Asean Summit, Malaysia on Nov 21, 1015

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

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

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

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

North Korean defector criticises China in rare Beijing talk

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

US under fire in global press freedom report

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

… The Shift in Human Nature

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

India Pledges $370 Million to Start Women’s Bank, Promote Safety

Bloomberg, Andrew MacAskill - Feb 28, 2013

India’s government said it will create the country’s first bank exclusively for women, and set up a fund to boost female empowerment in honor of the victim of a brutal gang rape that reverberated around the world.

Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram announced the state-owned bank will be provided with 10 billion rupees ($185 million) in initial capital and will mostly lend to women-run businesses and self-help groups. He said he plans to get a license for the lender by October. The proposed Nirbhaya Fund will also be given 10 billion rupees, with the Ministry of Women and Child Development given charge of assessing priorities.

“Recent incidents have cast a long, dark shadow on our liberal and progressive credentials,” Chidambaram said in his budget speech today. “We have a collective responsibility to ensure the dignity and safety of women.”

The murder and gang rape of a medical student on a moving bus in December shocked India, drawing attention to the scale of sexual violence in the world’s largest democracy. India was named the fourth worst place in the world to be a woman after Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Pakistan in a 2011 survey by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The survey cited female feticide, human trafficking, sexual violence and poor education for India’s low score in the global rankings.

Missing Women

Two of the most powerful women in Indian politics -- president of the ruling Congress party, Sonia Gandhi, and Sushma Swaraj, the leader in the lower house of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party -- banged their desks in praise after the program was announced.

Women make up just 24 percent of India’s workforce of 478 million people, according to a report last year called “India’s Economy: The Other Half” by the Center for Strategic and International Studies based in Washington. Among senior-level employees, women account for 5 percent, compared with a global average of 20 percent, the report said.

As more women enter public spaces for work or education they are facing increased violence, Chidambaram said. As a result he announced more money to be spent on improving their safety. Nirbhaya -- which means fearless in Hindi -- a pseudonym for the unidentified Delhi gang rape victim used by Indian media.

The gang rape set off a charged debate in a country where a woman was raped every 22 minutes in 2011, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. There were 572 cases of rape reported in New Delhi that year, a 23 percent increase from 2008. The rise may reflect a greater confidence in reporting assaults.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew MacAskill in New Delhi at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at

China to construct public opinion polling platform

Want China Times, Xinhua 2013-02-28

China will build its largest-ever platform for conducting online public surveys, a senior researcher said Wednesday.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) will gather 600,000 volunteers to take part in the surveys over the next three years, with their opinions to be sent to policymakers in central government branches and local governments, according to Liu Zhiming, a senior CASS researcher in charge of the program.

Increasingly outspoken netizens are actively discussing every aspect of China from politics and economics to social issues, according to Liu.

Online opinions are critical for the Chinese government to make fair policies and maintain stability, said Liu.

The number of Internet users reached 564 million, or 43 percent of the country's population, by the end of 2012, according to figures released by the China Internet Networks Information Center.

Sina Weibo, China's biggest microblogging site, had over 500 million subscribers by the end of 2012, Sina Corp. announced on Feb. 20.

Netizens have accrued greater power in shaping society in recent years, using microblogs and other forms of new media to expose corrupt government officials and voice their opposition to government policies.

Xi Jinping speaks in Beijing in January.

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The 2013 State of the Union Address (Enhanced Version)

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Update from Ashtar via Mike Quinsey: Obama’s State of the Union Address !!

“We begin today’s message by congratulating the President of the United States on celebrating his inauguration, which will begin within minutes now. It is truly a time to be joyous. I, Michael, am most pleased to extend congratulations from the entire company for I speak. We understand the very difficult position which he has been in, and know that his path will become increasingly clearer as we progress from this point. We urge all to support him in love and light.“  Read More

Obama hugs Michelle, and makes Facebook history

"... We shall give you an example. We and many other messengers in the light have told you the truth about Barack Obama, a highly evolved soul from a civilization far advanced in spirituality, intelligence and ancient wisdom. The highest universal council asked him to leave his homeland and accept the mission of leading the United States and your world into an era of peace, prosperity and unity.

We have explained that his mission, which transcends politics worldwide, is a provision of the Golden Age master plan that is aligned with Gaia’s vision of Earth’s residents living in harmony with each other and with Nature. Then   Gaia’s planetary body and all of its life forms will be in balance, wherein all is light. We have asked you to send light to President Obama because it will hasten the day when that balance is attained.

