Psalm 33:9-22

Common English Bible (CEB)

Because when He spoke, it happened!
    When He commanded, there it was!

Link to pic.

10 The Lord overrules what the nations plan;
    he frustrates what the peoples intend to do.
11 But the Lord’s plan stands forever;
    what he intends to do lasts from one generation to the next.
12 The nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people whom God has chosen as his possession,
    is truly happy!
13 The Lord looks down from heaven;
    he sees every human being.
14 From his dwelling place God observes
    all who live on earth.
15 God is the one who made all their hearts,
    the one who knows everything they do.

16 Kings aren’t saved by the strength of their armies;
    warriors aren’t rescued by how much power they have.
17 A warhorse is a bad bet for victory;
    it can’t save despite its great strength.
18 But look here: the Lord’s eyes watch all who honor him,
    all who wait for his faithful love,
19     to deliver their lives from death
    and keep them alive during a famine.

20 We put our hope in the Lord.
    He is our help and our shield.
21 Our heart rejoices in God
    because we trust his holy name.
22 Lord, let your faithful love surround us
    because we wait for you.

Joyful proclamations

Note: Repeatedly in recent times we’ve experienced God impressing this Scripture on our hearts. God wants to bless the peoples of Sudan and South Sudan. The battle between light and darkness, good and evil is fierce over and in the Sudans. Yet, we will keep believing God’s plans for the Sudans and its peoples are good.  

  1. “The Spirit of the Lord God is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and freedom to the prisoners;
    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
    and the day of our God’s vengeance;
    to comfort all who mourn,
    to provide for those who mourn in Zion;
    to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
    festive oil instead of mourning,
    and splendid clothes instead of despair.
    And they will be called righteous trees,
    planted by the Lord
    to glorify him.
    They will rebuild the ancient ruins;
    they will restore the former devastations;
    they will renew the ruined cities,
    the devastations of many generations.
    Strangers will stand and feed your flocks,
    and foreigners will be your plowmen and vinedressers.

But you will be called the Lord’s priests;
they will speak of you as ministers of our God;
you will eat the wealth of the nations,
and you will boast in their riches.
In place of your shame, you will have a double portion;
in place of disgrace, they will rejoice over their share.
So they will possess double in their land,
and eternal joy will be theirs.

For I the Lord love justice;
I hate robbery and injustice;
I will faithfully reward my people
and make a permanent covenant with them.
Their descendants will be known among the nations,
and their posterity among the peoples.
All who see them will recognize
that they are a people the Lord has blessed.

10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord,
I exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation
and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness,
as a groom wears a turban
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth produces its growth,
and as a garden enables what is sown to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.”

The Word Becomes Flesh

Note: This is part of a new category of news – with an eternal focus – created on this blog. It is specifically part of the The WORD category.

In the beginning was the Word.[a] The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made through Him, and apart from Him nothing was made that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it.

There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that through him everyone might believe. He was not the light, but he came to bear witness concerning the light. The true light, coming into the world, gives light to every man.

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him; but the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, but His own did not receive Him. 12 But whoever did receive Him, those trusting in His name, to these He gave the right to become children of God. 13 They were born not of a bloodline, nor of human desire, nor of man’s will, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. We looked upon His glory,[b] the glory of the one and only[c] from the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 John testifies about Him. He cried out, saying, “This is He of whom I said, ‘The One who comes after me is above me, because He existed before me.’” 16 Out of His fullness, we have all received grace on top of grace. 17 Torah was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Yeshua the Messiah. 18 No one has ever seen God; but the one and only God,[d] in the Father’s embrace, has made Him known.

John 1: 1 to 17

IF MEN ARE CAUGHT THEY ARE KILLED, IF WOMEN ARE CAUGHT THEY ARE RAPED: ATROCITIES TURN SOUTH SUDAN’S BREADBASKET INTO A KILLING FIELD

A new frontline in South Sudan’s conflict has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee the country’s fertile Equatoria region over the past year, creating ongoing atrocities, starvation and fear, according to a new Amnesty International briefing published today.

