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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Friday, July 29, 2016

Indonesia executes foreign convicts despite protests

Yahoo – AFP, Muhammad Azka, July 28, 2016

Indonesian men light candles during an anti-execution rally in front of the
presidential palace in Jakarta on July 28, 2016 (AFP Photo/Bay Ismoyo)

Cilacap (Indonesia) (AFP) - Indonesia Friday executed four drug convicts, three of them foreigners, by firing squad, an official said, drawing swift condemnation as Jakarta pushes on with its tough campaign of capital punishment.

Ten others expected to have faced the firing squad, including nationals from Pakistan, India and Zimbabwe as well as Indonesians, were not put to death but officials said they would be executed at a later stage.

Authorities did not give a reason for the reprieve, but the prison island where they were expected to be executed in outdoor clearings was hit by a major storm as the other sentences were carried out.

The executions, which saw an Indonesian and three Nigerians face the firing squad, were the first in the country since April last year when authorities put to death eight drug convicts, including two Australians.

President Joko Widodo has defended dramatically ramping up the use of capital punishment, saying that Indonesia is fighting a war on drugs and traffickers must be heavily punished.

Noor Rachmad, deputy attorney general for general crimes, said the latest executions were "done not in order to take lives but to stop evil intentions, and the evil act of drug trafficking".

He added that "the rest (of the executions) will be carried out in stages", saying that the timings had not yet been decided.

Amnesty International condemned the executions, with the group's Rafendi Djamin labelling them "a deplorable act".

"Any executions that are still to take place must be halted immediately. The injustice already done cannot be reversed, but there is still hope that it won't be compounded," he said.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the European Union had also voiced opposition to the plan in recent days.

Friday's executions, which happened at 12:45 am (1745 GMT Thursday), came after a day of frenetic activity, with distraught relatives travelling to Nusakambangan island to say farewells to their loved ones and ambulances carrying coffins over to the heavily guarded penal colony.

Relatives carry photographs of Pakistani national Zulfiqar Ali, who was 
sentenced to death in 2005 for heroin possession in Indonesia, during a 
protest in Lahore on July 28, 2016 (AFP Photo/Arif Ali)

Execution drive

The executed Indonesian was named as Freddy Budiman, while the three Nigerians were: Seck Osmane, Humphrey Jefferson Ejike Eleweke and Michael Titus Igweh.

Eleweke's lawyer, Afif Abdul Qoyim, told AFP the execution should not have gone ahead as his client this week filed a legal appeal.

"When this process in not respected, that means that this is no longer a country that upholds the law, nor human rights," he said.

Two people whose cases had raised high-profile international concern among rights groups were not executed.

The first was Pakistani Zulfiqar Ali, whom rights groups say was beaten into confessing to the crime of heroin possession, leading to his 2005 death sentence.

Syed Zahid Raza, the deputy Pakistani ambassador in Indonesia, hailed his reprieve as a victory and said it was due to diplomatic efforts in Jakarta and Islamabad.

The other was Indonesian woman Merri Utami, who was caught with heroin in her bag as she came through Jakarta airport and claims she was duped into becoming a drug mule.

At Cilacap, the city closest to Nusakambangan, family members were initially shocked to learn on Thursday morning their relatives would be executed in a matter of hours, having initially thought it would take place a day later.

Some distressed relatives protested their loved ones' innocence, while 10 women's rights activists rallying in support of Utami were detained.

It was the third batch of executions under Widodo, and means 18 drug convicts -- mostly foreigners -- have been put to death since he became leader in 2014.

His execution drive has shocked the international community and disappointed activists, particularly as hopes were high that Widodo, seen as a fresh face in a political world dominated by figures from Indonesia's authoritarian past, would improve the country's rights record.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Asean Ministers Issue Joint Communiqué on South China Sea Dispute

Jakarta Globe, Eko Prasetyo, July 26, 2016

A Chinese Coast Guard vessel passes near a Chinese oil rig in the South
China Sea. (Reuters Photo/Nguyen Minh)

Jakarta. The 49th Asean Ministerial Meeting (AMM) in Vientiane, Laos, wrapped up on Tuesday (26/07) with the ministers issuing a Joint Communiqué on the territorial dispute in South China Sea.

“The agreement is evidence that Asean member countries are capable of uniting to protect their common interests,” Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi said in a statement.

The Asean member countries stated they will fully respect all legal and diplomatic steps as recommended by the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS) 1982 to resolve overlapping claims on land or sea territories within and beyond Asean.

“The Joint Communiqué shows that Asean is committed to maintain regional peace, security and stability by respecting international law,” Retno said.

