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The Taliban must be confronted by Afghanistan itself; No more military action: US

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If the Taliban had seized three provincial capitals in northern Afghanistan a year ago, like they did Sunday, the U.S. response would most likely have been ferocious. Fighter jets and helicopter gunships would have responded in force, beating back the Islamic group or, at the very least, stalling its advance.

But these are different times. What aircraft the U.S. military could muster from hundreds of miles away struck a cache of weapons far from Kunduz, Taliqan or Sari-i-pol, the cities that already had been all but lost to the Taliban.

The muted American response Sunday showed in no uncertain terms that America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan is over. The mismanaged and exhausted Afghan forces will have to retake the cities on their own, or leave them to the Taliban for good.

The recent string of Taliban military victories has not moved President Joe Biden to reassess his decision to end the U.S. combat mission by the end of the month, senior administration officials said Sunday. But the violence shows just how difficult it will be for Biden to extract America from the war while insisting that he is not abandoning the country in the middle of a brutal Taliban offensive.

In a speech defending the U.S. withdrawal last month, Biden said the United States had done more than enough to empower the Afghan police and military to secure the future of their people. U.S. officials have acknowledged that those forces will struggle, but argue they must now fend for themselves.

So far, the administration’s sink-or-swim strategy has not shown promising results.

Over the past week, Taliban fighters have moved swiftly to retake cities around Afghanistan, assassinated government officials, and killed civilians in the process. Throughout this, U.S. officials have publicly held out hope that Afghan forces have the resources and ability to fight back, while at the same time negotiating a peace deal with the Taliban that seems more unlikely by the day.

Leon Panetta, who served as defense secretary under President Barack Obama, said he had expected to see more U.S. air support Sunday, but he did not expect the situation would improve markedly even with the help of U.S. forces.

“Let’s face it,” Panetta said. “The most you can hope for now is some kind of stalemate” between Afghan forces and Taliban fighters, who have demonstrated little interest in reaching an accord since the U.S. troop withdrawal was announced.

At the Pentagon, where senior leaders have reluctantly cut off most military support to Afghanistan, officials were on phone calls Sunday about the unfolding events around Kunduz, a city of more than 350,000 people. The United States has twice in the past intervened to retake Kunduz from the Taliban.

But defense officials said there were no plans to take action this time beyond limited airstrikes. Over the past three weeks, the United States has used armed Reaper drones and AC-130 aerial gunships to target Taliban equipment, including heavy artillery, that threaten population centers, foreign embassies and Afghan government buildings, officials said.

One official acknowledged that with only 650 U.S. troops remaining on the ground in Afghanistan, a concerted air campaign was unlikely to undo the advances the Taliban had made.

Although the U.S. military mission will formally conclude at the end of this month, U.S. troops and their Western allies are mostly gone already. The U.S. handed over Bagram Airfield — once the military’s nerve center — to the Afghans last month, effectively ending major U.S. military operations.

Now, air support for the Afghan forces and overhead surveillance arrives from outside the country, from bases in Qatar or the United Arab Emirates, or from an aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea.

Wesley Clark, the former top NATO general under President Bill Clinton, called the weekend’s events “a tragedy for the people of Afghanistan, and a consequence of American misjudgments and failures.”

Civilian casualties have skyrocketed. Nearly 2,400 civilians have been killed or injured between May 1 and June 30, according to a United Nations report released last month, the highest number recorded for that period since monitoring began in 2009.

When asked about the Taliban’s advances Friday, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters that Biden had long been prepared to make “difficult choices” as part of his commitment to disengaging from Afghanistan.

“The president made clear: After 20 years at war, it’s time for American troops to come home,” Psaki said. “He also feels and has stated that the Afghan government and the Afghan National Defense Forces have the training, equipment and numbers to prevail, and now is the moment for the leadership and the will in the face of the Taliban’s aggression and violence.”

Psaki’s comments echoed a prevailing view among the progressive national security wing of Biden’s party that Afghan troops would fight back if given no other option.

“Like in Iraq, at a certain point the training wheels have to come off,” said Jon Soltz, an Iraq War veteran and chair of the progressive veterans group VoteVets. “That’s when the Iraqi army stepped up, and it will be when the Afghan army does.”

“They may have their backs against the wall as things move closer to Kabul, but that’s precisely when they’ll fight the hardest and hold the line,” said Soltz, who helped to train the Iraqi army. “We have done all we can to prepare them for this moment.”

