Asean Summit, Myanmar 12 Nov. 2014

"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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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Blogger Raif Badawi's long struggle for freedom of expression

Saudi blogger and activist Raif Badawi started criticizing his country's regime more than six years ago. Since then, his family has been threatened and fled to Canada and his lawyer has been arrested.

Deutsche Welle, 30 Jan 2015


The flogging of Raif Badawi has been postponed for the third time. On Friday, the public learned that the blogger would not receive the next 50 lashes of his cruel 1,000-lash punishment. That doesn't change the fact that he is in bad physical shape. His wife, Ensaf Haidar, told journalists in Ottawa, Canada, that her husband suffered from hypertension and another round of beating could weaken him significantly. "I am very concerned about him," Haidar said.

The whole world has followed Badawi's case over the last few weeks. Public protest has picked up steam since he was first publicly flogged on January 9 in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, after being found guilty of insulting Islam and breaking Saudi technology laws with his website "Free Saudi Liberals." He was sentenced to 1,000 lashes, 10 years in prison and fined 1 million riyals ($266,000) in May 2014. But Badawi's struggle has been going on for much longer.

Daring online activism

Badawi was born in Al Khobar in eastern Saudi Arabia on January 13, 1984. He and his older sister, Samar, were educated to seventh-grade level. Activism in the face of the strict Islamic regime seems to run in the family: Samar has campaigned for women's suffrage and women's right to drive in Saudi Arabia. In 2012, she was awarded the US State Department's International Women of Courage Award.

Badawi's wife, Ensaf Haidar, is fighting
for her husband's release
With the "Free Saudi Liberals" website, Raif Badawi took his criticism of the regime online. He created the website in 2008 as a forum for liberals to discuss Saudi Arabia's strict Wahhabi leadership.

Ensaf Haidar, whom Badawi married in 2002, told Pen Canada, a group that promotes freedom of expression, that he believed in liberalism as an "intellectual project" that aspired to "represent Saudi liberals on the ground, and fight injustice wherever it exists."

Badawi didn't hold back his views about how unjust the system that ruled his country really was. In addition to writing about Valentine's Day, the celebration of which is prohibited in Saudi Arabia, he wrote and published sarcastic articles about the Commission on the Promotion of Virtue, criticized senior political figures and said that the Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh had become "a den for terrorists."

Charged with abandoning Islam

It didn't take long for Saudi officials to intervene. In March 2008, authorities arrested Badawi and questioned him about his website. Two months later, in May, he was charged with "setting up an electronic site that insults Islam." According to Human Rights Watch, he then left the country. Later in 2008, prosecutors, however, dropped the charges against him and Badawi returned to Saudi Arabia.

He was banned from leaving the country in 2009 and had his bank accounts frozen by the government. He was then arrested June 17, 2012 and appeared before a court in December 2012 on charges of ridiculing Islamic religious figures on his website.

He was also referred to a higher court for the charge of apostasy, a crime punishable by death in Saudi Arabia. One "proof" for Badawi's apostasy seems to have been that he liked a Facebook page for Arabic Christians. According to Human Rights Watch, a Saudi cleric also accused him of saying "that Muslims, Jews, Christians, and atheists are all equal," which was also seen as a sign of apostasy.

International support

The apostasy charges were eventually dropped, but medical experts say the 1,000 lashes Badawi now has to endure are basically a death sentence dragged out over 20 weeks. The case has also affected Badawi's family. His wife fled Saudi Arabia in 2013 after receiving death threats. She said she feared for her safety and that of their children, Terad, Najwa and Miriam. They obtained political asylum in Quebec, Canada.

Protests in support of the blogger have
 taken place all over the world, including
this one in London
Badawi's lawyer was arrested after setting up a Saudi human rights organization. Charges against him included "breaking allegiance with the ruler" and in 2014 he was sentenced to 15 years in prison and a subsequent 15-year-ban on traveling.

With Badawi's health deteriorating, protesters all over the world are demanding the blogger be released and exonerated. Campaigns on social media and petitions by organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Reporters without Borders are helping him to keep up hope, his wife said.

But the final decision on his fate lies with the Saudi regime, whose flaws Raif Badawi never hesitated to point out.


