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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Sunday, May 31, 2015

CPC's anti-graft unit to probe activities of retired officials

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2015-05-31

Ni Fake stands trial for receiving bribes while serving as the honorary chairman
 of a corporation after he retired, Dec. 15, 2014. Ni was sentenced to 17 years.
(File photo/Xinhua)

The Chinese government has ordered retired high-ranking officials to report on their titles and duties at corporations at which they hold posts to crack down on corruption among former officials, reports Duowei, a news outlet run by overseas Chinese.

This is one of the authority's latest anti-graft measures after several disgraced former political and military heavyweights have been investigated or sentenced for corruption.

Those subjected to the order include former officials at the level of deputy directors of party departments and above and former PLA officials at the rank of major general or above.

By keeping track of what former government or army officials are doing and what they get from what they do will offer a good reference for establishing policies curbing potential corrupt practices.

On May 27, Beijing's Economic Observer reported that many retired senior government officials often take on insubstantial titles, such as independent director or honorary chairperson, in social organizations and corporate think tanks and chambers of commerce.

While the government has regulated that former political and military leaders are only allowed to take on one title at a single corporation and it must be on a pro bono basis, it is common that the retirees are crowned with dozens of titles from various organizations, which seek to use the retirees' influence. In exchange, the retirees often receive incentives of some sorts.

The organizations have become a sort of "retirees' club," as former political heavyweights can financially benefit from their new titles through bribery and graft. A report in state-run China Youth Daily revealed last year that the China Council for the Promotion of Economy and Trade, a business corporation, made gains from pricey entrance tickets to an event they held in Hong Kong. The chairman He Jihai was the former deputy director of the Ministry of Commerce and the organization's executive chairman Yan Jiaming was formerly the deputy director of the government's chemical engineering department.

Ni Fake, former governor of Anhui province, received expensive jewelry as bribery during his term as the honorary chairperson of a jewelry association. Ni was sentenced to 17 years in jail in February. The state-owned Xinhua has blasted such practices saying that social organizations have become ATMs for certain former officials.

By regulating former officials' duties at corporations, the authorities aim to prevent ex-officials using their influence to financially benefit both the organizations and themselves, Hong Kong paper Ming Pao said in a report.

Duowei said that the government may soon announce laws to regulate government retirees working in social organizations. China's anti-graft policy is turning from busting disgraced officials to institutional measures and curbing the excesses of former officials, the report said.

Qatar Gives Indonesia $49m to Host Rohingya Refugees

Jakarta Globe, May 29, 2015

A Rohingya boy from Myanmar is photographed with his mother during police
 identification procedures at a newly set up confinement area in Bayeun,
Aceh, on May 20. (AFP Photo/Romeo Gacad)

Jakarta. Qatar will donate Rp 660 billion ($49 million) to help Indonesia provide shelter for Rohingya refugees.

Foreign Affairs Minister Retno L.P. Marsudi said that at a meeting in Doha, she had spoken with the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, about the regional efforts to help the refugees.

Most if not all of the people made it to Indonesian shores in recent weeks are Muslims.

Indonesia currently receives aid from the International Organization of Migration, which has allocated $26 million to help refugees stranded in Southeast Asia.

“The donation is in a form of financial aid from Qatar to Indonesia to help cover expenses allocated for Rohingya refugees,” Tamim said on Friday, as quoted by newsportal

President Joko Widodo said last week that Indonesia would need international aid to cover expenses it would incur in hosting refugees, most of whom are fleeing persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

Related Article:

Saturday, May 30, 2015

President Xi outlines position on 13th five-year plan

Want China Times, Xinhua 2015-05-29

Xi Jinping inspects an art center in a village in Hangzhou, Zhejiang,
May 27. (File photo/Xinhua)

Chinese president Xi Jinping said on Wednesday that the 13th five-year plan period (2016-2020) will be crucial, and governments at all levels should foresee the major trends and plan economic and social development well.

Xi made the remarks when meeting with leading officials from seven regions in eastern China: Shanghai, Anhui, Fujian, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Shandong and Zhejiang.

This is the last year of the 12th Five-year Plan and the central government is currently considering policy for the 13th plan.

The world economic climate is still complicated with interwoven opportunities and challenges, while both the times and the trends are favorable for China, there are still key strategic opportunities for China's development, Xi said.

