Protecting Afghan allies and a radical gun church

in June 4th, 2021

Here's what we emailed out the week of June 4, 2021. Sign up for updates directly in your inbox.

We’ve all seen how babies discover new items by, well, putting it in their mouths. While completely adorable, it may actually be genius. To help expand science learning to be more interactive and accessible for those living with blindness, researchers have created bite-size, candy-like models of molecules that kids can safely put in their mouths. Their work shows that feeling the “molecules” can be just as understandable as seeing them using eyesight. Now if only we could find a way to have you taste our newsletter… 


GLOBAL ALLIES

U.K. will welcome more Afghan allies while U.S. still has no plan

Mon May 31

Both British and American troops in Afghanistan greatly benefited from the help of local interpreters. Now these wartime allies fear for their lives as all troops begin plans to withdraw from the country, leaving them unprotected from targeted — and likely deadly — attacks by Taliban forces in retaliation for aiding foreign troops. Reports have already emerged of such violence, including one man who, after getting his skull cracked, was kept captive for helping Americans.

Some translators will be able to find safety in the United Kingdom. The U.K. is already home to hundreds of interpreters, but previous requirements for immigration such as length of service or rank limited the number of Afghans eligible. But just this week, the U.K. announced that such restrictions will be lifted and not only welcome up to 3,000 settlers (inclusive of their families), but also offer help with housing and other needs, similar to the aid the country already provides refugees. 

What’s keeping the U.S. from helping the way the U.K. is? Despite overwhelming support from military and veteran groups alike, the U.S. is...

  • Still working on an enormous backlog of visa applications. While a bipartisan group has introduced legislation to authorize 4,000 special immigrant visas for Afghan translators, there’s simply not enough time between now and when U.S. troops leave Afghanistan (September) to process it all.
  • Dealing with the aftermath of the Trump administration’s betrayal of Afghan allies. Despite 2008 legislation that promised visas for wartime allies, Trump’s travel ban, security review slowdowns, and more left thousands trapped in Afghanistan.
  • Behind on unveiling an official plan. The Pentagon is willing to assist in getting Afghans out of harm's way if they were directed to. That said, officials also say they need sufficient notice to gradually evacuate those in need due to the complexity of such an operation. 

Some additional resources... 

  • U.K.’s plans to help: Sky News
  • How U.K. residents can help refugees: Gov.uk
  • America’s lacking plans: Daily Kos
  • U.S. abandoning wartime allies in 2019: The World
  • Pentagon’s ready to help: CNN

FAR-RIGHT

Radical “Gun Church” is headed to Texas

Thu May 27

A Pennsylvania church that worships with guns is expanding among worries of extremism. To begin to understand this story, there’s some important history. 

  • The church is led by Pastor Hyung Jin Sean Moon, often referred to as “King.” His congregation is an offshoot of a much larger Unification Church (a religious movement originating in South Korea) started by his father, a self-proclaimed messiah and accused cult leader.
  • Moon based his doctrine off his father’s but added the use of AR-15s in religious ceremonies and service, after being inspired by a biblical passage mentioning Jesus’ use of an iron rod to protect himself and others. He also has support from his brother, the CEO of gun manufacturer Kahr Arms. 
  • While still fewer than a thousand members, the church is expanding to become a safe haven for "patriots" in the coming, imminent war. The war, they believe, will be brought by the deep state, a kind of secret government manipulating and controlling the country.

This is why they’ve purchased a 40-acre compound listed at just below $1 million near Waco, Texas with future plans to build in Delaware and Florida. But more than armed religious compounds, the church is also political:

  • They believe God is working through Trump to rid the world of political satanism, such as the deep state. Trump’s former advisor Steve Bannon has also spoken at events hosted by the church.
  • At the start of the year, the church sent out a notice to be prepared to train and fight ahead of the January 6th riots, though a spokesperson said Pastor Moon did not enter the Capitol himself. Instead, he compared the event to the Boston Tea Party of 1773: controversial at the time, but important for the country’s ultimate independence. 
  • Most recently, he led a sermon warning that the Biden administration is planning a form of genocide against Trump supporters. 

Meanwhile former members are concerned with the church’s growing extremism. Many still have family or friends deeply involved. One daughter of current members said that her childhood was filled with church summer camps and being told that doubting any of their teachings opened her to satanic thought and temptation. Others are warning of what could come from a community that has endured years of psychological manipulation, mental health abuse, and increasingly radical rhetoric. 

Some additional resources... 


ASCII ART OF THE WEEK
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Hmmm… tastes like… a molecule to me!

And a little like cotton candy.

Art Credit: ascii.co.uk