5 Dumb Things Christians Must Stop Saying When Evil Strikes


From 9/11 to Orlando to hate crimes surrounding the election, the presence of evil in our world is inevitable but as Christians, how do we offer comfort? Sometimes it’s what NOT to say.

By Karl Vaters

[Editor’s Note: This article was originally published following the Orlando tragedy, but its message rings remarkably true for every act of evil we encounter.]

In trying to make sense of events like this, were all capable of saying something stupid.

Christians are no exception to this. Sometimes we say dumb things. Things that hurt when were trying to help.

In this, and other past events (sadly, there are just so many of them) Ive noticed five dumb things Christians tend to say.

1. This is an opportunity for the church

Evil acts are not opportunities. Theyre just evil.

Can God redeem them? Of course. Thats the central principle of the gospelhow the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus overcame evil with good.

But when we use words like opportunity we soundwellopportunistic.

This is not the time to look for an angle. Its time for prayer, grief, compassion and love without agenda.

Of course, its always time for that. But now more than ever.

2. This is Gods wrath for

We live in a sinful, broken world. Were the ones who broke it. And we break it a little more every day.

Evil acts, like the terrorism of last weekend, are prime evidence of that brokenness and of our inherent sinfulness. The sinfulness we all share.

No matter why the terrorist targeted that club, one thing is clear: He wasnt sent by God.

If you think he was, then you have to be in favor of what happened. No believer in the Prince of Peace can do that.

3. Did you hear?

Rumors are coming.

And conspiracy theories.

They always do, following incidents like this.

Followers of Jesus must always speak with grace and truth. Not innuendo and rumor.

Resist the urge to pass along any news that hasnt been proven by reliable sources. Theres enough misinformation out there without Christians starting or sharing untruths.

4. I dont agree with their lifestyle (or politics, or religion, or), but

When people are in pain, why even mention our differences?

I dont care what side of the moral, religious, political, ethnic or sexual fence youre on right now. Even if youre not on my side.

In the face of massive loss due to horrifying evil, we need to concentrate on our common humanity.

5. Everything happens for a reason

No. It just doesnt.

Evil has no reason. It is anti-reason. And anti-love.

And dont spout any nonsense about evil balancing out the good. Evil balances nothing. It keeps everything off balance.

Thats why God hates it.

Everything happens for a reason is more pagan than Christian. Its more about Karma than Christ.

Evil is not supposed to happen. It does. Obviously. But it shouldnt.

In order to make sense of things, were tempted to offer easy answers. But when people are in pain, we need to resist the urge. Uncomfortable silence is better than false platitudes.

I dont know why this happened, but Im crying with you is a far better answer to someone who has lost a loved one than hackneyed tripe like God must have wanted another angel.

If you dont know what to say, dont say anything at all.

What to Do Instead of Talking

The biblical response to those in pain is simple, but profound.

Cry with those who cry.

So, to the families, friends and loved ones of those affected by this unspeakable evil…

There is no way for us to know what youre going through. So we wont pretend we do.

But we are crying with you.

**This post originally appeared on Christianity Today.

See more from Karl Vaters on his blog.

Read more: http://faithit.com/5-dumb-things-christians-must-stop-saying-evil-strikes-karl-vaters/

The Guardian view on Donald Trumps team: not the new normal | Editorial

The Guardian view on Donald Trumps team: not the new normal | Editorial

Editorial: The president-elect has appointed oilmen, bankers, generals and anti-government ideologues. It is a tainted team for a tainted president chosen in a tainted election

The idea that Donald Trump might become a normal American president once he moved into the White House was always for the birds. The 2016 contest was an abnormal election won by an abnormal politician. It was an abnormal election because hackers linked to the Russian government worked to help Mr Trumps cause; because the head of the FBI tossed a political hand grenade into the closing stages of the contest which helped Mr Trumps cause; and because, since a US supreme court ruling in 2013, states that want to have exploited a power to impose voter ID rules that intentionally keep African Americans off the rolls. Oh, and 2.8 million more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than Mr Trump. Thats hardly normal either.

