ISPR Alerts Public Over Fake Telephone Calls

RAWALPINDI (The News International) - The Inter-Services Public Relations, the media wing of the military, has issued Public Awareness information over fake telephone calls.
In a statement issued here, there are reports of fake telephone calls being made to the general public by individuals impersonating as Pakistan Armed Forces officials.
It added that the impersonators try to seek personal details like CNIC, bank accounts etc on the pretext of CENSUS verification etc.
The ISPR has requested the general public to be aware that no such calls are being made from Pakistan Armed Forces.
“Public is requested not to respond to such calls, and immediately report the matter on our emergency helpline UAN 1135 and 1125,” the ISPR added.

The World's Most Dangerous Countries For Women 2018 | Global Poll

According to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, these countries are the most dangerous for women.
1. India
2. Afghanistan
3. Syria
4. Somalia
5. Saudi Arabia 
6. Pakistan
7. DRC
8. Yemen
9. Nigeria
10. Unites States of America

India, Most Dangerous Country for Women with Sexual Violence Rife | Global Poll

INDIA (CNN) - India is the most dangerous country in the world to be a woman because of the high risk of sexual violence and slave labor, a new survey of experts shows.
The Thomson Reuters Foundation released its results Tuesday of a survey of 550 experts on women's issues, finding India to the be the most dangerous nation for sexual violence against women, as well as human trafficking for domestic work, forced labor, forced marriage and sexual slavery, among other reasons.
It was also the most dangerous country in the world for cultural traditions that impact women, the survey found, citing acid attacks, female genital mutilation, child marriage and physical abuse. India was the fourth most dangerous country for women in the same survey seven years ago.
India's rape and sexual assault problem came to the fore in 2012 with the gang rape and murder of a female student on a bus in New Delhi.
Despite a strong public reaction to the case and repeated calls to improve safety for women in India, around 100 sexual assaults are reported to police in the country every day, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
Nine of the 10 countries on the list were from Asia, the Middle East or Africa. At number 10 was the United States, the only Western country to be included.
The foundation said this was directly related to the #MeToo movement.
"The United States shot up in the rankings after tying (for) third with Syria when respondents were asked which was the most dangerous country for women in terms of sexual violence including rape, sexual harassment, coercion into sex and the lack of access to justice in rape cases. It was ranked sixth for non-sexual violence," according to the survey.
War-torn Afghanistan ranked second, as the worst country for non-sexual violence against women, which includes conflict-related violence and domestic abuse. It also ranked second worst for access to healthcare and access to economic resources and discrimination.
Syria, where a war has raged for more than seven years, ranked third on the list. The country is considered the second-most dangerous in terms of sexual violence and access to healthcare. Syria also tied for third with the United States in terms of sexual violence and harassment.
The Thomson Reuters Foundation held a similar survey seven years ago and found Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, India, and Somalia to the be the five most dangerous countries for women.
"World leaders vowed three years ago to eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls by 2030, allowing them to live freely and safely to participate equally in political, economic and public life. But despite this pledge, it is estimated that one in three women globally experience physical or sexual violence during their lifetime," the foundation said.
"Child marriage is still rife, with almost 750 million women and girls married before their 18th birthday, resulting in teen pregnancies that can put their health at risk and limiting schooling and opportunities."

Complete Boycott of the General Election in the Cards | Former Christian MPA

Peshawar (Christians in Pakistan) - Consequent to the ignorance displayed by the main political parties, KPK’s Christians who make up the largest population of a religious minority in the province are expressing annoyance. Major political parties have preferred Hindus or Sikhs over Christian candidates in their priority lists for the reserved seats of national and provincial assemblies.
In this regard, ex-MPA from Pakistan Muslim League (N)Fredrick Azeem expressed deep concerns over the unfair attitude of the political parties towards Christians. Fredrick Azeem who himself hails from Pakistan’s Christian community said that the Christian community could chose not to cast votes owing to the indifference showed by the political parties.

“We are seriously contemplating to announce the complete boycott of the general election and our community people will not cast their votes in support of respective parties’ candidates,” he stated. Fredrick Azeem said that Christians form the largest religious minority community in Khyber Pakhthun Khawa. There are more than 200,000 Christians in the province. “Our pastors are also worried about the attitude of the political parties as to why Christians have been left out,” he said.
He said that after the priority lists were made public, Christians staged protests and demonstrations demanding their due share. Christians explained that they are not opposing shortlisting of candidates from other communities, but the Christian community must be given their due share. Fredrick Azeem said that six political parties in Punjab had included Christians in their priority lists while in KP none.

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Pakistan to Launch Remote Sensing Satellite in July

Pakistan (Geo News) will be launching a PakTES-1A, a remote sensing satellite (RSS) in July this year, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr. Muhammad Faisal said in a post on social media on Sunday.
According to Dr. Faisal, PakTES-1A, which is an indigenously developed satellite, weighs 285kg and will be launched at 610km sun-synchronous orbit next month.
Earlier this year, Beijing had announced it would launch two remote sensing satellites for Pakistan.
The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALVT) and Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) worked jointly on the satellites. The satellites will be used for geo-monitoring and taking images from the orbit.
In 2016, China and Pakistan had signed an agreement to launch a special remote sensing satellite. The main reason for signing the agreement was to monitor the development of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.
Currently, three satellites are under design by SUPARCO in collaboration with different universities throughout China.

