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This Is the Reason Russia Is Banning Children From Watching the New Power Rangers Movie

Russia has slapped an “18+” adults-only rating on the new Power Rangers movie after widespread Western media reports that it includes a female character questioning her sexuality. The film is rated PG-13 in the U.S.

Notably, Russia reportedly has not given a similar adult rating to Disney’s remake of Beauty and the Beast, despite its alteration of the original animated film to make one of its characters (Le Fou) homosexual, in what the director called an “exclusively gay moment.”

The Hollywood Reporter reported:

“On Friday, WDSSPR, the Russian distributor of Power Rangers, informed theaters that the age restriction for the movie has been changed from 16+ to 18+, meaning that only viewers over 18 will be admitted to the screenings.

“The distributor provided no explanation for assigning the stricter age restriction, but it followed harsh criticism from several [Russian] legislators over the movie’s LGBTQ content.”

(Read more from “This Is the Reason Russia Is Banning Children From Watching the New Power Rangers Movie” HERE)

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Syria Threatens to Fire SCUD Missiles Into Israel If Attacked Again

According to a report by Lebanese media, Syria has issued a very serious warning to Israel – bomb Syria again and SCUD missiles will rain down on Israel.

According to the report by al-Diyar, the message was delivered via Russian officials. It quite clearly stated that, if Israel attacks Syria again, Syria will respond with deadly force, including the use of SCUD missiles against Israeli targets.

The report stated that Syria’s position is, if Israel bombs Syrian military targets, Israeli military targets will be the recipient of Syrian SCUD missiles. If Israel attacks civilian targets, Syria will target Haifa’s port and petrochemical plant.

Al-Diyar reports that Syria has a cache over around 800 SCUD missiles and that it has prepared four of them for launch in retaliation for any further Israeli incursion.

For its part, Israel, bolstered by the fact that the United States has traditionally been satisfied to treat the Zionist settler state as its own 51st, have dismissed the threats as a bluff. The fact that Israel is always ready to fight and die to the last American is the main reason it has been able to provoke, murder, and commit genocide for the last several decades with virtually no consequences. However, if the reports can be believed, the Syrians may very well be serious this time around.

Indeed, some have even pointed out that SCUD missiles are largely antiquated weaponry and, while they may not be able to penetrate Israel’s Arrow or Iron Dome systems, the SCUDs themselves may be a cover for some type of more advanced weaponry that Israel is not expecting.

Because of its ability to bully and provoke and then run to its protector America whenever anyone retaliates, Israel is actually quite likely to test Syrian resolve in the future. This time, however, we certainly hope the Trump administration holds true to “America First” and lets Israel fight its own battle. (For more the author of “Syria Threatens to Fire SCUD Missiles Into Israel If Attacked Again” please click HERE)

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GOP-Led Congress Looks to Protect Israel and Check Iranian Power

Aiming to prove their commitment to Israel, senior U.S. lawmakers are backing bipartisan legislation that would slap Iran with new sanctions while maintaining rigorous enforcement of the landmark nuclear deal.

The measures, unveiled at the opening of the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, seek to build consensus among Republicans and Democrats who are so often bitterly at odds on domestic issues. The AIPAC meeting continues Tuesday with appearances by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

During Monday’s session, House Speaker Paul Ryan declared the U.S. commitment to Israel “sacrosanct.” Ryan also derided the nuclear deal an “unmitigated disaster” that gives Iran “a patient pathway to a nuclear weapons capability.” (Read more from “GOP-Led Congress Looks to Protect Israel and Check Iranian Power” HERE)

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Russian Protest Leader Alexei Navalny Gets 15 Days in Jail

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who organized a wave of nationwide protests against government corruption that rattled authorities, was jailed for 15 days on Monday by a Moscow court for resisting police orders.

Navalny was arrested Sunday as he walked to a protest in Moscow and spent the night in jail before appearing in court.

Tens of thousands of anti-corruption protesters took to the streets across Russia on Sunday in the biggest show of defiance since 2011-2012 anti-government protests. (Read more from “Russian Protest Leader Alexei Navalny Gets 15 Days in Jail” HERE)

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Pope Francis’ Double Standard on Nationalism and Populism

A few months back I addressed a conspiracy theory: It said that Donald Trump’s chief of strategy Steve Bannon was colluding with doctrinal conservative Cardinal Leo Burke to thwart Pope Francis. There was no substance behind it.

