The Adventist Review shares the following world news from Religion News Service as a service to readers. Opinions expressed in these reports do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Review or the Seventh-day Adventist Church. -- Editors
Alleged Church Shooter Sought
Anonymity in Georgia Town
fter gunning down his wife, her cousin and a would-be rescuer in a Clifton, N.J., church, Joseph Pallipurath dumped his pistol, abandoned his Jeep and stepped aboard a bus with the hopes of fading into obscurity, said authorities who nabbed the accused fugitive early Tuesday (Nov. 25).
His destination was Monroe, Georgia, in rural Walton County, a sleepy town of about 20,000 residents that boasts a historic downtown and classic Southern antebellum homes.
"He said that this was just a square little town he thought he could get lost in. He knew someone who used to live here, and he got a room down at the Monroe Motor Inn," Walton County Deputy District Attorney Eric Crawford said. "The fact he ended up in our small town was kind of amazing. We're not on any main road you would travel."
Pallipurath had relatives in Atlanta, and one lived in the Walton County area years ago, authorities said. His simple escape plan could have stumped fugitive hunters for a long time, said Passaic County Prosecutor James Avigliano, had authorities not gotten a tip.
"Then it was a matter of regular police work," he said. "They just canvassed all the hotels and motels in the area, and one of the motel clerks said his picture matched a guy who had checked in."
Georgia authorities believe Pallipurath, 27, arrived in town Monday afternoon, after taking a bus from New Jersey to Atlanta, where he boarded another bus headed for Savannah -- by way of Monroe. When Monroe police and U.S. marshals went to the door of his motel room, Pallipurath answered and quietly surrendered.
"He was taken without incident," Crawford said. "And he gave about an hour-and-a- half-long statement, pretty much detailing everything."
Adding a chilling detail to the tragedy, Crawford said Pallipurath told investigators he would have killed everyone in the church if he'd had a machine gun. He allegedly said he was unhappy church members were blocking his attempts to contact his wife, who had left him three months ago.
The alleged killer had been renting a room for two weeks and plotting his actions, which culminated in the shootings at St. Thomas Syrian Orthodox Knanaya Church just after 11:30 a.m. Sunday.
Avigliano also said Pallipurath, who is being held without bail in the Walton County Detention Center, confessed to the shootings and gave police information about his drive from his home in Sacramento, Calif., to New Jersey to pursue his estranged wife, 24-year-old Reshma James.
James died after being shot in the head at point-blank range, as did Dennis John Malloosseril of Hawthorne. Authorities said Malloosseril, 25, was shot as he tried to intervene in Pallipurath's attempts to get his wife to leave the church vestibule.
Also shot, and still hospitalized in grave condition, was James' cousin, 47-year-old Silvy Perincheril of Hawthorne, who also tried to intervene.
The victims and Pallipurath all were part of a close-knit community of immigrant Christians from the southwestern Indian state of Kerala. The immigrant church is associated with a southern Indian diocese of the Syrian Orthodox Christian Church.
Pallipurath has been charged with two counts of homicide.
New Report Says Global Hunger Crisis Worsening
The number of people living in extreme poverty has grown by 100 million, and the number of hungry people has increased by 75 million in the last two years, according to a report issued November 24 by the Bread for the World Institute.
The report by the Christian anti-hunger group calls on Congress and President-elect Barack Obama to strengthen U.S. foreign assistance programs, making them more effective in fighting global hunger and poverty.
"As we grapple with the economic crisis, we need to pay attention to the damage it's doing to the world's poorest people," said the Rev. David Beckmann, president of the institute.
The organization's 19th annual report examines progress that has been made in reducing hunger and poverty worldwide and risks to the poor posed by rising food and fuel prices. It also analyzes successes and failures of U.S. foreign assistance policies and programs across the government--from 12 departments, 25 agencies and close to 60 different government offices.
"It's imperative that the U.S. government provide, even in these tough times, adequate funding for immediate hunger needs," said Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services.
Hackett said the government's foreign assistance goals tended to focus too much on the short-term. Instead, he said, the root causes of poverty must be addressed with reforms.
"The interests of the poor and vulnerable must lie at the door of foreign assistance," Hackett said.
Money, Good Deeds Memorialize Jewish Victims in Mumbai Attacks
Pledges of money and mitzvot (good deeds) have poured into a Web site set up by the New York-based Chabad-Lubavitch movement in the wake of the massacre in Mumbai, India, that claimed six victims at Mumbai's Chabad House.
Chabad, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish outreach program that aims to bring Jews closer to their faith, runs community centers in more than 70 countries, with three in other Indian cities. The Mumbai center, directed by Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, provided religious instruction, kosher food and hospitality for the region's estimated 5,000 Jewish residents and countless tourists and business travelers.
The Holtzbergs were among more than 170 people killed in last week's terrorist attacks. The couple had moved to Mumbai after their wedding five years ago to open a Chabad House. Several other young couples have already offered to help rebuild the center, with funds donated to the new Chabad of Mumbai Relief Fund, officials said.
The fund will also help support the Holtzberg children -- Moshe, the toddler rescued by his nanny during last week's siege and taken to Israel to live with his grandparents, and another child born with Tay-Sachs Disease, a genetic condition, who is hospitalized in Israel.
Chabad officials have asked Jews around the world to commemorate the Holtzbergs by performing good deeds. In addition to acts of charity, women can pledge to light Sabbath candles, men can put on tefillin (phylacteries) containing biblical verses, and any Jew can pray and make sure the mezuzah -- biblical parchment affixed to the doorpost of a Jewish home -- is properly maintained.
"Through doing good things, the victims live on and the work that the Holtzbergs were doing continues," said Rabbi Motti Seligson, a Chabad spokesperson.
Within two days, more than 1,000 mitzvot had been pledged on the Web site, www.chabad.org. Chabad has not yet tallied the monetary contributions received as of Monday afternoon December 1, which have come from around the world, he added.
"Chabad is going to rebuild in Mumbai," Seligson said. "Right now, we're just focusing on the child and on the funerals, but we are definitely going to rebuild in Mumbai."
Funeral services for the Holtzbergs will be held Tuesday afternoon in Israel. Memorial services for the couple and the other victims have also been held in Mumbai and at Jewish centers around the world.
Court Orders Arizona to Allow `Choose Life' License Plates
federal court has ruled that the Arizona License Plate Commission must approve an anti-abortion group's "Choose Life" specialty license plate.
The Arizona Life Coalition applied for the specialty license plate in 2002, but the Arizona License Plate Commission, which oversees the requests, rejected its application.
Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) and the Center for Arizona Policy filed a suit in September of 2003. "Pro-life groups shouldn't be discriminated against for expressing their beliefs," ADF senior counsel Gary McCaleb said.
Last January, the 9th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the commission had violated the Arizona Life Coalition's First Amendment right to free speech by rejecting its application. The commission appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the decision, but the high court refused to hear the case. In a decision issued November 19, U.S. District Judge Paul G. Rosenblatt ordered the commission to convene by January 23 and approved the license plates.
"Many other groups have been allowed to participate in the Arizona specialty plate program. The commission had no legitimate reason to selectively exclude this group," McCaleb said. "We're pleased that the plates will soon be available to the public."
The "Choose Life" license plates are available in at least 19 states, according to Choose Life, Inc., a Florida-based non-profit that waged a six-year legal battle to make Florida the first state to offer the plates.