Trump touts American sovereignty at UN
International | Plus, China’s control of churches, the latest on Andrew Brunson, and more international news and notes
by Mindy Belz
Posted 9/26/18, 10:36 am
UNITED NATIONS: In President Donald Trump’s speech Tuesday to the UN General Assembly, writes Eli Lake, a theme to his often erratic statecraft emerges: American sovereignty. “We will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable global bureaucracy,” Trump said.
UNITED STATES: The Pentagon will pull four missile defense systems from Jordan, Kuwait, and Bahrain, saying it marks a shift away from long-standing conflicts there toward tensions with China, Russia, and Iran.
CHINA: Communist Party leaders have extracted a pledge from Pope Francis to have direct say in the appointment of future Catholic bishops in China, in a long-sought step toward direct government control of churches. The Xi regime is seeking stricter control over all religions, but Christianity poses a unique challenge, writes China expert Ian Johnson:
“It has spread most quickly among white-collar professionals in China’s biggest cities and most prosperous regions, many of whom worship in underground churches outside government control, and the government’s tactics reflect the differing fates of its branches.”
VENEZUELA: The United States imposed new sanctions targeting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s inner circle, including his wife.
KENYA: Al Shabaab fighters ambushed a bus near Garissa and after demanding riders recite Quranic verses executed two passengers who did not, including a worship leader at a nearby church. The Somali-based militants have repeatedly attacked non-Muslims in the area, including a 2015 massacre at a Christian university in Garissa that killed 147 students.
TURKEY: Officials are cautiously optimistic Andrew Brunson may be released at his next trial date, scheduled for Oct. 12, but the prosecution appears intent to bring forward new witnesses to testify against the American pastor.
IRAQ: Karim Wafsi, conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra—and whose reconciliation work I covered in my book on Iraq—is again taking his cello to sites of terrorist destruction. This time he’s playing atop the bombed-out Al Shifa hospital complex in Mosul. Friend and journalist Ali Baroodi told me, “Death still smells strongly there.” Just watch: