At the last minute I substituted for the scheduled writer, and found myself thinking how little different our current world situation is from that of the first Easter. The same uncertainties, political. military, social and civil unrest, and divisions were being played out, while families and communities struggled to live and raise future generations while caring for their elders. This hymn, written by a Tanzanian Lutheran minister several years ago, speaks to me. There are several translations but, being Scottish, I’ve stuck with the one by John L Bell of the Iona Community*.
Jesus is risen, alleluia! Worship and praise him, alleluia!
Now our redeemer bursts from the grave;
lost to the tomb, Christ rises to save.
Come, let us worship him, endlessly sing;
Christ is alive and death loses its sting.
Sins are forgiven, alleluia!
Jesus is risen, alleluia!
This is beyond belief! People don’t rise from the dead, especially after so much suffering and torture. Despite hearing Jesus himself tell them he would die and rise from the dead three days later, the disciples, both men and women, still could not believe it was possible.
Holy One, enable us to navigate this unchartered path of faith. I believe: help my unbelief.
Buried for three days, destined for death,
now he returns to breathe with our breath.
Blest are the ears alert to his voice,
blest are the hearts which for him rejoice.
This year, so many of us have had to bury loved ones, often from a distance and often unable to be with them as they died. The pandemic continues to decimate families and communities across the globe: in Brazil where over 3,000 deaths each day from Covid-19 continue to mount; in India where vaccines produced for overseas are being retained for use at home; in the U.S. where infection rates are soaring; in Europe where rates are spiking again leading to lockdowns; in Tanzania where the pandemic-denying the regime of former president John Magufuli, who died last week, has been replaced by a new government under Samia Suluhu Hassan (the first female president), and where hospitals are overrun with Covid-19 patients. This pattern repeats across the globe, despite the progress of vaccination programs in some, mostly western countries.
Holy One, be close and comfort those who ache with grief and loss, and enable them to accept the hope of knowing that through the resurrection of Jesus, new life beyond our limited physical life is open to us all.
Lord, hear us, and answer our prayers.
’Don’t be afraid!’ the angel had said,
‘Why seek the living here with the dead?
Look, where he lay, his body is gone,
risen and vibrant, warm with the sun.’
When we lose someone we love, wherever we are, whoever we are, of whatever culture or ethnicity, with faith or faithless – we want to do everything we can to do everything decently and lovingly to lay them to rest. Yet when those closest to Jesus found his body had disappeared, the beings of light where Jesus’s body had laid asked them, “Why seek the living among the dead?”
In so many tragedies – war, natural disaster, air crashes, or disappearance whether through political turbulence or unexplained circumstances – the not-knowing is like a continually draining wound. Regardless of how deep our faith is, in our humanity we often need “someone with skin on” to comfort us or be a listening ear. Enable us to be these, your hands and ears for your beloved people.
Holy One, in our emptiness, fill us with your love and spirit to meet the needs of those we meet, both near and far.
Go and tell others, Christ is alive.’
Love is eternal, faith and hope thrive.
What God intended, Jesus fulfilled;
what God conceives can never be killed.
The passion-filled life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the whole Holy Week and forthcoming Eastertide, is about re-discovering that Love is the greatest energy in our lives, world and creation. So many of us in this last year have rediscovered this in a new way for ourselves. Not touching, meeting, seeing, just sharing and caring face-to-face has taken a terrible toll on us all one way or another. But we give thanks for the love, faith and compassion of so many who have gone out of their way to do acts of kindness for others – often unknown to them.
As Woody, an 8-year-old autistic English boy said, “I don’t want life to go back to normal. I want it to go back to better.” His sayings are now being made into screen prints by his father to raise funds for an autistic children’s charity.
Holy One, enable us to dare to trust and live in tune with you, as Jesus showed us. It’s all about Love, and You ARE Love.
Let heaven echo, let the earth sing:
Jesus is saviour of everything.
All those who trust him, Christ will receive;
therefore rejoice, obey and believe!
*from “Mfurahini Halelyuya” or “Jesus is Risen” by Revd Bernard Kyamanywa, Tanzanian Lutheran minister; English version by John L Bell. You can find the tune here.
Saudi Arabia Goes Full On ISIS To Terrify The World – News Punch
At the cost to world peace, the Saudi government experiments with terror on its perceived Shia enemies.
Dan Sanchez reports: The Saudis Go Full ISIS
In Their US-Backed Takfiri War on the Shia
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Saudi Arabia has perpetrated a mass execution that puts ISIS’s beach beheadings to shame. Forty-seven heads rolled on Saturday. One of them belonged to Nimr al-Nimr, a revered Shi’ite cleric who had been sentenced to death for sermons in which he criticized the government (especially for its persecution of the country’s Shi’ite minority). His brother has been sentenced to be crucified.