CJP Orders Action After Accepting Petitions of Missing Persons' Families

KARACHI (Geo News) - Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Sunday said he is certain that state institutions are not responsible for missing persons.
"I am certain that my institutions are not behind missing persons," the chief justice said during a hearing of the missing persons case at the Supreme Court’s Karachi Registry.
"I am saddened over the missing persons issue," the CJP told Sindh IGP Amjad Javed and provincial heads of intelligence agencies who appeared in the top court's Karachi Registry for the hearing of the case. 
Justice Nisar remarked, "Not only the youth but even men as old as 57 years are missing."
"I have also said this before, missing persons should be recovered," the CJP told the Sindh IGP and the provincial heads of intelligence agencies.
He further said, "If anyone's loved ones have been killed then they should also be informed. At least they will get some peace."
During the hearing, Justice Nisar asked the relatives of the missing persons to come forward. 
The judicial staff accepted their petitions relating to the missing persons after which the chief justice ordered action on them. 
Justice Nisar also ordered the heads of law enforcement agencies to establish special cells for the return of missing persons. 
While the hearing was under way, the chief justice also admonished a woman for misbehaving with the court's security staff while protesting for the recovery of her loved one.  
The chief justice had summoned Director General Rangers Sindh, Inspector General Police and provincial heads of intelligence agencies in the case on Saturday. 
Justice Nisar issued orders for the appearance of the security heads during his visit to district courts in Larkana.
Some people had come up to the chief justice and complained that their relatives were missing and their whereabouts were still unknown, said a press release issued by the apex court.
During the hearing, a woman thumped the CJP’s dice, which agitated Justice Saqib Nisar.
The woman later tendered unconditional apology to the CJP. “I came out because of these people but the woman did contempt of court,” said Justice Nisar.
“You are a daughter that is why forgiving you, otherwise would have sent to jail,” he said to the woman.

The Willful Submission of a Christian Wife | Complete Sermon

Credit | Grace to You

Do Not Repent Because You are Hurting

Credit | Wretched

Presbyterian Ministers Warned About Bringing Church "into Disrepute"

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland's General Assembly took place in early June

The clerk of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) has written to ministers warning them against engaging in "public comments" that might bring the church "into disrepute".
The letter followed a special meeting of the General Council on Thursday.
In June the PCI adopted a new policy that means anyone in a same-sex relationship cannot be a full member of the Church.
It also means their children cannot be baptised.
While many ministers have expressed their agreement with the decision of the General Assembly, a number of politicians, ex-clergymen, and church members have spoken out against the decision.
It is not stated in the letter if the clarification refers to recent media comments about the issue of same-sex members.
The letter deals with a range of church business.
One section, however, refers to "clarification regarding public debate".

It says members are "free to debate reports presented to the Assembly, oppose the conclusions of those reports and seek to have those conclusions rejected".
However, it adds that such debates should primarily take place within the General Assembly itself.
It adds that although discussion can take place outside the church "any such public debate involving ministers and elders of the church should seek to avoid discourse that gives rise, or may give rise, to scandal injurious to the purity or peace of the Church".
"Ministers and elders of the Church should ensure that by their public comments they do not bring the church and its agencies into disrepute.
"Ministers and elders should also ensure that their public statements do not amount to contumacy or equate to an open declaration of their intention to take actions that would lead to defiance of or disobedience to the courts of the Church."
Report | BBC News

Just One in 400 Syrian Refugees Christian Despite ‘Horrendous Persecution’

Just (Sunday Express) one in 400 Syrian refugees given asylum in the UK last year were Christians despite them being subjected to “horrendous persecution”. A Freedom of Information request found just 11 of those admitted to Britain under the Government’s flagship Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme (VPRS) were Christian.
This is despite an estimated 10 percent of the Syrian population being Christian at the start of the civil war.
The number of Christians granted asylum by Britain has slumped considerably since 2016, when 1.5 percent were Christians. 
Last year that percentage dropped to just 0.23 - amounting to 11 of the 4,832 Syrians who were resettled in the UK.
James Dobson, a Senior Researcher at Bright Blue, which carried out the research, said: “Christians are being subjected to horrendous persecution in Syria.
“Yet, the figures revealed by Bright Blue today show the Government is failing to offer sufficient Syrian Christians safe harbour in Britain.
“Prior to the Syrian civil war, 10 percent of Syrians were forecast to be Christian. 
“To ensure fair, not special, treatment for Syrian Christians, the Government should commit to 10% of Syrian refugees admitted to the UK through the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme being Christian.”
Bright Blue, a liberal Conservative think tank, has previously called for the Government to ensure that at least 10% of the Syrian refugees that are taken in under the UK’s Vulnerable Person Relocation Scheme are Christians.

This would mean that Christians from Syria are receiving fair, not special, treatment in the UK’s refugee system.
Prince Charles is among a number of high profile people who have spoken out about the persecution of Christians in the middle east.
In a moving speech in December, the heir to the throne spoke of his “heartbreak” at the situation and called on believers in the UK to step up their response to the crisis.
Saying Christians in Syria, Iraq and other countries faced “troubled times” and “desperate trials”, he urged prayers for those “forced to leave their homes in the face of the most brutal persecution on account of their faith”.
In a service at St Barnabas Church, Pimlico, the future royal said he was “profoundly shocked” at the levels of abuse faced by Christians, adding: “It is heartbreaking beyond words to see just how much pain and suffering is being endured by Christians, in this day and age, simply because of their faith.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has previously spoken of the unprecedented risks facing Christians.
He said: "War has taken away tens of thousands of lives and left millions of people homeless and without the means for existence.
“The historic centre of the Christian Church in the Middle East has never felt so threatened. The increasing integration of Muslim communities within British society, in which we rejoice, is in stark contrast to the increasing marginalisation of and outright hostility to Christian communities within many parts of the world.
“It would not be over-stating matters to say that Christianity is both the numerically largest faith and the most persecuted.”
Calling for faith communities to "step up" and "hold governments to account", he added: "Wide-scale humanitarian aid is needed for those who are suffering and for the vast numbers of refugees, including those who have ended up in Europe and America...The post-war rebuilding of Syria is a topic of utmost importance for practical co-operation between Christians in the coming years."