Under Indonesia’s initiative, the meeting has also produced a joint statement by Asean foreign ministers on maintaining peace, security and stability in the region.

Asean member countries will support the UN Charter, ASEAN Charter and the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia in maintaining bilateral relationships.

“The foreign ministers' statement shows that we are united in safeguarding our house from global geopolitical pressure,” Retno said.

In the context of Asean-China relations, Retno said that foreign ministers from Asean member countries and China have also released a joint statement agreeing on the implementation of the Declaration of Conduct in solving the South China Sea dispute.

According to Retno, she was involved in a three-day marathon lobbying to arrive at the agreement.

The Joint Communiqué also dealt with other important issues affecting Asean countries, including the prevention of illegal fishing; migrant workers' protection; human trafficking prevention and counterterrorism.

Other, more global issues were also dealt with in the communiqué, including a commitment to refrain from using nuclear weapons, supporting Palestinian independence, increasing Asean connectivity and improving partnerships to achieve the 2025 Asean Community’s goals and the 2030 UN Agenda for sustainable developments.

Related Articles:

Matthew Ward - July 29, 2016

Matthew Ward
With loving greetings from all souls at this station, this is Matthew. Your concerns about a number of issues are shared by many around the world, particularly the frequency of terrorist acts and mass shootings. As sad as it is to see our Earth brothers and sisters killing one another, we anticipated the increase in those kinds of incidents. They are the natural result of your linear time crunching up and energy levels that have intensified all personal characteristics, including mental instability, and corresponding behavior—those two powerful forces working in tandem is accelerating the activity of energy streamers with violent attachments.

We hasten to add that those forces are affecting everything on the planet, and situations propelled by beneficial attachments are steaming toward soundly-reasoned resolutions. An example is The Hague’s ruling pertaining to the South China Sea. China’s grumbling is not unexpected, but nothing in the energy field of potential indicates a strenuous objection that could lead to open conflict.

Of special interest in the United States and, because of its international influence, in other countries as well, is that nation’s two major political parties’ presidential nominees. We stated in previous messages that prevailing vibrations were not supporting candidates who lack moral and spiritual integrity, but the voters will decide who wins. Each party’s nominee has staunch supporters; however, the energy momentum of the electorate’s widespread dissatisfaction with both has become too strong for either to be elected.

Earth’s monitors in Nirvana tell us that the energy awhirl could manifest any of various possibilities that will put Senator Bernie Sanders in the White House. Souls at this station are apolitical, so it is not on a partisan basis that we will welcome his presidency, but rather that his wisdom, personal qualities and leadership will enable his country and your world to continue progressing toward Gaia’s vision for all life on her planetary body.

“So UK leaves EU. Now what?” The Illuminati’s dominoes will keep falling. It is not that countries cooperating to offer their citizens enhanced trade, employment and educational opportunities is not a grand idea— indeed, it is! But never was the purpose of the European Union to benefit the people, it was to put them squarely under the thumb of the Illuminati. When vibrations reached a rate wherein an organization built on a foundation of dark intent could not much longer stand, it became a matter of when the first domino in the EU would fall.

Let us put this into its larger context. The Illuminati—also now known as the cabal, global elite, shadow government, One World Order, One World Government—began as a group of individuals who felt that they were the most intelligent and learned people in the world, thus they were entitled to rule everyone else. Over time, others with the same superior attitude were drawn into the fold of this secret society, egos grew, tempers flared, and two competing factions emerged with the same goal, world domination.

Now we fast forward to sixty-some years ago, when the Rockefeller faction that operates out of New York and Washington, DC, was expanding its tentacles far westward and into Latin America. The Rothschild faction, headquartered in London and the Vatican, saw their territorial influence meager in comparison, so they buffed up their Council of Europe by establishing the European Union, European Central Bank and euro currency. The Union was put under the Council’s flag and shares its anthem—such a duplicitous choice, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.” With the first few countries buckled in by their EU belt, so to say, the Rothschilds and their minions set off on their expansion course; they moved into the new state of Israel, then throughout the Mideast, and more recently, northern Africa and some countries formerly within the Soviet Union.

All along both factions have used strategies in the original plan to reach their goal. They infiltrated governments, military forces, intelligence agencies, multinational corporations, law enforcement and justice systems, religious hierarchies, entertainment industry, medical and educational fields. They garnered fortunes by manipulating the global economy through stock markets, banking and lending institutions, usurious interest rates and unfair taxation. They initiated civil wars, wars between adjoining countries, and World Wars I and II; assassinated or imprisoned opposition; formed terrorist groups; suppressed and misused technologies; controlled mainstream media and the illegal drug trade; and took over natural resources wherever they went.