Also we have mentioned in previous messages that the tenacity of the dark ones caused about a ten-year delay in your progress as a society. The delay didn’t deter Earth’s ascension one whit—her timing was predestined—but it severely curtailed Obama’s ability to carry out his mission because powerful individuals within the Illuminati still had the power to derail, distort or detour his efforts.

A large part of their effectiveness has come from people whose third density perceptions have been sending forth the energy of “anti-Obama” thoughts and feelings. That energy has been refueling the dark ones and enabling them to keep a strong chokehold on the president’s endeavors to move your world toward Gaia’s vision.

It is natural to question why that would include killing, and many feel that Obama’s approval of using drones shows that he is not of the light. That perspective omits this essential element: The drones’ purpose is to kill as few persons as possible while ending warfare as quickly as possible.. ..."

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rodman and NBA group 'visit N. Korea'

Yahoo - AFP News, 26 February 2013

Dennis Rodman arrives for his enshrinement ceremony at the Basketball
Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, on August 12, 2011.

Retired US basketball superstar Dennis Rodman is among a group of current and former NBA coaches and players visiting North Korea, Chinese state media reported Tuesday.

Xinhua news agency, citing a North Korean foreign ministry official, said the group arrived in Pyongyang Tuesday and would spend a week in the country.

The group, which also includes three current members of the Harlem Globetrotters exhibition team, will play matches and attend other events, Xinhua said, adding they would depart the country on March 5.

Leader Kim Jong-Un, who succeeded his late father Kim Jong-Il in December 2011, is reportedly a major fan of NBA basketball, particularly of former Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan.

Rodman, 51, played alongside Jordan at the Bulls in the 1990s.

The visit follows a trip to North Korea last month by Google chairman Eric Schmidt and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson. Schmidt said afterwards that he strongly urged the North to embrace Internet freedom.

The North has come under intense international criticism since carrying out its third underground nuclear test this month, following the launch in December of a long-range rocket.

The country has hinted it could carry out more nuclear and missile tests if the UN Security Council tightens sanctions against it.

A US delegation, including former NBA star Dennis Rodman,
 sixth from right, and three members of the Harlem 
Globetrotters basketball team, posing for a photo after
 arriving in Pyongyang, North Korea, Feb. 26, 2013, for a one 
week cultural exchange trip. (EPA Photo/KCNA)

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Myanmar leader in Oslo on first Europe trip

Yahoo – AFP, Pierre-Henry DESHAYES, 26 February 2013

Myanmar President Thein Sein attends a meeting with local civil society
organizations in Yangon on January 20, 2013.

Myanmar President Thein Sein arrived in Oslo on Tuesday, kicking off his first trip to Europe aimed at forging stronger ties between the former pariah state and the West.

The reformist leader landed at Oslo's international airport, Norwegian officials said, for a three-day stay in the Scandinavian country to be followed by visits to Finland, Austria, Belgium and Italy before he returns to Myanmar on March 8.

The former junta general has impressed the international community with a string of reforms since coming to power in early 2011, including welcoming long-detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi into parliament and freeing hundreds of political prisoners.

Thein Sein's trip to Norway follows Suu Kyi's own landmark visit to Oslo last year, where she made her long-awaited Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in person for the honour awarded her in 1991, as she spent the better part of two decades under house arrest.

While in Oslo, Thein Sein was due to discuss issues pertaining to future democratic reforms, development aid, the environment and economic cooperation, though no major agreements were expected to be signed, Norwegian foreign ministry spokesman Kjetil Elsebutangen said.

"Many positive things have taken place in Myanmar in recent years but there is still more to be done," Elsebutangen said.

"On the Norwegian side, we think it's important to support these positive developments and to try to help those who are moving things in the right direction," he added.

Thein Sein, described as a discreet and loyal conservative, is due to hold talks with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide, and meet with members of the Myanmar community in Norway.

A highly-symbolic interview with the opposition radio Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), long based in Oslo, was included as a possibility in his official programme but remained to be confirmed.

The trip to Belgium was meanwhile due to include both bilateral and "EU high level meetings", a European diplomat told AFP.