Mideast Christians See Russia, Not the US - As Defender of Their Faith

Image: John Holcroft

War was swirling in Syria. Rebels were pressing. And Maan Bitar was the only hope for American help.
“Because I am evangelical, everyone thinks I have channels of communication,” said the pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Mhardeh. “Syrians believe the United States has the power to stop the conflict—if it wants to.”
In the early years of the civil war, Bitar’s Orthodox neighbors were desperate to convince the US and its allies to end support of rebel forces. Mhardeh, a Christian city 165 miles north of Damascus, was being shelled regularly from across the Orontes River.
But salvation came from a different source. Russian airpower turned the tide, and Syrian government-aligned troops drove the rebels from the area.
Russian intervention on behalf of Mideast Christians has pricked the conscience of many American evangelicals. Long conditioned to Cold War enmity, the question is entertained: Are they the good guys in the cradle of Christianity? Or are persecuted Christians just a handy excuse for political interests?
“The news tells us Russian troops are bringing peace to the region, said Vitaly Vlasenko, ambassador-at-large for the Russian Evangelical Alliance. “Maybe this is propaganda, but we don’t hear anything else.”
Created in 2003, the alliance represents all evangelical denominations in Russia. Before assuming his position, Vlasenko worked 11 years with local Baptists in their external relations department.
President Vladimir Putin, recently reelected with evangelical support, “is seen as playing a big role to protect the Christian faith,” said Vlasenko, “and a sense of international brotherhood is deep within the heart of Russian Christians.” He emphasized the historic bond between the region’s Eastern Orthodox churches and the 19th-century Russian wars in their defense against the Ottoman Turks.
By contrast, Russia’s Protestants are more locally minded and concerned to secure their own religious freedom in worship and evangelism, said Vlasenko. “But most evangelicals are like the Orthodox: supportive of Russia’s efforts to protect Christians in the Middle East.”
One example is Sergei Riakhovskii, lead bishop of the Pentecostal Russian Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith.
A member of several governmental councils to help convey the concerns of religious citizens, his church has forged strong connections with Syrian Protestants and organized several food convoys to aid the displaced.
“I still don’t understand the actions and statements of some American politicians,” said Riakhovskii. “If it were not for Russia, Christians in Syria might not have survived at all.”
Vlasenko cited local polls which show two-thirds of Russians view the United States as their enemy. Evangelicals are more open, believing Americans want peace.
But the US, viewed widely as an evangelical country, leaves them very confused.
“American policy has created chaos, giving oil to the fire of Islamic terrorism,” he said. “It is hard for Russian evangelicals to understand this.”
By contrast, Russian policy in the Middle East seeks to prevent the spread of radicalism, lest it spill over into its own Muslim citizens. Therefore, Russia sees itself as putting out fires—and expanding regional influence. Following President Donald Trump’s announcement to support Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Moscow quickly offered to replace Washington’s role in brokering peace.
A recent Pew Research Center survey of five nations in the region found that about two-thirds of respondents support greater Russian involvement in the Middle East, compared to 10 years earlier. But though the survey did not include Syria or Iraq, only 35 percent of respondents viewed Russia positively. (Approval of the US was only 27%.)
But whereas a common Orthodox faith paves the way for good relations, American evangelicals have less understanding of traditional churches, said Salim Munayer, head of the Jerusalem-based Musalaha reconciliation ministry.
Russians, meanwhile, engage Palestinian businesses in the pilgrimage sector. And Russia’s oldest NGO has revived its pre-Soviet investment in local schools through the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, founded in 1882.
“Like local Christians, the Russians have real ties to the land, which they view as an icon—a place of veneration,” said Munayer.

RELATED: Church Attendance Not Reflective of Christian Faith

“But we also need to remember that imperial powers use religious reasons to have a foothold.”
Russia, in many Christian eyes, is a balancing power to Israel-focused American interests, Munayer said. But local believers should not align too closely with either.
“Otherwise, we will bind ourselves in the trap of political interests, getting manipulated by one side or the other,” he said.
Still, Russia’s Syrian intervention is generally viewed as positive. “Many people believe it is good to have Russian reengagement in the region,” said Munayer. “But we know they will also pull out when it is politically convenient.”
Like Munayer, Philip Madanat of Jordan believes local sentiment esteems Russian policy without buying the religious argument. It is the regime, not the Christians, they care about.
But the evangelical specialist in religious movements sees another factor at play: cross-pollination.
Thousands of Mideast Christians went to study in Russia during the Soviet era, he said. Madanat’s own uncle was secretary-general of the Jordanian Communist Party.
They returned with esteem for the nation that enabled their education and played key roles in Middle East business and political development.
The children of this generation are now tuned culturally to America, he said, especially in Jordan with its strong US ties. But the fathers’ influence lingers and has galvanized behind Putin’s charisma.
“We see him as someone who wants to recapture Russia’s lost glory, which was Christian,” Madanat said. “This is attractive to many people here.”
Munib Younan agrees there is an emotional connection to Russia given its Syrian policy and American bias towards Israel.
Recently succeeded as bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, Younan stood with Middle East church heads to warn Trump not to move the US embassy.
But he has no opinion if the Russian or American government is “better.”
“Frankly, I don’t see any difference. I don’t know if they care for us or not,” Younan said. “Everyone claims it, but I don’t see anything tangible.”
Outside nations have their own interests, while local Christians are an integral part of their people, he said. They need justice, not protection.
Meanwhile, the struggle between outside nations—including Turkey, Iran, Israel, and the Gulf states—is tearing the region apart.
“Syria is a cake divided,” he said, “and the losers are the people.”
Back in Mhardeh, Bitar asserts these people are looking for anyone to bring them peace. And if Russian evangelicals are right, this is the same desire of Americans.
So within the soul-searching of Christian solidarity and cold geopolitics, Bitar, finally, can meet the assumption of his Orthodox neighbors.
“America can have many friends if she changes her policies,” he said. “But if she doesn’t, let us look to Russia.”

