News and Views

News and Views


Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith in the twelve months ended September 2021, at 4,650, up from 3,530 the previous year, according to Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List report. The number of kidnapped Christians was also highest in Nigeria, at more than 2,500, up from 990 the previous year, according to the WWL report. Nigeria trailed only China in the number of churches attacked, with 470 cases, according to the report. In the 2022 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria jumped to seventh place, its highest ranking ever, from No. 9 the previous year. — Morning Star News, 8/17/2022
(Editor’s Note: almost all the killings in Nigeria are conducted by ISWAP, an offshoot of the terrorist group Boka Haram, which describes itself as “soldiers of the caliphate in central Nigeria.”)

A Barna and Cultural Research Center study found that across major U.S. denominations, pastors more likely to embrace biblical principles were those from non-denominational and independent Protestant churches. The study found that just 37 percent of Christian pastors have a worldview based on the Bible. — Christian Headlines, 9/1/2022

Dozens of priests from the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the country’s largest denomination, have been kidnapped or killed since the Russian invasion began, according to church officials. Still more pastors from other denominations have been imprisoned. Some have had their church property seized. The Russians have accused detained clergy of organizing protests, working as U.S. agents or aiding the Ukrainian military. “They’ve tried to find those who have power and authority among the local people — who are able to be leaders of resistance,” said Archbishop Evstratiy of Chernihiv, a spokesman for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. — Wall Street Journal, 8/13/2022

Pastors and personnel with ties to the Southern Baptist Church appear on a list of 700 entries, from Guidepost Solutions, reporting how the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee mishandled allegations of sex abuse, stonewalled numerous survivors and prioritized protecting the SBC from liability. — Wisconsin State Journal, 7/5/2022

Ayurveda, an ancient Indian subcontinent philosophy, has recently spread West, informing ideas about healthy lifestyles with holistic skin care, diet and exercise. The COVID-19 pandemic seems to have propelled ayurveda further into the mainstream. Begun 3,000 years ago, Ayuryeda offers herbal remedies for internal ailments, based on the idea that the mind, body and soul are connected to the elements and that health problems arise when these elements are out of balance. As pandemic scarred Americans search for more holistic ways to protect and improve their health, ayurveda’s practitioners say, the last obstacles to its adoption by medical practitioners will fall. — Religious News Service, 8/17/2022

Pope Francis dissolved the leadership of the Knights of Malta, the global Catholic religious order and humanitarian group, and installed a provisional government ahead of the election of a new Grand Master. The change came after five years of often acrimonious debate within the order and between some top members of the old guard and the Vatican over a new constitution that some feared would weaken its sovereignty. The group was founded in Jerusalem nearly 1,000 years ago to provide medical aid for pilgrims in the Holy Land. It now has a multi-million dollar budget and manages disaster relief programs and clinics around the world. — Reuters, 9/3/2022

After a gunman opened fire on May 15 during a luncheon at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, California, Pastor Steven Marsh hired armed security guards for every weekday and Sunday service. “We’re not trying to militarize the church,” Pastor Marsh said. “We prayed about it and made a decision to have armed security as an act of faith.” The added security costs the church about $20,000 per year. — AP, 7/17/2022


While mass murders soak up the vast majority of the attention, more than half of America’s roughly 45,000 annual firearm deaths are from suicide. Mass shootings — defined as the deaths of four or more people, not including the shooter — have killed from 85 to 175 people each year over the past decade. Recent statistics indicate they are coming down this year in many cities. Complicating things: The data on firearm killings is woefully incomplete, with just over 60% of the country’s law enforcement agencies reporting crime statistics to the FBI’s national database. — AP, 7/6/2022

Physicists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research are restarting the Large Hadron Collider, Earth’s most powerful particle accelerator with the aim of understanding more about the Higgs boson, thought to be a fundamental building block of the universe dating back to the big bang. Higgs boson was first theorized in the 1960s and described how elementary particles and forces interact in the universe. — AP, 7/5/2022

