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, October 31, 2014

Myanmar President Calls Unprecedented Talks with Parties, Army

Jakarta Globe – AFP, Oct 30, 2014

Myanmar President Thein Sein has called together opposition parties, including
 Aung San Suu Kyi's party, for talks about the country's democratic transition.
(Reuters Photo/Edgar Su)

Yangon. Myanmar’s president has called an unprecedented summit of army top brass and political rivals including Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party, politicians said on Thursday, a year ahead of crucial elections.

The talks, scheduled for Friday in the capital Naypyidaw, are the first of their kind in the country as it attempts to emerge from the shadow of decades of outright military rule.

Experts say the meeting marks a critical juncture with the 2015 elections seen as a key test of democratic reforms under President Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government.

It also comes as the fast-changing nation grapples with thorny political and constitutional questions and the search for a nationwide ceasefire to several rebellions.

Confirming the talks, Khin Maung Swe, chairman of the National Democratic Force party, said the meeting will cover “democratic reforms, peace and (the) transition period.”

It comes just days after Myanmar’s election authorities announced the upcoming poll would be held in the last week of October or the first week of November 2015.

Myanmar has promised the vote will be the freest in the country’s modern history after the military ceded direct power to a quasi-civilian government three years ago.

The meeting also follows heated parliamentary debates over constitutional and electoral reform, as well as pervasive jitters that the government, which is dominated by former junta generals, may find a reason to delay next year’s poll.

“I think it’s really significant, this is the first time he [Thein Sein] has had this kind of meeting,” said one Western expert, who asked to remain unnamed.

“This is a moment when everyone is talking about who is going to be the next president,” he said, adding there is “potential for tension to build up — this is a very important time for everyone to get on the same page”.

Landmark polls

Myanmar’s last general elections in 2010 were marred by widespread accusations of cheating and were held without the NLD or Suu Kyi, who was kept under lock and key until days after the vote.

Thein Sein has since surprised the international community with a number of dramatic reforms that have seen international sanctions removed as the country opens up to the world.

Most political prisoners have been freed, Suu Kyi has entered parliament and the government has set its sights on ending multiple civil wars with armed ethnic minority rebels.

But the country still faces a myriad of challenges — including ongoing armed rebellions, an opaque legal system, creaking infrastructure and significant poverty levels — that will need to be tackled by any new government after next year’s election.

Suu Kyi’s party is expected to win a major slice of the legislature in that vote and parliament will then select a president.

The party won almost every seat available in the 2012 by-elections that saw the democracy veteran become an MP for the first time.

But the 69-year-old activist, who spent more than a decade under house arrest during the junta years, is currently barred from taking the top job by the constitution.

The charter says anyone whose spouse or children are foreign nationals cannot become president — the Nobel laureate’s late husband was British, as are her two sons.

Many believe the clause was crafted specifically to thwart her political rise.

The NLD said it was unable to confirm details of the talks when contacted by AFP on Thursday.

Khin Maung Swe said the talks would include the two vice presidents, the influential parliamentary speakers, the election commission and six main political parties.

Chairman of the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party Sai Aik Paung hailed the meeting as an “important” step, but said more parties should be included.

“We could then discuss a bigger range of different ideas, which would be good for our country,” he told AFP.

Agence France-Presse

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dutch king and queen arrive in Japan for official visit, Wednesday 29 October 2014

Dutch king Willem-Alexander and queen Maxima are escorted by Japan's
 emperor Akihito and empress Michiko as crown prince Narhito and crown
princess Masako look on. Photo: Reuters

The Dutch king and queen have arrived in Japan on an official visit and were welcomed in a special ceremony at the imperial palace in Tokyo by emperor Akihito and his wife Michiko.

The ceremony was also attended by the reclusive crown princess Masako, who has not been at such an event for the past five years.

The Dutch royals are accompanied by new foreign minister Bert Koenders and economic affairs minister Henk Kamp, who is heading up a large trade mission.

On Friday, the king and queen will move on to South Korea.

Asia Bibi's death penalty: A test case for human rights in Pakistan

The lawyers of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman convicted of blasphemy, are set to appeal against her death penalty in the Supreme Court. Activists say the case will serve as a test for human rights in Pakistan.