China's development prospects are broad, but the country is facing many difficulties and challenges, as well as a tough restructuring of the economy, transformation of growth modes and the need to boost innovation, he said.

While mapping the 13th five-year plan period, governments should face risks and challenges soberly, with better evaluation of difficulties and complexities, the president said.

During the period, breakthroughs should maintain economic growth, transform the growth mode, optimize industrial structure, promote innovation, step up agricultural modernization, reform institutional mechanisms, boost coordinated growth, strengthen ecological progress, safeguard people's living quality and improve support for the poor, Xi said.

With the changing growth mode and improving quality and efficiency at the center, the economy will be driven by consumption, investment and exports instead of only by investment and exports. China will shift from relying on secondary industries alone to reliance on the primary, secondary and tertiary industries, turning away from resource consumption and toward technological progress through innovation, he said.

Industrial structure is key to economic competitiveness. Traditional sectors should be transformed efficiently. Informatization and industrialization should be integrated, he said.

Among industrialization, informatization, urbanization and agricultural modernization, the weakest link is agriculture. More needs to be done to transform agricultural development and speed up agricultural technology innovation, Xi said.

Reform is the ultimate power to cultivate and release market energy and boost sustainable and healthy growth of the economy and society, he said.

Coordinated regional growth and green development must be carried out fully. People's quality of life is the be-all and end-all of economic growth and more should be done to tackle problems in education, employment, incomes, social security, health care and food safety, the president said.

Xi was on an inspection tour from Monday to Wednesday in Zhejiang, where he was party chief from 2002 to 2007.

Beijing hand in hand with Arab world to push Silk Road initiative

Want China Times, Xinhua 2015-05-29

Entrepreneurs attend the opening ceremony of the Sixth Session of the
 Arab-Chinese Businessmen Conference in Beirut, Lebanon, May 26.
(File photo/Xinhua)

The Sixth Session of the Arab-Chinese Businessmen Conference concluded in Beirut on Wednesday, stressing the commitment to the Silk Road initiative and pledging to expand the areas of cooperation.

The statement issued at the conclusion of the activities of the conference and the investment symposium under the title "Building economic belt of the Silk Road," noted that the participants reached a common vision and agreed on the establishment of multiple levels of exchange and cooperation between the companies.

It added that the two sides highly appreciated the continuous growth in the trade between China and Arab countries in 2014, despite the global and regional challenges.

It stressed "the importance of joint efforts in order to promote Sino-Arab trade and economic partnership in order to build economic belt of the new Silk Road."

It pointed out that the initiative "will enhance trade and economic cooperation, and opens up new dimensions and horizons between China and the Arab world."

The statement also called for "the promotion of investments in the projects contained in the belt including the vast network of rail, land, highways, sea routes and lines of oil and gas pipelines, electrical networks, the internet and networks, and other infrastructure projects across the central, western and southern Asia."

The statement stressed "commitment to the path of the new Silk Road which is expected to evolve with the strategic relations between China and the Arab world to new historical levels that would be reflected on everyone's unprecedented increase in growth rates, and create endless possibilities of new jobs."

And it also agreed on the need for the two sides to increase cooperation in the following areas: the logistics of road transport and rail, sea and air, trade, industry, agriculture and food security, banking, tourism, energy and renewable energy, and infrastructure.

The statement stressed "the need to speed up negotiations on establishing a free trade area between China and the Gulf Cooperation Council to sign a free trade agreement as a prelude to the establishment of free trade between Arab countries and China.

The Arab and Chinese sides agreed in the statement that "the Seventh Session of the Conference and the Fifth Session of the Seminar Investment Forum to be held in China in 2017.

Myanmar, Bangladesh to address "root causes" of migrant crisis

Yahoo – AFP, Jerome Taylor, 29 May 2015

Rohingya migrants stand and sit on a boat drifting in Thai waters off the southern
 island of Koh Lipe in the Andaman sea on May 14, 2015 (AFP Photo/Christophe

Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed to address the "root causes" of a migrant exodus from their shores at talks in Bangkok Friday, but critics pilloried a deal that failed to mention the Rohingya minority at the heart of the crisis.

Southeast Asia's migrant scandal began to unfurl at the start of this month after a Thai crackdown on people smuggling threw the multi-million dollar industry into disarray.

