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Posts tagged ‘North Africa’

Francis Calls for Spreading the Wealth in First Peace Message as Pope.

Image: Francis Calls for Spreading the Wealth in First Peace Message as Pope

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis attacked mega-salaries and big bonuses Thursday, saying in the first peace message of his pontificate that they are symptoms of an economy based on greed and inequality.

In his message for the Roman Catholic Church‘s World Day of Peace, marked by the Church around the world on Jan. 1, he also called for more sharing of wealth among people and nations to narrow the gap between the rich and poor.

“The grave financial and economic crises of the present time . . . have pushed man to seek satisfaction, happiness, and security in consumption and earnings out of all proportion to the principles of a sound economy,” he said. “The succession of economic crises should lead too a timely rethinking of our models of economic development and to a change in lifestyles.”

Editor’s Note: Who Is Pope Francis? New Biography Reveals the Man

Francis, who was named Time magazine‘s Person of the Year on Wednesday, has urged his own Church to be more fair, frugal, and less pompous and to be closer to the poor and suffering.

His message will be sent to national leaders, international organizations such as the United Nations, and nongovernmental organizations.

Titled “Fraternity, the Foundation and Pathway to Peace,” the message also attacked injustice, human trafficking, organized crime, and the weapons trade as obstacles to peace.

The new Pope’s style is characterized by frugality. He shunned the spacious papal apartment in the Vatican‘s Apostolic Palace to live in a small suite in a Vatican guest house, and he prefers a Ford Focus to the traditional pope’s Mercedes.

A champion of the downtrodden, he visited the island of Lampedusa in southern Italy in July to pay tribute to hundreds of migrants who had died crossing the sea from North Africa.

Doctor RevealsHealing Powers of Prayer 

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


“Take Up and Read”.

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
Romans 13:14

Recommended Reading
Romans 13:11-14 ( )

Augustine of Hippo was born in North Africa to a pagan father and a devout mother. He grew up a prodigal who reveled in drunkenness, lewdness, and lust, but his mother kept praying for him. One day as Augustine sat in a garden, he overheard a voice chanting, “Take up and read!” Picking up a Bible, he opened it to Romans 13. As he read that page — especially verse 14 — a light streamed into his heart and, as he later said, all the darkness of doubt fled away. Augustine went on to become one of the greatest thinkers in Church history.

Listen to Today’s Radio Message ( )

It’s remarkable how Bible verses become shafts of light to illumine the darkness of our souls, and then afterward they illumine the footsteps of our ways. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word  is  a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Any good work arising from our commitment to the Word of God brings honor to the Lord and overcomes the attacks of the enemy. Let’s constantly “take up and read” the Bible, resolved to always walk in its light.

2 Corinthians 10-13

By David Jeremiah.

LIGNET: Evolving Al-Qaeda More Dangerous Than Ever.

Image: LIGNET: Evolving Al-Qaeda More Dangerous Than Ever

Since the killing of Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011, al-Qaeda has decentralized and improved its financing methods, attack approaches and communication techniques. It is now, under the leadership of Ayman al-Zawahiri, a more dangerous terrorist organization than it was before 9/11, responsible for four times as many terrorist attacks and intent on creating an Islamic caliphate that will rule over the entire Middle East, North Africa, and parts of south Asia.

Click here to read the full report from top intelligence experts at

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


Obama on Threats: ‘We Don’t Get Terrorized’.

President Barack Obama says security threats will never lead the U.S. to retreat from the world. He says Americans don’t get terrorized.

Obama was responding Wednesday to new threats from al-Qaida (al-KAH’-ee-duh) that led the U.S. to close 19 diplomatic outposts and evacuate the U.S. Embassy in Yemen.

Obama said it’s a complicated time for the U.S. military. He said there have been big changes, especially in the Middle East and in North Africa.

Obama said the U.S. will remain, in his words, “the greatest force for freedom the world has ever known.” He said the military is an integral part of that mission. But he said the U.S. must also lead with its ideals and values.

Obama was speaking to troops and their families at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Rivers Crisis: PENGASSAN Threatens To Withdraw Members.

