Asean Summit, Malaysia on Nov 21, 1015

Asean Summit, Malaysia  on Nov 21, 1015
Asean Establishes Landmark Economic and Security Bloc
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) - Text version)

“….. Here is the prediction: China will turn North Korea loose soon. The alliance will dissolve, or become stale. There will be political upheaval in China. Not a coup and not a revolution. Within the inner circles of that which you call Chinese politics, there will be a re-evaluation of goals and monetary policy. Eventually, you will see a break with North Korea, allowing still another dictator to fall and unification to occur with the south. ….”

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)









North Korean defector criticises China in rare Beijing talk

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

US under fire in global press freedom report

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Millions in India gather for world's largest religious event

Yahoo – AFP, January 14, 2019

Pilgrims travel from every corner of India for the ritual dip (AFP Photo/
CHANDAN KHANNA)

The largest religious gathering anywhere on earth gets underway Tuesday, with tens of millions of Hindu pilgrims congregating in India to bathe in sacred rivers for the Kumbh Mela.

Organisers are expecting the enormous spiritual festival in Allahabad to attract more than 100 million devotees over the next 48 days, with seas of pilgrims camped by the riverside.

The ancient city in northern Uttar Pradesh state rises alongside the banks of the Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati rivers.

The confluence of the three -- known as Sangam -- is considered especially holy and Hindus believe bathing there during the Kumbh helps cleanse sins and brings salvation.

"This pilgrimage gives me peace of mind and an opportunity to reflect on my life," said Sangeeta Gangotri, a pilgrim who travelled 650 kilometres (403 miles) from Nagpur in western Maharashtra state to Allahabad.

Naked, dread-locked holy men smeared in ash and sadhus clad in saffron
robes wander the crowds (AFP Photo/SANJAY KANOJIA)

The riverbank has transformed into a riot of noise and colour.

Naked, dread-locked holy men smeared in ash and sadhus clad in saffron robes wander the crowds, offering blessings to pilgrims who have travelled from every corner of India for the ritual dip.

"All the Gods descend on this sacred place during this period. This is the most auspicious event for any human being," said Chandhans Pandey, a 60-year-old devotee.

"I have been planning to attend (for) many years."

The last major gathering in Allahabad in 2013 drew 120 million devotees, organizers said -- with 30 million plunging into the holy waters on a single auspicious day.

Nearly 30,000 police have been deployed to oversee crowds for the huge undertaking, and prevent stampedes that have marred previous gatherings.

A tent city with restaurants, roads and marketplaces has sprung up along
the river (AFP Photo/SANJAY KANOJIA)

A tent city with restaurants, roads and marketplaces has sprung up along the river, with pilgrims camped out across a sprawling 45-square kilometre zone specially earmarked for the Kumbh.

"More people are drawn to the Kumbh now," Ganeshanand Bharamachari, a 78-year-old pilgrim from nearby Varanasi and a Kumbh veteran, told AFP.

"People, mostly from cities, are becoming increasingly religious because the western life they were living has not led them anywhere."

The Uttar Pradesh state government, led by a firebrand Hindu priest, has heavily promoted this year's Kumbh, which comes as India prepares for a general election in April and May.

The Mela was recognised as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in
 2017 (AFP Photo/SANJAY KANOJIA)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party is in power in Uttar Pradesh, visited Allahabad in December to inaugurate a high-tech command centre to manage the Kumbh.

The historic city was even renamed Prayagraj in October by the state's conservative government, stripping its centuries-old Muslim moniker and replacing it with an ancient Hindu title.

But the city is still widely known as Allahabad, the name given by Islamic rulers that reigned over India hundreds of years ago.

The Mela, which runs until March 4, was recognised as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2017.



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Monday, January 14, 2019

Bangladesh garment workers clash with police as strikes roll on

Yahoo – AFP, Sam JAHAN, January 13, 2019

Garment workers in Bangladesh have been demanding a wage rise, closing
factories and taking to the streets in huge marches (AFP Photo/MUNIR UZ ZAMAN)

Thousands of Bangladeshi garment workers churning out clothes for top global brands walked off the job Sunday and clashed with police as protests over low wages entered a second week.

Police said water cannons and tear gas were fired to disperse huge crowds of striking factory workers in Savar, a garment hub just outside the capital Dhaka.

"The workers barricaded the highway, we had to drive them away to ease traffic conditions," industrial police director Sana Shaminur Rahman told AFP about Sunday's strike action.

"So far 52 factories, including some big ones, have shut down operations due to the protests."

