The President backs away from commitment to Palestinian state

Posted on 26. Feb, 2017 by .


President Donald Trump on Wednesday dropped a U.S. commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the longstanding bedrock of Washington’s Middle East policy, even as he urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to curb settlement construction.

In the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since Trump’s victory in the 2016 election, the Republican president backed away from a U.S. embrace of the eventual creation of a Palestinian state, upending a position taken by successive administrations and the international community.

“I’m looking at two states and one state, and I like the one both parties like,” Trump told a joint news conference with Netanyahu. “I can live with either one.”

Trump vowed to work toward a peace deal between Israel and Palestinians but said it would require compromise on both sides, leaving it up to the parties themselves ultimately to decide on the terms of any agreement.

But he offered no new prescription for achieving an accord that has eluded so many of his predecessors, and Palestinian anger over his abandonment of their goal of statehood could scrap any chance of coaxing them back to the negotiating table.

Dropping a bombshell on Netanyahu as they faced reporters just before sitting down for talks, Trump told him: “I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit.”

The right-wing Israeli leader appeared momentarily startled. It was a rare concession sought by Trump as the two leaders tried to set a new positive tone after eight years of friction under Trump’s Democratic predecessor, President Barack Obama.


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Amici Curiae Brief

Posted on 26. Feb, 2017 by .



What is an Amicus curiae brief?

“Friend of the court” brief; a brief filed by a person, group, or entity that is not a party to the case but nonetheless wishes to provide the court with its perspective on the issue before it.  The person or entity is called an “amicus” ; the plural is “amici.”

This specific brief was filed on Thursday, February 16, 2017.

Amici have a wide array of beliefs and come from different faith traditions, yet unite here to speak with one voice against the Executive Order issued on January 27, 2017, which suspended the United States Refugee Admissions Program and halted entry into the United States by citizens of seven majority-Muslim nations.

The Executive Order offends amici’s deep-seated principles and obstructs and prevents amici’s efforts to help those in need.

The Executive Order discriminates on the basis of religion.

To read the complete Brief, click here

Franciscans for Justice is mentioned in the Appendix A part iv as a contributor. Here is the excerpt:

Franciscans for Justice is a joint project of the Franciscans Friars of the St. Barbara Province and the Our Lady of Guadalupe Province—friars throughout the Western United States. For over 800 years, Franciscans have upheld the fact that twice St. Francis of Assisi went to the Muslim sultan, not to convert him, but to befriend him; Franciscans hold Muslim believers dear to our hearts. Franciscans for Justice challenges the U.S. government to reach out to all Muslim refugees—not to ban them, but to befriend them.




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Pope Francis Message to Activists

Posted on 22. Feb, 2017 by .


Pope Francis to activists: Stand with migrants, do not deny climate science, there is no such thing as ‘Islamic terrorism’


In a letter written to a leaders of grassroots organizations and social movements meeting this week in California, Pope Francis said Christians must resist the temptation to demonize others, protect the earth and fight against “the invisible tyranny of money that only guarantees the privileges of a few.”

Writing that the world is in the midst of an “historic turning point,” Francis said the “worsening crisis” presents both danger and opportunity, using language sure to recall tensions between some Catholic leaders and the fledgling Trump administration.

“The grave danger is to disown our neighbors. When we do so, we deny their humanity and our own humanity without realizing it; we deny ourselves, and we deny the most important Commandments of Jesus,” Francis wrote in the letter, which was dated Feb. 10 and published in Spanish.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Vatican’s department for Integral Human Development, read the pope’s letter on Feb. 16 to participants at the opening of the U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements meeting in Modesto, a new event based on similar international meetings previously held in Rome and in Bolivia. The California gathering includes participants from a dozen countries.

“I know that you have committed yourselves to fight for social justice, to defend our Sister Mother Earth and to stand alongside migrants. I want to reaffirm your choice,” the pope’s letter read.

In his letter, Francis condemned what he dubbed a global “hypocritical attitude” toward suffering and he called for more action to address a range of social ills.

“Sooner or later, the moral blindness of this indifference comes to light, like when a mirage dissipates,” he wrote. “The wounds are there, they are a reality. The unemployment is real, the violence is real, the corruption is real, the identity crisis is real, the gutting of democracies is real.”

Francis condemned leaders who rely on “fear, insecurity, quarrels, and even people’s justified indignation, in order to shift the responsibility for all these ills onto a ‘non-neighbor.’”

Though he wrote in the letter that he was not speaking about any particular leaders but of “a social and political process that flourishes in many parts of the world” that “poses a grave danger for humanity,” the letter, delivered in a border state with a large Hispanic population, is sure to suggest tensions between church leaders and U.S. President Donald J. Trump.

Last year, the pope said political leaders who propose building border walls were not Christian, a statement interpreted by the Trump campaign as a slight against the candidate.

