Amb. Zara Juan

Monday, December 19, 2016

Prayer Vigil for Afghanistan's struggle to save boy sex slaves from Western backed security forces

Children were taken for the pervasive practice of "bacha bazi", or paedophilic exploitation, in Western-backed security forces. Their testimonies shine a rare spotlight on the anguished, solitary struggles to free sons, nephews and cousins from a tradition of culturally-sanctioned enslavement and rape. Shirin recalled how his 13-year-old brother-in-law screamed and writhed as he was taken from his home earlier this year by a police commander in southern Helmand." Often the only escape for enslaved bachas is to make a deal with the Taliban: 'Liberate me and I will help you get my abuser's head and weapons'. -tolerance for child abusers in security ranks. But Uruzgan government spokesman Dost

"With little legal recourse and a culture of silence and impunity, many families have abandoned hope. The lucky ones may know someone in authority, whose ad hoc intervention can force an abuser to relinquish their child. Two weeks after Haji Mohammad's 11-year-old son was snatched by a commander in Helmand's Babaji area, he turned to a known intelligence official for help." I want the boy back within three days or there will be consequences,'" the mosque imam recalls the official telling the commander by telephone. The boy was released after 18 days, limping back to his father, terrified and scarred. Mohammad's family, traced by AFP to a location outside Helmand, bemoaned a lack of psychosocial support for the boy, still visibly traumatised two years after he was taken." Nayab said, explaining that police serve as a pivotal first line of defence against insurgents.But for campaigners like Charu Lata Hogg, a London-based fellow at the Chatham House think-tank, citing security as an excuse for inaction is unconscionable.

Charu Lata Hogg, a London-based fellow at the Chatham House think-tank

PRAYERS FOR PEACE: Prayer Vigil for Jordan as Series of Terrorist Att...

PRAYERS FOR PEACE: Prayer Vigil for Jordan as Series of Terrorist Att...: Gunmen assaulted Jordanian police in a series of attacks Sunday, including at a Crusader castle popular with tourists, killing seven officer...

Prayer Vigil for Jordan as Series of Terrorist Attacks kill 10, including Canadian in a tourist site

Gunmen assaulted Jordanian police in a series of attacks Sunday, including at a Crusader castle popular with tourists, killing seven officers, two local civilians and a woman visiting from Canada, officials said. Several armed men barricaded themselves inside the castle for hours, hemmed in by special forces soldiers. At least 34 people, including two foreign nationals, were wounded in the day's violence, which was one of the bloodiest attacks in Jordan in recent memory. Security officials announced Sunday, several hours after reports of the first shooting, that the operation had ended and that four gunmen were killed.
They opened fire at the Canadian tourists. The woman was killed, the other Canadian tourist escaped and hid behind a car and one of the children was injured.

Security forces "engaged with the gunmen and cornered the gunmen at the castle gate," he said. The killing of the Canadian visitor could further hurt Jordan's embattled tourism sector, which has declined sharply since the Islamic State group seized large parts of neighboring Syria and Iraq two years ago. Canada's global affairs spokesman, John Babcock, told The Associated Press that the dead woman was Linda Vatcher. Babcock said her son Chris was injured.

Rhymes said from Burgeo, a remote town of 1,400 people on Canada's East Coast.
Syria and Iraq two years ago.Canada's global affairs spokesman, John Babcock

Source: Yahoo News Digest

Prayer Vigil for Aleppo as Tense evacuations resume in Aleppo, U.N. to vote on dispatching help

Members of a Syrian family carry their belongings after they crossed into Turkey at the Cilvegozu border gate with Syria, near Hatay, southeastern Turkey, Sunday, Dec, 18, 2016. Several people were able to cross into Turkey after they managed to leave the embattled Syrian city during the ceasefire, and arrived to Turkey by their own means. The Aleppo evacuation was suspended Friday after a report of shooting at a crossing point into the enclave by both sides of the conflict. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
Convoys of evacuees left a rebel-held area of Aleppo and two Shi'ite villages besieged by insurgents on Monday. About 10 buses left the Shi'ite Muslim villages of al-Foua and Kefraya, north of Idlib, to travel toward the government lines in Aleppo. The evacuation of civilians from the two villages was a condition for the Syrian army and its allies to allow thousands of fighters and civilians trapped in Aleppo to depart.