Jamal, a 37 year old Rohingya migrant
 from Myanmar stands outside a tent at
 a confinement camp in the Bayeun
district of Indonesia's Aceh province,
 on May 28, 2015 (AFP Photo/Chaideer
It led gangmasters to abandon their victims on land and at sea, and images of stick-thin, dazed migrants trapped on boats or stumbling onto shores and out of forests shocked the world, heaping pressure on Southeast Asian nations to act.

The majority of the migrants are Rohinyga Muslims, who are pariahs in Myanmar's Buddhist-majority western Rakhine State, and poor people from neighbouring Bangladesh.

The Thai hosts described the day-long talks as "very constructive", saying all 17 countries at the meeting agreed on a statement to provide humanitarian help to 2,500 migrants believed to still be adrift at sea, as well as to the 3,500 who have already made it to Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian shores since May 1.

The statement also drew a commitment to address the "root causes" and "factors in areas of (migrants') origin", including improving the economy, human rights and security in the source countries.

But the document did not mention the Rohingya -- who Myanmar refuses to recognise as an official minority.

Myanmar denies citizenship to the majority of its 1.3 million Rohingya and calls them "Bengalis" -- shorthand for foreigners from neighbouring Bangladesh.

Rohingya migrants from Myanmar gather
 at a confinement area in Bayeun on
northern Sumatra island, May 28, 2015
(AFP Photo/Chaideer Mahyuddin)
The publication on Friday of Myanmar's first census in three decades also failed to include the Rohingya in its tally, after authorities refused to count them if they self-identified.

Communal violence in 2012 between Rohingya and the Buddhist majority in Rakhine State brought their plight to the fore.

In a timely development just as the Bangkok meeting wrapped up, Myanmar's Ministry of Information said it had rescued 727 "Bengalis" adrift in its waters on Friday morning.

'Band aid on a gaping wound'

Bangladesh recognises some 30,000 Rohingya as refugees but tens of thousands more are treated as illegal migrants from Myanmar.

Welcoming the outcome of the meeting, Shahidul Haque, head of the Bangladeshi delegation, told reporters "we had a very productive discussion today."

Others were less impressed with Friday's talks.

Charles Santiago, chair of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights and a Malaysian lawmaker, described the meeting as "lots of talk with little genuine substance or resolve to take any action whatsoever."

Rohingya migrants from Myanmar 
gather at a confinement area in Bayeun 
on northern Sumatra island, on May 28,
2015 (AFP Photo/Chaideer Mahyuddin)
His group pilloried the meeting for failing to "publically discuss the persecution of the Rohingya."

Phil Robertson of Human Rights watch Asia called the talks "a band aid on a gaping wound."

"The Rohingya are not even named in the statement... how can you talk about a people if you don't name them?"

Bangkok began its belated crackdown on the smuggling trade in the country's deep south on May 1, after dozens of bodies were pulled from mass graves in a remote border area studded by migrant camps.

On the Malaysian side of the same frontier, authorities have found 139 suspected migrants' graves, raising fears that both officials and residents had turned a blind eye to the lucrative business.

Countries attending the talks include those directly affected by the current crisis such as Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia -- all of whom vacillated for days before bowing to international pressure to offer humanitarian aid to migrants trapped at sea.

Myanmar diplomat Htin Lynn speaks
 during an international meeting on
migration in the Indian Ocean, attended
 by delegates from 17 nations in Bangkok,
 on May 29, 2015 (AFP Photo/Christophe
All three nations say they now are actively searching for any remaining boats adrift in their waters.

Myanmar's Rohingya are one of the world's most persecuted minorities.

They face restrictions on movement, jobs and family size, while their pariah status means they are unrepresented -- even Myanmar's democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi chooses not to exert her moral authority on their behalf.

The former junta-led quasi-civilian government has balked at any criticism of its treatment of the community and has previously threatened to pull out of the talks altogether if the word Rohingya is used.

Friday, May 29, 2015

G7 agrees Chinese yuan should be in IMF currency basket

Yahoo - AFP, 29 May 2015

Beijing has been pushing for its currency, the yuan or renminbi, to play a greater
 role in the world financial system and be included in the basket that makes up
 the International Monetary Fund's own "special drawing rights" reserve currency
(AFP Photo/Johannes Eisele)

The Group of Seven countries are in fundamental agreement that the Chinese yuan should be part of the IMF's international basket of reference currencies, but there is no need to rush it, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Friday.

"There are technical issues and not just technical ones" to sort out, Schaeuble told a news conference concluding a meeting of G7 finance ministers and central bank governors. "We are in full agreement on the goal, but it would not be good to rush it," he added.