Deutsche Welle, 29 Oct 2014

Asia Bibi has been languishing in prison for more than five years. The 49-year-old mother of five was arrested in June, 2009 after her neighbors complained that she had made derogatory remarks about Islam's Prophet Mohammed. A year later, Bibi was sentenced to death under the Islamic Republic's controversial blasphemy law despite strong opposition from the national and international human rights groups.

The slim hope that the Pakistani judiciary might pardon Bibi and eventually release her was dashed earlier this month when the Lahore High Court (LHC) ruled to uphold her 2010 death sentence.

"We are utterly disappointed, but we will file a review petition against the LHC decision in the Supreme Court," Asia Bibi's lawyer Naeem Shakir told reporters after the October 16 verdict. Shakir is still hopeful that the country's highest court will grant Bibi amnesty.

Bibi's family members are hoping
for a presidential pardon
Others are not so hopeful.

Imran Nafees Siddiqui, an Islamabad-based civil society activist, says that the South Asian country's civil society should keep building pressure on the government and the courts irrespective of the legal outcome.

"[The blasphemy law] is a man-made doctrine and not a divine revelation. The rights group should continue to demand Bibi's freedom. The media should also play an active role," Siddiqui told DW. "The public opinion carries a lot of weight and can also influence courts' decisions. We have to create an alternative narrative to defeat the extremist discourse in the country. It is a test case for the rights of minorities in Pakistan," he added.

International condemnation

The Geneva-based World Council of Churches (WCC) has also come out in Bibi's defense. On Monday, October 27, the WCC's general secretary Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit issued a statement expressing his concern over the rejection of Bibi's appeal against the capital punishment.

"The alleged circumstances of the incident which led to the blasphemy charges against Asia Bibi are highly questionable, and the imposition of the death penalty in this case is totally inappropriate," said Tveit, adding that apart from the issues of religious freedom, the charges, ongoing imprisonment and threat of execution seemed to have infringed Bibi's basic human rights.

The leaders of Pakistan's Christian community have also expressed alarm and sorrow over the LHC ruling.

There have been demonstrations for Asia Bibi all over the world, including
in Pakistan

But all this condemnation is not sufficient to convince the supporters of the blasphemy law. Fareed Ahmad Pracha, a leader of Pakistan's right-wing political party, the Jamaat-i-Islami, disagrees with the critics of the legislation and says the actual problem is not with the law but with its interpretation.

"We just want to say that the law should be enforced properly, there should not be any change made into the blasphemy law. We will not tolerate or accept this. If you make way even for a single change in the law, then there will be a number of changes, whereas there has never been a case where anyone has been punished," he emphasized.

Call for repeal of the law

There is evidence to support Pracha's claim. Although hundreds have been convicted of blasphemy, nobody in Pakistan has ever been executed for the offense. Most convictions are retracted after the accused makes an appeal. However, angry mobs have killed people accused of desecrating the Koran or Islam.

Controversial blasphemy laws in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, where 97 percent of the population is Muslim, were introduced by the military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s. Activists say they are often implemented in cases which have little to do with blasphemy however. They are used to settle petty disputes and personal vendettas. Christians, Hindus and Ahmadis are often victimized as a result.

Mumtaz Qadri said he 'punished'
Taseer for insulting Islam
A few months after Bibi's conviction, Salman Taseer, a former governor of the central Punjab province, was murdered by his bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri. Qadri said he had killed Taseer for speaking out against the blasphemy laws and in support of Bibi.

In March 2011, Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's former minister for minority affairs, was assassinated by a religious fanatic for the same reason.

Farzana Bari, director of Center for Women's Studies at Islamabad's Quaid-i-Azam University, believes discrimination will persist unless there is radical change. "It is high time that the government reform the blasphemy law," she said to DW. "These laws are against the spirit of Islam and are a cause of notoriety for the country."

Religious discrimination in Pakistan is not a new occurrence but it has increased considerably in recent years. Pakistan's liberal sections are alarmed by the growing influence of religious extremists in their country. Rights activists complain that the Islamists enjoy state patronage, while on the other hand liberal and progressive voices have to face the wrath of the country's security agencies.

