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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Monday, October 14, 2019

Pakistan PM in Tehran on mission to 'facilitate' Iran-Saudi talks

Yahoo – AFP, October 13, 2019

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
and warned against a conflict between Tehran and Riyadh (AFP Photo)

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Iran on Sunday on a mission to act as a "facilitator" between Tehran and Riyadh and try to defuse rising tensions in the Gulf.

Khan held talks with President Hassan Rouhani at the presidential palace and later met with Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to the leader's official website.

He is expected to visit Saudi Arabia next on Tuesday.

"The reason for this trip is that we do not want a conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran," Khan told reporters as he stood alongside Rouhani.

"Whatever it takes we must never allow this conflict to take place, because we know, Mr. President, that there is a vested interest that wants this to take place," he told Rouhani.

Noting that it was a "complex" issue that can be resolved through talks, Khan warned that any conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia would "cause poverty in the world".

Pakistan has strong relations with Saudi Arabia, with more than 2.5 million of its nationals living and working in the kingdom, but it also maintains good relations with Iran and represents Tehran's consular interests in the United States.

This is Khan's second visit this year to Iran, which shares a border of about 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) with Pakistan.

Emphasising that the visits to Tehran and Riyadh were Pakistan's "initiative", Khan said he was also approached by US President Donald Trump to "facilitate some sort of dialogue between Iran and the United States".

Iran's supreme told Khan that the Islamic republic has "no hostility" towards its neighbours but warned that whoever instigates war will "undoubtedly regret" it, Khamenei's official website said.

Khan lauded Khamenei's "personal commitment... to the cause of Kashmir", a region split between India and Pakistan and a regular source of conflict between the two neighbours, a statement from his office said.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Pakistani Premier Imran Khan that 
anyone who starts a war against the Islamic republic will "undoubtedly regret" it (AFP 
Photo/Handout)

Tanker attacks

Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads since the US withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in May last year and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic republic.

In talks with Khan, Rouhani repeated Iran's official line that the United States must return to the deal and lift sanctions before any talks can take place.

"Any goodwill gesture and good words will be reciprocated with a goodwill gesture and good words," he said.

Rouhani said he had expressed Iran's concern about Gulf security and especially a "missile attack" Friday on an Iranian vessel off the Saudi coast.

"We expressed our concerns to the prime minister about the incidents happening to oil tankers, especially the Iranian oil tanker in the Red Sea on Friday," he said.

Tehran says the Iranian-flagged Sabiti tanker was hit by two separate explosions off the Saudi port of Jeddah, making it the first Iranian vessel targeted since a spate of attacks in the Gulf that Washington has blamed on Tehran.

Rouhani said he had presented Khan with evidence from the incident and that investigations were ongoing.

"If a country thinks that it can cause insecurity in the region and not receive a proper response, it is mistaken," Rouhani said, without elaborating.

There has been a series of still-unexplained attacks on shipping in and around the vital seaway involving Iran and Western powers, as well as drone attacks on Saudi oil installations.

Washington has accused Tehran of attacking the vessels with mines and of being behind the drone assault, something it strongly denies.

Khan met both Rouhani and Trump at the United Nations General Assembly last month, shortly after he visited Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia.

The Pakistan premier said he was "very encouraged" by talking to Rouhani and will go to Saudi Arabia "in a very positive frame of mind", hoping the two countries can "iron out their differences."

Related Article:


Friday, October 11, 2019

Iran women freely attend football match for first time in decades

Yahoo – AFP, Amir HAVASI, Oct 10, 2019

Iranian women freely attend a football match in their ultra-conservative country
for the first time in around four decades (AFP Photo/ATTA KENARE)

Tehran (AFP) - Waving flags and snapping selfies, thousands of Iranian women on Thursday attended a football match freely for the first time in decades, after FIFA threatened to suspend the country over its controversial stadium restrictions.

Elated female fans wore the national green, white and red flag around their shoulders and over their hair as they streamed into a tiny section of Tehran's 100,000-capacity Azadi Stadium for Iran's 2022 World Cup qualifier against Cambodia.

Some donned sporty hats over their headscarves, while others painted their faces with the colours of the flag.