Comrade Babatunde Ogun
By SaharaReporters, New York

Following the violent actions of some members of the Rivers State House of Assembly this week and the counter-reaction of others, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has threatened to withdraw its members from Rivers State if the politicians cannot conduct themselves in a manner befitting their status.

Speaking on behalf of the union, PENGASSAN President, Comrade Babatunde Ogun said it shows that political leaders in the country lack respect for the constitution and lack elementary democratic decorum.

Besides, he said, the state of fear that now prevails in Rivers is a threat to the lives and safety of oil and gas workers and the entire industry

Condemning the violence, the union pointed out that it could lead to the breakdown of law and order that will affect not only the state but spread to other parts of the country.

“The events in recent times are strong indications that the government may not be able to guarantee the security and protection of lives and properties of our people. In that wise, we cannot continue to risk the lives of our members and may have to withdraw them until when the situation is under control,” it threatened.

Comrade Ogun stated that the actions of the parties in the crisis have shown that political leaders only seek office in their personal interest, stressing that the public interest supersedes and is superior to individual interests.

He expressed the view that those trying to subvert Nigeria’s nascent democracy are some of those who never fought for it, saying, “Many people, especially labour leaders laid down their lives for this democracy to be in place. Many of us were incarcerated during the struggle to attain this democracy.”

The union president urged all parties and individuals involved in the fracas to pursue the path of peace and reconcile their differences, adding that they should take cognizance of the root causes of the North Africa and Middle East crises.

“If we dismiss the events in Rivers State, then we should know that what happened in North Africa, especially Egypt and Libya can equally come to play in Rivers and Nigeria as a whole,” he said.

New Pope’s First Encyclical on Faith Carries Benedict’s Influence.

Pope Francis issued his first encyclical on Friday with a message on the importance of Christian faith that showed he plans no radical departure from the doctrinal stance of his predecessor Benedict.

“Lumen Fidei” (Light of Faith) was originally intended to form part of a series by Benedict on the theological virtues, following earlier encyclicals on love and hope, but was not completed by the time of his surprise resignation in February.

An encyclical is a letter to bishops and the faithful laying out a pope’s views on doctrinal or other matters.

In the 82-page document, Francis stressed the role of the Christian faith as a defense against the “massive amnesia in our contemporary world” caused by excessive trust in technology and the “subjective truths of the individual”.

“When faith is weakened, the foundations of humanity also risk being weakened,” he said, in a text issued three days before he visits Lampedusa, a tiny island south of Sicily which thousands of desperate migrants from North Africa have died trying to reach.

Francis, the first Latin American pope, has struck a more friendly, down-to-earth tone than his cerebral German predecessor, refusing to occupy the sumptuous papal apartments and shunning many of the ceremonial trappings in which Benedict appeared to revel.

The encyclical comes as the Church faces fresh turmoil over the scandal-ridden Vatican bank following the arrest of a senior cleric and the resignation of two of the top managers of the bank, known formally as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR).

The new pope has already appointed a commission of inquiry to get to grips with the problems at the IOR. Cleaning up an institution notorious for its lack of transparency will be one of his thorniest challenges.

The encyclical outlines many positions familiar from Benedict’s reign, stressing the Church’s role in guiding and shaping belief and addressing the “crisis of truth in our age”.

“I have taken up his (Benedict’s) fine work and added a few contributions of my own,” Francis wrote.

“In contemporary culture, we often tend to consider the only real truth to be that of technology: truth is what we succeed in building and measuring,” he said, adding that “at the other end of the scale we are willing to allow for subjective truths of the individual”.

“In the end, what we are left with is relativism.”

Francis restated the Church’s position on marriage as “the stable union of man and woman” but made no direct comment on the issue of homosexual unions, which has caused deep divisions in countries including France and the United States.

He said faith should encourage greater respect for nature, “a grammar written by the hand of God and a dwelling place entrusted to our protection and care,” and said it should also not make people forget the sufferings of the world.

Francis has repeatedly emphasised the importance of helping the poor and dispossessed, underlined by the choice of Lampedusa for his first visit outside Rome.

During the visit he will drop a wreath in the sea in memory of the thousands of migrants who have died on the perilous crossing from North Africa in flimsy and overloaded craft.

He will also visit the reception centre, which is the first stopping place for many when they arrive.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


Pope Chooses Immigrant-Flooded Island for First Trip.

