Asean Summit, Malaysia on Nov 21, 1015

Asean Summit, Malaysia  on Nov 21, 1015
Asean Establishes Landmark Economic and Security Bloc
"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.)

North Korean defector criticises China in rare Beijing talk

North Korean defector criticises China in rare Beijing talk
North Korean defector and activist Hyeonseo Lee, who lives in South Korea, poses as she presents her book 'The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story' in Beijing on March 26, 2016 (AFP Photo/Fred Dufour)

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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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

North Korea agrees to suspend nuclear activities, US says

State department says North Korea will allow IAEA inspectors to confirm disablement of its nuclear reactor at Yongbon, Associated Press, Wednesday 29 February 2012

A 2009 nuclear missile test in North Korea. The US said: 'Today's
 announcement reflects important, if limited, progress.' Photograph:
Kcna/AFP/Getty Images

The US said on Wednesday North Korea has agreed to suspend nuclear activities and a moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests in a breakthrough in negotiations with the secretive communist nation.

The announcement comes little more than two months after the death of Kim Jong-il, and suggests North Korea has met the key US preconditions for restarting multi-nation disarmament-for-aid talks that North Korea withdrew from in 2009.

State department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said North Korea has agreed to allow International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to verify and monitor the moratorium on uranium enrichment and confirm disablement of its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.

Her statement says the US will finalise details with North Korea for a proposed package of 240,000 metric tonnes of food aid.

North Korea issued a similar, although differently worded, statement simultaneously in Pyongyang.

An unidentified spokesman from North Korea's foreign ministry said in the statement – which was carried by the state-run news agency – that North Korea agreed to the nuclear moratoriums and the allowance of UN inspectors "with a view to maintaining positive atmosphere" for US-North Korea talks.

The announcement follows talks in Beijing last week between US and North Korean negotiators, the first since negotiations were suspended after Kim's death in December from a heart attack.

Before his death, the US and North Korea were close to such an agreement, which appears to meets US preconditions for restarting the six-nation talks suspended three years ago.

"The United States still has profound concerns regarding North Korean behavior across a wide range of areas, but today's announcement reflects important, if limited, progress in addressing some of these," Nuland said.

She said the United States reaffirms that it does not have hostile intent toward North Korea and "is prepared to take steps to improve our bilateral relationship in the spirit of mutual respect for sovereignty and equality."

"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Caroll) (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. ….”

Australian Senate calls for apology on forced adoptions

BBC News, 29 February 2012 

A senate committee heard from hundreds
of women in the course of its inquiry
A Senate committee in Australia has called for a national apology to thousands of women who were forced to give up their children for adoption from the 1950s to 1970s.

The Community Affairs References Committee released its report on forced adoption practices based on submissions from hundreds of women

Many women said they were coerced into signing away their children.

Many did so because of stigma attached to unmarried motherhood at the time.

The committee urged the government to issue a formal statement of apology that "acknowledges, on behalf of the nation, the harm suffered by many parents whose children were forcibly removed and by the children who were separated from their parents".

Over one and a half years, the Senate committee heard stories from women affected by the practise - most of whom had been in their teens and unmarried when they had their babies.

Many said they signed consent forms allowing adoption only after being coerced. Some said they were drugged, while others said their signatures were forged.

"In many cases, the parents were threatened with the law of the day," said Senator Claire Moore. "To the people caught up in the horror of this history, we can now call it a horror and not pretend it didn't happen."

Some of the organisations involved in the forced adoptions were heavily criticised in the committee's report. The head of the Senate inquiry also said that actions of hospitals may have been illegal.

Some of the organisations have apologised - but many of the women say they also want the government to apologise, just as it did in 2008 to indigenous people who had also undergone systematic suffering.

Related Articles:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

880,000 Pensions Hit by Japan Investment Scandal

Jakarta Globe, February 28, 2012

According to media reports, Japan’s Financial Services Agency has
 ordered AIJ Investment Advisors Co., which manages corporate pension
 funds, to halt operations after investigators found the company lost about
 $2.3 billion. Authorities have to track down the money lost by AIJ as the
 total amount seems to reach new heights to become a major case in
Japan. (EPA Photo)
Related articles

Tokyo. A growing scandal around an investment company that has lost $2.3 billion has affected pensions for up to 880,000 people, Japan’s government said Tuesday.