A second European diplomatic source said the topics to be discussed would include sanctions and development aid as well as economic reforms, the country's human rights record and efforts to negotiate peace in ongoing conflicts.

After the swift reforms Thein Sein undertook after coming to power, the European Union responded last April by suspending all sanctions apart from an arms embargo, while the United States has also dismantled many of its key trade and investment sanctions.

But concerns remain over an ongoing conflict in the northen state of Kachin and communal Buddhist-Muslim unrest in the western state of Rakhine.

Chinese Official Yan Linkun Caught On Camera Trashing Airport After He Misses Flight

WHAT happens when an angry Chinese official misses his flight? Say goodbye to your computers, your telephone and your airport signs.

The man, identified as Yan Linkun, a member of China's top level government advisory board CPPCC, went to breakfast with his wife at Kunming's Changshui airport after purchasing his plane ticket.

His breakfast was a leisurely one. So leisurely that they missed the boarding.

What happens next was captured on CCTV. It's not pretty.

Mr Linkun approaches the boarding gate with his wife. After speaking to staff members he is denied boarding. Mr Linkun and his wife are asked to wait.

Instead, they try to open the door to the tarmac. It doesn't work. As his frustration builds Mr Linkun moves back to the boarding gate desk. He grabs the computer keyboard and points aggressively at the female airline staff member.

Then Mr Linkun starts to smash things. First the computer keyboard. He rips it from it's socket and smashes it against the floor. Then he destroys the computers, then the phones. Not content with that damage he finds the airport signs.

A large crowd gathers as Mr Linkun picks up the boarding gate sign and smashes it against the locked airport tarmac door. Once everything is smashed Mr Linkun appears to address the crowd as his wife rips up her ticket.

During the tirade, security staff can be seen gathering on the other side of the boarding gate barrier. They watch, but don't move.

Philippines law gives compensation to Marcos victims

BBC News, 25 February 2013

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Filipinos have been marking the 27th
 anniversary of the uprising which
ousted Marcos
The Philippine president has signed a law to give compensation to victims of the country's former leader, Ferdinand Marcos.

The government has set aside at least 10bn pesos ($224m: £148m) to compensate thousands of people who suffered rights abuses in the Marcos era.

The money was recovered from Swiss bank accounts secretly maintained by Marcos during his 20 years in power.

President Benigno Aquino said the move would "right the wrongs of the past".

"We may not bring back the time stolen from martial law victims, but we can assure them of the state's recognition of their sufferings that will help bring them closer to the healing of their wounds," he said at a ceremony in Manila.

Marcos introduced martial law, under which thousands of people were detained, tortured or "disappeared" by the security forces.

The law marks 27 years since Marcos was ousted in the country's "People Power" revolution, which was headed by Mr Aquino's mother, Corazon Aquino.

It calls for the establishment of a human rights board, which will assess each claim and award compensation accordingly.

The bill's sponsor, Senator Francis Escudero, said it would also offer non-monetary compensation where needed, including social and psychological assistance, the Philippines Star reports.

Loretta Ann Rosales, head of the Philippines rights commission who was herself tortured under Marcos, said the law was "essential in rectifying the abuses" of the era and would allow victims a sense of justice, AFP reports.

However another rights campaigner, Marie Hilao-Enriquez, told AFP there were "so many victims that when you divide it to everyone it will not result to much".

Marcos died in exile in Hawaii in 1989.

Monday, February 25, 2013

South Korea's first woman president takes office

Deutsche Welle, 25 February 2013

South Korea's first female president has taken the oath of office. In her inaugural address, Park Geun-hye urged North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions and promised a new era of economic prosperity.

Park, 61, took her oath before 70,000 people at the National Assembly in Seoul on Monday. Park, who won election to the country's highest office in December, is the daughter of the late South Korean leader, military strongman Park Chung Hee.

During her speech, Park took a hard line with neighbor North Korea, which carried out its third nuclear test less than two weeks ago.

"North Korea's recent nuclear test is a challenge to the survival and future of the Korean people and there should be no mistake that the biggest victim will be none other than North Korea itself," she said. "I will not tolerate any action that threatens the lives of our people and the security of our nation."

The president added that, as promised in her campaign, she will pursue a policy of trust building with North Korea.

"I will move forward step-by-step on the basis of credible deterrence," she said.

Economic focus

Park's speech mostly focused on the economy, including commitments to job creation, expanded welfare and "economic democratization" at a time of growing concern with income and wealth disparity.