So far, no senior Pentagon official has expressed exasperation publicly with Biden over the Taliban surge, which Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III predicted this past spring, when he and Gen. Mark A. Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both counseled Biden against the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops.

“We’ve seen this movie before,” Austin told his boss, in a reference to the Obama-era withdrawal from Iraq, which was followed by the rise of the Islamic State group. The United States ended up returning to Iraq and launching five years of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria to help Iraqi security forces beat back that insurgent group.

Biden has argued for pulling out of Afghanistan for years. In 2009, while serving as vice president, he argued for a minimal force, only to be overruled as Obama ordered a surge of forces, then a rapid drawdown.

But a dozen years later, as president, he made the decision to withdraw, one of the most significant decisions of his presidency so far. And despite the likelihood that the White House will confront terrible images of human suffering and loss in the coming weeks and months, Biden has vowed to press ahead regardless of the conditions on the ground.

Polls show that large numbers of Americans in both parties support leaving Afghanistan.

Biden, declaring that the United States had long ago accomplished its mission of denying terrorists a haven in Afghanistan, said in April that all U.S. troops would leave the country by Sept. 11. That date has since been moved up to Aug. 31, giving the Pentagon — and Afghan forces — under a month to slow the Taliban surge.

Administration and military officials have voiced conflicting views on whether the United States will continue airstrikes after Aug. 31 to prevent Afghan cities and the Afghan government, led by President Ashraf Ghani, from falling. But even if the airstrikes continue, they can only do so much; the bulk of the effort will have to come from Afghan forces on the ground.

In any event, Kunduz was never going to be the Afghan city that might prompt Biden to rethink his strategy, two U.S. officials said Sunday on condition of anonymity.

His hand might be forced if Taliban forces are on the verge of overrunning Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city, or even Kabul, where the United States maintains an embassy with some 4,000 people.

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Church mourns pastor, wife who died trying to save son from drowning at the beach

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A Brazilian church is mourning the loss of a pastor and his wife, who died attempting to save their teenage son from drowning at the beach.

Felisberto Sampaio, 43, and his wife, Inalda Sampaio, 42, saw their 13-year-old son, Ian Sampaio, struggling in the water at Camacari Beach in Brazil on Jan. 10. The couple entered the ocean to rescue the boy, but they failed to reach him.

As Brazilian news outlet Universo Online reported, the incident occurred around 10 a.m., citing the Civil Police, who reported that the boy was rescued by a fisherman and another family member while his parents were not pulled from the water in time.

The Fire Department confirmed to UOL that the two victims were removed from the water. The department attempted to revive them, eventually declaring the couple dead at the scene.

The Sampaio family was from the city of Campina Grande in Brazil, and the father had been a pastor for 12 years at the Assembly of God Church in Quixaba, Paraíba, according to The Daily Mail. The family was spending a couple of days in the Paraíba city of Lucena.

Members of the church mourned the couple’s death, as well as Leonardo Meneses, a pastor at a church that the family had frequently attended.

“I know that the circumstances are painful and difficult for us to understand. Only eternity will explain all the mysteries of life,” Meneses said

The couple’s oldest son, Issac Sampaio, told TV Borborema on Jan. 11 that he planned to visit his parents before their tragic deaths. The eldest child said he last saw his parents on Jan. 8.

“The thing that goes through people’s minds is that it’s a lie,” he said.
Sources:Christian Post

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NAMB church planter Clint Clifton dies in plane crash: ‘His passion for the kingdom was always on display’

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Clint Clifton, a church planter with the North American Mission Board, tragically died in a plane crash in Georgia on Thursday at the age of 43, sparking an outpouring of grief from the church planting community.

In an email sent to NAMB and Send Network staff and missionaries, NAMB President Kevin Ezel revealed Clifton died in a small plane crash in north Georgia on Thursday evening. Clifton was the only person in the plane and was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, according to the Dawson County News.

“God generously gifted Clint in so many ways. He had a pastor’s heart and was a talented church planter with a passion for reaching people for Christ. He loved what we do here at NAMB and poured his heart and life into it. We miss him already and he leaves a void that can’t be filled,” Ezel wrote.