But the fault lines that theory pointed to are real. Catholics in Europe and America are just as divided as their countrymen of other creeds. We are torn between competing theories of how to govern our nations.

Whom should we include? How much power must we grant globalist institutions such as the UN and the EU?

Pope Francis Tells Europe to Abandon Nationalism

Pope Francis has just drawn a line in the sand. In his recent address to European and EU leaders, the pope took a clear swipe at leaders such as Donald Trump, and European patriotic politicians. He warned Europe’s leaders that “[f]orms of populism are … the fruit of an egotism that hems people in and prevents them from overcoming and ‘looking beyond’ their own narrow vision.”

He even seemed to endorse the rule of technocratic elites like the EU’s unelected commissioners. The pope said:

Politics needs this kind of leadership, which avoids appealing to emotions to gain consent, but instead, in a spirit of solidarity and subsidiarity, devises policies that can make the Union as a whole develop harmoniously.

Should We Prefer Strangers’ Children to Our Own?

Is it “egotism” to want your country’s elected government to protect its national interests? To look out first for its citizens? Is it egotism to put your own children’s interests before those of strangers in foreign countries?

That’s not what St. Thomas Aquinas taught. He wrote that we owe our first duty to our own children, and then to our neighbors.

Do Would-Be Immigrants Have Equal Claims to Citizens?

The pope called for Europe’s states to make “equal room for the native and the immigrant.” Are their claims really “equal”? If so, then hopeful Syrian immigrants have an equal claim on the government of Poland or France as veterans who fought in those country’s wars.

And that’s how governments in many European countries are acting already. Why else would Sweden forbid its police to give physical descriptions of wanted fugitives? (The point was to avoid inflaming “Islamophobia.”) Why would Germany prosecute citizens who criticize its immigration policies?

Does Pope Francis really think that nations should not protect their own citizens first? That people can’t defend their interests through political action?

If he said that, he’d be saying that the fierce love of family and fidelity to a nation is part of the stain of Original Sin. To be true Christians we must renounce it. We must learn to see strangers as equally important to us as our children. Every human being is an interchangeable unit.

Christianity Isn’t Ayn Rand’s Suicidal “Altruism.”

That’s not Christianity, of course. It’s the ugly parody that appears in Ayn Rand’s novels. She scornfully calls it “altruism.” For Rand, the Gospel demands that we prefer other people’s interests to our own. We should care more about foreign children than our own, in the name of a perfect “unselfishness.”

C.S. Lewis eloquently dismantled this idea in The Screwtape Letters. The Gospel in fact demands that we trim back and restrain the self-interest we were made with. But we can’t abolish it and shouldn’t try. We must learn the love for others in the school of family and community. That starts by loving our kin.

Pope Francis’ Multiculturalist Double Standard

I’m happy to say that Pope Francis does not teach such crackpot altruism as a universal theory. He doesn’t even condemn populism or nationalism per se. He sent a fulsome message of support to the recent Regional Gathering of Popular Movements. Its “Message from Modesto included a long list of claims that appeal to ethnic and economic self-interest.

In 2015, the pope actually addressed a meeting of such movements. That was during the trip when he accepted the “Communist crucifix” from the populist leader of Bolivia.

No, Pope Francis approves of nationalism, populism, and politics that promote one’s economic self-interest. There’s just one catch: Such movements are forbidden to European peoples. Also to members of the middle class. We are not allowed to advance our own interests, ever.

You’ll find no instance of Pope Francis warning Mexicans or Argentines against excesses of nationalism. He hasn’t called for Asian or Latin American countries to open their (fiercely guarded) borders. He doesn’t denounce the populists of Venezuela when they use the state to forcibly redistribute the wealth. (Venezuelan leftist populism is so disastrous that Catholics there can’t even get enough flour to make hosts for Holy Communion. No word from Pope Francis about that yet.)

Winking at Islamists and Socialists

No, it’s only when Europeans, or middle-class Americans, wish to look out for their own interests that Pope Francis feels the need to chastise. He seems to have internalized the ethical double standard of multiculturalism. One set of rules applies to the “privileged,” and another to the “underprivileged.” Only the upper classes are held to the higher standard.

