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, January 30, 2012

Thailand backs Twitter censorship policy

Thai government becomes first to publicly endorse Twitter's decision to permit country-specific censorship of content, Kate Hodal in Bangkok, Monday 30 January 2012

Yingluck Shinawatra, the Thai prime minister, has vowed to protect the
monarchy over the internet. Photograph: Jean-Christophe Bott/EPA

Thailand has become the first government to publicly endorse Twitter's controversial decision to censor messages in certain countries.

Twitter announced last week it would permit country-specific censorship of content thatcould violate local laws, prompting debate worldwide over freedom of speech.

In Thailand, where censorship laws are already heavily enforced, the information and communication technology minister, Jeerawan Boonperm, called Twitter's decision a "welcome development" and said the ministry already received "good co-operation" from internet companies such as Google and Facebook.

The Thai government would soon be contacting Twitter to "discuss ways in which they can collaborate", she told the Bangkok Post.

In China, the state-run Global Times also endorsed the new rules in an article on Monday: "It is impossible to have boundless freedom, even on the internet and even in countries that make freedom their main selling point," it said.

Twitter is blocked in China, but many users access the site by accessing external networks.

According to the regulations, a tweet from Thailand could be blocked at the request of an individual, a company, or the government. However, while it will be invisible to users in Thailand, the tweet can still be seen by users in other countries.

Thailand has some of the toughest censorship laws in the world, ranking it 153 out of 178 in Reporters Without Borders' 2011 Press Freedom Index. Thailand's lese-majeste regulations inhibit defamatory, insulting or threatening comments about the royal family, which are punishable by up to 15 years in prison, but under Thailand's 2007 computer crimes act prosecutors have been able to increase sentences.

Last year, a 61-year-old Thai national was jailed for 20 years for sending defamatory text messages about the monarchy, while a Thai-US citizen received a two-and-a-half year prison sentence for translating a banned biography of the king.

While the information ministry has blocked thousands of websites in recent years – mostly related to online gambling, pornography and lese-majeste cases – Monday's endorsement comes at a time of heightened tension over censorship rules.

A lese-majeste monitoring centre was opened in December and is manned 24 hours a day by staff trawling the net for offensive material. Facebook users already face potential jail time if they click "like" or "share" on any sites deemed offensive to the monarchy, while anyone sending a link, forwarding or revisiting websites with lese-majeste content also need beware, authorities have said.

Despite open and repeated calls for relaxed censorship laws, Yingluck Shinawatra last week said the monarchy should be respected and vowed to "protect the institution, not exploit it".

Thailand's endorsement on Monday could have profound ramifications across the region, said Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch Thailand, while it already "adds more damage to an already worrying trend in Thailand".

"Twitter gives space to different opinions and views, and that is so important in a restricted society – it gives people a chance to speak up," he said. "But if this censorship is welcomed by Thailand, then other countries, with worse records for human rights and freedom of speech, will find that they have an ally."

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi draws crowds on Burma election campaign trail

BBC News, 29 January 2012

Crowds gather wherever Aung San Suu Kyi goes

Burma: Battle for Democracy 

Burma's pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is visiting the coastal town of Dawei on a political tour ahead of by-elections on 1 April.

It is the first time she has ventured outside Rangoon for several months. The visit is seen as a test of how freely she and her party are able to campaign.

Thousands gathered to see the 66-year-old Nobel peace prize winner, who was released from house arrest in 2010.

Burma's military-backed government has embarked on a cautious reform process.

Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) is contesting all the available constituencies in the coming by-elections.

She herself is seeking office in the rural township of Kawhmu.

An NLD spokesman told the BBC Ms Suu Kyi's visit to Dawei was intended to help organise the local party ahead of the elections.

However, this is much more than just an administrative trip, says the BBC's Southeast Asia correspondent, Rachel Harvey.

