Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Extremist terrorists seize control of Marawi City, Philippines


As the broken bodies of children are recovered in a savage bomb attacks in Manchester and Bangkok, a car bomb in Syria, across the ocean the Maute Group waged a full out assault on the city of Marawi in the Philippines. Flames and gunfire occupied the streets as homes, businesses, and schools suffered arson and destruction by the group. After releasing prisoners en masse, attackers set ablaze the jails. Their havoc included burning down

 The black flag of the group rose above the city early this morning. Pledging allegiance to Daesh (ISIL), they seek to create a stronghold. Horrified residents reached out on social media with real time distress and messages. President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in effect on the island of Mindanao.



seav. Released under the GFDL.

The President returns from his trip to Russia, originally slated to end on May 25. He was to meet with President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. This trip was to usher in a new level of working together for trade and other enterprises for the two nations.  Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano,  revealed his change in plans in wake of the fighting in Mindanao.

MOSCOW -- President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

Cayetano, who was recently appointed as chief of the Department of Foreign Affairs, said that Russian government officials understood the situation and the need for Duterte to fly back to Manila as soon as possible to oversee government operations against fighters of the Maute Group, a local terrorist organization allying itself with the so-called IS. - PhilStar
Constant unrest moved President Duterte to warn of Martial Law in the past. Increasingly bold attacks culminated in this offensive on Tuesday. The order now is in effect across the entire island.



Presidential Spokesperson Ernie Abella issued the statement on his behalf as follows:

 In order to suppress lawless violence and rebellion and for public safety, it is necessary to declare Martial Law in the entire island of Mindanao, including Sulu, Jolo and Tawi-Tawi for a period of 60 days.
The government is in full control of the situation and is fully aware that the Maute/Isis and similar groups have the capability, though limited, to disturb the peace; these have shown no hesitation in causing havoc, taking innocent lives and destroying property.
- Republic of the Philippines, Presidential Communications Operations Office, Malacanang, Manila


 These events happen two weeks after the U.S. Embassy issued its travel warning to U.S. citizens regarding Puerto Princesa, and in general, areas of Palawan Province, Philippines . For those with loved ones in-country, I provide the contact information for the U. S. Embassy, Manila.

U.S. Citizen Emergencies During Office Hours
+63 (02) 301-2246


U.S. Citizen Emergencies After Hours
+63 (02) 301-2000


acsinfomanila@state.gov


Military forces face this action within the same month as their completion of Balikatan 2017. This year's special emphasis training on counter terrorism and humanitarian response is expected to be implemented in this situation. This year saw the U.S. infuse $400, 000 USD into "emergency readiness equipment and aid" to the nation.  This annual training hones the skills of both nation's forces.

By Cpl. Anthony Ward Jr - https://www.dvidshub.net/image/392424, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39244485



The Republic of Philippines is also currently in negotiation with the Ukraine regarding weapons systems, military controls, and increased cooperation in technology. This same month, the government announced it would no longer be relying on the European Union for these concerns. This week saw meetings going forward toward new policy

The potential for the military and technical cooperation between Kyiv and Manila has been discussed during the talks with Secretary for National Defense of the Philippines Delfin Lorenzana during a working visit of First Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleh Hladkovsky to the Philippines, as well as meetings with the country’s top military leadership, the press service of state-run foreign trade enterprise SpetsTechnoExport reported. - KyivPost

It is unknown if the recent tack in course that sees closer ties to the enemies of terrorists in the vein of Daesh (ISIL) was, in any way, a catalyst toward the increase in violent actions. The increased pressure on these radical terrorist groups has seen violence before now. The next 60 days will set the stage for what comes next, as the expiry of the Martial Law order is set to expire or be renewed.



Blue Over Red, PRAYFORMARAWI


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Human beings are being murdered in the Republic of Chechnya because they are gay

It is happening. Humans beings beaten, tortured, detained in camps and prisons, and murdered by strangers and families in the Republic of Chechnya.  Here is a quick break down of what is going on in the Chechen world regarding the systematic campaign to exterminate and entire portion of the human population. The facts are grim.

The seeds of this reign of terror started to bloom in the early days of this March, when an application submitted by the group Caucasus, members of the GayRussia.ru project. The request was denied. However, this gave the authorities the impetus to begin their move toward the eradication of an entire segment of people.