Mr Trump was and remains an abnormal politician because he threatens changes that, with almost no exception, are genuinely destructive to American values and interests, not least to the interests of many of those white working-class voters who voted for him in the hope of change. He has now assembled a government team which, again almost without exception, testifies to this reality. These appointments confirm that he cannot be regarded as a president like any other. Perhaps, in five weeks time, when he actually succeeds Barack Obama in the Oval Office, he will start to do things that suggest otherwise. But that has not happened yet.

The first threat from the new appointments is that it is Team Corporate America. The new secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, is one of the biggest oil moguls on the planet, chief executive of ExxonMobil, friend of Vladimir Putin and the Middle Eastern petrolocracies. The new energy secretary, Rick Perry, is an oilman and a climate change sceptic. Scott Pruitt, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, a body he would like to see closed down, holds those prejudices even more strongly. This will be a pro-carbon, pro-drilling and anti-climate change administration like no other.

It is also political Christmas for the Wall Street bankers. The new Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, is a former Goldman Sachs investment banker whose stated priority is to cut corporate taxation by more than half. He will join former Goldman banker and Breitbart chief Stephen Bannon, Mr Trumps ultra-rightwing chief strategist, and the Goldman president, Gary Cohn, who will become, in effect, the new presidents chief economic adviser. Mr Trump may have railed against bankers, and Goldman in particular, during the campaign, but he has put them at the heart of his economic thinking.

The third fox in the governmental hen house is the military. Mr Trump said during the campaign that he knew more than the generals about the threat from Islamic State. But the generals will occupy key roles in his administration to such a degree that the head of Human Rights Watch has said there will be a whiff of military junta about it. With James Mattis at defence, the temperamental Islamophobe Michael Flynn as national security adviser, John Kelly in charge of the enormous homeland security bureaucracy and Mike Pompeo as the new CIA director, military men have seized some key jobs. Whether this heralds the politicisation of themilitary or the militarisation of politics will be a key question.

Mr Trumps appointments also point unerringly towards the dismantling of federal government programmes in other crucial areas. Making Andrew Puzder labor secretary puts an opponent of raising the minimum wage in charge of it. Betsy DeVos at education will be a privatiser running public schools policy. Tom Price at health and human services is both an arch-critic of Mr Obamas affordable care programme and a privatiser of the Medicare retirement care programme. Ben Carson at housing and urban development does not agree with government safety nets. Overall, the militarywill prosper at the expense of the poor. Guns not healthcare.

There is nothing normal about any of this; just as there is nothing normal about appointing Jeff Sessions, the Alabaman who has spent years in the Senate trying to roll back voting rights for African Americans, attorney general; and nothing normal about the expected appointment of an anti-choice justice to take the vacancy on the supreme court. In heavily tainted circumstances, America has elected a president who seems wholly unable to distinguish between private interest and public responsibility. As long as Mr Trump does so little to respect his own office, it is hard for others to respect him andit as they would normally.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/14/the-guardian-view-on-donald-trumps-team-not-the-new-normal


This post is a part of a Trending Traffic Application that is being utilised by Robert A Williams to bring Traffic to this site. If you need content for your site(s) then get in touch with Robert A Williams
Please Read from the Horses Mouth magazine

30 gift ideas for people who hate to cook

It’s Still not too Late to get your Christmas Shopping Done

When shopping for friends who hate to cook, there are two things to keep in mind:

1. They’ll want gifts that allow them to cook less.

2. They won’t want gifts that make cooking easier, because they’ll still have to cook.

However, we think the latter is good for them. Everyone should be able to whip a little something up in the kitchen.

Here are 30 gift ideas for that special someone in your life who would rather do anything than cook.


1. Countertop Dishwasher

Image: target

Price: $229.99

Cleaning up can be even worse than cooking.

2. Breakfast Sandwich Maker

Image: amazon

Price: $24.99

Minimal effort required.

3. Microwave

Image: target

Price: $49.99

To heat up leftovers, of course.

4. Clear View Toaster

Image: amazon

Price: $49.99

Never burn toast again.

5. Rice Cooker/Food Steamer

Image: amazon

Price: $29.00

Much easier than boiling water, straining the rice, et cetera…

6. Snoopy Grilled Cheese Maker

Image: lakeside

Price: $24.98

No cooking required. Just pop some bread and cheese inside.