Related Article:

Wheelchair basketball gives new hope to disabled Afghan women

Yahoo – AFP, Mushtaq Mojaddidi, 29 Oct 2014

An Afghan member of the Mazar-i-Sharif wheelchair basketball team plays against
 the team from Kabul during the final of the country's third annual competition in
Kabul on October 29, 2014 (AFP Photo/Shah Marai)

Kabul (AFP) - They have lost limbs to landmines and been disabled by mortar shrapnel, but Afghanistan's wheelchair women basketball players refuse to call themselves victims.

Clashing wheelchairs, hooting supporters and balls swishing through hoops brought a drab grey court in downtown Kabul alive Wednesday, in the final of the country's third annual competition organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

At the end of the forty minutes of play, the scoreline read Mazar-i-Sharif 26, Kabul 9 -- but for many of the athletes who took part it was also a personal triumph over years of adversity.

Mariam Samimi, a member of the winning side, was just six when she stepped on undetonated ordnance in her native northern province of Balkh, blowing off her toes.

It was 1996 and the height of Afghanistan's civil war, when prosthetics and good medical treatment were in short supply.

Now a trained social worker as well as a competitive athlete, the 23-year-old said she wanted others to know that a disability does not mean having to give up on your dreams.

"Don't be disheartened, always have courage, and do not say I can't do it. Be confident all the time, don't feel that you are disabled and (that) I should be at home," she said.

Afghanistan has been at war since 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded to prop up the communist government.

Members of the Kabul wheelchair basketball team (R) greet members of the 
Mazar-i-Sharif team in the final of the country's third annual competition in Kabul
on October 29, 2014 (AFP Photo/Shah Marai)

After the Soviets withdrew in 1989, a civil war began. The hardline Taliban seized power in 1996 but were ousted in 2001 by a US-led coalition.

The Taliban have waged a guerrilla war ever since against Afghan and foreign troops.

The country is one of the world's most heavily mined nations, with dozens of people still killed or maimed every month.

It is also one of just three countries where polio is still a problem, due to the disruption of health services and Taliban opposition to vaccination.

Nineteen-year-old Kamila Rahimi, who helped her side to victory with five goals, has been unable to walk since she was a toddler due to the disease. When she's on the court, it doesn't matter.

"I feel very happy to be playing basketball because I like the company of my teammates. When I laugh, they laugh with me, when I cry, they cry with me," she said.

In the final Kabul took an early lead but were comfortably beaten in the end by a more polished Mazar side, as several players were forced to give up on their hijabs while whizzing around the court.

The best players from the two-day tournament, which included the western city of Herat, will go on to play for the national team, said Alberto Cairo, head of the ICRC orthopaedic programme in Afghanistan.

Twenty-three-year-old Aziza Ahmadi, who was paralysed in her left foot when shrapnel from a mortar attack on her Kabul home hit her 18 years ago, said she hoped to make the grade.

"My dream is to go to play in European countries like Italy, Germany and France," she said with a smile.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Puan: Indonesia Health Card and Smart Card Available Next Month

Jakarta Globe, Oct 28, 2014

A student rides a bicycle through an obstacle course during an agility test at a
school in Solo, Central Java, in this June 17, 2013, file photo. (JG Photo/Ali Luthfi)

Jakarta. President Joko Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla’s much-vaunted Indonesia Health Card and Indonesia Smart Card will be available next month.

Puan Maharani, the coordinating minister of human resources development and cultural affairs, said both cards would be launched “as early as next month,” according to

The cards, which will be similar to the Jakarta Health Card (KJS) and Jakarta Smart Card (JKP) implemented when Joko was governor of the capital, provide a number of benefits to holders. They provide free health insurance for the poor; guarantee 12 years free education and provide for students’ educational needs; the cards also guarantee free higher education for poor students who pass the university entrance exams.

Joko and Kalla promised to introduce the cards to improve the nation’s health and education sectors during their presidential campaign.

Puan said she believed the cards were part of Joko’s “Mental Revolution,” as access good education and health services would improve the people’s quality of life.

