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, October 31, 2013

Indonesia Summons Australian Ambassador Over Spying Report

Jakarta Globe – AFP, October 31, 2013

Australian Ambassador Greg Moriarty, right, with Australian Prime Minister
Tony Abbott during a forum with top Indonesian businessmen in Jakarta. (AFP
\Photo/Romeo Gacad)

The government said Thursday it was summoning the Australian ambassador after a report that his embassy in Jakarta was being used for surveillance as part of a US-led spying network.

Ambassador Greg Moriarty will face questions at the foreign ministry Friday over the “totally unacceptable” activities reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, the ministry said.

The report said Australian embassies were being secretly used to intercept phone calls and data across Asia as part of a US-led global spying network. It cited information from fugitive analyst Edward Snowden and a former Australian intelligence officer.

The paper said the clandestine surveillance facilities at embassies were being operated without the knowledge of most Australian diplomats.

The summons was just the latest diplomatic fallout related to the US surveillance controversy, which began as a row between Washington and its European allies.

“Responding to reports in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on October 31, 2013 about the existence and use of wiretapping facilities at the Australian embassy in Jakarta and other countries in the region, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is demanding an explanation from the Australian embassy in Jakarta,” the foreign ministry statement said. “The Australian ambassador in Jakarta has been summoned to come to the foreign ministry… on November 1, 2013, to provide an official explanation from the Australian government about the report…. As a friendly neighbouring country, such an act as reported does not reflect the spirit of friendly relations which has been established and is something that’s totally unacceptable to the government of Indonesia.”

A spokesman for the Australian foreign ministry said: “As a matter of principle and longstanding practice, the Australian government does not comment on intelligence matters.”

Indonesia’s anger came a day after it protested strongly to the United States after a report in the same newspaper said Washington had been monitoring phone calls and communication networks from its embassy in Jakarta.

The Asia-Pacific row came after Europe and Washington traded more spying accusations Wednesday, as envoys met to seek ways to rebuild trust after the shock revelations about the scale and scope of US surveillance of its allies.

NSA spy units in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan: report

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2013-10-31

A rally in Washington DC on Oct. 26, 2013 to protest the National Security
Agency's spying activities. (Photo/Xinhua)

A classified document leaked to German news magazine Der Spiegel has indicated that the US government's spying activities extend to major cities in the Greater China region including Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Hong Kong and Taipei.

According to the "top secret" 2010 document, the CIA and the National Security Agency operate a black budget program known as the Special Collection Service (SCS), which is responsible for inserting surveillance equipment in foreign embassies, communications centers and other foreign government installations. The SCS teams are said to work predominantly undercover in shielded areas of the American embassy and consulate where they are granted certain immunities as foreign diplomats.

The document reveals the existence of more than 80 SCS branches around the world specializing in spying on communications between government departments of foreign countries, including in major European cities such as Paris, Rome, Frankfurt and Geneva, as well as key locations in Asia such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Hong Kong and Taipei. American allies Japan and South Korea are not on the list.

Among the accusations leveled against the US government by Der Spiegel is that the NSA has an SCS branch in Berlin, which has been monitoring the mobile phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel since 2002. The NSA allegedly said in the document that the exposure of the "not legally registered spying branch" lead to "grave damage for the relations of the United States to another government."

President Obama apologized to Merkel when she called him on Wednesday seeking clarification on the matter and said he would have stopped it had he known it was happening, Der Spiegel reported.

The White House indicated on Tuesday that it would at least support some of the congressional efforts to rein in the NSA's surveillance programs and was already in the process of amending US intelligence gathering activities following an internal review stemming from the Snowden scandal.

NSA director Keith Alexander, however, launched a stern defense of the agency's current programs at a congressional hearing, saying that the NSA would prefer to "take the beatings" from the public and media "than to give up a program that would result in this nation being attacked."

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Israel in settlement drive after freeing 26 prisoners

Google – AFP, 30 October 2013

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (R) greets freed Palestinian prisoners at
 his headquarters in the West bank city of Ramallah on 30 October, 2013 (AFP,
Ahmad Gharabli)

Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) — Israel freed 26 veteran Palestinian prisoners early on Wednesday in line with commitments to the US-backed peace process, but moved in tandem to ramp up settlement in annexed east Jerusalem.

