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Kiwi quake

"Kiwi quake" Continued...

Issue: "The rise of localism," March 12, 2011

Digital revolution

Just as Apple on Feb. 15 broadened its terms of service to allow publishers to offer subscriptions to digital publications through the iTunes Store, WORLD's iPad app is out of development and submitted for Apple's approval. As soon as we receive a thumbs-up from Cupertino, iPad owners will be able to go to the iTunes store and download the inaugural digital edition of WORLD.

This is phase one of two initial phases. The first is a free sample issue-meant to introduce WORLD to readers who have never heard of us before, and to provide WORLD print readers a glimpse of the digital future. Phase two will provide a subscription-based iPad magazine that will contain all the content of our print editions, with digital extras like HD image quality, photo galleries, audio, and video, and without the analog frustrations of postal delays and, for some, difficult-to-read text.

Hundreds of hours of sometimes difficult but mostly joyful work went into the production of WORLD's iPad app. It is not merely a miniaturized print edition. We designed it to take full advantage of the technical capabilities of new tablet technology. And we have plans to roll out new editions for new platforms to reach new readers wherever they are with biblical worldview journalism. We're not lessening our commitment to print-but the digital revolution has changed publishing forever, and, we think, for the better.

Free at last

Sayed Mossa, the 46-year-old Afghan Christian jailed since May 31, 2010, quietly was released by Afghan government authorities in Kabul on Feb. 21 and allowed to leave the country. His release was the result of a campaign by Western Christians in Kabul to pressure U.S. and European diplomats, the International Committee for the Red Cross (for whom Mossa had worked for 15 years), and the Karzai government to dismiss apostasy charges that could have led to his death.

Sources in Kabul say U.S. and Italian officials visited Mossa (whose name is also spelled Said Musa) a week prior to his release and offered asylum. That came days after NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen spoke out last month about the case, warning Kabul that "a sentence to death or any punishment for converting from one religion to another is in strong contradiction with everything NATO stands for."

Mossa's whereabouts remained undisclosed until he could be safely reunited with his family, who also were forced out of the country during his incarceration. Shoib Assadullah, another Afghan convert to Christianity, remains in jail in Mazar-e-Sharif after his arrest on similar charges last October.

Bigger jail

Chinese security officials beat a prominent Chinese activist and his wife after the couple released a video describing the family's house arrest. Chen Guangcheng had spent four years in prison after exposing the widespread practice of forced abortions and sterilizations in the Shandong Province in eastern China in 2005. Authorities released the 39-year-old attorney in September but have kept him confined to his home with his family. In a video that Guangcheng managed to secretly funnel to China Aid, a Christian group in Texas, the blind activist said a 22-person team watches his house 24 hours a day and won't allow his family to leave, blocked his phone service, and won't allow neighbors to help. Guangcheng said the guards allow his mother to leave only to buy food: "I have come out of a small jail and walked into a bigger jail."

Two days after the video's Feb. 9 release on YouTube, workers at China Aid and Chinese Human Rights Defenders said officials had beaten Guangcheng and his wife, Yuan Weijing, in retaliation for the film. When reporters from CNN, Le Monde, and Radio France Internationale tried to visit Guangcheng's home, security guards blocked their entry and threw rocks at the journalists. A week later, the trouble reached Guangcheng's friends: The Guardian reported that authorities had seized Tang Jitian, a human-rights lawyer who met with other attorneys in Beijing to discuss how to help Guangcheng.

Who's discriminating?

University of California at Davis dropped a discriminatory definition of religious discrimination following student complaints. In a glossary of terms related to its diversity statement, UC Davis defined religious discrimination as "institutionalized oppression toward those who are not Christian." On behalf of 25 students concerned that the school was calling Christians oppressors, the Alliance Defense Fund sent UC Davis a letter arguing that the wording was "blatantly unconstitutional" and protected some religions over others. ADF attorney Tim Swickard wrote, "Christian students, if anything, are among the most likely to be subjected to discrimination because of their faith." The letter cited an Institute for Jewish and Community Research study that found 53 percent of professors have negative feelings toward evangelical students.

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