Wherever Ms Suu Kyi goes, crowds gather, hoping to catch a glimpse of the woman who was kept under house arrest for 15 of the last 23 years.

In Dawei they stood by the road chanting: "Long live Aung San Suu Kyi."

AFP news agency quoted her as telling supporters: "If we move in the right direction our country will have many opportunities. We are eager to seize them."

Reform process

The Burmese government is planning to build a huge industrial complex in Dawei, which could transform the region.

Earlier this month the authorities cancelled plans for a coal-fired power plant there because of environmental concerns.

This was widely seen as a victory for local activists and a sign that the process of reform is developing, says our correspondent.

The poll in April will be the first time that Ms Suu Kyi will participate directly in an election. She was under house arrest in 1990 when the NLD won the election by a landslide. It was not allowed to take power.

The NLD boycotted the 2010 election that saw the military-backed civilian administration of President Thein Sein replace the military junta.

The new administration has since entered into dialogue with Ms Suu Kyi and has changed the electoral laws that led to the NLD boycott.

Dutch pension fund ABP sues Goldman Sachs

RNW, 28 January 2012

Dutch pension fund ABP is suing US investment bank Goldman Sachs for knowingly selling it junk mortgages and providing misleading information.

The ABP pension fund for government and education employees is the largest pension fund in the Netherlands and among the three largest in the world. Prior to the 2008 US mortgage and bank crisis, ABP invested large sums in bonds linked to US mortgages.

ABP accuses Goldman Sachs of misinforming the pension fund as to the credit worthiness of the bonds, which proved to be far riskier than the bank had suggested. This eventually caused ABP to suffer significant losses. ABP will not disclose the exact amount of the losses it suffered, a spokesperson announced on Saturday.

UAE speaker praises RI as democratic Muslim country

Antara News, Sat, January 28 2012

(ANTARA/Nila Fu'adi)
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - United Arab Emirates (UAE) Parliament Speaker Mohammad Ahmad Almour has praised Indonesia as an exemplary OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference) member country for its consistent adherence to democracy and tolerant Islamic culture.

According to the chairman of the Indonesian House of Representatives Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation Body, Hidayat Nurwahid, here Saturday Ahmad Almour praised Indonesia as a predominantly Muslim country that successfully practicing democracy,

The West had often said that Democracy and Islam could not go hand in hand and that the two could even come into conflict with each other, said Hidayat citing Almour`s statement at the Islamic parliamentary meeting in Palembang.

"Although the majority of its population is Muslim, Indonesia consistently implements democracy and it is therefore the pride of OIC," Hidayat quoted Almour as saying.

Hidayat also said the United Arab Emirates parliament hoped Indonesia could play a more significant role in straightening out the West`s negative view of Islam in relation with democracy.

Therefore many misunderstanding views about Islam can be reduced and Islam is not identical with terrorism.

"Indonesia is famous for treating quests in friendly, courteous and respectful ways. The chairman of the Parliament of UAE really appreciates this," said Marzuki Alie, Speaker of Indonesia`s House of Representatives on the same occasion.

Arab countries want the stigma of Islamic terrorism can be eliminated through Indonesian good relations with Europe and America.

"They thought Indonesia could be an agent for having good relations and appreciated by the US and Europe," he said.

Indonesia can show that democracy is not contrary to Islamic values and Islam is not terrorist, but the violence arises recently only committed by a small group of extremists that does not represent Islam.

Editor: Priyambodo RH

Friday, January 27, 2012

Press freedom under pressure in spite of Arab spring

RNW, 26 January 2012, by RNW News Desk      

(Photo: ANP)

Press freedom in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen has dropped drastically in the past year. The annual index for press freedom by NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) show that press freedom in Eritrea, North Korea and Turkmenistan continues to be poor - just like in other years. RSF describes these countries as “absolute dictatorships without civil rights”.

