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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Thursday, July 27, 2017

The force is female: India's women cops take a stand

Yahoo – AFP, Abhaya SRIVASTAVA, July 25, 2017

All-female police units are shaking up the male-dominated force in conservative
 northwest India, hitting the streets to combat sex crimes and a pervasive culture
of silence around rape

All-female police units are shaking up the male-dominated force in conservative northwest India, hitting the streets to combat sex crimes and a pervasive culture of silence around rape.

One such squad in Jaipur has been patrolling bus stops, colleges and parks where women are vulnerable to sexual harassment.

Women can face a barrage on India's streets, enduring everything from lewd jokes and strangers following them -- often dismissed as innocent "Eve teasing" -- to physical attacks and rape.

"The message we want to send out is that we have zero tolerance towards crimes against women," said Kamal Shekhawat, who heads the specialist Jaipur unit established in late May.

India has a gruesome record on sex crimes, with nearly 40,000 rapes reported every year. But the real figure is thought to be much higher, with victims wary of how their complaints will be dealt with.

India's police force is overwhelmingly male -- women make up just seven percent of officers -- and activists complain that victims are often judged by their appearance, asked probing questions, or even blamed for provoking the crime.

The shame attached to rape in India's deeply patriarchal society, and fear of reprisal, means many sex crimes are not reported and offenders go unpunished.

Shekhawat hopes the visible presence of female officers on the beat will encourage more women in Jaipur to report their abusers knowing they will find a sympathetic ear.

"Women police are more empathetic and victims also feel more confident and are able to communicate openly before them," she said.

"The message we want to send out is that we have zero tolerance towards crimes 
against women," said Kamal Shekhawat, who heads the specialist Jaipur police 
unit established in late May

Boosting confidence

At a park in Jaipur, constable Saroj Chodhuary dismounted from her scooter and approached a group of sari-clad women to introduce herself.

"You can just make a call or even message on WhatsApp and we will be right there," she said, clad in khaki uniform and white helmet as she passed around her details.

"Your identity will not be revealed, so you can feel free to register your complaint. If someone makes cat calls or troubles you in any way, do let us know. Don't take law in your own hands."

The women appear impressed by her authority -- Chodhuary and her colleagues are trained in martial arts and spent months learning the law -- and relieved to know help was just a phone call away.

Radha Jhabua, a 24-year-old mother, said she wanted to complain about a neighbour stalking her but her husband feared it would bring the family a bad name.

"He told me to keep quiet and wait for the man to change his ways. I am glad we can now just send a Whatsapp message to these sisters and they will take care of the rest," she told AFP.

Seema Sahu, a 38-year-old mother of two, said she usually avoided going out at night with her daughters.

"I am so glad now these police women will be on the roads. Their very presence gives us confidence," she said.

India has a gruesome record on sex crimes, with nearly 40,000 rapes reported
 every year. But the real figure is thought to be much higher, with victims wary
of how their complaints will be dealt with

Restoring order

India faced international scrutiny over levels of violence against women following the fatal gang-rape of a medical student in New Delhi in December 2012.

Laws to punish sex offenders were strengthened in the aftermath, but attacks are still widespread. In the capital New Delhi alone there were 2,199 rape cases in 2015 -- an average of six a day.

India's police has been ordered to recruit more female officers so women make up a third of the force.

But so far, their numbers remain low.

The Jaipur unit is just the second in Rajasthan state, with the first established in Udaipur last October.

Police in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh have come under fire for their controversial approach to combat sex-related crimes in the notoriously lawless state.

There officers, including women, patrolling in so-called "anti-Romeo squads" have been accused of harassing unmarried and interfaith couples in an effort to enforce a moral code reflecting Hindu values.

Shekhawat said no such methods would be adopted under her watch.

"We have seen a very good impact and positive results wherever our teams are on patrol," she said.

"It is having a preventive effect. It is restoring the faith of the public in the police which is a must for maintaining law and order."

Men are taking note, too.