Protesters call for the release of Raif Badawi outside the Saudi embassy
in The Hague, Netherlands. Photograph: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto/Rex

Friday, January 30, 2015

New Saudi king announces major government shake-up

Yahoo – AFP, Ian Timberlake, 30 Jan 2015

Saudi Arabia's new King Salman (C) speaks with Crown Prince and Interior 
Minister Mohammed bin Nayef (L) at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh
on January 27, 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

Riyadh (AFP) - Saudi Arabia's new King Salman further cemented his hold on power, with a sweeping shakeup that saw two sons of the late King Abdullah fired, and the heads of intelligence and other key agencies replaced alongside a cabinet shuffle.

Top officials from the Ports Authority, the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the conservative Islamic kingdom's religious police were among those let go.

The new appointments came a week after Salman acceded to the throne following the death of Abdullah, aged about 90.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, pictured in
 Vienna, Austria on November 27, 2014,
remains in the cabinet after the reshuffle
(AFP Photo/Samuel Kubani)
Salman also reached out directly to his subjects on Thursday. One of his more than 30 decrees ordered "two months' basic salary to all Saudi government civil and military employees," the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.

Students and pensioners got similar bonuses.

"Dear people: You deserve more and whatever I do will not be able to give you what you deserve," the king said later on his official Twitter account.

He asked his citizens to "not forget me in your prayers".

SPA said Salman "issued a royal order today, relieving Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, Chief of General Intelligence, of his post."

General Khalid bin Ali bin Abdullah al-Humaidan became the new intelligence chief, holding cabinet rank.

The change comes after authorities in the kingdom last year blamed suspects linked to the Islamic State extremist group for shooting and wounding a Dane, and for gunning down minority Shiites.

A separate decree said Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a nephew of Abdullah, was removed from his posts as Secretary General of the National Security Council and adviser to the king.

Prince Bandar was the kingdom's ambassador to the United States for 22 years until 2005 before moving to Saudi Arabia's Security Council.

Two sons of the late monarch were also fired: Prince Mishaal, governor of the Mecca region, and Prince Turki, who governed the capital Riyadh, according to the decrees broadcast on Saudi television.

A Saudi carrying his baby poses at a mural dedicated to late King Abdullah with a
 slogan reading "Where are you going? Look back and say hello. We didn't get
enough of you," on January 26, 2015 in the coastal city of Jeddah (AFP Photo)

Super-ministry

Another of Abdullah's sons, Prince Miteb, retained his position as minister in charge of the National Guard, a parallel army of around 200,000 men.

Salman, 79, a half-brother of Abdullah, named a 31-member cabinet whose new faces include the ministers for culture and information, social affairs, civil service, and communications and information technology, among others.

Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, and Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf stayed in the cabinet of the world's leading oil exporter.

A 50 percent fall in global oil prices since last June has left Saudi Arabia projecting its first budget deficit since 2011, but government spending is set to continue.

Salman merged the ministries of higher education and education, naming Azzam bin Mohammed al-Dakheel to head the super-ministry.

Saudi Arabia is trying to improve its basic education system and has built more universities as it seeks to diversify its oil-dependent economy.

Another decree replaced the chief of the country's stock market regulator, ahead of a mid-year target for opening the Arab world's largest bourse to foreign investors.

Hours after Abdullah died on January 23 Salman appointed his son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as defence minister.

Powerful Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef became second in line to the throne, while Deputy Crown Prince Moqren, 69, was elevated to king-in-waiting.

An advertisement in Riyadh on January 26, 2015 shows King Salman (R) and
 Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef (L) now second in line to the throne, 
and Deputy Crown Prince Moqren, 69, now elevated to king-in-waiting (AFP Photo
/Fayez Nureldine)

Moqren would reign as the last son of the kingdom's founder, Abdul Aziz bin Saud, leaving bin Nayef as the first of the "second generation," or grandsons of Abdul Aziz.

In March 2014, King Abdullah named Moqren to the new position of deputy crown prince with the aim of smoothing succession hurdles.

The appointment of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef helps to solidify control by the new king's Sudayri branch of the royal family.

Their influence had waned under King Abdullah.

Regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and home to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

Along with other countries in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia has joined a US-led air campaign against the Islamic State group that has seized parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq.

Related Articles:

Tradition meets Twitter as Saudis pledge to new king


"The Timing of the Great Shift" – Mar 21, 2009 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Text version)

“… 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. Remember where you heard it... in a strange, esoteric meeting with a guy in a chair pretending to channel. [Kryon being factious... Kryon humor] Then when you hear it, you'll know better, won't you? "Maybe there was something really there," you'll say. "Maybe it was real," you'll say. Perhaps you can skip all the drama of the years to come and consider that now? [Kryon humor again]

These leaders are going to fall over. You'll have a slow developing leadership coming to you all over the earth where there is a new energy of caring about the public. "That's just too much to ask for in politics, Kryon." Watch for it. That's just the beginning of this last phase. So many things are coming. The next one is related to this, for a country in survival with sickness cannot sustain a leadership of high consciousness. There is just too much opportunity for power and greed. But when a continent is healed, everything changes. .."