First limited evacuations, finally, tonight from east Aleppo and Foua & Kefraya. Many thousands more are waiting to be evacuated soon.

Jan Egeland, chair for United Nations aid task force in Syria, via Twitter
On Sunday, some of the buses sent to al-Foua and Kefraya to carry evacuees out were attacked and torched by armed men, who shouted "God is greatest" and brandished their weapons in front of the burning vehicles. That incident threatened to derail the evacuations, the result of intense negotiations between Russia — the main supporter of Syrian President Bashar Assad — and Turkey, which backs some large rebel groups. Bastions of evacuees have been waiting for the chance to leave Aleppo since the cease-fire and evacuation deal was agreed late last Tuesday; meanwhile, on Monday in New York City, the U.N. Security Council is expected to vote to allow its staff to monitor future evacuations.
Everyone is waiting until they are evacuated. They just want to escape.
Salah al Attar, a former teacher with his five children, wife and mother
Summarized byYahoo News Digest

Turkey's foreign minister claimed on Monday that more than 12,000 civilians have been evacuated from Syria's Aleppo so far; reportedly, about 4,500 of those have happened since midnight.

Members of a Syrian family carry their belongings after they crossed into Turkey at the Cilvegozu border gate with Syria, near Hatay, southeastern Turkey, Sunday, Dec, 18, 2016. Several people were able to cross into Turkey after they managed to leave the embattled Syrian city during the ceasefire, and arrived to Turkey by their own means. The Aleppo evacuation was suspended Friday after a report of shooting at a crossing point into the enclave by both sides of the conflict. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)Ritach Halif, 2, is carried by her mother, after the family which came from Idlib, Syria, crossed into Turkey at the Cilvegozu border gate with Syria, near Hatay, southeastern Turkey, Sunday, Dec, 18, 2016. Several people were able to cross into Turkey after they managed to leave the embattled Syrian city during the ceasefire, and arrived in Turkey by their own means. The Aleppo evacuation was suspended Friday after a report of shooting at a crossing point into the enclave by both sides of the conflict. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)A Syrian child is comforted after she and other members of the family crossed into Turkey at the Cilvegozu border gate with Syria, near Hatay, southeastern Turkey, Sunday, Dec, 18, 2016. Several people were able to cross into Turkey after they managed to leave the embattled Syrian city during the ceasefire, and arrived in Turkey by their own means. The Aleppo evacuation was suspended Friday after a report of shooting at a crossing point into the enclave by both sides of the conflict. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)A bus drives through the Syrian government-controlled crossing of Ramoussa, on the southern outskirts of Aleppo, on December 18, 2016, during an evacuation operation (AFP Photo/George Ourfalian)In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, civilians gather for evacuation from eastern Aleppo, Syria, Friday, Dec. 16, 2016. The Syrian government suspended evacuations from eastern Aleppo just hours after they resumed on Friday, saying that rebels had opened fire on a convoy of evacuees at a crossing point with the enclave, state TV reported. (SANA via AP)

Evacuations have resumed in eastern Aleppo for civilans caught in the crossfire between rebel fighters and the Assad regime. CBS News correspondent Jonathan Vigliotti joins CBSN with more on what's next for Aleppo.

Aleppo offensive (November–December 2016)
The Aleppo offensive, code named Operation Dawn of Victory by the government forces, is a military offensive launched by the Syrian Armed Forces and allied groups against rebel-held districts in Aleppo. The offensive came after the end of the moratorium on air strikes by Russia, and the Russian Armed Forces again conducted heavy air and cruise missile strikes against rebel positions throughout northwestern Syria.The offensive was described as a potential turning point in the civil war.

