Why the World’s Deadliest Terrorist Group Is Training Girls to Be Suicide Bombers

A disturbing report in The New York Times details how the terrorist group Boko Haram, which is active in West Africa, trains women and girls as suicide bombers.

Boko Haram has used at least 101 women and girls as suicide bombers since June 2014, according to data compiled by The Long War Journal. The group has abducted some 2,000 women and children since 2012, and The Times reports that its female captives are ideal suicide bombers because they’re less likely to face scrutiny and suspicion. Girls are also able to easily hide heavy machinery or deadly material in their dresses or baskets. The idea of using females as suicide bombers is not a new one — The Times reports that women have been utilized as deadly weapons in other conflicts too, such as in Chechnya and Sri Lanka.

Read the rest of this article at Teen Vogue …

Mobile phones at a roadside repair kiosk that charges phones using a solar panel in Mali. (Reuters)

How New Encryption Standard Could Leave Poor Web Users Exposed

Even as fluid as the digital world can sometimes seem, change is never easy online.

As leading tech companies have attempted to push for websites to adopt stronger encryption standards, which can safeguard critical data as it moves around the Internet, some older browsers and computers are not able to support many of the updated protocols needed to enhance digital security.

That’s especially the case in the developing world, where many people still rely on older devices and Web browsers to get online and where government surveillance is often the most pervasive.

Read the rest of this article at the Christian Science Monitor …

A lock icon, signifying an encrypted Internet connection, is seen on an Internet Explorer browser. (Reuters)

Digital Divide Widens as the Web Adopts Stronger Encryption Standard

On New Year’s Day, a change meant to strengthen online security will have the inverse effect, too, leaving millions of users’ Web traffic completely exposed.

Microsoft, Google, and Mozilla will start phasing out older Internet encryption in Edge, Chrome, and Firefox browsers in favor of a newer, more secure standard. The aim is to get websites to adopt a beefier security method for ensuring private communications and safe bank transactions over the Internet.

But Web browsers that haven’t been updated in the past few years or older generations of many mobile devices, which are commonplace in much of the developing world, will be unable to use the updated encryption standard. That means that many of those users will lose access to online functions protected by the Web protocol called Secure HTTP, or HTTPS.

Read the rest of this article at the Christian Science Monitor …

Chinese police patrolled outside Johkhang Monastery in the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China in March 2014. (Reuters/Jacky Chen)

In Tibet, Bloggers Post at their Own Risk

These are treacherous days for anyone in China who dares to publicly criticize government policy, especially when it comes to Beijing’s handling the troubled ethnic minority regions of Tibet.

A Tibetan blogger named Druklo is one of the latest people to find that out the hard way. Druklo was arrested by Chinese police in a part of Qinghai province that Tibetans call Rebkong, according to a Tibetan friend who now lives in exile. The friend asked to remain anonymous out of concern that making their friendship public might put Druklo at greater risk.

Read the rest of this article at Public Radio International …

Censorship (Eric Drooker)

Scaling the Firewall: Ways Around Government Censorship Online

When Turkey temporarily blocked more than 100 websites — including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube — earlier this month in an effort to censor a photo that authorities there called “terrorist propaganda,” the blackout generated an uproar across the Web and #twitterisblockedinturkey became a top trending hashtag on Twitter.

Online censorship is something the Turkish people are becoming accustomed to, and are increasingly finding ways around. And they are hardly alone in facing regular online outages.

Read the rest of this article at the Christian Science Monitor …

Ashoka Mukpo (Jake Burghart/Vice News)

I Survived Ebola. But the Fight Doesn’t End There.

When Ashoka Mukpo speaks about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, his words carry a compassion and humanity that can only come from firsthand experience. That’s because Mukpo, 33, is one of only a handful of Americans to contract Ebola in West Africa, where he was working as a cameraman with NBC News. It’s an unusual turn in what was already an extraordinary life. Mukpo is the adopted son of the legendary Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who helped establish Tibetan Buddhism in the UK and North America.

With another US healthcare worker possibly infected with the virus and West Africa slipping from the headlines, Mukpo sat down with Tricycle to discuss his work in Liberia, his fight with Ebola, and how spiritual communities can help.

Read the rest of this article at Tricycle Magazine …

Monks in Ferguson: Six Tibetan Monks Join Demonstrators to Support Justice for Mike Brown

Tensions continued to escalate in Ferguson, Missouri over the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager shot and killed by a white police officer, Darren Wilson, on August 9. His death set off days of protests and a heavy-handed, militarized police response that has sparked national outrage.

But Ferguson residents got a pleasant surprise on Sunday: A visit from a group of Tibetan Buddhist monks.

Read the rest of this article at Tricycle …

(Daniel Hertzberg for The Boston Globe)

New Light on Black Sites: Foreign Courts Crack Down on US-Led Human Rights Abuses

“We tortured some folks.”

President Obama’s words were all the more chilling for their casualness. He was speaking to reporters on Aug. 1 about a Central Intelligence Agency program that disappeared terrorism suspects into secret CIA prisons abroad for “enhanced interrogation.” That program was just one aspect of the post-9/11 global war on terror, an ongoing conflict that also includes the mass surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden over the last year. Both government initiatives share a common thread: They offshore massive human rights abuses.

