Change (Peace, Love & Unity) is in the Air ... Time to GET IT !
You are ready for your Ascension? (Kryon Update: Apr 2014)

(Solar and Heliospheric Observatory - website /

Obama poses with Asean leaders. He is the first sitting US president
to visit Cambodia. Photograph: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
"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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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Philippine Airlines Quits Flying Shark Fins Amid Outcry

Jakarta Globe – AFP,  Apr 24, 2014

A family eats shark fin soup at Vancouver's Grand Honor Chinese restaurant
 in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this file photo. Philippine Airlines (PAL) said
on April 24, 2014 it has stopped flying shark fin cargoes. (Reuters Photo/Ben Nelms)

Manila. Philippine Airlines (PAL) said Thursday it has stopped flying shark fin cargoes, joining a number of other Asia-Pacific carriers in taking a stand for marine conservation.

The fins are used in shark fin soup, a much-valued delicacy in Hong Kong and China.

Conservationists say booming demand for such fins has put pressure on the world’s shark populations, prompting calls for measures to restrict their trade.

“PAL values the issue on protection and conservation of endangered marine life seriously, recognizing that the company’s long-term interest is and should be consistent with sustainable and responsible business practices,” a PAL statement said.

Air New Zealand as well as South Korea’s two largest airlines, Korean Air and Asiana, separately announced last year that they would ban shark fins from their cargo flights, a year after Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific also stopped shipping them.

Fiji Airways announced last year it would no longer carry “shark fins and shark-related products sourced from unsustainable and unverified sources”, and would only carry fins from species not threatened with extinction.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hamas, Fatah reach deal on unity government, Israel reacts sharply

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that he has to choose between peace with Israel or Hamas. It comes after Hamas and Fatah agreed to a unity government.

Deutsche Welle, 23 April 2014

Militant group Hamas and the Fatah-led Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) have agreed to form a technocrat unity government, according to a joint statement by the two groups.

"An agreement has been reached on the formation within five weeks of an independent government headed by president Mahmud Abbas," the statement said.

The announcement came after Fatah and Hamas started their first reconciliation talks since 2007 when Hamas - an opponent to US-led peace talks with Israel - was voted into power in Gaza.

The agreement could pave the way for elections and a national strategy towards Israel. It could give Abbas some degree of sovereignty in Gaza but also help Hamas, which is hemmed in by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, to become less isolated.

It is unclear, however, whether the unity government will be established, as Hamas and Fatah have failed to implement a 2011 Egyptian-brokered unity deal aimed at ending the political divide between Gaza and the Palestinian Authority-ruled West Bank.

Sharp rebuke from Israel

Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu reacted sharply to the news, as the apparent unity deal coincides with meetings between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators to try to extend the US-sponsored peace talks beyond an April 29 deadline.

"Does he (Abbas) want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel?," Netanyahu said to reporters on Wednesday.

"You can have one but not the other. I hope he chooses peace. So far he hasn't done so," he said.

Israel's Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said in a statement that Abbas, who heads the Palestinian Authority that exercises limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank, "cannot make peace both with Israel and Hamas, a terrorist organization that calls for Israel's destruction".

Abbas's spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdeineh, however, said Palestinian unity was an internal matter.

"Abbas chooses peace and the unity of the Palestinian people," Abu Rdeineh said. "The choice of unifying the Palestinian people enforces peace, and there is no contradiction whatsoever between reconciliation and negotiations."

US-led peace talks stalled

The US-led peace talks reached a stalemate when Israel refused to release a fourth and final group of Palestinian prisoners, in line with an earlier agreement. Since then, both sides have made demands the other deems unacceptable.

Over the weekend, Palestinian negotiators warned they may hand responsibility for governing the occupied territories back to Israel and dismantle he Palestinian Authority, if the Jewish state fails to release the prisoners and freeze settlement building.

But Israel says the demands are unacceptable. "He who makes such conditions does not want peace," an Israeli official told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.

ng/rc (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

Brunei delays introduction of tough Islamic law

Yahoo – AFP, 22 April 2014

The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque is reflected in the pavement after heavy rain
hit Bandar Seri Begawan on April 23, 2013 in Brunei (AFP Photo/Roslan Rahman)

Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei) (AFP) - Brunei has postponed its implementation of tough Islamic criminal punishments that were due to begin Tuesday and have drawn condemnation from the UN's human rights office and rare criticism at home.

No confirmed new date was given for the start of the sharia penalties -- which will eventually include flogging, severing of limbs and death by stoning -- but an official told Brunei media they would begin "in the very near future".

