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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Friday, January 31, 2014

A continent transformed: the African Union's 50-year dream

Google – AFP, 30 Janaury 2014

Heads of governments during the opening session of the African Union summit
on January 30, 2014 at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa (AFP, Samuel Gebru)

Addis Ababa — High-speed railways, a common language, diplomatic clout, cutting-edge fashion and leadership in space exploration: this was the vision of a transformed Africa laid out before a continental summit on Thursday.

In a speech to the African Union, the 54-member bloc's chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma provided a foresight of what Africa could be like in just 50 years' time, providing some welcome distraction to an agenda dominated by conflict.

Written as a message to a hypothetical friend in 2063, Dlamini-Zuma spoke of a "grand reality" where a new Confederation of African States has replaced the AU.

Chairperson of the AU Commission
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma speaks during
joint press conference in Abuja on July 16,
2013 (AFP/File, Pius Utomi Ekpei)
"At the beginning of the 21st century, we used to get irritated with foreigners when they treated Africa as one country: as if we were not a continent of over a billion people and 55 sovereign states! But, the advancing global trend towards regional blocks, reminded us that integration and unity is the only way for Africa to leverage its competitive advantage," she said.

"We did not realise our power, but instead relied on donors, that we euphemistically called partners," she said.

She spoke of a future Africa with "regional manufacturing hubs" in Congo, Angola and Zambia, as well as "Silicon valleys" in Rwanda, Egypt, Nigeria and Kenya, and of equal access for women to education and business ownership.

The future Africa, Dlamini-Zuma said, was also a leader in renewable energy, with war a thing of the past.

"We lit up Africa, the formerly dark continent, using hydro, solar, wind, geo-thermal energy, in addition to fossil fuels," she told delegates at the summit in Addis Ababa.

"Some magazine once called us 'The hopeless continent', citing conflicts, hunger and malnutrition, disease and poverty, as if it was a permanent African condition. Because of our experience of the devastation of conflict, we tackled the root causes," she said.

She spoke of a future African Space Agency, a modern, continent-wide telecommunications infrastructure and an Africa where young people can tour the continent on high-speed rail links much in the same vein as Europe's InterRail system.

"Our grand-children still find it very funny how we used to struggle at AU meetings with English, French and Portuguese interpretations," she said, describing an Africa half a century into the future where the languages of the former colonial powers have been replaced by the new lingua franca Swahili.

She described Kinshasa as having eclipsed Paris and Milan as fashion capital of the world, and Accra as upstaging Brussels as the home of gourmet chocolate.

Related Article:

".. Africa

Let me tell you where else it's happening that you are unaware - that which is the beginning of the unity of the African states. Soon the continent will have what they never had before, and when that continent is healed and there is no AIDS and no major disease, they're going to want what you have. They're going to want houses and schools and an economy that works without corruption. They will be done with small-minded leaders who kill their populations for power in what has been called for generations "The History of Africa." Soon it will be the end of history in Africa, and a new continent will emerge.

Be aware that the strength may not come from the expected areas, for new leadership is brewing. There is so much land there and the population is so ready there, it will be one of the strongest economies on the planet within two generations plus 20 years. And it's going to happen because of a unifying idea put together by a few. These are the potentials of the planet, and the end of history as you know it.

In approximately 70 years, there will be a black man who leads this African continent into affluence and peace. He won't be a president, but rather a planner and a revolutionary economic thinker. He, and a strong woman with him, will implement the plan continent-wide. They will unite. This is the potential and this is the plan. Africa will arise out the ashes of centuries of disease and despair and create a viable economic force with workers who can create good products for the day. You think China is economically strong? China must do what it does, hobbled by the secrecy and bias of the old ways of its own history. As large as it is, it will have to eventually compete with Africa, a land of free thinkers and fast change. China will have a major competitor, one that doesn't have any cultural barriers to the advancement of the free Human spirit. …." 