Plans to build another 1,500 settler homes in the city's Arab eastern sector came to light almost immediately after Israel began freeing 21 prisoners to the West Bank and another five to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

The sequence of events was almost mirror image of an earlier prisoner release on August 13, when a first tranche of 26 prisoners were freed and Israel announced construction of more than 2,000 new settler homes, most of them in east Jerusalem.

"The prime minister (Benjamin Netanyahu) and the interior minister (Gideon Saar) agreed on four building plans in Jerusalem," a senior Israeli source told AFP, confirming details initially reported on military radio.

Palestinian released prisoner Omar Massud, 
hugs his mother at his family house in the
 al-Shatee refugee camp in Gaza City, on
 October 30, 2013 (AFP, Mohammed Abed)
The announcement was timed to trump headlines focusing on the celebrations in the West Bank and Gaza after the 21 prisoners walked free into their respective home territories shortly after 1:00 am (2300 GMT).

In the West Bank, thousands of people turned out to welcome home the 21 prisoners at a formal ceremony at Mahmud Abbas's presidential compound in Ramallah, cheering and waving flags, many holding cellphones aloft to capture the moment.

The prisoners had left Ofer prison in two minibuses with blacked-out windows and were driven to Beitunia crossing where fireworks split the night sky as they tasted freedom for the first time in 20 years or more, an AFP correspondent said.

After a tearful reunion with family members, many of the now-freed inmates were carried through the crowds on people's shoulders, their hands held aloft in victory.

"There will be no (peace) agreement if so much as one Palestinian prisoner remains behind bars," Abbas told the excited crowd, referring to the 5,000 or so inmates still being held by Israel.

Israel's move to ramp up settlement in tandem with the prisoner release was mooted last week by a senior Israeli official who said the expected announcement on new construction had been coordinated in advance with the Palestinians and the Americans.

But Abbas, speaking shortly before the Israeli announcement, flatly denied it.

"There are some living among us who say that we have a deal (to release prisoners) in exchange for settlement building, and I say to them, be silent," said the Palestinian president.

In Gaza, the five detainees were met by hundreds of relatives and well-wishers as they emerged through the Erez crossing and entered the strip, sparking energetic celebrations late into the night.

All 26 prisoners were convicted for killing Israelis, with most of the attacks occurring before the 1993 Oslo accords, which granted the Palestinians limited self-rule but failed to usher in an independent state.

Earlier this year, Netanyahu agreed to release 104 prisoners in stages in a move which facilitated a return to direct talks in late July, ending a three-year hiatus.

A released Palestinian prisoner kisses his
 father's head upon his arrival in the West 
Bank City of Ramallah, on October 30, 
2013 (AFP, Abbas Momani)
The first batch of prisoners were freed on August 13, and a third release of another 26 inmates is planned for December, Palestinian officials said. The final group is to be freed in March 2014.

The ongoing talks are being conducted under a US-imposed media blackout but a senior Palestinian official said on Tuesday that Israel had adopted hardline positions and negotiations had so far produced "no tangible progress".

"The current Israeli negotiating position is the worst in more than 20 years," said Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

Although Israel is engaged in direct peace talks with the Palestinians, the prisoners' release has sparked tensions within Netanyahu's coalition, with the premier describing the decision to free them as "one of the most difficult" he had ever made.

Similar sentiments were expressed by Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon.

"In recent months we have been facing sensitive diplomatic circumstances and weighty strategic considerations which require us to take difficult and painful steps," he said on Tuesday in remarks communicated by his office.

"It is not a black and white situation. It is highly complex and obliges us to be prudent and responsible, to see also the long view," he said.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dignity in Decent Work: Protect Domestic Workers From Abuse

Jakarta Globe, October 29, 2013

 “I woke up at 4:15 a.m.,” Asma said. “I was exhausted when I went to sleep at 10 p.m. I only had five minutes’ rest … I did not get any days off [or] salary.” Asma is one of an estimated 1.8 million women and girls in Indonesia who engage in domestic work, one of the largest sources of employment for rural women in the country. Her story — too real for too many — transcends national boundaries, resonating with the more than 52 million maids, nannies and caregivers worldwide whose labor is essential to the households they serve.