Jauyah Zaini, assistant director of the oil-rich sultanate's Islamic Legal Unit, was quoted by the Brunei Times as saying implementation had been delayed "due to unavoidable circumstances". He did not elaborate or give a new date.

Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (front L)
and Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo
Chee Hean (behind L) arrive at the 34th
Singapore Lecture at the St. Regis hotel in
Singapore on April 22, 2014 (AFP Photo/
Roslan Rahman)
Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah -- the driving force behind sharia -- is visiting Singapore, and the government is believed to be waiting for the all-powerful Islamic monarch to return before introducing the sensitive legal code.

But the delay could feed perceptions of hesitation by the 67-year-old sultan -- one of the world's wealthiest men -- who earlier this year faced a backlash from the country's social-media-savvy citizens.

The new criminal code will phase in punishments, including execution by stoning for offences such as sodomy and adultery, severing of limbs for theft, and flogging for violations ranging from abortion to alcohol consumption.

Authorities have in recent weeks conducted a series of briefings for official agencies and non-government organisations to explain sharia.

'Firewall' against globalisation

"When you're trying to make such a leap, issues will arise," said Nizam Bashir, a Malaysian attorney and rights activist, who practices both civil and sharia law.

"Once you start getting feedback... then questions will arise that will give them food for thought that will not be in line with their initial conception."

However, he said it was unlikely the criminal code will be scrapped.

Brunei currently has a dual-track legal system of civil courts along with sharia courts handling non-criminal issues like marital and inheritance cases.

Authorities said a sharia "declaration ceremony" would go ahead as planned April 30, but gave no other details.

The sultan announced the new punishments last October as part of moves to shore up Islam in the country as a "firewall" against outside influences.

But the UN's human rights office said this month it was "deeply concerned", adding that penalties like stoning are classified under international law as "torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment".

Nearly 70 percent of Brunei's 400,000 people are Muslim Malays while about 15 percent are non-Muslim ethnic Chinese.

Malays have been broadly supportive of the move by their father-figure sultan.

But users of social media, the only outlet for public criticism of authorities, attacked it as barbaric earlier this year, prompting the sultan to publicly order a halt to criticism in late February.

A non-Muslim ethnic Chinese Bruneian who spoke on condition of anonymity said she was "scared" by the legal shift.

"I believe that this will cause a wedge, that was previously a tiny crack, between Muslims and non-Muslims citizens and permanent residents alike," the 28-year-old said.

Non-Muslims also express anxiety over mixed messages on whether the punishments would apply to them.

Situated on Borneo island, which it shares with Malaysia and Indonesia, tiny Brunei already practised a relatively conservative form of Islam compared to its Muslim-majority neighbours, banning the sale of alcohol and heavily restricting other religions.

Officials have said sharia cases would require an extremely high burden of proof and judges would have wide discretion to avoid sharia punishments.

Brunei already has the death penalty, but has not carried out any executions since 1957.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Nepal Sherpas demand compensation following deadly Everest avalanche

Deutsche Welle, 21 April 2014

Nepal's Sherpas have demanded more compensation for the families of local guides killed in Friday's avalanche on Mount Everest. It was the deadliest accident ever on the world's highest peak.

Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, said Monday that Sherpas want the government to offer more compensation and insurance for guides and their families.

"There is a situation of conflict up in the mountain. It is serious and could have far reaching consequences for climbing in Nepal," he said. "So the government must act on their demands immediately."

Local guides and support staff held an emergency meeting Sunday in response to the accident and outlined their demands to the government in a statement released on the group's website.

The guides have demanded that the government pay the medical bills for the injured and raise the insurance cover to $20,000 (14,500 euros) from $10,000.

"If the demands are not met, we will be forced to launch strong protests for the sake of the daily bread of the entire Sherpa community," the Sherpas said in the statement, giving a seven day deadline.

Everest climbers currently pay a fee of $25,000 plus a $4,000 deposit to ensure they return to base camp with their garbage. Sherpas earn $3,000 to $6,000 a season - about 10 times the average annual pay in Nepal.

The government has announced an immediate payment of 40,000 rupees ($400, 300 euros) to the victims' families to cover funeral costs, a sum relatives have called a pittance.

Deadliest accident on Everest

Climbing on the mountain has been temporarily halted as search teams continued to dig through snow and ice for the missing.

The bodies of at least 13 guides have recovered with three still missing. Another three guides remain in critical condition with broken limbs, ribs, and other injuries in Kathmandu hospitals.

The avalanche swept through the Khumbu Icefall area of the mountain on Friday at an altitude of 5,800 meters (19,000 feet). The accident underscored the huge risks faced by Sherpas who maintain and prepare the icy slopes for climbers and trek the routes carrying equipment for their clients.