Beijing has been pushing for its currency, the yuan or renminbi, to play a greater role in the world financial system and be included in the basket that makes up the International Monetary Fund's own "special drawing rights" reserve currency.

Washington has long claimed that the yuan was manipulated, but the IMF said on Tuesday that the currency is "no longer undervalued".

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Indonesia Ready to Take Point in Refugee Crisis

As Southeast Asia faces a ‘massive humanitarian crisis,’ Indonesia says it is willing to lead relief efforts — with the help of the international community

Jakarta Globe, Kennial Caroline Laia, Novianti Setuningsih & Ezra Sihite, May 26, 2015

An Indonesian protester displays a placard as he takes part in a rally with dozens of
 Muslim and labor groups in front of the Myanmar embassy in Jakarta on Tuesday, in
reaction to the religious persecution of ethnic Rohingyas. (AFP Photo/Bay Ismoyo)

Jakarta. The government revealed it has disbursed a total of Rp 2.3 billion ($174,000) for Bangladeshi and Rohingya refugees stranded in Aceh, but is asking the international community to help with funding if they want Indonesia to do more.

“We’ve funneled Rp 2.3 billion for blankets, children’s clothing, mattresses and tents for four refugee camps in North Aceh, East Aceh and Langsa,” Social Services Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa told reporters in Jakarta on Monday, after meeting with Vice President Jusuf Kalla to report on the issue.

Several Islamic boarding schools in West and East Java have expressed interest in taking in orphans, she said, adding that as many as 230 Rohingya children have lost their parents.

“These schools have spoken to me directly. They say they are willing to shelter the orphaned children as students, as they are all Muslims ,” she said.

Meanwhile, trauma centers operated by the Ministry of Social Services have signaled they are also ready to accommodate these children.

Authorities have discussed the possibility of repatriating the orphans, but the process would be long and require the collective efforts of multiple organizations, Khofifa explained.

Kalla last week met with Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah and representatives from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to discuss the building refugee crisis.

Kalla has ordered the Aceh government to provide assistance to the asylum seekers and said Indonesia was willing to shelter them for up to a year,  but asked the UNHCR to help address funding issues.

Indonesia is not a party to the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees and is, therefore, not obligated to offer boat people aid in any shape or form.

Nearly 2,000 refugees from Bangladesh and Myanmar were stranded on the archipelago’s westernmost province after the Thai government’s recent crackdown on human trafficking and Malaysia’s and Indonesia’s initial refusal to offer help, lead to them drifting onboard rickety boats.

The human traffickers that took them on the perilous journey had reportedly abandoned ship.

Aceh’s fishermen were the first to take action, bringing them to shore and providing temporary shelters.

Aceh’s Zaini said in Jakarta on Tuesday that his province was willing to help the boat people while the UNHCR was in the process of screening those worthy of refugee status and those who are not, but asked the central government to stay true to its promise to assist with funding.

“The funds must be disbursed soon, otherwise [Aceh] will not be able to handle this situation alone,” Zaini said.

It was not immediately clear whether the financial assistance he meant included the money distributed by the Ministry of Social Services.

‘Massive humanitarian crisis’

Local lawmakers and observers have urged the government to seriously address the dire issue, as Southeast Asia faces what the UNHCR called a “massive humanitarian crisis” following the Thai crackdown.

Golkar Party lawmaker Tantowi Yahya said the government must be pro-active in encouraging Burmese authorities to deal with their domestic problems — the root cause of thousands of Rohingyas fleeing through unsafe waters to find new homes, mostly aiming for Australia.

“Indonesia should lead other Asean countries in addressing the settlement issue for Rohingya Muslims,” Tantowi said in Jakarta on Tuesday. “We have political leverage over Myanmar,” Tantowi added, referring to the archipelago’s senior role in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, of which Myanmar is also a member.

“We must use this as ammunition to push the Burmese government to solve this problem wisely and immediately.”

In search of a solution

International relations expert Dinna Wisnu of Paramadina University pointed out that Myanmar has gradually begun to open up about the country’s situation which has lead to the mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims.

“But the solution still lies with Myanmar. The best we can do, as its neighbor right now, is to refrain from playing the blaming game. We must instead encourage  the Burmese government to solve this matter,” Dinna said on Tuesday.

“[Indonesia’s] approach must be constructive and cautious, because this is a sensitive matter to them,” she added.