Article By | Jayson Casper (He is a Cairo-based correspondent for Christianity Today)
Courtesy | Christianity Today

Christianity, The 'MOST' Persecuted Religion in the World | Report

China banned online purchases of Bibles earlier this year.

Christianity (Daily Express) is the most persecuted religion in the world as they face mounting pressure over their beliefs, with government restrictions, nationalist parties, and harassment aimed at minority faiths continuing on a global upswing.
The Pew Research Centre Report, which analysed religious freedom in 198 countries and territories, revealed religious antagonism saw its biggest surge in over a decade in 2016, with Christians and Muslims - followers of the world's two biggest religions - ranking as the top victims of political restrictions and social hostility.
Christians reported incidents of harassment in more places around the world than any other tradition - 144 countries in 2016 compared to 128 countries in 2015 and 108 in 2014.
Incidents included discrimination, verbal assault, physical attacks, arrests and the destruction of religious sites.
Islam, the world’s second-largest religion behind Christianity, saw Muslims suffer harassment in 142 countries in 2016 - up from 125 in 2015 and 100 in 2014.
The latest Pew Research Centre Report comes just weeks after the US State Department reviewed an annual assessment of religious freedom around the world.

Sam Brownback, ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, said last month: “The state of religious freedom is dire.
“We have work to do. We must move religious freedom forward - we must defend it in every corner of the globe.”
The report’s overall findings match up with Mr. Brownback’s theory that religious repression is pervasive and rising.
The researchers said: “When combining measures of government restrictions and social hostilities, more than four-in-ten countries (42 percent) had high or very high levels of overall religious restrictions in 2016.”
Pew lists China as the worst country for government obstructions - the rigidly atheist Communist regime banned online purchases of Bibles just before Easter earlier this year following efforts to remove Christian symbols from homes.
Overall, the Asia-Pacific region places more limits on Christianity than any other part of the world and according to the report, it contains about a third of countries where Christians were harassed by governments.
Researchers found that in 2016, nationalist parties and politicians in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Philippines targeted Christians the most.

Christianity in Nigeria May Cease To Exist By 2043 | NCEF

Nigeria (Sahara Reporters) - The present generation of Christians in Nigeria may cease to exist in 25 years from now (2043), beginning from 2018, a group of Christians under the aegis of National Christian Elders Forum, championed by a former Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.), and Solomon Asemota (SAN), has warned.
According to them, the present generation of Christians faces the risk of being the last set of Christians in Nigeria.
The NCEF, therefore, demanded the restructuring of the Christian Association of Nigeria before the 2019 general elections.
The organization warned that if the current faulty structure would be carried into 2019, it might be too late to preserve Christianity in Nigeria.
The Secretary of NCEF, Bosun Emmanuel, expressed these fears in his paper entitled: “Impact of lack of unity in CAN as a threat to Christian faith”, delivered during the annual conference of Catholic Men’s Guild, held at the Catholic Church of Assumption, Ikoyi in Lagos.
A copy of the paper was emailed to our correspondent in Jos.
Emmanuel said the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in Nigeria “is openly pursuing an anti-Christian agenda that has resulted in countless murders of Christians all over the nation and destruction of vulnerable Christian communities.”
He said, “Due to the inability of CAN to forge Christians into one indivisible army of the Lord, the Church has been weakened and unable to stand before its enemies. Realistically speaking, Christianity is on the brink of extinction in Nigeria. The ascendancy of Sharia ideology in Nigeria rings the death toll for the Nigerian church."

“It is therefore imperative that CAN must be restructured, as a matter of urgency, if Christianity is to survive. CAN belongs to every Christian in Nigeria and there is nothing wrong with the association. It is the management that should be revisited and restructured.”
Apart from Danjuma and Asemota, other members of the NCEF include Prof. Joseph Otubu, Gen. Joshua Dogonyaro (retd.), Archbishop Magnus Atilade, Dr. Kate Okpareke, Dr. Ayo Abifarin, Gen. Zamani Lekwot (retd.), Elder Moses Ihonde, Elder Nat Okoro and Elder Matthew Owojaiye.
Other members are Justice Kalajine Anigbogu (retd.), Elder Shyngle Wigwe, P. L. Dabup, Sir John W. Bagu, Dr. Saleh Hussaini, Elder Mike Orobator, Justice James Ogebe (retd.), Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Chief Debo Omotosho, Dame Priscilla Kuye, Dr. S. D. Gani, Mrs. Osaretin Demuren, Prof. Yussuf Turaki, and Pastor Bosun Emmanuel (Secretary).
According to Emmanuel, disunity has crept into Christendom in Nigeria because of the deviation from the norms for which CAN was founded in 1976.
He said, “The Catholic Church should be prepared to return completely into the fold of CAN and participate fully in providing leadership in these troublous times. God warned in 2013 that we were not careful, in 30 to 40 years, Nigeria would be like Turkey."
“In 2018, we can say in 25 years from now, we are facing the risk of being the last Christians in Nigeria. Therefore, Christians should be in the frontline of defending democracy in Nigeria. The Church is the bastion of democracy. A divided CAN cannot defend democracy and promote justice, equity, and fairness. Consequently, Sharia will grow stronger. As Sharia grows stronger, democracy will become weaker and the Church will be emasculated out of existence."
“The current Federal Government in Nigeria is openly pursuing an anti-Christian agenda that has resulted in countless murders of Christians all over the nation and destruction of vulnerable Christian communities. Just recently, Elder Statesman, Gen. T. Y. Danjuma raised the alarm that Christians should take steps to defend themselves.”

