Asean leaders, from left: Philippines President Benigno Aquino, Singapore Prime
Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Thailand Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana,
Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Myanmar
President Thein Sein, Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak, Cambodia Prime Minister
Hun Sen, Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Laos Prime Minister
Thongsing Thammavong pose for the group photo after the opening ceremony of the
24th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Naypyidaw, Myanmar
on May 11, 2014. Myanmar hosts the ASEAN Summit in Naypyidaw for the first time
since it joined the ASEAN community in 1997 and the theme for its Chairmanship of
ASEAN is ‘Moving Forward in Unity to a Peaceful and Prosperous Community’. (EPA
Photo/Lynn Bo Bo)


"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) - Text version)

“….. Here is the prediction: China will turn North Korea loose soon. The alliance will dissolve, or become stale. There will be political upheaval in China. Not a coup and not a revolution. Within the inner circles of that which you call Chinese politics, there will be a re-evaluation of goals and monetary policy. Eventually, you will see a break with North Korea, allowing still another dictator to fall and unification to occur with the south. ….”

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)



US under fire in global press freedom report

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

China rules out open nominations for Hong Kong leader

China has said it will not allow open nominations for candidates for the leadership of Hong Kong in landmark 2017 elections. The announcement could trigger further large-scale protests in the city.

Deutsche Welle, 31 Aug 2014


China's top legislative body, the National People's Congress Standing Committee, ruled on Sunday that Hong Kong's next chief executive would be chosen only from candidates that had been nominated by a "broadly representative committee," the official news agency Xinhua reported.

The move is likely to trigger further protests in the city by pro-democracy groups, who have threatened to block Hong Kong's financial district if authorities do not allow candidates for the 2017 poll to be chosen freely.

Democracy advocates say the nominating committee is likely to be stacked with pro-Beijing loyalists who will exclude those candidates opposed to Chinese influence on the former British colony.

Although Hong Kong has enjoyed substantial political autonomy since being handed back to China by Britain in 1997, its leader since then has been chosen by a pro-Beijing committee.

China had said back then that the elections in 2017 would be the first since the handover to be decided by "universal suffrage," but Sunday's move would seem to run counter to this promise.

In an article on Friday run by Xinhua, the news agency said that Beijing had "comprehensive jurisdiction" over Hong Kong, warning activists to "cast off the illusion that Hong Kong is under full autonomy."

Contentious campaign

Political tensions over the issue have soared, with both pro-democracy groups and Beijing supporters holding protests.

In June, the group Occupy Central, which is threatening the blockade of Hong Kong's business district, organized an unofficial referendum that saw most of the 800,000 people who voted supporting reform packages allowing public nominations for the elections.

The pro-Beijing Alliance for Peace and Democracy then mounted a petition against the Occupy campaign, which they said collected some 1.4 million signatures. The group has denounced Occupy Central as a danger to the city's stability.

Pro-democracy activists from Occupy were planning a protest in the city center for Sunday night following Beijing's decision to control the nomination of election candidates.

Indian PM Tours Ancient Japanese City

Jakarta Globe – AFP, Aug 31, 2014

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, front left, and his Japanese counterpart
 Shinzo Abe smile with Buddhist monks in the background, during their visit to
Toji Buddhist temple, a Unesco World Heritage site, in Kyoto, western Japan, in
this photo released by Kyodo on Aug. 31, 2014. (Reuters Photo/Kyodo)

Kyoto. India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi toured the ancient Japanese city of Kyoto on Sunday, the second day of a visit intended to strengthen security and economic relations and counter a increasingly assertive China.

Modi was accompanied by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on his visit to a historic temple a day after he had a private dinner with Abe.

It is unusual for a Japanese prime minister to greet a foreign guest outside Tokyo.

The two leaders visited the 1,200-year-old Buddhist temple of Toji, a World Heritage site, and offered prayers in front of ancient statues early Sunday.

They also took a short walk near a five-story pagoda in the company of a priest. Buddhism, born in the Indian subcontinent, was brought to Japan through China and Korea in the sixth century.

Later in the day Modi met Nobel Prize-winning stem cell researcher Shinya Yamanaka, who heads the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application at Kyoto University and briefed the Indian leader about cutting-edge research.

Modi arrived Saturday at Kansai International Airport near the western city of Osaka by special plane for a night in nearby Kyoto.

He will hold an official summit with Abe in Tokyo on Monday as well as meetings with business leaders.

Both nations hope to curb Beijing’s rising activity in the East and South China Seas and the Indian Ocean.

In New Delhi, the Indian premier told Japanese media in an interview last week that the two nations could “upgrade” their relations in the fields of defense and security.

