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Tensions between India and Pakistan; a conservative vote for the United Methodist Church.


Downed aircraft and a captured pilot

 Virendra Singh Gosain/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
  • Tensions increased between India and Pakistan on Wednesday after a series of tit-for-tat attacks in and around a disputed border region. After a militant group based in Pakistan attacked a convoy of Indian soldiers in part of Indian-controlled Kashmir earlier this month, India responded by shelling targets in Pakistan on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Pakistan launched airstrikes on Indian territory, and India responded in kind. Pakistan says it has downed two Indian jets and taken a pilot hostage. [Vox / Alexia Underwood]
  • UK Prime Minister Theresa May, the United Nations, and other world leaders have urged the neighboring, nuclear-armed countries to deescalate confrontations. Conflict has only mounted since a suicide bomber from the Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed killed 40 Indian officials in Kashmir in early February. Pakistan’s government denied responsibility for the attack. [WSJ / Saeed Shah and Rajesh Roy]
  • Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan called for talks with India, but tensions continued to escalate after three videos of the captured pilot surfaced Wednesday night, including one in which he was beaten by a crowd. [NYT / Maria Abi-Habib and Hari Kumar]
  • ”I expressed to both ministers that we encourage India and Pakistan to exercise restraint, and avoid escalation at any cost,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Tuesday. Indian officials claimed Tuesday’s airstrikes targeted Jaish-e-Mohammed training operations. [Al Jazeera]
  • There’s a political backstory to this tension: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking another term, and showing aggression against Pakistan may help get him votes. [Forbes / Kenneth Rapoza]
  • Meanwhile, India, which has pursued water management as a national policy, has cut off some water flows to Pakistan permitted by a dam on the Ravi River. Pakistan is projected to experience a 31 million acre-feet water shortage by 2025. [Foreign Policy / Keith Johnson]

A Methodist rupture over same-sex marriage

  • The United Methodist Church voted on Tuesday to keep its ban on same-sex marriage and LGBTQ members of the clergy, and as a result, more progressive churches may contemplate leaving the denomination. [Atlantic / Emma Green]
  • Under the current rules, individual churches can’t make their own decisions about same-sex weddings or LGBTQ clergy. The vote will keep that restriction in place, making Methodists one of the few mainline Protestant denominations in the US that refuse to perform same-sex weddings. [NPR / Bill Chappell]
  • One factor in the church’s decision was its global membership, much of which is in more conservative countries. The United Methodist Church draws a substantial share of its membership from African nations, and international speakers pushed strongly against the plan. [Washington Post / Julie Zauzmer and Sarah Pulliam Bailey]
  • Methodist churches now have until 2021 to express their rejection of same-sex marriage and LGBTQ clergy — or be removed from the denomination. Nearly 1,5000 churches threatened to leave the Methodist denomination if the “One Church” plan had been accepted. No matter what, the vote promises to cause divisions. [The Hill / Justin Wise]

Miscellaneous

  • Thousands of children were sexually abused while in US government custody, according to new reports from the Department of Health and Human Services. [Axios / Caitlin Owens, Stef W. Kight, and Harry Stevens]
  • The House voted on Tuesday to block President Trump’s national emergency declaration. The Senate is short just one Republican vote in order to deliver a resolution against the president’s use of executive powers. [NPR / Susan Davis]
  • Four American journalists were shut out of covering the dinner between Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un on Wednesday in Hanoi, Vietnam. The journalists reportedly asked questions about Michael Cohen’s testimony before Congress prompting the White House to deny their access — an unprecedented move by an American president meeting with an authoritarian leader. [NYT / Michael G. Grynbaum and Katie Rogers]
  • Two African-American women will compete in an April runoff race in the Chicago mayoral election. Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle came in first and second in Tuesday’s election, respectively, and bring promise of new leadership to the Midwestern city. [Vice News / Evan McMorris-Santoro]
  • Leslie McCrae Dowless, the political operative accused of orchestrating election fraud in the North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District, was indicted on Wednesday. Three felony counts, including obstruction of justice, were ordered against Dowless, whom Republican candidate Mark Harris hired for his 2018 campaign. [Politico / Laura Barrón-López]

Verbatim

“I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience. I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a con man. He is a cheat.” [Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, in a public testimony to Congress on Wednesday]


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