7. Slow Cooker

Image: target

Price: $29.99

Just throw in a bunch of ingredients and walk away.

8. Lockitron

Image: Lockitron

Price: Starts at $99.00

Lockitron is a lock that gets installed on a front door and is controlled by their app. Your friend who orders takeout all the time can stay on the couch and use their phone to unlock the door for the Seamless delivery person.

9. Food Dehydrator

Image: amazon

Price: $58.49

Make zero-effort jerky and dried fruits in just a few hours.

Miscellaneous Kitchen Stuff

10. Fun Tupperware

Price: $7.99 for three

Get excited about storing leftovers by using stylish containers.

11. Beauty Clean Kitchen Gloves

Image: fred

Price: $12.00

Make the reluctant cook’s dishwashing experience a little more glamorous.

12. Chinese Takeout Box Candle

Image: amazon

Price: $19.61

The person who hates to cook loves takeout. Celebrate that with takeout box-shaped candles.

13. The Mug with a Hoop

Image: uncommongoods

Price: $24.00

Your friend who dislikes cooking probably eats cereal a lot so an interactive bowl might make that a little more fun.

14. The Never Soggy Cereal Bowl

Image: amazon

Price: $18.87

And if they don’t like cereal getting soggy, this bowl will keep cereal and milk separate until the moment of consumption.

15. “Fork It Let’s Get Takeout” Box

Image: amazon

Price: From $18.79

To store their overflowing pile of takeout menus.

16. Stainless Steel Bread Box

Image: uncommongoods

Price: $75.00

Keep bread fresher longer so they don’t have to go to the grocery store for more.

17. Pretty Dish Soap Dispenser

Image: etsy

Price: $29.99

Again, washing dishes is even worse than cooking.

18. Decorative Wooden Stove Top Cover

Image: lakeside

Price: $24.98

They rarely use their stove anyway. May as well create some extra counter space.


19. Hot Pockets

Image: hot pockets

Price: Varying


20. Italian Black Truffle Salt

Image: uncommongoods

Price: $39.95

For those times your friend does attempt to cook and it turns out bland let them spice it up with some fancy-ass salt.

21. Eggo Waffles

Image: eggo

Price: Varying

Bring our your friend’s inner Eleven with the easiest way to make waffles there ever was.


22. Ina Garten’s Cooking for Jeffrey

Price: $35.00 for a signed copy

All their friends who actually like to cook will be impressed.

23.The Can’t Cook Book: Recipes for the Absolutely Terrified!

Image: amazon

Price: $16.99

How to cook, for those who think they can’t.

24. All Out Of Pad

Image: amazon

Price: $9.59

Teaching your pal to love grocery shopping may make them eventually get into cooking.

25. How to Boil Water

Price: $16.63

Cooking for beginners.

Experiential Gifts

26. MealPal Membership

Image: mealpal

Price: $5.99/meal or $6.39/meal

If your friend lives in DC, New York, Miami, San Francisco, Boston or Chicago, treat them to a MealPal subscription, which allows them to pick up a prepaid lunch from thousands of restaurants in their city.

27. Blue Apron Gift Card

Image: blue apron

Price: Starts at $9.99/meal

Blue Apron mails you the exact amount of ingredients needed to cook a meal so nothing goes to waste, and there are way less dishes to clean up.

28. Seamless Gift Card

Image: seamless

Price: $10 minimum

Or just let them give in to take out.

29. Cooking Classes at Sur la Table

Image: Sur la Table

Price: Varying

Even if they still hate cooking, at least they’ll be good at it now.

30. Costco Membership

Image: costco

Price: $55.00/year or $110.00/year

So they can go in and eat the free samples.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/11/21/gifts-people-hate-cooking/


This post is a part of a Trending Traffic Application that is being utilised by Robert A Williams to bring Traffic to this site. If you need content for your site(s) then get in touch with Robert A Williams

National Lottery accounts feared hacked – BBC News

National Lottery accounts feared hacked – BBC News

Image copyright Camelot

About 26,500 National Lottery accounts are feared to have been hacked, according to its operator Camelot.

The firm said it did not believe its own systems had been compromised, but rather that the players’ login details had been stolen from elsewhere.