The original plan also included what they have failed to do—reduce the population by several billions via nuclear weaponry, toxic pollution, and pandemics caused by laboratory-designed viruses. All attempts toward that diabolical end have been thwarted by members of your universal family in your skies or living among you. Still, the two factions kept adding to their respective lines of dominoes and each felt that the world was coming within its grasp.

What they hadn’t taken into account is the light. After millennia of being held captive by the darkness that enshrouded the planet, the peoples started responding to the light beamed to Earth by spiritually evolved civilizations. The more enlightened they became, the more determined they were to throw off the yoke of oppression and persecution, and voices for freedom grew in numbers and volume. All the while, the intensifying light also was exposing the Illuminati’s global network of corruption and ruthlessness, and their dominoes started falling.

BREXIT is the most recent. Few individuals who voted to leave know of the Illuminati or the real purpose of the Union; what they knew is that benefits they had been led to believe they would derive had not materialized. Few who voted to remain know of the Illuminati or what the Union really was about, but they were faring well or were leery about what would happen if the United Kingdom set out on its own. Few know that the outcome of BREXIT was more than the vote count—it was influenced by vibrations that are undergirding activities leading toward a world of peace, honest governance, justness, and a fair share of Earth’s abundance for all peoples.

There will be some frayed nerves and bumpy patches as the EU unravels; more truths emerge; the economy fluctuates as the Illuminati—some at the peak of both factions have joined forces—futilely try to hold onto their ill-gotten wealth; and violence runs out its energetic course. Every happening in this moment and forthcoming is moving society closer to that aforementioned world. Beloved family, we know how eager you are for that to come about, and your steadfastness as lightworkers is helping to bring ever closer in linear time that which is fait accompli in the continuum.

“I am distressed about countries not wanting to accept immigrants from violence-torn areas and prejudice growing against them in countries that have taken them in. How can we ever live in harmony with prejudice increasing? First let us say that fear—a highly magnified energy form that is the major tool and fuel of dark minds and hearts—is the root of prejudice in all its pernicious forms and the source of all actions stemming from the illusion of separateness.

For the eons that Earth was stuck in deep third density, prejudice was the motivator of the violence and injustices that let countless souls complete their chosen karmic lessons. Now that the society is moving out of that density with its karmic merry-go-round, what is perceived as prejudice increasing actually is putting this basest aspect of humankind into the glare of a global spotlight so its destructive divisiveness can be clearly seen. As vibrations keep rising, healing, harmony and peace will come as love and mutual respect unify the peoples in the Oneness of All.

“Managing millions and millions of refugees seems an insurmountable problem. What will happen to all these desperate people?” The plight of the millions in hastily arranged camps will ease somewhat as aid organizations gain strength in numbers, and donations of monies, food, water, medical supplies and other essential equipment increase. The light radiated by the many aid-givers along with the light in worldwide compassion and the massive amount beamed to the planet is helping to sustain the refugees’ endurance and hopefulness.

As tyrannical regimes fall and warring ends, repatriation of people who fled those areas can begin. Financial and reconstruction assistance will be given in communities where this is practical; where villages and towns are too severely damaged to rebuild, the same assistance will be given to former residents so they can start anew in other locations. Immigrants in countries that gave them sanctuary will assimilate into those populations with benefits for all or choose to return to their native lands.

Please remember that the majority of refugees chose these life-changing circumstances to complete third density karma and evolve; also in keeping with contract choices, not all will survive their traumatic ordeal. People whose experiences are direr than chosen or who die prior to their contracts’ life span receive extraordinary opportunities for advancement in soul evolution, and advancement is the goal of every soul in every lifetime.

Some readers questioned whether loss of life and vast destruction due to wildfires, flooding and earthquakes creates negativity or is part of Earth’s cleansing process. It does both. While all of those events do create negativity, the cleansing effects for Earth are much greater—that is, negativity created by all other sources is released by natural disasters in far greater measure than the amount produced by those events.

“Do soul contracts of alternative healthcare practitioners and whistleblowers include being killed because of their efforts to do good?” Some contracts do. Practitioners who have been killed to prevent them from healing with natural therapies chose that fate to shed light on the collusion of the medical establishment with vaccine manufacturers and pharmaceutical and insurance companies; those whose services led to being professionally discredited and perhaps incarcerated or who fled to other countries agreed to those disruptions in their lives. It is the same with whistleblowers who have exposed many other situations that also adversely affect your lives. The numbers of individuals who experience or are threatened with one or another of the nefarious means whereby the Illuminati deal with anyone who jeopardizes their money-based interests have decreased as public awareness has increased.