This was done as the Saudis continue to drop American bombs on Shia in Yemen (boosting Al Qaeda there) and to hire jihadis to help ISIS and Al-Qaeda kill Shia in Syria.
It is no mystery why the Saudis are such brothers in arms with the Bin Ladenites, sharing both their hyper-sectarian aims and their gruesome methods. The Wahhabist Saudis and the Salafist terrorists are both “Takfiris”: theocratic, fundamentalist Sunnis who justify sectarian persecution and bloodshed on the grounds that their victims are not true Muslims, but apostates.
Both the Saudis and ISIS regularly behead people for apostasy. The Saudis just do it in white robes and with swords, while ISIS does it in black pajamas and with knives. Saudi Arabia (the older, bigger oil rich extremist theocracy between the two) has been aptly characterized as “An ISIS That Has Made It.” The Saudis are so sensitive about this obvious comparison, they threaten to sue anyone who makes it.
The House of Saud relies on the support of the country’s Wahhabi clerics for its divine right to rule. To appease the clerics and their threateningly zealous followers, the Saudis must constantly promote their extremist brand of Islam both within the country and internationally. They do this by using billions of petrodollars to finance both indoctrination (state-sponsored radical madrassas, media propaganda, etc) and jihad (the CIA-backed Afghan Jihad of the 80s, the CIA-backed Syrian Jihad underway now, etc). Saudi support for the Afghan Jihad resulted in the rise of Al Qaeda. Saudi support for the Syrian Jihad resulted in the rise of ISIS.
Since 2006, the Saudis have been obsessed with waging a proxy jihad against what it conceives as a burgeoning Iran-led “Shia Crescent” (including Iraq, Syria, Hezbollah, and Yemen) that threatens their interests in the region. This anti-Shia vendetta has been supported by its fellow Gulf sheikhdoms, the US, the EU, Turkey, and Israel.
Starting in 2011, this campaign went into overdrive in Syria, where the Saudis and their Western and regional allies have sided with and sponsored the Takfiri militants fighting to conquer and “cleanse” the Levant. That axis is being opposed by “Crescent” powers and by Russia.
In 2015, another front opened up in Yemen, where the Saudis began a US-supplied brutal air war against that country’s new Shiite Houthi government and a starvation blockade of its people. This war has helped the Takfiri terrorists of AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) conquer territory in the country.
With the beheading of Nimr, this proxy war between the Saudis and Iran has threatened to become a direct conflict. Enraged at the execution, Shi’ite protesters in Iran ransacked and firebombed the Saudi embassy. The Saudis reacted by completely breaking off diplomatic contact with Iran. Soon after, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Sudan slashed ties as well. It should be noted that Bahrain is a majority Shi’ite country oppressively ruled by Sunni governing minority.
Given how quickly the Gulf sheikdoms made such a serious break over an incident that involved no bloodshed and likely no state involvement (the Iranian government arrested several of the protesters), it seems likely that the Saudis were itching for an excuse to ramp up the conflict and hoped the execution of the cleric would provoke Iran into providing one.
The severing of diplomacy is often a prelude to full war. If a direct war between the Saudis and Iran were to break out, the blood-drenched chaos now afflicting the Middle East would widen even further. It would also pull each country’s allies even deeper into conflict, possibly leading to full-on direct war between Israel and Hezbollah, Turkey and Syria, even NATO and Russia.
We in America must demand that our government stop sending terror toys to Takfiris before the Saudis and their fellow travelers in ISIS and Al Qaeda precipitate a world war in which we could all lose our heads.
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WORLD NEWS: MH17 plane crash families prepare for critical trial phase – U-S-NEWS.COM
MH17 plane crash families prepare for critical trial phase
June 4, 2021
By Stephanie van den Berg
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -Families of people who died in the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 said they were preparing to hear painful details when a critical stage of a trial over the crash starts on Monday.
MH17 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down by a missile fired from territory held by pro-Russian rebels during fighting with Ukrainian government troops, international investigators say.
All 298 people on board were killed, two-thirds of them Dutch nationals.
Dutch judges overseeing the murder trial of three Russians and a Ukrainian man accused of having responsibility for the downing will summarise evidence at the hearing in a high-security courtroom next to Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.
“On the one hand we want to know exactly what happened, why it happened and who was responsible, but the price you pay for that is that there is also information released that could be shocking,” Piet Ploeg, a spokesman for the relatives, said.
“Eventually that should lead to getting justice and justice includes at least that we have an independent court rule on who was responsible,” he told Reuters. Ploeg lost his brother, sister-in-law and nephew in the crash.