But domestic workers in Indonesia do more than cook, clean and care for their employers’ families. Their labor is also essential to Indonesia’s national economy, and yet the government is not protecting them.

Indonesia, like many other countries in Asia and the Middle East, excludes domestic workers — or pembantu rumah tangga — from its national labor laws. This leaves their work largely unregulated and denies domestic workers access to basic rights enjoyed by other workers, such as a minimum wage, weekly days off, and overtime. Their exclusion from key labor protections is exacerbated by the unique isolation domestic workers face in the private homes of their employers — where they are often subject to an array of exploitative conditions and criminal abuse.

Once marginalized and invisible, a new dawn could be approaching for Asma and other domestic workers like her. In collaboration with full-time domestic workers who are driving national efforts, stalwart activists — such as Anis Hidayah of Jakarta-based Migrant Care, and Lita Anggraini of Indonesia’s National Network for Domestic Workers Advocacy — are engaging and mobilizing domestic workers at the community, national and international level.

Domestic workers are using innovative strategies to unite their efforts into a global movement with its voices heard in legislative chambers from the Philippines to South Africa, and Italy to Argentina. Domestic workers around the world are partnering with labor unions and civil society groups, putting their issues front and center of their governments’ national agendas and demanding that their basic human rights be respected.

A new report from the International Domestic Workers Network, the International Trade Union Confederation and Human Rights Watch tracks the impressive momentum of the global domestic workers’ movement over the last two years. Based on interviews from domestic workers and civil society representatives from over 20 countries, “Claiming Rights: Domestic Workers’ Movements and Global Advances for Labor Reform” explores the creative strategies activists have used to mobilize and strengthen labor laws at the national and international level.

Over a decade of organizing by domestic worker activists — including Indonesia’s robust movement — has culminated in the establishment of a groundbreaking new treaty that sets out the first international labor standards to promote decent work for domestic workers. The International Labor Organization’s Domestic Workers Convention entitles domestic workers to the same basic rights as other workers, such as a minimum wage, social security, weekly days off and clear information on the terms and conditions of their employment. Governments whose countries are party to the convention are obligated to protect domestic workers from violence, regulate private employment agencies that recruit domestic workers, and prevent children from laboring in domestic work.

According to a 2013 ILO study, over 20 million domestic workers are employed in Asia, making the region the single largest employer of domestic workers worldwide. The Philippines was the first Asian country to ratify the Domestic Workers Convention. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono should ensure that Indonesia is the second.

President Yudhoyono expressed his unequivocal support for the Domestic Workers Convention at the 2011 ILO Conference in Geneva. Meanwhile, though, Indonesia’s Bill on the Protection of Domestic Workers — put before parliament more than two years ago — has made little progress toward enactment, and its current provisions fall short of international standards that would provide meaningful legal reform.

The Indonesian government should bring its domestic workers under the protection of national labor laws and ensure that those laws are strengthened to comply with international human rights standards. It should closely work with civil society groups to strengthen the proposed domestic workers’ bill, laying the groundwork for Indonesia’s ratification of the Domestic Workers Convention.

Indonesia has an historic opening where the voices of domestic workers like Asma are transcending the walls of their employers’ homes to occupy a rare public and political space. The government should listen and respond to these voices, by taking concrete steps to ensure that all of Indonesia’s workers get the dignity they deserve, the value they earn and the respect that they demand.

 Matthew Rullo, a coordinator in the women’s rights division at Human Rights Watch, is a co-author of “Claiming Rights: Domestic Workers’ Movements and Global Advances for Labor Reform.” Follow him on Twitter: @MatthewRullo.

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A domestic helper from Mindoro island gathers hanging clothes in Manila on
September 6, 2012 (AFP/File, Jay Direct

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pope urges dialogue in Myanmar at talks with Suu Kyi

Google – AFP, 28 October 2013

A photo taken on October 28, 2013 and released by the Osservatore Romano
 shows Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi (R) being welcomed by
Pope Francis at the Vatican (OSSERVATORE ROMANO/AFP, Francesco Sforza)

Vatican City — Pope Francis called for inter-religious dialogue in Myanmar on Monday at an audience for Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi in which the two also discussed her long campaign for democracy.