Any expedition cancellations are likely to have an impact on the impoverished Himalayan country's economy which counts on tourism as a key revenue-earner. Nepal is home to eight of the world's 14 peaks that surpass 8,000 meters.

Nearly 4,000 people have climbed Mount Everest since 1953, when Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first scaled the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) summit. Since then, more than 300 people have died on the mountain.

Friday's avalanche is the worst accident to hit Mount Everest since May 1996, when eight climbers were killed in one day due to a snow storm near the summit. The tragedy was immortalized in Jon Krakauer's best-selling book "Into Thin Air."

hc/ng (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)
Related Article:

Internet shaping China for the better: Xinhua

Want China Times, Xinhua 2014-04-21

People log on to the internet with smartphones at a store in Taiyuan,
Shanxi province. (Photo/CNS)

Twenty years after the world's most populous country gained access to the internet, China has been fundamentally and irreversibly changed, but not in the way some observers in the West had expected.

Instead of bringing collapse, the internet in China is becoming more commercially robust and innovative despite the unique Chinese way of management.

As the internet reshapes China, the country is also changing the online landscape through its rising internet firms, brand-new products and the world's largest web population of 618 million.


On April 20, 1994, a pilot network to serve education and scientific research was linked to the internet via a special line in Beijing's Zhongguancun, now China's technology hub, marking the country's first fully functional internet access.

At the time, the only way for most Chinese to learn of South Africa's newly elected black president and the construction of China's massive Three Gorges hydraulic project was by reading the next day's state-run newspaper.

Recalling his first days online, Liu Ren, a Beijing-based journalist, said few Chinese were in cyberspace in the late 1990s.

"I would be overjoyed to receive an email, even if it was a spam mail at that time," said the reporter renowned for his keen observation of China's IT industry. "But today, the internet has been changing everyone's lives, sometimes even against their will."

Meanwhile, cab drivers are now consulting their children to learn how to use taxi apps for additional tips from potential customers.

"Never did I think that one day my work would have anything to do with the internet," said Lao Liu, a 54-year-old taxi driver in central China's Wuhan city. "The apps bring me an additional income of 50 yuan (US$8) every day."

Mobile Internet is changing the entrenched habits of Chinese people like Lao Liu, including how they read, buy things, and manage money.

Yu'ebao, a popular online wealth management product, has raised around 500 billion yuan (US$80.2 billion) in less than a year, helping boost the funds available for China's real economy, instead of raising financing costs.

In March, Beijing vowed to promote the healthy development of the burgeoning internet finance, giving products like Yu'ebao promising prospects.

The growing population of internet users has also made online opinions too important to be ignored by officials.

The transformative power of the internet has challenged top-down communication patterns in China by supporting multi-level and multi-directional flows of communication, changing the country's political landscape.

Several Chinese officials have been probed after online whistleblowers accused them of corruption, the latest being Song Lin, chairman of state corporation China Resources (Holdings).

The country's internet has become an accessible yet decentralized platform for the public to discuss public affairs and breaking events, said Wang Sixin, professor of law with the Communication University of China in Beijing.


The rising prominence of China is one of the most important developments shaping the internet.

Behind the internet boom is Beijing's unique way of management. China has long been dedicated to developing the internet, but it has also underscored the rule of law to ensure internet security, which President Xi Jinping said is a concern for the country's security and development.

Xi became head of China's central internet security and informatization leading group in February, revealing the country's resolve to build itself into a strong cyber power.

This way of internet management, itself a Chinese innovation, has not stifled the creativity of the internet as some had predicted. Innovative products and services are significantly changing the landscape of the internet.

At least six of the world's 10 largest social networks in 2013 were developed by Chinese internet firms, according to a report from US business and technology news website Business Insider. China-based social networking apps such as WeChat and Sina Weibo have also achieved significant scale.

Sina Weibo, China's answer to Twitter, debuted this month on the Nasdaq exchange with a 19.1% jump, bringing the company US$287 million.

The success of the microblogging service, which official figures say over 500 million are using, highlighted the innovation-driven development of China's internet companies.

Sina Weibo may have imitated Twitter at first, but it adapted and improved by constantly introducing new functions to maintain a high number of active users.

"More Chinese internet companies will be going abroad like Sina Weibo did," said Fang Xingdong, founder of and an IT columnist. "The year of 2014 will mark the beginning of the global strategy of China's internet."

Last year, China's online retail market expanded to over 1.8 trillion yuan (US$288.8 billion), almost the size of Malaysia's GDP that year.

"We have built up the Chinese people's trust in online transactions," said Jack Ma, founder of China's e-commerce giant Alibaba.