After years of collecting evidence, a team of international investigators concluded in May 2018 that the missile launcher used to shoot down the aircraft belonged to Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade.
The Dutch government holds Moscow responsible. Russia denies any involvement.
Prosecutors, who say the four defendants all held leading positions in pro-Russian militias operating in Ukraine, will present evidence and may call witnesses, court officials said.
None of the defendants are in custody. One, Russian Oleg Pulatov, is represented in the proceedings and has said he had no involvement in the crash.
The other three are being tried in absentia and have not appointed lawyers to represent them.
Prosecutors say the investigation into MH17 is still ongoing and they are looking at other possible suspects, including the people who manned the missile system and ordered its firing.
After the prosecution presents its view on the judges’ summary of the case file on June 17 and 18, the defence will have an opportunity to respond.
No date has yet been set for closing arguments, but the court said that victims’ families could address the judges directly about the impact of the crash on their lives in hearings in September.
(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Anthony Deutsch and Andrew Heavens)
question, you know it’s been at least
15 years since I’ve been following the news, no 10 my folks do that, hmm. what was the question again !?
where you read about this ?
of course I can, it was here
WORLD NEWS: WHO asks for re-checks of research on when coronavirus first surfaced in Italy – U-S-NEWS.COM
June 2, 2021
By Emilio Parodi
MILAN (Reuters) -Samples from a study suggesting the coronavirus was circulating outside China by October 2019 have been re-tested at the World Health Organization’s (WTO) request, two scientists who led the Italian research said.
There is growing international pressure to learn more about the origins of the pandemic that has killed more than 3 million people worldwide and U.S. President Joe Biden last week ordered his aides to find answers.
The WHO said on Friday experts were preparing a proposal on the next studies to be carried out into the origins of the virus, but that there was no set timeline. [nL2N2ND20N]
The UN body reacted to Biden’s announcement that intelligence agencies were pursuing rival theories, including the possibility of a laboratory accident in China, by saying the search was being “poisoned by politics”.
COVID-19 was first identified in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, while Italy’s first patient was detected on Feb. 21 last year in a small town near Milan.
However, a study published last year suggested antibodies to either the virus or a variant were detected in Italy in 2019.
That prompted Chinese state media to suggest the virus might not have originated in China, although the Italian researchers stressed the findings raised questions about when the virus first emerged rather than where.
“The WHO asked us if we could share the biological material and if we could re-run the tests in an independent laboratory. We accepted,” Giovanni Apolone, scientific director of one of the lead institutions, the Milan Cancer Institute (INT), said.
The WHO’s request has not previously been reported.
“WHO is in contact with the researchers that had published the original paper. A collaboration with partner laboratories has been set up for further testing,” a WHO spokesman said.
The spokesman said the WHO was aware that the researchers are planning to publish a follow-up report “in the near future”.
He said the UN agency has contacted all researchers who have published or provided information on samples collected in 2019 that were reported to have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, but does not yet have the final interpretation of the results.
The Italian researchers’ findings, published by the INT’s scientific magazine Tumori Journal, showed neutralising antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in blood taken from healthy volunteers in Italy in October 2019 during a lung cancer screening trial.
Most of the volunteers were from Lombardy, the northern region around Milan, which was the first and hardest hit by the virus in Italy.
“None of the studies published so far have ever questioned the geographical origin,” Apolone told Reuters.
“The growing doubt is that the virus, probably less powerful compared to later months, was circulating in China long before the reported cases,” Apolone added.
The WHO chose the laboratory of the Erasmus University in Rotterdam for the re-test, Emanuele Montomoli, co-author of the original study and professor of Public Health at the Molecular Medicine Department in the University of Siena, said.
The Erasmus University did not reply to requests for comment.
Italian researchers sent the team in Rotterdam 30 biological samples from October-December 2019 that they had found positive, 30 samples from the same period they had tested negative and 30 samples from as far back as 2018, negative.
“We sent them blind, that means our colleagues did not know which samples were positive and which negative,” Apolone said.
“They rechecked our samples with commercial tests, which are much less sensitive than the ones we devised and validated,” Montomoli said.
Despite the differences in the two detection methods, both Italian scientists said they were satisfied with the results, delivered to them in late February, adding that they could not comment further until the team of Italian and Dutch scientists have published their findings.
“We did not say in our study that we could establish without a doubt that the coronavirus, later sequenced in Wuhan, was already circulating in Italy in October,” Montomoli said.
“We only found the response to the virus, namely the antibodies. So we can say that this coronavirus or a very similar one, perhaps a less transmissible variant, was circulating here in October,” he added.
(Reporting by Emilio ParodiEditing by Keith Weir and Alexander Smith)
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