Aleppo is a city in Syria, serving as the capital of the Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. For centuries, Aleppo was the Syrian region's largest city and the Ottoman Empire's third-largest, after Constantinople and Cairo.

Turkey foreign minister says 12,000 evacuated so far from Syria's Aleppo
A total of 12,000 civilians have so far been evacuated from Syria's east Aleppo, including 4,500 people since midnight, Turkey's foreign minister said on Monday.
Reuters Middle East

Bana Alabed, Syrian girl who tweeted destruction of east Aleppo, reportedly safe after evacuation
Bana Alabed, the young Syrian girl who has become an internationally recognized symbol of civilians’ suffering in her country’s ruthless civil war, through a Twitter account run by her mother, has reportedly made it out of eastern Aleppo along with other children evacuated by international aid groups.
CBS News

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Prayer Vigil for Zimbabwe as Mugabe wins party support for 2018 election

Unemployment in the country is currently at about 90 percent, and thousands of companies have closed in the last three years. Among the protest groups at rallies in recent months have been university graduates who wore their caps and gowns to show their anger at the lack of jobs.The street protests led police to ban demonstrations in the capital Harare, with some activists arrested. Zimbabwe's cash-strapped government has on several occasions failed to pay the salaries of civil servants on time, and workers have this month been informed that they will only get their pay in January.During the five-day ZANU-PF conference, the party raised concern at the abuse of social media and the national flag.Recently the Zimbabwean flag has been used as a symbol of political defiance by protesters and social activists who challenged Mugabe's government. Early this year, #ThisFlag social media movement led by Pastor Evan Mawarire saw a wave of internet activism, as people expressed anger at the growing economic meltdown.

(In spite of this).....

Supporters of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe chanting "tongai, tongai baba" (rule, rule father) endorsed on Saturday the 92-year-old leader for a 2018 election run.The endorsement, which is likely to result in his 36-year rule being extended, was greeted with thunderous applause by thousands of party faithful attending the ruling ZANU-PF's annual conference.Mugabe accepted dressed in a green floral jacket bearing his own portrait and a map of Zimbabwe.The veteran leader has held power since independence from British colonial rule in 1980 and has always avoided naming a successor or laying out plans to retire. He once quipped that he would rule until he turned 100. "We want President Mugabe to rule forever and ever because of his clear leadership," one elated delegate, Janet Mazviwanza, told AFP.Despite his popularity within the party ranks, Mugabe this year faced unprecedented calls for him to step down, including a series of rare public protests over his failure to turn the ailing economy around. Critical cash shortages prompted the government at the end of November to introduce the much disliked 'bond notes' -- equivalent to the US dollar. Zimbabwe abandoned its own dollar currency in 2009 after hyperinflation hit 500 billion percent rendering it unusable.

Source: yahoo news

Prayer Vigil for Congo as crisis talks suspended until Wednesday

The announcement ended 11th-hour talks on Saturday between Kabila's ruling party and opposition groups to find a path forward for the Democratic Republic of Congo after December 20, when Kabila's second term ends.The political transition talks won't resume until December 21, Utembi said." "There is no deal," said Jean-Marc Kabund, the secretary general for the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party of the main opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi." Fears of violence -The CENCO-sponsored talks had brought together the ruling party and fringe opposition groups, allied against a mainstream opposition coalition led by the 84-year-old Tshisekedi. The latter accuse Kabila of delaying the vote in the hope of tweaking the constitution to extend his family's hold over a nation hugely rich in minerals that is almost the size of western Europe

Source: yahoo news

Prayer Vigil for Bolivia South America as Bolivia ruling party defies referendum, backs Morales for 4th term

Bolivia's ruling socialist party on Saturday defied the results of a February referendum and backed President Evo Morales for a fourth term in 2019. The Movement for Socialism (MAS) party, holding a congress in the eastern city of Montero, approved the candidacy of Morales -- Bolivia's first president with an indigenous background -- in a unanimous vote. Morales welcomed the party's decision, saying, "If the people decide it, Evo will continue." Morales was first elected president in 2005, and re-elected in 2009 and 2014. But he narrowly lost the referendum in February on the question of whether the constitution should be revised to permit him to run again in 2019.