Australia increased its intake of permanent migrants to 195,000 this financial year, up by 35,000, in a bid to help businesses and industries battling widespread staff shortages and reduce reliance on short-term workers. The COVID-19 pandemic closed the country’s borders for nearly two years and along with an exodus of holiday workers and foreign students left businesses struggling to find staff to keep afloat. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters on the sidelines of a government jobs summit in Canberra, “Migration is part of our story.” The increase will bring Australia’s immigration target largely in line with the annual cap of 190,000 that was in place between 2013 and 2019. — Reuters, 9/2/2022


Russia successfully launched an Iranian satellite into orbit from a Russian spaceport in Kazakhstan. The launch is the “beginning of strategic cooperation between Iran and Russia in the space industry,” said Iran’s minister of communication and information technology. The Associated Press reported that Iran will be able to wield the satellite to monitor Israel as well as the rest of the Middle East. The West fears that Russia will use the satellite to spy on Ukraine. — Bridges for Peace, 8/12/2022

On his recent trip to Israel, U.S. President Biden announced that his administration has decided to resume financial aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), even though the agency’s school books continue to incite violence and erase Israel’s existence from their maps. — Gatestone Institute, 7/20/2022

The relief agency, Save the Children, interviewed nearly 1,700 boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 17 in seven provinces of Afghanistan to assess the impact of education restrictions since the Taliban takeover of the government. The survey found that more than 45% of girls are not going to school, compared with 20% of boys. Nearly the entire population of Afghanistan was thrown into poverty and millions were left unable to feed their families when the world cut off financing in response to the Taliban takeover, which has restricted women’s work and issued dress codes requiring them to cover their faces, except for their eyes. — AP, 8/12/2022

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul signed a trio of Holocaust bills, including one requiring museums to label artwork plundered under the Nazi regime. The legislation aims to pressure museums and the art world to continue addressing this little-known aspect of Nazi activity. Around 600,000 pieces of art were taken from Jews under Adolf Hitler’s regime, hundreds of which likely remain in New York museums. Paintings that were deemed degenerate were sold for foreign currency or destroyed. In many cases, Jews sold off artwork to non-Jewish civilians under duress. — Times of Israel, 9/3/2022

Iran is pressing ahead with its rollout of an upgrade to its advanced uranium enrichment program, a report by the U.N. showed. The first of three advanced IR-6 centrifuges recently installed at the underground Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) at Natanz is now enriching, the report said. For more than a year Iran has been using IR-6 centrifuges to enrich uranium to up to 60% purity, close to weaponsgrade, at an above-ground plant at Natanz. Recently it has expanded its enrichment with IR-6 machines at other sites. — Reuters, 8/29/2022


A Pew Research Center analysis of data from 44 advanced economies finds that, in nearly all of them, consumer prices have risen substantially since prepandemic times. In 37 of these 44 nations, the average annual inflation rate in the first quarter of 2022 was at least twice what it was in the first quarter of 2020, as COVID-19 was beginning its deadly spread. In 16 countries, first-quarter inflation was more than four times the level of two years prior. (The data covers 37 of the 38 OECD member nations, plus seven other economically significant countries.) — Pew Research Center, 6/15/22

Over the past year, Argentina’s consumer prices have soared a whopping 71%, the INDEC national statistics agency said. At a time when many people around the world are trying to deal with rapidly rising prices, these latest numbers cemented Argentina’s position among countries with the highest inflation rates in the world. Much of the country has set up informal arrangements of bartering in order to avoid soaring prices. — AP, 8/12/2022

China’s property crisis is leaping out of the frying pan and into the fire. Homebuyers in 22 cities are refusing to make mortgage payments on unfinished homes, Citigroup reports. The rare protest extends the risk of defaults from offshore developer bonds to banks with $6 trillion of mortgages. The risk of President Xi Jinping’s efforts to deleverage the sector is emerging, and it puts Beijing in a tight spot. — Reuters, 7/14/2022

Egypt’s central bank governor resigned as the Middle East’s most populous nation struggles to curb inflation triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine, high oil prices and a drop in tourism. The currency is under pressure, sliding in value to about 19 Egyptian pounds to the U.S. dollar. That followed a central bank decision allowing the currency to depreciate by around 16% in March to try to stem a growing trade deficit. — AP, 8/17/2022