The company said that no money had been taken from or added to the compromised accounts.

But it added that there had been other suspicious activity on fewer than 50 of them.

The Information Commissioner’s Office said it had launched an investigation into the matter.

“Camelot submitted a breach report to us last night which we have reviewed. We will be talking to Camelot today,” said a spokeswoman.

“The Data Protection Act requires organisations to do all they can to keep personal data secure – that includes protecting it from cyberattacks. Where we find this has not happened, we can take action.

“Organisations should be reminded that cybersecurity is a matter for the boardroom, not just the IT department.”

Personal information

Camelot said it became aware of the problem on Sunday.

“We are currently taking all the necessary steps to fully understand what has happened, but we believe that the email address and password used on the National Lottery website may have been stolen from another website where affected players use the same details,” it said in a statement.

“We do not hold full debit card or bank account details in National Lottery players’ online accounts and no money has been taken or deposited.

“However, we do believe that this attack may have resulted in some of the personal information that the affected players hold in their online account being accessed.”

A spokeswoman added that the accounts represented a small fraction of the draw’s 9.5 million registered online players.

Camelot is contacting the owners of the accounts thought to have been compromised and instructing them to change their passwords.

One security expert said there had been many recent attacks where logins stolen from one platform had been tested and used to breach another.

But he still had concerns about Camelot’s explanation.

“If there’s 26,500 accounts here and they are saying the credentials are correct but they didn’t come from us, they still let an attacker log in 26,500 times,” said Troy Hunt.

“That alone is something that illustrates a deficiency.”

Other recent attacks targeted at the UK public include:

  • Deliveroo – users of the takeaway food app said their accounts had been billed for food they had not ordered. The firm said the hacks had been carried out using passwords stolen from elsewhere
  • Sony PlayStation Network – hundreds of gamers complained about being locked out of their online accounts. Many said that once Sony had restored their access, they had found that funds were missing. The firm suggested the users might have had their credential stolen by a phishing campaign
  • Tesco Bank – a total of 2.5m was stolen from about 9,000 of the bank’s online accounts. The firm has said it was a “systematic, sophisticated attack” but has not provided further detail

Password tips:

Image copyright Cameolt

The University of Surrey’s Prof Alan Woodward says these rules should be observed when setting an online password:

Don’t choose one obviously associated with you

Hackers can find out a lot about you from social media so if they are targeting you specifically and you choose, say, your pet’s name you’re in trouble.

Choose words that don’t appear in a dictionary

Hackers can precalculate the encrypted forms of whole dictionaries and easily reverse engineer your password.

Use a mixture of unusual characters

You can use a word or phrase that you can easily remember but where characters are substituted, eg, Myd0gha2B1g3ars!

You can make this even stronger by adding in some random characters, eg Myd0g*ha2B1g$3ars!, if you can remember them. But don’t be tempted to make the phrase simpler and shorter in order to help you recall it.

Have different passwords for different sites and systems

If hackers compromise one system you do not want them having the key to unlock all your other accounts. As we all have so many accounts, you should consider using a password manager. This has the added advantage that it will suggest strong passwords.

Related Topics

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-38155710

9 Christmas Tips Your Mom Would Be Proud Of

This article is part of HuffPost’s Reclaim campaign, an ongoing project spotlighting the world’s waste crisis and how we can begin to solve it.

People create an insane amount of garbage over the holidays, but they don’t have to.

From the ridiculous quantities of food prepared for a holiday feast, to the huge pile of gifts placed under the tree, a lot of stuff gets bought for December festivities, only to be unceremoniously tossed by New Year’s.

Americans generate about 25 percent more household waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s than the rest of the year, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. That’s about 1 million extra tons of trash.

In the spirit of holiday goodness, here are a few ways to be less wasteful:

  • 1. Dont Over-Shop
    Vstock LLC via Getty Images

    Every hosts worst nightmare is to have guests leave their home hungry, so people tend to purchase and prepare far too much for large meals, leading to mountains ofuneaten leftovers.

    When grocery shopping, pre-planyour list to make sure you dont over-shop. If you have some vegetarians, opt for a smaller turkey. If there are a lot of kids, try making something picky-eater-friendly, like mashed potatoes.