China will become "more open, more transparent, more willing to share" in the next two decades because of the internet, he said.

Myanmar activist Win Tin dies aged 85

Deutsche Welle, 21 April 2014

Win Tin, the founder of Myanmar's opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) - now headed by Aung San Suu Kyi - has died at the age of 85. He had been Myanmar's longest-serving political prisoner.

Win Tin died of renal failure in a hospital in Yangon, Myanmar - also known as Burma. He had been admitted on March 12 with respiratory problems and kidney malfunction.

"He was a great pillar of strength. His demise at this important political juncture of transition is a great loss not only to the NLD but also to the country. We are deeply saddened," said Nyan Win, a spokesman for the NLD.

Win Tin, a former newspaper editor, was a close friend and supporter of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. The two activists founded the NLD in 1988.

In 1989, when Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest, Win Tin was also arrested and sent to Insein prison, where he served 19 years. While in prison, he received several international press freedom awards.

His sentence was extended twice for various reasons, the second time for writing a letter to the United Nations. He was freed as part of a general amnesty of prisoners in 2008.

Win Tin was one of the few party members who dared to be critical of Suu Kyi. In recent months, he had chided her for her conciliatory stance towards the military. Despite their differences, Win Tin respected Suu Kyi for her commitment for democracy. Suu Kyi had also gone to see him several times in hospital after she had returned from a recent trip to Germany and France.

Mayanmar's current government is led by the pro-military Union Solidarity and Development Party, which won the 2010 general election that was boycotted by the NLD. The military also controls 25 percent of parliament.

ng/hc (AP, dpa, AFP)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

South Korea ferry disaster: third mate 'steering in tricky waters for first time'

Arrested captain of Sewol defends his delay in evacuating the ship as hundreds of divers continue search

The Guardian, The Observer, Justin McCurry,  Saturday 19 April 2014

A woman waits inside a gymnasium in Jindo being used as a gathering place
for the families of missing ferry passengers. Photograph: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

The South Korean ferry that sank off the country's coast on Wednesday, with the likely loss of more than 300 passengers, was being steered by an inexperienced young officer who was navigating the area, which is notorious for its fast currents, for the first time.

The revelation lends weight to the theory that a series of errors by senior crew members caused the Sewol to list and capsize, prompting a major rescue operation and questions about safety measures as South Korea struggled to with one of the worst maritime disasters in its history.

The crew appeared underprepared to deal with a serious incident at sea amid reports that the vessel's owner, Chonghaejin, had not given them guidance in how to execute a swift evacuation. There were not enough life jackets to go around, and footage of the aftermath showed that only two of more than 40 lifeboats had been deployed.

The parents of hundreds of children missing aboard the sunken ferry, meanwhile, are confronting the grim reality that attempts to bring their sons and daughters out alive have failed. A mixture of grief and anger has gripped South Korea since the ship capsized and sank, with the probable loss of around 300 mostly teenage passengers.

The palpable anguish of the relatives of dead and missing passengers – many of them high school pupils on a trip to the resort island of Jeju – is matched only by contempt for the crew and the chaotic response by the authorities.

South Koreans awoke on Saturday to the news that the ship's embattled captain, Lee Joon-seok, had been arrested, along with the third mate, 25-year-old Park Han-kyul, who was steering the vessel at the time of the accident, and helmsman Cho Joon-ki, 55.

While Park's possible role in the accident has yet to be established, she was guiding the ship through unfamiliar waters dotted with tiny islands when the accident occurred, apparently after the ship made a sharp turn. A more experienced officer would usually have been at the wheel at that point, but Park was given control because the ship's departure on Tuesday had been delayed by heavy fog.

The ship's 69-year-old captain faces five charges, including negligence and violations of maritime law, amid accusations that he abandoned the stricken vessel while hundreds of passengers were still on board. "The captain and two crew members abandoned the ship and didn't do what they were supposed to do," said prosecutor Lee Bong-chang. "They should have also sailed more carefully without making sharp turns."

Lee, his head bowed and obscured by a grey hooded sweatshirt, told reporters during his arraignment that he had delayed evacuating the boat due to rough seas and the absence of rescue boats. Explaining why he had ordered passengers to stay put, even as the ship went into a severe list, he said: "At the time a rescue ship had not arrived. There were also no fishing boats around to rescue [us] or other ships to help.

"The currents were very strong and water was cold at that time in the area. I thought that passengers would be swept far away and get into trouble if they evacuated without wearing life jackets. It would have been the same even if they had worn life jackets."

