Wednesday, November 27, 2013

After Unilateral Air Defense Zone Move, Beijing Sends Carrier to Another Sensitive Area

Amid tensions over China’s bid to exert sovereignty over a Japanese-controlled but contested area of the East China Sea, Beijing has dispatched its only aircraft carrier for the first time to the South China Sea, where it is embroiled in further disputes with neighboring countries. Read

White House Makes Holiday Appeal for Pastor Jailed in Iran, Two Other Americans

After being criticized for failing to secure the release of Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini before reaching a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration on Tuesday made an appeal for his return, and that of two other Americans. Read

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Christians Flee Marauding Muslims in Africa’s ‘Forgotten Crisis’

The Central African Republic (CAR) is “descending into complete chaos,” becoming a breeding ground for extremists and threatening to sink into religious and ethnic conflict that could spread through an already troubled region, the U.N. Security Council was told on Monday. Read

Ayatollah’s Comments on Women at Odds With Abuses at Home

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women with a series of Twitter messages extolling women, but U.N. rights experts paint a bleak picture of Iran’s treatment of women, especially those in prison. Read

Monday, November 25, 2013

Kerry Misleads in Saying There's No Comparison Between Iran and N. Korea Nuke Deals

Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday rejected comparisons between the nuclear deal struck with Iran and one negotiated in the past with North Korea, but of the four points he cited in doing so, at least three were questionable. Read

China’s Muscle-Flexing Alarms Japan, Prompts US Treaty Obligation Warning

New tensions have erupted in the East China Sea over an announcement by China that it has established an “air defense identification zone” covering uninhabited islands at the center of a bitter dispute with its historical rival, Japan. Read

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Deal Leaves Iran With a ‘Mutually Defined Enrichment Program’

The initial nuclear deal struck with Iran at the weekend states unambiguously that the second step – or “comprehensive solution” – will “involve a mutually defined enrichment program with practical limits.” Read

Friday, November 22, 2013

Senior US Official Brushes Off Rant of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Says Americans Do It, Too

A senior Obama administration official reacted mildly to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s vitriolic speech this week, comparing the harsh rhetoric coming from Iran’s supreme leader to anti-Iranian views expressed by some Americans. Read

Pope Francis: ‘We Won’t Resign Ourselves to a Middle East Without Christians’

Pope Francis expressed new concern Thursday for the situation faced by “Christians who suffer in a particularly severe way the consequences of tensions and conflicts in many parts of the Middle East.” Read

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Less than Half of the World’s Countries Support U.N. Resolution Criticizing Iran's Human Rights Abuses

As a new round of nuclear talks begins with Iran, international criticism of Iran's human rights record at home appears to be waning. Read

Iran’s President Highlights Milder Parts of Supreme Leader’s Vitriolic Speech

A defiant speech by Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – coming as high-stakes nuclear talks resumed in Geneva on Wednesday -- contrasted starkly with the message posted online by Iran’s chief delegate to those talks. Read

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Terror Attack on Iranian Embassy in Beirut Shows Growing Sectarian Divide

Tuesday’s massive suicide bombing outside the Iranian Embassy in Beirut comes 30 years after the American Embassy in the same city was bombed by terrorists linked to Iran, in what was at the time the deadliest such attack ever against a U.S. diplomatic mission. Read

Susan Rice: Obama Will Not Send Letter of Apology to Afghanistan

President Obama will not make a written apology to the Afghan people for “mistakes” made during the war in their country, National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Tuesday. Read

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

U.N. Delegates Applaud As ‘State of Palestine’ Casts First Vote

Delegates at the U.N. General Assembly applauded enthusiastically on Monday as the Palestinian representative to the world body for the first time cast a vote on behalf of the “State of Palestine.” Read

Kerry Eases Back Expectations on a Quick Iran Deal

Ahead of a new round of Iran nuclear talks this week, Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday downplayed expectations of a breakthrough, sounding less optimistic than he did a week ago when he said negotiators had been “extremely close” to a deal. Read

Monday, November 18, 2013

Coercion and Abuses Remain at Core of China’s Birth-Limitation Policy

Three days after Beijing announced a tweak to its birth-limitation rules, a film exploring gendercide, one of the most reprehensible consequences of the “one-child policy,” will have its first screening in Chinese territory on Monday. Read

Australia, Canada Oppose Multi-Nation Climate-Change Fund

Days after introducing a bill into parliament repealing a carbon tax introduced by his Labor predecessor, Australia’s conservative new prime minister stoked fresh controversy by opposing plans for a fund to help impoverished members of the Commonwealth deal with climate change. Read

Friday, November 15, 2013

Russian FM Also Challenges Kerry’s Account of Iran Nuclear Talks

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says a U.S.-proposed draft nuclear agreement tentatively agreed to by Iran in Geneva last week was changed “literally at the last moment,” but declined to say which delegation insisted on the amendments. Read

State Dept.: Israeli Settlements Are ‘Illegitimate'

Asserting that the United States views Jewish settlements as “illegitimate” does not amount to prejudging the outcome of negotiations aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday. Read

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Administration Says New Sanctions on Iran Could Lead to War

In a week that has seen the level of rhetoric rise on all sides, the Obama administration and an Iranian ally in Lebanon have both warned that failure to reach an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program would lead to war, while a Republican senator compared the administration’s approach to the nuclear negotiations to appeasement of the Nazis in the late 1930s. Read