Norway fund blacklists Israeli firms with settlement ties

Voice of Russia – AFP, 30 January 2014

Photo: tsweden/

Norway's huge sovereign wealth fund, the world's largest, blacklisted two Israeli companies involved in construction of settlements in East Jerusalem, the country's finance ministry said Thursday.

The ban on investing in the firms revived a three-year prohibition on them that the Government Pension Fund of Norway had dropped in August last year.

The companies are Africa Israel Investments, an Israeli real estate developer, and its construction subsidiary Danya Cerbus.

The ministry cited the company's alleged "contribution to serious violations of individual rights in war or conflict through the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem," a territory where Israel's claims are not recognised by the international community.

Norway's sovereign wealth fund is fed by the country's oil surplus. It is worth an estimated $818 billion according to the SWF Institute, a body that tracks such funds.

As well as resuming the Israeli firm blacklisting, Norway suspended a restriction on the fund buying bonds issued in Myanmar, leaving only North Korea, Iran and Syria on the list of countries ineligible for investment.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Chinese Communist Party expels Nanjing mayor

Google – AFP, 30 January 2014

The mayor of the Chinese city of Nanjing, Ji Jianye, attends a groundbreaking
 ceremony for Nanjing Yangtze River International Shipping and Logistics Service
Centre in Nanjing, on July 13, 2013 (AFP/File)

Beijing — The former mayor of the Chinese city of Nanjing has been expelled from the Communist Party, its main disciplinary organ said Thursday.

Ji Jianye was found to have "received a huge amount of money and gifts either by himself or through his family members", the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said in a statement posted on its website.

It added that the former mayor was deemed "morally corrupt".

Ji -- who earned the nickname "Bulldozer Ji" for his promotion of construction projects in the city of eight million -- was sacked in October for "suspected serious disciplinary violations".

The term typically refers to the corruption that has become endemic in China.

A state-backed newspaper said at the time that he was investigated over economic corruption and construction projects, quoting sources as saying he awarded projects to a company he was connected to.

In China, expulsion from the ruling party is normally a precursor to criminal charges.

Related Article:

Chinese property tycoon Zeng Wei arrested on US island of Saipan

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2014-01-30

Zeng Wei, who faces extradition to Hong Kong on bribery charges.
(Internet photo)

Chinese property tycoon Zeng Wei has been arrested on the US island territory of Saipan and could be extradited to Hong Kong to face bribery and conspiracy charges, reports the Beijing-based Caixin media group.

The 51-year-old Zeng is currently being held on suspicion of making false statements to border agents in Saipan, a small island northeast of Guam in the west Pacific Ocean. Hong Kong authorities are seeking to extradite Zeng after he skipped bail in the territory in July 2011 when facing charges over a loan scandal involving two senior executives at the Hong Kong branch of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the largest bank in the world.

Executive Derick Chan Po-fui was jailed for two years and Chan Yick-yiu was jailed for three after being found guilty of accepting HK$5.8 million (US$474,000) in cash and gifts from Zeng in 2010 in return for approving and extending a series of loans made out to his various companies since 2006. For his part in the crime, Zeng was charged with three counts of offering an advantage to an agent and conspiracy to deal with property known or believed to represent proceeds of an indictable offense, but fled the country before his trial.

Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption has issued a statement thanking US authorities for their "valuable assistance," noting that a formal request for Zeng's surrender is under preparation and will be submitted to the US within 60 days.

US court documents indicate that Zeng arrived in Saipan from Shanghai on Jan. 16 and attempted to enter the island on a visitor visa. He was using a People's Republic of China passport with the name Liu Zhiqian, though fingerprints taken confirmed his true identity.

After refusing to cooperate with authorities, Zeng was placed in custody. He has since undergone three court hearings and has been labeled a "serious flight risk" by a judge.