    Most of all, prepare food that makes for good leftovers: Theres nothing like a cold turkey and cranberry sandwich. But day-old fondue? Not so much.

  • 2. Dont Toss Odds And Ends Of Veggies While You Cook
    Doug Menuez via Getty Images
    Those small bits of zucchini or carrot left over after you chop may not look great on your meticulously Instagrammable entree, but they are good for other things: Use veggie bits to make dishes like vegetable stock, veggie omelets or quiche.
  • 3. Let Guests Serve Themselves
    Ariel Skelley via Getty Images
    This is just practical, since whoever prepared the huge meal is probably too exhausted to serve each and every guest. But more importantly, if you lay food out buffet style,people can select only what they really want,and there is less chance of food getting left uneaten and tossed.
  • 4. Dont Lose The Leftovers
    bhofack2 via Getty Images
    If you have too much food left, bag some up for guests to take home. Otherwise, putit all in tupperware to eat for lunch over the next couple days. And if you honestly cant take the sight of another cold turkey sandwich or pea soup, just freeze whats left for future use.
  • 5. Donate Non-Perishable Food
    Blend Images – KidStock via Getty Images
    Any non-perishable items that werent used such as canned cranberry sauce and gravy, or powdered mashed potatoes (I wont tell your mother-in-law you dont make it from scratch) can be donated to your local food bank.
  • 6. No Matter How Excited You Are, Dont Rip Wrapping Paper
    Blend Images – KidStock via Getty Images
    Tossing wrapping paper after one usetakes a toll on the environment. Yeah,half the fun of getting gifts is violently tearing them open on Christmas morning but try to encourage kids to unwrap gently so the paper can be reused.Even better,opt for recycled alternatives like newspapers or brown bags.
  • 7. Regift Any Clothes You Dont Want
    Thomas Janisch via Getty Images

    Got another ugly sweater or awkward pair of socks from your least favorite uncle? Dont toss them: The average American throws out 70 pounds of clothing each year and 85 percent of it ends up in landfills, where it decomposes, releasing greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

    Instead, regift it to someone else, or justdonate it to your local Goodwill.

  • 8. Give Less Altogether
    Ryan McVay via Getty Images

    Instead of having every person buy presents for every other person in the family, try a gift-swap instead.

    With games like Secret Santa or White Elephant, each person walks away with only one gift. Secret Santa presents tend to be selected with the specific recipient in mind, and White Elephant lets players trade gifts with the group for something else they want.

  • 9. Get The Right Kind Of Christmas Tree
    Danielle Donders via Getty Images

    Is it better to buy a real tree youll use once or a fake tree you can re-use for years? It turns out, the reusable one mightbe worse for the environment.

    Fake trees are often made of toxic, non-recyclable materials and will end up in landfills once theyre tossed. Whats more, the vast majority are imported from China, meaning they have a major carbon footprint from shipping.

    If you get a real tree, make sure you buy local and dispose of it correctly: Experts recommend replantingor recycling it. If youre lucky enough to live in an eco-friendly city like San Francisco, you can just leave it by the street and it will get recycled. In New York City, you can bring it to select city parks to get it recycled into mulch to nourish other plants.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-to-waste-less-this-christmas-holidays_us_58498338e4b08283d6b4ccdf

Hippie spends 6 months and £6,000 travelling the world to find himself; discovers he’s a complete cnut.

Hippie spends 6 months and £6,000 travelling the world to find himself; discovers he’s a complete cnut.


Big Karma

A young hippy from South Gloucestershire says he has been left ‘devastated’ after realising he’s a boring, cliche cunt, following an expensive round-the-world trip through countries such as Goa, Mongolia, Peru and Burma.

19 year old Jonty Cockburn told Big Karma the stark understanding hit him whilst he was sat round a drum circle at an organic chickpea farm in New Zealand’s northern island.

The trigger was a sudden awareness that he was in the company of 8 other near-identical looking white, dreadlocked, poncho-wearing, bucket-hat sporting, fire-poi spinning, terribly tattooed idiots.

