The death of longtime North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, 69, has the world on-the-edge, wondering how his successor will run the country and how his death will affect countries in Asia. There are not many answers to those questions yet, but responses to the North Korean leader’s death are pouring in.
The foreign ministers of both France and Australia said that the death of Kim Jong-il could serve as a sign of hope in the country that suffers from chronic food shortages, poor infrastructure, and frequent power outages.
“It is at times like this that we cannot afford to have any wrong or ambiguous signaling. This time also presents an important opportunity to the new North Korean leadership to engage fully with the international community,” said Australia’s Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd. more >>
The National Council of Churches recently held a meeting with Cuban church leaders and pledged to work for better relations between the two countries.
General Secretary Michael Kinnamon led discussions that ended with a joint statement saying, “It is the call to the churches of both countries to offer a word of hope in response to the anxiety and fear in both countries.”
The groups also agreed to work for the lifting of the 53-year-old embargo against Cuba. Leaders described the embargo as “the major obstacle to the resolution of differences, to economic interaction, and to fuller engagement of our peoples and churches.” more >>
Residents in Morocco are voting in a parliamentary election Friday, marking the first post-Arab Spring voting in the northern Africa country.
The elections will decide members of the nation’s parliament, though some worry the old regime is not willing to change.
It is unclear how many votes will be cast in the elections. Some groups have called for a boycott of the elections, citing the ruling monarchy’s unwillingness to change despite popular demands. more >>
Palestinians eager for self-empowerment and a state of their own are achieving mixed results on securing greater international support for their independence during recent interactions with the U.N.
The potential country achieved a major leap forward in global prominence by gaining admittance to UNESCO, the U.N.'s cultural agency, after 107 out of 173 U.N. members voted in favor of the status upgrade, according to The Associated Press.
By contrast, a proposed Nov. 11 bid by Palestinians to take a place amid U.N. members is in serious jeopardy after one of the organization's Security Council nations, Bosnia-Herzegovina, decided to abstain from voting on the proposal. The move leaves Palestine with eight confirmed votes, just short of the nine needed to sway the 15 nation board. more >>
A Middle East Church leader has expressed his concern for Christians and the potential adverse consequences that could result from increased pressure by the Syrian government, and especially if violence escalates into a fully blown civil war.
The Syriac Catholic Church’s Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan told the Catholic News Service, "This chaos, surely – with no means to implement security – will lead to civil war," said the patriarch, who stressed that a civil war in Syria would not merely be a struggle among political parties to control the power.
"It will be confessional (religious), and war in the name of God is far worse than a political struggle. And this is what we fear." more >>
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has been planning for years to find a way to unite the world's major religions in an effort to help foster peace, and believes a new international organization to be housed in Vienna, Austria will help make that dream a reality. As the institution was officially founded Thursday, some Christians are likely to start pointing to interpretations of biblical prophecy about the emergence of a one-world religion many believe precedes the return of Jesus Christ.
According to media reports, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, Austrian Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor Michael Spindelegger and Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez Garcia-Herrera oversaw the signing of a contract between the three nations Thursday, in which they will cooperate in the building and organization of an interfaith center in Vienna. Other high level officials from the three nations were also reportedly in attendance at the treaty signing.
The building, to be called the "King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue," was conceived of by its namesake and mostly financed by the Saudi government. According to media reports the center will be composed of a governing body of 12 representatives, among that number will be representatives from Islam (one each Sunni and Shiite), Christians (one each Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox), a Buddhist, a Hindu and a Jewish representative. more >>