Israeli city told to pay women damages after failing to remove ‘modesty signs’

Billboards in ultra-orthodox community bar women from certain buildings and pavements and warn against ‘slutty clothing worn in a religious style’

The Guardian, Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem, 29 january 2015

A sign cautioning women to dress modestly in the town of Beit Shemesh, near
 Jerusalem. Such signs are still in place despite being ruled illegal two years
ago. Photograph: Nir Elias/Reuters

Four female campaigners have been awarded damages in a groundbreaking case in an Israeli court, after their local municipality refused to remove illegal and threatening signs demanding women wear “modest” clothing in public.

The case marks the first time that campaigners against gender segregation in Israel’s ultra-orthodox Jewish communities have persuaded a court to rule against the so-called “modesty signs” – despite the fact that they were deemed unlawful by the attorney general two years ago.

Judge David Gidoni found that the failure of the local authority in the city of Beit Shemesh to take down the signs violated the women’s civil rights. He ruled that the “hurtful, degrading and discriminatory” signs put up by ultra-orthodox radicals “delivered a mortal blow to the rights of women in the city” and instructed Beit Shemesh to compensate the women for their “mental anguish”. The municipality must now pay each of the women 15,000 shekels (£2,530) in compensation.

The signs include “warnings” excluding women from certain buildings and pavements in the city of 80,000, which is about 20 miles south-west of Jerusalem. Another billboard, signed “residents of the neighbourhood”, declares: “Dire warning: It is forbidden to walk on our streets in immodest dress, including slutty clothing worn in a religious style.” Another sign – posted near a synagogue – instructs women to walk on the opposite pavement.

The four women behind the campaign to have the signs removed had all suffered intimidation or been spat on by a minority of the city’s ultra-orthodox male inhabitants.

The municipality in Beit Shemesh – where an ultra-orthodox mayor was elected last year by a slim margin – accepted the signs had been put up without permission and were discriminatory, but its leaders said they feared their removal might prompt violence. The court was told the signs had been removed “several times” but it was claimed they were put up again within minutes.

In recent years Beit Shemesh – a city whose population is 45% ultra-orthodox – has been at the frontline of tension between some ultra-orthodox and secular and non-ultra-orthodox residents, not least over the issue of gender segregation and “modesty”.

Last year an ultra-orthodox man assaulted a religious woman in Beit Shemesh because he thought her skirt was too short. In another controversial incident, in 2011, an eight-year-old girl on her way to school was spat on by ultra-orthodox men because of her perceived immodest dress.

The issue has not been confined to Beit Shemesh. “Modesty signs” are on walls in ultra-orthodox neighbourhoods of Jerusalem, requiring loose clothing and specifying the length of sleeves and height of neckline. The health ministry ordered the removal of similar signs from health clinics in the city of Bnei Brak last year.

This year a series of bus ads in Jerusalem, paid for by an ultra-orthodox modesty campaign, attracted controversy for claiming “short clothing = shortened life”.

One of the plaintiffs in the Beit Shemesh case was Miriam Zussman, who explained to the Guardian why she had decided to go to court. “Personally I had incidents where I was spat on and called insulting names, which is quite shocking. I was also dressed extremely modestly with covered hair, skirts below knee and arms covered.

“My daughter too had an incident near school where she was waiting at bus stop near a boy’s yeshiva [religious school] and was told she wasn’t allowed to wait at the bus stop. It was a growing issue that became tied to the power of ownership the signs represented. The idea came to us that we could do something, especially given the signs are illegal. It is a minority that has been violent but there is a lack of people who are prepared to speak out.”

Nili Philipp, another of the women who brought the case, told Haaretz after the court victory: “We can’t count on our city government to enforce the law in Beit Shemesh. I’m glad we have the courts to stand up for our rights, but as I see it, it’s a sad state of affairs that we had to go to court at all.”

Orly Erez-Likhovski, the chief lawyer at the Israel Religious Action Centre, which represented the women and has been fighting against gender segregation on religious grounds, said the next step was to insist the police remove the signs. “What the municipality said to the court was that if they took them down they would be hung again and there would be violence and riots. Our argument in court on Sunday was that they contribute to the atmosphere of violence against women.