Some survivors have disputed claims by crew members that an evacuation order was issued 30 minutes after the accident, saying they did not hear any orders to leave the ship over the public address system. On Saturday, officials confirmed that Lee had been in his private cabin when the accident occurred and had left the vessel in Park's hands.

Lee's arrest came before hundreds of divers began a fourth day searching for signs of life inside the Sewol, submerged off the coast of Jindo, a island where hundreds of relatives are following every twist and turn of the rescue operation. The vessel had left the western port on Incheon on Tuesday evening with 475 people aboard, including 325 pupils and 15 teachers from Danwon high school in the Seoul suburb of Ansan.

Tracking data shows it took a sharp, and so far unexplained, turn before sending its first distress signal. Some experts believe the turn could have dislodged heavy cargo – including more than 150 vehicles – and destabilised the vessel, causing it to list and sink. Less than two hours later, it was almost completely submerged.

As of Saturday evening local time, 32 people had been confirmed dead, while about 270 are missing. Officials said 174 had been rescued immediately after the accident, including 20 of the 30 crew members. The failure to rescue any passengers once the ship had sunk, or to recover any of the bodies inside, has prompted furious outbursts, and occasional scuffles, among relatives packed inside a gymnasium near the rescue operations centre on Jindo.

Grieving parents were shown murky underwater footage of the 6,825-tonne ship's hull on Saturday following reports that divers had spotted three bodies through the window of a passenger cabin but were unable to retrieve them.

"What is the point of showing us this when you can't rescue our children?" one unnamed parent yelled at officials, according to Arirang TV.

Another woman whose child is among those missing called for the ship to be lifted out of the water so the bodies could be retrieved, and demanded that the South Korean president, Park Geun-hye, personally accompany them through their ordeal.

Mounting evidence that human error on the ship's bridge may have caused the accident has only added to the relatives' distress.

The chaotic official response to the accident was in evidence as early as Wednesday, when officials initially said all passengers had been rescued, only to backtrack and warn anxious families that almost 300 people were still unaccounted for.

Wildly conflicting reports from government agencies over the severity of the accident prompted critical comment on South Korea's ability to deal with disasters. As one poster on the popular internet portal Naver asked: "What's the point of having the world's fastest internet, coolest smartphones and the best shipbuilding industry when you can't pull that ship out of water and save our kids?"

Another said: "I thought our country was more developed than countries like Indonesia and Bangladesh, but maybe I was wrong."

As news filtered through to the presidential Blue House that the accident was worse than it had initially appeared, ministry officials struggled to establish a clear chain of command, according to South Korean media reports. The government's emergency response centre, they noted, was not launched until the crisis was into its second day.

Some wondered if the haphazard response to the accident had punctured South Korea's image of itself as a developed economy, transformed from an impoverished, war-ravaged nation in the early 1950s to an industrial and technological powerhouse through the sheer hard work and self-belief of its people.

The Kookmin Ilbo newspaper described the response as "typical of an underdeveloped country", mired in confusion, haste and delays. The Hankook Ilbo added it voice to the growing criticism, saying: "The government's easygoing reaction and internal disorder is a serious problem."

Vessels equipped with cranes have been moved to the accident site, but there were no immediate plans to use them to lift the vessel from the seabed.

Kim Jae-in, a spokesman for the South Korean coastguard, said the cranes would be used only when divers were sure lifting the vessel would not endanger anyone left alive inside: "Lifting the ship does not mean they will remove it completely from the sea. They can lift it two to three metres off the seabed."

Divers have been tapping on ship's hull in the vain hope of a response from inside, but have heard nothing. In a discovery that lends weight to the theory that the ship may have veered too quickly off course, investigators said divers had found no evidence that it had struck a rock or other submerged object.

As more than 600 divers, working in shifts, battled strong tides and poor visibility, South Korea appeared paralysed by grief. Concerts and cultural events were postponed indefinitely, while primetime dramas and variety shows gave way to occasionally melodramatic coverage of the tragedy.

Historic mass in Turkish-held north Cyprus 'like a miracle'

Yahoo – AFP, Tom Little, 19 April 2014

A Greek Cypriot priest (L) and a Turkish Cypriot Imam walk next to each other
 during a Good Friday mass in the St George Exorinos church in Famagusta
on April 18, 2014 (AFP Photo/Achilleas Zavallis)

Famagusta (Cyprus) (AFP) - With a nighttime procession lit by the glimmer of devotional candles and the flash of smartphone cameras, a church in Turkish-held northern Cyprus hosted its first Easter mass in nearly 60 years.

Hundreds of Greek Cypriots crossed the Green Line to attend the ceremony at Famagusta's church of St George Exorinos, in the part of the Mediterranean island occupied by Turkish forces since 1974.