Cockburn, whose Facebook profile lists his interests as ‘legalisation, hacky-sack [and]… psytrance’, says he is planning to cut his dreadlocks off, throw away his propagator and burn his embarrassing collection of tye-dye t-shirts.

‘I thought I was an individual snowflake, but then I realised that actually, all snow looks the same to the human eye.

I don’t want to…

View original post 49 more words

In the wake of Trump, a top Jewish and a top Muslim organization are banding together.

In the wake of Trump, a top Jewish and a top Muslim organization are banding together.

Donald Trump’s election has touched off a wave of uncertainty and fear across the country particularly among members of marginalized groups targeted during his campaign and those who have been singled out for harassment after his victory.

Since Trump’s election, over 200 hate crimes have been reported across the country as of Nov. 15, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The troubling trend goes back further the FBI’s latest hate crime report shows a 67% spike in hate crimes, mostly against Muslims, from 2014 to 2015.

In December 2015, Upworthy reported the story of a young Muslim-American girl who feared being deported after watching a news report about Trump, leading a group of veterans to send her messages of support. 2015 also touched off an increase in anti-Semitism, according to an Anti-Defamation League report.

President-elect Trump’s early campaign pledge to ban Muslim immigration to the United States “until we figure out what is going on” alarmed many Muslim-American leaders and citizens. The appointment of Stephen Bannon a far-right publisher whose website has traded in anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic rhetoric to the top strategy post in the White House, has only inflamed concerns.

Now, some protection might be coming in the form of a collaboration between two surprising groups: the Islamic Society of North America and the American Jewish Committee, which are banding together to form the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council (MJAC).

The council includes representatives from the worlds of business, politics, and faith, including former Sens. Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut) and Norm Coleman (R-Minnesota), businessman Farooq Kathwari, and author and “Serial” activist Rabia Chaudry.

According to a statement from the new task force, first reported in Haaretz, the group’s mission is threefold: combatting anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, celebrating the contributions of Jews and Muslims to American civic life, and pushing for expanded rights for religious and ethnic minorities.

Jewish and Muslim groups have been active on multiple fronts since the election results came in. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has rededicated itself to providing support to Muslim-Americans frightened by the outcome of the election and building bridges to other groups in a show of solidarity. Bend the Arc Jewish Action released an open letter to members of groups targeted by the president-elect during the campaign promising support.

This is not just an inspiring show of unity it’s critical right now.

Organizations like the MJAC could help make a huge difference in the coming years.

Following months of bigoted campaign rhetoric and the troubling elevation of figures like Bannon to positions of power and influence in the White House millions of Americans are suddenly wary that harassment and violence may soon become an uncomfortable fact of life.

Collaborations like this are a hopeful signal that regular citizens are willing to reach across ethnic, religious, and gender lines and take care of each other.

The election is over.

How we react to what comes next will speak volumes about who we are as a country.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/in-the-wake-of-trump-a-top-jewish-and-a-top-muslim-organization-are-banding-together?c=tpstream



Phil, I understand you are a Buddhist – what does this entail? Yes, I am someone who tries to understand and follow the teachings of Buddha. Some see it as a religion, others as a philosophical system, or as a psychological theory or therapy.

One characteristic of Buddhists is that they will not tell anyone that their view is incorrect, that their beliefs are wrong.  No one of different religious views would be turned away from a Buddhist centre or meditation class.  I see it as a profound spiritual teaching which gives great meaning to our lives, to an understanding of the nature of reality, and provides a foundation for living a good life.

To read more and to subscribe for free, please click on: www.deancharltonmag.com

Isis sends female supporters to serve as frontline suicide bombers

As jihadis retreat from key Middle East territories, they have made a drastic U-turn on deploying female recruits, posing a challenge for security organisations

Islamic State is using increasing numbers of women to evade security measures and spearhead a wave of attacks across Europe and the Islamic world as it loses territory in the Middle East.

Previously, female members of Isis have been confined to support roles and kept away from the battlefield. However, this policy appears to have been reversed in the summer, as military pressure on its main strongholds in Iraq, Syria and Libya intensified and substantial territory began to be lost. Researchers describe a drastic U-turn.

Officials have repeatedly warned that Isis would launch attacks as it retreated from earlier gains. Since August, a series of plots involving women have been uncovered by security authorities in Europe and north Africa.

