LISTEN: Urban Christian News Network Weekend Report #59

1. According to VOA News, Authorities in Pakistan said two suicide bombings outside Christian churches in the eastern city of Lahore have killed at least 15 people and wounded more than 70 others, and a militant gang allied to the outlawed Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility. The bombings only minutes apart targeted a Catholic and a Protestant church in a majority Christian suburb where thousands of people had gathered for Sunday services. Hospital officials said about 30 of those wounded in the attack are in critical condition. A senior Lahore police officer said gunmen wearing suicide vests tried to shoot their way into the churches but were stopped by police thereby limiting the damage and the number of deaths.

2. According to USA Today, a 20-year-old protester has been charged with shooting two police officers in Ferguson, Mo., last week. County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch said Jeffrey Williams was charged with two counts of assault in the first degree, one count of firing a weapon from a vehicle, and thee counts of armed criminal action. McCulloch said Williams admitted firing the shots but said he was shooting at someone else. Williams is being held in lieu of $300,000 cash bail.

3. According to the Associated Press, the Brazilian government raised the death toll of a bus accident to 54 while police continued their search for more victims on Sunday in the rugged lands of southern Brazil. The dead include at least eight young children, three teens, 24 women and 14 men. The bus plunged 1,300 feet down a mountain near the city of Joinville on Saturday. Ten people were transferred to nearby hospitals with severe injuries, and only one patient has been reported in stable condition. The group was traveling from Uniao da Vitoria for a religious event near the coast in Parana state.

4. According to the BBC, The Vatican says force may be necessary to stop attacks on Christians and other Middle East minorities by the Islamic State if no political solution is found. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s top diplomat at the UN in Geneva, said jihadists were committing “genocide” and must be stopped. While, the Vatican traditionally opposes military intervention in the region, Tomasi said if nothing else works, “then the use of force will be necessary. We have to stop this kind of genocide. Otherwise we’ll be crying out in the future about why we didn’t so something, why we allowed such a terrible tragedy to happen.”

5. According to the Associated Press, A nun in her 70s was gang-raped by a group of bandits on Saturday when she tried to prevent them from robbing a Christian missionary school in eastern India, in what has become the latest crime to focus attention on the scourge of sexual violence in the country. The nun was hospitalized in serious condition after being attacked by seven or eight men at the Convent of Jesus and Mary School in Nadia district. The men escaped and police are searching for them.

6. According to Reuters, Four Americans who may have been exposed to the deadly Ebola virus in Sierra Leone have arrived in the United States and are being observed at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The individuals arrived on Saturday and are being housed on the University of Nebraska Medical Center campus in Omaha, where medical personnel will monitor them for 21 days for any Ebola symptoms. A U.S. healthcare worker who tested positive for Ebola while in Sierra Leone arrived at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland on Friday and was in serious condition.

7. According to the Associated Press, Three British teens who were believed to be on their way to Syria to join militants there were detained in Turkey and quickly returned to the U.K. and arrested on suspicion of planning terrorist acts. The male trio left Britain several days ago, and they were detained in Istanbul after British officials notified Turkish authorities. The three were arrested on suspicion of the preparation of terrorism acts and were in custody at a central London police station. Their names haven’t been released, however two are aged 17 and one is 19.

8. According to the Los Angeles Times, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday he is willing to negotiate personally with Syrian President Bashar Assad to end that country’s four-year-old conflict. With 215,000 dead and no sign that the Syrian civil war is about to wind down, the United States and its allies are looking for new ways to build pressure on Assad to come to the bargaining table. Kerry said, “We are working very hard with interested parties to see if we can re-ignite a diplomatic outcome. We will have to negotiate in the end.”

9. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Roughly 1,000 people filled the Milton McPike Field House at Madison East High School – with the overflow of another 200 or so people watching on video screens – as the public funeral service was held for Tony Robinson, the 19-year-old who was fatally shot by a Madison, WI, police officer during an altercation on March 6. Among those who attended were U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Mark Pocan, Mayor Paul Soglin, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, Madison School District Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham and state Rep. Chris Taylor. While his grandfather, Tyrone Henry, vowed “there will be justice for Tony Terrell Robinson,” the theme of the day was of remembrance and savoring the Tony Robinson who meant so much to so many in the room. A series of speakers, friends and family members spoke of a young black man who had worked his way through some unfortunate choices and was determined to make something of his life.

10. According to AFP, Rolling out tanks, missiles and 100,000 men, Venezuela launched 10 days of military exercises, amid sky-high tensions over US sanctions slapped on officials accused of an opposition crackdown. President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist, Cuban-allied government threw the spotlight on its Chinese amphibious tanks, Russian-built missiles and other military hardware. The nationwide exercises, covered for hours on end on local television, will enlist the participation of 20,000 civilians, in addition to government troops in the South American OPEC member with the world’s largest crude reserves.

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