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20 December 2014

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12/20/2014 IRAQ

Chaldean Patriarch: on Christmas, Christian refugees should not feel "abandoned" or "forgotten"

by Joseph Mahmoud
Chaldean Patriarch: on Christmas, Christian refugees should not feel
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 VATICAN

Pope: the most dangerous misery is "the presumption that we can do without God"


Pope: the most dangerous misery is
According to such blind misery, material wealth, the quest for power and pleasure, and the enslavement of others to achieve these goals, are the purpose of existence.



12/20/2014 ISRAEL - PALESTINE

Gaza: Israel launches airstrike in response to rocket fired from the Gaza Strip


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.



12/20/2014 CHINA

Mongolian rights activist Hada released after 20 years


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.



12/20/2014 INDONESIA

Bogor: apostolic nuncio ordains 12 priests and deacons to pray and serve the community

by Mathias Hariyadi
Bogor: apostolic nuncio ordains 12 priests and deacons to pray and serve the community
Hundreds of faithful flocked to the Holy Family Parish Church in Cibinong. Mgr Filipazzi stressed that the priesthood is a service that requires obedience and holiness. Priestly vestments should not feed "personal ambitions" but encourage to "preach the Gospel and bring God to the people."



12/20/2014 BANGLADESH

Christmas carols competition held to keep Bangladeshi kids away from drugs and alcohol

by Sumon Corraya
Christmas carols competition held to keep Bangladeshi kids away from drugs and alcohol
Organised by MAGIS Bangla, a Jesuit-run youth group, the singing competition attracted 13 groups. A girls' school took away the first prize.



12/19/2014 SRI LANKA - LAOS

Sri Lanka activists tell UN to find the truth about Laotian dissident Sombath Somphone's fate

by Melani Manel Perera
Sri Lanka activists tell UN to find the truth about Laotian dissident Sombath Somphone's fate
The human rights activist was seized in 2012. The members of the Asian Federation against Disappearances (AFAD) organised a peaceful protest in member countries: Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal.



12/19/2014 LEBANON - SYRIA

Syrian refugees in Lebanon face new challenge, children "without citizenship or rights"


Syrian refugees in Lebanon face new challenge, children
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.



12/19/2014 INDIA

For Christian leaders, the government needs to rid itself of Hindu radicals because India is not a theocracy


For Christian leaders, the government needs to rid itself of Hindu radicals because India is not a theocracy
The archbishop of Delhi and other members of the Christian clergy sign a statement on the situation of religious freedom in the country. "In a secular and democratic India, there is no place for a state religion. Religion has no place in the national political discourse." Grieving over the victims of the Peshawar attack, they note that such violence is "evidence of the dangers of fanaticism".



12/19/2014 JAPAN

With empty cradles, Japan needs to boost birth rate, govt says


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.



12/19/2014 MALAYSIA

Christmas in Malaysia, a moment of "celebration and sharing" for Christians and Muslims


Christmas in Malaysia, a moment of
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 VATICAN

For pope, even to non-believers the crèche and the Christmas tree "speak of fraternity, intimacy and friendship"


For pope, even to non-believers the crèche and the Christmas tree
This afternoon Francesco inaugurated the crèche and Christmas tree in St Peter's Square as well as the new lighting on the façade and the dome of St Peter's Basilica.



12/19/2014 VATICAN

Pope: May the Church "allow itself be surprised by the Holy Spirit", it is not an entrepreneur but a mother


Pope: May the Church
"From sterility, the Lord is able to restart a new lineage, a new life. And that is the message of today. When humanity is exhausted and can no longer go forward, grace comes, and when the Son comes Salvation comes. And that exhausted Creation gives way to a new creation... ".



12/19/2014 SOUTH KOREA

Seoul, the Constitutional Court bans a Political Party: "Dictatorship is back"


Seoul, the Constitutional Court bans a Political Party:
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
Occupy effect: umbrellas banned during Xi Jinping's visit to Macau (despite the rain)
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 PAKISTAN

Faisalabad, Sehar's Christmas: blind from birth, she now can see thanks to a chain of solidarity

by Shafique Khokhar
Faisalabad, Sehar's Christmas: blind from birth, she now can see thanks to a chain of solidarity
The six year old was born with cataracts in both eyes. Her family was poor and had already faced many difficulties; they could not afford the cost of surgery. Thanks to a joint effort enough money was collected to raise the sum required for the little girl's eye surgery. Now her dream will come true: to go to school and learn to read.



12/19/2014 IRAQ - SYRIA

Mount Sinjar, the peshmerga break siege of Islamic State militias


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.





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