Zeng has been described in court as a businessman with the majority of his businesses in mainland China. He was identified as the major shareholder and a director of United Win Holdings, which was principally engaged in developing properties and operating hotels and golf courses via its subsidiaries or affiliated companies. He is also said to have operated several other businesses including Kostar Investments Limited and Shine City International Limited.

The property tycoon was once named one of "China's 100 Real Estate Heroes" and "China's Top 10 Property Entrepreneurs," according to Caixin. His immense wealth was the subject of reports in 2010 when the Sydney Morning Herald claimed that he planned to demolish and rebuild a US$32 million mansion on Sydney Harbour.

Zeng had been in the spotlight previously as he was widely reported to be the son of Zeng Qinghong, China's former vice president and a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee, China's highest decision-making body. However, this claim has been vehemently denied by Zeng Wei, who told Hong Kong media that he is in no way related to the retired political heavyweight.

Zeng's wife, reportedly named Nicole Yang, was born in Beijing in 1972 and attended the University of California and later Harvard. Chinese netizens who claim to know of her background say she comes from a billionaire family with ties to the family of former US president George W Bush. Sources say she was with Zeng when he was arrested.

Latin America, Caribbean proclaim 'zone of peace'

Google – AFP, 29 January 2014

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (2-L) and Colombian Foreign
 Minister Maria Angela Holguin (L) attend the Second Summit of the Community
 of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), on January 29, 2014 in Havana
(AFP, Adalberto Roque)

Havana — Regional leaders declared a "zone of peace" in Latin America and the Caribbean Wednesday at a summit in Havana that also showcased Cuba's emergence from international isolation.

"I solemnly proclaim Latin America and the Caribbean as a 'zone of peace,'" Cuban President Raul Castro told representatives of 33 countries, not including the United States and Canada, which were not invited.

As part of the proclamation, the region's leaders pledged not to resort to force for the resolution of conflicts among them.

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa (L)
 attends the Second Summit of the
Community of Latin American and
Caribbean States (CELAC), on January 29,
2014 in Havana (AFP, Adalberto Roque)
Although largely spared wars over the past century, border disputes abound in the region and many countries have suffered civil wars and bloody insurgencies fueled by Cold War rivalries.

Among the heads of state and government attending the summit were the presidents of Chile, Sebastian Pinera, and Peru's Ollanta Humala, whose countries this week received a World Court ruling on a longstanding maritime boundary dispute.

They were expected to meet on the sidelines of the summit for the first time since the ruling in the Hague.

The two-day summit was to close Wednesday with a "declaration of Havana" affirming the region's "unity within diversity."

"The creation of a common political space is of primordial importance to advance our objective of peace and respect among nations, in order to overcome natural barriers and those imposed on us," said Castro.

Cuba's communist regime received numerous expressions of solidarity during the summit and the final communique was expected to condemn the more than 50-year-old US trade embargo on the island.

Among those in attendance were the secretary general of the Organization of American States, a Washington-based regional security group that expelled Cuba in 1962 but reinstated it in 2009. Also taking part was UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Castro has taken strides to open Cuba's Soviet-style state-controlled economy, but the regime brooks no political opposition.

Cuban rights groups reported more than 100 dissidents were taken in for questioning to prevent their meeting during the summit.

Unlike previous international gatherings in Havana, none of the presidents attending the summit sought to meet with dissidents, although the Costa Rican embassy received a visit from a delegation led by a prominent dissident, Elizardo Sanchez.

Ban on Tuesday said he raised the problem of "arbitrary arrests" with Castro.

Cuba also used the summit to pay homage to the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who was a driving force behind the Community of Caribbean and Latin American States. Castro is to turn over the rotating presidency of the group to Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla

Related Articles:

 "The End of History"- Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll)

“.... South America and the New Energy 

South America is starting to consider the same thing. My partner was just there and I allowed him to see the energy of the potential future in that land.