One worker was killed on Tuesday after police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at some 5,000 protesting workers.

Bangladesh is dependent on garments stitched by millions of low-paid tailors on factory floors across the emerging South Asia economy of 165 million people.

Roughly 80 percent of its export earnings come from clothing sales abroad, with global retailers H&M, Primark, Walmart, Tesco and Aldi among the main buyers.

Union leader Aminul Islam blamed factory owners for resorting to violence to control striking workers.

"But they are more united than ever," he told AFP. "It doesn't seem like they will leave the streets, until their demands are met."

The protests are the first major test for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina since winning a fourth term in December 30 elections marred by violence, thousands of arrests and allegations of vote rigging and intimidation.

Late Sunday, the government announced a pay hike for mid-level factory workers after meeting with manufacturers and unions. Not all unions have signalled they will uphold the agreement.

Babul Akhter, a union leader present at the meeting, told AFP the deal should appease striking workers.

"They should not reject it, and peacefully return to work," he told AFP.

Minimum wages for the lowest-paid garment workers rose by a little over 50 percent this month to 8,000 taka ($95) per month.

But mid-tier tailors say their rise was paltry and fails to reflect the rising costs of living, especially in housing.

'No work, no pay'

Bangladesh's 4,500 textile and clothing factories shipped more than $30 billion worth of apparel last year.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters' Association, which wields huge political influence, warned all factories might be shut if tailors do not return to work immediately.

"We may follow the 'no work, no pay' theory, according to the labour law," association president Siddikur Rahman told reporters.

Last year Bangladesh was the second-largest global apparel exporter after China. It has ambitious plans to expand the sector into a $50 billion a year industry by 2023.

But despite their role in transforming the impoverished nation into a major manufacturing hub, garment workers remain some of the lowest paid in the world.

The industry also has a poor workplace safety record.

The Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in 2013 killed more than 1,130 people in one of the world's worst industrial accidents.

Following the disaster, major retailers formed two groups to introduce factory reforms. The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters' Association says its members have since invested $1 billion in safety upgrades.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Saudi woman held at Bangkok airport says fears death if repatriated

Yahoo – AFP, 6 January 2019

Rahaf told AFP she was stopped by Saudi and Kuwaiti officials when she
arrived in Suvarnabhumi airport

A Saudi woman held at Bangkok airport said she would be killed if she was repatriated by Thai immigration officials, who confirmed the 18-year-old was denied entry to the country Sunday.

Rahaf Mohammed M Alqunun told AFP she was stopped by Saudi and Kuwaiti officials when she arrived in Suvarnabhumi airport and her travel document was forcibly taken from her, a claim backed by Human Rights Watch.

"They took my passport," she told AFP, adding that her male guardian had reported her for traveling "without his permission".

Rahaf said she was trying to flee her family, who subjected her to physical and psychological abuse.

"My family is strict and locked me in a room for six months just for cutting my hair," she said, adding that she is certain she will be imprisoned if she is sent back.

"I'm sure 100 percent they will kill me as soon as I get out of the Saudi jail," she said, adding that she was "scared" and "losing hope".

Rahaf was stopped from entering Thailand when she flew in from Kuwait on Sunday, Thailand's immigration chief Surachate Hakparn told AFP.

"She had no further documents such as return ticket or money," he said, adding that Rahaf was currently in an airport hotel.

"She ran away from her family to avoid marriage and she is concerned she may be in trouble returning to Saudi Arabia. We sent officials to take care of her now," he said.

He added that Thai authorities had contacted the "Saudi Arabia embassy to coordinate".

But Rahaf disputed his account, saying that she was in transit to seek asylum in Australia, where she claimed to have a visa, and was accosted by Saudi and Kuwaiti embassy representatives when she deplaned in Suvarnabhumi airport.

Human Rights Watch Asia deputy director Phil Robertson decried the actions of the Thai authorities.

"What country allows diplomats to wander around the closed section of the airport and seize the passports of the passengers?" he said, adding that there is "impunity" within the family unit in Saudi Arabia to abuse women.

Immigration head Surachate said Rahaf would be sent back to Saudi Arabia by Monday morning.

"It's a family problem," he said of the case.

Another Saudi woman, Dina Ali Lasloom, was stopped in transit in the Philippines in April 2017 when she attempted to flee her family.

An airline security official told activists that Lasloom was heard "screaming and begging for help" as men carried her "with duct tape on her mouth, feet and hands" at the airport.