AIJ Investment Advisors has reportedly been lying to clients for years, boasting of annual returns of up to 240 percent while in fact 185 billion yen in pension investments has melted away.

The company’s operations were suspended last week and the government ordered a probe of 260 asset management firms nationwide after allegations that most of the money in its care had disappeared.

The scandal has shocked Japan, where a rapidly ageing middle class population is increasingly looking to private pension funds, while the state retirement pot also struggles due to gross mismanagement of its own.

The government said Tuesday that the 185 billion yen was from 84 separate pension funds, and affected 540,000 employees who were saving for retirement, as well as more than 340,000 people already drawing their pensions.

Most of the 84 funds entrusted fractions of their savings to AIJ, but 13 funds had a quarter of their investments exposed to AIJ, the health ministry said.

The company, which was set up in 1989, has consistently reported healthy returns on investments since the start of the last decade, but financial regulators now say the bulk of the money it looked after is gone.

It was not known whether the money was lost due to market turbulence or because the firm diverted it for other purposes.

The head of the Financial Services Agency (FSA), Shozaburo Jimi, said he had ordered investigations into the assets of 260 investment management firms.

“We will put all of our efforts in to clarify the facts of the AIJ case. We will get to the truth and draft ways to prevent similar incidents in the future,” he told a press conference.

Exact details of how much has been lost were not available as the FSA said it was unable to comment on an ongoing investigation.

The case, however, has further highlighted the gap between what the greying nation needs and its creaking public pension system, run by a government already saddled with debt worth double the nation’s GDP.

The state borrows money to finance roughly a half of its annual budget, amid dwindling tax income due to two decades of economic stagnation and a shrinking workforce caused by population decline.

Agence France-Presse

Related Articles:

Indian Government Clarifies Views on Gay Sex

Jakarta Globe, February 28, 2012

Related articles

New Delhi. The Indian government sought to clarify its views on homosexuality on Tuesday, saying it “fully” backed a 2009 court order decriminalizing gay sex despite the objections of a top state lawyer last week.

During a hearing in the Supreme Court last Thursday, additional solicitor general P.P. Malhotra had called gay sex “against nature” in a submission that caused outrage among gay rights activists.

The home ministry later sought to disown the comments, causing confusion about the government’s stance on the highly sensitive social issue.

On Tuesday, another additional solicitor general, Mohan Jain, stressed that his views were those of the government, which he said fully supported a Delhi High Court decision in 2009 to decriminalize gay sex.

“It’s a government of India decision that there is no legal error in the judgment of the Delhi High Court,” Mohan told the Supreme Court, which is hearing several appeals seeking to overturn the decriminalization decision.

The 2009 judgment to overturn the colonial-era ban on gay sex was hailed by gay activists at the time as a major victory in their fight for equal rights and opportunities in the world’s biggest democracy.

A conviction for gay sex carried a fine and maximum 10-year jail sentence. Prosecutions were rare, but activists said police used the law to harass and intimidate homosexuals.

Agence France-Presse

Related Article:

Indian Ministry Denies Calling for Ban on Gay Sex

The 148-year-old colonial law was
overturned in 2009

Monday, February 27, 2012

Brazil wants more IMF power for extra eurozone funds

BBC News, 26 February 2012

Global Economy 

Guido Mantega wants eurozone nations
to put forward more of their own funds
Brazil has said that developing nations would be happy to provide more money to ease the eurozone's debt crisis, in return for more power within the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The comments were made by Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega as he met with his opposite numbers at a G20 meeting in Mexico.

He also called on eurozone countries to contribute more of their own funds.

This position was echoed by UK Chancellor George Osborne.

Mr Mantega said: "Emerging countries will only help under two conditions; first that they strengthen their firewall and second for the IMF [voting rights] reform be implemented.

"I see most countries sharing a similar opinion that the Europeans have to strengthen their firewall."

Mr Mantega, and other G20 finance ministers, want eurozone nations to put more funds into the European Stability Mechanism, the fund set up to bail out nations struggling with their sovereign debt.

'Colour of money'

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said eurozone nations would look next month at increasing the size of the ESM.

Mr Osborne, speaking to Sky News, said the UK was waiting for this to happen.