The revolutions in the Arab World have led to significant shifts in the index. Syria fell to de 176th place out of a total of 179 countries. According to RSF, large-scale censorship, violence and manipulation by the regime is making working as a journalist in Syria impossible. Bahrain and Yemen, where the opposition parties have been forced into silence, have also dropped in the index.

Tunisia, the country where the Arab spring began, is going in the right direction. Nevertheless, the new democracy cannot be said to have a free and independent press according to the RSF report. The report is also pessimistic about the situation in Egypt, where “the military leaders are continuing the dictatorial practices of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.”


In Africa, press freedom has increasingly come under pressure in the past year. Eritrea is still at the bottom of the list, and in Uganda in particular oppression by the regime has increased considerably. RSF is, however, positive about South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan last year. The new country has risen to what the RSF calls a respectable 111th place.

Latin America

In Latin America, press freedom in Chile has dropped to number 80. According to the RSF, security troops in particular have prevented the freedom of information of student protests. Press freedom in Cuba in 167th place still scores lowest in the region, Jamaica and Costa Rica are in the highest places in the region.

World powers

There is also criticism this year of press freedom in the largest world powers. China has dropped into the fifth before last place; the Chinese government has increased its control over the press and information and increased censorship of the internet. The United States fell to 47th place, mostly because of numerous arrests of journalists who reported on the Occupy Wall Street protests. Likewise Russia fell to 142nd place on the list.

The Press Freedom Index is traditionally led by European countries. Finland and Norway are both at number one, with a Estonia and the Netherlands sharing third place.

The 10 top countries in the Press Freedom Index:

1. Finland and Norway
3. Estonia and the Netherlands
5. Austria
6. Iceland and Luxembourg
8. Switzerland
9. Cape Verde
10. Canada and Denmark

The 10 countries with the least press freedom:

1. Eritrea
2. North Korea
3. Turkmenistan
4. Syria
5. Iran
6. China
7. Bahrain
8. Vietnam
9. Yemen
10. Sudan

Dutch FM under fire as activist stands trial in Japan

RNW, 26 January 2012

Related Article:

Foreign Minister
Uri Rosenthal
Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal has dismissed criticism that he is not doing enough for Dutch environment activist Erwin Vermeulen, who is on trial in Japan. The minister told Dutch news agency ANP that he is doing everything possible within international regulations, and more.

Mr Vermeulen was arrested in mid-December for allegedly pushing a Japanese hotel employee while taking photos of the transport of captured dolphins in the Japanese town of Tajii. Mr Vermeulen, who works for environmental organisation Sea Shepherd, has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Critics, including the Dutch Animal Rights Party, say the trial is politically motivated. Minister Rosenthal has dismissed this and the suggestion that Mr Vermeulen will not have a fair trial, saying: “The Netherlands considers Japan to be an orderly, democratic state where the rule of law applies”.

Minister Rosenthal also rejects suggestions that the Dutch government's position on this case is influenced by trade and political relations with Japan.

The trial of Mr Vermeulen is taking place amid the continuing debate on whaling. The Netherlands' position in this debate is that Japan should adhere to the international rules which allow only limited whaling. Sea Shepherd is involved in the international anti-whaling campaign, as well as the campaign to end the annual slaughter of dolphins in Japan.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Australian PM Flees Aboriginal Protesters

Jakarta Globe, January 26, 2012

Australian prime minister Julia Gillard, center, is escorted by police and
 bodyguards out of an award ceremony after aboriginal tent embassy
 demonstrators, protesting the settlement of Australia some 224 years ago,
 tried to get into the building in Canberra on Thursday. About 200 protesters
trapped Prime Minister Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott in a
Canberra restaurant before police arrived to clear a passage for the pair. (EPA Photo)

Related articles

Sydney. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott were bundled out of a Canberra building on Thursday after it was besieged by Aborigines angry at Abbott’s call for the 40-year-old “Aboriginal Tent Embassy” to be demolished.

What is little more than a hut near Parliament House is a totem of Aboriginal activism and a must-see building for tourists visiting the national capital.