Francis "expressed his appreciation for the opposition leader's non-violent engagement in the cause of peace and democracy" during the meeting, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.

"The pope said he would pray for Myanmar, for inter-religious dialogue in the country. He also said the Church would be at the service of everyone in Myanmar without discriminating."

This was the first meeting between Francis and the historic Myanmar opposition leader, who has been criticised for not speaking out enough against ethnic and religious tensions in her homeland.

Myanmar has been rocked by sectarian unrest in recent months, prompting growing international concern.

Around 250 people have been killed and more than 140,000 left homeless in several outbreaks of Buddhist-Muslim violence around the country since June 2012, mostly in western Rakhine state.

Catholics are a small minority in Myanmar and mainly live in the northeast of the country.

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Japan bank executives 'knew about gangster loans'

Google – AFP, 28 October 2013

Pedestrians walk past a sign for Japan's Mizuho Financial Group in Tokyo on
May 15, 2013 (AFP/File, Kazuhiro Nogi)

Tokyo — Mizuho Financial Group executives knew the firm was doing business with gangsters but failed to stop it, a panel said Monday, as Japan's finance minister slammed the banking giant over the affair.

One of Japan's biggest banks, Mizuho has been under fire since it emerged last month that it processed hundreds of loans worth about $2 million for the country's notorious yakuza crime syndicates.

Japan's mega bank Mizuho Financial Group
 president Yasuhiro Sato (R) speaks to the
 press at the Bank of Japan headquarters in
 Tokyo on October 8, 2013 (JIJI PRESS/AFP/
The scandal has made headlines for weeks in Japanese media, and reportedly sparked a police investigation.

On Monday, a panel of lawyers hired by Mizuho to probe the transactions said that "many officials and board members were aware of, or were in a position to be aware of, the issue".

"However they failed to recognise it as a problem, believing that the compliance division... was taking care of it," said the panel's 100-page report.

The company also submitted its own report to regulators Monday, and said 54 former and current executives would be punished, including Mizuho Bank chairman Takashi Tsukamoto. He would step down from his post but stay on as head of the parent company.

Mizuho Financial Group chief executive Yasuhiro Sato -- who has acknowledged he "was in the position to know" about the loans but has refused to quit -- would work without pay for six months, while other managers would also take wage cuts.

Finance Minister Taro Aso on Monday slammed the transactions as a "huge problem", and said Mizuho's initial claims to regulators that executives knew nothing about the shady loans was "the worst thing a bank can do".

The bank later admitted top executives were "in a position to know" about the mob business.
"We have caused a lot of trouble for many people, including shareholders and other stakeholders," Sato told reporters in Tokyo as he bowed deeply, in a typical gesture by Japanese executives dealing with a crisis.

"Again, I apologise sincerely... The problem was that we weren't aware or sensitive enough to loans that were being done by an affiliate company," he added.

Chairman of Japanese megabank Mizuho 
Financial Group, Takashi Tsukamoto (R),
 pictured in Tokyo on January 16, 2009
(AFP/File, Kazuhiro Nogi)
He also said the bank will invite a former judge of the Supreme Court as an external board member to assure better compliance.

The panel's report Monday called on Mizuho to overhaul its compliance department, noting that the transactions were made via a complicated scheme involving the affiliate firm.

"In a nutshell, they failed to recognise the loans as Mizuho's own and relied on the other company for dealing with the issue," panel head Hideki Nakagome told reporters.

Like the Italian mafia or Chinese triads, the yakuza engage in activities ranging from gambling, drugs, and prostitution to loan sharking, protection rackets, white-collar crime and business conducted through front companies.

The gangs, which themselves are not illegal, have historically been tolerated by the authorities, although there are periodic clampdowns on some of their less savoury activities.
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Saudi 'no woman, no drive' mockery video goes viral

Yahoo – AFP, 28 October 2013

An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube by Alaa Wardi on
October 26, 2013, shows Hisham Fageeh, a Saudi who introduces himself as
an artist social activist, singing "No woman, no drive", an adaptation of Bob
Marley's famous song (AFP Photo/)

Riyadh (AFP) - A Saudi video mocking the kingdom's unique ban on female driving has gone viral, featuring a male performer singing "no woman, no drive", an adaptation of Bob Marley's famous song.