Their beaming smiles underscored a day that felt victorious for Iranian women, even before the match began.

And with every goal the Iranian team scored, the cheers in the women's section grew louder.

By the middle of the second half, Iran was leading with a blowout of 9-0.

For nearly 40 years, the Islamic republic has barred female spectators from entering football and other sports stadiums, with clerics arguing women must be shielded from the masculine atmosphere and sight of semi-clad men.

Last month, world football's governing body FIFA ordered Iran to allow women access to stadiums without restriction and in numbers determined by demand for tickets.

'Women of freedom'

That came after the death of Sahar Khodayari, who set herself ablaze last month outside a court in fear of being jailed for trying to attend a match.

Dubbed "Blue Girl" because of the colours of the club she supported -- Esteghlal FC -- she had reportedly been detained last year when trying to enter a stadium dressed as a boy.

Her death sparked an outcry, with many calling for Iran to be banned and matches boycotted.

Around 4,500 women managed to get their hands on tickets for Thursday's match, which was thinly attended overall, with only some 10,000 spectators in total.

Even before the starting whistle blew, female fans cheered joyfully as the name of each Iranian player was announced over the loudspeakers, an AFP journalist at the stadium said.

But many women who were unable to get tickets in time for the game were left disappointed.

"I'm 18 years old, and for 14 years I've dreamt of going to a stadium," student Guelareh told AFP. "But I didn't get a ticket."

While it is not the first time women have attended football matches in Iran, it is the first time they have been allowed to buy tickets.

On previous occasions, attendees have been handpicked by the authorities.

Saluting the move, pro-reform newspaper Sazandegui published a photograph of two female football supporters, coupled with the headline: "The women of freedom."

For some men too, Thursday's game was worthy of celebration.

"It's a great feeling that we're here together, finally. We only wish this can continue in the future," a male fan told AFP.

A FIFA delegation attended Thursday's match to ensure Iran honoured its pledge to allow women in.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

North Korea says to hold nuclear talks with US on Saturday

Yahoo – AFP, Kang Jin-kyu, October 1, 2019

Negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington have been gridlocked since a
second summit between North Korea's Kim Jong Un and President Donald
Trump in February ended without a deal (AFP Photo/SAUL LOEB)

Seoul (AFP) - North Korea and the United States will hold working-level nuclear talks on Saturday, Pyongyang said, signalling the resumption of dialogue that has been effectively stalled since the collapse of a summit in February.

The two sides agreed to have "preliminary contact" on October 4 and hold negotiations the following day, the North's vice foreign minister Choe Son Hui said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

"It is my expectation that the working-level negotiations would accelerate the positive development of the DPRK-US relations," she added without disclosing a venue.

US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus later confirmed the talks, which she said would happen "within the next week".

Negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington have been gridlocked since a second summit between North Korea's Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump in February ended without a deal.

The two agreed to restart dialogue during an impromptu meeting at the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas in June, but the North's anger at a US refusal to cancel joint military deals with South Korea put the process on hold.

Relations thawed last month after Trump fired his hawkish national security advisor John Bolton, who Pyongyang had repeatedly denounced as a warmonger.

North Korea's chief negotiator also responded positively to Trump's suggestion that the two sides try a "new method" of approaching their discussions.

Trump had criticised Bolton's suggestion of the "Libyan model" for North Korea, a reference to a denuclearisation deal with the African nation's former dictator Moamer Kadhafi -- who was killed after being deposed in 2011.

Pyongyang had bristled at that comment, which Trump said "set us back very badly".

Consensus reached?

Despite the gridlock, Pyongyang has continued to praise Trump, calling him "bold" and "wise".

Analysts say Bolton's dismissal from the White House could have helped Pyongyang's decision to return to the table.

South Korea's presidential Blue House welcomed Tuesday's announcement.

"We hope to see the realisation of practical steps towards permanent peace regime and complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula through the upcoming talks," said spokeswoman Ko Min-jung.

The announcement on the new talks could be an "indication" that the two sides have narrowed their differences behind the scenes, said Koh Yu-hwan, professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul.

