Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

"The Buzz" Continued...

Issue: "Pro-baby," Jan. 30, 2010

Google wars

Google made the stunning announcement Jan. 12 that it might shut down its operations in China along with its search engine google.cn because of cyberattacks originating in China targeting the company's very infrastructure as well as the Gmail accounts of a number of human-rights activists. A Google senior vice president, David Drummond, said in a statement that the attack "goes to the heart of a much bigger global debate about freedom of speech." Originally Google had agreed to demands from the Chinese government that it censor its search results, but since the attacks Drummond said the company is "no longer willing." In response to the statement, Chinese citizens placed flowers outside Google's Beijing offices. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has demanded an explanation for the attack from China, and she said she will deliver a speech on internet freedom Jan. 21.

Sudan

Jan. 9 marked the fifth anniversary of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or CPA, which ended the longest-running war in Africa, the battle between Sudan's mostly Islamic North and its predominantly Christian South. But the anniversary was greeted by stepped-up violence between allegedly reconciling factions as both sides move toward a referendum on remaining one or two countries later this year. On Jan. 7 UN officials reported that at least 140 people were killed and 90 wounded during an attack on the Wunchai region of Warrap state in southern Sudan. This month 10 aid agencies issued a report saying the CPA was on the brink of collapse because of a "lethal cocktail" of rising violence, chronic poverty, and political tensions. "A great deal hangs on what can be achieved in the next 365 days," when CPA is due to expire, said Richard Poole, director of humanitarian aid programs for the International Rescue Committee.

Hall of shame

The No. 1 state persecutor of Christians, for the eighth-straight year, is North Korea. That's the conclusion of Open Doors in releasing its 2010 World Watch List of 50 countries considered at-risk locales for Christians. According to a Jan. 6 statement from the California-based Christian advocacy group founded by Brother Andrew, the regime of Kim Jong Il targeted Christians all over the country in 2009, resulting in arrests, torture, and killings. Of an estimated 200,000 North Koreans in political prisons, said the group, 40,000 to 60,000 are Christians.

Iran is No. 2 on the World Watch List, moving up from its No. 3 position of recent years behind Saudi Arabia as a result of the political crackdown following the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June. A wave of arrests of Christians that began in 2008 grew in 2009, according to Open Doors, resulting in the detention of at least 85 Christians.

Eight of the top 10 countries have Islam as their dominant religion; 35 of the 50 countries on the list have Islamic governments.

Keeping faith

If Fox News analyst Brit Hume wanted to be transparent about his advice for disgraced golfer Tiger Woods, he succeeded on a Sunday morning broadcast in early January: "My message to Tiger would be: Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world." Hume added that Woods' professed Buddhism "doesn't offer the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith."

If media critics wanted to be transparent about their scorn for Christianity in the public square, they succeeded after the broadcast. Comedy Central's Jon Stewart lampooned Hume in a four-minute segment. MSNBC's David Shuster called Hume's remarks "truly embarrassing." Washington Post critic Tom Shales asked: "Who did he sound more like-Mary Poppins on the joys of a tidy room, or Ron Popeil on the glories of some amazing potato peeler?" He predicted Hume's remark would rank "as one of the most ridiculous of the year."

Ultimately, Shales demanded Hume apologize for offering Woods the lifeline that saved Hume in the mire of his own personal tragedy: Hume, an Episcopalian, says he "came to Christ" after his son's suicide in 1998. That Hume would publicly express a similar hope for Woods strikes Shales as "looniness." Given an opportunity to clarify his remarks, Hume offered this response: "I think Jesus Christ offers Tiger Woods something that Tiger Woods badly needs."

Missing

Virginia mother Lisa Miller defied a court order Jan. 1 to deliver her 7-year-old biological daughter, Isabella, to her former lesbian partner, Janet Jenkins. Instead, Miller and her daughter appear to have disappeared after a Vermont judge handed Jenkins full custody of Isabella. Jenkins has filed a missing person report in Virginia, where a local court is ordering Miller to comply with the Vermont ruling. A Jan. 22 hearing in Vermont will evaluate whether to issue an arrest warrant for Miller. Meanwhile, Liberty Counsel, which represents Miller, is appealing the Nov. 20 Vermont ruling and is awaiting a decision from the Virginia Court of Appeals, which heard arguments Dec. 9 about whether Virginia must enforce the Vermont orders. The firm had "no comment" on Miller's whereabouts.

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