Last week, top officials from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand held a meeting which resulted in four points that were later agreed on by the Burmese government.

Defense and foreign policy expert Bantarto Bandoro of the Indonesian Defense University echoed Dinna’s remarks.

“Although we can’t intervene with the Burmese government’s handling of its domestic issues, we can play an important role here,” Bantarto said.

“The Indonesian government and other Asean countries including Myanmar must sit together to find the best solution to end this exodus.”

“This is mainly a humanitarian problem. But the Burmese government should understand that Indonesia has its own limits, be it in terms of finances or facilities,” he added.

University of Indonesia international law professor Hikmahanto Juwana earlier this month suggested that Indonesia set up a refugee camp on one of its 18,307 islands, as it did for Vietnamese war refugees on Galang Island in Riau in the 1990s.

He also asserted, however, that Indonesia would not be able to run the center itself and would need financial assistance from other countries.

“Financially, we cannot run such an island alone. We would need help from other parties,” Hikmahanto said. “We need to discuss this option with the UNHCR,” he added.

Further coverage:

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Chinese officials sent on prison tours as a 'warning' against corruption

Officials and their spouses in Hubei province spent a day in prison this month ‘as an educational warning’, reported China Daily, provoking mockery online

The Guardian, Agence France-Presse,Monday 25 May 2015

China’s ruling Communist party led by President Xi Jinping has vowed to
crack down on endemic corruption. Photograph: Ma Zhancheng/AP

Chinese officials have been sent on prison tours visiting inmates including former colleagues as a warning against corruption, state-run media said Monday, provoking mockery online.

More than 70 officials and their spouses in central Hubei province spent a day in prison this month “as an educational warning”, the government-published China Daily reported.

The trip had given them a chance to meet 15 former government staff serving custodial sentences at the institution, it added.

The ruling Communist party has vowed to crack down on endemic corruption, with several former senior figures placed under investigation in recent years.

But there have not been systemic reforms and critics say with tight controls on media and the judicial system the campaign is open to being used for factional infighting.

The newspaper cited the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Communist party’s top anti-corruption body, as saying such prison visits had been organised nationwide. The tours encouraged cadres to “be aware of wrongdoings involving corruption”, the CCDI was quoted as saying.

Some Chinese internet users applauded the scheme while others reacted with derision, some calling for the trips to be extended.

One poster on Sina Weibo, a microblogging platform similar to Twitter, wrote: “If you carried out a random check on these officials, most of them would belong in prison anyway.”

Monday, May 25, 2015

Women activists cross inter-Korean border in peace event

A group of women peace activists has crossed the militarized border between North and South Korea in a bid to promote reconciliation between the two countries. But the trip has provoked some criticism.

Deutsche Welle, 24 May 2015

 Gloria Steinem and two other activists ahead of march AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin

The group of international female activists, which was led by prominent American feminist Gloria Steinem (pictured above, center), crossed the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) by bus shortly before midday local time on Sunday after being denied permission to make the crossing on foot.

North Korea allowed a South Korean bus to pick up the group of 30 women from 15 countries and take it into the DMZ, where it was met by United Nations officials. The activists were then allowed to march on foot after the final checkpoint on the southern side.

With their march, the activists intended to draw attention to the fact that the two Koreas, divided into North and South since the 1950-53 Korean War, have still not signed a peace treaty to put an official end the conflict more than 60 years after an armistice stopped the fighting.

The women also wanted to highlight the plight of families divided by the conflict, who have had little or no contact over the last six decades.

Perilous crossing

The group, which spent several days in North Korea prior to the crossing, had originally wanted to cross the DMZ through the village of Panmunjom, where the armistice was signed. However, the plan was opposed by South Korea, which urged the women to make a road crossing on the western part of the border.

Authorities from both sides had warned that the safety of the group could not be guaranteed if they walked across the zone.

The DMZ is fortified with watchtowers
and landmines
Crossings through the DMZ - which despite its name is one of the most highly fortified borders in the world - are extremely rare.

"We were able to be citizen diplomats," the 81-year-old Steinem said after the crossing into South Korea.

"We are feeling very, very positive. We have received an enormous amount of support," she added.

Organizer Christine Ahn, a Korean-American peace activist, also described the crossing as a success, calling it a "historic event" and expressing satisfaction that the group had managed to meet with North Korean women during its stay in the capital, Pyongyang.