"The North has demanded security guarantees in return for denuclearisation measures and called on the US to come up with 'new calculation', he said.

"Consensus between the two might have been reached regarding the matter in the lead-up to the Tuesday announcement," he added.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Saudi Arabia to enforce 'decency' amid tourism push

Yahoo – AFP, September 28, 2019

Saudi Arabia on Friday said citizens from 49 countries are eligible for online
e-visas or visas on arrival (AFP Photo/Fayez Nureldine)

Riyadh (AFP) - Saudi Arabia on Saturday said it would impose fines for violations of "public decency", including immodest clothing and public displays of affection, a day after the austere kingdom opened up to foreign tourists.

The interior ministry said it had identified 19 such "offences" but did not specify the penalties, as the ultra-conservative Islamic country begins issuing tourist visas for the first time as part of a push to diversify its oil-reliant economy.

"The new regulations require men and women to dress modestly and to refrain from public displays of affection. Women are free to choose modest clothing," a statement said.

"The regulations are meant to ensure that visitors and tourists in the kingdom are aware of the law relating to public behaviour so that they comply with it."

Saudi Arabia on Friday said citizens from 49 countries are now eligible for online e-visas or visas on arrival, including the United States, Australia and several European nations.

Kickstarting tourism is one of the centrepieces of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 reform programme to prepare the biggest Arab economy for a post-oil era.

But the conservative country, which forbids alcohol and is notorious for sex segregation, is seen as an unlikely destination for global tourists aside from Muslim pilgrims visiting holy sites in Mecca and Medina.

Men and women must avoid "tight fitting clothing" or clothes with "profane language or images", read an instruction on an English language website launched by the tourism authority.

"Women should cover shoulders and knees in public," it added.

But tourism chief Ahmed al-Khateeb said foreign women were not obligated to wear the body-shrouding abaya robe that is still mandatory public wear for Saudi women.

Prince Mohammed has sought to shake off his country's ultra-conservative image -- lifting a ban on cinemas and women drivers while allowing gender-mixed concerts and sporting extravaganzas.

The relaxed social norms in a kingdom have been welcomed by many Saudis, two-thirds of whom are under 30.

But new public decency guidelines, first approved by cabinet in April, are widely perceived to be vague and have sparked public concern that they would be open to interpretation.

They have also stoked fears of a revival of morality policing.

Saudi Arabia's religious police once elicited widespread fear, chasing men and women out of malls to pray and berating anyone seen mingling with the opposite sex.

But the bearded enforcers of public morality, whose powers have been clipped in recent years, are now largely out of sight.



Sunday, September 22, 2019

Taiwan dismayed as another Pacific nation switches to Beijing

Yahoo – AFP, Sean CHANG, September 20, 2019

Seven states have now switched allegiance from Taipei to Beijing during
President Tsai Ing-wen's tenure (AFP Photo/Daniel Shih)

Taipei (AFP) - Taiwan lashed out at China on Friday after the tiny island nation of Kiribati switched its recognition to Beijing, the second diplomatic defection in the strategically important Pacific in less than a week.

The move is another coup for Beijing just weeks before it celebrates the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

It comes four days after the Solomon Islands made the same decision, and leaves Taiwan more isolated than ever with just 15 states left that recognise it.

At a hastily arranged press conference, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen said Kiribati's decision was a "mistake", adding that the country of just over 100,000 people had "given up a sincere friend and chosen to be China's chess piece".

Taiwan has been a de facto sovereign nation since the end of a civil war in 1949, but China still views the island as its territory and has vowed to seize it, by force if necessary.

Over the decades, as China's economic and military power has grown, most countries -- including the United States and most Western nations -- have switched recognition to Beijing.

In the last decade, only a handful -- largely impoverished countries in Latin America and the Pacific -- have remained loyal to Taiwan. The only European state to still recognise Taiwan is the Vatican.

Beijing stepped up its campaign to diplomatically isolate Taiwan after Tsai's 2016 election because she hails from a party that refuses to recognise the idea that the island is part of "one China".

On Friday, Tsai said more suppression from China was expected with fewer than 100 days to go until Taiwan's January elections.

"They (China) have only one goal, that is to sway the outcome of the presidential election," she said.