Source: yahoo news

Related Story:

His Movement for Socialism party approved his candidacy in a unanimous vote. Later, Morales said "if the people say let's go with Evo, then let's continue defeating the right and continue with our process."

Bolivia's first indigenous president (Morales) was first elected in 2005, and then re-elected in 2009 and 2014. But he narrowly lost a referendum earlier this year on whether the constitution should be revised to allow him to run again in 2019. His current term expires on January 22, 2020.

Bolivia's constitution only allows two consecutive terms in office. He had sought to raise it to three straight terms. While this next election would be for his fourth, the Constitutional Tribunal has ruled that his first term in office doesn't count since Morales didn't complete the full five-year term. This is because in 2009 the government changed the constitution to make Bolivia a plurinational state instead of a republic.

The ruling party said it was considering four ways to allow Morales to run again, including the possibilities of changing the constitution through the legislative assembly or a signature-collection drive. Other possibilities include having Morales step down six months early or asking the Constitutional Tribunal for another interpretation.

But the opposition said that any Morales re-election bid would be unconstitutional because of the referendum.

"No means no," said opposition leader Jorge Quiroga.

Source Fox News

Prayer Vigil for South Korea as Supporters, Opponents of embattled Park stage big rallies in Seoul

Supporters of South Korean President Park Geun-hye rallied on Saturday for her reinstatement while opponents gathered to repeat their demands that the leader impeached over a corruption scandal step down immediately. The Park supporters, who last held a major rally in mid-November, began their demonstration first. Later, anti-Park protesters packed the streets of central Seoul for an eighth straight weekend. Many of the opponents were angry that Park's lawyers argued on Friday that the impeachment had no legal basis. "This is my first time out here, but yesterday when I heard about her opinion against the impeachment submitted to the Constitutional Court, whatever pity I had felt for her disappeared," Roh Yi-young, 55, said.

Source: yahoo news

Prayer Vigil for Ivory Coast Africa as Ouattara seeks strong legislative majority as I.Coast votes

Ivory Coast votes on Sunday in legislative elections that President Alassane Ouattara hopes will strengthen his parliamentary majority to help keep the world's top cocoa producer in the economic fast lane. The weeklong election campaign was peaceful, but the authorities have ordered some 30,000 security forces into the streets in the wake of scattered incidents in recent months, including attacks on police posts. "Give me a strong majority to enable me to speed up the work that I have set as an objective in the four years to come," Ouattara said in a TV broadcast, playing up his economic achievements to win support among the 6.2 million eligible voters.The country was long the star economic performer in the region until hitting a decade of political strife but is now back on the rails.The International Monetary Fund has said the west African state will be the continent's fastest-growing economy this year.The presidential coalition -- named the Houphouetist Rally for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) in tribute to the country's founding president -- aims to take an absolute majority in a National Assembly comprised of 255 members of parliament.Most observers and even some in the opposition acknowledge the economic benefits of Ouattara's rule, but find his political record less convincing.National reconciliation after a decade of strife and violence at the last legislative polls in 2011 remains unfinished, the judiciary is under fire, and the opposition shunned a constitutional referendum in October.Ouattara, known to Ivorians by his initials "ADO", has enjoyed an overwhelming majority in the National Assembly because the opposition boycotted the 2011 elections in the wake of a bloody political crisis.Ouattara's predecessor Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept defeat in a long-delayed presidential poll in November 2010, sparking conflict that claimed 3,000 lives before Gbagbo was arrested in April 2011.

"The politics of the empty chair hasn't brought any fruit," commented former prime minister Pascal Affi Nguessan. "The battle to come is to conquer the National Assembly."