The organization’s researchers visited the region in June, documenting how mainly government but also opposition forces in the southern region have committed crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations and abuses – including war crimes – against civilians.

The atrocities have resulted in the mass displacement of close to a million people, including refugees fleeing into neighboring Uganda.

“The escalation of fighting in the Equatoria region has led to increased brutality against civilians. Men, women and children have been shot, hacked to death with machetes and burnt alive in their homes. Women and girls have been gang-raped and abducted,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser, who just returned from the region.

“Homes, schools, medical facilities and humanitarian organizations’ compounds have been looted, vandalized and burnt to the ground. And food is being used as a weapon of war.

“These atrocities are ongoing, with hundreds of thousands of people who only a year ago were relatively unscathed by the conflict, now forcibly displaced.”

South Sudan’s Equatoria region had been largely spared the political and inter-communal violence which has ravaged the country since 2013, when fighting broke out between members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to then Vice-President Riek Machar.

All this changed in mid-2016 when, for different reasons, both government and opposition forces descended on Yei, a strategic town of some 300,000 people 150 km southwest of the capital Juba, on a main trade route to Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Government forces, supported by allied militia, including the notoriously unaccountable Mathian Anyoor – comprised of young, mainly ethnic Dinka fighters – have committed a litany of violations with impunity. Opposition armed groups have also committed grave abuses, albeit on a smaller scale.

Massacres and deliberate killings

Numerous eyewitnesses in villages around Yei told Amnesty International how government forces and allied militia deliberately killed civilians with reckless abandon. People who escaped the slaughter described a similar pattern.

In one such attack on the evening of May 16, 2017, government soldiers arbitrarily detained 11 men in Kudupi village, in Kajo Keji county, near the Uganda border. They forced eight of them into a hut, locked the door, set it ablaze and fired several shots into the burning structure. Six were killed in the incident – two burnt to death and the other four were shot as they tried to flee – four of the survivors told Amnesty International.

Joyce, a mother of six from Payawa village, south of Yei, described how her husband and five other local men were killed in a similar attack on May 18, 2017. She also told Amnesty International how soldiers had repeatedly tormented the villagers prior to the massacre:

“This was the fifth time the village was attacked by the army. In the first four attacks, they had looted stuff but not killed anyone. They used to come, arrest people, torture them and steal things. They would take people to hidden places to torture them. They would also arrest young girls and rape them and then release them. [They raped] Susie, my husband’s niece, age 18, [in the village] on 18 December 2016.”

In another incident, nine villagers disappeared after being taken by soldiers from a barracks near Gimunu, 13 kilometers outside Yei town, on May 21, 2017. A police investigation located the bodies of all nine by mid-June. The victims are believed to have been hacked to death with machetes. Nobody has been held to account, which is apparently not unusual when police try to investigate cases of soldiers killing civilians.

Attacks on villages by government forces often appear to be in revenge for the activities of opposition forces in the region.

Armed opposition fighters have also deliberately killed civilians they deem to be government supporters, often simply for being Dinka or refugees from Sudan’s Nuba Mountains region who are accused of sympathizing with the government.

Rape and other sexual and gender-based violence

Amnesty International also documented how abductions and rape of women and girls have skyrocketed across the Equatoria region since fighting escalated last year.

“The only way for women and girls to be safe is to be dead – there is no way to be safe so long as we are alive, this is how bad it is,” Mary, a 23-year-old mother of five told the organization.

In April 2017, three soldiers broke into her home in the middle of the night and two of them raped her. She later fled with her children to another abandoned home but, on another night, an unidentified attacker set fire to it as the family slept, forcing them to flee again.

Women are particularly at risk of sexual assault when they venture out of town to look for food in the surrounding rural areas – a necessity due to dwindling food supplies and increased looting.