Nearly 3.5 million people had seen the 4:15-minute video by Monday, two days after the adaptation of the reggae legend's "no woman, no cry" had been posted on YouTube.

"Say I remember when you used to sit, in the family car, but backseat," sings Hisham Fageeh, a Saudi who introduces himself as an artist social activist, dressed in traditional white thawb cloak and checkered red headgear.

The video that sarcastically tells women not to consider getting behind the wheel was posted on the day set by female activists to launch an new campaign to defy the kingdom's ban on women driving.

At least 16 women were stopped by police while at the wheel on Saturday. They were fined and forced along with their male guardians to pledge to obey the conservative-kingdom's laws.

Fageeh goes on to mock a claim by a Saudi cleric that driving would hurt women's ovaries and bring "clinical disorder" upon their children.

"Ovaries are safe and well, so you can make lots and lots of babies," he sings.

"In this bright future, you can't forget your past, so put your car key away," the song continues.

Women who in the past have defied the ban, which is not even enshrined in law, have run into trouble with the authorities.

In 1990, 47 women who got behind the wheel in a demonstration against the driving ban were stopped by the authorities.

In 2011, police arrested a number of women who defied the ban and forced them to sign a pledge not to drive again.

Saudi women are forced to cover from head to toe and need permission from a male guardian to travel, work and marry.

The New York Arab-American Comedy Festival this month introduced Fageeh as an up-and-running stand-up comedian who performs in Arabic and English.

On his YouTube account, "HishamComedy", Saudi-based Fageeh has posted many of his earlier videos, including 16 episodes of "Isboiyat Hisham," or Hisham Weeklies, including some reflecting on the lives of Saudi students in the United States.

"A simple contribution by me and my colleagues on the occasion of the" women driving campaign, Fageeh wrote on his Twitter account, on October 26, referring to his latest release.

Related Articles:

Saudi Arabian women vow to keep up campaign against driving ban

Few Saudi women get behind the wheel after threats

Image taken from a video uploaded by Saudi activists on YouTube
on October 17, 2013 shows a fully veiled woman driving in Riyadh
ahead of a planned nationwide day of defiance of the ban on
women driving (YouTube/AFP/File)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Li Keqiang stresses commitment to upgrading FTA with ASEAN

Want China Times, Xinhua 2013-10-27

Thailand's deputy prime minister and trade minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan,
left, shakes hands with China's premier Li Keqiang in Beijing, Oct. 25. (Photo/Xinhua)

China's premier, Li Keqiang, on Friday underlined the country's commitment to upgrading free trade area with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

In a meeting with ASEAN trade ministers' delegation in Beijing, Li said great potential exists in trade, investment and people-to-people cooperation between China and ASEAN. Li said the delegation's trade and investment promotion activities in China will help implement the China-ASEAN cooperation framework over the next decade.

The premier said that China supports ASEAN's leading role in East Asia cooperation and regional integration, and pledged the country's willingness to build strategic trust with neighboring ASEAN countries, deepen all-round cooperation, upgrade the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA) and bring more benefits to people in the region.

China is the largest trading partner of ASEAN, and ASEAN is the third-largest trading partner of China.

The CAFTA is the largest free trade area in the world in terms of population and third largest in terms of nominal GDP. Under the free trade agreement, tariffs will be reduced to zero on almost 8,000 product categories, 90% of imported goods.

Knowing trade ministers travelled by high-speed train from south China to Beijing, Li thanked them for staging a roadshow for Chinese high-speed train. Li called for ASEAN businesses to invest in China and encouraged Chinese companies to invest in ASEAN railways and other infrastructure projects, adding that China-ASEAN transportation links will drive trade development.

Thailand's deputy prime minister and trade minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan, on behalf of the delegation, said that ASEAN countries welcome China's proposal for an upgraded CAFTA and would like to work more closely with Beijing on infrastructure cooperation and pave the way for future East Asian cooperation.

