After Illinois Democrats redrew congressional districts, the Illinois Republican primary March 20 pitted two sitting congressmen against each other, and veteran Rep. Don Manzullo lost by a thin margin to freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the veteran Manzullo had Tea Party backing over the freshman Kinzinger.
In 2010, Kinzinger, a young Air Force pilot who flew missions over Iraq and Afghanistan, secured Tea Party backing when he first won his seat, ousting a Democratic incumbent in the Chicago suburbs. But in the 2012 primary Tea Party groups like FreedomWorks switched their backing to the 20-year incumbent Manzullo, whom groups considered the true conservative in the race. Kinzinger had the backing of House Republican leadership, particularly House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Kinzinger is almost certain to win reelection because no Democrat is listed on the ballot.
As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon warned of an "extremely dangerous" conflict in Syria that could have global repercussions, bombings hit Christian districts, including March 17 suicide bombings in Damascus that killed 27 and wounded more than 100. On March 18 a bomb detonated in a heavily Christian district of Aleppo near a church and two primary schools, killing a security guard and a Christian woman and injuring 30. In all, over 8,000 have been killed in the ever-widening conflict.
As Christians around the world await news of condemned Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, authorities continued a campaign of persecution against Iranian Christians.
An attorney for Nadarkhani, the pastor facing a death sentence for apostasy, reported on Feb. 21 that an Iranian court upheld the execution orders. The American Center for Law and Justice, a D.C.-based Christian legal group, reported that Iranian contacts close to the case confirmed that Nadarkhani was alive as of March 16. Meanwhile, the U.K.-based Barnabas Fund reported that Iranian authorities have targeted Christians in waves of arrests this year, with sweeps of house churches in at least five cities. In Tehran, authorities ordered at least three Christian churches to stop holding Persian language services on Fridays, according to the Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN).
Mexico is experiencing its worst drought in 71 years. Over 2.5 million people are affected by a 40 percent decrease in food production, according to the National Confederation of Peasants. Farmer Odon Leon told The Christian Science Monitor that he could only irrigate half of his land this year. Another farmer, Juan Manuel Ramirez, said, "We have no water. Nothing has come out. The land is so dry here." Estimates suggest that at least 60,000 cattle have died, and in Chihuahua state 250 children were treated for malnutrition in 2011. Food prices will only increase as the shortage of food and water becomes worse.
Time for peace
After two decades under house arrest, Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi may find herself in a different house next month: parliament. The Nobel Laureate and longtime democracy activist (released from detention in 2010) was set to run in Burma's parliamentary elections on April 1-a pivotal step for a country under complete military rule until last year.
While military leaders have allowed a surprising series of political reforms, they maintain a tight grip. Eight months of fighting between the Burmese military and ethnic rebels in the Kachin Independence Army along the northern border have sent an estimated 60,000 Kachins-many Christians-fleeing to overcrowded camps that are running out of critical supplies. UN officials delivered relief to the region in December, but military officials won't allow aid to flow to some of the most vulnerable populations. Many Kachins hang hopes on Suu Kyi's election: The leader many affectionately call "Auntie Suu" visited the embattled state in March.
Ira Glass, host of the weekly public radio show This American Life, had to apologize to listeners and retract one of the show's most popular episodes after learning it was sprinkled with falsehoods. Glass had broadcast in January a stage monologue by Mike Daisey, a critic of Apple whose one-man show captivated audiences in New York City and elsewhere by describing Daisey's visit with allegedly exploited workers in China who make gadgets like the iPad. But a reporter discovered that Daisey had embellished his stories, casting doubt on Daisey's claims of meeting 12-year-old workers and some who had been poisoned or disabled on the job. Glass said Daisey lied to him by portraying the monologue as factual.