Chaldean Patriarch: on Christmas, Christian refugees should not feel "abandoned" or "forgotten"
by Joseph Mahmoud
Ahead of Christmas celebrations, Mar Sako issued a message to the Christian community that fled the Islamic state. Understandably, Christians are "concerned" about the loss of homes and jobs, but they should keep the "hope for a future of "peace and coexistence" alive. His Beatitude calls on the faithful to pray to keep courage alive and expressed gratitude for the help provided so far.
12/20/2014 ISRAEL - PALESTINE
Gaza: Israel launches airstrike in response to rocket fired from the Gaza Strip
This morning Israel's Air Force carried out an airstrike, the first since a truce between Israel and Hamas was brokered last August. No casualties or damages have been reported. An Israeli military spokesman said that the "Hamas terror infrastructure" was hit. Hamas did not claim responsibility for yesterday's rocket.
Mongolian rights activist Hada released after 20 years
Considered a prisoner of conscience by major human rights groups, he slams Chinese authorities for torturing him and for persecuting his family. He said he would "continue to fight against the oppression of the Mongolian nationality". Like Tibet and Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia has suffered for decades from the arrival of Han Chinese settlers, whose immigration is undermining local traditions and beliefs.
12/19/2014 LEBANON - SYRIA
Syrian refugees in Lebanon face new challenge, children "without citizenship or rights"
UN agencies and NGOs warn that more and more children born in families fleeing the war are likely to remain stateless. Some 70 per cent of the 42,000 children born in Lebanon to Syrian parents since the outbreak of the conflict have not been registered. However, the figure could be far higher. Poverty and lack of identity papers aggravate the problem.
With empty cradles, Japan needs to boost birth rate, govt says
Shinzo Abe's government released a draft plan to halt the decline of the Japanese population. Without a higher birth rate, health care and retirement systems are no longer viable. The draft plan includes two parts, a long-term vision and a comprehensive strategy to boost births.
Christmas in Malaysia, a moment of "celebration and sharing" for Christians and Muslims
The archbishop of Kota Kinabalu in Sabah recited the inaugural prayer. The event provided an opportunity for people to come together in unity, harmony and prosperity. For the tenth anniversary, organisers chose as motto 'The Star of Great Joy,' Jesus who brings peace. For a State minister, the festivity shows "good relations between people of different faith and ethnicity".
12/19/2014 SOUTH KOREA
Seoul, the Constitutional Court bans a Political Party: "Dictatorship is back"
Chief judges have accepted the Government's demands and imposed the dissolution of the Unified Progressive Party, accused of carrying out "pro-North Korea" policies. The Party's five elected MPs have been forced to resign: they will be banned from political life "for at least five years." The Party leader speaks of a "return of dictatorship", concern among international observers.
12/19/2014 MACAU - HONG KONG - CHINA
Occupy effect: umbrellas banned during Xi Jinping's visit to Macau (despite the rain)
by Paul Wang
Hong Kong activists were expelled from the former Portuguese colony. At the Macau Ferry Pier, people opened their umbrellas to demand freedom for all Chinese political prisoners. Opponents to Occupy are up (plus 9 per cent, to 38). Some 43.1 per cent are opposed to China's electoral reform. At least 1.2 million people took part in the Occupy protest.
12/19/2014 IRAQ - SYRIA
Mount Sinjar, the peshmerga break siege of Islamic State militias
The Kurds' most important military victory against the Islamists since the beginning of the war. The fighters have opened a humanitarian corridor to allow the escape of 1,200 families trapped since summer. However Yazidi sources have not confirmed the end of the siege or the positioning of Peshmerga troops. December US airstrikes killed high-ranking military leaders of IS.