Related Article:

Tens of thousands join LGBT Pride Parade in Taipei

Want China Times, CNA 2013-10-27

A group of friends take part in the LGBT Pride Parade in Taipei, Oct. 26.
(Photo/Tu Yi-an)

Tens of thousands of gay rights supporters on Saturday took to the streets in Taipei for the LGBT Pride Parade, the largest such event in Asia calling for an end to discrimination against people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Sporting colorful costumes and cross-dressing, the participants at the 11th Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade showed their support by making a hand print on a large white banner, using six different colors that represent different human rights, including the right not to be bullied and the right to have diverse partnerships legalized.

More than 10 different musical and dance performances were given and nearly 20 social movement organizations were introduced during the parade to share their ideas related to HIV, sexual minorities and civil partnerships.

"Ten years ago what we asked for was simply to be acknowledged; now we want to challenge the authority for real rights," said Hu Hsiang, a college student who has participated at the event for the fourth time.

Hu's words reflected the theme this year: Make LGBT Visible 2.0. The organizers said the parade was aimed at renewing the appeal of the first Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade, Make LGBT Visible.

It is hoped that with the notion of "2.0," the public could revisit the issue more seriously as human rights have not improved for homosexual and bisexual people in the past decade, according to the Taiwan LGBT Pride Community.

The organization said it also wishes to raise awareness of the disadvantaged in society, and call for collaboration and mutual support among people in the community to resist the injustice.

The participation was similar to last year, when the parade attracted a record 65,000 people, according to the organizers. About 4,000 foreign nationals took part in the event, a significant rise compared with some 3,000 last year, the organization said.

Among them was Jerry Jackson, a 60-year-old university professor from California, who said the vibe he experienced during the event reflected the universal call for equality. "All we want is equality to be free, to be who we are, and to love who we choose," he said.

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Domestic workers unite behind international convention

Google – AFP, 26 October 2013

A domestic helper from Mindoro island gathers hanging clothes in Manila on
September 6, 2012 (AFP/File, Jay Directo)

Montevideo — Unions representing domestic workers met here Saturday to urge countries to ratify a year-old international convention that sets minimal labor standards for domestic workers.

So far only 10 countries have ratified the International Convention on Domestic Workers, which went into effect a year ago in September.

But Myrtle Witbooi, president of the International Domestic Workers Network, said, "We are entering a new era for domestic workers."

Witbooi's organization, which represents 300,000 domestic workers worldwide, is promoting the convention, which gives domestics the right to a minimum wage, daily and weekly rest hours and freedom to choose where they live and how they spend their leave.

"The International Labor Organization convention is for everyone, but if people don't know about it, it can't be invoked," she told AFP.

"We need to educate (workers) and we need to find those countries that don't even have national laws, so they can pass laws and ratify the convention," she said.

Uruguay, which was the first country to ratify the convention in 2012, is hosting the first international conference on domestic work.

"It's already in force here, and has been approved by more than 10 countries, and there are four or five countries in the process of approving it," said Uruguay's Labor Minister Eduardo Brenta.

He said salaries of domestic workers in Uruguay have risen 400 percent over the past eight years, and about 66 percent have a formal status now.

The ILO estimates that domestic workers -- housekeepers, cooks, gardeners, and babysitters -- account for between four and 10 percent of the workforce in developing countries, and 2.5 percent in industrialized countries, or about 52.6 million people overall.

But the ILO believes the numbers employed as domestics could be as high as 100 million people, because of undercounting by some countries.

Reports presented at the conference said 60 percent of under age domestic workers were found in Asia, including an estimated 1.5 million in Indonesia, one million in the Philippines, 420,000 in Bangladesh and 100,000 in Sri Lanka.

Legal protections for domestic workers are minimal in Asia, according to the ILO, which said 797 cases of torture have been reported by media over the past 10 years in Bangladesh.

In Indonesia, 472 cases of violence against domestics have been reported and in Malaysia 13 domestics were killed in 2011 alone.

Moreover, in 97 percent of Asian countries, domestic workers have no legal right to weekly rest or annual vacations.

In Latin America, ILO estimates that there are more than 14 million domestic workers, and that it is the principal occupation of women in the region.