Sofia, a 29-year-old woman, told Amnesty International how opposition forces abducted her twice. They held her captive with other women for around a month the first time and a week the second time, and she was raped repeatedly. They were undeterred by her pleas that she was a mother of three and that her husband had been shot by government forces. She later fled to Yei, where she faces dire food shortages.

Food as a weapon of war

Civilians’ access to food is severely limited. Both government and opposition forces have cut food supplies to certain areas, systematically looted food from markets and homes and targeted civilians carrying even the smallest amount of food across frontlines. Each side accuses civilians of feeding or being fed by the enemy.

In the town of Yei, the majority of whose inhabitants have fled in the past year, the remaining civilians are under virtual siege. They face severe food shortages because they are no longer able to get food in the surrounding rural areas.

On June 22, the UN warned that food insecurity had reached unprecedented levels in parts of South Sudan.

“It is a cruel tragedy of this war that South Sudan’s breadbasket – a region that a year ago could feed millions – has turned into treacherous killing fields that have forced close to a million to flee in search of safety,” said Joanne Mariner, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser.

“All parties to the conflict must rein in their fighters and immediately cease targeting civilians, who are protected under the laws of war. Those on all sides responsible for atrocities must be brought to justice. Meanwhile, UN peacekeepers must live up to their mandate to protect civilians from this ongoing onslaught.”

Link to web article here.

Hunger Used as a Weapon of War in South Sudan, Amnesty Says

 

South Sudanese government forces and rebels have used hunger as a weapon of war in a region once seen as the country’s breadbasket that’s been ravaged by killings, gang-rapes and looting over the past year, Amnesty International said.

Civilians’ access to food in the southern region of Equatoria, where conflict spread last July, is “severely limited” after combatants cut supplies, looted from markets and homes and targeted civilians, the London-based advocacy group said Tuesday. It said fighters from each side accuse civilians of feeding or being fed by the enemy.

“It is a cruel tragedy of this war that South Sudan’s breadbasket — a region that a year ago could feed millions — has turned into treacherous killing fields that have forced close to a million to flee in search of safety,” Joanne Mariner, Amnesty’s senior crisis response adviser, said. Deputy army spokesman Santo Domic said the report hadn’t been shared with the military and was biased.

South Sudan’s civil war has left tens of thousands of people dead and forced more than 3.5 million from their homes since it started in December 2013. Initially much of the fighting was focused in the north, where famine was declared in two counties in January. Though relief efforts mean the areas are no longer designated famine zones, food availability in the country is worsening due to a poor harvest and surging inflation, according to the national statistics office.

‘Grave Abuses’

Rebel groups in Equatoria, a region that had largely been spared the political violence, took up arms last year. Government forces and allied militias have committed “a litany of violations with impunity,” while armed opposition groups have also staged “grave abuses, albeit on a smaller scale,” according to Amnesty, whose researchers visited the area in June. Almost a million people have fled their homes, including to neighboring Uganda, exacerbating what the United Nations has called the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis.

Much of the violence has centered on the town of Yei, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) south of the capital, Juba, and on a main trade route to Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Amnesty said eyewitnesses in surrounding villages described how government forces and allied militias “deliberately killed civilians with reckless abandon.”

The attacks on villages by government forces “often appear to be in revenge for the activities of opposition forces in the region,” according to Amnesty. It said rebel fighters also deliberately killed civilians they deemed to be government supporters, often just for being Dinka — the ethnic group to which President Salva Kiir belongs — or refugees from Sudan’s Nuba Mountains accused of sympathizing with Kiir’s administration.

Army spokesman Domic said “the rebel forces are the ones committing atrocities against the civilians because they don’t have a unifying command and control. Left unattended, they can become a security threat to the neighboring countries,” he said by phone from Juba.

Link to web article here.

Barefoot and alone, children flee brutal South Sudan war

Unaccompanied children who arrive at the International Nguenyyiel refuge camp in Gambela, Ethiopia have fled life-threatening siutations in South Sudan

Her feet bare and her hometown in flames, Nyadet walked east alone, eating food given to her by strangers and following trails left by others escaping war in South Sudan.