"It's a very good move. When a man gets rounded up by these women, others will automatically feel the heat. They will have to mend their ways," said Jaipur resident Ram Lal Gujar.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Rise and fall of General Manas: Thailand's top trafficker

Yahoo – AFP, Aidan JONES, Sally MAIRS, 23 July 2017

Rise and fall of General Manas: Thailand's top trafficker

Bangkok (AFP) - An army 'Big Shot' whose influence seeped across the south, Lieutenant-General Manas Kongpan sat at the apex of Thailand's grisly trade in humans, raking in an untold fortune to keep prying eyes off the trafficking route.

As the number of desperate Rohingya and Bangladeshis shuttled through the trafficking operation shot up, so did Manas' rank in the Thai military.

But the silver-haired general was condemned to 27 years in prison on Wednesday for profiting from the trade, an extraordinarily rare conviction of a senior member of an army that dominates the kingdom.

The 61-year-old's downfall was hastened in 2015 after investigators uncovered secret jungle prisons in the south where traffickers starved and tortured migrants while holding them for ransom.

The discovery exposed Thailand's horrifying role in a criminal operation that shifted victims from Myanmar to Malaysia, and forced the ruling junta to launch a belated crackdown.

Police followed a money trail that lead straight to Manas, an army hardliner with a passion for bullfighting.

"He was involved in such an obvious way...at a time when the junta was really trying to show themselves to be clean," said Paul Chambers, an expert on Thailand's military.

"He is going down because he was at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Money trail

Manas was first highlighted as a suspect in early 2015 after 98 famished Rohingya were found in trucks in Nakhon Si Thammarat, stopped by a random police checkpoint.

Provincial police -- aided by anti-trafficking NGO Freeland -- used the drivers' cell phones to trace their regular route.

The trail carved through Thailand's southern neck from coastal Ranong, where boatloads of migrants arrived from Myanmar, to malaria-infested camps near the Malaysian border, where they were held in appalling conditions.

Phone and e-banking records from the drivers led to key trafficker Sunan Saengthong, a Ranong politician and businessman who had deposited nearly $600,000 in accounts belonging to Manas.

In May 2015 police found more bank slips revealing that Sunan's nephew had also transferred huge sums to Manas, including some $400,000 in just over a month.

Sunan was jailed for 35 years in a separate trial but his nephew Nattaphat Saengthong and others remain at large.


Around the time of the money transfers, Manas served as a top commander of Thailand's southern security arm.

His job was to enforce its controversial "push-back" policy -- which meant turning around boats of stateless Rohingya who were trying to flee persecution in Myanmar.

But he used this position to do just the opposite, according to last week's verdict, which exposed a matrix of collusion between state officials and businessmen who profited from trafficking.

Witnesses said Manas instructed officers to force back a boat of 265 Rohingya in 2012 -- only to covertly re-route the ship to shore and truck the human cargo south to the jungle prisons.

Manas "had direct responsiblity in the push-back mission and must have been part of this human trafficking network, otherwise the Rohingya would not have been able to return to Thailand so quickly," the verdict read.

Southern 'Big Shot'

The trafficking operation flourished until the 2015 crackdown, with tens of thousands of victims funnelled through a trade worth an estimated $250 million dollars.

Many were lured from the Myanmar-Bangladesh border by brokers who promised jobs, while others were violently kidnapped and forced onto the boats.

The big money was made in Thailand, where jungle camp wardens phoned relatives of the weakest migrants and threatened to kill them if they didn't send more cash.

The young and strong were sold off as labour to Malaysian palm oil plantations or fishing boats, according to Freeland.

All the while, Manas' seemingly inexorable rise up the army ranks continued, with his command stretching over increasingly large chunks of the south.

Months before his arrest in 2015, he was promoted to Lt-General and given the sweeping role of "military advisor".

It wasn't the first time the hawkish officer had hurdled controversy.

He was linked to a 2004 raid on a mosque that left more than 30 Muslim rebels dead in Thailand's far south, one of the early sparks of an insurgency still burning today.