More recently, Catholic bishops in the United States have condemned several executive orders signed by Mr. Trump placing restrictions on immigration and refugee resettlement, including an executive order to move forward with plans to build a border wall.

Rather than looking to political leaders as models to solve the world’s various crises, the pope said in his letter that “Jesus teaches us a different path.”

“Do not classify others in order to see who is a neighbor and who is not,” he wrote. “You can become neighbor to whomever you meet in need, and you will do so if you have compassion in your heart.”

Francis also repeated his warning against describing terrorism as Islamic, another major theme of Mr. Trump’s campaign.

“Christian terrorism does not exist, Jewish terrorism does not exist, and Muslim terrorism does not exist. They do not exist,” Francis wrote.

“There are fundamentalist and violent individuals in all peoples and religions—and with intolerant generalizations they become stronger because they feed on hate and xenophobia,” he continued.

Mr. Trump repeatedly criticized his predecessor for refusing to label acts of terror committed by Muslims “radical Islamic terrorism,” a phrase he has used often since his election.

“By confronting terror with love, we work for peace,” the pope wrote.

Finally, the pope reiterated his plea for believers to defend creation against exploitation, issuing a subtle warning against those who deny challenges facing the environment.

The “ecological crisis is real,” the pope wrote, and though conceding that science “is not the only form of knowledge,” he said, “we also know what happens when we deny science and disregard the voice of Nature.”

Mr. Trump has called climate change a hoax and vowed to loosen federal regulations designed to protect the environment in order to support business.

Taken from Americamagazine.com

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Search for Kidnapped Colombian Catholic Nun

Posted on 22. Feb, 2017 by .


The Colombian Foreign Ministry confirmed last Wednesday from the San Carlos Palace in Bogotá that Sister Gloria Cecilia Narváez Argoti was kidnapped Tuesday evening while she was going about her charitable duties at the Catholic parish in the village of Karangasso, Mali.

The Colombian Embassy in the West African capital of Accra, Ghana, is coordinating with Mali military and police the safe release of the 56-year-old Franciscan nun who is believed to have been captured by four armed men who turned up in the remote village of the Sahel region, close to the border with Burkina Faso.

According to eyewitness accounts, the gang stormed the parish compound claiming to be jihadists. Narváez Argoti, was one of four nuns working in Karangasso, southern Mali, and the only one to have been taken hostage.

Search and rescue operations by Mali’s security forces have resulted in the arrest of two suspects, but as of Thursday, there has yet to be an official claim of responsibility from the country’s five main jihadist groups, mainly the al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Signed-in-Blood Battalion and Islamic Movement for Azawad

(The City Paper/IMA).

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UN forced to cut food rations to 1.4 million refugees after rich states delay payment

Posted on 30. Jan, 2017 by .



Taken from www.independant.uk.co –

The World Food Programme (WFP) has been forced to cut food rations to 1.4 million people because the world’s richest countries have delayed paying the organisation.

The food rations of 1.4 million Iraqis, displaced in the war against Isis, had to be halved this month because of delays in payments from donor states.

The WFP is now in talks with the United States – its biggest donor – Germany and Japan to pay the money so they can be fully delivered.

Inger Marie Vennize, a spokeswoman for the World Food Programme, told Reuters: “This year somehow we are receiving commitments from donors a little bit late, we are talking with donors but we don’t have enough money as of yet. We have had to reduce (the rations) as of this month. The 50 per cent cuts in monthly rations affect over 1.4 million people across Iraq.”

It was unclear which countries had not provided money in time.

In Iraq, the cuts are already being felt at the Hassan Sham camp east of Mosul, a city which remains an Isis stronghold in the north of the country.

“They gave us a good amount of food in the beginning, but now they have reduced it,” said Omar Shukri Mahmoud.

“They are giving an entire family the food supply of one person … And there is no work at all … we want to go back home,” he told Reuters.

Safa Shaker, who has a family of 11, added: “We are a big family and this ration is not going to be enough. We escaped from Daesh [Isis] in order to have a chance to live and came here and now they have cut the aid. How are we supposed to live?”

The ration cut came as the United Nations condemned Donald Trump’s ban on refugees and his order to prevent travellers from seven major Muslim countries – including Syria and Iraq – from entering the US.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and International Organisation for Migration urged the Trump administration to continue its work with the UN and other agencies to ensure “vital” resettlement programmes for people fleeing conflict and persecution, whatever their background.

He also dismissed the UN last December as a “club” for people to “have a good time”. The President’s executive order could affect peacekeeping operations in 16 countries.

About 160,000 people have been displaced since the Isis-held city of Mosul was attacked by Iraqi forces in October.

A total of three million people have been forced to leave their homes in Iraq since Isis gained control of large areas of the country and neighbouring Syria in 2014.

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