Earlier that day, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu announced that Taipei would immediately withdraw its diplomats and expected Kiribati to do the same.

He said Beijing had "lured Kiribati to change its diplomatic ties" with promises of investment and aid.

Map showing the countries that have direct diplomatic ties with Taiwan. (AFP Photo/)

Taiwan elections looming

Beijing praised Kiribati for cutting ties with Taiwan, saying it "highly appreciates the decision to resume diplomatic relations with China".

Seven states have now made the switch during Tsai's tenure, during which China has also ramped up military drills and squeezed the island economically.

The small African nation of Sao Tome and Principe was the first to fall in late 2016, followed by Burkina Faso and then three Latin American states: Panama, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic.

Then on Monday came the Solomons, which had been deciding for months whether to make the move following the April election of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

Taiwan heads to the polls in January, with Tsai seeking a second term and relations with China dominating the campaign.

She has described the vote as a "fight for freedom and democracy", setting herself up as someone who can defend Taiwan from an increasingly assertive Beijing.

Her main challenger, Han Kuo-yu, from the opposition Kuomintang party, favours rebooting the relationship with the island's giant neighbour.

"Timing is a factor here," Alexander Huang, a professor of international relations at Taipei's Tamkang University, told AFP, saying the upcoming 70th anniversary celebrations and the looming elections had pushed Beijing to pursue fresh defections in the Pacific.

With voters heading to the polls within months, he said, "Taiwanese should think really hard about cross-strait relations with China. Do we want to continue with this hostility... or do we need to make adjustments?"

But J Michael Cole, a Taipei-based expert with the University of Nottingham, said Taiwan has largely shrugged off the loss of diplomatic allies in recent years, knowing it cannot compete in chequebook diplomacy.

"The hoped-for psychological impact on the Taiwanese population has been diminishing with every ally stolen and as Taiwanese realise that in the end, it's the large, democratic and influential countries -- like the US, Japan, Germany -- along with a number of middle powers, that truly matter to Taiwan's survival," he said.

"Taiwan has made substantial progress deepening ties with those, and this, in my opinion, has more than counterbalanced the loss of small, investment and aid-hungry states as official diplomatic allies."

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Suu Kyi 'culpability' in Rohingya abuses an 'open-ended question': UN investigator

Yahoo – AFP, 17 September 2019

Suu Kyi is a Nobel laureate who spent years in house arrest

UN investigators called Tuesday for an expert evaluation of whether Myanmar's civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi can be legally implicated in the abuses committed against the country's Rohingya minority.

The fact-finding mission to Myanmar, set up by the UN Human Rights Council, said they were not equipped to determine what level of responsibility Suu Kyi should shoulder for the Rohingya crisis.

"It will become a legal issue whether or not there is an element of culpability here," fact-finding mission chair Marzuki Darusman told reporters in Geneva.

The Human Rights Council recently created a panel to prepare criminal indictments over atrocities committed in the country -- the so-called Independent International Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) -- which could have the expertise to determine what responsibility Suu Kyi bears in the crisis.

A Rohingya child plays with a football inside a sewage pipe at a refugee camp

"It is still an open-ended question to what extent she might be implicated," Darusman said.

When asked if the Nobel laureate might be implicated, he said "that is for the judicial process to address," referring to the IIMM.

The fact-finding mission last year branded the army operation in August 2017 as "genocide" and called for the prosecution of top generals, including army chief Min Aung Hlaing.

Some 740,000 Rohingya fled burning villages, bringing accounts of murder, rape and torture over the border to sprawling refugee camps in Bangladesh, where survivors of previous waves of persecution already languished.

And in a damning report published Monday, the investigators warned that the 600,000 Rohingya still inside Myanmar's Rakhine state remain in deteriorating and "deplorable" conditions and continue to face a "serious risk of genocide".

Some 740,000 Rohingya fled burning villages, bringing accounts of murder,
rape and torture

The experts told the rights council on Tuesday that they had a confidential list of some 150 names, including officials, suspected of being involved in genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

'Criminal responsibility'?

Darusman said that the investigators initially shied away from laying blame on Suu Kyi, who spent years in house arrest before her party in 2015 won Myanmar's first fully free vote for generations.

