World Briefs 7-17

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North Korea denies blame for Otto Warmbier’s death

 (WNS)–North Korea on June 23 denied it tortured American student Otto Warmbier, who died shortly after returning to the United States in a comatose state.  The country’s official Korean Central News Agency accused the United States and South Korea of slandering its image despite the “humanitarian” treatment Warmbier received. “Our related institutions are treating criminals who committed crimes against (our) republic strictly based on domestic law and international standards, and Warmbier was no different,” KCNA said. The agency did not release any additional details about why the 22-year-old returned in a coma. Warmbier received a 15-year sentence with hard labor in March 2016 after he was accused of stealing a propaganda poster from a Pyongyang hotel. Doctors who treated him following his release said Warmbier suffered a severe neurological injury from an unknown cause.

Nigerian artist launches Instagram praise movement


(WNS)–Every midnight since the start of June, thousands of Nigerians have logged into an Instagram live feed for an hour-long praise and prayer session. Nigerian Gospel artist Nathaniel Bassey on May 31 shared on Instagram his plan to start the live session throughout the month of June. He shares it with the tag #HalleluyahChallenge. “Against the backdrop of the challenges in the world today, especially in our nation, with the scourge of terrorism and the recession, it has brought hope and respite,” Bassey told CNN. The sessions started with a few hundred people but have reached about 60,000 participants daily.


Europe’s police agency cracks down on traffickers


(WNS)–The European Union’s police agency identified dozens of potential trafficking victims in a continent-wide crackdown on human traffickers and illegal immigration networks. The agency on Monday said it worked with partner agencies from 26 countries and identified 221 possible trafficking victims during the operation, which lasted from May 13-20. They also arrested and detained 133 suspects. “Data gathered during the operation has led to the launch of 44 new investigations in order to identify further suspects and victims linked to human trafficking cases across the EU,” Europol said in its statement.

World Refugee Day

(WNS)–The United Nations set aside June 20 as the global day to honor refugees. The world now faces one of its worst refugee crises, mostly due to war, famine, and persecution. The UN has said more than 65 million people are forcibly displaced around the globe. More than half of the refugees come from Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia—three nations currently in the midst of war. Conflict has also triggered famine in regions like Somalia and South Sudan, displacing millions of people in the process. More than 73,000 migrants have made the tumultuous journey across the Mediterranean Sea into Europe this year, according to the International Organization for Migration. “On World Refugee Day … we commemorate the strength, courage, and perseverance of millions of refugees,” the UN said.

Study: Less sex education leads to less sex

(WNS)–Teen pregnancies in England fell dramatically after cuts to sex education program funding, according to a new study.  The analysis, published in May in the Journal of Health Economics, examined the effect of budget cuts to government-run teen pregnancy-prevention programs—including sex education, free condoms, and access to the “morning after pill”—in the last decade. The results surprised the authors and frustrated sex-ed advocates.

Is opposition to the LGBT agenda child abuse?

(WNS)–Canadian parents are pushing back against a child welfare bill recently passed in Ontario that elevates gay rights over parental prerogative. Opponents say the measure, called the Supporting Children, Youth, and Families Act, or Bill 89, would give the state the power to remove children from families who oppose LGBT and gender ideology, as well as disqualify couples from fostering or adopting. The bill, passed by a vote of 63 to 23 late last week, repeals and replaces the previous act governing child protective services, foster care, and adoption. Under the new law, both “gender identity” and “gender expression” are factors government officials must consider when examining a child’s best interest. The act also removes parents’ religious faith as a factor and says only the child’s own “creed” or “religion” can be considered.

Scottish Episcopal Church votes to allow gay marriage

(WNS)–The Scottish Episcopal Church voted June 8 to allow clergy to marry same-sex couples, the first Anglican branch in Britain to permit gay marriage. Church members voted to remove the doctrinal clause describing marriage as a “union of one man and one woman,” putting the Scottish Church at odds with the official stance of the Anglican Communion. The decision required the backing of at least two-thirds of each house of bishops, clergy, and laity at the annual synod meeting in Edinburgh. Opponents of the decision announced they will appoint a missionary bishop “to serve the needs of those who oppose gay marriage,” according to the BBC. At last year’s synod, church members agreed to send the issue for discussion to the seven dioceses of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Six of them voted in favor of amending the law.

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