Gillard slipped and almost fell as she was hustled out of the building by security personnel and through a cordon of protesters chanting “shame” and “racist.” The prime minister lost a shoe as she was dragged to her car by security officers. The demonstrators chased the car, banging on the hood and the roof.

No one was injured and no arrests were made.

Tent embassy founder Michael Anderson accused Abbott of “inciting racial riots” by picking Australia’s national day to call for the site to be cleared.

Australia Day symbolically marks the arrival of white settlers in 1788 and the proclamation of British sovereignty over what was then claimed to be an uninhabited island.

“You’ve got 1,000 people here peacefully protesting, and to make a statement about tearing down the embassy — it’s just madness on the part of Tony Abbott,” Anderson said.

Indigenous Australians number around 500,000 out of a population of 23 million.

Suicides are twice the national average, murders are six times as high and Aborigines are 11 times more likely to be imprisoned than other Australians.

Most live on welfare and 60 percent of Aboriginal pupils do not finish high school and only 12 percent go on to some form of higher education.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Davos Forum’s Global Elite Damaged by Year of Scandals

Jakarta Globe, Simon Kennedy, January 24, 2012

Employees install a sign for the World Economic Forum on the Congress
 Center in Davos, Switzerland, on Monday. Some 1,600 economic and political
 leaders, including 40 heads of states and governments, will converge at the chic
ski town for the 42nd edition of the five-day forum that opens today. (AFP Photo)
Related articles

Davos Man is approaching his annual Alpine get-together with humility after spending the past year getting fired, arrested, belittled and occupied.

When the World Economic Forum’s conference gets under way in the Swiss ski resort today, several past stars will be missing from the swirl of policy debates and cocktail parties.

News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch is embroiled in a phone hacking scandal. Oswald Gruebel quit as chief executive officer of UBS after a $2.3 billion loss from unauthorized trading. Philipp Hildebrand left the Swiss National Bank in a furor over his wife’s currency transactions. Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned as International Monetary Fund managing director after sexual-assault charges, later dropped, were filed against him.

As “OccupyWEF” protesters build igloos under the eye of Swiss security forces, the leaders of this year’s Davos may try to profit from the mistakes of their predecessors by embracing transparency and ethics.

Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit, a co-chairman of the meeting, is calling for the financial industry to be more open amid panel discussions with such titles as “Is 20th-century capitalism failing 21st-century society?”

“Davos Man has taken on the lessons of recent years and is asking how to do things differently,” said Richard Edelman, president and chief executive of public relations agency Edelman, who is attending the conference. Businesses and policy makers are having to “process accurately the vox populi.”

The need for them to do so is demonstrated by Edelman’s annual poll on trust, released on Monday in conjunction with the Davos meeting. Trust in government fell a record 9 percentage points to 43 percent, while faith in business slid to 53 percent from 56 percent.

The credibility of CEOs slid 12 points to 38 percent, the largest drop in nine years, and banks and financial services remained the two least trusted industries. The online survey questioned a total of 30,600 people in at least 25 countries from Oct. 10 to Nov. 30 last year.

“Davos Man is not this caricature of the rich and powerful person,” Klaus Schwab, founder of the forum, said on Monday.

“Davos Man is a person who, as I define it, should be concerned with the present state of the world and who should be ready to engage and contribute so that the state of the world is improved.”

The term “Davos Man” was created by the late Samuel Huntington, a professor at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to describe those with international visions who view governments’ only use as easing “the elite’s global operations.”

The 42nd annual meeting of the World Economic Forum embodies the “1 percent,” to use the phrase popularized by the young protesters who spent more than eight weeks occupying New York’s Zuccotti Park last year.

Among scheduled attendees are bank CEOs such as Pandit and Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase and corporate chiefs Peter Voser of Royal Dutch Shell and Cisco Systems’ John Chambers. At least 70 billionaires are to be present, including investor George Soros and Microsoft founder Bill Gates. They will join about 2,600 other delegates discussing the world outlook.