The Saudi embassy in Thailand and officials in Riyadh could not be reached for immediate comment.







Saudi to notify women of divorce by text message

Yahoo – AFP, January 6, 2019

A Saudi woman looks at her mobile phone in the capital Riyadh (AFP Photo/
FAYEZ NURELDINE)

Riyadh (AFP) - Saudi courts will notify women by text message when they get divorced, in a new regulation that took effect on Sunday, officials said.

The measure approved by the justice ministry appears aimed at curbing seemingly rampant cases of men secretly ending marriages without informing their wives.

"Women... will be notified of any changes to their marital status via text message," the justice ministry said in a statement carried by state-run Al-Ekhbariya news channel and other local media.

"Women in the kingdom will be able to view documents related to the termination of their marriage contracts through the ministry's website."

The move comes as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler spearheads a liberalisation drive in the conservative kingdom, which has some of the world's toughest restrictions on women.

In June last year, women celebrated taking the wheel for the first time in decades as the kingdom overturned the world's only ban on female motorists.

The kingdom has also allowed women to enter sports stadiums, previously a male-only arena, and is pushing for greater participation of women in the workforce as it seeks to diversify its oil-dependent economy.

But in tandem with the reforms, the kingdom has seen a wave of arrests of women activists in recent months as it steps up a crackdown on dissent.

The country also faces criticism over its male guardianship system, which allows men to exercise arbitrary authority to make decisions on behalf of their female relatives.

On Sunday, an 18-year-old Saudi woman held at Bangkok airport said she would be killed if she was repatriated by Thai immigration officials.

Pleading her case on Twitter, the woman -- who wanted to seek asylum in Australia -- said she was trying to flee her family, who subjected her to physical and psychological abuse.


Monday, December 31, 2018

N. Korea's Kim vows more summits with South next year: Seoul

Yahoo – AFP, December 30, 2018

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly "expressed a strong determination
to visit Seoul while watching future situation" (AFP Photo/KCNA VIA KNS)

Seoul (AFP) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to meet the South's President Moon Jae-in "frequently" next year to discuss denuclearisation of the peninsula in a rare letter sent to Seoul, Moon's office said Sunday.

The leader of the isolated North met with Moon three times this year -- twice at the border truce village of Panmunjom and once in the North's capital Pyongyang -- as a reconciliatory push gathered pace.

During Moon's visit to Pyongyang in September, Kim promised to pay a return visit to the South's capital Seoul "at an earliest date," sparking speculation he may visit by the end of this year.

But the much-anticipated trip has not yet materialised, which left the young ruler feeling "much regret," according to Kim's letter sent to mark the end of the year, Moon's spokesman said.

The North's leader "expressed a strong determination to visit Seoul while watching future situation," Kim Eui-kyeom told reporters.

Kim Jong Un also "expressed an intention to meet with Moon frequently in 2019" to pursue peace and "solve the issue of denuclearising the peninsula together," the spokesman said.

The official did not elaborate on how the letter was delivered.

Moon welcomed the latest message, saying Kim had also expressed "active intention to carry out agreements" made in his previous summits with the US and the South, without elaborating further.

"I welcome chairman Kim's intention to solve together the issue of denuclearisation...by meeting frequently even next year," Moon said in a statement.

The two neighbours technically remain at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended with a ceasefire instead of a peace treaty.

Moon -- a dovish former human rights lawyer -- has advocated dialogue to push the impoverished but nuclear-armed North toward denuclearisation.

Cross-border ties improved markedly in 2018 as Kim made a series of reconciliatory gestures -- including a historic summit with US President Donald Trump in June in Singapore.

But progress in pushing the North to give up its atomic arsenal has stalled as Washington and Pyongyang accuse each other of dragging their feet and acting in bad faith.

Critics say North Korea has made no concrete commitments and is unlikely to surrender its nuclear weapons, while Washington's policy of maintaining pressure through isolation and sanctions has left Pyongyang seething.

Trump said last week that he was "looking forward" to his second summit with Kim, which the US says may take place early next year.

Friday, December 28, 2018

N. Korea admits farming failures amid food shortages

Yahoo – AFP, 27 December 2018

Agricultural production is chronically poor in North Korea

North Korea has acknowledged "drawbacks" in its agricultural sector this year, echoing UN reports of declining crop yields in a country that remains heavily reliant on food imports and aid.

Agricultural production is chronically poor in the North, which has periodically been hit by famine, with hundreds of thousands dying -- some estimates say millions -- in the mid-1990s.