"We are prepared to consider [increasing] IMF resources but only once we see colour of eurozone money and we have not seen this," he said.

"While at this G20 conference there are a lot of things to discuss, I don't think you're going to see any extra resources committed here because eurozone countries have not committed additional resources themselves, and I think that quid pro quo will be clearly established here in Mexico City."

Related Article:

Koran burnings put the heat on ISAF

Deutsche Welle, 26 February 2012

While the burning of the Koran set off the protests raging in Afghanistan that have claimed over 30 lives, destroying the holy book is no longer the main reason tensions are running high, one expert says.

One protester was killed on Sunday and seven US soldiers were wounded during a grenade attack in the sixth day of protests since some Korans were burnt outside as US airbase in Afghanistan. US President Barack Obama and other leading US diplomats and military officials have apologized for the burnings, which they said were accidental, but it has done little to suppress Afghans' anger.

However, Thomas Ruttig of the Afghanistan Analysts Network said the protests being witnessed Sunday were no longer directly connected to the Koran burnings but an expression of Afghans' anger at the way they are treated by the international community.

The burnt Qurans are not longer
driving protests, one expert said.
"What angers Afghans much more is that Special Forces kill people in their night raids who are rebels," he said. "That's been happening more and more lately."

Wide-ranging rethink needed

The West's strategy in Afghanistan needs a wide-ranging rethink, Ruttig said.

"Over the short term all we can hope for is that the Afghan officials can have a calming effect," he said adding that Afghan President Hamid Karzai as well as some mullahs have called for peace.

Karzai's concern about the on-going protests is evident in the many written statements his office has issued on the topic as well as his appearance Sunday in a radio interview in which he said now was "the time to return to calm." Though his comments did not seem to influence protesters, Karzai also said the US troops responsible for the burning the Muslim holy book should be held accountable for their acts. 

Karzai appealed to Afghans for calm
NATO, Britain, Germany and France recalled their advisers from Afghan ministries in Kabul after two US officers were found dead in their office. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the act, saying it was revenge for the burnings. Not being directly involved in the burnings is unlikely to protect other foreign troops, Ruttig said.

"There is no longer much willingness on the part of the Afghan population to differentiate," he said.

An unpredictable situation

In northern Afghanistan, where the German Bundeswehr is stationed, General Erich Pfeffer said the situation was "not predictable" Germany has withdrawn troops from one of its bases, Camp Talokan, ahead of schedule. At least three protesters died on Saturday outside a German camp near Kunduz. 

The Bundeswehr pulled out of one
base early after protests
Ruttig warned against pulling troops out of the country.

"You cannot run away," he said. "Especially not when the international community has made so many promises to help restore stability and committed so many soldiers."

Instead, he recommended additional training for troops and civilians sent to Afghanistan, "We have to develop a much better sensitivity for the country."

Author: Andreas Noll / sms
Editor: Chuck Penfold

"Healing the Military Energies in our family Tree" – Jun 13, 2011 (Kryon channelled by David Brown)

“ … There’s much violence and anger throughout the world; when we look at the Middle East, we can see that changes are coming there. The West has a lot of power over the Middle East, but that power will begin to dissolve. The Muslim people of this world will begin to have their own power, and their own prosperity, and they will begin to disconnect from the Western World. This disconnection doesn’t have to be violent as violence only happens when somebody hangs onto what doesn’t belong to them....

... What Military Energy means if we use an analogy: it would be like putting grinding paste into the oil of your motor car. Once you release these energies you will begin to feel lighter as you disconnect from this reality, and, you will find it easier and easier to release any other negative emotions. Military Energies are the core of all your problems...."

Iraqis condemn U.S. Haditha sentence as insult

Iraq detains US contractors

US private security contractors securing the site where a
roadside bomb  exploded near the Iranian embassy in central
Baghdad (AFP Photo / Ahmad Al-Rubaye)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

China Brings Supermarket Concept to North Korea

Jakarta Globe, February 26, 2012

In this Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012 photo, shoppers pay for their groceries at
the Kwangbok Area shopping center in Pyongyang, North Korea.
(AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)
Related articles

Pyongyang. In his last public appearance, late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il went shopping.

He peered at the prices affixed to shelves packed with everything from Pantene shampoo to Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. And he nodded his approval of Pyongyang’s version of Walmart, which was soon to open courtesy of China.