The image of financial, corporate and governmental powers have taken a hit as the “occupy” protests, the Arab Spring uprisings and recent marches in Moscow highlighted rising unemployment and income inequality, said Tina Fordham, senior global political analyst at Citigroup and a member of the forum’s Global Agenda Council. It helps shape the forum’s work.

There is “a reduced willingness to tolerate the perceived excess of elites and the old social order, and heightened potential for protests to cause disruption, violence and pressure to alter the legislative agenda,” she said.

Not everyone has gotten the message. Three years after he used the Davos stage to pledge Russia wouldn’t turn toward “isolationism and unbridled economic egoism” and as he seeks to return to the presidency, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is facing the biggest protests against his rule in 12 years. They were sparked by alleged fraud in the Dec. 4 parliamentary election, in which his United Russia party retained power.

In the financial world, Davos Man took a pay cut. Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman, who is scheduled to attend the forum, had his 2011 pay reduced by 25 percent from a year earlier. Goldman Sachs cut average compensation and benefits expenses 21 percent in the same period.

Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia, a New York-based investment consultancy, detects a generational transition. While Murdoch, 80, began posting on Twitter last month, it’s executives less than half his age who will be more alert to the demands of consumers and to accepting less privacy given the rise of social media, he said.

As younger leaders “start taking a role and grow in influence and importance, then you’ll see a different sensibility in terms of how they interact with the global public,” Bremmer said.

There will be plenty of room for them.

Murdoch is absent again. A year ago, he canceled his participation in a panel discussion at the forum as British police stepped up an investigation into phone-hacking allegations by News Corp. newspapers.

News Corp. spokesman Jack Horner said Murdoch was busy this year.

Gruebel, who two years ago was privately huddling in Davos with counterparts to discuss how to reassert their influence with regulators and governments, quit in September after UBS fell victim to a rogue trader.

High-profile locals are also missing from Davos this year. Hildebrand, who as a student worked in the resort as a bell boy and limousine driver, is a no-show after he resigned as SNB president this month. His credibility was questioned following the disclosure his wife bought $504,000 in the days before the SNB imposed a currency cap on the franc.

Two former Davos stars have been incarcerated in the past year. Strauss-Kahn, who as IMF chief used a Davos debate four years ago to push governments to ease fiscal policy, is back in Paris after being arrested in New York and charged with attempted rape and sexual assault.

Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, the son of the former Libyan dictator, was named a Young Global Leader at the forum in 2006. He was captured by rebels in November while trying to flee to Niger a month after his father was killed in Libya’s overthrow.

Some of the falls from grace reflect the aftershocks of the recent credit crisis and the resulting pushes for greater income and democratic equality, said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at Englewood, Colorado-based IHS and a Davos delegate.

“Severe income disparity” was cited as one of the greatest threats to global prosperity over the next decade in the forum’s annual review of risks published on Jan. 11.

Organizers have made some nods to the emerging theme. The opening panel on capitalism in modern times will involve Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation. Later in the week, the role of business in society will be discussed, as will whether banks are a cure or curse for the world economy.

“The focus on ethics and responsibility and social justice will be much greater this time around,” said Behravesh.

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Iraqis condemn U.S. Haditha sentence as insult

Reuters, by Fadhel al-Badrani, FALLUJA, Iraq | Tue Jan 24, 2012

(Reuters) - A three-month jail sentence for a U.S. Marine sergeant accused of leading a massacre of 24 civilians in Haditha is "an insult to all Iraqis," a relative of one of the victims said Tuesday.

Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich


Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, 31, pleaded guilty Monday at a military base in California to dereliction of duty and faces a maximum sentence of three months' confinement, forfeiture of two-thirds of his pay for three months and a reduction in rank.