I would like to paint history for you regarding South America. There was a time when every single country had a dictator. Less than 15 years ago, they had failing economies and currencies that were worthless. Trouble and strife and killings were the norm. Marauding drug lords openly killed in the streets and corruption was everywhere. Even the politicians created fear and many disappeared overnight, never to be seen again. Today it isn't that way. Today, there is an ongoing stability as one country after another brings a new, positive, stable energy to their cultures. So, without a concentrated effort by any kind of multi-national leadership or direction, how could this have changed in only 15 years?

Within the entire continent, there's only one dictator left. What's happening? If you think that's amazing, there is a move afoot that you're not going to hear about yet. But they're discussing it right now, so let me tell you what they're thinking. "What would happen if we took these countries and eliminated the borders?" Sound familiar? They're talking about it. In back rooms where nobody is reporting it, they're saying, "What about a plan of eventually having one currency from the top of Columbia to the bottom of Chile? And we would be strong and we would be unified." And dear ones, I'm here to tell you, that it's going to work, and it might not take 50 years. Soon the one dictator will be gone, and the unification can begin.. Read More …. "The End of History"- Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) ‘…”

"Recalibration of Knowledge" – Jan 14, 2012 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: Channelling, God-Creator, Benevolent Design, New Energy, Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) SoulsReincarnation, Gaia, Old Energies (Africa, Terrorists, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela ... ), Weather, Rejuvenation, Akash, Nicolas Tesla / Einstein, Cold Fusion, Magnetics, Lemuria, Atomic Structure (Electrons, Particles, Polarity, Self Balancing, Magnetism), Entanglement, "Life is necessary for a Universe to exist and not the other way around", DNA, Humans (Baby getting ready, First Breath, Stem Cells, Embryonic Stem Cells, Rejuvenation), Global Unity, ... etc.) (Text Version)

“…  I want you to watch some countries. I don't have a clock [this statement is Kryon telling us that there is no time frame on his side of the veil, only potentials]. I'll just tell you, it's imminent [in Spirit's timing, this could mean as soon as a decade]. I want you to watch some countries carefully for changes. You're going to be seeing changes that are obvious, and some that are not obvious [covert or assumptive]. But the obvious ones you will see sooner than not - Cuba, Korea [North]Iran, of course, and Venezuela. I want you to watch what happens when they start to realize that they don't have any more allies on Earth! Even their brothers who used to support them in their hatred of some are saying, "Well, perhaps not anymore. It doesn't seem to be supporting us anymore. "Watch the synchronicities that are occurring. The leaders who have either died or are going to in the next year or so will take with them the old ways. Watch what happens to those who take their place, and remember these meetings where I described these potentials to you. …”

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Togo arrests three over huge ivory haul

BBC News, 29 January 2014

The handcuffed suspects were paraded with the haul of tusks in Lome

Related Stories

Police in Togo have arrested three men after finding nearly two tons of ivory in a container destined for Vietnam.

Two of the suspects are from Togo and the other is Vietnamese.

Conservationists say the West African country is a transit point for illegal ivory between Central Africa and Asia.

Despite a global ban on the ivory trade nearly a quarter of a century ago, Africa's elephant population is heading towards extinction.

The numbers of forest elephants in central Africa have decreased by more than 60% over the past 10 years.

The three suspects were paraded by police before reporters along with the haul of ivory in the Togolese capital, Lome.

Lt Pierre Awi said 1,680kg (3,700lb) of ivory had been concealed in a container at the city's port bound for Vietnam.

"The container was loaded with wood that was serving as a cover for a large quantity of ivory in bags underneath," he said.

Conservationists say the seizure represents the tusks of about 230 elephants.

African countries are struggling to contain the illegal trade in ivory.

On Tuesday, a court in Kenya used tough new anti-poaching laws to fine a Chinese man $230,000 (£138,000) for smuggling ivory.

He was caught last week with 3.5kg of the contraband in a suitcase at Nairobi's international airport.

