LISTEN: Urban Christian News Network #581 with Daniella Whyte

1. According to the AP, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter convened an extraordinary war council Monday on Iraq’s doorstep, six days after taking office, to discuss the nitty-gritty of the administration’s oft-criticized strategy for countering the Islamic State militant group and probe for gaps and weaknesses. The Army general commanding the war effort in Iraq and Syria, meanwhile, told reporters that the Islamic State’s fighters are “halted, on the defensive” in Iraq and facing a new counterattack by Iraqi forces in Anbar province to retake a town the militants seized earlier this month. Carter said he assembled an array of U.S. generals, diplomats and intelligence officials not just to hear the latest on battlefield progress but also to better understanding the intellectual underpinnings of President Barack Obama’s counter-IS strategy.

2. According to the AP, Egypt’s president said Sunday that the need for a joint Arab military force is growing every day as the region faces the threat of Islamic militancy. President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi said in an address to the nation aired by local TV that Egypt’s military has no interest in invading or attacking other nations, but will defend Egypt as well as the region “if required and in coordination with our Arab brothers.” A soldier-turned-politician, the Egyptian leader said both Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have offered to dispatch military forces to aid Egypt following last week’s beheading in Libya of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by Islamic State militants.

3. According to Religion News Service, The Italian government is on high alert after threats from the Islamic State called Italy “the nation signed with the blood of the cross.” Italy is one of a handful of major Western counties that has not been victim of a large-scale terror assault since the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S. Italian officials fear extremists could enter the country amid the growing tide of refugees arriving by boat from North Africa. About 500 extra troops have been stationed to guard symbolic targets in Rome and monitor the streets of the capital for suspicious activity.

4. According to Christian News Network, The governor of Alabama, who also serves as a deacon and Sunday school teacher at First Baptist Church Tuscaloosa, says that he will obey the recent federal court ruling striking down the state’s Sanctity of Marriage Act as being unconstitutional. Gov. Robert Bentley told Politico on Friday while attending a meeting of the National Governor’s Association in Washington, D.C. that he believes he must obey the courts even if he disagrees with them personally.

5. According to BBC, A ferry has capsized in central Bangladesh, killing at least 65 people including a young baby. The ferry, carry more than 100 people, collided with a trawler on the river Padma about 40km (25 miles) north-west of the capital Dhaka. At least 50 passengers managed to swim ashore or were saved, officials said, with rescue efforts ongoing. Accidents are common on Bangladesh’s river network, with overcrowding and poor boat quality often to blame.

6. According to BBC, A bomb has killed at least two people, including a police officer, and injured at least 10 more people at a rally in Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv. The rally was one of several being held to mark a year since the Kiev uprising that led to the fall of pro-Russia leader Viktor Yanukovych. Security forces have detained four suspects in the attack, officials say. Kharkiv lies outside the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, where a ceasefire appears finally to be taking hold. The government has agreed to start pulling back heavy weapons from Sunday, and the rebels said they would start the process on Tuesday.

7. According to the AP, The Palestinian president has threatened to stop security coordination with Israel if the country continues to withhold millions of dollars of Palestinian tax revenue, a senior Palestinian official said Sunday. Nabil Shaath said President Mahmoud Abbas warned European leaders on a trip to Europe last week that Palestinian officials would discuss the matter during a Palestinian central council meeting next week. Israel has withheld tax revenue from the Palestinians since they joined the International Criminal Court last month. Shaath said the withheld revenue amounts to $140 million per month for the last two months.

8. According to USA Today, Four people were killed and a fifth was seriously wounded in a shooting rampage in Killeen, Texas, police said Monday. Police spokeswoman Tina Amerson said a preliminary investigation revealed that a 30-year-old male suspect fatally shot a man and a woman and wounded another woman at the home late Sunday. Amerson said the suspect then forced his wife into their residence. The Killeen Police Tactical Response Unit was called in after the suspect barricaded himself inside the home, Amerson said. After several efforts to communicate with the suspect failed, officers went in a early Monday and found the bodies of the suspect and his wife.

9. According to WTOC, First Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church in Savannah, GA announced the sudden death of their Pastor of 12 years, Gregory Tyson Sr. Tyson is being remembered as a humble man of God, who was also a father, son, brother, friend and businessman. He was only 46-years-old.

10. According to CNN, Shoppers at the Mall of America need to be “particularly careful” after a terror group singled out the Minnesota super-mall for attacks, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says. During an interview Sunday on CNN “State of the Union” he cautioned shoppers who plan to visit the mall that Al-Shabaab included on a list of targets in a video released this weekend. Johnson said, “If anyone is planning to go to the Mall of America today, they’ve got to be particularly careful. There will be enhanced security there, but public vigilance, public awareness and public caution in situations like this is particularly important.” His comments come as the Mall of America implements new security measures. Another DHS official clarified Johnson’s remarks later in the morning.

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