She is 12 years old.

Nine days after she fled bloodshed in the flashpoint town of Malakal last November, Nyadet reached the country’s border with Ethiopia, and crossed over to safety.

“Maybe they are safe,” is all she can say of her mother, father, sister and two brothers, whom she lost track of when the streets of her hometown transformed into a war zone.

South Sudan’s civil war has raged on for the past three years with such viciousness that parts of the country are bereft of food and a third of the population has fled their homes, but few refugees present as vexing a problem as children like Nyadet who escape the conflict alone.

Around 1.8 million South Sudanese have fled the country and of that number one million are children and of those, 75,000 have fled unaccompanied by their parents.

“They are fleeing definitely life-threatening situations,” said Daniel Abate of aid group Save the Children, which helps reunite lost children with their families.

At the Nguenyyiel refugee camp near Ethiopia’s lush western frontier, boys and girls who crossed the border unaccompanied tell tales of murdered families and childhoods shattered by the unremitting violence in South Sudan.

“War happened,” is the description Nyakung, 11, gives for the atrocities she witnessed in the capital Juba, where her mother was left to die inside a blazing hut and three of her brothers were gunned down on a road while running for the safety of a UN base.

Aid agencies are trying to get children like Nyakung back with their families, but humanitarians admit that with the conflict still raging in South Sudan, the odds of these children seeing their loved ones again are slim.

– Tired and destitute –

South Sudan’s war, sparked when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup in 2013, has been marked by numerous atrocities against civilians despite the presence of thousands of UN peacekeeping troops.

Unaccompanied children who have travelled alone alone from South Sudan are sometimes reluctant to be reunited with relatives, believing it could mean returning to the violence they fled

Around 1.8 million South Sudanese have fled the country, making it the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world.

One million of those refugees are children, the UN says, and of that number about 75,000 were either separated from their parents or without any family at all.

Aid workers say they regularly see South Sudanese children straggling across the border, often with an adult stranger, but sometimes by themselves.

“You can tell they are very tired, their clothes (are) worn-out on them, they have not been showered for some time. So, you can see that they’re destitute,” Daniel said.

Nguenyyiel is home to nearly 2,900 children that arrived without any family, who pass their days attending school and playing in a tree-shaded jungle gym.

Chan, 13, escaped Malakal late last year when fighting erupted and the grass hut he lived in was torched.

He then walked for a month until he crossed into Ethiopia.

“I just go the direction where I see a safe place,” he said.

Some, like Nyadet, hope to one day reunite with their families.

Others hold no such hope.

Chan says he doesn’t know where his parents are but believes they must be dead.

– Slim odds –

With neither the government nor the rebels honouring a peace deal made two years ago, locating family members of lost children in the chaos of South Sudan is difficult, says Hiwotie Simachew, emergency response manager for aid group Plan International.

Some parents have also likely joined the exodus that has distributed hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese refugees to Uganda, Kenya, Sudan and beyond.

Parents, if they are still alive, could be in refugee camps in any of these countries, or in other settlements in Ethiopia, Hiwotie said.

Plan International and Save the Children have managed to reunite hundreds of youths with their families, but that’s just a fraction of the around 31,500 children Ethiopia’s Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs says have arrived without their parents.

Even when family members are located, some don’t want to take custody of the children.

In one case, aid workers found the uncle of three unaccompanied minors in Australia, but he declined to adopt them, Hiwotie said.

In other instances, it’s the children themselves who resist reunion, because they believe that would mean a return to the violence from which they escaped.

“They are refusing to reunify with their family and thinking that, if they show their interest, they will return back to South Sudan,” Hiwotie said.

Link to web article here.