Last August Togo announced it had arrested a man believed to be the kingpin of the country's ivory trade.

Emile Edouwodzi N'bouke, who has denied any wrongdoing, has not yet been brought to trial.

Related Articles:

Hong Kong lesbian to wealthy dad: stop trying to buy me a husband

Gigi Chao writes open letter to father, Cecil Chao, who has offered a dowry worth millions to any man who can woo her, Associated Press in Hong Kong, Wednesday 29 January 2014

Gigi Chao, right, with her partner Sean Eav. Photograph: AP

The lesbian daughter of a Hong Kong tycoon whose offer of a dowry worth millions inspired a movie has written an open letter asking him to accept who she is after he reportedly raised the price to find her a husband.

In a letter to Cecil Chao published on Wednesday by two Hong Kong newspapers, Gigi Chao said she knew it was "difficult for you to understand, let alone accept" how she could be romantically attracted to a woman.

But she added that "it would mean the world to me if you could just not be so terrified" of her partner.

The tycoon made world headlines when he offered HK$500m (£39m/US$65m) to the man who could successfully woo his daughter. A Malaysian newspaper reported last week that he had doubled the offer.

Related Article:

Indian supreme court refuses to review ban on gay sex

Judges reject petition from government and campaigners calling on court to reconsider decision to reinstate colonial-era law, Jason Burke in Delhi,  Tuesday 28 January 2014

A gay rights activist takes part in a protest against a supreme court ruling in
 December that reinstated section 377 of the Indian penal code. Photograph:
Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP/Getty Images

India's supreme court has refused to review the ban on gay sex it imposed last month, rejecting arguments from civil rights campaigners and the Indian government that the move was unconstitutional.

The court's decision in December to reinstate a ban on same-sex relationships overturned four years ago by a lower court provoked anger and shock in India and overseas.

The UN high commissioner on human rights, Navi Pillay, said the decision represented a "significant step backwards for India" and violated international law.

Sonia Gandhi, the president of the ruling Congress party, called on MPs "to address this issue and uphold the constitutional guarantee of life and liberty to all citizens of India" in the wake of the judgment.

But on Tuesday two judges rejected petitions submitted by government lawyers and campaigners calling for a review of the December decision.

Campaigners who have waged a long battle for same-sex relations to be legalised in the world's biggest democracy said on Tuesday they would continue the fight, though their options are now limited.

Shaleen Rakesh, an activist, said the decision was "disappointing and horrible" but not unexpected, adding: "The priority for the community is to hold our heads up and maintain self-belief and identity. It is not easy to live in a country where you are criminalised."

Gay rights activists say gay people in India face significant discrimination and police harassment, even if prosecutions have been rare. Criminalising gay sex also makes many people vulnerable to blackmail, they say, and causes misery for many who already face prejudice, even from close family members.

New legislation, which constitutional experts say is probably necessary to overturn the judgment, looks unlikely. It would be unusually bold for an administration widely seen as weak to take on such a controversial issue so close to a general election to be held by May.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata party, which has roots in deeply conservative Hindu religious and cultural organisations, has supported the reinstatement of the ban and is currently leading the polls.

The fierce debate over the supreme court's decision to reinstate section 377, the 153-year-old law against "unnatural offences" introduced under colonial rule, which has long been interpreted as applying to same-sex relationships, is a further example of how sexuality has become a battleground in India, often revealing cultural splits between generations, between urban and rural dwellers and between those who invoke a "traditional past" contaminated by western influences and those who stress a local history of pluralism and tolerance.

The supreme court judges argued that the Delhi high court had overstepped its powers with the decision four years ago as only India's government could change the law. Section 377 should, therefore, be reinstated, they said.

Few thought the legal challenge – launched by conservatives including Muslim and Christian religious associations, a rightwing politician and a retired government official-turned astrologist - against the 2009 decision to succeed. The supreme court is known for broadly progressive judgments that often order politicians or officials to respect the rights of the poor, disadvantaged or marginalised.

