Jordan. more >>
The Christian relief organization World Vision applauded the U.S. Senate passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act on Tuesday, but said the bill remains at risk unless the House also acts.
"This was a time to lead in the fight against modern-day slavery and the U.S. Senate rose to the occasion," said Jesse Eaves, senior policy advisor for Child Protection at World Vision. "At a time when it seems impossible to move important legislation, the Senate vote not only gives hope to millions of exploited men, women, and children around the world, but also to the thousands of advocates around the country who have worked tirelessly to push this legislation through. We now implore the House to take notice and follow suit so this life-saving bill can renewed."
Officials at World Vision said that at a time when bi-partisanship appears non-existent, the Senate "came together" to pass the bill that helps combat human trafficking. "However, the success in the Senate is still marred by partisan gridlock in the House of Representatives, and World Vision calls on both parties to put politics aside and pass this crucial bipartisan bill before the end of this Congress." more >>
Two pastors in Kenya were shot Thursday morning by unknown gunmen who killed one of the men and wounded the other, according to a report from Open Doors, a Christian persecution watchdog.
Open Doors, who has ministry workers in the east Africa country, received information that Pastor Ibrahim Makunyi of the East Africa Pentecostal Church and Pastor Abdi Welli were attacked by the gunmen in the city of Garissa, Kenya. Welli was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital while Pastor Makunyi was immediately rushed to a hospital. Makunyi's condition was described as stable and out of danger.
Welli, who was evangelized, discipled and mentored by Makunyi, is survived by his wife Hellen and three young sons. more >>
Political instability in Kenya, triggered by influences from the Muslim minority group al-Shabaab, is causing great concern over the future religious atmosphere in the Eastern Africa country, says Open Doors, a Christian persecution watchdog group. The organization is asking for prayer with less than one month to go before the country's general election.
"We are at a defining moment because these are the first elections under the new constitution with its many new structures and elective and nominative posts," explains the Open Doors coordinator for the region, who – as the case with most of the ministry's international field workers – remains anonymous for security reasons.
Al-Shabaab's success in pressuring the government to allow greater official influence for Islam is troubling, say Open Doors officials. Islamic family courts based on Sharia Law have been implemented in all counties – even in those with a low Muslim presence. It is feared that at least 10 of the counties with higher Muslim representation may push for the implementation of Sharia Law and may even be harboring ambitions to break away from the rest of the country, which is Christian dominated (83 percent). more >>
The U.S. government can target and kill U.S. citizens believed to be terrorists without due process, even if there is no evidence that they will be involved in a specific attack, according to a secret Justice Department white paper provided to some members of Congress and obtained by NBC News. The document shows a much more expansive justification for when the administration can target U.S. citizens with drone strikes than administration officials have discussed publicly.
"A lethal operation against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al-Qa'ida or its associated forces – a terrorist organization engaged in constant plotting against the United States, as well as an enemy force with which the United States is in a congressionally authorized armed conflict – and who himself poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States, would not violate the Constitution," the paper states.
Later in the paper, though, it defines "imminent threat" broadly: "The condition that an operational leader present an 'imminent' threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future." more >>
At least three people are believed to have been killed after a suicide bomber blew himself up on Friday at the entrance of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, with Islamic terrorist group al-Qaida believed to be the prime suspects.
The bomber, who has not yet been identified, apparently entered the embassy and got through the first X-ray machine leading to the visa section, before he detonated himself, NBC News reported. Among those killed was one of the guards at the gate, and another unidentified person is believed to have also been killed. Turkish TV showed an injured woman being carried on a stretcher to an ambulance.