"He had a reputation for often going beyond the law," said Chambers, adding that he was known as a "big shot" in the region.

Manas was the only military man convicted in last week's trafficking trial, which saw more than 60 people sent to jail.

Rights groups welcomed the verdict but warned that many perpetrators remain at large.

"We know not everyone has been accounted for in this trial," said Amy Smith from Fortify Rights, which closely tracked the investigation.

"More needs to be done to account for the horrific crimes that took place... and to ensure this never happens again."


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Saudi police question woman who wore miniskirt in video

Yahoo – AFP, July 18, 2017

Women in Saudi Arabia are required to wear long black abaya robes and
cover their hair in public (AFP Photo/FAYEZ NURELDINE)

Riyadh (AFP) - Saudi police said Tuesday they were questioning a woman who appeared in an online video in a miniskirt and crop top walking through a historic site in the ultraconservative kingdom.

A series of videos, initially posted over the weekend to the Snapchat account of "Model Khulood", show a young woman in a high-waisted miniskirt walking through a fort in Ushaiqer, outside the capital Riyadh, playing with sand in the dunes and turning towards the camera for a close-up, her long hair uncovered.

The videos have since been uploaded to YouTube and tweeted by different users.

Saudi media, including the main dailies Sabq and Okaz, on Tuesday quoted a spokesman for police in Riyadh as saying the woman was being questioned and had confessed to visiting the site with her male guardian.

Saudi Arabia's guardianship system mandates accompaniment by or written permission from a male relative -- usually a father, husband or brother -- for women to study, work or travel.

The woman denied that she had uploaded the clips and that the Snapchat account was hers, the spokesman said.

The case has now been referred to the public prosecutor's office, which will decide whether to prosecute the woman.

The local government of Riyadh had issued a memo saying authorities were searching for the woman who had been "walking around... in indecent clothing".

The snaps have sparked heated debate, with social media users in the region and beyond weighing in on questions of gender and rights in the kingdom, where women are required to wear long black abaya robes and cover their hair in public.

Many have come to the defence of the young woman, pointing out the privileges afforded to Western women by Saudi authorities. US First Lady Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump, daughter of the president, did not cover their hair when they visited Saudi Arabia in May.

"If it were Trump's daughter, we would have braced ourselves for the flood of compliments and love poems," read one tweet.

"Problem solved," tweeted Shahd bint Fahd alongside a picture of the model with Ivanka Trump's face superimposed over the original.

Others expressed outrage and derided those speaking out in support of the model.

"These are the demands of the liberal ignorant community: a naked woman, a co-ed movie theatre, and music and dance. That's progress to them! Not health care and not education," read one tweet.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

S. Korea seeks rare talks with North to ease military tensions

Yahoo – AFP, July 17, 2017

Talks between North and South Korea are rare, and usually take place at Panmunjom,
a truce village on the heavily fortified frontier that separates the two countries, where
solders from both sides face off (AFP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Seoul (AFP) - South Korea on Monday offered to hold rare military talks with North Korea, aiming to ease tensions after Pyongyang tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile.

The offer of talks, the first since South Korea elected dovish President Moon Jae-In, came as the Red Cross in Seoul proposed a separate meeting to discuss reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

The South's defence ministry proposed a meeting to be held on Friday at the border truce village of Panmunjom, while the Red Cross offered to hold talks on August 1 at the same venue.

If the government meeting goes ahead, it will mark the first official inter-Korea talks since December 2015. Moon's conservative predecessor Park Geun-Hye had refused to engage in substantive dialogue with Pyongyang unless it made a firm commitment to denuclearisation.

"We make the proposal for a meeting... aimed at stopping all hostile activities that escalate military tension along the land border," the defence ministry said in a statement.

The Red Cross said it hoped for "a positive response" from its counterpart in the North in hopes of holding family reunions in early October. If realised, they would be the first for two years.