The growth of South Korea's economy, the fourth largest in Asia, has slowed since the "Miracle on the Han" – the economic revival following the 1950-53 Korean War.

Park promised "another miracle," saying her administration would build a new "creative economy" that would extend past the country's traditional manufacturing base.

"At the very heart of a creative economy lie science, technology and the IT industry, areas that I have earmarked as key priorities," she said.

Complicated past

Park last served in South Korea's presidential mansion, the Blue House, in the 1970's during her father's reign. The elder Park seized power in a 1961 coup and ruled for 18 years until his assassination in 1979. He remains a divisive figure – credited with pulling South Korea out of poverty but condemned for his human rights abuses.

In 1974, Park cut her studies in Paris short to serve as First Lady after her mother was killed in an assassination attempt targeted at her father. She left five years later when Park Chung Hee was gunned down by his spy chief during a drinking party.

In December's election, Park won around 52 percent of the vote, compared to 48 percent for her liberal opponent, in one of the most hotly-contested races in years. Monday's two-and-a-half hour inauguration ceremony included a 21-gun salute and a performance of 2012's global hit "Gangnam Style" by Korean rapper Psy.

dr/lw (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)
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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Fawzia Koofi, Can a woman become Afghanistan's president?

Railway linking China, ASEAN becomes operational

Want China Times, Xinhua 2013-02-24

The rail in Yuxi, which is part of the eastern line of Pan-Asia Railway
network. (Photo/Xinhua)

A railway that links southwest China's Yunnan province with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries became operational on Saturday after seven years of construction, local railway authorities said.

The railway between Yuxi and Mengzi is part of the eastern line of the planned Pan-Asia Railway network.

The 141-km railway has a designed maximum speed of 120 km per hour. It passes through 35 tunnels and crosses 61 bridges, which together account for almost 55% of the eastern line's total length.

The eastern line also consists of Kunming-Yuxi Railway, which has been in operation, and the Mengzi-Hekou Railway that is under construction and scheduled to be operational end of next year.

Upon the full completion of the eastern line, it will further open up China's southwest, improve transportation and boost economic development along the line, experts said.

The Pan-Asia Railway network also consists of central and western lines and is an international railway project that will bring China closer with southeast Asia.

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Boost for City as Sir Mervyn King does currency swap deal with Bank of China

Independent, Russell Lynch, 22 February 2013
The Bank of England today took a crucial step towards boosting the City as a centre of trading in the Chinese renminbi after agreeing a currency swap deal with the Bank of China.

The announcement of the three-year swap — to allow Threadneedle Street to draw down renminbi from China’s central bank to supply to UK firms and vice versa — came after talks between Governor Sir Mervyn King and his counterpart in Beijing.

Bankers have long called for a swap to allay fears over a lack of liquidity in China’s tightly-controlled currency, which has hampered trading in the renminbi. The Bank of England had resisted as it usually reserves swap lines for emergencies.

A Standard Chartered spokesman said the deal “will have a positive psychological effect on the market in the City and encourage more companies to do business in renminbi.” HSBC UK economist John Zhu said: “This will provide greater confidence for businesses that trade with China and represents a positive step to improving convertibility between sterling and renminbi.”

Hong Kong currently has 80% of off-shore renminbi trading, with London and Singapore sharing the rest.

"The U in Kundalini"- Oct 18, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Kundalini, Unification, EU, Nobel Peace Prize 2012, Middle East, South America, Only 5 Currencies on EarthOld Souls, Duality will dismiss, 3D Humanity will melt with Multi dimensional higher self, Global Unity… etc.)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

King Abdullah and the Quest For Reform in Saudi Arabia

Jakarta GlobeSumanto Al Qurtuby, February 21, 2013

'King Abdullah's remarkable policies might provide one reason
 why the political unrest that has rocked the Arab region has
only lightly touched Saudi Arabia' 
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The “dark side” of Saudi Arabia is widely known: “exporter” of global terrorism, source of Islamic fanaticism and militancy linked to Wahhabi teachings, lack of protection for religious minorities, anti-Shiite campaigns, zero women empowerment, undemocratic rule, etcetera. But this is not the only story of the world’s largest producer of crude oil and its 26 million people. Since King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz (b. 1924) assumed power following the death of his half-brother King Fahd in 2005, Saudi Arabia, birthplace of Islam and home to two of the Muslim world’s holiest places (Mecca and Medina), has undergone major change and progress in terms of domestic and global affairs.