"This sentence gives us the proof, the solid proof that the Americans don't respect human rights," Ali Badr, a Haditha resident and relative of one of those killed, said. "This is an insult to the victims and an insult to all Iraqis."

The last American troops pulled out of Iraq in December more than eight years after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The Haditha killings, along with the abuse of inmates at Abu Ghraib prison and a 2007 shooting spree by security contractors in Baghdad, sullied America's image around the world.

Khalid Salman, a lawyer for the Haditha victims' relatives, said he could not believe the sentence and had to check that it was true.

"This is not a traffic felony," said Salman, who had a cousin killed in the massacre.

He criticized the length of time it took to bring the case to justice and vowed to appeal on behalf of the relatives to a U.S. court. He said the verdict "undervalues Muslim blood."

Wuterich was accused of being the ringleader in a series of November 19, 2005, shooting and grenade attacks that left two dozen civilians dead in Haditha, a city west of Baghdad that was a hotbed of insurgent activity.

His guilty plea was part of a deal with U.S. military prosecutors in which more serious charges of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault were dismissed.

Saleem al-Jubouri, the head of the human rights committee in the Iraqi parliament, said: "It (the three-month sentence) is a violation of Iraqis' dignity and does not match the size of the crime committed and underestimates the value of human life."

He said the committee would convene Wednesday to discuss the sentence and called on the Iraqi government to issue a strong condemnation.

In the 2004 Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal U.S. troops photographed themselves humiliating and intimidating detainees.

In September 2007, Blackwater workers shot dead at least 14 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad's Nisour Square, an incident that provoked protests in Iraq and prompted the government to deny the company a licence.

"This is a disgraceful sentence for an inhuman crime that lines up with the Abu Ghraib scandal and Nisour Square massacre," said Hussein Ali, a 40-year-old Baghdad engineer.

"History will mention this sentence and will show how the Americans have a black history that disrespects human blood."

Afghan mother in 'extremely rare' sextuplets birth

BBC News, 24 January 2012

Doctors say that the six babies - who have not been named yet -
are well but under-weight

Related Stories 

An Afghan mother has given birth to six children at a hospital in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

The woman was not aware she was carrying more than one child and had not received fertility treatment.

Doctors say the mother arrived in hospital on Monday and gave birth on the same day to three boys and three girls. It was her first pregnancy.

Doctors say that having six children without fertility treatment is extremely rare.

Afghanistan has one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world.


The mother, named as Sharah, 24, arrived in Mazar-e-Sharif hospital from a remote village in Balkh province. 

Sharah is exhausted after the
unexpected birth of her six children
Provincial Health Director Mirwais Rabi told the BBC that all six babies are well but under-weight, with one only weighing about 700g (25oz).

Mr Rabi said the sextuplets were being kept inside incubators and a special team of nurses and doctors are looking after them.

The mother is said to be in good health but exhausted.

Doctors say that had they been aware that she was carrying six children, she would have been in hospital at least several days in advance.

The BBC's Bilal Sawary in Kabul says Sharah's story has made headlines on Afghan television and radio stations.

"She is brave, she is amazing," one resident said, "I don't know how she carried six children. The government should help her now."

A 2010 survey revealed that infant and under-fives mortality rates appeared to be decreasing.

Experts say that despite recent improvements, Afghanistan remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a pregnant woman or a young child.

One in 10 children in Afghanistan still dies before they are five years old, the survey said.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tourists in India told to avoid 'human safaris' as row widens

Since Gethin Chamberlain revealed how Andaman Islands tribes people were being bribed and bullied into 'performing' for tours, India's government has taken up the cause of ethical tourism. But some travel companies still offer titillating trips to remote areas to see their indigenous people, Gethin Chamberlain, Saturday 21 January 2012

They are holidays billed as an opportunity to enter another world, a chance to see the world's last primitive tribes up close in their natural environment.