Pope Francis has chosen the southern Italian island of Lampedusa for his first trip outside Rome, to show solidarity with tens of thousands of refugees who each year brave a perilous journey there in flimsy boats, the Vatican said on Monday.

The small island, Italy‘s southernmost point, is the conduit for mostly African immigrants fleeing conflict or economic hardship in order to enter the European Union.

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The Vatican said Francis was “profoundly touched” by the flood of immigration, and will throw a wreath of flowers into the sea in memory of the many who have drowned in waters off the island during the visit on July 8.

The pontiff will also meet groups of immigrants who have made the crossing and will celebrate a mass in a sports centre on the island.

A holding centre on the island built to hold 380 has long been overwhelmed, and the island’s predicament has become a symbol in Europe and Italy for those who see immigration as out of control.

Lampedusa’s regular population of about 6,000 has often been outnumbered by migrants sleeping in improvised tent encampments dotted around the island, which in normal times lives from fishing and tourism.

Over 50,000 people arrived there in a surge caused by unrest in North Africa in 2011, and recent good weather has caused another increase in the hundreds arriving each week as it allows a less risky crossing.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

France Investigating Soldier Stabbing as Copy of London Attack.

PARIS — A state anti-terrorism unit is investigating the stabbing of a French soldier in Paris that police said may have been inspired by the killing of a British serviceman in a London street.

Police are hunting for a bearded man about 30 years old and possibly of North African origin who fled into a crowded train station after attacking the 23-year-old soldier from behind with a knife or a box-cutter on Saturday.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls tasked a Paris anti-terror unit with the investigation. He said on Saturday night that the attack’s spontaneous nature recalled the daytime murder of a British soldier Lee Rigby on May 22 by two men shouting Islamist slogans.

Police union UNSA spokesman Christophe Crepin said there were similarities with the London attack.

“I think this person wanted to imitate what happened in London,” he told Itele television, echoing France’s defense minister who said earlier that the soldier had been targeted because of his uniform.

But Valls warned against jumping to conclusions about an Islamist militant attack because police had yet to arrest a suspect or gather enough evidence to offer any theories about its motivation.

A police source told Reuters the attacker fled without a word after striking the soldier, who was patrolling the La Defense business neighborhood west of Paris with two other servicemen when he was stabbed in the back of the neck.

The assailant struck at least once and narrowly missed the soldier’s jugular vein. On Sunday the soldier was recovering at a military hospital near Paris, French media said.

Police originally described the attacker as tall, athletic, dark-skinned and wearing an Arab-style tunic under his jacket. But the source said police now had doubts about the tunic after reviewing surveillance footage, saying it could be a sweater instead.

An individual was questioned late on Saturday following the attack but subsequently released because his description did not match that of the assailant, the source said.

France has been on high alert for attacks by Islamist militants since its military intervention against Islamist rebels in Mali in January. That prompted threats against French interests from AQIM, the North African wing of al-Qaida.

The latest warning was published on YouTube a few weeks before gunmen this week attacked a military base and a French uranium extraction site in the central African state of Niger, killing 24 soldiers and one civilian

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Augustine of Hippo Raised to New Life.

Augustine of Hippo Raised to New LifeAnd we were baptized and all anxiety for our past life vanished away.” With these joyous words Augustine recorded his entrance into the church on this day, April 25, 387, Easter day.

He had been 33 years in coming to this public confession of Christ. Born in North Africa in 354 of a Christian mother and pagan father, Augustine became at twelve years of age a student at Carthage and at sixteen, a teacher of grammar. At this young age, he was already promiscuous. And he tells in his famous autobiography that he boasted of sins he had not had opportunity to commit, rather than seem to have fallen behind his peers in wickedness.

His mother was determined to see him converted and baptized. He was equally determined to have his pleasures. He took a mistress and she bore him a son, Adeodatus, “Gift of God.” For a while he resented the lad but soon became inseparable from him. At 29 his restless spirit drove him to Italy. His mother determined to accompany him so that her prayers might be reinforced by her presence. Augustine gave her the slip, sailing while she knelt praying in a chapel.