Millions of family members were separated by the conflict that sealed the division of the two countries. Many died without getting a chance to see or hear from their families on the other side of the heavily-fortified border, across which all civilian communication is banned.

With the passage of time, the number of survivors has diminished, with only around 60,000 members of divided families still left in the South.

"North Korea should respond to our sincere proposals if it really seeks peace on the Korean Peninsula", Cho Myoung-Gyon, Seoul's unification minister in charge of North Korea affairs, told reporters.

Cho stressed that Seoul "would not seek collapse of the North or unification through absorbing the North", and urged Pyongyang to restore cross-border communication channels including a shuttered military hotline.

Pyongyang residents watch TV announcer Ri Chun-Hee speak about the 
successful launch of the intercontinental ballistic missile "Hwasong-14" on a big
 screen near the Pyongyang Railway Station in Pyongyang on July 4, 2017
 (AFP Photo/Kim Won-Jin)

Escalating tensions

Moon, who took power in May, has advocated dialogue with the nuclear-armed North to bring it to the negotiating table and vowed to play a more active role in global efforts to tame the South's unpredictable neighbour.

But Pyongyang has staged a series of missile launches in violation of UN resolutions -- most recently on July 4 when it test-fired its first ICBM, a move which triggered global alarm and a push by US President Donald Trump to impose harsher UN sanctions.

Washington has also called on China, the North's sole ally, to put more pressure on Pyongyang to curb its nuclear ambitions, which have advanced rapidly under leader Kim Jong-Un.

The latest ICBM test -- which Kim described as a "gift" to the Americans -- was seen as a milestone in Pyongyang's quest to build a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead that can hit the US mainland.

China's foreign ministry welcomed Seoul's peace gesture, saying it hopes "the two sides will move in a positive direction to... break up the stalemate and to relaunch the dialogue and negotiations".

China is reluctant to pressure the North too far for fear of regime collapse. It is worried about an influx of refugees and possible US troops stationed on its border in an unified Korea.

The proposed meetings would be a "rare opportunity to ease tension that has built up for 10 years", said Cheong Seong-Chang, of the South's Sejong Institute think tank.

"It would at least help let off some steam out of the current crisis, although the North would still maintain that it would not give up its weapons programmes," he said.

The agenda for the military meeting could include moves to suspend propaganda campaigns operated on both sides of the border for years, Cheong added.

The South's military has deployed dozens of giant loudspeakers along the tense border to blare out a mix of world news, K-pop songs and other propaganda targeting young North Korean soldiers.

The military has also occasionally launched giant balloons containing anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.

The North has responded with its own propaganda broadcasts and sent anti-Seoul leaflets via giant balloons across the border.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Maths 'genius' Maryam Mirzakhani dies, aged 40

Yahoo – AFP, Carlos HAMANN, July 15, 2017

Mathematiciangenius Maryam Mirzakhani won a string of honours during her
career including the coveted Fields Medal in 2014 (AFP Photo/STR)

Washington (AFP) - Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian-born mathematician who was the first woman to win the coveted Fields Medal, died Saturday in a US hospital after a battle with cancer. She was 40.

Mirzakhani's friend Firouz Naderi, a former director of Solar Systems Exploration at NASA, announced her death on Instagram.

"A light was turned off today. It breaks my heart ..... gone far too soon," he wrote, later adding: "A genius? Yes. But also a daughter, a mother and a wife."

Mirzakhani, a professor at Stanford University in California, died after the cancer she had been battling for four years spread to her bone marrow, Iranian media said.

In 2014 Mirzakhani won the Fields Medal, the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for Mathematics, which is awarded by the International Congress of Mathematicians.

The award recognized her sophisticated and original contributions to the fields of geometry and dynamical systems, particularly in understanding the symmetry of curved surfaces such as spheres.

Born in 1977 and raised in Tehran, Mirzakhani initially dreamed of becoming a writer, but by the time she started high school and showed an affinity for solving math problems she shifted her sights.

