tsunamiA tsunami triggered by an 8.9 magnitude earthquake wreaked havoc on Japan Friday at 2:46 p.m. The megaquake is the largest in Japan’s recorded history, and the world’s seventh most powerful earthquake, spawning a destructive tsunami that wiped out boats, homes, and people, and caused widespread fires in its path. It prompted tsunami warnings in the entire Pacific, South America, Alaska, Canada, and the entire U.S. west coast. The death toll from the disaster has already exceeded 680 as of Saturday at midnight local time. Meanwhile, 300,000 residents have been evacuated from their homes by the Japanese National Police Agency.

The latest victim of Jihadist violence in Pakistan is the man who was the only Christian serving in that nation’s government. Until his murder on March 2, Shahbaz Bhatti was Pakistan’s Minorities Minister; when he accepted that office in 2008 he said that he was doing so for the sake of the “oppressed, down-trodden and marginalized” of Pakistan. Now he has given his life while fulfilling that responsibility.

Even as Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani (picture, left), was declaring his nation’s harsh blasphemy laws to be “categorically excluded” from any possibility of reform, those very laws were allegedly being used once again to persecute a Christian woman for the sake of private gain.

kerry gilaniThe campaign in Pakistan against Parliamentarian Sherry Rehman is emphasizing the same brutal aspect of Islamic law which was written in blood at the time of the assassination of Governor Salman Taseer: Any politician who opposes the imposition of the death penalty for blasphemy has "proven" that they too are guilty of blasphemy.

In one of the most ironic and revealing moves in the unfolding of relations between the United States and China, China has announced that it is seeking a shift to the gold standard. According to the World Gold Council, the market development organization for the gold industry, China’s appetite for gold has been rapidly expanding: It consumed 175.2 tons of gold in the fourth quarter of 2010, bringing its grand total for the year to 579.5 tons, or 18.5 million ounces. By comparison, the United States consumed a mere 233.3 tons of gold in 2010. While it is unknown how much of China’s gold acquisitions were made by private citizens, industry, or central banks, speculations remain as to what the country's true intentions are regarding its continued massive purchase and use of the gold.