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19 December 2014

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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 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 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.



12/18/2014 CHINA - KENYA

Illegal ivory trade 'out of control' due to Chinese demand, elephants could disappear


Illegal ivory trade 'out of control' due to Chinese demand, elephants could disappear
During a news conference in Nairobi, Iain Hamilton, founder of the organization Save The Elephants, estimated that 100,000 wild elephants had been killed in Africa over the past three years for their ivory. China remains the "key" to the future of elephants.



12/18/2014 INDIA

Clergy tunes "in to God's message" to mark Christmas in Vijayawada

by Benigna Menezes*
Clergy tunes
Priests and nuns from the diocese gathered for their annual Christmas meeting, which this time also included the inauguration of the Year of Consecrated Life. The variety of orders and congregations is "a gift from God that enriches the Church."



12/18/2014 VATICAN - US - CUBA

Pope: "Today we are all happy" for the new relations between the US and Cuba


Pope:
Presidents Obama and Castro thanked the Vatican for its mediation aimed at the resumption of diplomatic relations interrupted in1961. In recent months, Francis has spoken of Cuba with Obama and written a personal letter to the two Presidents.



12/18/2014 PALESTINE - ISRAEL

Palestine presents peace plan to the UN Council, Israel calls it an act of aggression

by Joshua Lapide
Palestine presents peace plan to the UN Council, Israel calls it an act of aggression
The resolution calls for a peace treaty within a year and Israel's withdrawal from the Occupied Territories by 2017. The peace plan also provides for two states within the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as a shared capital, plus bilateral security guarantees. US-led talks in the last 20 years have proven useless. For Avigdor Lieberman, the UN should deal with more serious things, and not go for Palestinians' "gimmicks". Without a solution, despair could engulf Palestinians.



12/18/2014 UNITED STATES - NORTH KOREA

Sony Pictures pulls 'The Interview' following threats from pro-North Korea hackers


Sony Pictures pulls 'The Interview' following threats from pro-North Korea hackers
The comedy mocks North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un by concocting a CIA plot against him. Hackers steal sensitive company emails, posts their content, and warn viewers they might be victims of another 9/11.



12/18/2014 INDIA

Radical Hindus' Christmas reconversions postponed, not cancelled


Radical Hindus' Christmas reconversions postponed, not cancelled
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) takes a step back to let parliament's winter session to end. It pledges however to reconvert 5,000 Christian and Muslim families "before the end of the year". Opposition call on the prime minister to speak on the matter, but the ruling party says no.



12/18/2014 PAKISTAN

Karachi archbishop calls for prayer and silence in Catholic schools for Peshawar massacre victims

by Shafique Khokhar
Karachi archbishop calls for prayer and silence in Catholic schools for Peshawar massacre victims
As Mgr Coutts remembered the "innocent victims of senseless violence," he called on the faithful to be a source of "peace and reconciliation". Intra-Taliban divisions exacerbate the violence. A power struggle between Pakistan's civilian and military leaders favours Islamist terrorism. For a Muslim activist, the attack is Pakistan's 9/11. Christian priest says it threatens the enlightened future of the country.



12/18/2014 VATICAN

Pope: God walks with us in history, and when we go wrong he correct history and brings it forward


Pope: God walks with us in history, and when we go wrong he correct history and brings it forward
"Making history with his people means for God to walk with us and to test the ones he has chosen". But in the end He saves them: "Let us always remember, with confidence, even in the worst moments, even in times of illness, when we realize we have to ask for the Last Rites because there is no way out, to say: 'Lord, history did not start with me and will not end with me! You go ahead, I am willing to come with you'. And to put ourselves in the hands of the Lord".



12/18/2014 JAPAN

Japan's Communist Party celebrates winning 21 seats in recent elections


Japan's Communist Party celebrates winning 21 seats in recent elections
For the first time in 14 years, the party wins double-digit representation. Analysts and experts agree that its staunch and consistent opposition to the Abe government has paid off. For party leader Kazuo Shii, "Together with the people, we will further push this administration to the edge."



12/18/2014 PHILIPPINES - VATICAN

Filipino priest: Pope Francis' visit strengthens the fight against corruption


Filipino priest: Pope Francis' visit strengthens the fight against corruption
Father Atilano "Nonong" Fajardo re-launches the "Huwag Kang Magnakaw" campaign in line with the dictates of the seventh commandment: "do not steal". He spares no criticism for a nation "of thieves" at every level. But he does not lose optimism: "With good examples, like the Pope, it will be possible to be redeemed."



12/18/2014 SYRIA

Syria, over 230 bodies in a mass grave: massacred by Islamic State


Syria, over 230 bodies in a  mass grave: massacred by Islamic State
The carnage took place in August in the village of Kashkiya, in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour. The bodies belong to members of the Sheitat tribe and are the vast majority are not fighters. The tribe leaders did not want to ally with jihadi militias; the revenge of the terrorists caused the death of at least 900 people.





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