Over the past seven years, King Abdullah, the tenth son of the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, King Abdul Aziz, has transformed his palace with a wide range of vital reform initiatives ranging from policies on education and women to interfaith gatherings and peacebuilding. Rob Sobhani, author of “King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia: A Leader of Consequence,” wrote in Forbes magazine that the king’s domestic policies, coupled with his active involvement in religious peacemaking and interfaith meetings, has contributed to the creation of a “new climate of dialogue and openness, challenged the obscurantist clerical establishment, created openings for women, and liberalized the economy.”

Among numerous policy shifts made by the monarch, at least four issues deserve special mention: education, religious affairs, interfaith engagement and women’s emancipation.

In education, the ruler has applied a vast government scholarship program that enables this vibrant and rapidly developing country to send its students — of both sexes — to Western universities, particularly in Western Europe, North America and Australia, for undergraduate and graduate studies in various fields and disciplines. The program, which offered funds for tuition and living expenses for up to four years, resulted in more than 70,000 students pursuing a degree in some 25 countries. In the United States alone there are more than 22,000 Saudi students. In the future, graduates of these Western schools will certainly boost further reformation in both religious and political domains for this Islamic monarchy.

Moreover, in religious education, the ruler has allowed Muslim minorities such as Shiites, who make up roughly 3 percent of the nation’s total population, and followers of non-Wahhabi schools of law ( mazhab) to use their own religious texts in schools. The king also revised national curricula by inserting non-Wahhabi materials aiming at understanding other religions and non-Wahhabi teachings. He also permitted Shiites to celebrate publicly their religious holidays. To smoothen his educational reforms, this visionary king replaced the existing minister of education with reform-minded scholar Faisal bin Abdullah. He also assigned Nora binti Abdullah al-Fayez, a US-trained academic, as deputy education minister to lead and oversee a new division in the ministry for female students.

But the king’s restoration in religious affairs continues. Realizing there were many undemocratic judicial decisions made by judges, the sovereign initiated a review of verdicts and provided more professional training for Shariah judges. The king has repeatedly said that those who rule must be just and honest. He also issued a decree stating that only Islamic scholars allied to the Senior Council of Ulema would be permitted to issue a fatwa (a non-binding opinion by a Muslim jurist or mufti). The order also instructed the Grand Mufti to classify eligible reform-minded scholars to be included in the council.

Religious engagement is another part of King Abdullah’s great legacy. Long before he ascended the throne, the king had initiated a series of intra-religious meetings with non-Wahhabi leaders in the country, including the celebrated Shiite scholar Hasan al-Saffar. The king also engaged with non-Muslim leaders. In 2007, the king had a historic meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in the Apostolic Palace, making him the first Saudi monarch to visit the leader of the Roman-Catholic Church.

After subsequent visits to, and encounters with, non-Muslim religious leaders, the monarch called for a “brotherly and sincere dialogue between believers of all religions.” He then appealed to Muslim clerics and Wahhabi leaders to engage with Jewish and Christian leaders. As an outcome of the king’s initiatives, a huge interfaith meeting took place in Madrid in 2008. Not only that, the king also established a King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (based in Vienna) — a collaboration between Saudi Arabia, Spain and Austria.

Lastly, concerning women issues, King Abdullah again made history. Recently he issued a decree that allowed women to be members of the empire’s previously all-male Shura Council, an appointed advisory body whose main task is to compose drafts of laws and counsel for the king. The king amended the law on the Shura Council to make sure that women would make up no less than 20 percent of the 150-member council. The emperor then appointed 30 women, who “are highly qualified and experienced in various fields” according to Saudi journalist Maha Akeel. University graduates, human rights activists and two princesses joined the council.

The decree has indeed marked a critical breakthrough in the nation that applies a rigid version of Shariah law and imposes stringent restrictions on females. It is worth noting that this is not the first time for the king that made an important decision to empower women. In 2011, he granted women the right to vote and run as candidates in local elections.

In a response to this “controversial” policy, a group of Wahhabi hard-liners and conservative clerics protested on the streets outside the royal palace in Riyadh. They saw the decree as a dangerous change for the country and a violation of Islamic Shariah. Yet despite the overwhelming protests from “old-fashioned” Wahhabis, King Abdullah continues to apply the decree because, as he affirms, “we refuse to marginalize women’s role in Saudi society.”