US Navy Planning New Camps to Support Immigration Crackdown | Report

Pedestrians on the Paso del Norte International Bridge, which crosses between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, on June 22, 2018. PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US Navy plans to build sprawling detention centres for tens of thousands of immigrants on remote bases in support of President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" policy against unlawful migration, a report said on Friday (June 22).
According to a draft memo obtained by Time magazine, the Navy plans to build "temporary and austere" tent cities to house 25,000 migrants across three abandoned airfields in Alabama, 47,000 people at a facility near San Francisco, and another 47,000 at a training centre in southern California.
The document estimates the navy would spend US$233 million (S$316.5 million) to run a facility for 25,000 over six-months.
Asked for comment, Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Davis said: "The Department of Defence is conducting prudent planning and is looking nationwide at DoD installations should DHS (Department of Homeland Security) ask for assistance in housing adult illegal immigrants.
"At this time there has been no request from DHS for DoD support to house illegal migrants."
The fate of 2,300 children wrested from their parents at the US border with Mexico remained unclear Friday two days after Donald Trump ended migrant family separations.

While the US leader bowed to global outrage over the splitting of families, conflicting messages were contributing to a sense of chaos in the handling of the crisis.
But having been forced into a climbdown, Trump swung back into fighting mode - insisting he remained committed to the "zero tolerance" policy that aims to deter the flow of migrants from Central America.
"We must maintain a Strong Southern Border. We cannot allow our Country to be overrun by illegal immigrants as the Democrats tell their phony stories of sadness and grief, hoping it will help them in the elections," he tweeted.
Trump also met at the White House with parents of victims killed by undocumented immigrants.
The parents standing with Trump have been "permanently separated from their loved ones," the president said, "because they were killed by criminal illegal aliens."

Facebook, Twitter Shutdown Hezbollah Accounts

BEIRUT, LEBANON (AMN Al-Masdar Al-'Arabi) – Facebook and Twitter have shutdown the Hezbollah affiliated media accounts that were using both social media sites, the Lebanese group reported on Saturday.
Central Military Media accused the US-based websites of running an “anti-media campaign,” in a post on the Telegram messaging app.

The Hezbollah affiliated media site accused both Twitter and Facebook of sabotaging their accounts, despite not giving the reason for the alleged shutdown.
Hezbollah is currently considered a terrorist group in the United States (US) and European Union (EU).

Celebrations, Tears As Saudi Arabia Overturns Ban on Women Driving

The lifting of the decades-long ban is expected to be transformative for many women (AFP Photo/FAYEZ NURELDINE)

Riyadh (AFP) - Saudi women celebrated taking the wheel for the first time in decades Sunday as the kingdom overturned the world's only ban on female motorists, a historic reform expected to usher in a new era of social mobility.
The much-trumpeted move is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's plan to modernise the conservative petrostate -- but it has been dented by the jailing of female activists who long opposed the driving ban.
Women in Riyadh and other cities began zipping around streets bathed in amber light soon after the ban was lifted at midnight, with some blasting music from behind the wheel.

"I feel free like a bird," said talk show host and writer Samar Almogren as she cruised across the capital.

Television presenter Sabika al-Dosari called it "a historic moment for every Saudi woman" before driving a sedan across the border to the kingdom of Bahrain.
The lifting of the ban, long a glaring symbol of repression, is expected to be transformative for many women, freeing them from dependence on private chauffeurs or male relatives.
Euphoria and disbelief mixed as women across the kingdom flooded social media with videos of their maiden car rides, while some policemen among the large number out on the streets distributed roses to the first-time drivers.
"This is a great achievement," billionaire Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal said as his daughter Reem drove a family SUV, with his granddaughters applauding from the back seat.
"Now women have their freedom," he added in a video posted on Twitter.
Some women ebulliently declared online they were driving themselves to work or their mothers for coffee or ice cream, a mundane experience elsewhere in the world but a dazzling novelty in the desert kingdom.
"The jubilance, confidence and pride expressed by Saudi women driving for the first time in their country, without fear of arrest, brought tears to my eyes," tweeted activist Hala al-Dosari, while lauding the jailed campaigners.

"I'm happy and relieved that... girls in Saudi will live a bit freer than their mothers."

But many women are keeping away, testing reactions in a society torn between tradition and social change -- and bracing for a possible backlash from hardliners who have long preached that allowing female motorists would promote promiscuity and sin.

- 'Be gentle to women' -

Authorities appeared to project that the reform had religious sanction, with the kingdom's top clerical council on Sunday reiterating that the lifting of the ban was in line with Islamic values.
The reform was catalysed in large measure by what experts characterise as economic pain in the kingdom owing to a protracted oil slump.
It is expected to boost women's employment and, according to a Bloomberg estimate, add $90 billion to economic output by 2030.
For now, the women taking to the roads appear mainly to be those who have swapped foreign licences for Saudi ones after undergoing a practical test.
Some three million women could receive licences and actively begin driving by 2020, according to consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.
A handful of female driving schools have cropped up in several cities, training women to drive cars as well as Harley Davidson motorbikes -- scenes unimaginable even a year ago.
But many women fear they are still vulnerable to sexist attitudes in a nation where male "guardians" -- their fathers, husbands or other relatives -- can exercise arbitrary authority to make decisions on their behalf.
The government has preemptively addressed concerns of abuse by outlawing sexual harassment, and authorities have sternly warned against stalking women drivers.
"To all men I say, be gentle towards women" drivers, popular Saudi singer Mohammed Abdu said in an online video.
Prince Mohammed, appointed heir to the most powerful throne in the Middle East a year ago, has also lifted a ban on cinemas and mixed-gender concerts, following his public vow to return the austere kingdom to moderate Islam.