In all, a total of four marches in North Caucasus Federal District. This notice of intent struck the chord. Though it is doubtful that the projected 300 marchers was an accurate reflection of the actual amount of attendees that would risk such a public demonstration, the government’s response seemed based upon a literal acceptance of the veracity and accuracy of this number.
Government.ru

In a letter on Russian social media platform VKontakte , the horror that was unleashed under a wave referred to as “honor killings” makes it plain.

MESSAGE FROM VKONTAKTE

(Original spelling and punctuation)
Salam alaykum all!
I never thought that I would write again here but now, when the topic of one chain and substituting one is being tortured as long as it does not pass, and still others it may concern, and I think it would be right if I warn.
There often appear posts about the bases ( refers to provocations to identify people of homosexual orientation -. Approx. EM ) and I some time ago trying to find these victims of the bases. When you do not find one, I thought it’s not true. Now I understand why I could not find one, which was framed in Chechnya. Unfortunately, many killed.
Killed not just young children and even grown men who are over 50 years old. Among them are well-known personality in Chechnya.
At various events, television releases, participated in the contest. I do not want to call them names. Most mladschemu 16 years. He was our village. Just the other day he was brought all beaten, just a bag of bones. They were thrown into the courtyard and said that he was killed. He still say he came to himself and hardly come. I do not know how they explain why they do so, they will be asked to present proof that our son or brother is.
In Chechnya, because strictly defame anyone whatsoever without tangible evidence. It is possible and to remain without pants. Especially to lay hands on the guy, and accuse him of homosexuality is generally a disgrace for many centuries. I do not know how they explain it but it’s crap happens. Source middle, military cousin of mine who just this morning told me about it. I was wrong when I said here and wrote that of the bases there. They never have and how they are now free hand. Be very careful and remove its dubious connection.
Importantly, do not remove the daily rent is probably all realtors are forced to put the camera in the apartments and in this way they get the dirt on the victims. And realtors with Chechnya will do anything just to avoid losing their business and who would dare to object to our military. Be very careful please. This is my last post here. ” – https://www.novayagazeta.ru/articles/2017/04/01/71983-ubiystvo-chesti


The republic is semi-autonomous, and has its own laws. In theory, the sanctioning of murder of persons completed an anal sex act is officially suspended, though codified by law in article 148 of the Chechen penal code. The penalties include caning in the first two instances, then execution upon the third. This same article has a history of being used to punish practitioners of alternative faiths.


In practice, it continues to rise. The current head of the Chechen Republic,  Ramzan Kadyrov, maintains a very supportive stance of honor killings and the view that persons of genders other than heterosexual males being rightfully subjected to the practice. The following actions occurred at the beginning of the following month.
On  and before April the 1st, men were rounded up, it was coined a ‘prophylactic sweep’ in Chechnya. At first, the region’s officials denied that any such roundup and detention was “lies and misinformation”. A spokesman for the leader of Chechnya, said to the Interfax news agency –

Rachel Denber,Deputy Director, Europe and Central Asia Division, American Magazine

On April 3, mass rally expressed outrage at the reporting done by news agency Novaya Gazeta’ on the current situation. Kadyrov made clear his hostile stance toward media coverage of the current human rights situation in his country, even going far enough to declare them “enemies of our faith and of our motherland.”



Retribution was promised, with stress being on the lack of limitation for the time period that might be necessary to exact such reprisals. The news outlet lost two reporters to murder in the past years, and Investigative Journalist Elena Milashina is in hiding following death threats for covering this story.
http://google-maps.pro/satellite/Argun.Chechnya.Russia#43.293028,45.891570,17
“Any homosexual Chechen can tell the story with the bases – if it happened not with him, then with his friends. One of the acquaintances of the interlocutor of the RS, Grozny businessman, sold the car to pay for the silence…”  –Sergey Khazov-Kassia, Chechnya: The Gay Outcome, Radio Liberty, http://www.svoboda.org/a/28417768.html
The 10th of April saw the international media begin to use the term “concentration camps” for the alleged detention centers in which detained gay men were housed. Stories of torture, and killings in wooded areas, or by families emerged. The world turned its eyes toward the very real consequence of living as a gay person in the nation, and its fatal implications.
“If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them since their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.” – Ramzan Kadyrov
In the United Kingdom, there came the declaration that a protest would take place near to the Russian Embassy in London. This took place on the 11th. Protests would continue to proliferate throughout the world. Outcry from human rights organizations and activists were high.
https://www.facebook.com/events/876760675796386/

A separate rally followed on April 22. Named “UK Rallies Against Homophobia in Chechnyahttps://www.facebook.com/events/675146246011541 , it sought to “get this extremely under-reported story in the news. They are peaceful demonstrations“.