"It is fun -– it's like solving a puzzle or connecting the dots in a detective case," she said when she won the Fields Medal.

"I felt that this was something I could do, and I wanted to pursue this path."

Mirzakhani said she enjoyed pure mathematics because of the elegance and longevity of the questions she studies.

"It is like being lost in a jungle and trying to use all the knowledge that you can gather to come up with some new tricks, and with some luck you might find a way out," she added.

In 2008 she became a professor of mathematics at Stanford. She is survived by her husband, Stanford mathematician Jan Vondrak, and her young daughter Anahita.

"Great sorrow"

In Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said that Mirzakhani's "doleful passing" has caused "great sorrow," state media reported.

Rouhani praised the "unprecedented brilliance of this creative scientist and modest human being, who made Iran's name resonate in the world's scientific forums, (and) was a turning point in showing the great will of Iranian women and young people on the path towards reaching the peaks of glory ... in various international arenas."

Separately on Instagram, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Mirzakhani's death is a cause for grief for all Iranians.

Mirzakhani's impact "will live on for the thousands of women she inspired to pursue math and science," said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne.

He described her as "a humble person who accepted honors only with the hope that it might encourage others to follow her path."

The university said via Stanford News that Mirzakhani's preferred method of working "was to doodle on large sheets of white paper, scribbling formulas on the periphery of her drawings. Her young daughter described her mother at work as 'painting.'"

Mirzakhani became known on the international mathematics scene as a teenager, winning gold medals at both the 1994 and 1995 International Math Olympiads -– and finished with a perfect score in the latter competition.

She went on to win the 2009 Blumenthal Award for the Advancement of Research in Pure Mathematics, and the 2013 Satter Prize of the American Mathematical Society.

Mirzakhani studied mathematics at Sharif University in Iran and earned a PhD degree from Harvard in 2004. She then taught at Princeton University before moving to Stanford in 2008.

The Fields Medal, which she won in 2014, is given out every four years, often to multiple winners aged 40 or younger.

Mirzakhani also collaborated with Alex Eskin, a University of Chicago mathematician "to take on another of the most-vexing problems in the field: the trajectory of a billiards ball around a polygonal table," Stanford News said.

"The challenge began as a thought exercise among physicists a century ago and had yet to be solved."

The duo published a 200-page long paper on the subject in 2014 hailed as "the beginning of a new era" in mathematics, according to Stanford News.

Thousands march in Hong Kong in memory of Liu Xiaobo

Yahoo – AFP, Elaine YU, Laura MANNERING, July 15, 2017

Thousands took to the streets of central Hong Kong Saturday night holding
candles as they marched in memory of pro-democracy Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo

Thousands took to the streets of central Hong Kong Saturday night holding candles as they marched in memory of pro-democracy Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

Veteran activists led the solemn gathering which wove its way from the commercial heart of Hong Kong Island to China's liaison office, with some marchers in tears.

Liu's ashes were buried at sea Saturday, depriving supporters of a place to pay tribute following his death Thursday from cancer while in custody on the mainland.

Hong Kongers have already held memorial events but Saturday's was by far the largest.

It came the day after four pro-democracy legislators were disqualified from Hong Kong's parliament, worsening fears that freedoms in the semi-autonomous city are under serious threat from an ever more assertive Beijing.

"Loving a country is wanting it to make progress," said marcher Emily Chau, 24.

"But this is how he was treated for being so loyal to the country."

Chau said she feared Hong Kong's freedoms were also now in jeopardy.

"With the disqualification of the lawmakers yesterday, it's like this place is decaying," she told AFP.

The city is ruled under a "one country, two systems" deal granting it freedoms unseen on the mainland, guaranteed in the handover agreement when colonial power Britain returned Hong Kong to China in 1997.

But Beijing stands accused of increased interference in a range of areas, from politics to media and education

People attend a candlelight march for the late Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo
in Hong Kong on July 15, 2017

'Great scholar'

Marchers of all ages carried floral wreaths and white chrysanthemums, bowing three times in front of a makeshift memorial to Liu outside the liaison office, a traditional sign of respect at funerals.