“I see in the recent changes in Japan’s defense export policies and regulations a possibility to engage in a new era of cooperation in high-end defense technology and equipment,” he said.

At the summit the two premiers are likely to agree on launching a “two-plus-two” security consultative framework involving their foreign and defense ministers, according to Japanese media.

Japan already has such arrangements with the United States, Australia, Russia and France.

India and Japan will also try to conclude talks on a civilian nuclear agreement that would allow Tokyo to export nuclear-related technology to New Delhi, reports said.

They are also expected to agree jointly to produce rare earths that could be exported to Japan, a move that would further reduce Japan’s reliance on China for the supply of such minerals, Kyodo News and other media said.

Rare earths are vital for the manufacture of high-tech products such as hybrid cars and mobile phones.

Agence France-Presse

Pay cuts ordered for executives at China's SOEs

Want China Times, Xinhua 2014-08-31

Mai Boliang, center, is the president of China International Marine Containers,
a state-owned enterprise. (Photo/CNS)

The top leadership of the Communist Party of China approved plans and decided on Friday to cut hefty salaries for executives of large state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

During a meeting presided over by Chinese President and CPC Central Committee General Secretary Xi Jinping, the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee approved plans to reform the payment system that determines centrally-administered SOE executives' salaries and the size of their expense accounts and other privileges.

"Deepening the reform of the payment system for executives of major SOEs is an important part of China's efforts to establish a modern corporate system and push forward the reform of the income distribution system," said a statement released after the meeting.

Reform of the payment system for executives of major SOEs should proceed in light of the basic reality that China is still in the primary stage of socialism, it said

The authorities should gradually standardize the income distribution system for SOEs which features appropriate payment, reasonable structure, standardized management and effective supervision. "Unreasonably high or excessive salaries should be adjusted," it said.

China has thousands of SOEs, 113 of which are directly administered by the country's central authority. These SOEs are considered the backbone of the economy, but their inefficiency, monopolies in some sectors, unchecked spending and corruption have become a source of public complaints.

The meeting urged the centrally-administered SOEs to improve their corporate ethics, saying income gaps between executives and ordinary employees, and salaries among different industries should be maintained at an appropriate level.

The reform plans called for ceilings to be set on SOE executives' expense accounts and for prohibitions to be placed on their official vehicles, offices, training, business receptions, domestic and overseas business trips and communications.

They strictly prohibit any spending of public funds for personal purposes, vowing to stop misuse of such funds for club memberships, healthcare, entertainment and anything else irrelevant to executives' duties and SOEs' operations.

The Political Bureau urged locally-administered SOEs to follow suit. It also approved the other two reform plans — one on Party building and the other on university exam and recruitment systems.

On Aug. 18, Xi told a meeting that major SOEs must make sure their salary level is proper, their salary structure is reasonable, their salary management is strict and efficiently supervised.

Statistics showed the average annual salary of executives at centrally administered SOEs ranged from 650,000 to 700,000 yuan (US$106,00-$114,000) in 2010 and 2011. These salaries were significantly higher than ordinary employees and those of government civil servants.

In addition to high salaries, many top executives at major SOEs carry a vice-ministerial or ministerial-level ranking that brings them so-called "invisible income" such as transportation and communication allowances and other material benefits.

The salary reform was part of a broader reform plan in the SOE sector, which have centered on bringing in private capital to foster modern governance systems and develop a mixed-ownership economy.

Unchallenged Macau Leader Elected for a Second Term

Jakarta Globe – AFP, Aug 31, 2014

This file picture taken on June 23, 2009 shows Fernando Chui, former minister
 of culture, waiting before a meeting with the Macau Law Association in Macau. Macau
 re-elected its incumbent leader Fernando Chui in an unchallenged contest on Aug. 31,
 2014. (AFP Photo/Mike Clarke/Files)

Hong Kong. Macau re-elected its incumbent leader in an unchallenged contest on Sunday as the gambling hub faces growing calls for democracy amid anger over deteriorating living conditions and government accountability.

The booming city’s sole chief executive candidate Fernando Chui was voted in for a second term by 95 percent of a 400-strong pro-Beijing electoral committee, in a foregone contest which democracy advocates have called “ridiculous”.

“Chui was elected by 380 votes,” a Macau government spokesman told AFP. There were 13 blank and three invalid ballots among the 396 committee members who voted.

More than a dozen people marched and bowed in protest outside the venue where the vote was taking place.

“Every time we bow down we would like it to be a reminder that Macau people have no choice [in this election],” protester Sulu Sou told reporters.