Propaganda tool?

However, critics of the action say that the group had been used for propaganda purposes by communist North Korea, with an editorial in the "Washington Post" last week accusing Steinem and her fellow activists of aiding the country to stage a "human rights theater intended to cover up its death camps and crimes against humanity."

Criticism was also fueled by reports in North Korean media that cited members of the group as having praised the country's founder, Kim Il-Sung. The activists have denied making such comments.

Steinem rejected the accusations, saying on Saturday that the group had "achieved what we set out to do, which is to engage in citizen diplomacy."

tj/sms (AFP, AP)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Myanmar carries out first rescue operation of migrant boat

Myanmar's navy has rescued a migrant boat after increased pressure from its neighbors to tackle the issue. But questions remain whether the state can aid the Rohingya, which have been the target of attacks in the past.

Deutsche Welle, 23 May 2015

Myanmar's navy carried out the country's first rescue of a migrant boat, saving 208 people in the process, an official said Friday.

"A navy ship found two boats…on May 21 while on patrol," Tin Maung Swe, a senior official in the state of Rakhine, told AFP news agency. In 2012, Rakhine gained notoriety after Buddhist monks in the state violently attacked Rohingya Muslims, leaving approximately 140,000 displaced.

The official said that "about 200 Bengalis were on one of the boats," using the term pejoratively to refer to the Muslim Rohingya minority. "All of the 208 on board are from Bangladesh," Swe added, recapitulating Myanmar's official line that the minority group comes from its western neighbor.

'Discrimination and violence'

The rescue operation comes a day after a senior general met with US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss the migrant crisis.

However, the general cast doubts over the authenticity of some of the Rohingya migrants' claims during the meeting, Myanmar's state-backed newspaper The Global New Light of Myanmar reported.

"Senior General Min Aung Hlaing hinted that most victims are expected to assume themselves to be Rohingyas from Myanmar in the hope of receiving assistance from UNHCR," the newspaper said Friday.

During the meeting, Blinken urged Myanmar to tackle the cause of migration, "including the racially and religiously motivated discrimination and violence."

Myanmar's 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims are considered stateless and forced to live in camps for internally displaced people following deadly clashes in 2012, which Human Rights Watch called "a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya."

ls/kms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

Dutch king reacts to ‘f*** the king’ row, May 22, 2015

Dutch king Willem-Alexander has reacted for the first time to the ‘fuck de koning’ row which took place earlier this month, broadcaster Nos says on Friday. 

The king was speaking to a group of seven American journalists ahead of his pending visit to the US, when he was asked about the issue, Nos says, without naming its sources. 

The king told the reporters he believes the lese majesty law, which makes it a crime to insult the monarch, should be debated. He said he is following that debate and will accept whatever the outcome is, Nos reports. 

Asked if he lies awake at night, the king said he is concerned to find the right balance between his obligations and the limits to his role as king. Journalists meeting the king were not allowed to quote him directly, but had to paraphrase his statements, the Holland Sentinel, which did not refer to the fuck the king row, said. 

Activist Abulkasim al-Jaberi was arrested at a demonstration against Zwarte Piet last November for shouting ‘fuck the king, fuck the queen and fuck the monarchy’. 

The public prosecution department said earlier this month it is taking him to court because he has refused to pay a fine of €500 for the offence. 

The decision to prosecute him caused a storm of protest and raised questions about the right to free speech and the department said the court case will be delayed pending further research.

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Dutch public prosecutor drops F*** the king case - New
Dutch king insult case sparks royal outrage

Ensaf Haidar(C), the wife of Saudi Blogger Raef Badawi, holds a vigil in Montreal,
 Canada, on January 13, 2015, urging Saudi Arabia to free her husband who was
flogged for "insulting Islam" (AFP Photo/Clement Sabourin)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

US State Dept pledges aid for countries housing stranded Rohingya

The US has announced its intentions to assist Indonesia and Malaysia in implementing their program to shelter Rohingya refugees. A US delegation is also set for talks with Myanmar, the country the boatpeople are fleeing.

Deutsche Welle, 20 May 2015

The US Department of State pledged on Wednesday to help Southeast Asian countries "bear the burden" of sheltering thousands of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants, as thousands of refugees are stranded at sea after fleeing persecution at home in Myanmar.

