Disengaged Buddhists – Writing for the Huffington Post, author Andrew Lam explores the relationship between the Buddhists tenets of the Burmese monks and the ethnic and religious violence to which they find themselves a party. Although the monks have at times engaged in social protest on behalf of their country’s citizenry, their “Engaged Buddhism” (a 1960s term) does not extend to the Muslims of Arakan province, who are now the subject of violent attacks by the Buddhist majority. Lam writes that, “one wonders what [the Buddha] would say now, as innocent blood is shed in his name, and the path toward enlightenment that he taught to relieve the suffering of human beings had somehow derailed into a dark road of rebirth in the lowest levels of hell?”
Pyongyang Fun – As part of a publicity drive to showcase North Korean head-of-state Kim Jong Un‘s fun and youthful side, Pyongyang released recent photos of the young supreme leader enjoying himself on a new roller coaster alongside a junior official from the British Embassy to his country, the Washington Post reports. In addition to providing the world with photos of the smiling autocrat, the stunt also demonstrates thawing relations between the authoritarian regime and United Kingdom — one of the few Western countries to maintain an embassy in the country. Britain’s Foreign Office confirmed the authenticity of the photo and explained that, “While this was an unusual event, it is vital that we actively engage with the North Korean administration.”
Court-ordered Withdrawal – The BBC reports on the Colombian government’s plans to challenge a court ruling that the military dismantle a training base occupying six hectares of land belonging to tribes in Guaviare province. The court had ruled that the base violates the tribes’ rights by forcing them into the middle of the armed conflict between the security forces and rebel groups. Military officials, however, said that a withdrawal could open a strategic corridor for rebels and allow them to link up with other militia in the surrounding region.
Mali’s Militants – CNN reports that Al-Qaeda-linked militants controlling northern Mali have stoned a man and woman to death for adultery, marking their first reported Sharia killing since seizing control of the north following a military coup in March. Haman Maiga, who witnessed the stoning, said, “I don’t know how many rocks they threw or for how long it went on before they were both dead. No one dared to try and stop the Islamists.” Drinking and watching music and sports on television have also been been banned, under the strict form of Sharia law that the Islamists have implemented. In July, ancient shrines of Muslim saints in Timbuktu, deemed idolatrous by the militants, were destroyed.
Israel Feels Syria Crisis – The BBC examines Israel’s fear over how the Syria crisis will affect its occupation of the Golan Heights territory. Since 1948 the two countries have technically been in a state of war over the Golan Heights, which is Syrian territory, but is occupied by Israel after its capture in 1967. However, for 40 years there has been a truce between the countries, which President Bashar Assad continues to observe. In light of Syria’s turmoil, Israeli leaders are “revising their strategic assessments” out of concern that “fleeing Syrian refugees could try to enter the Golan Heights” or that “Mr Assad’s missiles and chemical weapons arsenal could fall into the wrong hands.”