The former Portuguese colony has grown wealthy off the proceeds of its gambling industry, which rakes in enormous sums of cash, predominantly from wealthy Chinese mainlanders.

Compared to its more vocal neighbor Hong Kong, Macau has traditionally been politically apathetic as long as business continues to boom.

But there have been signs of political discontent as concerns grow over the city’s future and how it will be decided.

In the past week more than 8,500 people have cast votes in an unofficial referendum calling for greater rights which activists says is part of their nascent attempt to establish a democratic system.

“When there are only 400 people that are voting and when these 400 people have no choice, this is ridiculous,” Sou, a member of the pro-democracy group Macau Conscience, told AFP.

“Macau residents are starting to open up to the idea of democracy,” he said, adding that more people have been taking to the streets in the past few years.

On Saturday, employees of gambling tycoon Stanley Ho’s SJM took part in industrial action calling for better wages and working conditions, causing some disruptions at gaming tables, organizers told AFP.

In May around 20,000 people marched against a bill allowing government ministers generous retirement packages in a display of popular protest virtually unseen before in Macau.

“Wage increases have plateaued, while living costs and property costs have continued to go up,” Sou said.

Macau residents ‘complacent’

Macau returned to Chinese rule in 1999 and has a separate legal system from the mainland.

“Macau’s political system is paternalistic and democratization lacks legal basis,” analyst Sonny Lo, who specializes in Macau politics, told AFP.

“Most of the Macau people are pretty complacent and satisfied with the current economic situation,” Lo said, describing the city’s middle class.

But Lo said the territory’s younger democracy campaigners were much more likely to clash with authorities than their parents, who were largely satisfied with the status quo.

Macau’s gaming sector has seen a boom in recent years due to an influx of well-heeled Chinese gamblers, and overtook Las Vegas as the world’s gaming capital in terms of revenue after the sector was opened up to foreign competition in 2002.

When he came into power in 2009, Chui said he would diversify the economy and rid the territory of its reputation for corruption.

“I don’t think Chui will take any bold steps in order to revamp the political system,” Lo said. “The Macau democrats will be bound to be dissatisfied.”

Sou said he had little hope of swift change.

“I hope that within the next five years, more people will wake up and more people will try to push for democracy, but I don’t have high hopes for Chui,” Sou said.

Hong Kong also held an informal poll on democratic reform in June which saw almost 800,000 people vote over 10 days on how the city’s next leader should be chosen in 2017.

A pro-democracy group, Occupy Central, has pledged to mobilize thousands of protesters to block the financial district if authorities refuse to allow the public to choose candidates.

The top committee of China’s rubber-stamp legislature is expected to announce its decision Sunday afternoon on what form the political changes in the city will take.

Agence France-Presse

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Three more Shanxi officials probed for graft

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2014-08-30

Bai Enpei, one of the numerous Shanxi officials to be placed under
investigation in the ongoing anti-graft campaign. (Photo/CFP)

Bai Yun. (Photo/CNS)
Three senior officials in northern China's Shanxi province have been placed under investigation for "serious disciplinary violation" since Friday. Five of the 13 members of the province's central standing committee have now been probed by disciplinary inspection commission, our Chinese-language sister paper Want Daily reports.

Deputy head of the Environmental Protection and Resources Conservation Committee of the National People's Congress Bai Enpei, Shanxi CPC Standing Committee member Bai Yun and provincial vice governor Ren Runhou, have been under investigation for "serious discipline and law violations," according to the website of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the central Communist Party watchdog.

Bai Yun is from the Shanxi city of Yuncheng, the same hometown as Lin Zhengce, former vice chairman of the Shanxi Political Consultative Conference who has been placed under investigation accused of engaging in sexual relations with a local businesswoman named Hu Xin and her younger sister Hu Lei. Bai was Yuncheng's party secretary before becoming head of Shanxi's United Front Work Department and a member of the standing committee in early 2013.

Between 2003 and 2006, Bai was the deputy party secretary of Luliang. The area's officials have been seriously shaken by Beijing's anti-corruption campaign with five incumbent or former deputy city-level officials being placed under investigation.

The 68-year-old Bai Enpei was a friend of Sichuan mineral tycoon Liu Han, who was given the death sentence in May this year for leading a "mafia-style" gang that authorities say deployed 36 agents, murdered nine people and amassed 40 billion yuan (US$6.4 billion) in assets through dubious means. Bai worked as Yunnan province's party secretary for ten years before becoming the environmental committee's deputy head.