China takes Security Council presidency in July, putting wide-ranging crises on agenda

(Xinhua)    13:09, July 04, 2017

Liu Jieyi (file photo)

Ambassador Liu Jieyi of China, UN Security Council president for July, said on Monday that issues of Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, Colombia, Haiti and Cyprus will be on the agenda of the 15-nation council in July.

As for Syria, the crisis faced a “crucial month for the political process” with talks in Astana, Kazakhstan followed by resumption of the Geneva talks later in the month, he said. “The council is following keenly the developments in this respect.”

The ambassador said there were “three dimensions” to be addressed by the 15 members of the council on Syria — the political, the chemical and the humanitarian. “These two aspects will also be under review in the Security Council.”

The reference to chemical was for the alleged use of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun in north-western Syria in April, which killed more than 80 people. A report last week said such weapons had been used but did not say who used them.

On Yemen, he said, “the council will look at the situation and hopefully will work to persuade the different sides to the negotiation table to seek reconciliation, to seek to solve the problem through political means and to abandon the notion that there is a possibility of a military solution.”

Liu addressed the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, even though not formally listed on the council’s July agenda.

He reiterated the Chinese “suspension for suspension” proposal package — suspension of nuclear and ballistic testing on the part of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and suspension of the military exercises on the part of the United States and the Republic of Korea.

“This is a feasible proposal because it accommodates all of the major parts that confront the region and we do believe that once we embark on the road of negotiations along the lines of these proposals and … we will be able to calm things down and to seek a lasting solution of denuclearization and peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” Liu said. “We do hope that the other parties will be more forthcoming on accepting and supporting these proposals.”

On South Sudan, Liu said that the crucial thing is to achieve reconciliation among the different parties and also to have an effective dialogue for lasting solutions.

“The council will continue to urge different sides back to dialogue to cessation of whatever hostilities still exist and also to work out a lasting solution that is best for the country and the people,” he said.

Liu anticipated that Security Council members would establish a second political mission for Colombia to “monitor the implementation” of final agreements between the government and the rebel group FARC and the extension of mandates for the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus and the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq.

“On Colombia there will be adoption of a resolution … by consensus and to lend its political and other support to the Colombian government and people for implementation of the agreement and to put an end once and for all to conflict in the country,” he said. “This will be important not only for the country and the region but even for the world.”

With talks continuing over the long-divided Mediterranean isle of Cyprus, the ambassador expressed hope of progress with the council possibly giving them a “boost for more fruitful results.”

Liu said that he hoped to follow what the Bolivians did in June as president of the council and precede what the presidencies of Egypt and Ethiopia are expected to do in August and September and that is to hold open debates on Africa and the African Unions.

He sees “four months generating more political momentum to help Africa enhance areas of peace and security, because we, speaking for China, are of the view that we should always provide more help to Africa to seek solution, for Africa problems by African countries in African ways.”

Liu said whatever focus the council “can bring to this issue of enhancing capacity-building in Africa should serve a very good cause for not only peace and stability in Africa but also for peace operations throughout the world.”

To that end, the ambassador announced the council would hold two open debates — where all members of the United Nations may participate — on “enhancing African capacities in the areas of peace and security” and on the Mideast, namely the Israeli-Palestinian problem.

He intended the presidency of China to be “objective and impartial … transparent as the council will like us to be and certainly will try to arrange the work of the Security Council in an efficient and effective way.”

Link to web article here.

Ugandan president invites Machar to attend SPLM reunification meeting

KAMPALA – 4 JUL 2017

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has invited South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar to attend a meeting aimed at the reunification of the different factions of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).

In May, three factions of South Sudan’s SPLM party agreed in in Kampala to set aside their differences and work out a roadmap to reunify the party, but the main armed opposition faction loyal to Riek Machar didn’t attend the meeting.

“Your representatives are hereby invited to attend so that mediation process is all inclusive. Eventually, you could come in person after we harmonize in the region,” said Museveni in a letter dated 26 June.

“I have met the different representative of SPLM factions. During the last meeting, it was agreed that all SPLM factions be represented in the subsequent meetings,” Museveni added.