As US Aircraft Carrier Nears Stricken Philippines, China Ups Its Offer of Aid

China on Wednesday increased its offer of aid to Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines after an earlier pledge of $100,000 prompted derisive headlines and commentary about a lost opportunity to show goodwill in a region troubled by its belligerent behavior in the South China Sea. Read

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Russia Cozy With Egypt Amid ‘Failing’ U.S. Diplomacy

Days after Secretary of State John Kerry said in Cairo that the Obama administration was interested in resuming a “strategic dialogue” with Egypt, its interim government on Wednesday launched a dialogue of its own with another country – one that is eager to exploit tensions in the U.S.-Egyptian relationship. Read

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

UN Human Rights Council Election: China, Russia Get More Votes than UK, France

Cuba’s election onto the U.N. Human Rights Council on Tuesday saw it receive more votes than two challengers in the Latin America group – both democracies – while China, Russia and Vietnam all received more votes than Britain and France. Read

Saudi Arabia, Cuba, People's Republic of China Will Join UN 'Human Rights' Council

By the end of Tuesday, a handful of countries notorious for blocking human rights promotion at home and abroad will have rejoined the U.N. Human Rights Council. Read

Kerry Insists Powers Are ‘United’ Over Iran As Iranian Official Tweets His Disagreement

As a focus of the Iran nuclear negotiations moves to Capitol Hill this week, Iran’s foreign minister has taken to Twitter to dispute Secretary of State John Kerry’s account of why the talks in Geneva ended without agreement this past weekend. Read

Monday, November 11, 2013

Kerry on Iran Nuke Talks: ‘I Don’t Think We’re Stupid’

Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday pushed back at suggestions that only resistance from a skeptical France prevented a group of world powers from reaching a deal with Iran over the long running nuclear dispute. Read

U.S. Marines Helping Philippines Deal With Typhoon Disaster

A team of U.S. Marines has arrived in the Philippines to join search and rescue and humanitarian aid efforts in the aftermath of the typhoon that devastated parts of the archipelago before heading for Vietnam where it made landfall, slightly weakened, on Monday. Read

Friday, November 08, 2013

UNESCO and 'Palestine': US Loses Voting Rights Over Funding Arrears

The United States has decided not to request a special exemption that would allow it to retain its voting rights at the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the move is expected to take effect at the agency’s General Conference on Friday. Read

Iranian Nuclear Document Calls ‘Bullying’ US a ‘Nuclear Criminal’

The Iranian document cited approvingly by the Obama administration as a purported Islamic prohibition of nuclear weapons also calls the United States the world’s “only nuclear criminal” and a “bullying and aggressive” regime that poses a serious threat to the Middle East and the world. Read

Thursday, November 07, 2013

On Eve of New Iran Nuclear Talks, US Confirms Sanctions Relief Is on the Table

On the eve of a new round of talks over Iran’s nuclear programs, a senior Obama administration official confirmed that the negotiating powers are “prepared to offer limited, targeted, and reversible sanctions relief” in return for an unspecified “first step agreed to by Iran that halts their program from advancing further.” Read

California High School Pressed to Drop Its ‘Arab’ Mascot

Hot on the heels of the Washington Redskins name controversy, an Arab-American advocacy group wants a California high school to abandon its decades-old sports mascot and associated imagery on the grounds it offensively stereotypes Arabs. Read

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

American Pastor Moved to ‘One of Iran’s Harshest’ Prisons; Obama Urged to Speak Up

The Iranian prison where American pastor Saeed Abedini is now being held is “regarded as one of Iran’s harshest jails because of its high number of cases of torture, rape and murder,” according to press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders. Read

Syria Negotiator Says Peace Talks Unlikely This Year

Despite a new Arab League effort to push a divided Syrian opposition to attend peace talks in Geneva, negotiators have again pushed back the likely start date for the conference – first proposed six months ago – now hoping only that it may be held before year’s end. Read

U.S. About to Lose Its Vote at the U.N. Education and Cultural Agency

The United States is set to lose its vote at the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in the coming days, unless the administration requests and is granted a special exemption on the grounds that its inability to pay its dues is beyond its control. Read

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Kerry: Saudi Arabia Should Make Its Own Choices About Women Driving

The people of Saudi Arabia know where the United States stands on the issue of women being allowed to drive, but it’s up to Saudis to make those decisions, Secretary of State John Kerry said in Riyadh on Monday. Read

Monday, November 04, 2013

Kerry Begins Fence-Mending Visit to Saudi Arabia

Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Saudi Arabia on a visit aimed at placating deep concerns about U.S. regional policy, illustrated recently in unprecedented actions and stinging criticism from influential members of the royal family. Read

Pakistan Fumes Over Death of Terrorist Killed in U.S. Drone Strike

Less than two weeks after Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told President Obama at the White House how much he admired his “statesmanship,” “wisdom” and “commitment to high values of peace and stability around the world,” his office on Sunday announced it was reviewing its ties with Washington. The difference: one dead terrorist. Read

Friday, November 01, 2013

Churches Called to Remember, Pray for Persecuted Believers

Embattled Christians in Islamic nations including Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia; in communist countries such as North Korea; and in less self-evident problem areas elsewhere like India, will be the focus of fellow believers around the world over the next two Sundays, marked as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Read

Russia Tests Its Defenses As NATO's Missile Defense Shield Advances

Three days after a ground-breaking ceremony in Romania marked the beginning of work on the first-ever U.S. land-based missile defense facility in Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday repealed a two-year-old executive order setting up a Kremlin working group to develop missile defense cooperation with NATO. Read