Ren worked in various mining and coal administrations between 1992 and 2010. He was appointed Shanxi's vice governor in January 2011. The offenses of which he stands accused have not been revealed to the public. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Arizona gun range reviewing policies after nine-year-old kills instructor

Arizona Last Stop gun range, where visitors can shoot machine guns, considering changes including raising age limit

theguardian.comLauren Gambino in New York, Wednesday 27 August 2014

Shooting instructor Charles Vacca stands next to the nine-year-old girl, in this still
image taken from the video. Photograph: Mohave County Sheriff Office/Reuters

The manager of an Arizona shooting range where a nine-year-old girl accidentally shot and killed her instructor with an Uzi said he has trained children as young as five on the use of firearms but the range’s policies on minors is currently under review.

Sam Scarmardo, a manager at the Arizona Last Stop gun range, told the Guardian that the range is reviewing the incident, and is considering policy changes, including raising the age limit and imposing a height and weight requirement.

“We train kids as young as 5 years old on the use of single shot .22 rifles in our youth safety classes,” he said. “In 13 years we’ve never handed out a Bandaid to anyone let alone have something like this happen” he said.

Mohave County Sheriff’s deputies said Charles Vacca, 39, of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, was shot at least once in the head on Monday while training the girl how to fire the gun. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital in Nevada where he died from his injuries on Monday night.

Scarmardo said Vacca, who served in the Army, had worked at the Last Stop gun range for a year and a half. The girl, whose name has not been released, was visiting the range with her parents from New Jersey.

Scarmardo would not comment or confirm specific details of the incident. He would not talk about the range’s current policy on minors firing guns, but said it followed the law and was in step with other shooting ranges in the area. Some packages listed on the Last Stop website require children to be at least eight years old and stipulate that minors under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian at all times.

Arizona law prohibits minors from possessing a firearm unless they are accompanied by a parent, guardian or an instructor, among other exceptions. Deputies said the nine-year-old girl was at the shooting range with her parents.

While the incident is under investigation, Scarmardo said children are currently prohibited from shooting at the range.

The Mohave County Sheriff’s office released a video of the incident apparently captured on a phone by the girl’s parents, which it provided to the Guardian.

The video shows a raven-haired girl wearing hot pink shorts and ear muffs gripping the Uzi in her hands as she takes aim at a silhouette target. Before she shoots, Vacca adjusts her stance, and places one of his hands under the gun and the other behind the girl’s back. She fires once, hitting the dirt beside the target.

“Alright!” Vacca says cheerfully. Then he switches the settings from “single-shot” to “fully automatic”, and shouts: “Alright. Full auto.” She fires several rounds rapidly, and the video cuts.

Investigators said that when the girl pulled the trigger on the automatic Uzi, the recoil sent the gun over her head. Vacca was shot at least once in the head. It is unclear how many shots were fired. The sheriff’s office said in an email to the Guardian that they are not providing any more information than has already been released at this time.

The sheriff’s office said deputies responded to the incident around 10am on Monday. Vacca was airlifted to a medical center in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he died from injuries later that night. Scarmardo said Vacca’s wife was by his side at the hospital.

Based on the video, no charges will be filed against the shooting range, Mohave County Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Trish Carter said in the email.

Carter said the incident is being viewed as an industrial accident, and so the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is conducting an investigation. She said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been notified.

The autopsy will be performed by the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office in Nevada.

Arizona Last Stop is a roughly 30-acre property in the Mohave desert, located off the stretch of highway between Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon Skywalk. The location is meant to create a “Desert Storm” atmosphere for shooters, its website said on Tuesday.

At the range, shooters can choose their firearm among a range of fully automatic machine guns and specialty weapons. The website boasts: “At our range, you can shoot FULL auto on our machine guns. Let ‘em Rip!”

Scarmardo, the manager, said the employees at the range are tight-knit, and are very upset by the loss of their colleague.

“He was a great guy. He was like a brother,” Scarmardo said. “Everybody loved Charlie and everybody is going to miss him.”


A criminologist shows an "Uzi" submachine gun at the Criminology
 Laboratory on May 28, 2008 in Ciudad Juarez, north Mexico
(AFP Photo/Alfredo Estrella)


Qatar says ready to rebuild war-battered Gaza

Yahoo – AFP, 27 Aug 2014

A Palestinian family return to their destroyed home with their belongings in the
 northern Gaza Strip city of Beit Hanun on August 27, 2014 (AFP Photo/
Mohammed Abed)

Doha (AFP) - Key Hamas backer Qatar hailed a Tuesday ceasefire that ended seven weeks of conflict in and around Gaza and offered to throw its huge gas earnings behind reconstruction efforts.