Amnesty International puts the number of suspected missing and detained at approximately 100, numbers confirmed by Human Rights Watch https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/04/04/anti-lgbt-violence-chechnya . Amnesty International created an urgent action petition,

Chechnya: Stop Abducting and Killing Gay Men

against these acts. This is the English Version for download.

https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/take-action/chechnya-stop-abducting-and-killing-gay-men/

International pressure is rising for Russia to act. The continued lack of movement on the situation is a cause of moral outrage. The United Nations called for action in April.
It is crucial that reports of abductions, unlawful detentions, torture, beatings and killings of men perceived to be gay or bisexual are investigated thoroughly – VOA News
http://www.voanews.com/a/russia-urged-end-torture-killing-gays-chechnya/3809377.html
In Sochi, Russian president Vladimir Putin met with German chancellor Angela Merkel. She expressed her concerns regarding the human rights crisis in Chechnya, and the climate in Russia, for humans who are gay or minorities. Her alarm over the human rights violations being reported motivated her to speak out against the actions of the regime. She asked the Mr. Putin to use his status to ensure greater protections for the rights of the people of Chechnya, particularly those being affected by the current actions of the government there.
“I asked President Putin to use his influence to protect these minority rights,” – Chancellor Merkel

A body that comes in with grass root material action in this situation is the Rainbow Railroad https://www.rainbowrailroad.ca/. They are assisting the situation by aiding those fleeing persecution and by extension seeking to save lives. They are working to facilitate the escape of persons at risk for torture, death, and worse. Currently, they count two completed “navigations” to safety, and have 30 more in process.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has named them as one of the organizations the Canadian government with whom work is being done in the effort to protect humans who are lgbtq.  Their efforts help to gain asylum. They are literally a life-line pipe-line.

Here in the United States, a group known as American Friends of Rainbow Railroad Inc set up a fundraiser to assist their efforts. The Facebook based campaign page is Helping Gay Men Flee Chechnya. The donations are to be aimed toward assisting the Rainbow Railroad with airfare, legal services, and temporary housing while the men are awaiting the granting of asylum in Canada.

As Pagans we often ask how we can make a difference on a local and world scale. The suffering of a single person is the suffering of humanity. By spreading the news of this atrocity, we can become a catalysts for action. Pagan activists are called to rally around this crisis. Whether a vigil, a prayer, a petition, a donation, or protest, all things are possible. All things are needful. All things make a difference.

This article originally published in my column at PBN News Network.







Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Groovy Green Craft Practitioner Series: Common Lilac or Syringia

DISCLAIMER: ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.

This article will talk about that beautiful and fleeting bloom that graces the garden in clusters of heavenly hues known as the common lilac or syringia (Syringa vulgaris). This flower means a lot to me, as it is one of my quintessential flowers for mourning. Indeed, I lost my Grandmother this last week as the sea of its colors are flooding the Michigan landscape. She was 100 years old, so I shall take a special moment to write on this flower in memory of her. We shall all wear purple in her memory, as she was our queen.
Jacob Sturm: Deutschlands Flora in Abbildungen (1796)
The lilac is identifiable by its cluster of blossoms, four petals each. A common folk belief among those from Ukraine and Russia is that if you find a lilac with five petals, it is very lucky, like a four-leaf clover. There are many hybrids, but all belong to the Syringa family.
Common lilac (Syringa vulgaris), as the name implies, is the best known of all the lilacs in the United States. This shrub can be as tall as 20 feet, and the flowers are fragrant and usually lilac-colored,although they can be of other hues. Leaves are somewhat heart shaped and smooth. –
For the graceful gourmand, this is the time to gather your fleeting flowers. A simple sugar made from the bruised petals is a wonderful treat for spring teas. Lilac butter on scones is tasty, as well. But I believe that for many, the syrups are the best known.
Pexels -Valeria Boltneva
For the more adventurous, might I suggest a little bit of a nip? Holly and Flora have an intriguingly easy recipe for a drink called Lilac Haze. Imagine a spring mixer with this unusual refreshment. Perhaps it could be the highlight of the Mother’s Day afternoon brunch.
Those who know me personally, know I make herbal honeys. It is a sweet way of remembrance of springtime. I shall make a honey for my Grandmother to remember her, also. I shall also include it in what I place in her coffin. Sweetness among the sorrow. Here is a simple recipe at Feral Botanicals.
True story: Grandma was a bit of a germ free person. You had to wash your hands all the time, boil her water before she drank it, and so on. However, when my daughter, Brenna, gave her an orange mint honey she made as a gift, Grandma stuck her finger right in and ate it. She doted on her great-granddaughter that much. It was her favorite gift from us. So honey shall be my gift to her. She was very fond of honey. She even used to feed a pet Raccoon from its own honey pot, as a child.
My honey jars – Kenya Coviak, All Rights Reserved