- 'Unrelenting crackdown' -

However, much of the initial optimism over his reforms appears to have been knocked by a major crackdown on women driving activists.
Authorities have said nine of 17 arrested people remain behind bars, accused of undermining security and aiding enemies of the state.
The detainees include 28-year-old Loujain al-Hathloul -- also held in 2014 for more than 70 days for attempting to drive from neighbouring United Arab Emirates to Saudi Arabia -- and Aziza al-Yousef, a retired professor at Riyadh's King Saud University.
State-backed newspapers have published front-page pictures of some of the activists with the word "traitor" stamped across them in red.
Human Rights Watch last week said the kingdom has arrested two more female activists and many others have been barred from travelling outside the kingdom, in what it denounced as an "unrelenting crackdown".
Even some of the crown prince's ardent supporters have labelled the crackdown a "mistake".
It has been seen as a calculated move both to placate clerics incensed by his modernisation drive and also to send a clear signal to activists that the prince alone is the arbiter of change.
"If the authorities give credit to the women who championed lifting the driving ban, it means conceding that reforms can be won through activism, and then the Saudis may demand more," said HRW researcher Rothna Begum.
"Saudi Arabia's crown prince wants it both ways: to be lauded as a reformer on the world stage, and to ensure his status as the only reformer at home."

Pakistani Christians Looking For Leaders Willing to Solve Their Problems

Karachi (Christians in Pakistan) - As elections draw nigh, Pakistani Christians look for a political leader willing to solve their problems. In this regard, a seminar themed “Elections 2018 and rights of religious minorities”, was held in Karachi. Christians and other minorities’ members from all walks of life attended this seminar.
The seminar was attended by more than 80 including churchmen, Christian political activists, rights activists and others. On this occasion, Peter Jacob Director of “Social Justice Center” stated: “We must look for political leaders willing to take care of our rights, challenges, problems, the development of our community and work to provide protection and the integral promotion of minorities”.

Further explaining, he went on saying, “Our Christian areas are not yet developed. The problems have been the same for decades. We should vote for candidates and political parties that really deal with minority rights issues”. At the same time, the light was shed on the challenges Pakistani Christians face. Participants shared views on problems including religion-based discrimination, violation of fundamental rights, misuse of blasphemy law, indifference from the government, intolerance etc.
Another participant Riaz Nawab, talked about issues regarding the legislative assemblies: “The members selected to occupy the seats reserved for minorities in Parliament are not useful for the community, they do not visit the minority areas. They are chosen by political parties, they work only for them”.
The attendees demanded for greater and fair participation and representation of the representation of minorities in the electoral and government making process. Furthermore, the participants demanded the historic ruling of Supreme Court regarding the religious minorities in Pakistan should be implemented. On June 19, 2014, the apex court had directed the government to establish a Commission which will be assigned with the task to investigate and deal with issues related to religious minorities.
There was also discussion on the implementation of the Supreme Court ruling of 19 June 2014 on religious minorities and, among the proposals raised, it was asked to set up an autonomous National Commission to examine issues related to religious minorities.
The participants also discussed the matter of biased curriculum being taught in the schools and universities; hate content against minorities is inculcating religious intolerance among the students. The participants demanded for a review of the curriculum and the education policy in order to eradicate discrimination based on religion. The participants also called for the implementation of 5%quota allocated for minorities in government jobs sector.

APPG Calls For An End to Publication of Hate Content Against Pakistani Minorities

United Kingdom (Christians in Pakistan) - UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Pakistani Minorities has called for an end to the publication of hate content against Pakistani minorities. For this reason, the group called on the Department for International Development to make sure that the aid given by UK is used efficaciously to end publication of textbooks that contain hate content against non-Muslim Pakistanis.
For this purpose, the group passed a resolution during its recent meeting. The participants also discussed the education crisis hovering over the minorities in Pakistan. Jim Shannon, the Democratic Unionist Party’s MP who chairs this group, said: “these vulnerable and marginalised communities” should not be “ignored by the Pakistani and British governments”.

In this regard, the group urged the Government of Pakistan and the international agencies to give priority to the minority population in Pakistan. “Poverty, prejudice, and social unease are depriving a generation of young people from taking their proper place in Pakistan’s future because of the poor access to good education,” group’s chairperson said.
“We need to ensure that these vulnerable and marginalized communities are not ignored by the Pakistani and British governments, and that a part of billions of pounds of the UK taxpayers’ aid sent to Pakistan through the Department for International Development is used to ensure that students from the religious minorities are not left behind on the path to development.”
In this regard, a spokesman for Department for International Development stated: “The UK Government does not fund the production of textbooks in Pakistan, and we strongly condemn all forms of incitement to violence. UK aid is supporting provincial governments to improve school curriculum and promotes values of inclusion, diversity, and religious tolerance.
“In a country where two-thirds of women cannot read or write, our support is crucial to giving the most vulnerable the skills they need to lift themselves out of poverty, and we have helped educate nine million primary-school children since 2011. A more prosperous and inclusive country will improve stability and security in Pakistan and the UK — which is firmly in our national interests.”

Facebook Expands Fact-check Effort to Photos and Videos

Facebook (AFP) said Thursday it would launch fact-checking of photos and videos as it expands the effort to curb misinformation to more countries.
The huge social network, which has been a frequent target for failing to stop the spread of false news, said it will use machine learning and other technical tools for its effort to clamp down on manipulated images and videos.
"One challenge in fighting misinformation is that it manifests itself differently across content types and countries," said a blog post from Facebook product manager Tessa Lyons.
"To address this, we expanded our test to fact-check photos and videos to four countries. This includes those that are manipulated (e.g. a video that is edited to show something that did not really happen) or taken out of context (e.g. a photo from a previous tragedy associated with a different, present-day conflict)."
After being blamed for allowing misinformation and manipulation during the 2016 US election, Facebook has stepped up efforts to clamp down on fake accounts and the spread of hoaxes, rumors and other false information.
Lyons said Facebook's fact-checking efforts is now in place in 14 countries, with more to be added this year, using independent partners to verify information.
"These certified, independent fact-checkers rate the accuracy of stories on Facebook, helping us reduce the distribution of stories rated as false by an average of 80 percent," she said.
She added that Facebook was working to identify "repeat offenders" as part of the fact-check effort.
"Historically, we have used ratings from fact-checkers to identify pages and domains that repeatedly share false news," she said.
"We then take action by reducing their distribution and removing their ability to monetize. To help curb foreign interference in public discourse, we are beginning to use machine learning to help identify and demote foreign pages that are likely to spread financially motivated hoaxes to people in other countries."

