LISTEN: Urban Christian News Network #602

1. According to The Associated Press, French President Francois Hollande says no survivors are likely in the Alpine crash of a passenger jet carrying 150 people. The Germanwings passenger jet crashed Tuesday in the French Alps region as it traveled from Barcelona to Dusseldorf. Eric Ciotti, the head of the regional council, said search-and-rescue teams are at the crash site. In a live briefing Tuesday, Hollande said the area of the crash was remote and it was not clear whether anyone on the ground had been hurt. He also said it was probable that a number of the victims are German.

2. According to Reuters, The United States will maintain its current 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through the end of 2015, the White House said in a statement on Tuesday after President Barack Obama met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. The White House said, “Based on President Ghani’s request for flexibility in the U.S. drawdown timeline, the U.S. will maintain its current posture of 9,800 troops through the end of 2015.” They further said, “The specific trajectory of the 2016 U.S. troop drawdown will be established later in 2015 to enable the U.S. troop consolidation to a Kabul-based embassy presence by the end of 2016.”

3. According to Baptist Press, Legislation introduced in Congress earlier this month would prohibit government discrimination against faith-based adoption and foster care organizations that are not willing to place children with same-sex couples. The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, sponsored by Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., was re-introduced on March 4. Enzi and Kelly submitted the same bill last year, but it never made it out of committee. The act would ensure state-licensed child welfare providers are allowed to operate while also holding to religious and moral convictions on homosexuality and family structure.

4. According to BBC, Israel has strongly denied a report that it spied on US-led talks on Iran’s nuclear programme in order to build a case against a deal. A senior Israeli official told the BBC that the claims, reported in the Wall Street Journal, were “utterly false”. The Journal said the White House had been particularly angered that Israel allegedly sought to share confidential details with US lawmakers and others. Many Republicans in Congress are opposed to a deal with Iran. The US, UK, France, Germany, Russia and China are seeking an agreement to curtail Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

5. According to The Christian Post, A diocese that broke away from The Episcopal Church over theological differences and the treatment of its bishop has passed a resolution barring gay marriage ceremonies from being performed at its facilities. The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, a church body that broke away from the liberal mainline church in 2012, passed the resolution earlier this month at their convention. Known as Resolution R-4, the document was titled “A Resolution to Adopt a Standing Resolution on Marriage” and was passed in response to the current debate over marriage definition in the United States.

6. According to The Christian Institute, A vicar who held a Muslim prayer service in his London church has apologized “for the offense caused.” Rev. Canon Giles Goddard held an “Inclusive Mosque” event at St John’s Church, Waterloo, earlier this month. It included the traditional Islamic call to prayer and saw Rev. Goddard giving thanks to “the God that we love, Allah.”

7. According to AFP, Indian police have arrested six people after Hindu fundamentalists were shown vandalising a cathedral in central India, the latest attack on Christian establishments in the Hindu-majority country. CCTV footage showed a group of men smashing plant pots, breaking down doors and shattering windows in the grounds of the cathedral in Madhya Pradesh state late Friday. The right-wing Hindu Dharma Sena group had accused the church of converting around 200 people from local tribal groups to Christianity, although it denies causing any damage to church property.

8. According to Baptist Press, As political upheaval dating back to the Arab Spring continues in Yemen, United Nations special adviser Jamal Benomar expressed concern that the nation is moving toward civil war. The U.N. Security Council met on Sunday to discuss the mounting crisis in the Mideast nation. Benomar told the council, “Peaceful dialogue is the only way forward.” During Friday prayers on March 20, suicide bombers attacked two mosques linked to the Houthis, killing at least 125 people and wounding hundreds in the nation’s capital, Sanaa. A Sunni group claiming to be a branch of ISIS said they were responsible for the bombings.

9. According to Politico, President Barack Obama will name Shailagh Murray, a former Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reporter, to serve as his new senior adviser, and has tapped Jason Goldman, a Silicon Valley veteran, to become the White House’s first-ever chief digital officer. Murray replaces Dan Pfeiffer as a member of the president’s core team of advisers, and Goldman will take over and expand Pfeiffer’s role overseeing digital outreach by heading up an amped-up Office of Digital Strategy. Both moves reflect Obama’s efforts to stay a central part of the nation’s political conversation in his final two years even as public focus shifts to the 2016 presidential campaign.

10. According to the AP, Police say one person has died and four others were injured in a shooting near a college campus in northern Tennessee. Clarksville Police spokeswoman Natalie Hall says officers responded just before 9 p.m. Monday to a report of shots fired. She says although the shooting happened about two blocks from Austin Peay State University, police have no reason to believe it had anything to do with the school.

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