Our explanation of why there will be no nuclear explosions in space prompted questions about the people who were damaged in such occurrences. First, this doesn’t apply to bodies, but to souls, and those that have been damaged were living as free spirits that didn’t embody, souls in civilizations so highly evolved that they have no density, or souls in astral travel. When a soul is shattered in a nuclear explosion, it doesn’t separate into whole personages, but rather into fragments that contain bits and pieces of memories of all lifetimes and whatever was remembered about the Beginnings in Creator. Traumatized by abrupt separation from the wholeness, most fragments drift throughout space, lost and confused, but some find their way into a body—this isn’t “possession,” it is an act of love on the part of the occupant soul.

Specially-trained teams search the heavens for the fragments, which emit vibrations on a unique bandwidth, and when one is found, it is transported to a healing facility where it is lovingly nurtured. When all fragments are located—in linear time this may take millennia—an intricate process is undertaken to restore the soul to its wholeness with every aspect of each lifetime in proper sequence. The diligent search and complex restoration show the infinite, eternal importance of each and every soul to Creator and, in this universe, to God.

“Can the soul be seen in a Kirlian photograph?” No. What is seen is the aura, light emanating from a body’s electromagnetic field that reflects the person’s spiritual status, emotional make-up, convictions and physical condition at the moment the photograph is taken.

Auras change in accordance with changes in the person. A healthy individual living in godly ways has a glowing aura that extends a fair way out from the body and may be multihued; the more spiritually evolved the individual, the brighter and broader the aura. If a person with those qualities becomes seriously ill or injured, the aura narrows and dims; its former status returns as healing occurs. A healthy individual whose mind is closed has a thin, dull aura; if that individual opens to spiritual and conscious enlightenment, the aura grows correspondingly wider and brighter. Someone whose greedy, angry, demanding or deceitful nature causes hardships for others outside their pre-birth agreement has a narrow murky border around the body; and a person who consistently ignores conscience and willfully causes suffering to others doesn’t have enough light for even an outline.

It is the collective auras of Earth’s humankind, animals and plant life that we see when we look at the planet in its entirety. Dear ones, if you could see what we do, you would be both joyous and awestricken by the panorama of love and enlightenment sparkling around the globe. Keep your light shining brilliantly!

All along your Earth journey you have been accompanied and supported by the unequaled power of love from light beings throughout this universe.


Suzanne Ward

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Kate Bush fans re-enact Wuthering Heights in Australia

Yahoo – AFP, July 16, 2016

Kate Bush fans gather to rehearse a dance before performing during a
celebration to mark 'The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever', in Melbourne, on
July 16, 2016 (AFP Photo/Paul Crock)

Melbourne (AFP) - Thousands of Kate Bush fans put on their best billowy red dresses and danced en masse in Melbourne Saturday to one of the singer's most iconic songs Wuthering Heights.

They donned matching red stockings and black wigs to mark The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever -- a re-enactment of the British star's classic 1978 debut music video in which she pirouettes and cartwheels in a misty field.

Bush's distinctive voice and performance-art–style videos gained a global cult following and in 2013 theatre group Shambush gathered nearly 300 Kate Bushes to recreate her iconic frolic in the English city of Brighton.

This inspired the Melbourne event, which has taken on a life of its own with similar dances also planned Saturday in 21 cities around the world, coordinator Douglas Leitch said, including Berlin, Oslo, Montreal, Tel Aviv, Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

"The whole idea really is just to get toregether and have fun and do our unique interpretation of the dance," the 44-year-old, who had an overwhelming response after advertising the day on Facebook, told AFP.

Kate Bush fans rehearse a dance before performing during a celebration to 
mark 'The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever', in Melbourne, on July 16, 2016
(AFP Photo/Paul Crock)

He said at least 800 dresses had been bought for the occasion, with dance classes booked out across Melbourne as people prepared. Organisers on Saturday estimated around 2,000 people, young and old, took part.

"It is such a unique song from a unique artist. It resonates with people and that's why it's lasted," added Leitch.

"I don't know if Kate knows it's happening, because she's a bit of a recluse, but I'm sure she might."

Related Article:

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Japan's Emperor Akihito 'planning to abdicate'

Yahoo – AFP, July 13, 2016

Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko have been on the Chrysanthemum
Throne for 27 years after coming to power in 1989 (AFP Photo/Toru Hanai)

Japan's ageing Emperor Akihito plans to step down in favour of his eldest son within a few years, Japanese media reported Wednesday, in what would be the first such royal abdication in two centuries.