The Indian author Vikram Seth said the December judgment showed "intellectual shabbiness and ethical hollowness" that went against the true culture of an enormously diverse country.

"We are each of us in some way – by caste, gender, sexuality , language or religion – a minority, and the great achievement of the Indian polity over three generations is that somehow or other we have kept together as a nation," Seth, 61, said in an interview with the Guardian last month.

Defenders of the supreme court decision said the objections of the judges to the repeal of section 377 were "constitutional and legal, not moral".

But critics said that the wording of the judgment reveals deep prejudice. The ruling refers to the "so-called rights of LGBT persons", describes same-sex relations as "against the order of nature" and says that "lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgenders constitute only a miniscule fraction of the country's population".

Related Article:

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hairless hero: Iranian teacher shaves head in solidarity with bullied pupil

Ali Mohammadian's gesture, copied by his entire class of 23 pupils, stops bullying and attracts praise from all over country, Saeed Kamali Dehghan, 28 January 2014

Ali Mohammadian and his pupils, who shaved their heads in solidarity with a
bullied pupil. Photograph: Bahman Shahbazi for Tasnim News

When Iranian schoolteacher Ali Mohammadian noticed that one of his students was bullied after going bald as a result of a mysterious illness, he decided to show solidarity and shave his own hair. In no time, his entire class shaved their heads and the bullying stopped.

Now, Mohammadian who teaches at Sheikh Shaltoot's elementary school in Marivan, a Kurdish city in the west of Iran, has become a national hero. President Hassan Rouhani has praised him, the government has offered financial support for the pupil's medical treatment and his story has reached the four corners of his country.

"I'm so happy that this has touched many hearts and people reacted enormously positive," the 45-year-old teacher told the Guardian by phone from Marivan. "Everyone in the school now wants to shave their head."

Earlier this month, Mohammadian posted a picture of himself with eight-year-old Mahan Rahimi on Facebook. "Our heads are sensitive to hair," he wrote on the social network in support of his student. "Mahan had become isolated after going bald, smile had disappeared from his face and I was concerned about his class performance. That's why I thought about shaving my head to get him back on track," he said.

Mohammadian's Facebook post soon caught the eyes of hundreds of Iranian web users. "When I logged in to my Facebook the next day, I couldn't believe the number of people who had liked it and shared it," he said.

Iranian media, including national TV, interviewed him and Iran's education minister, Ali Asghar Fani, soon invited both to Tehran for a formal thank-you. The governor of the Kurdistan province, Abdolmohammad Zahedi, also conveyed the president's message to him.

In a matter of days, Mohammadian's 23 other students in the class were inspired by their teacher's action and insisted that they, too, wanted to shave their heads. "I told them to wait until the winter's cold weather was over but when we came back from Tehran, they had all shaved," he said. "This Saturday morning I stepped into the class and everyone had gone bald."

Doctors at the Razi hospital in Tehran told the state television that Mahan had problems in his immune system but they were investigating the exact nature of his disease. According to the teacher, medics in Tehran have also sent samples to Germany for a possible diagnosis. "Mahan's classmates have since become supportive of him and a smile is back on his face," said the teacher.

Mohammadian has 23 years of teaching experience and has two daughters and a son. "In places like Syria and Iraq or Sudan, children are being killed every day and in places like Pakistan and India child labour is widespread. I'm extremely worried about the horrific ordeals those children face on a daily basis."

Chinese ivory smuggler gets record sentence after Kenya trial

Google – AFP, 28 January 2014

Tang Yong Jian (R), a Chinese national, buries his face in his palms after
he was arraigned in a Nairobi court January 27, 2014 (AFP, Tony Karumba)

Nairobi — A court in Kenya on Tuesday slapped a record sentence on a Chinese ivory smuggler, the first person to be convicted under tough new laws designed to stem a surge in poaching.