He said that the fact-finding team had taken into account that Myanmar was "going through a transition, a democratic transition, and therefore in our first report we absolved Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi from any direct responsibility."

But while it was likely that Suu Kyi was not aware in August 2017 of the army's activities, "the issue now is that subsequently, there was no further addressing of this issue on her part," Darusman said.

Major Rohingya refugee camp populations in Bangladesh, as of Aug 15, 2019

Another member of the fact-finding mission, Christopher Sidoti, acknowledged that "it is clear that the civilian side of the government does not control the military side of the government."

But "the civilian side of the government has very substantial constitutional responsibilities," he said.

"The longer this goes on, the more impossible it is for the civilian side of the government to escape international criminal responsibility for the human rights situation in Myanmar."

The fact-finding mission, which was never granted access to Myanmar, is expected to wrap up its work during the ongoing session of the Human Rights Council, due to end next week.

But the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights situation in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, should continue monitoring the situation.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Indonesia arrests nearly 200 over raging forest fires

Yahoo – AFP, September 16, 2019

The fires -- usually started by illegal burning to clear land for farming -- have
unleashed choking haze across Southeast Asia (AFP Photo/ADEK BERRY)

Indonesia has arrested nearly 200 people over vast forest fires ripping across the archipelago, police said Monday, as toxic haze sends air quality levels plummeting and sparks flight cancellations.

Jakarta has deployed thousands of personnel to battle blazes that are turning land into charred landscapes and consuming forests in Sumatra and Borneo islands, where thousands of schools have been shut over health fears.

The fires -- usually started by illegal burning to clear land for farming -- have unleashed choking haze across Southeast Asia, triggering diplomatic tensions with Indonesia's neighbours.

On Monday, authorities said they had arrested some 185 people suspected of being involved in activities that led to out-of-control fires sweeping the country.

"Indonesian Police will enforce the law against anyone who is proven to have carried out forest and land burning, whether it was done intentionally or through negligence," National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo told reporters in Jakarta.

Indonesia's peat fires: a smouldering problem (AFP Photo/John SAEKI)

"This is a last resort. The most important thing is prevention."

Four corporations were also being investigated, he added.

Last week, Indonesia sealed off dozens of plantations where smog-belching fires were blazing, and warned that owners -- including Malaysia and Singapore-based firms -- could face criminal charges if there was evidence of illegal burning.

Some of the most serious fires occur in peatlands, which are highly combustible when drained of water to be converted into agricultural plantations.

Thick haze in Borneo -- where air quality levels have plummeted to "dangerous" levels in some areas -- caused the cancellation of about a dozen flights Sunday, national airline Garuda said.

Rival Lion Air said about 160 Borneo flights had been affected at the weekend.

Meanwhile, nearly 150,000 people have been treated for acute respiratory infections linked to the haze in recent months, according to Indonesian health authorities.

Nearly 150,000 people have been treated for acute respiratory infections 
linked to the haze in recent months (AFP Photo/Str)

While forest fires are an annual problem, the situation this year has been worsened by drier weather in Indonesia, with diplomatic tensions soaring as toxic smog drifts over to neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore.

The haze pushed Singapore's air quality to unhealthy levels for the first time in three years at the weekend.

In 2015, Indonesia suffered its worst forest fires for almost two decades, which dramatically increased its greenhouse gas emissions.

Huge fires tearing through the Amazon are also compounding concerns about the long-term impact of such blazes on keeping global temperature levels stable.

Related Article:


Sunday, September 15, 2019

Iran says 'blue girl' football fan admitted 'mistake'

Yahoo – AFP, 14 September 2019

Iran has come under increasing pressure to lift a ban on women entering
stadidums (AFP Photo/JONATHAN NACKSTRAND)

Tehran (AFP) - An Iranian football fan who set herself ablaze and died after being arrested for trying to enter a stadium had "confessed her mistake" when she was questioned, the judiciary said Saturday.

Sahar Khodayari, dubbed "blue girl" because of the colours of the team she supported, Esteghlal FC, was reportedly detained when she tried to enter a stadium dressed as a man to watch them last year.