“As we pray for and encourage Clint’s family and closest friends, let’s all take care of each other as we walk through the grief and shock of this moment. Nothing can prepare you for news like this, but we have a Savior who will carry us and sustain us in the days ahead.”

According to Dawson County News, the crash occurred Thursday evening but was not reported until Friday morning. Clifton was reportedly in his personal plane when the accident occurred.

Clifton and his wife, Jennifer, had been married since 2000 and had five children: Noah, Ruthe, Isaiah, Betchina and Moses. Clifton hosted the New Churches podcast and served in numerous ministry positions throughout the Southeast prior to planting Pillar Church in Dumfries, Virginia, where he served as an elder, according to Baptist Press.

In a letter sent to the members of Pillar Church, Colby Garman, teaching pastor of Pillar Church, said the news of Clifton’s death comes as a “tidal wave of sorrow” to both the church and his family.

“There are not adequate words to express the feeling of loss that they have experienced. In addition to being a great pastor he was a better husband and father,” he said.

“We share in the sorrow and loss with them not only because in Christ we have been made family together but also because of the powerful and practical impact Clint’s life has had on all of us. He was a special person that we are going to miss so deeply. It is impossible to imagine Pillar Church without his unique passion and joyful presence.”

In a social media post on Friday night, pastor and author David Platt mourned Clifton’s passing.

“Words can’t express the respect I have for Clint as a husband, dad, church planter, & friend. I’m stunned & really sad. And I really long for the day when news like this is no more,” he wrote. “Please pray for Clint’s amazing wife, Jennifer, & their incredible kids.”

Trevin Wax, NAMB vice president for research and resource development, said his team was “stunned” by the loss.

“Clint was a gifted leader who loved pouring his life into mentoring and resourcing church planters. His passion for the kingdom was always on display, and he devoted ceaseless energies into seeing pastors strengthened and equipped for mission.”

In a recent Instagram post, Clifton revealed he was gearing up for the release of a new book titled How to Start a Residency, which he said answers nine practical questions about turning everyday members into ministry leaders.”

In a 2014 interview with The Christian Post, Clifton shared his passion for bringing the Gospel to underserved communities and areas resistant to the Good News.

“The truth is, lost people don’t see a need for new churches so the communities are always resistant to churches, especially churches that are clear on the Gospel,” said Clifton. “It’s an uphill battle planting churches in a city that doesn’t see a use for them. The challenges are numerous, the city is expensive, the culture is diverse but Jesus saves. His Gospel is powerful and will grow wherever it’s planted.”

In his email, Garman reminded Pillar Church members that as believers, they “do not sorrow as those without hope.”

“As you process this news I would encourage you to bring your sorrows to the Lord and share the burden with one another,” he wrote. Share stories together of Clint’s impact on your life, give fresh consideration to the purpose God has given each of your lives, and endeavor to make the most of the moments God has given us to walk together.”
Sources:Christian Post

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അമേരിക്കയില്‍ സാത്താന്‍ ആരാധക സമ്മേളനത്തിന് പദ്ധതിയുമായി സാത്താനിക് ടെംപിള്‍

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ബോസ്റ്റണ്‍: പൈശാചിക പ്രവര്‍ത്തികള്‍ക്കെതിരെയുള്ള പ്രതിഷേധത്തിനിടെ ചരിത്രത്തിലെ ഏറ്റവും വലിയ സാത്താന്‍ ആരാധകരുടെ സമ്മേളനം നടത്തുമെന്ന് അമേരിക്കയിലെ സാത്താനിക് ടെംപിളിന്റെ പ്രഖ്യാപനം. തങ്ങളുടെ വെബ്സൈറ്റിലൂടെയാണ് സാത്താന്‍ ആരാധകര്‍ ഈ പ്രഖ്യാപനം നടത്തിയിരിക്കുന്നത്. ഏപ്രില്‍ 28 മുതല്‍ 30 വരെ മസാച്ചുസെറ്റ്സിലെ ബോസ്റ്റണില്‍ ‘സാത്താന്‍കോണ്‍ 2023’ സംഘടിപ്പിക്കുമെന്നാണ് ഇവരുടെ പ്രഖ്യാപനം. ‘ഹെക്സെന്‍നാഷ്ട് ഇന്‍ ബോസ്റ്റണ്‍’ (ബോസ്റ്റണിലെ ദുര്‍മന്ത്രവാദികളുടെ രാത്രി) എന്നതാണ് കോണ്‍ഫറന്‍സിന്റെ പ്രമേയം. രോഗികളില്‍ നിന്നും ദുരാത്മാക്കളെ ഒഴിവാക്കുന്നതില്‍ പ്രസിദ്ധയായ ജര്‍മ്മനിയിലെ വാല്‍ബുര്‍ഗ വിശുദ്ധയായി പ്രഖ്യാപിക്കപ്പെട്ടതിന്റെ വാര്‍ഷികമാണ് മെയ് 1. ഇതിന്റെ തൊട്ടുതലേന്നാള്‍ വരെ പൈശാചികമായ കൂട്ടായ്മ നടത്താനാണ് ഇവരുടെ പദ്ധതി.