Some brought their children and grandchildren with them.

Among the crowds was Lam Wing-kee, one of the five Hong Kong booksellers known for publishing salacious titles about Beijing politicians who vanished and resurfaced in the mainland in 2015.

Lam was allowed back to Hong Kong last year on condition that he pick up a hard disc listing bookstore customers and return.

Instead he skipped bail and went public to tell an explosive story of how he was blindfolded by mainland police after crossing the border, and interrogated for months.

He has since attended a number of rallies in the city.

A man signs a condolence book at a makeshift memorial for the late Chinese
 Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, outside the Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong
on July 15, 2017

Lam said he had been saddened by the news of Liu's death but would not lose hope for the future of Hong Kong.

"If the time-frame you look at is too short, it will be pessimistic," he told AFP.

"It's not enough just to see what's in front of you."

Steven Wong, 45, had travelled from Singapore to attend the march, saying he had respected Liu for many years.

Wong was born and grew up in Beijing and was a high school student there in 1989, the year of the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in the city's Tiananmen Square.

He said he remembered burned-out tanks and blood smeared on lamp posts the day after. Shortly afterwards his family moved to Singapore.

"He was a great scholar who woke up young people, especially of my generation,"Wong said of Liu.

"He made me think deeply about what we can do as a Chinese (person) and what we can teach our students," said Wong.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Modi begins first ever Israel visit by an Indian PM

Yahoo – AFP, July 4, 2017

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) greets his Indian counterpart
Narendra Modi (L) at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv on July 4, 2017 (AFP
Photo/Jack GUEZ)

Tel Aviv (AFP) - Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Israel Tuesday for the first ever visit by an Indian premier, amid growing ties between the two countries including billions of dollars in defence deals.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials welcomed Modi with an official ceremony at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv at the start of his three-day visit.

The two leaders embraced heartily and gave brief speeches, pledging to work together on issues including security, agriculture and energy.

Modi called the visit "groundbreaking," while Netanyahu said it was "historic". They are to have dinner later Tuesday before talks on Wednesday.

Israel, constantly searching for allies at the United Nations and for new business partners, has portrayed the visit as a major diplomatic victory.

Israeli analysts have noted that Modi is not scheduled to travel to Ramallah to meet Palestinian leaders during his three-day stay, as is common for visiting dignitaries.

Modi did however meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in New Delhi in May.

India is the world's biggest importer of defence equipment, and Israel has become one of its major suppliers.

Israeli media have reported that the two countries sign defence deals averaging more than $1 billion (880 million euros) a year.

They also hope to build on cooperation in areas including water and agriculture technology, sectors where Israel has excelled.

India has traditionally voiced its support for Palestinian statehood, long shunning ties with Israel.

Modi's visit marks 25 years since the two countries established diplomatic relations.

The frost has further thawed in recent years, with India seeking closer defence ties -- particularly as it moves away from relying on traditional ally Russia for its military hardware.


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Five N. Koreans sail across tense border to S. Korea

Yahoo – AFP, July 1, 2017

South Korean ships patrol the disputed waters of the Yellow Sea (AFP Photo/
KIM JAE-HWAN)

Five North Koreans in a small boat crossed the sea border into South Korean waters Saturday, a Coast Guard official said, in an apparent bid to defect to the South.

The five people, including four men and one woman, have expressed their wish to live in the South as defectors, the Yonhap news agency reported.

"Coast guards guided the boat to safety at (the eastern port of) Mukho," a South Korean coast guard official told AFP.

Government authorities were questioning the five North Koreans, he added.

The incident came after a North Korean fishing boat with eight people on board developed an engine trouble and drifted into South Korean waters off the country's eastern coast late last month.

Days later, South Korea repatriated all the eight, as they had requested.

Early last month, two people out of four crew members on another North Korean fishing boat which drifted to the South refused to return home. They were allowed resettle in the South.