“We have to go back to court to enforce their removal but this is very important first step. It is the first case on modesty signs since the attorney general ruled they were illegal.”

Stateless in Nepal - How a patriarchal system denies citizenship to millions

Over four million people in Nepal are stateless as women aren't allowed to pass their citizenship onto their children. With the latest constitutional deadline passing, concerns are growing for these undocumented people.

Deutsche Welle, 29 Jan 2015


All Deepti Gurung wanted were personal identification cards for her two, young daughters. Until recently, documents of this type were not necessary for the 40 year old, single-mother's children. But anyone who wishes to vote, to get a driver's license, open a bank account, or study at a university requires an identity card which verifies one's Nepalese citizenship. Despite being born in Nepal, Deepti Gurung's daughters are denied ID cards.

In patriarchical Nepal, citizenship and nationality are traditionally inherited from the father. In cases where the father is either unknown, has moved away, or refuses to recognize his children, the children are stateless.

Women are unable to pass citizenship along to their children without the presence or proof from a father. These special cases of absent fathers and citizenship-less children are far from being a small minority.

Failing to agree on a constitution has also
 not solved the issue of the undocumented
citizens
According to estimates from the Nepalese Forum for Women, Law, and Development (FWLD), there are well-over 4 million people living in Nepal with unrecognized citizenship - this figure is almost a quarter of the entire adult population of the country. This lack of status has serious consequences for those living in Nepal. Without citizenship, they cannot register births or changes of address – even buying a mobile phone requires a valid ID.

Unenforced laws

However, almost all of these four million undocumented people are actually entitled to Nepalese citizenship. At the end of Nepal's 2006 Civil War, the country created a provisional constitution. Under this constitution, nationality laws were relaxed and women were able to pass citizenship on to their children regardless of the status of the father. Unfortunately, these rights exist only on paper. According to the interim constitution, it is sufficient evidence if one of the parents is Nepalese – but this law is hardly enforced.

Much of the legal interpretation is up to the discretion of district administrations comprised of mostly male members. When children in Nepal reach legal age, then local authorities can recommend them as future citizens. Unfortunately for these undocumented youths, the last word rest with the district officials, who in many places are still influenced by patriarchical tradition.

So the enforcement of this citizenship law is often stuck behind bureaucratic doors – much to the dismay of this large, legally-unrecognized population who cannot study or work in the Middle East like many of their fellow Nepalese.

The situation of citizenship in relation to marriage also differs greatly between men and women. If a Nepalese man marries a woman from another country, then the children will automatically be Nepalese and the wife will be in good standing to attain citizenship as well. In stark contrast, if a woman from Nepal marries a man from another country, it may take up to 15 years before her husband may qualify for naturalized citizenship and the children receive no official Nepalese identity.

A new constitution does not mean a new lifeline

This problem is particularly serious and present in the southern parts of the country where there are many marriages between Nepalese and Indians due to the open border with India. In addition, poor families in rural areas are especially affected.

Many people have never applied for citizenship because they have never made use of government benefits. But due to the exodus from rural Nepal into the populous urban centers, more Nepalese and their children are living in areas where use of government benefits and services becomes essential – and an ID card is the key to using these services.

The current political chaos in Nepal does not make the lives of undocumented Nepalese any easier. A Constituent Assembly (CA) was charged with drafting a new, permanent constitution by the end of last week.

The drafting of this new constitution does not necessarily mean that the situation will improve for those seeking citizenship due to two factors: the CA is comprised almost entirely of men and the current draft of the constitution does not provide for lasting change in the citizenship law or its enforcement.

Without valid identification, many students
are blocked from attending university
On the contrary, the Assembly has recommended that in order for children to obtain citizenship, both mother and father should be Nepalese. Those affected by this amendment proposed to continue the temporary constitution's phrasing of "father or mother" rather than "father and mother."

Their request was not accepted. This brushing-aside of the citizenship issue may not be entirely on purpose. "While the CA, which also functions as the Nepalese parliament, fails to come to an agreement in constitutional negotiations, the politicians are distracted from other, pressing, policies," explained Alison Evans, senior Asia analyst at the global analytics firm IHS.

However, the parties in the CA were once again unable to agree on a new constitution. Evans states, "The plight of stateless people in Nepal, along with other essential issues like the country's substantial energy deficit, are unlikely to be substantially tackled in the next to years while political instability continues."