King Abdullah’s remarkable efforts and policies sketched above might provide one important reason why the political unrest that has rocked the Arab and North African region since late 2010 has only lightly touched Saudi Arabia. This may be more important that the “bribery” of the people into obedience and loyalty by means of massive fiscal stimulus and welfare benefits, as many analysts have assumed.

Indeed, the massive changes in Saudi Arabia offer an important example for Indonesia, as many of the Saudi-influenced clerics and Muslim leaders who reside here, unfortunately, have so far failed to take notice.

Sumanto Al Qurtuby is a research fellow at the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. He can be contacted at 

The children who work in India's rat-hole coal mines

Google – AFP, Ammu Kannampilly (AFP), 21 February 2013 

Indian child coal miners squat by a fire to keep warm inside a mine shaft in
Meghalaya state, January 29, 2013 (AFP, Roberto Schmidt)

RYMBAI, India — Thirteen-year-old Sanjay Chhetri has a recurring fear: that one day, the dark, dank mine where he works will cave in and bury him alive.

Like thousands of children in India's remote northeast, Chhetri begins work in the middle of the night, ready to dig pits, squat through narrow tunnels and cut coal shards.

At four feet six inches, the skinny teenager is the perfect fit for a job in the lucrative mining industry in Meghalaya state whose crudely-built rat-hole mines are too small for most adults to enter.

Each day Sanjay makes his way down a series of slippery ladders in the pitch-dark, carrying two pickaxes, with a tiny flashlight strapped to his head.

Seven months into the job, he still walks gingerly, taking care not to miss a step and fall fifty metres (165 feet).

Indian coal miner, Surya Limu, stands near
 the coal mine where he works in Rymbai village,
 Meghalaya on January 29, 2013 (AFP, Roberto
Once he reaches the bottom, he squats as low as he can and slips into the two-feet-high rat-hole, pulling an empty wagon behind him.

That's where his nightmares begin.

"It's terrifying to imagine the roof falling on me when I am working," he says.

Twelve hours later, he will have earned 200 rupees ($4) for a day's work, more than his parents make as labourers in the state capital Shillong.

The eldest boy in a family of ten, Sanjay left school two years ago when his family could no longer pay the bills.

"It's very difficult work, I struggle to pull that wagon once I have filled it with coal," he tells AFP.

As he shivers in coal-stained jeans and flip-flops -- revealing wrinkled feet that look like they belong to a much older man -- he says his parents constantly ask him to return home to work with them.

But he isn't ready to leave the mines yet.

"I need to save money so I can return to school. I miss my friends and I still remember school. I still have my old dreams," he says.

Mine manager Kumar Subba says children like Sanjay turn up in droves outside Meghalaya's coal mines, asking for work.

"New kids are always showing up here. And they lie about their age, telling you they are 20 years old when you can see from their faces that they are much, much younger," he tells AFP.

Baby-faced Surya Limu is among the most recent recruits to join Subba's team in Rymbai village.

Limu, who claims he is 17, left his native Nepal for Meghalaya when his father died in a house fire, leaving behind a widow and two children.

Unlike his more experienced colleagues, Limu moves slowly down the precarious mine steps, his delicate features straining with the effort.

"Of course I feel scared but what can I do? I need money, how else can I stay alive?," he tells AFP.

Child labour is officially illegal in India, with several state laws making the employment of anyone under 18 in a hazardous industry a non-bailable offence.

Furthermore, India's 1952 Mines Act prohibits coal companies from hiring anyone under 18 to work inside a mine.

Meghalaya, however, has traditionally been exempt due to its special status as a northeastern state with a significant tribal population.

This means that in certain sectors like mining, customary laws overrule national regulations. Any land owner can dig for coal in the state, and prevailing laws do not require them to put any safety measures in place.

According to the Shillong-based non-profit, Impulse NGO Network, some 70,000 children are currently employed in Meghalaya's mines, with several thousand more working at coal depots.

"The mine owners find it cheaper to extract coal using these crude, unscientific methods and they find it cheaper to hire children. And the police take bribes to look the other way," Rosanna Lyngdoh, an Impulse activist, told AFP.