The new tactic poses a challenge for security organisations which already have difficulty penetrating extremist networks and identifying potential attackers. Its a concern There is constant evolution as the pressures on [Isis] increase, so we are not complacent, said one western European security official.

A plot in Paris in September, involving four women aged between 19 and 39, received significant media coverage. The cell, organised by a known Isis militant in France, was the first to be entirely female. Two of the women had been listed as potential security risks by French intelligence agencies after attempting to reach Syria to join Isis. A third was recently married to a militant shot dead by police on the outskirts of Paris in June, after he stabbed two police officials to death at their home.

If at first it appeared that women were confined to family and domestic chores by the terrorist organisation, it must be noted that this view is now completely outdated, Franois Molins, a French prosecutor, told reporters after the four were arrested.

But a series of other plots around the world, which involve women playing combat roles, received less attention. In August, Isis was reported to have deployed at least one female suicide bomber in Libya, while last month 10 alleged female attackers were arrested in Morocco. All were in their teens, had sworn allegiance to Isis, and were in possession of bomb-making material, officials said.

The women, believed to have been planning a series of suicide attacks, got in touch with [Isis] elements via the internet and were brainwashed into committing destructive acts targeting tourist sites in particular, said Abdelhak Khiame, who leads Moroccos Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations.

This is the first time we have found a terrorist cell that was entirely composed of women. Terrorists are focusing [recruitment] efforts on minors who are female. That is very worrying for all of us. Its an alarm bell, Khiame said.

Women have long played a role in Islamic militancy, and have been deployed in frontline positions before. Palestinian groups have used women suicide attackers. So, too, have organisations in central Asia and the Caucasus. However, senior commanders of al-Qaida, the extremist group responsible for the 9/11 attacks, has consistently made clear its opposition to women taking part in combat activities, insisting that they should support male mujahideen and the broader struggle, rather than physically take up arms themselves.

The ruling has not always been obeyed. Al-Qaidas own affiliate in Iraq deployed a female suicide bomber in 2005 to attack a hotel in Amman, Jordan. The decision prompted much criticism within extremist circles.

Isis, which shares broad ideological objectives with al-Qaida but differs dramatically over strategy and tactics, initially restricted the many thousands of female volunteers it attracted from Europe and the Islamic world to support activities. Thus far, Isis has stifled the role of women in the caliphate by limiting them to the house, ensuring they raise the next generation of jihadi militants and provide for their husbands, said Rachel Bryson, of the Centre on Religion and Geopolitics in London.

There have been some exceptions: female lone wolf attackers who attacked without official sanction from the group, and one major affiliate Boko Haram in west Africa which has systematically used young women as suicide attackers.

The recent change would suggest the group is starting to heavily feel the pressure from the action taken against it, Bryson said.

In recent months, Isis has lost significant ground in Libya, and its core territory in Iraq and Syria is now threatened. Offensives are now under way against the cities of Raqqa, the provincial centre in Syria seen as the headquarters of the group, and Mosul, the biggest single urban centre under Isis control and the seat of the caliphate declared by its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, more than two years ago.

As important as the loss of territory is the diminishing population under Isis authority. Although some revenue is earned from oil and other resources, most funds are raised through taxation of individuals, communities and businesses.

Analysts are split over the impact of military defeat on Isis. Some believe the organisation will be able to continue to attract support because of its past record of victories, with volunteers taking the view that it needs help now more than ever. Other experts believe that the appeal of Isis will be seriously weakened.

Bryson said: As [Isis] and others start to lose more ground, their pool of recruits will grow smaller, meaning that theyll need more women to take up combat roles. Furthermore, Isis knows that the death of a woman evokes a larger response worldwide than that of a man, and for Isiss PR machine increasing the groups media platform is an attractive prospect.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/12/isis-women-frontline-suicide-bombers

Top tech executives to attend Trump summit on Wednesday: Recode – Reuters

ReutersTop tech executives to attend Trump summit on Wednesday: RecodeReutersU.S. President-elect Donald Trump gestures as he takes the stage at a Thank You USA tour rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S. December 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar. 2/2. left. right. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos addresses the Economic Club of New York