But we’re supposed to wink at groupthink, rage, and the will to power when others indulge it. We’ll coddle it among Muslim immigrants, Bolivian Indians, or members of Black Lives Matter.

Of course, Pope Francis’ position is not an official teaching of the Catholic church. It’s not even a theological theory. It’s just a political bias. Good Catholics are perfectly free to point out that it is, to say the least, a double standard. (For more from the author of “Pope Francis’ Double Standard on Nationalism and Populism” please click HERE)

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Orphanage Fire in Guatemala Reflects Dire Situation in Central America

Two weeks ago, at least 40 girls died in a fire at an orphanage in San Jose Pinula, Guatemala.

The facility was fitted to host 500 children, though there were an estimated 700 girls staying there at the time of the blaze. The fire is confirmed to have been started when several girls set fire to a mattress with a match in protest of the conditions at the facility.

The previous day, accusations of mistreatment and sexual abuse of the minors at the facility culminated in a riot. During that riot, 60 or so girls escaped from the facility, but were brought back by riot police and were locked in their classroom for hours.

This tragedy comes after allegations of widespread abuse at the orphanage. There are reports that girls had been beaten, raped, and subjected to other atrocities. Three teachers had even been convicted of rape.

This situation was not unknown, as the Guatemalan government has criticized the operations at the orphanage for the past three years. But the abuse continued up until the fire, and the Guatemalan government did not address the matter sufficiently.

A significant factor that has led to thousands of children being abandoned and neglected is violence from the gang war. Drug trafficking and violent criminal gangs run rampant in these countries, wreaking havoc on society.

Transnational criminal organizations make billions in profits from the trafficking of illicit goods, weapons, and people in and around the region. Their activities have contributed to the Northern Triangle countries of Central America having some of the highest murder rates in the world.

These gangs also wreak havoc in the United States, as shown in a recent case in which two Houston-based MS-13 gang members killed a girl in a satanic ritual.

Another factor enabling this deterioration of conditions is the weak governance in the region. In 2015, Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina, alongside his vice president, were ousted after they were accused and later imprisoned for their role in a massive fraud racket.

While initially popular, the current president, Jimmy Morales, has fallen out of favor. Many are calling for his resignation, due to his brother and son being charged with corruption.

With this political instability, it is no surprise that the Guatemalan government has a hard time clamping down on criminal activity and securing its people. Instead, corruption remains high, murder is rampant, and gang wars are creating more orphans.

In order to resolve these problems in the long term, there will need to be a concerted effort in not only fighting these transnational organized crime gangs, but ensuring that the conditions that allow them to thrive are also dealt with.

It is in the United States’ strategic interests to help solve these problems. With an alleviation of the regional security crisis caused by drug crime, the problems of illegal immigration and gang violence facing the United States will likely subside. (For more from the author of “Orphanage Fire in Guatemala Reflects Dire Situation in Central America” please click HERE)

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US Leads Boycott of UN Talks on Nuclear Weapons Ban

The United States, Britain and France are among almost 40 countries boycotting talks on a nuclear weapons ban treaty at the United Nations, according to Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the world body.

With none of the participants – more than 100 countries – at Monday’s talks belonging to the group of states that possess nuclear weapons, the talks were doomed to failure.

According to Haley, the countries skipping the discussions “would love to have a ban on nuclear weapons, but in this day and time we can’t honestly say we can protect our people by allowing bad actors to have them and those of us that are good trying to keep peace and safety not to have them.”

Speaking as the debate at the UN headquarters in New York got under way, Haley also mentioned North Korea, which has recently has carried out missile tests that violate UN resolutions.

“We have to be realistic. Is there anyone who thinks that North Korea would ban nuclear weapons?” Haley said. “North Korea would be the one cheering and all of us and the people we represent would be the ones at risk.” (Read more from “US Leads Boycott of UN Talks on Nuclear Weapons Ban” HERE)

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Why This Pastor Refuses to Leave War-Torn Syria, and Even Considers His Work a Privilege

Pastor Edward Awabdeh has been leading souls to Christ in Syria for over a decade, even through the worst of his country’s catastrophic civil war.

