LISTEN: Urban Christian News Network Weekend Report #106

1. According to the Associated Press, an Associated Press-GfK poll finds that Americans’ views of President Barack Obama have improved slightly in the past two months, and opinions are more positive about the direction of the country and the health of the economy. A slim majority now approves of the way Obama is handling unemployment, according to the poll which was conducted before Friday’s release of a surprisingly strong jobs report. Forty-seven percent of those surveyed approve of how Obama is doing his job, compared with 41 percent in December, and 51 percent approve of his handling of unemployment, compared with 44 percent before.

2. According to ­Religion News Service, a papal commission on clergy sex abuse is close to giving Pope Francis recommendations on how to punish bishops who shield priests suspected of misconduct, one of several moves announced Saturday that are encouraging the two victims on the panel. But the two victims also said the Vatican has a year or two at most to implement policies with teeth, otherwise they will leave. Peter Saunders of Great Britain, who was sexually assaulted as a boy by priests at his Catholic school, said, “I’m actually very, very hopeful that there are going to be some very significant things happening,” especially on disciplining bishops. But he added, “We’re not here for lip service. We’re here to protect our children.”

3. According to ­the Associated Press, Britain’s Prince Charles says he fears there will be “very, very few” Christians left in the Middle East after the turmoil wracking the region. The heir to the British throne, who is on a trip to the region, told the BBC that the plight of Christians persecuted by Islamic extremists was “a most agonizing situation,” though it was important to remember they were just one persecuted minority among many around the world. He said, “I fear that the problems in the Middle East are not going to go away immediately. And so there is a danger that there [are] going to be very, very few [Christians] left.”

4. According to France 24, a day after French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel presented a new peace plan to Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Hollande on Saturday called the proposal “one of the last chances” to avoid war in east Ukraine. Speaking on France 2 television on Saturday, Hollande said the plan under negotiation would see a 31- to 44-mile demilitarised zone established. He also called for “rather strong” autonomy in parts of east Ukraine. Hollande told reporters, “If we don’t manage to find not just a compromise but a lasting peace agreement, we know perfectly well what the scenario will be. It has a name, it’s called war.”

5. According to Fox News, the United Arab Emirates announced on Saturday that it is sending a squadron of F-16 fighter jets to Jordan, resuming its participation in U.S.-led airstrikes on The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The announcement was made by UAE’s official government news agency, following the U.S. State Department’s announcement Friday that the Arab country had reaffirmed its commitment to the coalition and that suggested that “positive news” on the matter would be announced within the next few days. The UAE stopped flying airstrikes over Iraq shortly after Jordanian pilot Lt. Moath al Kasasbeh was shot down in a mission over Syria and captured by ISIS in December.

6. According to the Associated Press, a riot broke out Sunday night outside of a major soccer game in Egypt, with a stampede and fighting between police and fans killing at least 25 people. The riot, only three years after similar violence killed 74 people, began ahead of a match between Egyptian Premier League clubs Zamalek and ENPPI at Air Defense Stadium east of Cairo. Such attacks in the past have sparked days of violent protests pitting the country’s hard-core fans against police officers in a nation already on edge after years of revolt and turmoil.

7. According to Ynet News, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated once again his promise to stop at nothing to prevent Iran from reaching nuclear capabilities, or maintain the ability to do so quickly through a deal with the west. Netanyahu said, “The major powers and Iran are galloping toward an agreement that will enable Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons, which will endanger the existence of the State of Israel.” Netanyahu took aim at John Kerry and Mohammad Zarif, saying that their intention to complete a framework agreement by the end of March, forces Israel to take action. He said, “From this commitment stems the urgency of our efforts to try and block this bad and dangerous agreement.”

8. According to Reuters, A father went on a shooting rampage this weekend, killing his ex-wife, her boyfriend, and two children before taking his own life in a suburban Atlanta neighborhood. The massacre at the former wife’s home near Douglasville, about 20 miles west of Atlanta, left two other children on life support. The four children’s ages ranged from seven to 15 years. The shooter was found dead with the other victims inside the house.

9. According to VOA News, The United Nations says key political factions in Yemen, including a Shi’ite militia that seized control of the Sana’a government last week, have agreed to resume talks on Monday aimed at resolving the political crisis. U.N. envoy Jamal Benomar announced the new talks two days after Houthi fighters dissolved parliament and created an interim government to fill the power vacuum left by the ouster of Western-backed President Mansour Hadi. In a statement on Sunday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the talks and called on all sides to negotiate “in good faith and in a spirit of compromise.”

10. According to the AP, Tempering expectations on a global climate deal in Paris this year, the U.N.’s top climate diplomat has warned against assuming the pact will suffice to prevent dangerous levels of warming. As negotiators prepare for a new round of talks in Geneva next week, U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres said the role of the deal is not to fix the problem, but to chart the course for countermeasures that can be scaled up over time. Countries are supposed to announce well before the Paris summit in December how they plan to contribute to reducing global emissions of greenhouse gases. The European Union, U.S., China and Norway have already done so. Figueres said it’s already clear the combined pledges won’t match what scientists say is required to avoid dangerous warming, meaning deeper cuts have to occur in the future.

As you go throughout this day, keep this word in mind. Matthew 5:43-45 says, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

As always, we want you to know that God loves you. He loves you so much that the Bible says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, why don’t you get to know Him today. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose by the power of God for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening. May God bless your day.

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