Premier of the government cabinet, Pak Pong Ju, referred to "drawbacks made by some farms and units in the past" at a national meeting of farming officials that took place in Pyongyang this week, state media said on Thursday.

"He said that they failed to conduct seed production and management in a responsible way and also fell short of doing proper strain distribution," Pak was quoted as saying by the KCNA news agency in an English-language report.

He "underscored the need to attain the goal of grain production" set out in a five-year development plan that wraps up in 2020.

The North has been less hesitant in highlighting shortcomings and policy failures through its state media since leader Kim Jong Un succeeded his late father Kim Jong Il in 2011.

North Korea has been less hesitant in bringing out shortcomings and policy
 failures through its state media since leader Kim Jong Un succeeded his late 
father Kim Jong Il

The young, Swiss-educated leader has occasionally been reported rebuking officials for failing to satisfactorily carry out tasks.

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization said this month that the isolated, nuclear-armed state would need to import 641,000 tonnes of food in the coming year. The figure is up from 456,000 tonnes this year, when it bought 390,000 tonnes and received 66,000 tonnes in food aid.

There was a widespread lack of access to food in the North, it said.

North Korea was one of 40 countries -- 31 of them in Africa -- identified by the FAO as in need of external assistance for food.

UN agencies estimate that 10.3 million people in the North need humanitarian assistance.

But donor funding has dried up in the face of political tensions over its weapons programmes, with critics saying the provision of aid encourages Pyongyang to prioritise its military ambitions over adequately providing for its people.

David Beasley, the head of the UN's World Food Programme, said in May that there was undoubtedly a hunger problem in North Korea but it was not on the scale of the 1990s famine.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Exonerated but not free: Asia Bibi to spend Christmas in custody

Yahoo – AFP, David STOUT, 23 December 2018

Asia Bibi was on death row for eight years before her death sentence was overturned

Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi will celebrate Christmas under guard, despite being cleared of the blasphemy charges that kept her in jail since 2010.

Bibi -- a former labourer who was on death row for eight years -- remains a prime target in conservative Muslim-majority Pakistan, with extremists calling for her blood and the government refusing to reveal her location out of fear for her safety.

"It's too dangerous... People want to kill her," said Yousaf Hadayat, a resident from one of Islamabad's impoverished Christian ghettos, littered this week by a smattering of Santa hats and Christmas trees.

Security this Christmas, like many before it, will be tight with the government set to deploy armed forces to the Christian colonies.

Residents say they feel more uneasy than ever during the religious holiday while Bibi's fate continues to loom large.

"We're afraid," said Pastor Munawar Inayat at Holy of Holies Church in Islamabad. "We can't speak against anyone."

Residents of the Christian ghettos like Pastor Munawar Inayat say they feel 
uneasy as Asia Bibi's fate continues to loom large during Christmas

The Supreme Court overturned Bibi's death sentence for blasphemy in October, and she has legally been a free woman ever since.

But the ruling ignited days of violent demonstrations that paralysed large swathes of the country, with enraged Islamists calling for her beheading, mutiny within the powerful military and the assassination of the country's top judges.

The government has since launched a crackdown on the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party -- the Islamist group driving the violent protests -- charging its leaders with sedition and terrorism.

But authorities also struck a deal with the protesters to end the violence, forming an agreement which included allowing a final review of the Supreme Court's judgement.

Bibi, who is seeking asylum abroad, is believed to be in protective custody inside Pakistan as the review continues.

But there is no clear timeline for when it will be completed.

A government spokesman refused to comment on its status, saying only that the matter is with the court.

Security will be tight this Christmas around Pakistan's Christian communities

Analyst Fasi Zaka warned that the longer Bibi remains in limbo, the greater the danger. "For some elements if they don't have access to Asia Bibi they'll find stand-ins for their vengeance," he told AFP.

'Lightning rod'

Blasphemy continues to be a massively inflammatory issue in Muslim-majority Pakistan, where even unproven accusations of insulting Islam can spark lynchings.

Many cases see Muslims accusing Muslims. But rights activists have warned that minorities -- particularly Christians -- are often caught in the crossfire, with blasphemy charges used to settle personal scores.

"This is a lighting rod issue that affects a whole community," said Zaka.

The allegations against Bibi date back to 2009, when a fight erupted between her and fellow Muslim labourers, who later accused Bibi of blasphemy. She was convicted under Pakistan's controversial anti-blasphemy laws and in 2010 sentenced to death.

Since her acquittal speculation has been rife that an asylum deal with a European or North American country may be in the works.

