Globe Trot
An Afghan policeman stand guard outside Bagram military base, 31 miles north of Kabul, Afghanistan.
Associated Press/Photo by Ahmad Jamshid
An Afghan policeman stand guard outside Bagram military base, 31 miles north of Kabul, Afghanistan.

Globe Trot: Taliban talks move forward


The White House has announced it will hold talks with the Afghan Taliban starting Thursday. This, though a Taliban spokesman acknowledges, “There is no ceasefire [with the US] now.” Fighters on Tuesday attacked Bagram Air Base, killing four U.S. soldiers.

More on sleeping with the enemy: Visa applications for Nigerians Deborah Peter [Wakai] and Vou Ezekiel have again been denied today by the U.S. embassy in Abuja. They are two of three Nigerian teenagers invited to the U.S. this summer by Tuesday’s Children, a group that sponsors trauma healing sessions for children of terror victims. Deborah watched as Boko Haram militants murdered her father and brother, and she was tied and left overnight between their dead bodies.

U.S. consular officials denied visas to the two teens, who are Christians, but granted a visa to the third applicant, a Muslim. In her appeal letter to the U.S. embassy, the attorney for Tuesday’s Children writes:

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This organization vetted and selected three teenagers from Nigeria to participate within its July 2013 COMMON BOND program. All three orphans met the criteria of losing one close relative in the religions conflict in the North of Nigeria. The selected teenagers were interviewed on the same day on May 10, 2013, with identical invitation letters. The Muslim teen was granted at the same time that the two Christian teens were denied.  Since all three are female, their religion was easily identifiable during the interviews. 

West Papua is now Indonesia's richest province in resources but its poorest in income. It’s also home to a majority Christian population that’s been subjected to persecution and Islamization. “For the last 50 years we have struggled for freedom but nobody knows that West Papua is a prison, that we are slaves to the Indonesian military and that at least 500,000 men and women have been killed in a genocide,” said Benny Wenda, a human rights activist and West Papua exile. Wenda is waging a battle for the Pacific territory’s independence and calling into question its $12 billion natural gas deal with BP.

Papuans find their plight covered up and whitewashed by Western powers, writes Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin’s Elizabeth Kendal: “As long as Indonesia is a geo-stratefically important nation, it will not be in any government’s ‘interests’ to do anything for the Papuans.”

Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, who made a dramatic escape to the U.S. embassy in Beijing and won U.S. asylum in 2012, is charging China with pressuring New York University (NYU) to end his academic fellowship. The school confirmed his fellowship would end this month but denies the charge. NYU is in the process of opening a campus in Shanghai.

And I say with Pascal, “I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter."Happy birthday, Blaise Pascal (HT: Trinity Forum) and it's a good day for some Pensées.


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