Eighty percent of Russia’s commodities are traded through Switzerland, mostly through Zug and the lakeside city of Geneva. Swiss banks manage an estimated $150 billion for Russian clients, according to the country’s banking association. Thirty-two of the oligarchs closest to Mr. Putin have property, bank accounts or businesses in Switzerland, according to Zurich-based transparency group Public Eye. — Wall Street Journal, 7/13/2022


Forty years since Hezbollah was founded, the group has morphed from a ragtag organization to the largest and most heavily armed militant group in the Middle East. The Iranian-armed and funded Hezbollah plays an instrumental role in spreading Tehran’s influence throughout the Arab world. But the Shiite powerhouse, once praised around the Arab world for unrelentingly standing against Israel, faces deep criticism on multiple fronts. At home in Lebanon, a significant part of the population opposes its grip on power and accuses it of using the threat of force to prevent change. Across the region, many resent its military interventions in Iraq and in Syria’s civil war, where it helped tip the balance of power in favor of President Bashar Assad’s forces. The 40th anniversary comes this year as Hezbollah officials have warned of a possible new war with Israel over the disputed gas-rich maritime border between Lebanon and Israel. — AP, 8/31/2022

A group of Haredi yeshiva students and families established a new settlement in eastern Gush Etzion near Metzad in Samarian territory. Over 100 people were involved in the construction, which was destroyed by the IDF days later in conformance with government policy. It was the first time in recent history that Haredi Jews became involved as a group in building new settlements. According to the Statistical Report on ultra-Orthodox in Israel, in 2020, the ultra-Orthodox population in Israel numbered approximately 1,175,000, representing 12.6% of the total population. It is expected to reach 16% of Israel’s population by 2030, and to grow to around 2 million people by 2033. — Jewish Press, 8/17/22

Since the outset of the Russo-Ukrainian war, the number of immigrants who made aliyah [immigration to Israel] from both countries jumped significantly, according to data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics. The report compared the latest figures with the same period in 2019, before two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data, 31,066 people made aliyah from Russia and Ukraine combined since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his forces into its ex-Soviet neighbor. In 2022, 12,175 out of all immigrants are from Ukraine, and 18,891 are from Russia. In the same period in 2019, 2,651 came from Ukraine and 7,123 came from Russia (total of 9,744). — Ynet News, 8/11/2022

The arrival of an Ethiopian Airways jetliner at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport set the scene for an emotional reunion between family members, some of whom who hadn’t seen their relatives for two decades. The operation, spearheaded by Israel’s Minister of Immigrant Absorption Pnina Tamano-Shata, is designed to help the remaining community of Jews living in refugee camps in Gondar and Addis Ababa make their way back to Israel. So far, more than 5,000 people who have first-degree relatives already living in Israel have moved or are scheduled to move in the near future. — JNS, 7/7/2022

Defense Minister Benny Gantz presented satellite images showing four Iranian warships in the Red Sea carrying advanced UAVs and long and medium missile systems. “In the satellite images that I show here, you can see four Iranian military ships in the Red Sea. The presence of Iran’s military forces in the Red Sea in recent months is the most significant in a decade,” Gantz told the Economist conference. Iranians have recently experimented with a satellite launch, which could be used in the development of intercontinental long-range missiles able the reach central Europe. — Ynet News, 7/5/2022

Ancient Egyptian civilization reached the peak of its power, wealth and influence in the New Kingdom period (1550 to 1070 BC), during the reigns of iconic pharaohs like Tutankhamun, Thutmose III and Ramses II. At its height, the Egyptian Empire controlled an expansive territory stretching from modern-day Egypt up through the northern Sinai Peninsula and the ancient land of Canaan (which encompasses modern-day Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan and the southern portions of Syria and Lebanon). But starting with the death of Ramses III in 1155 BC, Egypt was ruled by a string of ineffectual pharaohs also named Ramses. —, 8/10/2022

El Al has received official permission from Saudi Arabia to fly over its territory. The approval will significantly shorten the duration of eastbound flights. At this stage, El Al is waiting to receive technical permission from Oman to begin operating the flights. It is expected that the duration of flights to Thailand will drop to eight-and-a-half hours, and Arkia’s flights to Mumbai and Goa will shorten to approximately five hours and fifteen minutes. — Israel National News, 8/3/2022

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