Globe Trot

Globe Trot 08.20


Muslims around the world ended Ramadan, the monthlong season of fasting, with the traditional Eid Al-Fitr festival. As Muslims ended their fast in Indonesia a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck Saturday evening near Palu city on Sulawesi Island, killing at least six with dozens injured.

In Aleppo, Syria, the Ramadan fast ended not in feasting but in a continued fast as residents face severe food and energy shortages while fighting continues between the Assad government and rebels battling for its overthrow.

A plane crash in Sudan on Sunday killed 32, including a Sudanese Cabinet minister and other top officials on their way to an Eid festival in South Kordofan, where fighting along the border with South Sudan has been heavy. Officials have not determined the cause of the crash, but according to one report: "Before landing, communication with the pilot was normal and the runway clear. Then an explosion was heard and the plane was destroyed." Accidents are common among Sudan's ageing fleet of aircraft, and Europe bans all Sudanese airlines for safety reasons.

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This morning, Gu Kailai, the wife of a former top Communist Party official in China, received a suspended death sentence for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood. In China, a suspended death sentence typically means life in prison.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has admitted he was behind the 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia. His assertion came after three top generals, in a YouTube documentary, accused then commander-in-chief Dmitri Medvedev of indecisiveness over military action. The assertions seem designed to portray Putin as the strong man to Medvedev's weak leadership at a time when Putin's popularity among Russians is at a low ebb.

Uzbekistan will ban foreign military bases. The central Asian republic was a key outpost for launching the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and has continued to be a transit route for supplies to U.S. forces inside the landlocked war zone.

Questions about the teaching and associations of Korean evangelical leader David Jang continue after a lengthy article in Christianity Today raised claims by some Jang followers that he is "the 'Second Coming Christ'-not Jesus Christ himself, but rather a new messianic figure that would complete Jesus' earthly mission." Jang founded San Francisco-based Olivet University in 1992 and has gained wide influence in global evangelical organizations, while his critics in China, Japan, and Korea say he's been involved in the Unification Church and has engaged in other cult-like activities.

According to a detailed takedown of the CT piece from The Christian Post, "The Christian Council of Korea (CCK) has twice cleared Jang of having ties to the Unification Church, and two more times cleared Jang of suspicion of doubts associated with Jang and Second Coming Christ." Both The Christian Post and Christian Today allegedly receive funding and support via Jang ministries.

Response to "An underground railroad," my Aug. 11 column on organizations and individuals that are helping Chinese women to keep their babies-despite China's brutal one-child policy-has been substantial. Thank you. In Shanghai, the wife of a pastor needs $30,000 to pay a fine in order to keep her second child. More than $8,000 of that fine has been raised, and judging by my email box more will be coming from WORLD readers. Some argue that paying the fines only rewards a corrupt system of population control, but playing by the rules also saves the life of a child. It's a tough subject to discuss openly, given the dangers for these Chinese families, but your comments are welcome.


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