Qatar, which hosts the Palestinian Islamist movement's exiled leader Khaled Meshaal, paid tribute to the "resistance and the sacrifices" of the Palestinians in 50 days of conflict with Israel.

It said it was "ready to contribute to the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip as soon as possible," without giving any figure.

The ceasefire deal agreed on Tuesday between a Palestinian delegation, including Hamas, and Israel provides for a simultaneous opening of border crossings to aid and reconstruction supplies.

The head of the 57-member Islamic bloc welcomed Tuesday's ceasefire and expressed hope it would lead to a resumption of Middle East peace negotiations, broken off earlier this year despite desperate US mediation efforts.

The ceasefire must present a first step towards "restarting negotiations to achieve a just and comprehensive peace agreement," said Organisation of Islamic Cooperation secretary general Iyad Madani.

The conflict, which began on July 8 when Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in a bid to stamp out cross-border rocket fire, cost the lives of 2,143 Palestinians and 70 on the Israeli side.

Related Article:


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Palestinians celebrate 'open-ended' Gaza ceasefire

Thousands of Palestinians have taken to the streets of the Gaza Strip to celebrate the news of a truce meant to end weeks of fighting. Palestinian militant groups have sought to frame the truce as a victory over Israel.

Deutsche Welle, 26 Aug 2014


The latest ceasefire agreed between Israel and the Palestinians came into force at 7 p.m. local time (16:00 UTC). Shortly after it came into effect, thousands took to the streets of the coastal territory to celebrate the apparent end of 50 days of fighting that claimed more than 2,000 Palestinian lives, most of whom were civilians.

Correspondents reported that the loudspeakers of mosques blared out chants normally reserved for Muslim holidays.

Even as the announcement of the truce was being made, the sound of Israeli air strikes could be heard in Gaza, and Israeli media reported that rocket fire from the Palestinian territory had continued after the ceasefire was meant to take effect.

The news of the ceasefire was first announced by Hamas and another Palestinian militant group, Islamic Jihad, which described it as an "open-ended" truce, and including an agreement by Israel to ease its seven-year-old blockade of the territory to allow essential supplies and construction material to enter.

It was some time later that the Egyptian mediators who helped broker the ceasefire made the announcement that deal was official.

Israeli confirmation

Still later came confirmation from Israel.

"We have accepted once again the Egyptian ceasefire proposals, which call for a cessation of all hostilities," the DPA news agency cited an unnamed Israeli official as saying. AFP quoted an unnamed senior Israeli official who described the truce as being "unconditional and unlimited in time."

Despite the fact that more than 2,000 Gaza residents were killed in the Israeli offensive aimed at stopping militant rocket attacks on the Jewish state, Hamas sought to frame the truce as a victory over Israel.

"Our armed resistance achieved what the Arab armies had failed to achieve," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said, adding that "this besieged weak people defeated the strongest ... army in the Middle East and destroyed the enemy's power of deterrence and the legend of the army that can never be defeated."

In addition to those killed, the past seven weeks of violence saw more than 17,000 residences destroyed in Gaza, leaving 100,000 Palestinians homeless, according to United Nations estimates.

On the Israeli side, 68 people have been killed, all but four of whom were soldiers.
Despite the ceasefire agreement, many issues are still to be resolved between the two sides. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that indirect peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians were "to continue within the space of a month."

pfd/jr (dpa, AP, AFP, Reuters)


Monday, August 25, 2014

Thai king endorses coup leader as prime minister

Yahoo – AFP, 25 Aug 2014

Thai Army Chief General Prayut Chan-O-Cha pays his respects in front of a portrait
 of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej during a royal command ceremony to swear him in
 as Prime Minister at the Army headquarters in Bangkok on August 25, 2014 (AFP
Photo/Government House)

Bangkok (AFP) - Thailand's coup leader was formally endorsed as prime minister by the nation's revered king on Monday, in a step towards forming a government to oversee sweeping reforms in the politically turbulent kingdom.

Army chief General Prayut Chan-O-Cha, 60, who booted out an elected government in a bloodless power grab on May 22, was chosen uncontested as premier last week by a national assembly made up mainly of military figures.

In a brief but elaborate ceremony to receive the royal command, Prayut -- wearing a white official uniform -- knelt and bowed in front of large portrait of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Thai Army Chief General Prayut Chan-O-Cha
 reads a statement after receiving a royal
command during a ceremony to swear him in
as Prime Minister at the Army headquarters
 in Bangkok on August 25, 2014 (AFP Photo/
Government House)
"His majesty the king has appointed me Prime Minister. I am extremely grateful... this is a great honour for me and my family," Prayut said after the ceremony.