There has also been a spate of overland border crossings in June.

Two North Korean soldiers walked across the heavily fortified border and a civilian swam across a river to defect to the South.

Over the decades since the peninsula was divided, dozens of North Korean soldiers have fled to the South through the Demilitarised Zone, which extends for two kilometers either side of the actual border.

A North Korean soldier defected to the South in September last year, and a teenage North Korean soldier defected in June 2015.

In 2012 a North Korean soldier walked unchecked through rows of electrified fencing and surveillance cameras, prompting Seoul to sack three field commanders for a security lapse.

More than 30,000 North Korean civilians have fled their homeland but it is very rare for them to cross the closely guarded inter-Korean border, which is fortified with minefields and barbed wire.

Most flee across the porous frontier with neighbouring China.

India launches national tax amid business doubts

Yahoo – AFP, Megha BAHREE, July 1, 2017

Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a special midnight session of parliament
to launch the new goods and services tax (GST) which he called "good and
simple" (AFP Photo/Karel Prinsloo)

India on Saturday launched its biggest ever fiscal reform with the government promising a stronger, less corrupt economy while businesses are nervous about the new tax.

The goods and services tax (GST) replaces more than a dozen levies imposed nationally and by the 29 states. It aims to transform the nation of 1.3 billion people and its $2 trillion economy into a single market.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a special midnight session of parliament to launch GST which he called "a good and simple tax."

"With GST, the dream of one India, great India, will come true," the prime minister said.

"GST is a simple, transparent system which prevents generation of black money and curbs corruption," said Modi who jolted the country last year by withdrawing more than 85 percent of India's bank notes from circulation in a clampdown on under-the-table dealings.

"The system gives opportunity to honesty and people who do honest business."

But the prime minister, who has put huge efforts into the economy as he targets re-election in 2019, acknowledged that it would have teething problems.

Jammu and Kashmir state has refused to sign onto the one tax regime. And GST has sparked protests by traders, while the main opposition Congress Party boycotted the launch ceremony.

Tax rules confound

Businesses are nervous about the imposition of GST, which sets out four different rates of between five and 28 per cent instead of the one originally envisioned.

The GST rule book runs to more than 200 pages and last-minute changes were still being made late Friday.

Textile traders and other sectors went on strike ahead of the launch and many businesses say they are unclear about what to charge.

The Bhartiya Udyog Vyapar Mandal, a national traders association that claims 60 million members, called a one-day strike Friday to protest the GST.

Many are worried because while returns have to be filed by computer, they do not have or do not understand computers.

"Since August last year we have put forward our demands on GST but the government has never responded," national secretary general Vijay Prakash Jain told AFP. "We told the government, either fix this, or we will strike."

Most economists agree the reform -- first proposed in 2006 -- is long overdue, but warn the initial shock to the economy is likely to drag, rather than stoke growth, as businesses adjust.

Credit Suisse managing director Neelkanth Mishra warned that "the next few months will be a period of uncertainty in which no company would want to invest, that slows down the investment cycle and acts as a drag on the economy."

Rating agency ICRA said that while GST would lead to an increase in compliance in some sectors, it would also reduce the competitiveness of the informal businesses who are expected to lose out to the formal and organised players.

"Although it is still far from perfect, we realise how much better it is than the myriad taxes we've been subjected to over the last several decades," said Pratik Jain, Partner and Leader Indirect Tax, PwC India.

"The old India was economically fragmented. The new India will create one tax, one market for one nation," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.

Friday, June 30, 2017

For Chinese gays, 'coming out' is a family affair

Yahoo – AFP, Dan Martin, June 29, 2017

Li Tao (L) and Duan Rongfeng are among a new generation of gay Chinese
willing to take a stand on their sexuality, despite family pressure to conform

When Piao Chunmei's son told her he was gay, she reacted the way many Chinese parents do, sleepless and crying for days due to the lingering shame of same sex relationships in China.