For our healers, the lilac has been said to be a good massage oil infusion. Especially for those prone to redness. It allegedly also helps with rheumatism. Making an infused oil would be a great addition to your healer’s kit. But remember, always check for allergies. There are other uses as well, and a naturopath could be a source of training in these.
Lilac leaves can also be used for fever treatment and numerous children diseases, liver congestion, weak digestion and diarrhea, cough, bronchitis, increased body temperature, kidney stones, high blood pressure. – Health Tips Source

Ok, now folklore is out there. It is not hard to find the story of Pan chasing a nymph named Syringa who changed herself into the lilac. She was not having any parts of Goat God Boy. When he thought he was grabbing her, he wound up holding a bunch of reeds. 
 
He sighed then, and when the sound of it merged with the wind in the reeds, it made music. Hermes suggested he make an instrument, and this became what we now call the Syrinx, or Pan pipes. You probably have guessed what hollowed out wood is traditionally used for them by now. Yep, the lilac. 
 
You can also carve other things out of lilac wood, you know.
 
 
 
Here is a sweet article on the lilac by Olga Ikebanova at Frangrantica.  It is not surprising that in aromatherapy, the scent of lilac is also used to treat depression. It is often through stories and allegories that we remember the properties of a herb, flower, plant, or tree.
 
Let us speak of magick now. This is an interesting plant. On one side of its story, it is used for flirtation, beauty, and love. On another face, it is used for protection and banishment. Still another property is that of transitions from life to death, remembrance, and dealing with ghosts. This sweet shrub is truly a precious gift.
 
Jennifer Shepherd at the Lipstick Mystic shares some useful insights in the use of this shrub for protection of the home. I know a witch who planted it specifically at her home due to a ghost problem, so it seems to be a tried and true measure against unwanted energetic invasion. It can also be made into a wreathe for a ward (that is my suggestion).
 
Because my Grandma was a lover of dolls, I shall share with you an activity for this flower. Take it as you will. I give it freely here, in memory of her.
 
Gather up two pillow cases full of the flowers. From one, boil the blooms until they reduce to half in a large pot of water. Then use this liquid to dye a white pillow case. The color will surprise you.
 
Reserve a small saucer of the flowers from the other pillow case to make into an oil. Fill a small glass jar with them and cover with grapeseed oil, or some other oil without a heavy scent. Let sit for about 2 weeks. OR place into a double boiler on low for a few hours until the scent is strong in the bottle.
 
Next, dry the other blooms until brittle. Do this in brown paper bags. That way the moisture will wick away.
 
Now, get out your sewing kit. cut a simple doll pattern from half the pillow case, a front and back, and sew it together – leaving the top open. Stuff the doll with the dried flowers, which you will scent also with the oil.
 
Make an apron, or dress, and a bonnet for it from the rest of the pillow case. Now give it to a child, or keep it yourself. This is a good protection against unwanted dreams. It is also a pick me up from sadness. Enchant as you would any other object, with good energy and wishes.
 
Here is a lovely rendition of a “Lilac Wine” cover performed by Miley Cyrus.
 
This piece is dedicated to the memory and life of Earlene Bentley North-Horner (1917-2017).