The brochures tease and at times, critics say, titillate. Take the Delhi-based Aces Indian Tours, which invites visitors to travel to see the Bonda people, an ancient tribe found in the remote hilly regions of the state of Orissa. The website breathily offers to provide an insight into utterly different lives. "On the northwest of river Machkund", it states, "live the wildest, rudest and possibly the most interesting tribe known as Bonda Tribe. The scanty dress of the Bonda women and homicidal tendency of Bonda males make them most fascinating people."

It is this kind of exotic invitation that has now come under unprecedented scrutiny in India, raising ethical issues that also apply to similar tours in other remote regions of the world.

Every year, thousands of western tourists visit India in search of the exotic. But two weeks after an Observer investigation exposed the degradation of "human safaris" in the Andaman Islands – which are in Indian territory – the country's travel industry has entered a bout of soul-searching. The Observer exposed video evidence that Jarawa tribeswomen had been bullied into dancing for convoys of visitors on the islands' main road. The reaction has been furious. Sonia Gandhi, leader of the ruling Congress party, has taken a personal interest in the 400-strong Jarawa's fate and is understood to be frustrated by the lack of action to protect them. At a meeting last week of the powerful National Advisory Council, which she chairs, members denounced the "deplorable situation of the exploitation of the Jarawa tribe".

The investigation has now prompted the home minister, P Chidambaram, to demand the interrogation of those responsible. He has flown to the Andamans to tell officials there to act swiftly to prevent further abuse of the tribe. Tribal affairs minister V Kishore Chandra Deo said: "It's deplorable. You cannot treat human beings like beasts for the sake of money. Whatever kind of tourism is that? I totally disapprove and it is being banned."

But what about elsewhere in India, and in other parts of the world? In the case of the Jarawa, there is little doubt that the tribespeople have been exploited by unscrupulous locals and insensitive visitors. Elsewhere, ethical lines are usually more blurred, but the risk of damaging contact with vulnerable communities is very real.

In 1989, India introduced the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in an attempt to protect indigenous communities from "indignities, humiliations and harassment". But with the number of tourists across the world expected to hit a billion this year and previously inaccessible places beginning to open up for more and more people, how close should travellers be allowed to come to vulnerable communities?

One of the most popular destinations in India is Orissa, where tour operators promise sightings of the insular Bonda when the tribespeople leave their homes to go to a market in the village of Onkadeli. Entry into the Bonda's own villages is illegal: the tribe do not invite attention and many dislike being photographed, but the market offers a way to view them, and the tours continue. Even the state tourist board uses images of the tribe in its adverts.

Royal India Holidays, with offices in India and the US, offers a tribal tour of Orissa where it promises tourists can "see the lifestyle of tattooed, heavily beaded, nearly naked tribal people, their day to day activity and their extremely primitive way of living".

The company says it is recognised by India's ministry of tourism. Its brochure describes a trip to the Jeypore area of Orissa: "After breakfast, an excursion to the nearby hills where most amazing and fierce Bondas Tribes (naked people) reside. They are also known as Remo meaning 'people'. The Bonda are generally semi-clothed, with the women characterised by the wearing of thick silver necklace bands. The tribe is one of the oldest and most primitive with their culture little changed in over a thousand years. The best way to view members of the tribe is by going to local markets held every Thursday."

Company owner Newton Singh told the Observer that most tours in Orissa focused on the tribes. He said he believed that the company was operating within the law but it relied on local agents in Orissa. He said he understood the objections and would review the tours. "I don't want to do anything against the laws of humanity," he said.

Bhubaneswar-based Dove Tours offers a tour of Orissa in which, it explains, "the area we visit is the home of the approximately 6,000 members of the fierce Bondas (naked people). They live in the remote hills and keep themselves isolated … They can only be seen when they come to trade at the local market, and we must time our visit to coincide with the weekly market day."