Bishop Vassilis, wearing robes embroidered with gold and white and accompanied by a top Muslim cleric from the Turkish Cypriot community, led a tearful ceremony around the gardens of the 14th century church in Famagusta's mediaeval walled city.

Greek Cypriots attend a Good Friday
 mass in the St George Exorinos church
 in Famagusta on April 18, 2014 (AFP
Photo/Achielleas Zavallis)
Crowds of worshippers who had crossed for the historic service pressed around as the bishop delivered a mass urging reconciliation on the divided island.

Good Friday is one of the holiest dates in the Orthodox calendar, but for Pavlos Iacovou, who helped organise the service, the fact that the mass was taking place in the Turkish-held side of the island made the day "like a miracle".

He fled his hometown as an 18-year-old in 1974, when Turkey seized Cyprus’s northern third in response to an Athens-engineered coup aimed at uniting the island with Greece.

"We didn’t believe it would take 40 years to return. We thought it was only for a few days, and then we would be able to go home," he said wistfully, remembering the bustling town of his childhood, where his family owned a seafront hotel.

The Famagusta of Iacovou’s remembering is an idyllic place, where Turkish and Greek Cypriots coexisted peacefully, but it was intercommunal troubles before the island gained independence from Britain in 1960 that ended religious services at St George Exorinos 58 years ago.

Many of the Greek Cypriots who attended had fled the town in 1974, but despite the painful memories a jovial atmosphere settled on the church ahead of the service.

Orthodox priests milled around as smartly dressed families set out chairs in the gardens, enjoying the sunshine.

Throughout the afternoon hundreds of worshippers queued patiently to enter the tiny church to light candles and hear the liturgy.

One of the volunteers helping to marshal the crowds in the gardens estimated that 2,000 to 3,000 people had attended the service throughout the afternoon.

'An island for everyone'

Resting under the shade of a tree in the gardens as the service was relayed to those outside by loudspeaker, Constantinos Lordos, 74, a former Greek Cypriot MP, remembered coming to the church as a boy.

“This is a very touching ceremony for me. My mother used to bring me here for various ceremonies, especially for the Easter services,” he said.

He too was forced to leave his hometown, but he said he bore no bitterness. "I feel that the island belongs to all of us, it doesn't belong to anyone in particular,” he said, smiling.

The worshippers crowded onto pews in the dimly lit church were joined by a clutch of Turkish and Greek Cypriot politicians, as well as several foreign dignitaries, including the US ambassador and a representative of the UN.

Greek Cypriots light candles before the
 start of a Good Friday mass in the 
St George Exorinos church in Famagusta
 on April 18, 2014 (AFP Photo/Achilleas
Among those inside the church were the mayor-in-exile of Famagusta Alexis Galanos and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Oktay Kayalp, who worked together to set up the mass.

"Without exaggerating the importance, I think this is one step ahead" towards a solution to the division of Cyprus, Gallanos said.

Events where Greek and Turkish Cypriots can meet are a message to negotiators in the island’s UN-brokered peace talks that relaunched in February, Kayalp said.

For some marking Good Friday at St George’s, a solution cannot come quickly enough, as the desire to return to their hometown has not faded over the years.

Nicolas Nicolaou, a 50-year-old businessman, was 10 when he and his family escaped Famagusta, and he had brought his own two young children to see the place where he still feels deeply rooted.

"It is like a dream for us, and we hope that one day we will be back here."

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Head of China Resources SOE Song Lin under graft probe

Want China Times, Lan Hsiao-wei and Staff Reporter 2014-04-19

Song Lin during a press conference. (File photo/CNS)

China is investigating Song Lin, chairperson of China Resources Holdings, the nation's largest overseas state-owned enterprise, for suspected grave violations involving several billion yuan, according to a report in our sister paper, Taipei's China Times, citing a statement on the website of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

He is the nation's highest ranking official to be under a graft investigation according to the paper.

Yesterday's announcement came two days after a journalist for Economic Information Daily, a subsidiary of the state-run Xinhua news agency, Wang Wenzhi, accused Song of having a mistress, Helen Yang, who worked at investment bank UBS in Hong Kong and of using her to launder large amounts of money from allegedly corrupt deals.

Although Song is only a deputy minister-level official, he controls China Resources whose total assets amount to over US$99 billion, including sectors such as property, power, gas, medicines and supermarkets.

Wang first made an accusation against Song on July 17 last year, but the anti-corruption agency didn't take any action.

On April 15 Wang filed another accusation against Song, this time using the status of a Chinese citizen and adding that Song has a mistress.