While Asia Bibi remains in custody, Christians in the 100 Quarters Colony are
 preparing for Christmas with their families

Many residents of the 100 Quarters Colony in Islamabad cautioned against Bibi's release, saying her safety would only be guaranteed once she was granted asylum in a foreign country.

"No, no. She cannot stay," said resident Hadayat.

Polio campaign worker Shahnaz Arif argued against Bibi's ongoing custody. "We should get the same freedom that others enjoy," she said.

Even so she admitted she was afraid, citing Pakistan's long history of political assassinations, including some over blasphemy.

"There is not enough security for our leaders -- we are just poor citizens," she explained.

Blacklisted

Christians -- who make up around two percent of the population -- occupy one of the lowest rungs in class-obsessed Pakistani society, largely living in slums and working menial jobs as street sweepers, cleaners and cooks.

Christians occupy one of the lowest rungs in Pakistani society, largely living in slums 
like the 100 Quarters Colony and working menial jobs as street sweepers, cleaners 
and cooks

The tension comes as Washington added Pakistan this month to a blacklist of countries that it says wantonly violate religious freedom, citing the country's high number of blasphemy convictions and failure to hold perpetrators targeting religious minorities to account.

Islamabad later dismissed the US move as politically motivated.

Back in the 100 Quarters Colony, residents said their thoughts were with a mother who has already spent many Christmases in solitary confinement.

"Christmas is celebrated with near and dear ones, and not in custody," said Christmas decoration seller Amjab Burgkat.

"There are security fears, but she should celebrate Christmas with her family."

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Tearful S. Korean Olympic champion tells court of coach abuse

Yahoo – AFP, December 18, 2018

South Korean Olympic short track champion Shim Suk-hee told a court her coach
had been beating her since she was seven leaving her "deeply traumatised" (AFP
Photo/YONHAP)

Double Olympic gold medallist Shim Suk-hee broke down in tears as she told a South Korean court of the years of abuse she suffered at the hands of her coach.

Aged 21, the short-track skater has four Olympic medals to her name, including relay golds at both Sochi 2014 and on home ice at this year's Pyeongchang Games.

But she told a court that her coach Cho Jae-beom had been beating her since she was seven -- on one occasion breaking her fingers -- leaving her "deeply traumatised".

His violence "kept escalating" as she grew older, she said at the hearing in Suwon, south of Seoul.

"He frequently beat me and verbally abused me since I was seven... at one point beating me with an ice hockey stick and breaking my fingers," she said.

Another time he hurled metal nuts at her, ripping open her forehead.

Just weeks ahead of the Pyeongchang Olympics, "he kicked and punched me so hard, especially on my head, that I even thought 'I could die here'," she said, breaking down.

South Korea is a regional sporting power and is regularly in the top 10 medal table places at the summer and winter Olympics. It is the only Asian country other than Japan to have hosted both Games.

But in an already intensely competitive society, winning is everything in its sports community -- where coaches hold immense sway over athletes' careers, and physical and verbal abuse are known to be rife. Those who speak out are liable to be sidelined and castigated as "traitors".

Cho admitted to police that he beat Shim and three other athletes at their training camp to "improve their performance" and was given 10 months in prison for assault at his trial in October.

But he appealed against the sentence.

Shim said she had been "brainwashed" by Cho who threatened to end her sporting career if she spoke out, saying she had been "gripped by extreme fear and anxiety" about Cho all her life.

"I'm getting psychological treatment for depression, anxiety, sleep disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder," she said.

The pre-Pyeongchang beating left her concussed and she blamed it for affecting her performance at the Games, where she failed to match her medal haul from Sochi, which included silver in the 1500m and bronze in the 1000m.

She did not testify at Cho's original trial for fear of "having to confront him", she told the hearing on Monday, "but I mustered up courage because I thought I needed to speak the truth".

The South Korean women's curling team -- another star of this year's Winter Games, whose unexpected run to the final and a silver medal earned them global headlines -- have accused their coaches of verbal abuse and exploitation.

The team -- nicknamed "Garlic Girls" after the local specialty of their rural hometown -- said the managers had banned them from talking to other athletes, did not share how donations and prize money were being spent and censored all gifts and letters from fans.


Sunday, December 16, 2018

Bishop from China's underground Catholic church steps down: state media

Yahoo – AFP, December 15, 2018

An agreement struck in September paved the way for a rapprochement between
the Holy See and Beijing (AFP Photo/Nicolas ASFOURI)

A bishop from China's underground Catholic church will step down at the request of the Vatican to make way for a candidate recognised by Beijing, state-run media reported, amid a thaw in relations.