"I will work with honesty and for the benefit of people and the nation," he added.

The top general, who was endorsed as premier on Sunday but was officially given the royal command a day later, will also remain head of the junta as the military appears to tighten its grip on power.

A junta spokesman said Prayut will pick a cabinet and propose ministers for the king's approval in September.

The junta, formally known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), says it was forced to take power after months of protests left nearly 30 people dead and hundreds more wounded, paralysing the government, cramping the economy and frightening off tourists.

It has ruled out holding new elections before October 2015, despite international appeals for a return to democracy, vowing first to oversee reforms aimed at cleaning up politics and society.

Critics say the protests provided a pretext for the power grab from the former government, which was led by Yingluck Shinawatra until shortly before the May 22 coup.

Prayut, whose term as army chief finishes at the end of September, is seen as a staunch opponent of Yingluck's brother, fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, whose overthrow in an earlier coup in 2006 triggered Thailand's long-running political crisis.

Thaksin is reviled by much of Thailand's Bangkok-based royalist elite, but draws deep loyalty from the poor, but populous northern portion of the country.

His parties have won every election since 2001 -- even though the billionaire policeman-turned-businessman fled Thailand in 2008 to avoid jail for a corruption conviction.

Rights groups have condemned the junta for smothering dissent since seizing power.

Protests are banned under martial law while hundreds of activists and political opponents were summoned by the military after the coup -- although most were released within days.

The United Nation's last week also expressed alarm at a number of arrests and stiff jail sentences meted out since the coup for defaming Thailand's monarchy.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 86, is revered by many Thais and protected by tough defamation laws that carry a maximum jail sentence of 15 years for each conviction.

Interpol investigates 'baby factory' as man fathers 16 surrogate children

Lawyer for Mitsutoki Shigeta, 24, says the businessman simply wants a large family and has the means to support it

theguardian.com, Kevin Rawlinson and agencies, Saturday 23 August 2014

Thai police display pictures of the surrogate babies during a press conference
at the police headquarters in Chonburi, Thailand. Photograph: Sakchai Lalit/AP

Interpol has launched an investigation into an alleged "baby factory" after it emerged that a Japanese businessman had fathered 16 surrogate children and expressed a desire for many more.

Police raided a home in Bangkok earlier this month, finding nine babies with nine nannies. Mitsutoki Shigeta, 24, has been identified as the father of each of them, as well as seven more. Authorities are looking into his motives, which he says are benign.

The children were apparently housed in unfurnished rooms filled with baby bottles, bouncy chairs, playpens and nappies, according to Thai police.

"What I can tell you so far is that I've never seen a case like this," Thailand's Interpol director, police Maj Gen Apichart Suribunya, said on Friday.

According to the Associated Press (AP), he added: "We are trying to understand what kind of person makes this many babies." The investigation will centre on Japan, Cambodia, Hong Kong and India.

"We are looking into two motives. One is human trafficking and the other is exploitation of children," said police Lit Gen Kokiat Wongvorachart, Thailand's lead investigator in the case.

He said Shigeta had made 41 trips to Thailand since 2010. On many occasions he travelled to nearby Cambodia, where he brought four of his babies.

The founder of the New Life clinic, a multinational fertility clinic that provided Shigeta with two surrogate mothers, said she warned Interpol about him even before the first baby was born in June 2013, the agency reported.

"As soon as they got pregnant, he requested more. He said he wanted 10 to 15 babies a year, and that he wanted to continue the baby-making process until he's dead," said Mariam Kukunashvili.

She told the AP, Shigeta also asked about equipment to freeze his sperm to have sufficient supply when he was older.

And she said he told the clinic's manager that "he wanted to win elections and could use his big family for voting", and that "the best thing I can do for the world is to leave many children".

Kukunashvili, who is based at the company's headquarters in the country of Georgia, said she never met Shigeta but received reports from her Thai staff. The clinic is based in Thailand and six other countries.

She said she also emailed Shigeta, whose then lawyer responded to say he was involved in "no dishonesty, no illegal activities". He has not been charged with any crime and, according to reports, is trying to get his children back.

The 12 in Thailand are being cared for by social services and he has proven through DNA samples sent from Japan that he is their biological father.

He quickly left Thailand after the raid on his condominium on 5 August and has said through a lawyer that he simply wanted a large family and has the means to support it, AP reported.

Thai police said Shigeta hired 11 Thai surrogate mothers to carry his children, including four sets of twins. Police have not determined the biological mothers, Kokiat said.

