SYRIA: The Syrian Army has retaken the ancient Christian town of Sadad, following a week of fighting that has besieged about 3,000 Christians. The al-Qaeda militants who overtook the town last week reportedly killed 9 residents in the central square.
More than a third of Syria’s Christian population has left the country, but church leaders believe Christianity will survive in Syria.
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER: Ahead of the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on Nov. 3, here is a world map of countries where Christians face the greatest challenges for their faith.
NETHERLANDS: Immigration laws that require prospective citizens to learn Dutch are deterring Islamic activity but upsetting liberal politicians and academics.
AUSTRALIA: Conservatives are on the ascendancy somewhere in the West, with new Prime Minister Tony Abbott rising in popularity, according to polls in Australia, while Labor’s numbers dive. But the U.S. media is taking him to task for an interview with The Washington Post in which he called the former Labor government’s conduct “a circus’ and “scandalously wasteful.” This may hurt relations with the Obama administration.
NSA: It’s hard to imagine the Obama administration losing more support among key Western allies—the latest being German Chancellor Angela Merkel—with ongoing revelations about U.S. surveillance of key European leaders’ cell phone calls.
BIOTECHNOLOGY: There’s “not a single aspect of human life that doesn’t have the potential to be totally transformed” by new DNA constructs using manmade genomes, or what scientist J. Craig Venter and others are calling “human-directed evolution.” The journal Foreign Affairs features the story on its cover, along with its global implications.