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President Obama's 'red line' crossed in Syria

 A Syrian refugee waves a Syrian Independence flag during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad at Yayladagi refugee camp in Hatay province on the Turkish-Syrian border (Credit Umit Bektas/Reuters) One year ago, President Obama said that the use of chemical weapons would be the “red line” that forced the United States to intervene in the Syrian civil war.  That line has been crossed in recent weeks and the death count has reached over 100,000 as the 30-month mark of this civil war is approaching; we are waiting to hear what course of action the Commander-in-Chief will take.

This administration has proved to be reluctant in its involvement concerning conflicts in the Middle East, and its intervention now would surely be a commitment to the aftermath as well.  According to George Friedman's Stratfor analysis, when and if the United States and its allies take further action in Syria, it will “likely seek a limited scope to any possible operation." He goes on to say that "a punitive series of missile strikes and airstrikes or an effort to dismantle Bashar al Assad's ability to use chemical weapons is most likely.”

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Muslim Brotherhood attacks Christian orphanage in Egypt

Coptic Christians protest outside the White House over the violence and the treatment of Coptic Christians by the Egyptian government (Credit: Talk Radio News Service via Flickr) Christians are being killed and churches are burning to the ground in Egypt.  Over 60 church buildings have been attacked in just the last week, including the 5th century built Virgin Mary and Anba Abraam monastery in southern Egypt.  Muslim Brotherhood loyalists are the aggressors; they promise to build a mosque in place of the demolished church.  They are furious that their president, Mohammed Morsi, was ousted from power on July 3rd.  

Coptic Pope Tawadros II stood with General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi when Morsi's removal was announced.  But he was one of many leaders standing against the Muslim Brotherhood's hold on power and not a dominant figure in military overthrow of President Morsi's government.  This in part is why the Coptics are being singled out, but Egypt's Christians have long been a persecuted minority, representing about 10 percent of Egypt's 80 million residents.  Since the Arab Spring and Morsi's climb to power, Christians have seen increasing hostility in Egypt.  Thousands have fled the country to protect their lives and their families since 2011.

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What's next in Egypt?

Egyptian anti-Morsi protesters react to the military announcement in Tahrir Square in Cairo on July 3, 2013. The head of Egypt's armed forces, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, issued a declaration on Wednesday suspending the constitution and appointing the head of the constitutional court as interim head of state, effectively removing president Mohammed Morsi from power (Credit: Reuters/Suhaib Salem)Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi has been removed from office by his country's military.  Responding to massive demonstrations against Morsi's rule, military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced that Adly Mansour, chief justice of the Constitutional Court, has replaced Morsi on an interim basis.  The constitution has also been suspended, with promises that the provisional government will hold new parliamentary and presidential elections.

This action would be akin to the U.S. military replacing President Obama with Chief Justice Roberts, removing the Democratic Party from national power, and suspending the U.S. Constitution.  Imagine how life would change in America overnight.

What will happen now in Egypt?

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The faith of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela receives the Freedom of the City of Tswane award in Guateng Province, South Africa, May 13, 2008 (Credit: South Africa Good News via Flickr)Nelson Mandela is one of the world's most revered figures.  Imprisoned in South Africa for 27 years, he rose from prisoner to president, leading his nation from 1994 to 1999.  It is believed that he suffered lung damage while working in a prison quarry; he also contracted tuberculosis in the 1980's while being held at windswept Robben Island.  After retiring from public life in 2004, he has been rarely seen in public.

We know about his fight against apartheid and triumphant election as South Africa's first black president.  But what about his personal faith?

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Why the conflict in Turkey matters to you

Protesters carry the Turkish flag and shout anti-government slogans during a demonstration at Gezi Park near Taksim Square in central Istanbul on June 3, 2013 (Credit: Reuters/Stoyan Nenov)I have traveled often in Turkey over the years and have been amazed by the contrast between the country and other Muslim nations.  Modern Turkey was founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923, following the Ottoman Empire's defeat in World War I.  This "empire," the largest the world had ever seen, originated in Turkey but spread across the globe and spanned four centuries.

As a result of the Ataturk's reforms, women in Turkey are not required to wear Islamic clothing; men often wear Western suits.  The government functions as a parliamentary democracy where clerics have no political office (unlike Iran, for instance, where Shiite Supreme Leader Khamenei is the de-facto leader of the nation).

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