The 82-year-old monarch has told those close to him that his role should be occupied by someone who can fulfil the emperor's duties as stipulated in the constitution, public broadcaster NHK reported, without citing a source for the information.

Under Japan's current Imperial Household Law, which governs the status of the emperor, there is no legal mechanism for abdication.

U.S. President Barack Obama is 
greeted by Emperor Akihito upon 
arriving at the Imperial Palace in 
Tokyo November 14, 2009. Reuters/
Jim Young/File photo
Any move to step down would therefore require a revision of that law.

Kyodo News agency carried a similar report, citing an unnamed government source.

No one was immediately available at the Imperial Household Agency, which manages Akihito's affairs, or the prime minister's office for comment.

Japan, which claims to have one of the world's oldest monarchies, has not seen an imperial abdication from the Chrysanthemum Throne in 200 years, NHK said.

Akihito's role is strictly limited to one of "symbol of the state" under a constitution imposed by the United States in the aftermath of World War II.

His father Hirohito, in whose name the military conquests of the 20th century were prosecuted, was treated as a living god in Japan until defeat in 1945.

'Feel my age'

The Japanese throne is held in deep respect by much of the public, despite being largely stripped of its mystique and quasi-divine status in the aftermath of the war.

The revered Akihito, who has suffered from numerous health issues including prostate cancer and heart surgery, publicly hinted late last year at his growing limitations in the performance of his ceremonial duties.

"I am beginning to feel my age, and there were times when I made some mistakes at events," he told reporters at an annual press conference just ahead of his birthday on December 23.

But Kyodo stressed, citing a government source, that there are no health issues that would cause him to have to step down immediately.

The news agency also said that Akihito expressed his wish to abdicate at least one year ago.

Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako make an appearance
 before Japanese athletes during a team-forming ceremony ahead of the Japanese
 team's departure to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, in Tokyo, Japan July 3, 
2016. Reuters/Issei Kato

Crown Prince Naruhito, the monarch's eldest son, and Empress Michiko, his wife, support the wish, NHK said.

In 2011, Prince Akishino, the emperor's second son, told a press conference that Japan should discuss setting a retirement age for emperors, just days after his father was discharged from hospital.

Though soft spoken, the constitutionally constrained Akihito has managed to push boundaries as both crown prince and emperor.

Empress Michiko was a commoner before entering the imperial family as his wife. The two met on a tennis court and their 1959 marriage was a national sensation.

Akihito has offered subtle hints as to his own views in the nearly three-decade reign.

In an encounter at a 2004 imperial garden party captured on camera he was seen telling a Tokyo municipal official who had pushed for the compulsory use in schools of the Japanese flag and national anthem -- an ode to the emperor -- that such a forced stance was undesirable.

And in 2001 at a press conference ahead of his birthday, he acknowledged that some of his ancient ancestry was traceable to the Korean peninsula, a virtual red flag to arch-nationalists who promote a view of Japan as a nation characterised by a single, pure race.

In remarks in August last year at a memorial marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's 1945 surrender, he expressed "profound remorse" for the war fought in his father's name, reportedly the first time he had used those words at the annual event.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Beijing's South China Sea claims invalid: tribunal

Yahoo – AFP, July 13, 2016

Beijing raises rhetoric ahead of South China Sea ruling

Beijing (AFP) - Beijing's claims to a vast swathe of the South China Sea are invalid, an international tribunal ruled Tuesday, dealing a devastating diplomatic blow to its ambitions in one of the world's most important flashpoints.

China, which boycotted the proceedings at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, rejected the ruling, calling it "null and void".

But analysts said it was a "huge win" for the Philippines, which brought the case.

The resource-rich, strategically vital waters of the South China Sea are disputed between the Asian giant -- which claims almost all of them on the basis of a "nine-dash line" that first appeared on Chinese maps in the 1940s -- and several other countries including the Philippines.

The row has embroiled the United States, which has deployed aircraft carriers and a host of other vessels to assert freedom of navigation in waters through which one-third of the global oil trade passes.

China says that its fishermen have visited the area for centuries, but the PCA tribunal said that under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Beijing had not had exclusive control of it.

Any historic rights were "extinguished" when it signed up to UNCLOS, it said, and there was "no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the 'nine-dash line'," it said.

Crucially, it ruled that none of the Spratlys, a chain of outcrops in the south of the sea, were "islands" under the meaning of UNCLOS, meaning that whoever had sovereignty over them -- an issue it did not address -- they were not entitled to 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of their own.

