World leaders are gathering in Kuwait today to decide the fate of millions of people in Syria and the neighbouring countries. The Kuwait pledging conference, the third of its kind, will bring together the UN and donor governments to pledge money to help civilians caught up in the spiralling violence. They will need to be generous - as the war enters its fifth year, Syrians and their neighbours are increasingly unable to cope with this unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe.
Would you accept a job knowing you had a probably life expectancy of six weeks? Me neither. Yet, during the Second World War many women did just that. Having been trained by undercover agencies, such as the Special Operations Executive (SOE), they were smuggled into countries occupied by the German Reich tasked to gather intelligence...
And so on the very day the rest of the world will be celebrating love, some bright sparks in Nigeria decided it was the perfect day for the country's two main political tribes to go to war. Surprised? Well, not really, I guess. We are Nigerians after all and everything we do must have our stamp of uniqueness and creativity.
By the end, 16million people had been killed and 20million wounded in a war that had devastated and destroyed whole cities. Civilians and soldiers, often from poor backgrounds, paid the terrible price for a battle that was brought on by the rich and powerful rulers of competing imperialist powers...Very few benefited from the killing. It did, however, line the pockets of arms companies and their shareholders.
It's 00:30 on December 4th 2014. Russia has invaded Chechnya again. Maybe. Reports say that Chechnyan rebels have killed some police officers. Six rebels, or maybe fifty, or maybe three hundred. Others are speculating that with the number of reported military vehicles it must be more, but the number of military vehicles is unconfirmed. Putin's motorcade has been spotted rushing to the Kremlin. Nobody is quite sure what is going on.
Precisely because it is such a frequently used criticism of religious faith, the argument that war is a product of religion is worth considering. After all, we have recently had some horrific imagery from the Middle East that seems to suggest that religion is a bad thing. Nevertheless a number of points strike me.