For now, those people without citizenship in Nepal are trapped in a country that does not recognize them. "We are like prisoners in our own country," Gurung said. "Our condition is worse than the refugees. They are at least recognised as citizens of a country. We are stateless."

Thursday, January 29, 2015

US Ambassador Says Kim Jong-un Visit to Bandung a Matter for Indonesia

Jakarta Globe, Natasia Christy, Jan 29, 2015

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un delivers a New Year's address in this Jan. 1, 2015,
 photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang.
(Reuters Photo).

Jakarta. As Indonesia prepares to welcome up to 109 heads of state to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Conference in April, the US ambassador to Jakarta advised a cautious approach to one name on the list — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The original Asia-Africa Conference was held in Jakarta and Bandung in April, 1955. It was attended by 25 countries and was an important precursor to the Non-Aligned Movement. The government has invited 109 head of states to attend the 60th commemoration of the event in Bandung and Jakarta.

“It’s a decision that Indonesia has to make,” US Ambassador Robert Blake said, referring to the invitation extended to Kim. “However, Indonesia should be cautious with the world view on the sanctioned country. Of course, this will be a consideration for The Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

Blake said the US embassy had yet to receive official notice of Kim’s plans to attended the April event. South Korean news agency Yonhap announced Kim’s plans to attend.

Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha said the North Korean leader had yet to send his RSVP.

Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil was enjoying the prospect of Bandung in the spotlight.

“All eyes will be on Bandung on April 24, especially if the North Korean leader is coming” Ridwan said. “It’s his right [to visit Bandung]. He is invited. We invited his country. Whether the country is bad is not a criteria to receive an invitation.”

Tradition meets Twitter as Saudis pledge to new king

Yahoo - AFPWissam Keyrouz, 27 Jan 2015

Saudi Arabia's new King Salman attends a ceremony at the Diwan royal
palace in Riyadh on January 24, 2015 (AFP)

Decades ago, Saudis trekked across their desert kingdom to pledge allegiance to their new kings at their palaces. Now they are just using Twitter.

Thousands of Saudis have poured into the palace of King Salman who acceded the throne after the death of his half-brother Abdullah last week.

Many others exercised the entrenched tradition at the palaces of provincial princes.

Saudi blogger Raef Badawi, shown
in Jeddah in 2012, was sentenced
in May 2014 to 10 years in prison,
1,000 lashes and a fine for
"insulting Islam" (AFP)
But thousands of others have pledged their allegiance to the new ruler online, taking advantage of social media networks.

Chief among them is Twitter, whose popularity has exploded with an astounding 40 percent of Saudis now using the microblogging website.

Saudi Arabia is governed by a strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law, but authorities have stopped short of banning Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, unlike in the Islamic republic of Iran.

Ultra-conservatives tweet as much as liberals in the tightly censored absolute monarchy, with clerics attracting the most followers, like Mohammed al-Arefe who has 10.8 million of them.

However several users have faced jail over their posts that have been deemed offensive to the authorities or to Islam.

King Salman himself has an account that saw its number of followers surge to 1.6 million as he became the monarch.

"I pray to God to help me serve our dear people and achieve their aspirations, and to keep our country secure and stable," read a tweet posted on the account following his accession.

A hashtag in Arabic declaring "I pledge allegiance to King Salman" spread quickly among Saudi tweeps after King Abdullah died on Friday, as users of the site mourned the late monarch.

'Progress without abandoning tradition'

"I have pledged my allegiance through Twitter because as we progress technologically, we do not abandon our identity and traditions," said Twitter user Salman al-Otaibi.

"This pledge is a duty on every Muslim," he told AFP.

Metab al-Samiri tweeted: "With full obedience, I pledge allegiance to you Salman."

The pledge is both an Islamic obligation to provide the ruler with legitimacy and a tribal commitment to obey the new leader.

Twitter has also proven to be a headache for authorities in Gulf monarchies as social media blogging sites render their censorship largely helpless.

Users calling for reforms in the kingdom have taken to the platform to voice discontent and demand concessions from the ruling family.

"We want a consultative Shura Council that is elected by the people, capable of legislating laws and holding the cabinet to account," said one tweet.

"This way, the alleged reforms could be achieved," it added, using another popular hashtag that said: "Demands for King Salman."

Despite timid steps to introduce reforms, Saudi Arabia under Abdullah remained a tightly controlled kingdom, where conservatives continue to play a strong role.