There are an estimated 12 million Catholics in China, divided between a government-run association whose clergy are chosen by the Communist Party and the unofficial church which swears allegiance to the Vatican.

An agreement struck in September on the appointment of bishops paved the way for a rapprochement between the Holy See and Beijing, establishing diplomatic ties for the first time since 1951.

Guo Xijin, bishop of the underground church in eastern Fujian province was appointed by the Pope, but his title was never recognised by Chinese authorities, who have detained and questioned him several times in the past.

His decision to step aside follows a rare visit this week by an official Vatican delegation to the Chinese capital, the state-run daily Global Times said on its website on Friday.

The religious leader was at the centre of this week's negotiations between China and the Vatican, who have been asking him to leave his post since 2017 to allow for talks aimed at normalising relations with Beijing.

"I will become the auxiliary bishop, and bishop Zhan Silu will be the diocesan bishop in Mindong," Guo told the Global Times, adding that the underground and official churches of the diocese will merge.

In September, Pope Francis agreed to recognise the appointment of seven bishops appointed by the communist authorities without his consent.

The Vatican's accord with Beijing was signed after a clampdown on religious worship in China.

Churches have been destroyed in some regions, crosses have been removed from church steeples, church-run kindergartens have been closed and authorities have clamped down on Bible sales.

Earlier this week, dozens of members of a prominent unofficial Protestant church and their pastor went missing in southwest China after authorities raided their homes, churchgoers said.

The police sweep occurred Sunday night, according to a statement from the Early Rain Covenant Church, which is based in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Beyonce, Bollywood, Hillary as India's richest daughter weds

Yahoo – AFP, December 12, 2018

Isha Ambani was set to wed Anand Piramal in the Ambanis' 27-storey home
in Mumbai (AFP Photo)

Topping anything in hit film "Crazy Rich Asians", the only daughter of India's richest man ties the knot Wednesday after days of lavish celebrations that included a Beyonce concert in a lakeside palace.

Isha Ambani, whose father is tycoon Mukesh Ambani, was set to wed Anand Piramal, son of Indian billionaire industrialist Ajay Piramal, in the Ambanis' 27-storey home in Mumbai.

Days of pre-wedding festivities at a sprawling palace in Udaipur in the desert state of Rajasthan included a concert by Beyonce, purportedly the bride's favourite singer.

Attendees included Hillary Clinton, former US Secretary of State John Kerry and dozens of Bollywood stars including Salman Khan and Aamir Khan as well as cricket superstar Sachin Tendulkar.

Joining them was a who's-who of India's super-rich elite, arriving on dozens of specially chartered flights into Udaipur's normally sleepy airport and whisked away in expensive cars.

Attendees at pre-wedding festivities in the desert state of Rajasthan included 
Hillary Clinton (AFP Photo/Handout)

Actress Priyanka Chopra and American singer Nick Jonas, who themselves became husband and wife earlier this month, were also guests at Udaipur's City Palace on the banks of Lake Pichola.

Wednesday evening's actual wedding was set to be a more private affair with around 600 close friends and family, and some politicians, expected to be on the guest list.

There was a high police presence in the south Mumbai area around the Ambanis' home, which is called Antilia and reportedly cost over $1 billion when it was completed in 2010.

Indian newspapers have been abuzz with speculation about the total cost of the wedding. Conservative estimates have put it around $15 million while others insist $100 million is closer to the truth.

Ambani, 27 and Piramal, 33 got engaged at Lake Como in Italy in September and the high-profile wedding brings together two of India's biggest industrialist families.

Mukesh Ambani is the chairman of oil-to-telecoms conglomerate Reliance Industries. He is worth more than $47 billion and recently overtook China's Jack Ma as Asia's wealthiest man.

The respective families will hold several other receptions across India's financial 
capital in the coming days (AFP Photo/Handout)

The respective families will hold several other receptions across India's financial capital in the coming days.

The wedding caps a big month for what social media users have been calling "big fat Indian weddings". The Chopra-Jonas nuptials came shortly after Bollywood stars Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh wed.

Not everyone is happy though.

"Isha Ambani's wedding is a perfect example of the wealth inequality in India," wrote one Twitter user.

"Here you have one of the richest families in the nation spending so much while millions still can't even afford food or shelter," she added.

"The new standard for lavish Indian wedding is Beyonce. Imagine," tweeted another.