A further ministerial meeting was planned to discuss details of the cards’ launch on Wednesday.

Top China official admits to taking massive bribes

Former senior military officer Xu Caihou has confessed he took bribes to help others get promoted, according to Chinese state media. He is the most senior official to be caught in China's crackdown on corruption.

Deutsche Welle, 28 Oct 2014

Xu Caihou admitted to "the crime of taking bribes," the Communist Party said in a statement following a key meeting last week.

China's state-run Xinhua news agency, which published the above statement, also added that "the probe by the military prosecutors ascertained that Xu Caihou (pictured) took advantage of his position to assist the promotion of other people, accepting massive bribes personally and through his family."

Military prosecutors had meanwhile completed their investigation and Xu would most likely be court martialled, Xinhua added.

Xu, a senior military officer, was the former deputy chairman of the Communist Party's Central Military Commission and a member of the politburo until 2012. He ranked second to Hu Jintao, who was China's president at the time.

The probe against the top military officer began in March this year and Xu was stripped of his title and expelled from the military in June. He was since kept under house arrest and assisted authorities in a corruption probe into another officer of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

His expulsion from the Communist Party was also finalized, marking another step in President Xi Jinping's campaign to end corruption in one of the world's largest economies.

The Communist Party, of which Xi is the head, said in a separate statement that it would speed up its anti-corruption drive so that government officials would "dare not" give into bribery.

mg/se (AP, Reuters)
Related Article:

Monday, October 27, 2014

Saudi women's driving campaign a 'success'

Yahoo – AFP, 26 Oct 2014

A Saudi woman gets into a taxi in the city of Riyadh on October 26, 2014, as a online
 campaign continues to call for an end to the driving ban for women in the country (AFP
Photo/Fayez Nureldine)

Riyadh (AFP) - Activists pushing for women's right-to-drive in Saudi Arabia declared their online campaign a success Sunday, in the world's only country where women are not allowed to operate cars.

The campaign that began last year and revved up again since the beginning of the month encouraged women to post online images of themselves driving.

Dozens of women have driven and posted during the latest campaign, one activist said, although she knew of only two who hit the streets Saturday and Sunday as the campaign peaked.

Saudi activist Manal Al Sharif drives her
 car in Dubai on October 22, 2013, as she
 campaigns for women's rights to drive in
the country (AFP Photo/Marwan Naamani)
"A day hasn't gone by without receiving one or two videos" of women driving, said the activist.

Men and women have also posted messages of support.

More than 2,800 people have signed an online petition at asking authorities to lift the ban on women driving.

The activist said she did not want to be named because the interior ministry has threatened her with arrest if she speaks publicly about the campaign.

Last year, activists also focused their demands on October 26, when at least four driving videos were posted on YouTube.

Sixteen or more women were fined for taking the wheel on that day.

There is a "huge risk" for female drivers, the activist said when asked why more had not posted images of themselves this year.

Women have previously been arrested, cars have been confiscated, and one received 100 lashes, she alleged.

"So, women are afraid," the activist said.

She added that, apart from driving, the campaign is also about "creating a storm" over the issue.

On Thursday the interior ministry issued a warning to would-be female drivers and their supporters.

The ministry said it would "strictly implement" measures against anyone who "contributes in any manner or by any acts, towards providing violators with the opportunity to undermine the social cohesion".

That means the campaign has had an impact, the activist said.

"I think it's pretty successful. If we're getting a reaction, that means we're effective."

'Half a citizen'

Sahar Nasief defied the warnings and got behind the wheel anyway on Sunday.

"The roads were full of police cars... everybody was on alert," she told AFP from the Red Sea city of Jeddah after running a 15-minute errand in her car because her driver wasn't available.

The authorities' response shows the driving campaign has been "very successful," she agreed.

"Its sad that you live in a country where you feel like half a citizen, that you are a threat to national security," another driver said in a YouTube video posted on Saturday.

Dressed in black with only her eyes exposed, she said she was driving in Riyadh on the weekend.

Saudi women are required to dress in black from head to toe and still need permission from a male guardian to work and marry.

Activists say women's driving is not against the law.