Song denied Wang's accusation on April 16, vowing to take legal action against him. "These allegations are pure fabrication and vicious defamation," he said in the statement on his company's website.

In a dramatic turn of events, however, the anti-corruption agency confirmed that it was investigating Song, while the China Resources board declined to comment.

UBS's legal department is conducting an internal investigation into Yang, whose main clients are Chinese state-owned enterprises.

Initially China Resources was a trading company, and gradually expanded to other areas such as manufacturing and distribution of consumer goods, property, infrastructure, manufacturing and the distribution of medicine.

China Resources, which is a listed company in Hong Kong, is the largest shareholder of China Vanke, one of China's biggest property developers. Both its beer unit and supermarket division ranked the top in the mainland.

According to Fortunes global top 500, China Resources ranked 233rd in 2012 with revenues of US$43.4 billion. As of the end of 2011, the total assets of China Resources had reached HK$764.4 billion.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Strike at Yue Yuen's Dongguan footwear factory continues

Want China Times, Xinhua 2014-04-18

Workers at Yue Yuen strike over social insurance and housing
funds benefits, Apr. 14. (Photo/CNS)

A massive strike over a social benefits dispute entered a fifth day on Friday at a footwear factory in south China's Guangdong province.

Thousands of workers at Yue Yuen Industrial (Holdings), a Dongguan-based footwear maker for major brands including Nike, Adidas and Timberland, began storming out of the main plant and walking along a nearby arterial road around 8:50am.

Police rushed to the front of the parade, urging them to leave and return to the plant. Dozens of workers were then taken away by police, but no clashes broke out nor were any people injured.

Police have blocked some road section, and most of the workers have returned to the premises of the factory, where there is a staff of about 45,000.

Production at the plant remains halted.

The protests began on April 5, when a few hundred workers from the plant took to the streets demanding that their social insurance and housing funds be fully paid.

After failed negotiations with management, more workers have joined what has become a massive strike since Monday.

On Thursday, the factory management promised to catch up on all the social benefits in arrears, but the workers have remained skeptical and refused to return to work.

UN security council urged to target North Korean officials over atrocities

Inquiry head Michael Kirby says leaders should be hit with sanctions and referred to international criminal court, AFP, Friday 18 April 2014

Michael Kirby and other commission members at a media conference
after the meeting. Photograph: Cia Pak/Demotix/Corbis

The United Nations security council should slap targeted sanctions on North Korean officials responsible for grave human rights abuses and refer them to the international criminal court (ICC), the head of a special UN inquiry said on Thursday.

The retired Australian judge Michael Kirby told an informal meeting of the security council convened by Australia, France and the United States he wanted leading members of the reclusive regime hauled before the ICC for prosecution.

"More monitoring and engagement alone cannot suffice in the face of crimes that shock the conscience of humanity," Kirby said. "Perpetrators must be held accountable, it is necessary to deter further crimes."

North Korea did not send a representative and the meeting was snubbed by China, Pyongyang's sole major ally, and Russia.

"A new generation of senior officials now surround the supreme leader Kim Jong-un," Kirby said.

"They must be made to understand that they will themselves face personal accountability if they join in the commission of crimes against humanity or fail to prevent them where they could.

"The commission of inquiry therefore recommends to the security council the adoption of targeted sanctions against those individuals most responsible for crimes against humanity."

Kirby said most countries present supported the proposal to refer North Koreans to the ICC, but UN diplomats said any move was likely to face fierce opposition from China, the North's economic lifeline.

Last month the UN's top rights body also called on the security council to act against officials responsible for a litany of crimes against humanity in North Korea.

Kirby's commission of inquiry on North Korea released a hard-hitting report in February documenting a range of gross human rights abuses, including extermination, enslavement and sexual violence.

North Korea refused to co-operate with the investigation and said the evidence was "fabricated" by "forces hostile" to the country.

After Thursday's meeting, the US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, praised council members for joining other countries for the first time to discuss the "tragic human rights situation in North Korea".

"We heard directly from the authors of a thorough, objective and credible UN report, and from victims of North Korean atrocities themselves," she added.

"These first-hand accounts –horrific stories of torture, rape, forced abortions and forced infanticide, extermination and murder –paint a chilling picture of the regime's systematic and remorseless repression of its citizens."

Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth echoed Power's sentiments.

"For the first time in its history, the security council has been confronted with the abhorrent crimes committed by the North Korean government against its people," he said.

"Given this extraordinarily severe repression, it would be unconscionable for the council to continue limiting its work on North Korea to the nuclear issue.

"The ICC was created to stand with the victims of such atrocities. The most appropriate response to the Kirby report is for the council to refer them to the ICC."