ഈ മാസം ആദ്യം ‘സാത്താന്‍കോണ്‍ 2023’യുടെ പരസ്യം ഇന്‍സ്റ്റാഗ്രാമിലും പ്രത്യക്ഷപ്പെട്ടിരുന്നു. സംഘടനയുടെ പത്താമത് വാര്‍ഷികത്തോട് അനുബന്ധിച്ച് നടക്കുന്ന ഈ കോണ്‍ഫറന്‍സ് സാത്താന്‍ ആരാധകരുടെ ചരിത്രത്തിലെ ഏറ്റവും വലിയ കോണ്‍ഫറന്‍സായിരിക്കുമെന്നും, കോണ്‍ഫറന്‍സിന്റെ ഭാഗമായി സാത്താന്‍ ആരാധനയും, സാത്താനിക ചര്‍ച്ചകളും, സാത്താനിക മാര്‍ക്കറ്റും ഉണ്ടായിരിക്കുമെന്നും പരസ്യത്തില്‍ പറയുന്നു. ഇതിന്റെ ഭാഗമായി പുറത്തുവിട്ട വീഡിയോയില്‍ “സിക്കുട്ട് മാട്രിബസ് സിറ്റ് സാത്താന നോബിസ്” (സാത്താന്‍ നമുക്ക് അമ്മയേപ്പോലെ ആകട്ടെ) എന്ന പരസ്യവാചകമാണ് ഉപയോഗിച്ചിരിക്കുന്നത്.

നേരത്തെ ‘ക്രിസ്ത്യന്‍ സംഘടനയെ പതാക ഉയര്‍ത്തുന്നതിന് വിലക്ക് ഏര്‍പ്പെടുത്തിയ ബോസ്റ്റൺ നഗരസഭയുടെ നടപടി റദ്ദ് ചെയ്ത അമേരിക്കന്‍ സുപ്രീം കോടതിവിധിയെത്തുടര്‍ന്ന്‍ ബോസ്റ്റണ്‍ സിറ്റി ഹാളില്‍ തങ്ങളുടെ പതാക ഉയര്‍ത്തുവാന്‍ അനുവാദം നല്‍കണമെന്ന് ആവശ്യപ്പെട്ടുകൊണ്ട് സാത്താന്‍ ആരാധകര്‍ അപേക്ഷ സമര്‍പ്പിച്ചിരുന്നു. എന്നാല്‍ ബോസ്റ്റണ്‍ സിറ്റി ഇത് തള്ളി. ഇതിന്റെ കൂടെ വെളിച്ചത്തിലാണ് പൈശാചിക സമ്മേളനം നടക്കുക. സ്കൂള്‍ വിദ്യാര്‍ത്ഥികളില്‍ സാത്താനിക വിഷം കുത്തിവെക്കുക എന്ന ലക്ഷ്യത്തോടെ നടപ്പിലാക്കിയ ആഫ്റ്റര്‍ സ്കൂള്‍ പരിപാടികള്‍ക്കും, ആഫ്റ്റര്‍ സ്കൂള്‍ സാത്താന്‍ ക്ലബ്ബിനുമെതിരെ കടുത്ത വിമര്‍ശനം ഉയര്‍ന്നിരിന്നു. ഇതിനിടെയാണ് പൈശാചിക സമ്മേളനവും ഒരുങ്ങുക. വരും നാളുകളില്‍ ഇതിനെതിരെ വ്യാപക പ്രതിഷേധം ഉയരുമെന്നാണ് നിരീക്ഷിക്കപ്പെടുന്നത്.
കടപ്പാട് :പ്രവാചക ശബ്ദം

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