Tradition and custom are behind the prohibition, which is not backed up by an Islamic text or judicial ruling, the online petition states.

But activists said they feel the conservative society is becoming more accepting of women motorists.

"A lot of people now are for the campaign," Nasief said.

Another activist, Aziza al-Yussef, said people notice that she is a woman driver and don't seem to care.

"We are just waiting for a decree from the king to allow it," she said, optimistic that a change is coming.

Hardline clerics protested when King Abdullah, in January last year, decided to give women a 20 percent quota in the previously all-male Shura Council, an advisory body.

The unnamed activist said "it's hard to say" if women are closer to the right to drive.

In the meantime activists say they will keep raising their voices, and getting behind the wheel.

Afghan cleric jailed for raping 11-year-old girl

Yahoo – AFP, Emal Haidary, 26 Oct 2014

Nooses hang at Pul-e-Charkhi prison, on the outskirts of Kabul on October 8, 2014
 Five Afghan men were hanged on October 8 for the gang rape of four women
(AFP Photo/Wakil Kohsar)

An Afghan cleric has been jailed for 20 years for raping an 11-year old girl, her lawyer and activists said Sunday, after the child confronted her attacker in court despite fierce family opposition.

Activists said the girl appeared in court after being taken to a women's shelter for safety from some members of her own family, who had threatened to kill her for bringing "dishonour" on them.

The sentence, passed by a court in Kabul on Saturday, came just weeks after five men were hanged for the gang-rape of four adult women and was hailed as a victory by activists.

Hasina Sarwari, the head in Kunduz province of the Women for Afghan Women (WAW) non-government organisation, said the student at a mosque school was raped in May by Mohammad Aminullah Barez, a local mullah who taught the girls religious studies.

She first tried to hide what had happened to her but was later admitted to hospital for bleeding, where doctors discovered the rape. The mullah was arrested by police later.

"We are happy for the court's decision but we wanted him to be executed," Sarwari told AFP. Her organisation supported the girl in her case and gave her shelter in Kabul.

"After the rape happened the family of the girl wanted to kill her out of shame, even the nurses were not ready to treat her when she was bleeding in the hospital," she said.

"They would shout 'May you die, you brought disgrace to our family!' and 'We will kill you and dump your body in the river'.

"We got scared too, but we somehow managed to sneak her out of the hospital and take her to a WAW shelter," she added.

The girl was later brought to Kabul where she was treated for genital injuries and kept in a women's shelter before she appeared in court.

Shaima Qasemi, the girl's lawyer, said the girl cried in court and shouted for the Mullah to be hanged.

"For now she is happy to see that the Mullah who committed the crime has been sentenced to jail," she added.

Mohammad Rasool, the girl's uncle who was among those who backed her, said: "We welcome the decision by the Kabul court."

'Victory for women'

Benafsha Efaf Amiri, another member of the WAW, said that although the cleric had admitted having sex with the girl, he tried to persuade the court it was consensual and he should therefore only receive 100 lashes as punishment.

Judge Sulaiman Rasouli rejected that argument because it would entail lashing the girl too and treating her as an adulterer rather than a rape victim.

Amiri hailed the verdict as a victory for Afghan women, who still face violence despite reforms since the fall of the hardline Islamist Taliban in 2001.

"Our assessment from yesterday's court session has made us optimistic for ensuring justice and for ensuring the rights of women of Afghanistan," she said.

Of the 17 rape cases her organisation had helped with this year, four have resulted in succesful prosecutions while the rest remain pending, she told AFP.

It was also termed a "just verdict" by the Women's Affairs ministry in a statement to the media.

Women's rights have been central to the multi-billion-dollar international development effort in Afghanistan, but they still endure routine discrimination, abuse and violence.

Under the Taliban's harsh version of Islamic law, women were forced to wear the all-enveloping burqa, banned from jobs, and forbidden even to leave the house without a male chaperone.

Amin's lawyers are expected to appeal to try to reduce the sentence.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Nearly US$300m in fines just the start for China's anti-monopoly work

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2014-10-26

Qualcomm's company logo. (File photo/CFP)

From Microsoft to Qualcomm, Audi to Mercedes Benz, China's anti-monopoly moves have issued penalties worth nearly 1.8 billion yuan (US$294 million) so far this year, while calls for ensuring fair competition in the market are getting stronger and stronger, the Beijing-based Economic Information Daily reports.