Tang Yong Jian, 40, was ordered to pay 20 million shillings (170,500 euros, 233,000 dollars) or else go to jail for seven years. He was arrested last week carrying an ivory tusk weighing 3.4 kilogrammes (7.5 pounds) in a suitcase while in transit from Mozambique to China via Nairobi.

A spokesman for the Kenya Wildlife Service, which manages the country's celebrated national parks, welcomed the verdict.

A raw piece of elephant ivory is exhibited
 in a Nairobi court during the trial of
 Tang Yong Jian, on January 27, 2014
(AFP/File, Tony Karumba)
"It's a landmark ruling that sets a precedent for those involved in smuggling," Paul Udoto told AFP, saying stricter sentences will make the "killing of wildlife a high cost business".

"It's a remarkable precedent," he said, explaining that the fact that smugglers were previously punished with "a slap on the wrist" was demoralising for park rangers.

"It's very motivating for our rangers" to see poachers "lose a lot of money and spend long terms in Kenyan prisons," he said.

Kenya is a key transit point for ivory smuggled from across the region.

Poaching has risen sharply in Africa in recent years, with rhinos and elephants particularly hard-hit.

Under the new law, which came into force a month ago, dealing in wildlife trophies carries a minimum fine of a million shillings or a minimum jail sentence of five years, or both.

The most serious wildlife crimes -- the killing of endangered animals -- now carry penalties of life imprisonment, as well as fines of up to 20 million Kenyan shillings.

Previously, punishment for the most serious wildlife crimes was capped at a maximum fine of 40,000 Kenyan shillings (340 euros, 465 dollars), and a possible jail term of up to 10 years.

Some smugglers caught in Kenya with a haul of ivory were even fined less than a dollar apiece.

European Continent Now Completely Free of Criminalizing Gay Sex After Cypriot State Repeal

Towleroad, Andy Towle, January 27, 2014

The European continent is now completely free of laws criminalizing gay sex after lawmakers in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus voted today to repeal a colonial era sodomy ban. The bill, which was passed on a second reading, still requires endorsement by Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu but he has promised to sign it.

Cyprus Mail reports:
In the north, homosexuality was punishable by imprisonment for five years and Turkish Cypriot activists, had even until recently been forced to hold protests in secret, leaving LGBT signs and symbols anonymously in various places.
Paulo Côrte-Real, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s executive Board, welcomed the move: “We can finally call Europe a continent completely free from laws criminalising homosexuality. In 1981, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in its historic judgment in Dudgeon v UK case that such laws are in breach of the European Human Rights Convention and must be abolished. It took Europe 33 years to completely free the continent from these unjust and discriminatory laws.”
In August 2012, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) agreed to examine a legal challenge against Turkey for the north’s continued failure to repeal a law banning homosexuality.
North America, Australia, and now Europe are free of laws criminalizing homosexuality.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Philippine priests swap sermons for 'selfies'

Google – AFP, Mynardo Macaraig (AFP), 27 January 2014

Philippine Bishop of San Pablo, Laguna, Buenaventura Famadico (L), and 
Auxillary Bishop of San Fernando, Pampanga, Roberto Mallari, show their Facebook
accounts on their tablets in Manila on January 22, 2014 (AFP, Noel Celis)

Manila — For some of the Philippines' most powerful clergymen, stepping off the pulpit and into cyberspace felt impossibly daunting until they took their first "selfies" and posted them on Facebook.

Their initial forays into the brave new virtual world took place in a groundbreaking class for 50 of the Philippines' top bishops and monsignors in Manila earlier this month, part of the Catholic Church's strategy to remain relevant in the digital age.

Sean-Patrick Lovett, a programme director with Vatican Radio who flew in from Rome to lead the seminar, said Social Media 101 had not been taught to such a group of senior Church figures anywhere in the world before and he was surprised by his students' reactions.