Source: yahoo news

Prayer Vigil for Venezuela as Maduro delays removing currency bills amid crisis & protests

With protests rocking his unpopular government, embattled President Nicolas Maduro pushed back to next month taking Venezuela's highest denomination bill out of circulation. Maduro, who spoke after a meeting with administration officials, said he also would keep the borders with Brazil and Colombia closed until January 2. "We will break the embargo they are trying to impose on us, the persecution and the sabotage," Maduro pledged.He promised a December announcement about when the new bills would arrive, without indicating from where they would be flown.The president, whose popularity has plummeted, says the 100-bolivar note had to be killed because "mafias" are hoarding it abroad in what he calls a US-backed plot to destabilize Venezuela.The bill is worth about 15 US cents at the highest official rate, and until recently accounted for 77 percent of the cash in circulation in Venezuela.Late Friday, Maduro blamed opposition politicians for the unrest, claiming that there were pictures and videos of some opposition members of the National Assembly involved in "attempts of vandalism and some acts of violence."
Maduro has presided over an unraveling of Venezuela's oil-rich economy as crude prices have plunged. He and predecessor Hugo Chavez have made the economy increasingly state-led.Now the import-dependent country is desperately short of food, medicine and basic household goods.Venezuela currently has the world's highest inflation rate, set to hit 475 percent this year, according to an IMF forecast.The government is trying to introduce new bills in denominations up to 200 times higher than the old ones.But the plan went off the rails when Maduro ordered the 100-bolivar note removed from circulation before the new bills arrived.

Source: Yahoo News Digest

Prayer Vigil for Turkish city of Kayseri as Protesters ransack pro-Kurdish party local HQs after Turkey attack

Nationalist protesters on Saturday stormed the local headquarters of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in the central Turkish city of Kayseri and several other Turkish cities after an attack that left 14 soldiers dead. With the government pointing the finger at the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for the attack earlier in Kayseri, the protesters took out their anger on the HDP in a string of revenge attacks. In Kayseri, protesters broke into the building where the HDP office is located, scattering papers and furniture on the street and removing the HDP sign from the entrance, images taken by the Dogan news agency showed. A group then ascended to the top of the building, setting off a fire and draping from the top a giant red flag with three crescent moons, the insignia of right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
Meanwhile reports said there was an explosion at HDP offices in the Beylikduzu district of Istanbul, although there were no casualties. In a statement, the HDP accused the authorities of turning a blind eye to the attacks. "Those who fail to take measures to prevent these attacks give an opportunity for provocations," it said, while urging caution from its own supporters. The government has said the outlawed PKK, which is fighting a bitter insurgency against the Turkish security forces in the southeast, was likely behind the attack earlier that left 14 Turkish soldiers dead.The HDP denies any links to the PKK but the government accuses the party of being the political front of the militants.

Prayer Vigil for US: NY, LA, Austin Texas Homeless as they fall victims to synthetic marijuana

Nearly 300 homeless people became ill last month in St. Louis due to the man-made hallucinogen that experts believe is far more dangerous and unpredictable than the real thing. Other outbreaks have occurred in New York City, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas. The homeless are easy targets in a confined area, experts say. The drug is cheap — as little as $1 or $2 for a joint — more difficult to detect in drug tests and is a fast escape from a harsh reality.

It was common for us to see reactions where they were violent, incoherent, sometimes catatonic on the ground. - Austin police Lt. Kurt Thomas

Synthetic marijuana has been around since the late 2000s, packaged under names like K2, Darkness and Mr. Happy. The Drug Enforcement Administration says it is usually a mixture of herbs and spices sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredients in marijuana.

The nation's homeless are proving to be especially susceptible to a new, dirt-cheap version of synthetic marijuana, which leaves users glassy-eyed, aimless, sprawled on streets and sidewalks oblivious to their surroundings or wandering into traffic.

Source: Yahoo News

Saturday, December 17, 2016

What The Fall Of Aleppo Means For Syria's Civil War | The Huffington Post

After years under rebel control, the Syrian city of Aleppo has now effectively fallen to pro-government troops and army forces. Thousands of residents are now being bussed out of the city and face an uncertain future.