The next stage of the anti-monopoly campaign will focus on breaking administrative monopolies, including manipulating administrative power to exclude competition and local protectionism. Experts expect a more fair and orderly market environment in China in the future, following the implementation of the anti-monopoly law.

The world has been paying close to attention to how China has been managing monopolies since the campaign started in 2013. The first stage targeted monopoly agreements (vertical monopoly), the concentration of undertakings that restrict competition (horizontal monopoly) and the abuse of a dominant market position.

The vertical monopoly refers to upstream and downstream operators in the same industry having reached agreements to exclude or restrict competition. For example, in the auto market, car suppliers have issued policies or notices to restrict and define the minimum resale price, as well having fixed the resale price and taken other unilateral measures.

Horizontal monopoly refers to agreements reached among competitors, a tactic much harder to detect and break. Enterprises in the same industry may agree to jointly set prices through meetings and regional alliances.

Targets of fines include Japanese car parts enterprises, which got slammed with 1.24 billion yuan (US$202 million) in August, and fines on Zhejiang's insurers for 110 million yuan (US$18 million) in September.

Chen Fengying, director of the Institute of World Economic Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, expects the nation's anti-monopoly investigations to deepen further, expanding to wider ranges and gaining more authority.

Since China's implementation involves foreign multinational companies, some foreign media have raised queries over its fairness. Premier Li Keqiang at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos this year replied that among the companies being investigated for anti-monopoly, foreign enterprises accounted for only 10%, a number he described as fair. China's implementation of anti-monopoly probes will make China further expand its openings, allowing more foreign funds and foreign products willing to enter the nation.

Anti-monopoly probes follow international standards, aiming to ensure fair competition in the market and upgrade economic efficiency, said an expert.

Iran hangs woman in defiance of international campaign

Yahoo – AFP, Arthur MacMillan, 25 Oct 2014

Reyhaneh Jabbari was arrested for the murder
 of a former intelligence official in July 2007 
(AFP Photo/Golara Sajadian)
Tehran (AFP) - Iran Saturday hanged a woman convicted of murdering a former intelligence officer she claimed had tried to sexually assault her, defying international appeals for a stay of execution.

Reyhaneh Jabbari, 26, who had been on death row for five years, was put to death at dawn, the official IRNA news agency quoted the Tehran prosecutor's office as saying.

The execution drew condemnation from the United States and human rights monitor Amnesty International, which dubbed it "a bloody stain on Iran's human rights record" and "an affront to justice".

A message posted on the homepage of a Facebook campaign set up to try to save Jabbari noted the "sad news" of her death, adding the words "Rest in Peace" alongside pictures of her as a young child.

Jabbari, an interior designer, was executed for the fatal 2007 stabbing of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi.

The United Nations and human rights groups had said a confession to her crime was obtained under intense pressure and threats from Iranian prosecutors, and that she should have had a retrial.

Iranian actors and other prominent figures had campaigned for clemency on Jabbari's behalf, echoing similar calls in the West.

The judiciary had given several deadlines for Sarbandi's family to spare Jabbari under an Islamic sharia law provision that allows a death sentence for murder to be commuted to jail time.

Pleas for clemency rejected

But relatives of Sarbandi, a 47-year-old surgeon who earlier worked for the intelligence ministry, refused the pleas, demanding, according to Iranian media, that she tell "the truth."

The UN and international rights groups said that Reyhaneh Jabbari's trial in 2009 
was deeply flawed and that her confession for the murder of a former intelligence
 official was obtained under intense pressure by Iranian authorities (AFP Photo/
Golara Sajadian)

A UN human rights monitor said the killing came in self-defence after Sarbandi tried to sexually abuse Jabbari, and that the condemned woman's trial in 2009 had been deeply flawed.

But a medical report, prepared for the judiciary and quoted by IRNA in its Saturday dispatch, said Sarbandi was stabbed in the back and that the killing had been premeditated.

