Top stories from the Development and Aid World News Service.

Sectarian Violence Watch, Nigeria Edition

Sad to say that we started an unfortunate new feature here at DAWNS. We’ve been noting a sharp uptick in sectarian violence in Nigeria for the past several weeks, but the Christmas day attacks took the violence to a whole new level. The tit-for-tat, eye-for-an-eye, revenge killing mentality seems poised to boil over to a more sustained and bloody sectarian conflict. Take this unfortunate statement for example: “In a public message to President Goodluck Jonathan, the Christian Association of Nigeria called the Christmas Day targeting of churches in several cities ‘a declaration of war on Christians and Nigeria as an entity’…”The Christian community is fast losing confidence in government’s ability to protect our rights to religious liberties and life,’ its president, Pentecostal pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, said in the statement. ‘The consensus is that the Christian community nationwide would be left with no other option than to respond appropriately if there are any further attacks on our members, churches and properties.’” (CNN http://bit.ly/ukNKdr)

Some USA-Iran Chest Thumping Over the Straight of Hormuz

Something like one sixth of the world’s oil supply passes through the straight of Hormuz. Ever defiant, Iran launched Naval exercises in the straight which it backed up with bluster from Iranian officials. The USA fired back — rhetorically! — but oil prices shot up anyway. “Iran’s top naval commander said Wednesday that closing the Persian Gulf to oil tanker traffic would be ‘easier than drinking a glass of water’ but that his nation would not do so for now…In Washington, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, George Little, warned that interference with the passage of vessels through the Strait of Hormuz “will not be tolerated…. This is not just an important issue for security and stability in the region, but is an economic lifeline for countries in the gulf.” (LAT http://lat.ms/vDL0J1)

Money Quote from a Donor: DFID is finding itself accused of “fiddling with the numbers” to reach a much lauded 0.7% aid target by counting cancelled debt as foreign development assistance. Not so! says DFID:  “By cancelling debts, we are freeing up money that can then be spent tackling poverty and providing essential services such as schools and hospitals to their people.” (FT http://on.ft.com/uejxmh)

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