The visit played up a decidedly un-communist development in North Korea: A new culture of commerce is springing up, with China as its inspiration and source. The market-savvy Chinese are introducing the pleasures of the megamart to a small niche of North Koreans, and flooding the country’s border regions with cheap goods.

And they are doing it with the full approval of North Korea’s leadership. The new consumerism is part of a campaign launched three years ago to build up the economy, and so the image of new leader Kim Jong Un.

At the Kwangbok area supermarket in downtown Pyongyang, that translates into lime green frying pans, pink Minnie Mouse pajamas, popcorn and a line of silvery high heels sparkling in the sunlight.

“It is very good to come to this shop and buy goods which I like by feeling them and looking over them myself,” said shopper Pak So Jong, bundled up in a winter jacket with a furry collar, as she examined bags of locally made sweets and biscuits a few days after the store’s opening.

In many ways, North Korea can seem like the land time forgot. Dignitaries are ferried around in ancient but immaculate Mercedes Benzes, and the boxy, beige telephones at the five-star Koryo Hotel look like something out of “Austin Powers.”

Billboards in the capital, Pyongyang, are likely to feature the latest Workers’ Party slogans, not advertisements, and there are no shopping malls, McDonald’s golden arches or Starbucks coffee shops.

At least, not yet.

Outside Pyongyang, much of the country remains impoverished. Millions rely on state-provided food, but poor agricultural yields mean they’ll get only a fraction of what they need to survive, according to the World Food Program.

Still, there are signs that a newfound consumer culture is taking hold both in Pyongyang and in the border towns where Chinese-made goods are bought and sold every day.

Pyongyang Department Store No. 1 regularly stages exhibitions of goods to show off what deputy manager Kim Ja Son calls “socialist commerce,” borrowing a phrase attributed by state media to Kim Jong Il.

The displays boast what North Korea’s newly modernized factories are producing, including perfume, rubber boots, silk blankets and hand towels printed with the words “peace” and “friendship.” What the North Koreans aren’t making themselves is coming in from China: cellphones, laptop computers, cars, Spalding basketballs, bicycles, pressure cookers, karaoke machines, ping pong sets, even Gucci knockoffs.

Business with China, North Korea’s largest trading partner, has boomed in the last two years. In 2010, North Korea did $3.5 billion in trade with China, a 30 percent increase from the previous year. And for the first 11 months of 2011, that figure was up to $5.1 billion, a jump of nearly 70 percent from 2010, according to China’s Commerce Ministry.

And it’s not just Chinese-made goods on North Korean shelves. The Kwangbok shopping center is also introducing North Korean shoppers to popular American, European and Japanese items they’ve never seen before: Skippy peanut butter, Spanish olive oil and Snoopy, all shipped in from China.

The Kwangbok center was born when North Korea recruited China’s Feihaimengxin International Trade Co. to partner with its Korea Taesong Trading Corp. to transform the old shop in the Kwangbok district of western Pyongyang into a gleaming supermarket. Feihaimengxin has a 65 percent stake in the supermarket, according to the Beijing-registered private company — an unusual arrangement for North Korea, where most enterprises are state-owned and the ruling philosophy is “juche,” or self-reliance.

But as the new consumerism is reshaping the face of the capital, it is also stretching an already huge gap between elites in Pyongyang, who have access to valuable foreign currency, and working-class people elsewhere, who have few ways to add to their low salaries.

At Kwangbok, a bottle of Great Wall red wine from China costs 81,000 North Korean won — about 300 times the cost of a typical Korean meal. A jar of honey goes for 36,100 won, or about a third of the average monthly salary in 2010 of 103,000 won, according to estimates provided by the Bank of Korea in Seoul.

North Korea has not published economic figures for decades. The US State Department puts North Korea’s annual gross domestic product at $1,800 per person, with 20 percent of the nation’s income coming from agriculture and 48 percent from industry in 2010.

Even the way the relatively rich and the poor shop is different.

Most North Koreans rely on limited rations from government-subsidized stores in every neighborhood. They supplement their rations with goods from local markets, called “jangmadang,” where they can bargain over prices.

