Religious and human rights leaders from around the world have stepped forward to defend a Pakistani Christian girl who has been arrested and jailed for the supposed crime of blasphemy. Rimsha Masih, who is believed to be around 11 years old and who reportedly has Down syndrome, was accused in mid-August of burning a booklet containing scripture from the Quran, and for throwing the burned pages into the garbage. According to Mission Network News, the girl, who is from a rural area of Mehrabadi in Islamabad, was taken by a mob that threatened to burn the homes of Christians in the area unless she was arrested by the police.
The communist dictatorship ruling mainland China uses its so-called “news agencies” and “journalists” to spy on dissidents and foreign governments, charged Canadian author and reporter Mark Bourrie, who resigned from the regime’s Xinhua service after realizing what was going on. He recently blew the whistle on the scheme — long suspected by intelligence agencies and well documented by analysts — with an explosive August 23 article in Ottawa Magazine.
According to Bourrie, a respected journalist with insider access to Canadian politics, his Chinese editors regularly requested articles on critics of the regime and their activities in Canada. Those stories, unsurprisingly, were never published, sparking suspicions by Bourrie that he was being used to collect intelligence.
Former Syrian “Prime Minister” Riad Hijab has reportedly defected to the opposition, dealing what analysts said was a symbolic blow to the regime of dictator Bashar al-Assad in its ongoing battle against Western-backed rebels and Islamist forces. The dictatorship disputed those allegations, however, claiming that the ex-premier had actually been fired.
Initial media reports of Hijab’s defection were citing unnamed “opposition activists” who also, apparently inaccurately, claimed that three other government ministers had already fled the country as well. Later, a man claiming to be a spokesman for the former prime minister, whose whereabouts are currently unknown, appeared on Al Jazeera to read a statement supposedly on Hijab’s behalf.
The Israeli news outlet DebkaFile reports that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned the country's top military chiefs during a recent war council meeting to expect "war within weeks." According to DebkaFile,
“While retaliation had been exhaustively drilled in regular military exercises in the past year, Khamenei ordered the biggest fortification project in Iran’s history to save its nuclear program from even the mightiest of America’s super-weapons. Rocks are being gathered from afar, piled on key nuclear installations, covered with many tons of poured concrete and finally plated with steel.”
WikiLeaks' “Syria Files,” 2.4 million emails purloined from anonymous Syrian government sources, seem destined to have a greater impact on the West than on Syria. The headlines thus far have left a black mark on the U.S.-based Vogue magazine as well as the New York City-based public relations firm Brown Lloyd James.