Nigerian Schoolboys & Boko Haram & More: Twenty-Five Things that Caught My Eye Today

1. Time: Boko Haram Says It Abducted Students From School in Nigeria Where 330 Remain Missing

Rebels from the Boko Haram extremist group claimed responsibility Tuesday for abducting hundreds of boys from a school in Nigeria’s northern Katsina State last week in one of the largest such attacks in years, raising fears of a growing wave of violence in the region.

More than 330 students remain missing from the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara after gunmen with assault rifles attacked their school Friday night, although scores of others managed to escape.

2. Adrian Zenz: Coercion in Xinjiang’s Cotton Fields

The U.S. government recently banned all cotton and related products from a state-owned paramilitary entity in Xinjiang on forced-labor grounds, but the true extent of this injustice runs much deeper. Xinjiang’s entire cotton production is tainted with coercion.

Xinjiang’s forced-labor system grew exponentially during the time when regional authorities also built “vocational training camps” in which as many as 1.8 million people have been imprisoned. Each year, Xinjiang municipalities inquire with cotton producers about their labor needs. Chinese officials then descend on local villages to conscript the workers. Government reports abound with “success stories” of officials who visit homes until family members “agree” to work, a process that involves “transformed thinking.”

3. Uighur exploitation in China slammed as ‘modern day slavery’

An estimated 570,000 workers from three Uighur regions were mobilized to cotton picking operations in 2018, the report found, citing online government documents.

The transfers took place under the Chinese government’s “coercive” labor training scheme that involves “military-style management.”

“It is impossible to define where coercion ends and where local consent may begin,” wrote Adrian Zenz, the researcher who found the documents.

Major fashion brands, including Nike, Adidas, Gap and others have come under fire by rights groups for using cotton-sourced from China. The Xinjiang region produces over 20% of the world’s cotton — making it a major player in global textile supply chains.

4. How the Chinese Communist Party Robs Children of Their Religious Faith

While entire religious communities have been persecuted in China because of their religious and spiritual beliefs, children have suffered tenfold.

The government has separated children from their parents and has threatened to beat the children if the parents do not renounce their faith. Government authorities have even threatened parents of adopted children that they will forcibly take away those children, return them to their original families, or put them up for adoption again if the family does not give up its beliefs.

In addition, in keeping with the 2018 Revised Regulations on Religious Affairs in China, local authorities have interpreted the regulation to ban attendance for all children at churches and other houses of worship, as well as to prohibit children from attending any religious activities, such as religious summer camps, or religious instruction, such as Sunday school.

5. George Weigel: On cages and evangelization in China

Just before Thanksgiving, the Vatican initiated a meeting between Pope Francis and a group of NBA players and their union representatives, evidently to discuss issues of justice in the United States. Has any similar outreach been made to Chinese Catholic human rights activists – or even to the redoubtable Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong and another courageous defender of religious freedom throughout China? No.

Like Catholicism-vs.-communism in east central Europe during the Cold War, Catholicism-vs.-communism in China is, ultimately, a zero-sum game. There is no middle ground of accommodation where everyone lives happily ever after. Someone is going to win, and someone is going to lose. The Ostpolitik of the Vatican in the 1960s and 1970s never grasped this; John Paul II did, and the self-liberation of Poland and other Warsaw Pact countries followed in 1989.

6. Natan Sharansky: Why Jimmy Lai and Hong Kong’s democracy advocates need Biden’s public support right now

China today is behaving just as the Soviet Union did. The authorities in Beijing who are calling the shots in Hong Kong would clearly like to crush Lai and other activists arrested in recent weeks. But China’s leaders are patient — they are essentially running a phantom international referendum, checking to see what they can get away with as they increase repression, gauging how much it might hurt China in the West.

Here’s something on which Americans on the left and right can agree: Lai must be kept safe and Hong Kong must be free. Why not start the new Congress with a joint resolution demanding the preservation of Hong Kong’s liberties and confirming that how China treats Hong Kong will determine how Congress reacts to Chinese trade and diplomatic initiatives?

7. Science: COVID-19 is 10 times deadlier for people with Down syndrome, raising calls for early vaccination 

8. Grazie Pozo Christie: Xavier Becerra’s radical pro-abortion position makes him a poor choice to head HHS

Just what is so wrong with Mr. Becerra? Well, his radical position on abortion, for starters.  