In Pyongyang, middle-class shoppers buy items the old-fashioned Soviet way in dim, narrow shops: Customers line up to make their requests to a saleswoman behind a long counter, who then retrieves the items from a small selection on shelves behind her. No browsing, and not much choice even if you could.

Only the rich can afford to shop at the newfangled supermarkets, where customers choose from an array of goods and then take them to a cashier. At the Pothongmun Street meat and fish shop in central Pyongyang, the city’s premier butcher and fishmonger, trained cashiers scan and tally up the items. Some even accept the two debit cards available in North Korea to foreigners and locals flush with euros, US dollars or Chinese renminbi.

This Western style of shopping is still novel in North Korea, and two would-be shoppers looked perplexed by refrigerated display cases piled high with pyramids of canned whale meat and chubby rolls of kielbasa, and freezers on the floor stocked with quail meat, goose, chicken and even vacuum-packed pig snouts.

“Pick the items yourself and put them in the basket,” a saleswoman in red gently advised them.

The consumer drive mirrors one 50 years ago, when Kim Il Sung was rebuilding North Korea from the ruins of the Korean War. The communist bloc was still intact, and the people were focused on building their fledgling nation. By the 1970s, North Korea had the stronger economy of the two Koreas, before the famine and tension of the 1990s.

North Korea’s new economic campaign seeks to draw on the people’s memories of that time and their reverence for Kim Il Sung, as well as to create a foundation for the leadership of Kim Jong Un.

For three years, Kim Jong Il laid the groundwork for his son’s ascension by ushering in a new, two-pronged focus on the economy along with defense, and made it clear that there was nothing wrong with reaching out to old allies like China. Kim made four extensive trips to China in the last two years of his life, and shopping was high on his sightseeing list.

In May 2010, he visited a supermarket in the Chinese city of Yangzhou run by Suguo Supermarket Co. “Well done!” store officials quoted him as saying in comments posted to the Web site of China Resource Vanguard Co., the Hong Kong-based company that owns the supermarket chain.

North Korea’s welcome to Chinese commerce is felt not just in Pyongyang but also in the border towns. In Rason, in the far northeastern corner where North Korea, China and Russia meet, trucks haul in goods from China, thanks to a road paved with help from the Chinese. At an indoor market visited by The Associated Press last August, women stood behind tables piled high with shampoo, binoculars and high heels. One woman was selling rabbit meat, another live chickens.

Some analysts see the boom in Chinese trade as a political move motivated by Beijing’s desire to ensure stability in neighboring North Korea and to buy clout in Pyongyang. However, others say it’s pure economic strategy by Chinese companies expanding their reach across Asia.

For the North Koreans, the Chinese model offers a safe and sanctioned way to explore commerce within the confines of socialism.

“China is the conduit through which the North Korean economy is becoming more internationalized,” said Andray Abrahamian, executive director of the Choson Exchange, a Singapore-based nonprofit group that since 2009 has conducted workshops on business and economic policy for North Koreans.

There’s a newfound thirst among North Koreans to learn about business management and financial policy, and a noticeable openness to all things foreign, said Abrahamian, who has traveled to North Korea several times over the past two years. He said younger North Koreans see business as a way to get ahead — a distinct change from a few years ago, and not just in Pyongyang.

“People in Rason say the attitude in that region toward foreigners has improved remarkably in the last few years as people get comfortable with the idea of trading with foreigners,” he said.

Still, the traditional wariness kicks in. During his visit to a market in Rason, officials warned him not to take photos.

Back in Pyongyang, the Kwangbok supermarket is bustling. Shoppers navigate carts up and down aisles packed with 20 types of toothbrushes, a dozen varieties of beers, red carry-on suitcases and rows of black bicycles. In the produce aisle, most of the fruit and vegetables are already sold out.

Salesgirls in fire-engine red jackets deftly ring up shoppers’ items and count out their change. One lane is reserved for foreigners, who are allowed to change their money into North Korean won to pay for their goods.

Kim Myong Sim, 32, said she couldn’t help but think of late leader Kim Jong Il while shopping at Kwangbok, the place where he last appeared in public. Like most North Koreans, she weaves an obligatory comment about the leader into what she says, even as she chastises her nephew squirming next to the cart.