The case came to light after a tip-off that followed allegations that an Australian couple abandoned a surrogate baby after learning it had Down's syndrome. The couple deny the accusation.

During the raid on the property, Shigeta's former lawyer Ratpratan Tulatorn insisted his client had done nothing wrong.

"These are legal babies, they all have birth certificates," Ratpratan told Thailand's Channel 3 television station. "There are assets purchased under these babies' names. There are savings accounts for these babies, and investments. If he were to sell these babies, why would he give them these benefits?"

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Macau Starts Unofficial Referendum on Democracy

Jakarta Globe – AFP, Aug 24, 2014

A volunteer, center, displays a banner on a street to raise awareness of an unofficial
referendum in Macau on Aug. 24, 2014. (AFP Photo/Dale De La Rey)

Hong Kong. Residents of Chinese gambling hub Macau began voting in an unofficial referendum on electoral reform on Sunday, despite strong objections from Beijing.

The former Portuguese colony returned to Chinese rule in 1999 and has a separate legal system from the mainland.

Like Hong Kong, Macau’s leader is known as its chief executive and is chosen by a pro-Beijing electoral committee.

The referendum will run for a week and ends on Aug. 30 just ahead of the naming of the enclave’s new leader on Aug. 31 by the 400-member committee. The poll was designed by activists to garner public support for reforms in the city of 550,000.

“Our goal is to fight for a democratic electoral system and the first stage is to get the citizens informed of the election system,” poll organiser Jason Chao told AFP last month when the event was announced.

“We hope that the referendum will be able to serve as a foundation for our fight for democracy in the future,” he said then.

As of 12 p.m. local time, 750 people have voted, according to the event’s official website.

Questions include whether there should be universal suffrage for the 2019 chief executive elections and how confident voters are in the upcoming election’s sole candidate Fernando Chui, who has been in the position since 2009.

Residents are asked to vote either electronically or at several locations in the city.

China has hit back at the referendum, with a statement from Beijing’s liaison office in the city saying that the enclave had “no authority” to hold the poll.

Activists hope the referendum turnout will exceed 10,000.

In May around 20,000 people marched against a bill to allow government ministers generous retirement packages, with many youngsters taking part hoping for greater accountability from their own government.

Hong Kong also held an informal poll on democratic reform in June which saw more than 790,000 people vote over 10 days on how the city’s next leader should be chosen.

The winning proposal would allow the public or democratically elected lawmaker to nominate candidates.

Beijing slammed the vote as “illegal and invalid”.

China has promised to let residents of the former British colony elect the chief executive in 2017, but has ruled out giving voters a say in selecting candidates, prompting fears that only those sympathetic to Beijing will be allowed to stand.

Agence France-Presse

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Bridging the divide between young Israelis and Palestinians

While bombs are killing people back home, a group of young Israelis and Palestinians are in Germany trying to make sense of it all and come up with a solution for peace.

Deutsche Welle, 22 Aug 2014


It is a difficult beginning. Israelis and Palestinians fill the conference room near the German city of Bonn with crying and arguing, accusations and reproach. Sitting together seems impossible, unbearable. Yet when those participating in the two-week event start to talk about the fates of their families, the lines that divide them begin to fade.

The some 50 Israelis and Palestinians communicate in Arabic and Hebrew, with translators on hand to help express the intensity of their experiences and feelings.

"You hear tough stories, and its really touching when other people have empathy," Palestinian Suad said. Sitting across from her is Amit, an Israeli who increasingly realizes how little the two sides know about each other.

"I don't believe our media, it is too much a part of the conflict," she said. Like others here, she wants to form her own, comprehensive picture of the situation, to have the chance to speak "directly" with those deemed to be the enemy.

The participants get to know each
other while they are in Germany
Back home, Amit and Suad only live 20 minutes apart. But they are, in fact, worlds apart. Amit lives in Jerusalem, Suad in the Palestinian territories, and to cross the border she needs special permit. Now they are both in Germany, in a building near the city of Bonn with others like them.

Private initiative

The event is organized by the Committee for Basic Rights and Democracy, a group run by peace activists and funded exclusively by private donors. They have been facilitating meetings between young Palestinians and Israelis far from the scene of the conflict since 2002.

Their idea is to offer participants the opportunity to forget their prejudices and learn that people on both sides share the same basic yearnings and feelings. The association covers all costs, but relies on partner organizations such as "Breaking Borders" to use word of mouth to find potential participants in the conflict region.

All told, some 2000 young adults, including many students, have so far been able to travel to Germany to meet others like them and share their stories. Against the backdrop of the current Gaza conflict, many of those in Germany now told their relatives and friends back home that they were going to a holiday camp. For many, the truth is simply too sensitive.