Gagan Sarangi, speaking for the company, said it operated within responsible guidelines and only dealt with tourists who would respect the tribe. He said foreign tourists were barred from the Bonda's area, but it was still possible to spot them in the markets. "We are totally against any kind of unethical practices in the tribal area," he said.

Survival International, which campaigns on behalf of tribal peoples, is sceptical that such a high-minded approach is reflected by what takes place on the ground. The charity's director Stephen Corry said: "We are now in the 21st century, not the 19th. Colonialism should be a thing of the past. Tribes are not cultural relics, nor should they be treated like animals in a zoo.

"They are not ancient or backward, but adapting like everybody around us to a changing world. This should entitle them to the same rights and freedoms as the very tourists who are taking their photographs.

"Promoting tours by using derogatory terms such as 'primitive', and advertising their 'nakedness', shows a clear lack of respect."

Corry said tour operators had no right to promote tribal people as a tourist attraction. "Forcing them to dance in return for sweets and biscuits, for the amusement of onlookers, is only possible where they're viewed as somehow less than fully human," he said. "Sadly, the existence of human safaris in the Andamans is not isolated, but replicated in other areas of India. It is crucial tourists boycott such unethical 'attractions', so there is no fuel in the market to drive such tasteless practices."

Association of British Travel Agents spokesman Sean Tipton said the travel industry recognised the necessity of regulating and monitoring interaction between tourists and tribes. "Customers should always seek permission before taking photographs of indigenous people, or indeed any local people. This is a matter of courtesy and cross-cultural sensitivity."

Sue Ockwell, for the Association of Independent Tour Operators, was also keen to emphasise that its member companies were against the sort of "tacky tourism" seen in the Andamans. "The aim of Aito is to ensure that host destinations and local people at tourism destinations benefit from tourism as well as those who take tourists," she said.

"Unfortunately, exploitation does still occur – from child prostitution to the type of practice described in the Andamans. It requires action by UK tour operators and associations such as Aito and Abta and it also requires action by governments in the destinations affected. It is only by working together that this sort of business can be stamped out."

Clearly, though, more needs to be done. Blogging about a visit to Onkadeli, one tourist noted that the attention of tourists was clearly unwelcome to some of the tribal people: "There were a few tourists around (including myself) and truth be said, it all felt a little rude and intrusive! Some of the adivasis [indigenous tribes] were clearly uncomfortable with camera-wielding tourists, so I started to only take pictures with their permission. This would almost always result in my having to part with 10 rupees [about 13p]!"

British travel firm Audley Travel, winner of three Guardian-Observer travel awards for best small tour operator, offers tours to Orissa in which it promises sightings of the Bonda tribe, despite acknowledging that photographing them may be banned. The company said it firmly advocated responsible tourism and only took individuals or couples.

"They are accompanied by tour guides who are well briefed on the cultural sensitivity of the situation, particularly photography. Our clients themselves are intelligent, informed travellers whose last intention would be to 'gawp' at local people."

Meanwhile, in the Andaman Islands, police say they have made some progress in identifying those responsible for filming the video publicised by the Observer, which is now believed to have been shot in September or October of 2008. "The police team is questioning several tour operators and taxi drivers of the city in an effort to track down the source of the video," said S B Tyagi, superintendent of police. Officers have raided several shops in the town in an attempt to seize videos of the Jarawa that have been circulating among tour operators and which are sold to tourists.

Police announced on Thursday that a senior officer had been placed in charge of monitoring the road and said they had arrested two tour operators named in the Observer report.

The lieutenant governor of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Bhopinder Singh, has been ordered to take action to prevent further exploitation of the Jarawa. Tribal affairs minister Krishna Chandra Deo described the incident as "disgraceful and a shame on all of us" and said the tribe should be treated as humans, not aliens.

As the country digests the implications of the scandal, Corry said tourists considering visiting tribal areas needed to think very carefully about the long-term effects on tribal peoples, instead of the "fleeting thrill of the experience or the glory of the story once back home".

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