'Branded as an outlaw'

Some sea areas were therefore definitely in the Philippines' EEZ, it said, as they were "not overlapped by any possible entitlement of China".

China had violated the Philippines' sovereign rights in its EEZ and the artificial islands Beijing has been furiously building in recent years -- reshaping facts in the water in an effort to bolster its claim -- have inflicted severe environmental damage, it added.

The damning decision was "as unfavourable to China as it can be", said Yanmei Xie, China analyst for the International Crisis Group.

The award by the five-member panel -- chaired by a Ghanaian -- "overwhelmingly favours the Philippines -- a huge win," said M. Taylor Fravel of MIT.

Manila welcomed the decision but Beijing reacted furiously, saying it "neither accepts nor recognises" the ruling.

"The award is null and void and has no binding force," China's foreign ministry said on its website, reiterating its territorial claims.

The official news agency Xinhua cited President Xi Jinping as saying the islands have been Chinese territory since ancient times, and Beijing will not accept any action based on the decision.

China has consistently said the tribunal does not have jurisdiction on the issue -- declaring the support of multiple countries for its stance, many of them poor but with significant trading relationships with it -- and Xinhua reported the ruling under the headline: "Law-abusing tribunal issues ill-founded award".

In Washington, the State Department said the ruling was an "important contribution" to resolving regional disputes and should be seen as "final and legally binding".

China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and has been seeking a greater role on the global diplomatic stage, and will not want to be seen as a violator of international law.

But how the decision could be enforced remains open to question. Richard Heydarian, a political analyst at De La Salle University in Manila, told AFP: "China has been branded as an outlaw in unequivocal terms. US, Japan and other major powers should now focus on enforcing this binding verdict if China fails to comply."

In the short term, the decision was likely to escalate the "war of words" but would not immediately change the geopolitical dynamics in the sea, said Xie of the International Crisis Group.

"We?re going to see a continuation of the chest thumping we've seen, especially from the China side."

'Tough reaction'

Beijing has held naval drills between the Paracels and the southern Chinese island of Hainan in recent days, while US Pacific Command said on Twitter that the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan had launched flight operations to support "security, stability" in the South China Sea.

Bonnie Glaser of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies told AFP: "I expect a very tough reaction from China since it has lost on almost every point."

China could choose to withdraw from UNCLOS, or begin building on Scarborough Shoal, which it seized from the Philippines in 2012 -- which Washington would view as a provocation.

Beijing could also declare an air defence identification zone over the South China Sea, claiming the right to interrogate aircraft passing through the airspace, or try to remove a ship grounded by Manila on Second Thomas Shoal for use as a base.

Xu Tiebing, international relations professor at Communication University of China, told AFP that Chinese would see the PCA decision as evidence of international opposition to their country.

"These international organisations were not absolutely neutral, and in fact they are still subject to the manipulation and influence of big powers," he said.

The Philippines, which had lodged the suit in 2013, welcomed the "milestone decision", and foreign secretary Perfecto Yasay said: "We call on all those concerned to exercise restraint and sobriety."

Nationalist demonstrations are not rare in China, sometimes apparently with the tacit backing of authorities, and the Philippine embassy in Beijing has warned its citizens to beware of personal "threats".

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Philippines willing to share South China Sea: Manila

Yahoo – AFP, Ayee Macaraig, Karl Malakunas, July 8, 2016

An activist holding a Philippine flag while a Chinese coastguard ship sails
close by at the Scarborough Shoal (AFP Photo/STR)

Manila (Philippines) (AFP) - The Philippines is willing to share natural resources with Beijing in contested South China Sea areas even if it wins a legal challenge next week, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay told AFP Friday.

Yasay said President Rodrigo Duterte's administration hoped to quickly begin direct talks with China following Tuesday's verdict, with the negotiations to cover jointly exploiting natural gas reserves and fishing grounds within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

"We can even have the objective of seeing how we can jointly explore this territory: how we can utilise and benefit mutually from the utilisation of the resources in this exclusive economic zone where claims are overlapping," Yasay told AFP in an interview.

The Philippines, under Benigno Aquino's previous administration, filed in 2013 a legal challenge with a UN-backed tribunal in The Hague contesting China's claims to nearly all of the strategically vital sea.

China's claims reach almost to the coasts of the Philippines and some other Southeast Asian nations, and it has in recent years built giant artificial islands in the disputed areas to enforce what it says are its indisputable sovereign rights.

The Philippines' case enraged China, which repeatedly vowed to ignore the tribunal's ruling and is currently holding military drills in the northern part of the sea as a show of force.