Unlike most Americans who support common sense limits on abortion and try to balance the mother’s freedom of choice with her child’s right to live, Mr. Becerra is aggressively pro-abortion. He’s been that way since the start of his political career. From voting against requiring parental notification when a minor girl is trafficked across state lines to procure an abortion to voting in favor of both gruesome late-term partial birth abortion and discriminatory sex-selective abortions, he has come through 100 percent for the abortion lobby. His rating from NARAL and Planned Parenthood? A-plus.  

Mr. Becerra’s support for abortion right up to the moment of birth and his support for aborting baby girls simply because they are girls is shocking to the hospitable Latino culture. The fact that he would side with older men trafficking pregnant girls across state lines and against her parents, her natural protectors, is also shocking. 


10. Crux: Church urges Scotland to not continue ‘home abortions’ after pandemic

The Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office, an agency of the bishops’ conference, has asked Catholics to participate in the consultation, with several “points of consideration” to address.

The office notes that women experiencing a crisis pregnancy “should be given face-to-face counselling with an appropriately qualified healthcare professional,” and adds that allowing women to have abortions at home jeopardizes the ability to receive “important information on all available options for those experiencing a crisis pregnancy, including details of organizations which can offer support to both mother and baby.”

“These arrangements risk affording insufficient time for counselling during the consultation, resulting in a failure to explore the potential physical and psychological impact of abortion on women in both the short and long term,” the office adds.

11. HRW Says Azerbaijan Appears To Have Targeted Armenian Church In Possible War Crime

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Azerbaijani forces attacked a church in the town of Shushi during recent fighting over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, in what the group said appeared to be a deliberate targeting in violation of the laws of war.

In a statement on December 16, HRW said the two separate attacks “suggest that the church, a civilian object with cultural significance, was an intentional target despite the absence of evidence that it was used for military purposes.”

“The two strikes on the church, the second one while journalists and other civilians had gathered at the site, appear to be deliberate,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “These attacks should be impartially investigated and those responsible held to account.”



14. Habib Malik: One Way Out for Lebanon: Intensified Sanctions and Early Elections

However cautiously one assesses it, the situation on the ground in Lebanon seems ripe for positive change. But Lebanon’s friends abroad need to give a supportive push in the form of that potent soft-power tool: sanctions, with a focus on retrieving stolen funds.


16. Andrea Picciotti-Bayer: US Constitution’s 9 Protectors From COVID Overreach

Another victory for religious freedom at the court is likely just days away. This comes none too soon. Catholic high schools in Michigan are also seeking judicial relief from a similar school-closure order issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. But why has it come to this? Appalling orders like those issued by Cuomo, Newsom and Beshear strike at the heart of religious freedom at a time when faith is so vital for many Americans and their families. Fortunately, as at least five of the nine justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court today hold fast to the understanding that “the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten.” Not even in a pandemic.

17. Yahoo News: Chef José Andrés pushing Biden for creating of a food czar

“We need to understand one thing: that food is more than the USDA. Food is more than just all of the mechanics of a smart agricultural system,” Andrés said. “Food is immigration. Food is health. Food is national security. Food is job creation. Food is economic growth.”

18. Accuser recants allegations against Norfolk priest

Father Dinga adamantly denied and maintained his innocence concerning the allegations, which arose from alleged conduct at Christ the King Catholic Church in Norfolk in 1986, when they were brought to the attention of the diocese.

Father Dinga, who obtained a medical retirement in 1990, was ordained a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond in 1975. As a result of Father Dinga’s exoneration of these charges, the diocese has restored him to the previous position and status he held with the diocese prior to the now recanted allegations.


20. Co-workers donate sick days, personal time off for nurse who can’t work while battling leukemia

Truly there is much to be thankful for. Besides Paul Claudel’s conversion and the survival of the cathedral, the stained glass, the Crown of Thorns and other relics of the Passion, one huge thing also to be grateful for is the latest news from the restoration team at Notre-Dame de Paris. On November 24, 2020, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris Facebook page posted that the demolition of the scaffolding was completed on that day.

21. Axios: Americans are moving out of dense, costly cities


23. Aleteia: 5-year-old 10 km with prostheses and raises $1 million

This difficult walk had a charitable goal: to raise £500 (roughly $675) for Evelina London Children’s Hospital. The fundraising went much better than expected: Tony raised over £1 million! People were moved by his story, both because a child was the hero, and because—whether we are aware of it or not—when other people overcome their wounds, it heals ours as well.



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