The U.S. government will continue to provide military assistance to four African nations that were recently found to be actively recruiting child soldiers in their national militaries. Child protection experts condemned the decision.
The White House announced Tuesday that at least half of the countries listed on its Child Soldiers Prevention Protection list would receive national interest waivers and subsequently would not lose military assistance despite the Child Soldier Prevention Act, which was passed in 2008. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan will continue to receive millions of dollars in U.S. military assistance and arms sales.
CSPA was enacted by Congress to restrict U.S. military support to governments that recruit children or people younger than 18 in their armed forces; however, the United States has taken to using waivers for select nations considered to be critical partners in countering terrorism. Other nations on the list are Myanmar (formerly Burma), Sudan, Syria and Yemen. more >>
Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of imprisoned American pastor Saeed Abedini, has revealed that many of the updates from Iran on her husband's condition over the past three years have been coming from the pastor's parents. Naghmeh said that the trauma Abedini is going through is taking a toll on them.
"Though I am always looking forward to visitation days as my lone connection to Saeed, it pains me to know what my in-laws have lived through with their son. They live for these 15-minute visitations each week with their son, but watching your son endure the trauma of unjust imprisonment is brutal," Naghmeh said in an update earlier this week posted on the American Center for Law and Justice website.
"Increasingly, my updates from Iran come with many tears. The pain of seeing your son shackled, describing the pains in his body or the beatings he endures has at times been too much for his elderly parents. Today's update was told through uncontrollable tears. Having seen the pain of my own children, I can only imagine the pain Saeed's parents have endured the last three years," she continued. more >>
The state of Georgia has executed a woman despite last-minute pleas for mercy, including one from Roman Catholic Church leader Pope Francis. The woman reportedly sang the Christian anthem "Amazing Grace" as she was put to death via lethal injection, witnesses said.
NBC News reported that Kelly Renee Gissendaner, 47, was executed shortly after midnight on Wednesday. Gissendaner had been put on death row for the 1997 stabbing murder of her husband, Douglas Gissendaner, at the hands of her lover. She became the first woman executed by the state in 70 years.
Gregory Owen, who carried out the killing, is serving a life prison sentence, and is not eligible for parole until 2022. more >>
Muslim extremists burned down three churches in Tanzania last week and issued threats to the area's Christians, a leading persecution monitoring group has reported.
According to pastors who spoke with Morning Star News, three churches in northwest Tanzania were set ablaze last Tuesday causing everything inside them to burn. Fortunately, no one was injured.
The churches that were torched were the Pentecostal Assemblies of God, the Evangelical Assemblies of God and the Living Water International Church, all of which are located in the Kashfa village area in the Bukoba district. more >>
Chinese state media have reacted swiftly to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton slamming the country's women's rights record, and accused Clinton of "degrading herself" much like Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
"It seems that Hillary, eager to keep a competitive edge in the game, has also resorted to these ignominious shenanigans. Despite her political acumen as former secretary of state and senator, she is using the language of Trump to cast herself in the role of a rabble-rouser," the English version of the state-run Global Times said in an editorial.
"If Hillary is doing what Trump does, she is degrading herself. The Chinese will probably not be vexed by her angry words, but considering her status as the most likely hopeful among all the candidates, what she said is frustrating," it added. more >>
Participation in the global community of nations has always required compromises, sometimes uncomfortable ones. How the United States confronts these issues generally depends on the current ideological temperament holding sway in the Oval Office and among the American people in general.
One thing any student of foreign affairs quickly learns is that when it comes to America's security and economic interests, things get very complicated, very quickly. This is why, for example, we do business with China despite their rather dismal human rights record. This is why we are a strategic regional partner with the nation of Saudi Arabia, despite their enforcement of strict religious laws that result in the severe social and political curtailment of women's rights.
Sometimes, however, the opportunity arises for the United States to stand unabashedly and unreservedly on the side of justice and civility, and we should always seize upon these opportunities without hesitation if we truly believe in the principles we espouse. Concerns about "cultural sensitivity" should not hold sway when egregious abuses of human rights are occurring. If we have leverage in this kind of situation, we should use it, which is why a recent story in the New York Times regarding child sex abuse in Afghanistan is so disturbing. more >>