RAP Sheet

Al Qaeda Is Beating the Islamic State

posted on April 15, 2015

In POLITICO Magazine, Georgetown Professor Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and threat analyst Bridget Moreng report that the Islamic State’s offensive in the Arab world has obscured the reemergence of Al Qaeda, which has employed quieter tactics to make territorial gains. Understanding the differences in strategy is important, the authors write. “The United States has a great deal of opportunity to exploit the cleavages between the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, but if we fail to understand the two organizations’ strengths, weaknesses and strategic and tactical postures, the jihadist movement may emerge from this period of competition stronger than before.”

Read at POLITICO Magazine

How Christians Turned Against Gay Conversion Therapy

posted on April 15, 2015

At The Atlantic, Jonathan Merritt tracks the decline in Christian support for conversion therapy, which tries to change LGBT sexual orientation on the idea that homosexuality is a disorder. The Christian Right financed the movement throughout the 1980s and 1990s, but scientific repudiation of conversion therapy and the loss of moral legitimacy led to its decline. “While some disparate pockets of support remain, they are waning,” Merritt writes. “The day when ex-gay therapy enjoyed legitimacy in mainstream medicine, media, religion and society is now heading for the history books.”

Read at The Atlantic

Her Majesty’s Jihadists

posted on April 15, 2015

The New York Times’ Mary Anne Weaver discusses the pull of foreign jihadist organizations for British Muslims, who are now more numerous in militant Islamic groups than in the British military. Researchers at the the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College London have been tracking British jihadists—”charting, following and, in some cases, interacting directly with foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq — through text-messaging and smartphone apps — in hopes of understanding their motivations and their worldview,” Weaver writes. “The center now monitors some 700 of the 20,000 foreign fighters from 90 countries around the world. (Foreigners make up half of ISIS’s total fighting force.) An estimated 4,000 are from Western nations, some 600 to 700 from Britain alone.”

Read at The New York Times

Here’s What We Know about Marco Rubio’s Faith of Many Colors

posted on April 15, 2015

At The Washington Post, Sarah Pulliam Bailey explores the faith journey of Marco Rubio after he declared his presidential bid for 2016. Rubio, who was part of the Church of Latter Day Saints as a child, had his first Catholic communion at age 12, and spent a few years in an evangelical church as an adult. Now, Rubio identifies exclusively with the Catholic Church, but believes that various principles connect all denominations. “Some unifying principles bind all Christians: that God became a man and died for our sins, and that without that sacrifice, all of us would be doomed,” Rubio said.

Read at The Washington Post

Top GOP, Dem Senators Say Iran Compromise Reached

posted on April 14, 2015

Alexandra Jaffe and Athena Jones of CNN report, “The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Tuesday they have resolved key differences on the bill regarding Iran’s nuclear plan, meaning that passage of the bill through the chamber looks more certain.” While some members of Congress were less optimistic, others said they believed the compromise resolved some key differences between the White House and Congress. “I think we can get to a place where we can deal with most of the White House’s concerns and maintain the purpose of the bill, which is an orderly congressional review and timely notice if there are material breaches,” said Democratic Senator Ben Cardin.

Read at CNN

One Year Later in Nigeria, Hope Fades for Chibok Girls’ Return

posted on April 14, 2015

In The Chicago Tribune, Faniel Magnowski, Michael Olukayode, and Elisha Bala-Gbogbo report that hope is fading for the 200 Nigerian girls who were kidnapped from their school dormitories by Boko Haram militants exactly one year ago today. While many believe that newly elected President Muhammadu Buhari will crack down on Islamic militants, he is not certain that he will be able to locate the girls. “We do not know if the Chibok girls can be rescued,” Buhari said in a statement. “Their whereabouts remain unknown. As much as I wish to, I cannot promise that we can find them.”

Read at The Chicago Tribune

Pope Francis Calls Armenian Deaths “First Genocide of 20th Century”

posted on April 13, 2015

At The Wall Street Journal, Francis X. Rocca and Emre Peker report on the political backlash following Pope Francis’s Sunday speech, in which he called the 1915 mass killings of Armenians by Turks the “first genocide of the 20th century.” The pope linked Armenia with recent attacks on Christians in Muslim-majority nations, the authors report, eliciting anger in Turkey, which refuses to call the deaths “genocide.” As the centenary of the massacre approaches, Francis’s remarks are also timely in the U.S., where 40 members of Congress are urging formal recognition of the genocide.

Read at The Wall Street Journal

Pastor Denounces Racism at Walter Scott’s Funeral One Week After Police Shooting

posted on April 13, 2015

In The New York Times, Frances Robles and Alan Blinder report on the funeral of Walter L. Scott, who was fatally shot by a white police officer following a traffic stop on April 4. Scott’s death, captured on a bystander’s video, has launched his name into the national debate about police violence. As a result, hundreds attended Scott’s funeral, where the Reverend George D. Hamilton “minced no words,” the authors write. “There is no doubt in my mind,” Rev. Hamilton said. “I feel Walter’s death was motivated by racial prejudice.”

Read at The New York Times

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