White lies

Barbara Esser, one of the organizers of the "Holiday from War" project, understands the reasons for these white lies.

"It is not acceptable where they come from," she said. "Anyone who attempts to make contact with the other side is deemed a traitor." She recalls one Israeli who wanted to be friends with a Palestinian on Facebook but didn't know if he could without upsetting his friends.

"Anyone who attempts to make contact
 with the other side is deemed a traitor,"
Esser said
At the heart of the program is a mutual willingness to listen. Esser says it is not about forcing friendships, but creating understanding and tolerance. They use role play to stage peace negotiations and come up with suggestions for solutions to the Middle East conflict.

Amit describes the experience as a chance to dream. "Positive visions of the future help generate hope and to believe in the goal." But very few participants believe the conflict will be solved by a younger generation.

The basic problem

During their discussions, Israelis and Palestinians pinpoint the basic hurdle to progress. It is the fear of having to make too many concessions and ultimately being the losers. There is a broad base of agreement on the importance of overcoming that feeling.

Suad is positive about the work they are doing together and sees how it can break down barriers. "Even the right-wing conservatives on both sides have started to change their thinking," she said.

Some 50 young Israelis and Palestinians share their experiences and feelings

Whenever things get particularly tense, and those in charge show participants how they are slipping back into old patterns of thought, both Israelis and Palestinians are surprised.

Ultimately the ice breaks whenever there is a chance for people to get to know each other better. Apart from playing games and going on trips, there are designated evenings devoted to the presentation of the different cultures.

After cooking and eating together, there is often music, and then Israelis and Palestinians even dance together. No photos are taken, for fear that they could be misunderstood. There is a meeting of the ways here, and although participants agree that they did not have a holiday from war, they did lay the groundwork for talking about the possibility of working together.

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“… What have we told you about the bridge? Actually, not much except that in crossing the bridge, the old energy ones were not going to like it. Old energy does not want you to escape! Old energy doesn't want you to cross the bridge because it can't cross. Did you know that? It can't cross. The old paradigms of Human nature that you've known all of these millenniums have to stay on the old side of the bridge. It cannot cross, for the bridge rejects all that is not in love, compassion and light. Those things that are dark, including Human nature of the past, will not be able to go. But the ones I speak to right now are already on the bridge. That was your design, old soul, and those are the words that are ringing in your ears to this day and the ones given at the wind of birth, that this might happen in your lifetime. So what's going to happen next?

Swords

Let us talk about the swords: When you hear the word sword, the first thing that occurs to you is battle. The Bridge of Swords is a battle and we told you that as well. Swords are metaphoric and they mean many things, so let us describe the things we mean them to say to you.

Number one: They are indeed a weapon in a battle. There is a battle coming. "Kryon, does that mean there's going to be a war?" Potentially, yes. Right now we will tell you that the Middle East cooks itself. You've noticed, haven't you? What do you know about the Middle East, dear one? Let's start examining things for a moment. What energy did you grow up in? What was the energy of the Middle East? In the '40s, what was the energy? With the establishment of the state of Israel, you built a wall of hate, both sides. The wall was so thick that the children of both sides were taught to hate one another as soon as they were able to understand the language. They were told who their enemies were. Now, where were you then?


Some of you weren't here yet. By the time you arrived, in your youth, were you aware of the Middle East? Not particularly. "What's the hatred about?" you might ask. What if I told you it's about a family feud? Two sons of a Jewish master are involved. One founded the Arabs and one remained a Jew. They don't want to hear this, but they are all Jews. (Don't tell them this.)


If you look at the lineage, it's pretty obvious and yet it's a complete and total set-up for either solution or war. The set-up would have this world ending in a conflagration that would have been brought about by this hatred. That's in the prophecy of Nostradamus and your scripture, but it is no longer the prophecy of the planet. Yet the hatred still exists. The hatred is as great today as it was then, but where was all the terrorism 40 years ago? It was isolated.


Those in Israel and Palestine and surrounding areas took the brunt of it, but now it's seemingly everywhere - and you're worried. Why would this be? The answer is that the old energy was happy to have this hatred contained, for it would keep it going and never involve outsiders. Outsiders tend to bring unwanted light to the party. Suddenly, the whole earth is involved and can see the entire scenario before them. The old guard wants war, just like all the eons before them. The ones on the bridge are holding the light and showing the earth how to cross. Even many younger ones in Israel and Palestine and Iran are holding light! It's all around the old guard and they are furious, for they are losing the "battle of hatred." …