“You’re getting a lot of love and buying a lot of tasty goodies, Yong Gu,’” she admonished, trying to wrest a cellphone from his mittened hands. “You’ve got to say ‘thank you’ to your aunt before you run off. You’ve got to give thanks to the fatherly general (Kim Jong Il) as well.”

Outside the store, ornate red and gold plaques commemorate the Dec. 15 visit of Kim Jong Il and his son Kim Jong Un. High above the plaques, the Korean name of the store is written in red.

Beneath it, the Chinese name is written in green.

Associated Press

Malaysian protest over rare earths refinery plan

BBC News, 26 February 2012

Related Stories 

Many of the protesters in Kuantan
were dressed in green
People living near a planned refinery for rare earth elements in Malaysia have held a demonstration to try to halt its construction.

The protesters in the eastern city of Kuantan say there is a risk of dangerous radiation from the plant.

The refinery will process precious metals used in the production of mobile phones and flat-screen TVs.

Regulators insist that the plant will pose no health risk to people living in the area, in Pahang state.

However the BBC's Jennifer Pak in Pahang says few people believe the Malaysian government could handle a radioactive disaster.

The protest - dubbed Green Gathering 2.0 - began in a carnival atmosphere with people dressed in green and beating drums. More than 2,000 people took part.

Last month shares in Lynas surged after Malaysian authorities granted it a licence to operate the refinery.

Once it is completed, the plant is expected to be one of the biggest sources of rare earth elements outside China.

China is currently the biggest producer, with more than 95% share of the global market.

Global demand for rare earth metals has tripled over the past decade.

However, China has imposed a production cap and said it will cut exports of the materials, prompting accusations that it is trying to manipulate prices.

Indonesia refuses US ban

Bigpond, Saturday, February 25, 2012

Indonesian police say they will not ban an Islamist group branded a terrorist organisation by Washington, while a member of the group said US sanctions against him are 'a joke.'

Indonesian police say they will not
 ban an Islamist group branded a
 terrorist organisation by Washington.
The United States on Thursday officially labelled Islamist firebrand Abu Bakar Bashir's Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT) group a foreign terrorist organisation, linking it to several attacks in Indonesia.

The State Department accuses the group of being behind a church bombing in Java last September, deadly attacks on Indonesian policemen and bank robberies aimed at raising money for weapons and bomb materials.

'It is the right of the United States to make such a statement, but the group is allowed to carry on in Indonesia as long as it is not breaking the law,' National Police spokesman Saud Usman Nasution told AFP on Friday.

'We will keep monitoring their activities,' Nasution said, adding that Indonesian police had still not finished investigations into the church bombing.

The US Treasury also announced that it was placing sanctions on three leading members of the group, banning US citizens and businesses from any transactions with them.

The trio are JAT acting emir Mochammad Achwan, spokesman Son Hadi bin Muhadjir, and recruiter and fundraiser Abdul Rosyid Ridho Ba'asyir.

Muhadjir told AFP the US sanctions were 'a joke that does not deserve a reply.'

'This shows America's foolishness, since there was no evidence in court that proved we are guilty (of terrorism)', he said.

'The United States is looking for a new target for its fight against terrorism and it wants to enlarge its hegemony in Indonesia,' he said, adding he would 'never do business' with the US irrespective of the sanctions.

JAT was founded in 2008 by 73-year-old Bashir, who was sentenced to prison last year on charges of funding terrorist activities. It says it is a legitimate group to help Muslims and promote Islamic law in Indonesia.

Upon appeal last October the Jakarta High Court slashed Bashir's 15-year jail sentence to nine, citing lack of evidence and old age.

Bashir was the alleged founder and chief ideologue of the better-known violent group Jemaah Islamiya, responsible for a string of attacks, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists.

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hamas ditches Assad, backs Syrian revolt

Reuters, by Omar Fahmy and Nidal al-Mughrabi, CAIRO/GAZA, Fri Feb 24, 2012

Feb 24 (Reuters) - Leaders of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas turned publicly against their long-time ally President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on Friday, endorsing the revolt aimed at overthrowing his dynastic rule.

The policy shift deprives Assad of one of his few remaining Sunni Muslim supporters in the Arab world and deepens his international isolation. It was announced in Hamas speeches at Friday prayers in Cairo and a rally in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas went public after nearly a year of equivocating as Assad's army, largely led by fellow members of the president's Alawite sect, has crushed mainly Sunni protesters and rebels.