Beijing claims nearly all of the strategically vital South China Sea (AFP Photo)

No provocations

China continued to steam on Friday, with foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei describing the case as "a violation of international rule of order under the cloak of championing it", and state-run media warning Beijing would not take a "single step back" in the dispute.

China has been further infuriated by the United States beefing up its military presence in the waters, with the US Navy Times newspaper reporting that three American destroyers had been sent into the hotspot areas ahead of Tuesday's verdict.

Duterte, who took office on June 30, has adopted a more conciliatory approach to China than Aquino.

The previous president refused to hold direct talks, and likened China's expansionist efforts in the sea to Nazi Germany's march on parts of Europe ahead of World War II.

Yasay signalled on Friday that Duterte would be making no such analogies, emphasising his administration would seek to ensure the best possible relations with China.

"The statements we will be making will be in the pursuit of strengthening our relationship with everybody and will be for the purpose of making sure there will be no stumbling block to our negotiating a peaceful solution to the issue," Yasay said.

Yasay said after the ruling is released, the Philippines would study it closely, discuss it with allies, and then seek to launch talks with China "as soon as possible".

Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, a country's exclusive economic zone falls within 200 nautical miles of its coast. A nation has sovereign rights to exploit natural resources in that zone.

Beijing has built a runway on the Fiery Cross Reef, which is also claimed by
Vietnam and the Philippines (AFP Photo/DigitalGlobe)

Fish, drill together

Yasay said the Philippines was open to sharing Scarborough Shoal, a rich fishing ground within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone that China took control of in 2012 and has banned Filipino boats from entering.

"The resources there are God-given for all and for everyone to enjoy. We can work at joint benefit in so far as using the marine resources in the area," Yasay said.

Yasay said the Philippines would also consider jointly exploring a natural gas field at Reed Bank, which is similarly within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone and far from China's nearest major landmass.

"I think it would be in the pursuit of our national interest to do that and that will be a big step forward if everyone can agree on proceeding on that basis," Yasay said when asked about jointly developing Reed Bank.

Yasay insisted the Philippines would not concede any of its rights in the sea.

But he said the dispute over sovereignty would not be solved for many years, describing it as a "generational issue", and that rival claimants must in the meantime work cooperatively.

Duterte and Yasay met with China's ambassador to the Philippines, Zhao Jianhua, on Thursday. Zhao was seen again at the Department of Foreign Affairs on Friday. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Australia PM urged to quit after failing to seal emphatic vote win

Yahoo – AFP, July 4, 2016

Australian Labor leader Bill Shorten (L) has called Prime Minister Malcolm 
Turnbull (R) the 'David Cameron of the southern hemisphere' (AFP Photo/William
West, Lukas Coch)

Australia's opposition Labor Party urged Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to resign Monday, calling him the "David Cameron of the southern hemisphere" after he failed to secure an emphatic election victory.

Millionaire former banker Turnbull took the country to the ballot boxes on Saturday, but his Liberal/National coalition has so far failed to win enough seats to form a government.

Labor leader Bill Shorten, whose party appears to have gained seats in the 150-member House of Representatives but also fallen short of the 76 needed to govern, said Turnbull had to go.

Malcolm Turnbull has been prime minister 
since September 2015 (AFP Photo/Gal Roma)
"This is farcical. Mr. Turnbull clearly doesn't know what he is doing. Quite frankly, I think he should quit," Shorten told reporters in Sydney.

"He has taken this nation to an election on the basis of stability; he has delivered instability."

He said Turnbull's decision to put every seat in the upper house Senate up for grabs in a so-called double dissolution election rather than have the usual half-Senate vote had "made a bad situation worse".

"He Brexited himself. This guy is like (the) David Cameron of the southern hemisphere," the Labor leader said.

"He leads a divided party, he has had an election and he has delivered an inferior and unstable outcome."

Britain's Cameron called a referendum on whether the country should stay in the EU and led the "Remain" campaign. He announced he was quitting after the nation voted to leave.

Turnbull is the country's fourth leader since 2013 after he ousted fellow Liberal Tony Abbott as prime minister in a party coup last September. He called elections early hoping to shore up support for his ruling coalition.

With the vote count still incomplete, the anti-immigration One Nation party of Pauline Hanson, who once claimed Asians were in danger of swamping the country, looks set to win multiple Senate seats.

"How on earth did Mr. Turnbull think that an idea of reform could end up with two or three One Nation senators in the Senate?" Shorten asked.

The vote count in Australia is due to resume on Tuesday, with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reporting that the government has 68 seats to Labor's 67 with five minor players and 10 in doubt.

