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Horror in Congo

"Horror in Congo" Continued...

Issue: "Dating and courtship confusion," June 4, 2011

But the controversy reveals the potential consequences of last year's congressional vote to overturn the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy regarding gays in the military. Conservatives argue that pressure on chaplains to recognize and condone same-sex marriages will threaten their religious liberties and may drive many chaplains out of the military. The House Armed Services Committee approved a bill on May 12 that explicitly prohibits U.S. military bases from being used to solemnize same-sex unions. The legislation, which still must go before the full House and Senate, also bars military chaplains from officiating at gay marriages.

'A new chapter'

President Barack Obama announced a "new chapter in American diplomacy" following revolts in the Middle East and North Africa. The president in a May 19 speech laid out his approach to a Middle East reshaped since Tunisia's government fell in January, closely followed by the departure of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in February. That policy is to include up to $1 billion in debt forgiveness for "a democratic" Egypt and help recovering stolen assets and other financial incentives directed especially at Tunisia and Egypt.

Following reports of perhaps 1,000 deaths in a crackdown by Syrian President Bashar Assad, Obama noted Assad had "chosen the path of murder and mass arrests" and the United States has stepped up sanctions against the regime. But Syrian Christians continue to express support for Assad and say the West has misread the protesters, who they claim are outside militants who've threatened church groups to join the protests or leave the country. Obama in his speech said he "will oppose any who want to restrict the right of others," and called for religious tolerance: "In a region that was the birthplace of three world religions, intolerance can lead only to suffering and stagnation."

Struggling Japan

More than two months after a tsunami devastated northeastern Japan, survivors continued grappling with deep losses, and aid groups continued helping victims cope with sweeping needs. CRASH (an acronym for Christian Relief, Assistance, Support and Hope) reported that survivors were moving beyond the immediate disaster and are dealing with emotional and spiritual struggles. The Christian agency is working with churches and volunteers to provide counseling to victims at shelters and community centers in the disaster zones.

Meanwhile, heroic stories of self-sacrifice continued to emerge. Russell Board, a missionary to Japan and a WORLD contributor, reported that schoolteachers had exhibited extraordinary service since the disaster. One example: Tomoko Ono, a teacher in Iwate prefecture, lost her home in the tsunami. She spent two weeks searching evacuation centers and shelters to make sure her students had survived before returning to her own home. After Ono and her colleagues realized they had lost their cars to the floodwaters, they pooled their money to buy a used car. The purpose: The teachers take shifts visiting students in their homes and shelters across the region.

Warring Libya

After weeks of bombings and vicious street warfare, Libyan rebels reported they had taken control of the port city of Misrata. The mid-May victory over Muammar Qaddafi's government forces represented a critical gain for rebels in the three-month-old war.

But Gen. David Richards-head of Britain's armed forces-said NATO should widen the small range of targets the alliance's planes are allowed to hit in order to protect civilians. Richards said that without "more intense military action," the rebels could face a stalemate. Tony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington told the BBC that NATO's reliance on a no-fly zone and a narrow range of targets to help rebels defeat Qaddafi is a "farce and not the effective use of force."

Meanwhile, the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court said he had requested arrest warrants for Qaddafi, his son, and his intelligence chief for crimes against humanity in targeting civilians during the fighting. Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said that Qaddafi "personally ordered attacks on Libyan civilians" and that the leader's forces "shot at demonstrations using live ammunition, using heavy weaponry against funeral processions, and placed snipers to kill those leaving mosques after prayers."

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