“It’s so painful to see the degree of evil that’s taken place in my country,” Awabdeh says, lamenting what has become of Syria. But his faith has not only grown in response, it has helped him make sense of the disaster.

Awabdeh oversees Alliance Church and around 20 other congregations in Syria, according to a story at the U.K. Express last year, where his congregation has endured not only the horrors of the country’s civil war, but the encroaching presence of ISIS in the region.

When your mission field is a literal warzone and your congregants under constant threat of becoming casualties, carrying out the great commission is a daunting task.

In an interview with Conservative Review, Pastor Awabdeh recalls one week in particular that was exceptionally trying for his flock. During the week leading up to Easter a few years ago, one of the church girls – who was supposed to sing for Palm Sunday – lost both of her feet in a mortar attack on her school, one of the women of the church was killed in a missile attack on an apartment complex, and a son of one of the church’s pastoral team was killed amidst the conflict.

“I felt a very heavy burden … that it was too much to handle,” Awabdeh said, explaining that he also had to go through with the regular Easter services all the while supporting the grieving families affected by loss.

“It was very challenging,” he said. “But when you see people experiencing the help of the Lord and seeing that the Holy Spirit is really filling their hearts with peace, it was really a great encouragement to us. It really empowers us.”

Speaking before the interview at an event on Capitol Hill, Awabdeh told a similar story of a woman in the congregation whose son was killed by Al-Nusra forces, where militants went door to door slaughtering Christian men en masse, in a genocidal attack. He said the mother – whose son willfully and proudly accepted his martyrdom – still doesn’t know where her child is buried.

Another man he knew, Awabdeh says, was killed by Islamists simply because he had a Christian name.

But, for Christians, the Syrian civil war and its impact are just part of a larger pattern of persecution, conflict, and genocide that is steadily driving Christianity out of the region in which it was born. In his speaking engagement on Capitol Hill, hosted by the International Christian Concern, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, and the House International Religious Freedom Caucus, Awabdeh remarked sadly on Christianity’s desperate and beleaguered situation in the region.

“It seems that each year goes by, more Christians leave the country,” he said. “Century after century, Christians became less and less.”

Times are indeed dark in the pastor’s homeland. But seeing people come to Christ through such indescribable suffering and desolation is what makes the nightmare in his country make sense to him.

“I see that the Lord has allowed this disaster in my country, but that he is using this disaster to bring eternal salvation, eternal fruits [to people],” Awabdeh tells CR. “That helps me — that He has a great project that He is working on … that it is something eternal and that He is using church to be an instrument in this project. This is the most, one singular encouragement of my life.”

Having served as a pastor in Damascus since 2004, Awabdeh said that the decision to stay when war broke out was a natural one for him and his congregation, even as millions of others began to flee the carnage.

“It was not a challenging decision at all, because I am pastoring a church and I am just helping people,” he says, adding that he only thinks about it when he is asked. “So, when things got worse we felt it was just the normal thing to do — the right thing to do.”

“When things got really bad,” Pastor Awabdeh said, “we felt like it was a privilege to be there. We felt that the hand of the Lord was doing something in this country. How blessed are we that we are there to be part of what the Lord is doing in this country? So we thank God for this privilege.”

“It really taught us in a hard way how to be focused on what’s eternal. And I think this lesson was spread in a clear language to everybody among us,” he said, saying that the challenges he and his congregation have endured have taught them to rely on their faith and God completely. “We need Him every minute, every day of our lives.”

He says that when things get especially tough, one portion of scripture that he goes to for support is the second half of Romans 8, which St. Paul wrote to persecuted Christians, laying out the promises and the power of God.

“I feel that’s very comforting, the wonderful promise of Jesus,” Awabdeh says. “I always feel like the sovereignty of God and the love of God are the two wings that carry me through the storm.” (For more from the author of “Why This Pastor Refuses to Leave War-Torn Syria, and Even Considers His Work a Privilege” please click HERE)

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Russia Rocked by Nationwide Protests

Russia’s opposition, often written off by critics as a small and irrelevant coterie of privileged urbanites, put on an impressive nationwide show of strength Sunday with scores of protest rallies spanning the vast country. Hundreds were arrested, including Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner who is President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic.