Friday, July 1, 2016

US human trafficking report blacklists Myanmar

Yahoo – AFP, Dave Clark, June 30, 2016

Libya, Somalia and Yemen were judged special cases whose governments are in
too much chaos to be judged over the actions their governments have taken to
combat human trafficking, a US report found (AFP Photo/Mahmud Turkia)

Washington (AFP) - The United States on Thursday blacklisted eight more countries for failing to combat human trafficking, including fledgling democracy Myanmar, but was criticized for taking an easier line on Thailand.

Announcing the release of the State Department's annual human trafficking report, Secretary of State John Kerry insisted the rankings were based on objective criteria, and not political favor.

But activists, while welcoming the designation of Myanmar and Uzbekistan to the worst category of wrongdoer, complained that US allies Thailand and Malaysia got off relatively lightly.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, pictured
 here on April 13, 2016, in Washington, DC,
 insisted the report's rankings were based
 on objective criteria, and not political favor
 (AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards)
"There are some tough calls. In the end, they come down to an element of discretion, but not much, because we have a fixed set of rules that Congress had created, and we follow those rules," Kerry said.

"The conclusions are based on facts and are based on a lot of analysis over the year," he said.

Djibouti, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, Sudan, Suriname and Turkmenistan were also added to the now 26-strong blacklist of governments the State Department believes are not fighting people smuggling or slavery.

Kuwait and Thailand found themselves promoted from this "Tier 3" list of worst offenders to the "Tier 2 watch list" of countries making some kind of effort to combat the trade in persons but still under scrutiny.

Libya, Somalia and Yemen were judged special cases whose governments are in too much chaos to be judged.

Last year, the State Department was criticized for not including Myanmar on its Tier 3 list, amid allegations that Washington was turning a blind eye to slavery while encouraging a slow transition to democracy.

Myanmar held contested general elections last year won by the party of veteran rights activist and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who now steers the country's first civilian government.

Persecuted minority

Suu Kyi had spent a decade fighting corrupt military rule, and Washington has been keen to support her once pariah country on the slow road to democratic reform.

But much remains to be done, and the government has been accused of backsliding, particularly as regards the fate of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority.

This year's report on Myanmar dubs it "a source country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and for women and children subjected to sex trafficking, both in Burma and abroad."

Myanmar's democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi, who is currently visiting 
Thailand, has come under fire for failing to speak up for the Rohingya (AFP Photo/
Lillian Suwanrumpha)

People from across Myanmar are subject to abuse, but the report says "Rohingya individuals are particularly vulnerable to sex and labor trafficking in Rakhine State, including forced labor perpetrated by government authorities."

Myanmar has been on the "Tier 2 watch list" for four years -- the maximum period it can be allowed under US law to improve its practices or be relegated to the third tier -- which is what has now happened.

Washington had also been accused of taking too lenient an approach to Uzbekistan, where the government makes no attempt to hide the fact that it press-gangs civil servants into forced labor to harvest cotton.

This year report notes that "government-compelled forced labor of adults remains endemic during the annual cotton harvest" and concludes that the Uzbek government is not making any significant attempt to halt trafficking.

Human rights watchdogs welcomed the demotion of Myanmar and Uzbekistan, which they felt had been unfairly protected from scrutiny for political reasons in last year's report, but expressed regret that Thailand and Malaysia were not also being held to account.

Mass grave

"We're encouraged by the State Department's decision to downgrade Burma -- that was a country that we were paying pretty close attention to," said Kristen Abrams, acting director of anti-trafficking umbrella group ATEST.

"We're also equally encouraged by the right of last year's wrong on Uzbekistan, a country that has state orchestrated forced labor," she said.

But watchdogs remain concerned that Washington is going easy on its allies in Southeast Asia, where the fishing industry in particular is regularly accused of using forced labor in inhumane conditions at sea.

Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha (C-R) meets with Myanmar Foreign 
Minister and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi at the government house in 
Bangkok, Thailand, June 24, 2016. Reuters/Jorge Silva

"Starting with Thailand, we have seen some willingness to reform some of their laws, but it's not made any significant impact on the ground," Abrams said.

"With Malaysia, we know that they were moved up last year for political reasons. It was unjustified then and it remains unjustified today," she said, citing a failure to investigate mass graves.

The report notes that: "Discoveries of migrant camps and mass graves along the border with Thailand in 2015 generated reports some officials were complicit in facilitating migrant smuggling, which may have included trafficking crimes."

But it concludes that Malaysia is "making significant efforts" to meet minimum standards to fight the crime.