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Former Dutch Labour prime minister works for big Chinese bank, Thursday 17 April 2014

Former Dutch prime minister
Wim Kok (NOS/ANP)
Former Dutch prime minister and union leader Wim Kok has joined the second biggest Chinese bank as a non-executive director.

Kok, 75, has worked for the listed China Construction Bank since November, the Volkskrant reports on Thursday.

The role involves at least six meetings a year, most of which involve a trip to China, Kok, who led the Labour party for years, told the paper. Kok was prime minister for eight years and has been on the supervisory board of ING, Shell and KLM since then.

Kok is a member of two bank commissions: strategic development, and appointments and remuneration. He earns €42,000 for the function, the Volkskrant says.

End of an era as Prince Bandar departs Saudi intelligence post

Prince's exit could signal shift in kingdom's policy towards Syria, with looming leadership transition complicating picture

The Guardian, Ian Black, Middle East editor, Wednesday 16 April 2014

Prince Bandar bin Sultan in 2008. Photograph: Hassan Ammar/AP

Prince Bandar bin Sultan's departure as head of Saudi intelligence, confirmed this week, marks the end of an era for a flamboyant and powerful character on the Middle Eastern stage. The big question is whether it signals a meaningful shift in the kingdom's policy towards Syria and its commitment to the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad.

Bandar – known as "Bandar Bush" from his 22 years as Saudi ambassador to the US – is a legendary networker and hawk. The Saudi press agency said he stepped down at his own request. (It did not say whether he would continue as head of the national security council, a less important position.) He will be replaced by his deputy at the Saudi equivalent of the CIA, Youssef bin Ali al-Idrisi, who is not a royal and therefore far less powerful.

For the past 18 months Bandar had led Saudi efforts to better co-ordinate the supply of weapons to Syrian rebels fighting Assad. But he faced criticism for backing extreme Islamist groups and thus risking a repeat of the "blowback" that brought Osama bin Laden's Saudi fighters home after the officially sanctioned jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Bandar's departure is not a complete surprise. Amid unprecedented tensions in relations between Riyadh and Washington, there had been signs he had fallen from favour and had in effect already been sidelined on Syria.

"Bandar's approach was very black and white," said one well placed observer. "And he seems to have over-promised to the king in terms of confidently predicting Assad's departure."

He was often abroad, reportedly being treated for health problems, or "unavailable" at home due to illness. He is also known to suffer badly from depression. Several months ago he failed to turn up for an urgently-scheduled meeting on Syria with David Cameron at Chequers.

According to sources in Riyadh, Bandar faced strong opposition from the powerful interior minister (and possible future king), Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who led the crackdown on al-Qaida following a wave of attacks between 2003 and 2006. Bin Nayef became increasingly concerned about battle-hardened young Saudis returning home radicalised after fighting in Syria. Bandar's removal probably reflects that policy divergence, western diplomats and Saudis say.

Bandar has irritated the Americans with outspoken criticism of Barack Obama's failure to punish Syria following the chemical weapons attack near Damascus last August. After that he talked of limiting interaction with the US in protest at its policies on Syria, Israel and especially the beginning of rapprochement with Iran – the latter an unchanging bogeyman and regional and sectarian rival for the Saudi prince. Bandar was also said by a senior Arab figure to have angrily threatened the emir of Qatar, which upstaged its larger neighbour in backing anti-Assad forces. His departure may help heal the rift between the US and the kingdom following last month's meeting between Obama and Abdullah. That, in turn, could impact on Saudi policy towards Syria.

Bandar, a former fighter pilot, is King Abdullah's nephew. He was close to presidents Reagan and both Bushes. He negotiated huge arms deals for the kingdom – including the infamous £43bn al-Yamamah agreement with the UK. The Guardian reported allegations that he had received £1bn in secret payments from BAE.

Known for his showy lifestyle – he has a penchant for cigars and flies in a private Airbus – he has kept a low profile since returning from the US to Riyadh in 2005. He became head of intelligence in July 2012. Apart from the Syria file, he was also closely involved in Saudi support for Egypt's military rulers after they ousted the Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi.

Saudi-watchers say decision-making in Riyadh is in poor shape. King Abdullah is 90 and frail, Crown Prince Salman is 78. Last month the appointment of a new deputy crown prince, Muqrin, a relative youngster at 68, again focused attention on the succession.

"The looming transition in Saudi leadership … may contribute to the uncertainty and opacity of the kingdom's foreign policy-making," said Yezid Sayigh, of the Carnegie Foundation. "Already highly personalised, decision-making may become further dispersed as multiple centres of princely power prepare to compete over the succession from King Abdullah."

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