In Rome he taught rhetoric for a year, but was cheated of his fees. And so he looked for a more fertile field of labor and settled on Milan. His mother caught up with him and prevailed upon him to attend the church of St. Ambrose. Christian singing moved him deeply. In spite of himself he began to drift toward faith. He found the writings of the Apostle Paul deeply stirring and more satisfying than the cool abstractions of philosophy. He wrestled with deep conviction but was unable to yield himself to God, owing to his attachment to the flesh.

Finally he reached a day when his inner vacillations were too great to ignore. He tried reading scripture but abandoned the effort. Unable to act on the truth he knew, he began to weep, and threw himself behind a fig tree. “How long, O Lord,” he cried. And his heart answered “Why not now?” A child’s sing-song voice came clearly to him, repeating over and over, “Take it and read it.” It seemed a message from God. He snatched up the Bible and read Paul’s words, “. . .not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” Faith flooded in upon him. He immediately thrust aside those sins of the flesh which had held him in thrall for so long.

“But this faith would not let me be at ease about my past sins, since these had not yet been forgiven me by means of your baptism.” He entered the water and was relieved. At his mother’s death, he returned to Africa where he founded a monastery, became bishop of Hippo and a brilliant and prolific theologian who more than any other stamped his imprint upon the Medieval church.


  1. Aland, Kurt. Saints and Sinners; men and ideas in the early church. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1970.
  2. Augustine, St. Confessions. Various editions.
  3. —————–. City of God. Various editions.
  4. —————–. On True Religion. Various editions.
  5. “Augustine, St.” Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie. New York: Scribner’s, 1970.
  6. Bowie, Walter Russell. Men of Fire. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1961.
  7. Copleston, FrederickA History of Philosophy. London: Burn, Oates & Washbourn, 1951 – .
  8. D’Souza, Dinesh. The Catholic Classics. Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 1986.
  9. Dunham, James H. The Religion of Philosophers. Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1969, 1947.
  10. Portalie, Eugene. “Augustine, Life of Saint.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton, 1914.
  11. Runes, Dagobert D. A Treasury of Philosophy. New York: Philosophical Library, 1945. p. 71.
  12. Russell, Bertrand. Wisdom of the West. New York: Fawcett, 1964.

Last updated April, 2007.

Dan Graves, MSL

Al-Qaida Denies Saharan Leader Killed by France.

RIYADH— Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the movement’s North African arm, said French claims that its forces had killed the group’s leader in the Sahara were a “blatant fallacy,” a monitoring website reports.

AQIM, as the group is known, did not name the leader but it appeared to be referring to Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, whose death in Mali in February was confirmed by Paris on March 23.

The militant group, which attacked a gas plant in Algeria in January, denied the death in a statement published on Friday on Islamist internet forums, according to SITE, a U.S.-based intelligence monitoring website.

The statement threatened “dark days” for France in north and west Africa.

French forces launched a ground and air campaign in Mali on Jan. 11 against Islamist forces who carved out an enclave in the country’s northern mountains, saying they posed an international threat.

Paris said in a statement last month: “The president of the French Republic confirms with certainty the death of Abdelhamid Abou Zeid after an offensive by the French army.”

However, AQIM said the French statement was motivated by the government’s low poll ratings.

“This is a blatant fallacy by the French President [Francois] Hollande, who has low popularity and whose party is mired in financial and moral scandals, in order to delude the French and global public about the achievement of a field victory that restores to them their lost confidence, domestically and abroad,” it said.

The fate of Abou Zeid and another al-Qaida commander, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, presumed mastermind of the Algerian attack in which more than 60 people were killed, has been murky since Chad, which is fighting alongside France in Mali, reported their deaths in March.

Algerian Ennahar TV, which is well connected with Algeria’s security services, said late last month a new commander, Djamel Okacha, had been named to replace Abou Zeid.

An Algerian security source said Okacha, also known as Yahia Abu El Hamam, joined AQIM in northern Mali in 2004.

However, the AQIM statement monitored by SITE said Hamam had not been installed to replace Abou Zeid, but had in fact replaced another leader, Nabil Abu Alqamah, who it said died in a traffic accident last year.

It said he had been installed “eight months ago, and nearly five months before the French invasion of northern Mali,” according to the monitoring group.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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