She died of her injuries in a Tehran hospital after setting herself on fire outside a court last week.

Her death sparked outrage online, with celebrities and activists using the hashtag #blue_girl to urge the sport's world governing body FIFA to ban Iran from competitions and fans to boycott matches.

Iranian women spectators have been barred from football and other stadiums in the Islamic republic since 1981, despite international pressure to let them attend.

Iran's Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar on Tuesday asked the judiciary to investigate her death.

The judiciary said, without naming anyone, that a young woman had been arrested when trying to enter a stadium and faced charges of offending "public chastity and insulting" law enforcement officers.

On Saturday, judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said Khodayari "had clearly confessed her mistake during questioning, accepted it and expressed regret". He did not give further details.

Esmaili, who was quoted by the judiciary's Mizan Online website, said no sentence had been issued against her since there had been no trial to begin with.

The spokesman also dismissed reports she had been told she would be jailed for six months as "fabricated rumours and hearsay".

Esmaili said such reports "stirred public opinion" and provided material for "foreigners and enemies" of Iran.

Despite the boycott calls following her death, Khodayari's father told Mehr news agency that she did not "sacrifice" herself for any cause.

Iran has come under pressure from FIFA to allow women to attend qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, and was reportedly given a deadline of August 31 to comply.

The sports ministry said last month that women fans would be allowed into the stadium when Team Melli -- as the national team are known -- play their next home qualifier on October 10.

Clerics argue that Iran's ban on women attending sports events is to protect them from the masculine atmosphere and sight of semi-clad men.

Related Article:


Singapore air 'unhealthy' ahead of F1 race

Yahoo – AFP, September 14, 2019

Singapore may continue to experience hazy conditions over the next few days,
the environment agency warned (AFP Photo/Roslan RAHMAN)

Singapore (AFP) - Pollution from forest fires in Indonesia pushed Singapore's air quality to unhealthy levels for the first time in three years on Saturday, the government said, a week ahead of the Formula One night race in the city.

The toxic smoke caused by burning to clear land for plantations is an annual problem for Indonesia's neighbours, but has been worsened this year by particularly dry weather.

"There has been a deterioration in the haze conditions in Singapore this afternoon," the National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a statement.

"This was due to a confluence of winds over the nearby region that led to more smoke haze from Sumatra being blown toward Singapore," it said, referring to one of the Indonesian islands where fires are raging.

The NEA said the pollutant standards index (PSI) worsened to 112 in parts of the island Saturday night.

An index reading between 101-200 is considered unhealthy, with residents advised against doing prolonged strenuous exercises outdoors.

Singapore may continue to experience hazy conditions over the next few days, the agency warned.

The city-state of 5.6 million people was shrouded in a thin white haze, with a few residents seen wearing face masks, but there was no major disruption to daily activities.

The F1 race is scheduled from Friday to Sunday on a street circuit in the Marina Bay financial district.

Singapore GP, the Formula One organisers, said the possibility of haze is one of the potential issues covered in their contingency plan for this year's grand prix.

"The plan was formulated and refined with stake holders, government bodies and the Formula One community," Singapore GP said in an emailed statement.

"In the event that the haze causes visibility, public health or operational issues, Singapore GP would work closely with the relevant agencies before making any collective decisions regarding the event."

Neighbouring Malaysia has also been affected by the smoke, with air quality in parts of the country including the capital Kuala Lumpur reaching unhealthy levels over the past few days and triggering a diplomatic row with Jakarta.

In 2015, the index reached "hazardous" levels of more than 300 in Singapore, forcing the closure of schools. Indonesian forest fires were the worst in two decades that year, firing up smog that blanketed large parts of Southeast Asia for weeks.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Archbishop of Canterbury prostrates over 1919 India massacre

Yahoo – AFP, 11 September 2019

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby paid tribute to the hundreds of people
killed at Amritsar in 1919

Britain has never apologised for the 1919 massacre at Amritsar in India but the head of the Church of England prostrated himself to say sorry in a personal capacity and "in the name of Christ".

British troops fired on thousands of unarmed men, women and children in Amritsar on April 13, 1919, killing 379 people according to colonial-era records. Indian figures put the total closer to 1,000.