"I've never seen bishops so happy and so excited. They were taking pictures of themselves and putting them on Facebook," Lovett told AFP after the three-hour session, which saw the priests partner with younger, more tech-savvy seminarians or nuns to show them the ropes.

Philippine Bishop of San Pablo, Laguna, 
Buenaventura Famadico, checks his
 Facebook account on his tablet at the
Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila
 on January 22, 2014 (AFP, Noel Celis)
"After half an hour on the web, one bishop became very emotional. People he hadn't heard from in years were contacting him."

Bishop Buenaventura Famadico, who leads the major San Pablo diocese near Manila, gave the impression the class was a lightbulb moment after years of largely avoiding computers.

"I am a very private person. I still have a very limited appreciation about the Internet and social media," the 57-year-old told AFP.

"But now there is that opening, about staying in touch with others through Facebook."

Famadico recounted that during the training seminar he opened the webpage of his own diocese and found it was so out of date it still had his predecessor listed in his place.

"Now I have new friends, I contacted my brothers and sisters abroad. I am very encouraged to upload my thoughts and homilies to my Facebook account," he said.

The class involved teaching the clergymen, some of them in their 70s, simply how to use the Internet, set up Facebook and Twitter accounts and, most importantly, how to make their messages worth reading.

One seminarian said that, while some priests already had their own Facebook pages, most did not and one elderly bishop had never even used a computer before.

"Just typing on the keyboard was a new experience for him," said the seminarian, who asked not to be identified.

The Catholic Church is already using social media as a powerful tool to deliver God's messages, and Lovett said his students were encouraged by Pope Francis having nearly 3.6 million Twitter followers.

The Philippines' top clergyman, Archbishop of Manila Cardinal Luis Tagle, is also prominent on social media with his Facebook account attracting more than 450,000 "likes".

Yet Lovett said the bishops had struggled with following their leaders' examples because they simply felt overwhelmed with unfamiliar technologies.

"The bishops know that social media is important. But it is one thing to know it and another to experience it," Lovett said.

Lovett said it was important for Church leaders to adapt so they could reach the widest audience possible, particularly in countries such as the Philippines where the youth demographic is so strong.

"The average age of the Filipino population is 23 years. If you want to talk to 23-year-olds, you have to use the language they use," he said.

And the Philippines is so important to the Church because it has about 80 million Catholics -- the biggest number of any country in Asia -- a legacy of Spanish colonial rule that ended in 1898.

Lovett said one key part of the class, which was also attended by the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, was how to attract and hold the interest of the youth.

Sean-Patrick Lovett, a programme director with
 Vatican Radio, is interviewed by AFP interview
 at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila
on January 22, 2014 (AFP, Noel Celis)
"The old days of putting long homilies (online) and expecting young people to read them is over," he said.

Monsignor Crisologo Manongas, 56, said he and his fellow students were taught not to use long sermons but use "short messages that can be picked up by the people".

They were also told to use more photographs rather than words. "Nowadays, it is pictures that talk," he said.

Lovett said the class also addressed the priests' fears of being too vulnerable on the web by teaching them how to use privacy settings and set up special "groups" where access is restricted.

"We taught them how to be careful about who you invite and who you befriend, and what you say and how you say it," he said.

Lovett said he hoped the initial enthusiasm shown by the clergymen would not flare out after the class.

"Because people want to be contacted by their bishops. They want to know that their bishops are out there, they want to be inspired by their presence," he said.

However Lovett also indicated that the priests had deep reservations that may prevent them from fully embracing the Internet.

"Some bishops said to me, 'I'm afraid I might become addicted to Facebook,'" he said.

"Then they asked: 'If I become addicted, can I pray while I'm on Facebook?'"

Pope Francis poses with young people in the Church of Saint Augustine
 in Rome on August 28, 2013 (Osservatore Romano/AFP/File, Francesco