The case of blogger Raef Badawi serves as an example of the Gulf state's ever-tightening freedom of expression.

Badawi is serving a 10-year jail sentence for insulting Islam, and he has also been sentenced to 1,000 lashes, having received 50 of them in public this month.

Twitter is "the source of all evil and devastation", said the kingdom's top cleric Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh in a fatwa edict in October.

"People are rushing to it thinking it's a source of credible information but it's a source of lies and falsehood," he said.

Despite such warnings, there are no signs of Twitter's popularity waning in Saudi Arabia, whose five million users give the kingdom the world's highest penetration.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

RMB likely to enter IMF's global reserve currencies list

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2015-01-28

A clerk at a bank in Shanxi province counting bank notes in US
dollars and renminbi. (File photo/CNS)

Beijing is pushing for the inclusion of the renminbi as of one of the global reserve currencies of the International Monetary Fund and hopes to get a shot at the Special Drawing Rights system during the organization's twice-a-decade review this year, reports Chinese financial news website fx678.com.

The review will begin with an informal IMF board meeting in May before a formal review in autumn. Any changes decided during the review will take effect in January next year. Officials of Asian countries and G20 members said unlike the previous review five years ago, the matter of the renminbi's inclusion will be discussed actively this time around.

The renminbi's exchange rate has strengthened greatly from five years ago and the currency is now widely used in overseas trading, which could eliminate one of the IMF's main reasons for barring the currency from its Special Drawing Rights system during the previous review. Around 20% of China's trades are settled in renminbi and Beijing has signed agreements to trade the currency in Hong Kong, Singapore, Frankfurt and London, said the report.

Although the US could deny the renminbi from entering the basket — it holds 17% of the votes on the IMF's executive board — South Korea and other nations are looking forward to its entry since it will encourage investments in China. A senior official of an Asian central bank was confident that the renminbi would be included this year.

Jeffrey Frankel, a professor of Harvard University, said that political reasons may prevent the renminbi from being considered "freely usable." US congress has not approved a change to reduce Western Europe's voice on the IMF board and give China and other emerging economies more power.

The currency cannot yet be used freely. The Chinese government still controls its financial market strictly since even large asset management firms cannot buy renminbi or government bonds in large quantities through a single transaction, said David Dollar, who formerly carried out the US Treasury's diplomatic missions in China.

Another potential reason that the renminbi may not be included is its capital markets. China, however, has eliminated the excuse as the online platform of Thomas Reuter, a major multinational mass media and information firm, recorded a 350% increase in the currency's trading abroad. The number of countries planning to buy Chinese assets through Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institution Investors reached 10 last year and those establishing a renminbi settlement system reached 14. Eighteen central banks have signed agreements with Beijing for currency exchanges.

Commentary: In Saudi King Eulogy, Reminder of Pardons to Indonesians on Death Row

The president must be aware that routine executions of criminals are not a characteristic of democratic countries

Jakarta Globe, Johannes Nugroho, Jan 28, 2015

A picture taken on Jan. 26, 2015 in the coastal seaport City of Jeddah shows a
 Saudi man carrying his baby to pose for a picture in front of a mural dedicated to
 late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz with a slogan in Arabic reading: ‘Where are you
going? Look back and say hello. We didn’t get enough of you’. (AFP Photo)

In a eulogy of recently deceased King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said: “At my request, the late king pardoned many Indonesian citizens who had been sentenced to death by Saudi courts.”

His remark is a timely reminder that attempts made by any government to prevent the execution of its citizens in a foreign nation are part of routine diplomacy. And apparently neither Yudhoyono nor the Saudi government saw the request as an intrusion into Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty. By contrast, a great portion of local media has portrayed attempts made by various foreign governments to plead clemency for their citizens on death row as an outlandish attack on Indonesia’s sovereignty.

Egged on by the media frenzy over threats to our “judicial sovereignty,” most Indonesian social media users have applauded the government’s adamant stance on denying clemency to those sentenced to death in our courts. The subsequent recalls of the Dutch and Brazilian ambassadors following the execution of six drug traffickers swung the Indonesian public opinion further into the government’s camp.

As common sense gives way to emotions, many of us have evidently forgotten that we ourselves take umbrage every time we learn an Indonesian national has been sentenced to death abroad.