Efforts for a commuted jail sentence had intensified in recent weeks but Sarbandi's family and Jabbari remained at loggerheads over the circumstances of the killing.

According to Jalal Sarbandi, the victim's eldest son, Jabbari testified that a man was present in the apartment where his father was killed but she had refused to reveal his identity.

Jabbari's mother was allowed to visit her for one hour on Friday, Amnesty said, a custom that tends to precede executions in Iran.

Following Jabbari's death, the US State Department issued a statement that cited "serious concerns with the fairness" of her trial, including "reports of confessions made under severe duress."

"We join our voice with those who call on Iran to respect the fair trial guarantees afforded to its people under Iran's own laws and its international obligations," spokeswoman Jen Psaki added.

Britain voiced similar concerns and called on the Islamic republic to halt its use of the death penalty.

More than 250 people have been executed
 in Iran since the beginning of 2014, according
 to the United Nations (AFP Photo/Yoav 
"Actions like these do not help Iran build confidence or trust with the international community. I urge Iran to put a moratorium on all executions," said Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood.

According to the United Nations, more than 250 people have been executed in Iran since the beginning of 2014.

Amnesty's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, said Jabbari's death was "disappointing in the extreme".

"Tragically, this case is far from uncommon. Once again Iran has insisted on applying the death penalty despite serious concerns over the fairness of the trial," she added.

Ahmed Shaheed, the UN's human rights rapporteur on Iran, said in April that Sarbandi had offered to hire Jabbari to redesign his office and took her to an apartment where he sexually assaulted her.

However, the victim's family rejected that account and said Jabbari had confessed to buying a knife two days before the killing.

Friday, October 24, 2014

21 Asian countries sign MOU on new development bank

Want China Times, Xinhua 2014-10-24

Xi Jinping shakes with the representative at a singing ceremony in Beijing,
Oct. 24. (Photo/CNS)

Twenty-one Asian countries willing to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as founding members on Friday morning signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Establishing AIIB (MOU).

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with the representatives of the 21 nations later in the morning.

The 21 countries are Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

The MOU specifies that the authorized capital of AIIB is US$100 billion and the initial subscribed capital is expected to be around US$50 billion. The paid-in ratio will be 20%.

AIIB will be an inter-governmental regional development institution in Asia. As agreed, Beijing will be the host city for AIIB's headquarters.

It is expected that the Prospective Founding Members will complete the signing and ratification of the Articles of Agreement (AOA) in 2015 and AIIB will be formally established by the end of the same year.

Related Article:

Jokowi Receives Phone Call From China’s Xi Jinping

Jakarta Globe, Oct 24, 2014

China's President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of People in Beijing on Sept.
18, 2013. (Reuters Photo/Feng Li)

Jakarta. President Joko Widodo on Friday spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping on the phone and was scheduled to speak with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon later in the day.

News portal reported that Xi initiated the call, and that Joko was speaking English when he picked up the phone. Reporters were not allowed to stay in the room for the duration of the call.

“Good morning. Who is speaking?” Joko said, according to

The newly inaugurated president of Indonesia has not yet announced his cabinet lineup, but was said to be focusing on his international agenda on Friday.

The relationship with China has been described as one of Joko’s most important foreign policy challenges, mainly due to China’s assertiveness in staking its claims to large swathes of the South China Sea, including possibly resource-rich Indonesian waters surrounding the Natuna islands.

It was not immediately clear what issues Joko and his Chinese counterpart discussed on Friday.

Related Article:

High in Pakistan's mountains, women break taboos

Yahoo – AFP, Gohar Abbas, October 22, 2014

Students from the Shimshal Mountaineering School prepare to climb a mountain
in Pakistan's northern Hunza valley, on August 4, 2014 (AFP Photo/Aamir Qureshi)

Hunza (Pakistan) (AFP) - A group of young Pakistani girls sit on a carpeted floor listening as their teacher writes on a whiteboard, preparing his students for the rigours of climbing some of the world's highest peaks.

This is Shimshal Mountaineering School, tucked away in a remote village in the breathtaking mountains of Pakistan's far north, close to the border with China.

