LISTEN: Urban Christian News Network #586 with Daniella Whyte

1. According to Israel National News, The Bethlehem-based news agency Ma’an has cited a Kuwaiti newspaper report that President Barack Obama thwarted an Israeli military attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2014 by threatening to shoot down Israeli jets before they could reach their targets in Iran. Following Obama’s threat, Prime Minister Netanyahu was reportedly forced to abort the planned Iran attack. The report claimed that an unnamed Israeli minister who has good ties with the US administration revealed the attack plan to Secretary of State John Kerry, and that Obama then threatened to shoot down the Israeli jets before they could reach their targets in Iran.

2. According to The Associated Press, Carrying flowers, portraits and signs that said “I am not afraid,” more than 20,000 people somberly marched Sunday in Moscow to mourn opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, whose slaying on the streets of the capital has shaken Russia’s beleaguered opposition. Russian President Vladimir Putin has marginalized and intimidated his political opponents since mass anti-Putin protests swept Moscow in 2011 and 2012. Nemtsov was among the few prominent opposition figures who had refused to be cowed. The mourners on Sunday marched to the bridge near the Kremlin where Nemtsov was gunned down shortly before midnight Friday.

3. According to The Washington Times, The message from a dozen prominent black pastors this week to the Congressional Black Caucus was loud and clear: Don’t skip out on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech. About two dozen House and Senate Democrats, most of them black caucus members, have said they will not attend Netanyahu’s speech Tuesday before a joint session of Congress, which one pastor described as a “slap in the face to the people of Israel.” The Christian pastors delivered a fiery defense on behalf of the speech at Thursday’s press conference at the National Press Club. Some black caucus members have argued that the Netanyahu speech comes as an insult to President Obama.

4. According to The Associated Press, The Islamic State group released at least 19 Christians on Sunday who were among the more than 220 people the militants took captive in northeastern Syria last week. The news provided a modicum of relief to a Christian Assyrian community that has been devastated by the abductions, which saw ISIS fighters haul off entire families from a string of villages along the Khabur River. But fears remain over the fate of the hundreds still held captive. It was not immediately clear why the Islamic State group freed these captives.

5. According to Reuters, North Korea fired two short-range missiles off its east coast on Monday, a South Korean military official said, a move seen as a protest against annual military exercises between South Korea and the United States that were due to start hours later. The missiles hit the sea early on Monday morning after traveling for about 305 miles. The firing came on the day when the U.S.-South Korean military exercises were scheduled to begin. The secretive North denounces the drills as a preparation for war.

6. According to The Washington Post, Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming address to a joint meeting of Congress will probably be the most important speech of his career — and one that has already jeopardized relations between Israel and the United States. On Tuesday morning, Netanyahu will confront an American president and insist that the future of the State of Israel, and the world, is imperiled by a pending “bad deal” with Iran on its nuclear program. Also hanging in the balance is Netanyahu’s own political future. Just two weeks after the speech, Netanyahu will either be reelected to a historic fourth term as prime minister or be out of a job. Netanyahu has spent three terms as Israeli prime minister focused on the dangers posed by Iran.

7. According to The Dallas Morning News, Experimental drugs and special care helped make Nina Pham Ebola free. But today she fears she may never escape the deadly disease. The 26-year-old nurse says she has nightmares, body aches and insomnia as a result of contracting the disease from a patient she cared for last fall at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. Pham says she will file a lawsuit Monday against Texas Health Resources alleging that while she became the American face of the fight against ebola, the hospital’s lack of training and proper equipment and violations of her privacy made her “a symbol of corporate neglect — a casualty of a hospital system’s failure to prepare for a known and impending medical crisis.” Texas Health Resources spokesman Wendell Watson declined to address specifics of Pham’s allegations.

8. According to USA Today, A fugitive American pastor accused of sexually assaulting two young girls in Minnesota has been arrested in Brazil according to the U.S. Marshals Service. Victor Barnard was wanted on 59 counts of sexual assault in rural Pine County. Thomas Volk, a spokesman for the Marshals Service in Minnesota said, “He was picked up in Brazil and he will be detained there for now.” Barnard is being held in Brazil pending formal extradition to the United States.

9. According to Arizona Central, A community of local Assyrian Christians held a vigil Sunday evening in Glendale, praying for the release of the abductees. Bishop Mar Aprim Khamis of Assyrian Church of the East said, “We are the people who have faith in Christ. We have been persecuted. We have been massacred. Today it’s not only tragic, it’s genocide.” Bishop Khamis referred to the abduction of at least 150 people from Assyrian Christian villages in the Middle East by ISIS.

10. According to Wall Street Journal, Hillary Clinton and her close advisers are telling Democratic donors that she will enter the presidential race sooner than expected, likely in April, a move that would allay uncertainties within her party and allow her to rev up fundraising. Clinton aides have spoken of the earlier timetable in private meetings, according to people engaged in recent discussions about the presumed Democratic front-runner’s emerging 2016 campaign. Many within her camp have advocated her staying out of the fray until the summer. Jumping in sooner would help the Democratic field take shape, reassuring party leaders and donors that the former first lady, senator and secretary of state is running.

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