It is surprising that the Dutch government decided to recall its ambassador from Jakarta, considering it did not take such action when Dutch engineer Johannes van Damme was hanged for heroin smuggling in 1994 by the Singaporean government. But over 20 years have passed since van Damme’s execution, and so the sociopolitical circumstances in the Netherlands today cannot possibly be compared to those in the recent past.

We should also understand that, although Singapore is widely admired for its order-liness and world-class standards of public service, it is not perceived as a working democracy. Despite the existence of elections in the small republic, the results have always been predictable. Civil liberties are also highly regulated there, effectively making freedom of speech something arbitrated by the government.

By juxtaposition, Indonesia’s democracy — flawed as it may be — is seen as the most robust in Southeast Asia. More importantly, President Joko Widodo at first managed to generate a worldwide image as a leader with a strong commitment to democracy and human rights. Arguably, much of Joko’s image as a defender of human rights is based on hope rather than on scrutiny of his performance in office.

The international media was also guilty of promoting this perception of Joko by portraying him as a man of the people and democracy. TIME magazine, placing Joko on its front cover last October, described the new president as “the new face of Indonesian democracy” and “the world’s most modest national leader.”

So, it was no wonder that most Western governments, perhaps rather naively, assumed that he was a leader who shared their values. Seen in this context, Joko’s seemingly inhumane refusal to grant clemency to drug offenders on death row was something contrary to what people expected of him. His attitude towards capital punishment was likely formed long ago, but attracted no attention.

While wrong on human rights, the foreign media was accurate in predicting the Joko government’s insularity, which is evident not just in its indifference to, if not anger at, foreign protests over the death penalty, but also in its foreign affairs directives. But the president must be aware that routine executions of criminals are not a characteristic of democratic countries.

Though Yudhoyono may not have had the prisoners on Indonesia’s own death row in mind at the time, his praise of King Abdullah’s mercifulness is indeed a potent reminder that mercy can legitimately be shown to people condemned to death.

Moreover, if an autocracy like Saudi Arabia can show mercy, why can’t a beacon of democracy like Indonesia?

Johannes Nugroho, a writer from Surabaya, can be contacted at johannes@nonacris.com.
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Obama pays his respects to King Abdullah, talks security with King Salman

The US president has visited Saudi Arabia, where he offered his condolences for the late king. Obama also held his first formal talks with the newly enthroned King Salman.

Deutsche Welle, 27 Jan 2015


President Barack Obama was in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh on Tuesday, leading an array of current and former US statesmen to pay their respects to late King Abdullah and to hold talks with his brother, the new King Salman (pictured).

The US dignitaries, some of whom flew in separately from Obama, included current Secretary of State John Kerry and several prominent Republicans including Condoleezza Rice and James Baker II, both former secretaries of state, and Senator John McCain. CIA head John Brennan was also in attendance.

Air Force One landed at King Khalid International Airport, where the president and first lady, Michelle Obama, disembarked onto red carpet to a Saudi welcoming delegation that included King Salman and his younger half-brother Muqrin, the heir to the throne. In stark contrast to the niqab, or face veil, and long black abaya worn by Saudi women in public, Michelle Obama left her hair uncovered and wore dark blue slacks.

The two leaders talked privately for about an hour, and the discussion focused mainly on security issues, such as sectarian divisions in Iraq, the campaign against the "Islamic State" jihadists, the precarious situation in Yemen and support for the Syrian opposition fighting President Bashar al Assad.

The situation in Syria has at times strained relations between the two nations, as Saudi Arabia, like most governments in the area, wishes to get rid of the Assad regime. The late Abdullah had more than once pressed the US to take more aggressive action to force Assad from power.

Humans rights issue not on the agenda

Obama had to cut short his trip to India for the Riyadh meeting, but before he left he defended the government's willingness to cooperate so closely with Saudi Arabia despite human rights concerns. Obama told a CNN reporter that he felt the best course was to apply steady pressure about human rights "even as we are getting business done that needs to get done."

"Sometimes we need to balance our need to speak to them about human rights issues with immediate concerns we have in terms of counterterrorism or dealing with regional stability," the president said. The talks with King Salman are likely to cover the ongoing crises in Syria and Yemen.

He added that he would not be raising US concerns over the flogging of liberal blogger Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam: "On this visit, obviously a lot of this is just paying respects to King Abdullah, who in his own fashion presented some modest reform efforts within the kingdom."

After his conversation with King Salman, an official speaking anonymously said the president had "raised the issue of human rights with the king but did not discuss specific cases."

