State Department: No Longer Genocide
ChristianPost.com, 7/26/17, “ISIS’ ‘Genocide’ of Christians References Removed From State Dept. Documents” [Excerpts]: Lawyers at the United States State Department have removed the word “genocide” from speeches and official documents that describe the Islamic State’s brutal treatment of Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria, human rights activists have warned.
A report published by the Washington Free Beacon cites human rights activists and attorneys familiar with State
Department policies who claim that top State Department lawyers “are systematically removing the word ‘genocide’ to describe the Islamic State’s mass slaughter of Christians, Yazidis, and other ethnic minorities” from speeches before they are delivered and from official State Department documents.
Nina Shea, a respected human rights activist and former commissioner on the congressionally-mandated U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, [said] that Richard Visek, the State Department’s Acting Legal Adviser, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, is behind the decision to remove the term “genocide” from official documents and speeches.
“I don’t think for a minute it’s a bureaucratic decision—it’s ideological...” [said] Shea, who currently serves as the director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom in Washington D.C.
China Continues to Hold Gao Zhisheng
ChristianHeadlines.com, 9/6/17, “China Continues to Hold and Presumably Torture Nobel Nominee Gao Zhisheng” [Excerpts]: [At the time of this writing] Nearly a month has passed since Chinese Christian human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng was presumably taken by state security from his home near Shaanxi’s Yulin city on the morning of August 13, where he was under house arrest. The whereabouts of Gao, reputed as the “Conscience of China,” are still unknown. As is typical in these cases, he could face torture in a black jail hidden away in rural province.
Gao became the target of Chinese authorities for defending the most vulnerable in China (including Christians, coal miners, and Falun Gong practitioners). He has been kidnapped...repeatedly endured torture, including beatings, sleep deprivation, and electric shock, and spent many years in jail and solitary confinement.
The causes for his disappearance could be many, including President Xi Jinping’s retaliation for Gao’s recently published memoir, in which he heavily criticized the Communist Party and predicted a 2017 collapse of the regime; the upcoming 19th Party Congress, a major power show where Beijing wants no accidents...or for interviews he recently gave to the media in Hong Kong and the US, detailing torture and inhumane treatment.
His disappearance is concerning when details of past torture and abductions, recorded in his books, are taken into account. Years in captivity have decayed his health as he suffers tooth loss and other health problems.
Lost City of Jesus’ Apostles Found
Haaretz.com, 8/8/17, “The Lost City of Jesus’ Apostles Has Just Been Found, Archaeologists Say” [Excerpts]: Archaeologists think they may have found the lost Roman city of Julias, the home of three apostles of Jesus: Peter, Andrew and Philip (John:1:44; 12:21). A multi-layered site discovered on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, in the Bethsaida Valley Nature Reserve, is the spot, the team believes.
The key discovery is of an advanced Roman-style bathhouse. That in and of itself indicates that there had been a city there, not just a fishing village, Dr. Mordechai Aviam of Kinneret College [said].
None other than the Jewish historian Josephus Flavius—in fact the only source describing this city’s existence—wrote that the Jewish monarch King Philip Herod, son of the great vassal King Herod, transformed Bethsaida, which had been a Jewish fishing village, into a real Roman polis (Antiquities, 18:28).
“Josephus reported that the king had upgraded Bethsaida from a village into a polis, a proper city,” Aviam says meticulously. “He didn’t say it had been built on or beside or underneath it. And indeed, all this time, we have not known where it was. But the bathhouse attests to the existence of urban culture.”