Last Month, Ugandan president invited Machar to come but Machar wrote back that hes under house arrest and cannot leave South Africa. So far, in the second invitation, Machar is yet to confirm whether he will be allowed to leave South Africa.

Last month, Riek Machar decided not to take up an invitation from Uganda’s president Yoweri Moseveni to attend a consultative meeting for factions of the SPLM party because of his forced detention in South Africa.

Link to web article here.

S. Sudan government to deploy troops along Juba-Bor road

July 1, 2017 (WAU) – South Sudan government is too heavily deploy troops on the road that links the country’s capital, Juba to Bor, an official has disclosed.

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A overturned truck on the Juba-Bor road, which has become almost impassable as a result of the rainy season and its poor condition (ST)

The interior minister, Michael Chiangjiek said that the move came following an emergency security meeting, which was held in Juba on Thursday.

The meeting was chaired by South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir.

He said the meeting resolved that forces would immediately be deployed on Juba-Bor road as governments’ security measure to combat road ambush killings that were taking place in the area.

On 28 June, nine people were reportedly killed and seven others injured on Juba-Bor road. The incident took place when a passenger car carrying traders was attacked by unknown gunmen in Kubri Mohandisiin, located about 8 kilometres from Juba.

Last month, a similar attack left more than 30 people dead.

“One of the resolutions that we made was the immediate deployment of forces, namely the army, the police and the national security to the site so that they enhance the security of the road and at least ease the flow of the goods from Juba to Bor and from Juba to Boma state,” said the interior minister.

The governor of South Sudan’s Jonglei state said Juba-Bor road needed to be secure as it was the lifeline for returnees who have started returning from the refugee as well as displacement camps.

“It will also enable people in Greater Jonglei move to venues where they can participate in the national dialogue,” said Phillip Aguer.

“This road will also facilitate the national dialogue because we want Greater Jonglei to come together and talk for the government to know exactly what is affecting us. Insecurity affects food security and this is the result of poor agriculture,” he added.

(ST)

Link to web article here.

Sudan’s al-Bashir to visit Russia next month

July 3, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir will visit Moscow during second half of August upon an invitation from his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, said Sudan’s Foreign Minister Monday.

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Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir (AFP Photo/ASHRAF SHAZLY)

Last October, Sudan’s Foreign Ministry said al-Bashir would pay a visit to Moscow by the end of 2016, but the visit didn’t take place. No explanation has been made for the postponement of the visit.

In a press release on Monday, Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said President al-Bashir “will pay an important visit to the Russian Federation in the second half of August at the invitation of his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in order to strengthen bilateral relations between the two friendly countries at all levels”.

He pointed out that the visit would discuss a number of important issues including trade and economic cooperation, political coordination and consultation and mutual support in the various international forums.

The top diplomat underscored Russia is a key supporter of Sudan’s issues at the UN Security Council and other international organizations, pointing to continued coordination between Sudan and Russia at various levels on all bilateral, regional and international issues.

Politically, Russia is seen as a major ally of the government of al-Bashir that faces isolation from the West. However, economic cooperation between the two countries has remained very low, with a trade balance that does not exceed $400 million.
In December 2015, Sudan and Russia signed 14 cooperation agreements in different domains, including oil, minerals and banks.

The agreements also include a concession contract between Sudan and the Russian Rus Geology to prospect for oil in Sudan’s Bloc E57 and another accord for the geological mapping of the Jebel Moya area, North Kordofan State.

Last November, Russia decided to withdraw its signature from the founding statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), saying the tribunal had failed to live up to hopes of the international community.

Russia was one of eleven countries at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that voted in favor of referring the Darfur situation to the ICC in 2005.

Sudan welcomed Moscow’s move, saying it gives strong support to the African stance against the Hague-based tribunal which has charged al-Bashir with ten counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide connected to the Darfur conflict.

(ST)

Link to web article here.