In a Middle East split along sectarian lines between Shi'ite and Sunni Islam, the public abandonment of Assad casts immediate questions over Hamas's future ties with its principal backer Iran, which has stuck by its ally Assad, as well as with Iran's fellow Shi'ite allies in Lebanon's Hezbollah movement.

"I salute all the nations of the Arab Spring and I salute the heroic people of Syria who are striving for freedom, democracy and reform," Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, visiting Egypt from the Gaza Strip, told thousands of Friday worshippers at Cairo's al-Azhar mosque.

"We are marching towards Syria, with millions of martyrs," chanted worshippers at al-Azhar, home to one of the Sunni world's highest seats of learning. "No Hezbollah and no Iran.

"The Syrian revolution is an Arab revolution."

Contemporary political rivalries have exacerbated tensions that date back centuries between Sunnis - the vast majority of Arabs - and Shi'ites, who form substantial Arab populations, notably in Lebanon and Iraq, and who dominate in non-Arab Iran.

Hamas and Hezbollah, confronting Israel on its southwestern and northern borders, have long had a strategic alliance against the Jewish state, despite opposing positions on the sectarian divide. Both have fought wars with Israel in the past six years.

But as the Sunni-Shi'ite split in the Middle East deepens, Hamas appears to have cast its lot with the powerful, Egypt-based Sunni Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose star has been in the ascendant since the Arab Spring revolts last year.


"This is considered a big step in the direction of cutting ties with Syria," said Hany al-Masri, a Palestinian political commentator. Damascus might now opt to formally expel Hamas's exile headquarters from Syria, he told Reuters.

Banned by deposed Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood has moved to the centre of public life. It is the ideological parent of Hamas, which was founded 25 years ago among the Palestinians, the majority of whom are Sunni Muslims.

Shi'ite Hezbollah still supports the Assad family, from the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, which has maintained authoritarian rule over Syria's Sunni majority for four decades but now may have its back to the wall.

Hamas, however, has been deeply embarrassed among Palestinians by its association with Assad, as the death toll in his crackdown on opponents has risen into the thousands.

In Gaza, senior Hamas member Salah al-Bardaweel addressed thousands of supporters at a rally in Khan Younis refugee camp, sending "a message to the peoples who have not been liberated yet, those free peoples who are still bleeding every day."

"The hearts of the Palestinian people bleed with every drop of bloodshed in Syria," Bardaweel said. "No political considerations will make us turn a blind eye to what is happening on the soil of Syria."


The divorce between Hamas and Damascus had been coming for months. The Palestinian group had angered Assad last year when it refused a request to hold public rallies in Palestinian refugee camps in Syria in support of his government.

Hamas's exile political leader Khaled Meshaal and his associates quietly quit their headquarters in Damascus and have stayed away from Syria for months now, although Hamas tried to deny their absence had anything to do with the revolt.

Haniyeh visited Iran earlier this month on a mission to shore up ties with the power that has provided Hamas with money and weapons to fight Israel. It is not clear what the outcome of his visit has been, though the tone of the latest Hamas comments is hardly compatible with continued warm relations with Tehran.

Rallies in favor of Syria's Sunni majority have been rare in the coastal enclave but on Friday it seemed the Islamist rulers of the territory had decided to break the silence.

"Nations do not get defeated. They do not retreat and they do not get broken. We are on your side and on the side of all free peoples," said Bardaweel.

"God is Greatest," the crowd chanted. "Victory to the people of Syria."

Hamas-Hezbollah relations have been good in the past. But Hamas did not attack Israel when it was fighting Hezbollah in 2006 and Hezbollah did not join in when Israel mounted a major offensive against Hamas in Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009.

Anything that divides Hamas and Hezbollah is likely to be welcomed by Israel, which has been watching warily recent moves by Hamas to reconcile differences with its Palestinian rivals in Fatah, the movement of President Mahmoud Abbas.

There was no immediate Israeli comment on Friday's speeches.

(Additional reporting by Tom Perry in Cairo; Writing by Douglas Hamilton; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)

Burning buildings in Baba Amr, Homs, an area heavily
shelled by the Syrian regime. Photograph: Local 
Co-ordination Committees/EPA

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