It was the biggest show of defiance since the 2011-2012 wave of demonstrations that rattled the Kremlin and led to harsh new laws aimed at suppressing dissent. Almost all of Sunday’s rallies were unsanctioned, but thousands braved the prospect of arrests to gather in cities from the Far East port of Vladivostok to the “window on the West” of St. Petersburg.

An organization that monitors Russian political repression, OVD-Info, said it counted more than 800 people arrested in the Moscow demonstrations alone. That number could not be confirmed and state news agency Tass cited Moscow police as saying there were about 500 arrests. (Read more from “Russia Rocked by Nationwide Protests” HERE)

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Refugee Rights Protest at Broadmeadows, Melbourne

UK Churches Seeing a Surge in Muslim Refugee Conversions

Churches in Europe are experiencing a steep growth in membership — but not from native Europeans. New converts from Islam are reviving Christian churches in the area, Fox News reports.

Matthew Kaemingk, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in Seattle, said that Europeans think they have what they need. “Europeans are wealthy, comfortable, healthy and powerful,” he said. “In short, they don’t think they need God.”

In contrast, Muslim refugees are “quite the opposite.” They are spiritual and struggling in a variety of ways. As a result, said Kaemink, Muslim immigrants are “much more open to the message of Christianity.”

Church Growing from Muslim Converts

Muslim converts have helped Trinity church in the Berlin suburbs grow from 150 to 700 members in two years, said Pastor Gottfried Martens. One Austrian Catholic church estimated that refugees accounted for 70 percent of its 300 baptisms in 2016. The bishop of Bradford, Tony Howarth, said that 25 percent of all confirmations he conducted last year were Muslim converts.

Churches are growing in large part because they offer help and support to those most in need. And the needs are more than physical. The average Muslim experiences “a deep sense of displacement,” Kaemingk explained. “Their sense of homelessness is not only geographical, it is spiritual. Churches who offer these Muslims real and meaningful hospitality are seeing some surprising results.”

Former Refugee Remembers

Mohammad Eghtedarian recalled the harrowing days traveling from Iran to the UK, broke and scared. Christians gave him much-needed support along the way. Eghtedarian then spent four months waiting to be granted asylum. “Every day was challenging and beautiful,” he said. “Challenging because I didn’t know if they would deport me; beautiful because I was in the Lord’s hands. I promised the Lord: If you release me, I will serve you.” He’s now a curate at Liverpool Cathedral. Eghtedarian’s own refugee experience allows him to minister to current refugees in a way that perhaps others could not.

Questioning Faith Led One Refugee to Christ

One refugee named Johannes began questioning his Muslim faith while attending an Iranian university. “I found that the history of Islam was completely different from what we were taught at school.” Johannes fled to Austria after he and others were ambushed leaving a Bible class.

“A religion that began with violence cannot lead people to freedom and love,” he said. “Jesus Christ said ‘those who use the sword will die by the sword.’ This really changed my mind.”

Johannes is still waiting to hear whether he’s been granted asylum.

Converting for Asylum?

Faith leaders are well aware that some immigrants may have ulterior motives for converting. The Catholic Church in Austria has published guidelines to help priests confront the problem. It warns that admitting persons for baptism who are found to be ‘not credible’ harms the church’s credibility.

“There has to be a noticeable interest in the faith that extends beyond merely the wish to obtain a piece of paper,” said Friederike Dostal, coordinator of preparation courses in Vienna’s archdiocese. Currently, applicants for conversion must be informally assessed by the Church for a year.

Eghtedarian admitted some people pretend to convert to Christianity to help their asylum applications. “I do understand there are a lot of mixed motives. There are many people abusing the system. … but is it the person’s fault or the system’s fault? And who are they deceiving? The Home Office, me as a pastor, or God?”

He compared the deception to parents attending a church so their children can get into good Christian schools, or cheating on taxes. Eghtedarian’s response remains the same. “We still try our best to serve people. Jesus Christ knew Judas was going to betray him but he still washed his feet. Thank God it is not my job to judge them.” (For more from the author of “UK Churches Seeing a Surge in Muslim Refugee Conversions” please click HERE)

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