"I can't speak for the British Government as I am not an official of the British Government. But I can speak in the name of Christ," Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said as he visited the location in northern India on Tuesday.

"I am so ashamed and sorry for the impact of the crime committed. I am a religious leader, not a politician. As a religious leader, I mourn the tragedy we see here," he added at the site, known in India as Jallianwala Bagh.

Welby visited the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar

On Facebook he added that his visit aroused "a sense of profound shame at what happened in this place. It is one of a number of deep stains on British history. The pain and grief that has transcended the generations since must never be dismissed or denied."

The event 100 years ago marked a nadir in Britain's occupation of India, and served to boost Indian nationalism and harden support for independence.

In 1997 Britain's queen laid a wreath at a site during a tour of India. But her gaffe-prone husband Prince Philip stole the headlines by reportedly saying that the Indian estimates for the death count were "vastly exaggerated".

In 2013 David Cameron became the first serving British prime minister to visit Jallianwala Bagh. He described the episode as "deeply shameful" but stopped short of a public apology.

Ahead of centenary commemorations earlier this year, Cameron's since-resigned successor Theresa May on told parliament that Britain "deeply regretted what happened and the suffering caused." But she too didn't say sorry.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

China fury as HK's Joshua Wong meets German foreign minister

France24 –AFP, 10 September 2019


Berlin (AFP) - Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong has met Germany's foreign minister as he carries abroad his call to support the growing pro-democracy movement in the former British colony, a meeting slammed on Tuesday by China as "disrespectful".

Posting a photo of himself and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on his Twitter account, the 22-year-old said they spoke on the "protest situation and our cause to free election and democracy in HK".

Beijing reacted angrily at their meeting during an event organised by Bild daily, saying "it is extremely wrong for German media and politicians to attempt to tap into the anti-China separatist wave".

"It is disrespectful of China's sovereignty and an interference in China's internal affairs," said Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

"I want to stress once again that Hong Kong affairs are purely China's internal affairs. No foreign government, organisation or individual has the right to intervene," Hua said, adding that Beijing "strongly disapproves" of the meeting.

Wong, a prominent face in Hong Kong's growing pro-democracy protests, planned to hold talks with other German politicians during his visit to Berlin.

But there are no plans for Chancellor Angela Merkel to meet him, said her spokesman Steffen Seibert on Monday.

The activist's visit came on the heels of Merkel's trip to China, where she stressed Friday that the rights and freedoms of people in Hong Kong "must be guaranteed", after meeting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing.

Ahead of her three-day visit to China, demonstrators in the semi-autonomous city appealed to the German chancellor to support them in her meetings with China's leadership.

Wong himself had written an open letter to Merkel, seeking her backing.

- 'Hong Kong the new Berlin' -

Germany has emerged as a country of refuge for a number of Chinese dissidents in recent years, including Liu Xia, the widow of Chinese Nobel dissident Liu Xiaobo.

In May, two former Hong Kong independence activists were granted refugee status in Germany in what is one of the first cases of dissenters from the enclave receiving such protection.

Wong had arrived in Berlin late Monday after he was briefly detained in Hong Kong just before his departure to Germany following an error in his bail conditions from a previous detention.

He was among several prominent democracy advocates held late last month in a roundup by police as the city reels from more than three months of unprecedented pro-democracy protests.

Bild reported that Wong turned up late at the event it organised, but was still able to meet Maas at the gathering.

In a brief speech at the event, Wong vowed to "protest until the day that we have free elections".

"If we are now in a new Cold War, Hong Kong is the new Berlin," he said, referring to the post-war split between communist East Berlin and the democratic West.

"'Stand with Hong Kong' is much more than just a mere slogan, we urge the free world to stand together with us in resisting the autocratic Chinese regime," he added.

Wong was due to hold a public discussion on Wednesday evening at Humboldt University in Berlin and later travel to the United States.

He launched his career as an activist at just 12 years old and became the poster child of the huge pro-democracy "Umbrella Movement" protests of 2014 that failed to win any concessions from Beijing.

Wong has previously been jailed for involvement in those protests.