Abdullah died at the age of 90 on Friday. was attended by several region leaders, with Western leaders and dignitaries coming in over the following days to offer their condolences and meet the newly enthroned 79-year-old Salman.

Despite occasionally deep ideological differences between the two nations, Saudi Arabia is a key US ally in the region.

es/kms (AP, AFP)

Barack and Michelle Obama meet a Saudi delegation including King Salman
 bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (far right) on Tuesday. Photograph: Saudi Press Agency/EPA

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Modi honours Obama as VIP guest, opens arms to US business

Yahoo – AFP, Claire Cozens, 26 Jan 2015

US President Barack Obama smiles as he sits alongside Indian Prime Minister
 Narendra Modi during a reception at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi, on 
January 26, 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

Narendra Modi honoured Barack Obama as his chief guest Monday at India's Republic Day parade and then rolled out the welcome mat to US businesses in a further warming of ties between the world's largest democracies.

The rain which fell for much of the two-hour showcase of military might and cultural diversity failed to dampen the new sense of bonhomie, a day after the US president and Indian premier signed a friendship declaration.

Indian dancers perform during India's 
Republic Day parade in New Delhi, on
 January 26, 2015 (AFP Photo/Roberto 
Schmidt)
And the pair's joint appearance at an audience of business leaders further underlined their growing closeness that would have been unimaginable less than a year ago.

Thousands of spectators cheered Obama and Modi as they arrived together at the start of the parade in New Delhi, which marks the birth of modern India and included everything from tanks and state-of-the-art weaponry to camels and traditional dancers.

The invitation to the parade is one of the biggest honours the country can bestow on a foreign leader and underscores the increasing warmth between Obama and Modi, who was persona non grata in Washington for years.

The leaders smiled and chatted as they watched from behind a bulletproof glass screen, Modi sporting a green and orange turban with a pink circular plume that rivalled the spectacular military headgear on display.

Wowed by stuntmen

Obama gave a thumbs-up as stunt-riders on motorbikes formed their trademark human pyramid before the grand finale of the event, a fly-past by Indian fighter jets.

The display of military might came a day after Obama and Modi renewed a defence cooperation agreement, with the United States and India both seeking a counterbalance to a rising China.

Much of the hardware on display was Russian-made, a reminder that despite the growing closeness of the world's two largest democracies, India still has strong defence ties with Moscow.

The mounted Border Security Force on their brightly-decorated camels, a traditional highlight, drew loud cheers from spectators who were out in force.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (left) and US President Barack Obama talk
 during the India-US Business Summit in New Delhi, on January 26, 2015 (AFP
 Photo/Saul Loeb)

Obama's presence represented a remarkable turnaround in his relationship with India's new leader, who was effectively blacklisted by Washington until last February over communal riots in his home state of Gujarat in 2002 when Modi was chief minister.

Obama began his visit Sunday with a bear hug from Modi, later saying their new "friendship" reflected a natural affinity between the two countries.

Roads were closed around the area, which was declared a no-fly zone, and snipers were positioned on rooftops along the route, where 15,000 new CCTV cameras had been installed.

The two leaders then made a joint appearance before a select audience of business leaders from both countries, where Modi vowed to banish India's reputation as a tough place to do business.

As he promised a more "competitive" tax regime, Modi also pledged to address concerns about intellectual property that have long irked potential investors in Asia's third-largest economy.

Obama hailed the new change in tone at the top of "India Inc" but said there were still "too many obstacles" for businesses wanting to break into the vast market.

Under the previous left-leaning Congress government, investors frequently complained about a hostile business climate in India, frustrated by bureaucracy and corruption. In the last World Bank rankings on the ease of doing business rankings, India placed 142nd out of 189 countries.

'Easy for business'

But in his speech, the right-wing prime minister said he aimed to have his country up in the top 50 and promised his audience that things would change drastically.

Indian dancers perform during the nation's 
Republic Day Parade in New Delhi on
January 26, 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)
"You will find an environment that is not only open, but also welcoming," he said in the address to executives including PepsiCo chairman Indra Nooyi and MasterCard president Ajay Banga.

"We will guide you and walk with you in your projects.

"You will find a climate that encourages investment and rewards enterprise. It will nurture innovation and protect your intellectual property.

"It will make it easy to do business," said Modi, who was elected last May after promising to transform the Indian economy.

Modi sees attracting more foreign investment as key to putting India on the path to sustainable growth and has been extensively promoting a "Make in India" campaign designed to turn the country into a manufacturing hub.