Read the rest of this article at The Boston Globe …

Gitmo detainee Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel

Terror, Torture and Resistance

When I heard about the Boston Marathon bombings, I’d just finished reading Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel’s harrowing op-ed in the New York Times. Moqbel has been on hunger strike since February to protest his indefinite imprisonment, without trial, at the United States’ detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

My horror and outrage were quickly replaced by shock and terror as news of the bombings raced across my Twitter feed. Almost immediately, I started texting friends in the area to see if they were safe. One was a block away from the finish line when the bombs went off. Another was three blocks away. Two had left the area earlier in the day. Meanwhile, a flood of texts asked if I was safe, some relaying breathless—and thankfully false—rumors about bombs on the T.

Read the rest of this article at the Huffington Post …

Tibetan Buddhist nun Palden Choetso burns on the street in Tawu in Tibetan. (Reuters/SFT)

Tibetan Self-Immolations Spark China Tension

On March 10, Tibetans around the world mark Tibetan Uprising Day, the anniversary of the 1959 revolt against Chinese rule in Lhasa, the Tibet Autonomous Region’s capital.

In March 2011, a new wave of protests began in the area ethnically/culturally identified as Tibet, which is one-quarter the size of China.

To protest against Chinese government policies, at least 105 Tibetans in historic Tibet have set themselves on fire in the last two years—the vast majority of whom have died.

View the interactive map at Al Jazeera English …

Lobsang Namgyal, who self-immolated yesterday (ICT)

Have 100 Tibetans Really Self-Immolated?

Yesterday we learned that 37-year-old Lobsang Namgyal self-immolated in Ngaba City on 3 February. The Central Tibetan Administration, the International Campaign for Tibet, and Free Tibet all referred to it as the 100th self-immolation in Tibet. Several media outlets followed their lead, including Radio Free Asia and the New York Times.

But have 100 Tibetans really self-immolated? It depends on how you count.

Continue reading » Have 100 Tibetans Really Self-Immolated?

An exiled Tibetan monk holds a picture of 50-year-old, Tamdin Thar, who burned himself to death to protest against the Chinese rule in Tibet during a rally on June 15, 2012. (Strdl/AFP/Getty Images)

China Pushing Tibet into Total Isolation as Self-Immolations Near 100

The frigid air smelled strongly of gasoline when they discovered the lifeless body of seventeen-year-old Jigji Kyab near a busy intersection in Luchu, Tibet on January 19. He was soaked in it, a lighter in each hand. Kyab had gone to the intersection to burn himself alive, swallowing fox poison before leaving so he wouldn’t survive to be locked away in a Chinese military hospital.

He succumbed to the poison before he could complete his final act. Later his parents found a note beside his bed, written in neat Tibetan print on school paper, that explained why he had chosen to sacrifice his life and conveyed his love one last time.

Continue reading at Global Post . . .

Marisa Egerstrom, far left, with the other Protest Chaplains at an Occupy Wall Street march in the fall of 2011 (Protest Chaplains)

Marisa Egerstrom: Organizer, Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation

There was an infection restlessness in the air as Marisa Egerstrom climbed the bandstand at Boston Common to address the 300-strong crowd at Occupy Boston’s first general assembly. Egerstrom and fellow faith activists from Boston—they called themselves the Protest Chaplains—had just come from the first days of Occupy Wall Street. A week later Occupy Boston would set up its own camp in Dewey Square.

Egerstrom spoke at length with Spare Change News about Occupy Boston, the spread of the Protest Chaplains, and her ongoing work to bridge communities of faith and communities of protest.

Continue reading » Marisa Egerstrom: Organizer, Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation

The Fourteenth Dalai Lama speaks at Syracus University on Dalai Lama at Syracuse University on Oct. 8, 2012 (VOA)

Self-Immolators and the Dalai Lama: What They Don’t Have in Common

On Nov. 7, 2012, the Dalai Lama sent President Barack Obama a note of congratulations on his reelection. It was, in most respects, an unremarkable form letter. For careful observers of Tibetan politics, however, the last paragraph jumped out:

As you know, it is over a year since I handed over all my political authority to the elected Tibetan leadership … I am very appreciative of your support for our Middle Way Approach, which I continue to believe is the best way for us to ensure a solution that is beneficial for both Tibetans and Chinese.

The Middle Way Approach has dominated international dialog over Tibet since 1979, when it was adopted by Central Tibetan Administration (CTA)—Tibet’s government-in-exile, of which the Dalai Lama was then head of state. Now His Holiness’ letter to Obama reaffirmed the Middle Way Approach amid growing frustration with it from Tibetans in and outside of Tibet — including some who have self-immolated.

Read the rest of this article at Global Post …

Invisible Children staff pose with weapons and personnel of the Sudanese People's Liberation Army

Why Are Evangelicals So into Uganda?

Anyone who hasn’t been under a social media rock for the past week is aware of the Kony 2012 video and viral marketing campaign started by Invisible Children. The goal is to convince US policymakers to intervene in the ongoing crisis in Central Africa by providing more US military advisers, more military aid to the Ugandan People’s Defense Force (UPDF), and more diplomatic pressure on Central African heads of state.

Continue reading » Why Are Evangelicals So into Uganda?