YouTube Offers Creators New Ways to Earn Money

SAN FRANCISCO (Economic Times): YouTube, often criticised for not compensating creators well enough, will allow them to set up paid channel memberships, the company said today. 
Currently, the vast majority of revenue at the Google-owned service comes from advertising and that will remain a focus, said Neal Mohan, YouTube's chief products officer. 
"But we also want to think beyond ads. Creators should have as many ways and opportunities to make money as possible," he said. 
Viewers will pay $4.99 a month for channel memberships giving them access to exclusive content including livestreams, extra videos or shout-outs on channels with more than 100,000 subscribers.
Creators will also be able to sell merchandise like shirts or phone cases directly on their channels, the company said.
YouTube returns a small part of its advertising revenue to content creators who regularly accuse the platform of giving them only crumbs.
The site is facing increasing competition from other platforms using more and more video.
YouTube says it has more than 1.9 billion users but the figure only counts those who log in via their accounts.

The Great Commission Ought to Be Ordinary

From his new teaching series, The Great Commission, Burk Parsons explains that what Christ calls Christians to do in the Great Commission ought to be ordinary. 

Credit | Ligonier Ministries

Are we supposed to be “on fire” for the Lord?

Watch and listen to full episodes of Wretched Radio & TV for FREE:
Credit | Wretched

What is a Faith Healer?

For a transcript of this video, click here:
Credit | WWUTT

The Power of God | Derek Thomas

The gospel is the power of God for salvation, and we should seek to present it in our apologetic encounters (Rom. 1:16–17). In this session, Dr. Derek Thomas provides an outline of the basic gospel message and reminds attendees that our goal in apologetics is not to display our own intellectual acumen but to proclaim the gospel clearly and boldly.

This message is from our 2018 West Coast Conference, Defending the Faith:
Credit | Ligonier Ministries

The Unknown God | W. Robert Godfrey

In today’s world, Christians must answer the claims of atheists, agnostics, and those who claim that there are many ways to God. In this session, Dr. W. Robert Godfrey looks to Paul’s encounter on Mars Hill from Acts 17 as a model for how we are to answer objections to the Christian faith.

This message is from our 2018 West Coast Conference, Defending the Faith:
Credit | Ligonier Ministries

God’s Unchanging Word | Steven Lawson

The Holy Spirit can use apologetics to break down barriers to the gospel; however, people are finally converted to Christ only through the power of the Word of God. In this session, Dr. Steven Lawson reminds us that the power of God is found in His Word and that He saves people through the preaching of the gospel that is foolishness to the world but the wisdom of God unto salvation (1 Cor. 1:20–25).

This message is from our 2018 West Coast Conference, Defending the Faith:
Credit | Ligonier Ministries

The Word Became Flesh | W. Robert Godfrey

That God Himself came to earth in the flesh has implications for how we do apologetics. In this session, Dr. W. Robert Godfrey considers several of these implications and also consider how we can defend the incarnation of the Son of God against attacks from those who are outside the Christian faith.

This message is from our 2018 West Coast Conference, Defending the Faith:
Credit | Ligonier Ministries

Is Truth Dead? | Ravi Zacharias

Our postmodern culture strives to convince us that there is no such thing as objective truth and that no religious truth claim is better than any other. In this session, Ravi Zacharias examines the issues of truth in our society, demonstrating the necessity and existence of objective truth as foundational to the Christian message and all of life.
This message is from our 2018 West Coast Conference, Defending the Faith:
Credit | Ligonier Ministries

How the Early Church Used Apologetics | W. Robert Godfrey

In this session, Dr. W. Robert Godfrey considers what we can learn from the early church’s use of apologetics in defending the faith in a culture not unlike our own.
This message is from our 2018 West Coast Conference, Defending the Faith:
Credit | Ligonier Ministries

US Re-puts Pakistan on Notice for ‘INACTION’ Against Taliban Sanctuaries

WASHINGTON (Daily Pakistan) - In another blow to the already strained ties between Islamabad and Washington, the United States declared Wednesday that it was putting Pakistan on notice, for one more time.
In an official testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ambassador Alice Wells, the senior bureau official for South and Central Asian Affairs expressed that US expects unequivocal cooperation in ending the sanctuaries the Taliban have been enjoying in Pakistan — a claim Islamabad vehemently denies.
“Pakistan is on notice that we expect its unequivocal cooperation ending sanctuaries that the Taliban have enjoyed since the remnants of their toppled regime fled into Pakistan in 2001,” Ambassador Alice Wells said and acknowledged that Pakistan can play an important role in the Afghan peace process.
She added that the US was also working to end the sanctuary that the ‘Taliban have enjoyed for decades in Pakistan’.
The official expressed that US provided full support to develop the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) and repeated the allegations that “despite some positive indicators, the [US] administration has not yet seen Pakistan take the sustained or decisive steps that it would have expected to see ten months after the announcement of the South Asia strategy.
The steps which Wells alluded to include arresting or expelling Taliban elements who will not come to the negotiating table.