A student from the Shimshal Mountaineering
School uses ice axes to climb a slope
 of a glacier in Pakistan's northern Hunza 
valley, on August 4, 2014 (AFP Photo/
Aamir Qureshi)
While most of Pakistan's overwhelmingly patriarchal society largely relegates women to domestic roles, in the northern Hunza valley, where most people follow the moderate Ismaili sect of Islam, a more liberal attitude has long prevailed.

Now the women of the region are breaking more taboos and training for jobs traditionally done by men, including as carpenters and climbing guides on the Himalayan peaks.

"You have to be careful, check your equipment and the rope, any slight damage can result in death," Niamat Karim, the climbing instructor warns the students.

Karim is giving last-minute advice to the eight young women who are about to embark on a practical demonstrations of climbing class.

They are the first batch of women to train as high altitude guides at the Shimshal Mountaineering School, set up in 2009 with support of Italian climber Simone Moro.

Isolated community

The women have spent the last four years learning ice and rock climbing techniques, rescue skills and tourism management.

At 3,100 metres (10,000 feet) above sea level, Shimshal is the highest settlement in the Hunza valley, connected to the rest of the world by a rough jeep-only road just 11 years ago.

The narrow, unpaved road twists through high mountains, over wooden bridges and dangerous turns with the constant risk of landslides to reach the small village of 250 households.

There is no running water and electricity is available only through solar panels the locals buy from China, but despite the isolation, the literacy rate in the village is 98 percent -- around twice the Pakistani national average.

It has produced some world famous climbers including Samina Baig, the first Pakistani woman to scale Mount Everest.

Local carpenters work at their woodshop in
 Altit village, in Pakistan's northern Hunza 
valley, on August 6, 2014 (AFP Photo/
Aamir Qureshi)
The people of Shimshal depend on tourism for their income and the village has produced an average of one mountaineer in every household.

The eight women training as guides have scaled four local peaks, including Minglik Sar and Julio Sar, both over 6,000 metres.

For aspiring mountaineer Takht Bika, 23, the school is a "dream come true".

"My uncle and brother are mountaineers and I always used to wait for their return whenever they went for a summit", Bika told AFP.

"I used to play with their climbing gear, they were my childhood toys -- I never had a doll."

For Duor Begum, mountaineering is a family tradition -- and a way of honouring her husband, killed while climbing in the Hunza Valley.

"I have two kids to look after and I don't have a proper means of income," she said.

Begum joined the mountaineering school with the aim of continuing the legacy of her late husband and to make a living.

"I am taking all the risks for the future of my children, to give them good education so that they can have a better future", she said.

But while the women are challenging tradition by training as guides, there is still a long way to go to change attitudes, and so far Begum has not been able to turn professional.

"I know its difficult and it will take a long time to make it a profession for females but my kids are my hope", she said.

'I had to support my kids'

Lower down in the valley, away from the snowy peaks, Bibi Gulshan, another mother-of-two whose late husband died while fighting in the army has a similar tale of battling to change minds.

She trained as a carpenter under the Women Social Enterprise (WSE), a project set up in the area by the Aga Khan Development Network to provide income opportunities for poor families and advocate women's empowerment at the same time.

Set up in 2003, the WSE now employs over 110 women, between 19 and 35 years of age.

Local carpenters work at their woodshop
 in Altit village, in Pakistan's northern
 Hunza valley, on August 6, 2014 
(AFP Photo/Aamir Qureshi)
"I want to give the best education to my kids so that they don't feel the absence of their father," Gulshan told AFP.

"I started my job just 10 days after my husband was martyred, my friends mocked me saying instead of mourning my husband I had started the job of a men but I had no choice -- I had to support my kids."

With the 8,000 rupees ($80) a month she earns in the carpentry workshop, Gulshan pays for her children to go through school, and she has also used her skills to build and furnish a new house for her family.

As well as giving poor and marginalised women a chance to earn a living, the WSE project, funded by the Norwegian embassy, also aims to modernise local skills.

Project head Safiullah Baig said traditionally, male carpenters worked to a mental plan of houses they were building -- a somewhat unscientific approach.

"These girls are using scientific knowledge at every step right from mapping and design and their work is more feasible and sustainable," Baig said.