But she eventually accepted her son and is now part of an expanding network of gays and their parents who help other families cope with the stress of coming out in a country which until 2001 classified homosexuality as a mental illness.

Deep-seated cultural expectations for each generation to produce a male heir -- heightened by China's "one-child policy", which expanded to two in 2015 -- added to the pressure to conform. But a new generation is more willing to take a stand on their sexuality, despite what their relatives may think.

Piao and her fellow volunteers bridge the generation gap.

"We don't want to shut them in the closet where no one can see them," said Piao, an effervescent 54-year-old who works for a Shanghai cosmetics equipment company.

Taiwan's top court recently ruled in favour of same-sex marriage, Shanghai's low-key annual gay pride festival is in its ninth year, and opinion surveys increasingly indicate greater public acceptance of China's gays.

On May 20, "Lover's Day" in China, a group of mothers, affiliated with the US-founded PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), caused a stir by appearing at a Shanghai park where parents regularly display advertisements seeking marriage matches for their heterosexual children.

The gate-crashing parents did the same for their gay children -- before police escorted them out.

But coming-out in family-oriented China remains traumatic, often tearing households apart or leading to suicides. The fears are so intense that advocacy groups estimate millions lead a double life -- hiding their identity by marrying heterosexuals.

"Family is the most important part (of coming out) in terms of our emotions, but it's the hardest area to break through," said Duan Rongfeng, a 40-year-old gay Shanghai architect.

"Having two sons is even better. My one son has turned into two," says He 
Fenglanm who admits she initially struggled to cope when her son Li Tao (C) told
 her he was gay. Duan Rongfeng (L) and Li Tao (C) walking their dog together
 with Li Tao's mother, He Fenglanm in Shanghai.Coming-out in family-oriented China 
remains traumatic, often tearing households apart or leading to gay suicides. The fears
 are so intense that advocacy groups estimate millions of gays marry heterosexuals,
hiding their identities in miserable unions that often fail

Bridging the gap

Volunteers for PFLAG say they are seeing more people confident enough to come out, especially in cosmopolitan cities such as Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai, which are have more relaxed attitudes than rural areas.

PFLAG organises various discreet events but earlier this month arranged its biggest yet, a four-day ship cruise from Shanghai to Japan, which organisers said drew more than 1,000 people.

The group took to sea to avoid interference from authorities, as LGBT events are often abruptly shut down.

But Duan, also a volunteer, estimates more than 100,000 parents and children nationwide have been helped by PFLAG's loose network, which he said is expanding to smaller cities and China's interior.

Piao's initial devastated reaction to her son's announcement reflects the lack of understanding common among Chinese parents.

She wondered whether she had caused it by giving him too much candy as a child or if he was corrupted at university or by foreigners. She asked him to seek a medical cure.

But after reading about gay suicides, she relented.

"I was afraid he would disappear before my eyes," she said.

Coming-out in family-oriented China remains traumatic, often tearing households 
apart or leading to suicides. The fears are so intense that advocacy groups 
estimate millions lead a double life -- hiding their identity by marrying heterosexuals.  

'He can't change'

Anguished parents reach out to Piao daily by phone, social media, or in person. To some, she is affectionately called "Big Sister Mei," but others accuse her of corrupting their kids.

Her unwavering message: you can't change your child's sexual identity.

"I would give my life away to make him change," she admits of her own son.

"But he can't."

Piao said most Shanghai parents eventually come around and families end up stronger, but success is less assured outside major cities.

Fearing ostracism, Piao and her son relocated several years ago from northeastern China to Shanghai.

The support network helped He Fenglan, 55, pull out of a year-long spiral of despair after her son came out three years ago.

"The first thing I thought was, how could I face relatives? How could I face society? How could I face close friends? The problem of 'face' is very important," said He, who was "repulsed" by homosexuality.

But she added: "You see more and more gays coming out, as well as their parents. You feel you are not alone in this world."

Today she embraces her son's identity and the prospect of his relationships with a uniquely Chinese twist.

"Having two sons is even better. My one son has turned into two."