The loss of Aleppo leaves Syria’s opposition at one of its weakest points since the nation’s peaceful protests turned into an armed uprising in 2011. Rebel groups now lack control of any major urban center and have dim prospects for retaking significant territory anytime soon.

Meanwhile, Bashar Assad’s regime has had an enormous reversal of fortunes from its imperiled position just over a year ago. Supported by Russian airstrikes and foreign-backed militias, Assad carried out a sustained and devastating assault on Aleppo that has now culminated in the effective retaking of the city.

But Aleppo falling to government control is by no means an end to the war. Assad still has only a tenuous control over much of the country ― as shown this week when Islamic State militants retook the ancient city of Palmyra from government forces. There are also numerous rebel strongholds throughout the nation, which include groups that continue to receive foreign support.

Instead of an end to Syria’s war, the conflict and the groups involved in it will likely now shift to adapt to the current situation. One change may be that more extreme elements of the opposition make gains among the rebels, as fighting shifts to areas such as Syria’s Idlib province, where such groups are more prominent.

“The fall of Aleppo is likely to strengthen hardline Islamists, who are less likely to throw in the towel and give up, and who are also better suited to waging an underground campaign,” Aron Lund, a fellow with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Middle East Program, told The WorldPost.

Extremist groups like Jabhat Fateh al-Sham ― a recently rebranded version of the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front ― are also less reliant on foreign support than the more moderate factions supported by western powers like the United States.

Buses are seen parked in Aleppo’s government controlled area of Ramouseh, as they wait to take civilians and rebels from eastern Aleppo on Thursday.

Rebels have already signaled that they want a greater response from foreign powers. A senior opposition figure made a plea for increased support from Gulf states on Wednesday, saying the present situation requires a ramping up of military aid.

It’s currently unclear what the response from western and regional powers will be to the loss of Aleppo. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the assault on the city as a “massacre” on Wednesday, but made no mention of any decisive action the United States would take in response.

As the war shifts away from Aleppo, Lund says it is also possible that some hardline groups may increasingly resort to guerrilla tactics such as car bombings and targeted killings. But despite the ability of these tactics to prolong the war, they have limited power to actually turn the tables in favor of the opposition.

“As a political project, such an underground war would not seem very inspiring to those opposition members who hope for something more than martyrdom and mayhem,” Lund says.

“A guerrilla campaign that has no other goal than prolonging the war eternally won’t keep pragmatists on board for long. It will end up being a jihadi project and it will lose most of its international support.”

Once Aleppo is secured, there are a number of other areas of the country that pro-government forces may target militarily. Areas such as Idlib province, ISIS-controlled eastern Syria and rebel-held territory near Damascus may each face a similar offensive to the one that killed thousands of people and left much of Aleppo in ruins.

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Prayer Vigil for Vatican as Pope expresses sorrow over terrorist attacks and prayed that God will sustain all men of goodwill who courageously roll up their sleeves to deal with the plague of terrorism and this bloodstain which is gripping the world in a shadow of fear and bewilderment

Amb. Zara Jane Juan, Peace Ambassador

Amb. Zara Jane Juan, Peace Ambassador
I choose to be a Missionary of the Interfaith, Interracial, Intercultural Sailing for Peace Program inspired and guided by the discipline and life of the Virgin Mary of the Catholic Church. I am a Catholic, a Lady Datin of the Muslims, a Buddhist in my Healthy Lifestyle and a Hindu in Purifying my Soul. With Free Thinking and Scientific Approach to my Peace Work, my life on the over-all is a whirlwind of Faith and Fate. I refuse donations to my peace work to prevent corruption but rather I decided to live a very simple so that I can fund it personally through my own personal income as Professional Resource Speaker, Author, Visual Artist, Playwright and Director

JESUS CHRIST - 7 LAST WORDS - Lenten Recollection for Christians