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Few Saudi women get behind the wheel after threats

Google – AFP, Lynne al-Nahhas (AFP), 26 October 2013

Image taken from a video uploaded by Saudi activists on YouTube on October 17,
2013 shows a fully veiled woman driving in Riyadh ahead of a planned nationwide
day of defiance of the ban on women driving (YouTube/AFP/File)

Riyadh — Saudi women scrapped a "drive-in" Saturday and opted for an open-ended campaign after the authorities vowed to punish any of them who get behind the wheel in defiance of a ban.

Activists had originally taken to social media networks to call on women across the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom to drive their cars on Saturday to challenge Saudi law.

But despite warnings from the authorities that action would be taken against any women who drive, at least two of them responded to the call and took the wheel early on Saturday morning.

"I have received videos from two women who drove so far today, one in Riyadh and one in Jeddah," activist and blogger Eman al-Nafjian told AFP.

Saudi activist Manal al-Sharif, who now
lives in Dubai, flashes the sign for victory
as she drives in the Gulf Emirate city on
October 22, 2013, in solidarity with Saudi 
women preparing to take to the wheel on 
October 26, defying Saudi authorities 
(AFP/File, Marwan Naamani)
One of the videos uploaded to YouTube shows a woman cloaked in black and wearing dark sunglasses driving a car in an area of the Saudi capital, apparently without being stopped.
The woman identified as May al-Sawyan could be seen steering the vehicle in what appeared to be the parking lot of a shopping mall, before driving onto a main road with little traffic.

The campaign dubbed "Women's Driving is a Choice" has taken a back seat in the face of the warnings.

But activists say this is only temporarily, stressing their determination to overturn Saudi law is still strong.

"The authorities clearly do not want any gatherings on a specific date," activist Maysaa al-Amudi said of the "drive-in".

"We are trying to calm things down and affirm that the campaign will continue but without a specific date."

Some women have said they received telephone calls from the interior ministry asking them to promise they will not drive on Saturday.

"Out of caution and respect for the interior ministry's warnings... we are asking women not to drive... and to change the initiative from an October 26 campaign to an open driving campaign," said activist Najla al-Hariri.

On Wednesday, the ministry said it would act against anyone who attempts to "disturb public peace" by congregating or marching "under the pretext of an alleged day of female driving".

The next day ministry spokesman General Mansur al-Turki told AFP: "It is known that women in Saudi are banned from driving and laws will be applied against violators and those who demonstrate in support" of this cause.

Activists say Saturday was chosen as a "symbolic" date as part of efforts first launched more than a decade ago to press for the right of Saudi women to drive.

The absolute monarchy is the only country in the world where women are barred from driving, and public gatherings are officially banned in the Gulf country.

Hariri said she would not drive on Saturday but would do so on other days.

Other Saudi women have defied the ban and driven in various parts of the kingdom in the past two weeks, with videos showing them behind the wheel posted on the Internet.

Hackers on Friday targeted an online petition that was launched in September and amassed more than 16,000 signatures before the authorities blocked it two weeks later.

"I am against women driving in the kingdom," read a message posted on the website "We do not allow women at all to drive in Saudi."

A Saudi woman drives an all-terrain vehicle near Riyadh, April 5, 2013 after
 religious police lifted a ban on women riding bicycles and motorbikes, but only
 in recreational areas, while dressed in full veil and accompanied by a male relative (AFP/
File, Fayez Nureldine)

Amnesty International has denounced the threats, while Human Rights Watch called for an end to discrimination.

"The ban and the ongoing scare tactics to maintain it are out of step with the modern world, and characteristic of the wider discrimination that crushes women's freedom and besmirches the kingdom's reputation," said Amnesty.

The UN Human Rights Council has also urged Saudi Arabia to end discrimination against women, among other rights abuses.

Women who have defied the driving ban, which is not based on a specific law, in the past have run into trouble with the authorities.

In 1990, authorities stopped 47 women who got behind the wheel in a demonstration against the driving ban.

In 2011, Saudi police arrested a number of women who defied the ban and forced them to sign a pledge not to drive again.

Saudi women are forced to cover from head to toe and need permission from a male guardian to travel, work and marry.

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