After decades of unregulated mining, the state is due to enforce its first-ever mining policy later this year.

The draft legislation instructs mine owners not to employ children, but it does allow rat-hole mining to continue.

"As long as they allow rat-hole mining, children will always be employed in these mines, because they are small enough to crawl inside," Lyngdoh said.

Accidents and quiet burials are commonplace, with years of uncontrolled drilling making the rat-holes unstable and liable to collapse at any moment.

According to Gopal Rai, who lives with seven other miners in an eight by ten feet tarpaulin-covered bamboo and metal shack, compensation is rarely, if ever, paid to injured children.

The 17-year-old spends his wages on clothes, mobile phone downloads and a fortnightly schedule of spiky "Korean-influenced" haircuts.

"Some days I feel all right, on other days it's a little difficult to breathe," Rai said, a saffron and black scarf wrapped around his neck.

He sees no reason to visit a doctor.

"What's the point? Anyway, when I leave home for work I have no idea if I will come back alive."

Jilin deputy police chief arrested on way to Shenyang US consulate

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2013-02-21

Liu Peizhu in an undated photo. (Internet photo)

Almost a year to the day since Chongqing's former police chief Wang Lijun attempted to defect to the US consulate in Chengdu, a move which would trigger the downfall of his boss Bo Xilai in China's biggest political scandal in 20 years, the deputy head of the public security bureau in the northeastern province of Jilin has been caught trying to flee to the American consulate in Shenyang, reports the Daily Chinese Herald in Australia.

In a complex series of events, it appears as if internet and media censorship almost stymied news of Liu's break from reaching the authorities, as Liu was under investigation though news about him was being blocked. The provincial authorities were apparently made aware that Liu was planning to run to the American consulate by a post by the spokesman for the Chinese embassy in the United States, Bao Riqiang, on his Weibo microblog on Feb. 17. The message was seen by a reporter but was swiftly deleted.

Liu apparently tried to flee to the consulate as he is currently under investigation having sold a fake coal mine to the state-run Changling Company for 20 million yuan (US$3.2 million) and using his power to defraud the company's boss Wang Xingcheng.

On Apr. 7 last year, all adult members of Wang's family, himself included, were arrested by the public security authorities under Liu's direction. Nearly all managers at Changling were detained as well. Liu seized the assets of Wang's family and the company and took them away in trucks. In protest against Liu's actions, hundreds of employees from the company withdrew their party membership prior to the 18th National Congress in November. Sources within the Jilin public security bureau have said that the new provincial party secretary Sun Zhengcai was ordered by the central government to investigate Liu.

To save face, the media were told not to report that Liu was facing disciplinary action and instead made up fake reports that he was continuing to inspect the forces under his command as usual.

On Feb. 17, Liu decided to make his move to Shenyang, the capital of neighboring Liaoning province. It appears it may have been the tip-off from the Chinese embassy's Weibo that allowed Sun to apprehend Liu as he made his way to the US consulate by freeway. To prevent a repeat of the Wang Lijun incident, Sun reportedly mobilized 100 officers from the People's Armed Police and 30 agents from the city's state security bureaus to catch Liu, who is now in the custody of the People's Armed Police.


Liu Peizhu  劉培柱 
Wang Xingcheng  王興成 
Sun Zhengcai  孫政才
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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Three young Indian sisters raped and murdered: police

ChannelNewsAsia, AFP, 20 February 2013

The silhouette of an Indian gang rape victim (AFP/Prakash Singh)
MUMBAI: Three sisters aged between six and 11 were raped and murdered before their bodies were dumped down a village well in rural western India, police said on Wednesday.

The bodies of the three schoolgirls were found last week, two days after they went missing on February 14 from their home in the Bhandara district of Maharashtra state, police superintendent Aarti Singh told AFP.

"The bodies of the three young girls were found in a well, with their schoolbags and footwear," Singh told AFP by phone from Nagpur, adding they were aged six, nine and 11.

"The post-mortem has confirmed that the girls were raped and then murdered."

No arrests have been made but Singh said four people had been detained for questioning and investigations were still under way.

Family members said the girls had gone out to look for their mother who was out of the house and no one heard from them again.

The incident led to protests by villagers, Singh said, echoing angry rallies in the capital New Delhi after the brutal gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a bus in December.

That incident sparked a nationwide debate about the treatment of women and girls and their safety in India.