The ambassador claimed that Trump administration’s conditions-based strategy on South Asia was yielding positive results because the Afghan security forces were fighting with renewed confidence.
“If Afghan troops and Taliban foot-soldiers can pray together, then the Afghan people have every reason to believe that their leaders can come together and negotiate an end to this war,” she asserted.
She also clarified that the Trump leadership acknowledged a conflict resolution would come through a negotiated political settlement.
“The Taliban must renounce violence, break ties with al-Qaida, and accept the Afghan Constitution including its protections for women and minorities,” Wells declared.
The Us official continued that they will support the government and all Afghan stakeholders for reaching a mutually agreeable negotiated settlement that ends the Afghan conflict once and for all.
“There have been signs that the Taliban’s Pakistan-based leaders are debating the merits of joining a peace process, however, the group has not responded to President Ghani’s offer of unconditional talks,” wondered Wells.
The Trump administration had put Pakistan on notice in August last year and US National Security Council (NSC) Spokesperson Michael Anton had confirmed the development then.
Speaking to newsmen, Anton had said that business as usual with Pakistan was now over.
The spokesman threatened that the Trump administration could impose sanctions on terrorist groups, including the Haqqani network, and any Pakistani officials ‘who are tied to these kinds of groups, you know, in ways that they shouldn’t be’.
The US official that visibly sounded rude expressed that the United States was really patient with Pakistan over the years but it was not getting a good deal in return.
Responding to the notice, the military’s spokesperson had said that allies and partners do not give notices to each other, neither do they indulge in a blame game.
Ghafoor noted that Pakistan had supported the US before and after 9/11 and the relations should be kept intact.
“Pakistan Army defeated terrorists within the country, keeping in view the local culture and geography, similarly, Afghanistan has its own history, culture, and geography which foreign forces fighting militants must deal with,” Ghafoor observed.
He continued that the war in Afghanistan has entered into a final phase and the US, allied and Afghan forces will have to fight the war.
“The US wants Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan but we cannot go and fight for them inside Afghanistan. They will have to complete their tasks in Afghanistan on their own”, he said in an interview to a private TV channel.

Losing Faith | Why Fewer New Zealanders are Attending Church

A new survey shows 55% of Kiwis don’t identify with the religion.

• In-depth research provides compelling snapshot of attitudes to faith and belief
• 55 percent do not identify with "main" religion
• One in three identify as Christian, compared to 49 percent in 2006 Census
• 16 percent are churchgoers, 9 percent "active practisers"
• Church teaching on homosexuality and abuse among key "blockers"
• New Zealanders remain open to "respectful" conversations about spirituality and religion
• Perceptions of Māori spirituality and Jesus positive, even among non-Christians

New Zealand (NZ Herald)is becoming less religious, exhibiting a sharp fall in the number of people who identify as Christian.
A new report, Faith and Belief in New Zealand, says a third of New Zealanders identify with Christianity, down from 43 percent in the 2013 Census and 49 percent in the 2006 Census. The results of the 2018 Census are yet to be released.
Twenty percent have spiritual beliefs but don't identify with any main religion and 35 percent identify with no religion or spiritual belief.
The remainder identify with other religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism.
The report was commissioned by the Wilberforce Foundation, an Auckland-based Christian organisation.

The report says New Zealand's "youth as a nation and resulting lack of religious tradition" could be one reason for the rise of secularism.
"Perhaps the increasing busyness of modern-day life or the emphasis on individualism and self-created identity have also had an impact."
Older New Zealanders are more likely to identify with Christianity, and younger generations are more likely to not identify with any religion or spiritual belief.
Of New Zealand's three most populous regions (Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch), Auckland has the lowest proportion of residents identifying with Christianity, suggesting migration may be another factor.

Militant Sanctuaries in Pakistan, Biggest Challenge in Afghanistan’s Stability | US Army General

WASHINGTON (The News International): President Trump’s nominee to lead allied forces in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Austin Miller has alleged that the militant sanctuaries in Pakistan are the biggest challenge to fight off terrorism and are also a hurdle in achieving stability in Afghanistan.
He maintained that Pakistan could do more in combating terrorist groups. “We should have high expectations that they (Pakistan) are part of the solution, not just diplomatically but from a security standpoint as well,” Miller told lawmakers at a Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday. He did acknowledge that Pakistan has made many sacrifices and its security forces have fought bravely, but then also repeated that “we have not yet seen these counterterrorism efforts against anti-Pakistan militants translate into definitive actions against Afghan Taliban or Haqqani leaders residing in Pakistan.”
Gen. Miller is head of the Joint Special Operations Command in Afghanistan. He was nominated by President Trump to command Nato forces in Afghanistan.
Sharing the focus of military operations he said, this year it was to provide support for secure and credible elections in Afghanistan. “In 2019 and beyond, the improved leadership and increased offensive capability should result in improved battlefield performance to compel” the Taliban into political reconciliation, he said.

Miller also warned against army withdrawal, saying that the situation could become chaotic. “With a precipitous and disorderly withdrawal, we would see negative effects on US national security, he said adding, “I would be concerned about ISIS and al-Qaeda’s ability to emerge.”
The Trump administration has been consistently blaming Pakistan for providing safe havens to terrorist outfits. President Trump earlier had approved his administration’s strategy to send 4,000 troops to Afghanistan and act aggressive against the Taliban. The administration also encouraged and welcomed President Ghani’s proposal with the Taliban for a political solution. It also seeks Pakistan’s help to bring the Taliban to table for a political solution in Afghanistan.
APP adds: The commander nominated to take command of Resolute Support Mission on Monday stressed the importance of Pakistan’s cooperation to the success of the South Asia strategy, saying without Islamabad’s support, it would be difficult to achieve long-term stability in Afghanistan.
Replying to a question, he said that since the August 2017 announcement of the South Asia Strategy, there has been incremental positive changes in Pakistan’s behaviour towards Afghanistan, particularly in the effort to improve its bilateral relationship with that country. Saying that they still look for ‘conclusive evidence’ that Pakistan shared the US vision of secure and stable Afghanistan, he said its participation in a peace process would be an indication of progress with which Pakistan can assist.
To a question, he said the US expects from Pakistan to contribute to an end to the conflict in Afghanistan by exerting whatever influence it has on the Taliban to lower violence and participate in the peace process. “Improved cooperation in the trade of goods and services and the movement of people will contribute greatly to our goal of stabilising Afghanistan,” he added Gen Miller said that Pakistan’s own stability and prosperity will benefit from peace in Afghanistan. “We seek to partner with Pakistan,” he said while adding that Pakistan has much to gain from supporting the efforts of the 39-member coalition that is working to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.