More than 3,000 refugees have come ashore in Indonesia and Malaysia this month alone.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said that the US would consider requests "for additional funds to assist governments to establish things like reception centers and ensure protection screening procedures." She also said that Washington was "prepared to take a leading role in any UNHCR-organized multi-country effort to resettle the most vulnerable refugees," referring the UN's Refugee Agency.

"The US stands ready to help the countries of the region bear the burden and save lives today. We have a common obligation to answer the call of these migrants who have risked their lives at sea," Harf told the press. More than 1,000 Rohingya have been resettled in the United States since October.

Harf was keen to stress that the effort to help the Rohingya will be an international one, and not led by the US alone.

Neighbors agree to shelter refugees

The United States welcomed a decision reached by Indonesia and Malaysia at a regional summit on Wednesday, wherein the two nations agreed to shelter 7,000 fleeing Rohingya and Bangladeshis, scrapping their former policy of turning away the migrants.

Thailand's foreign minister, who also attended the summit, eschewed joining in the shelter program, saying he needed to discuss it with the rest of his country's government. Myanmar, where the Rohingya face systematic persecution and are not recognized as citizens, did not send any delegates to the summit.

A delegation from the US will be present at the next international conference on the refugees, to be held in Bangkok on May 29. Ahead of the conference, Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken is set to meet with Myanmar's leaders to urge them to work with Bangladesh to help rescue the refugees stranded at sea - often in appalling, overcrowded conditions presided over by human traffickers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Singapore nets biggest ivory seizure in decade

Yahoo – AFP, 19 May 2015

Ivory tusks, rhinoceros horns and canine teeth from big cats seized by
Singapore authorities are put on display in this photo by Agri-Food and
Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AFP Photo)

Singapore authorities seized the biggest illegal shipment of ivory and other exotic animal parts in more than a decade Tuesday, with the haul from Kenya worth an estimated Sg$8 million ($6 million).

The animal parts were discovered stashed among bags of tea leaves in two 20-foot containers while transiting through the city-state to Vietnam, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and Singapore Customs said in a joint statement.

Authorities uncovered 1,783 pieces of raw ivory tusk hidden among the bags, the statement said.

Four pieces of rhino horn and 22 teeth believed to be from African big cats -- cheetahs and leopards -- were also found in the containers, it said.

The haul weighed 3.7 tonnes and is the largest seizure of illegal ivory in Singapore since 2002 when six tonnes of ivory were intercepted, the statement said.

The shipping of ivory has been banned since 1989 under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) -- to which Singapore, a major hub for seaborne trade, is a signatory.

In April last year, local authorities intercepted a shipment of illegal ivory worth Sg$2.0 million, labelled as coffee berries, transiting from Africa, according to the statement.

A similar cargo, also from Africa, worth Sg$2.5 million was uncovered in January 2013.

Ivory ornaments are coveted in Asian countries like Vietnam, Thailand and China despite fears that the trade is pushing wild elephants to extinction.

Rhino horn is prized for its supposed medicinal properties.

Afghan policemen get 1 year in jail over mob killing of young woman

Eleven policemen have been convicted and sentenced to one year in jail and eight have been freed over the mob killing of a woman in Kabul. They were accused of dereliction of duty, looking on as the woman was beaten.

Deutsche Welle, 19 May 2015

Eleven Afghan police officers were sentenced to served one year in prison on Tuesday for failing for protect a female student from being killed by a mob in March. The 27-year-old Farkhunda was wrongfully accused of burning a Koran before dozens of people beat her to death in broad daylight in Kabul.

The police were accused of doing nothing to stop the violent crowd.

"You are sentenced...for negligence of duty to one year in prison," Judge Safiullah Mojaddidi said to the defendants, some of whom senior officers, while eight other policemen were freed.

After killing her, the mob set her body alight and threw it in the Kabul River. The March 19 murder was met with shock and anger both in Farkhunda's native Afghanistan and abroad. President Ashraf Ghani described the act as "heinous." EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said through a spokeswoman that the attack was "a tragic reminder of dangers women face from…the lack of justice in Afghanistan."

A total of 49 people, including the 19 police officers, were arrested over Farkhunda's death, several of whom were seen in a video of her beating that circulating on the Internet, and some others who were discovered bragging about the killing on social media.

Earlier in May, four men were sentenced to death by hanging for their role in the murder. According to Farkhunda's father, his daughter had been arguing with a local man who then accused her of burning the Koran to deflect attention from himself.

es/kms (AFP, Reuters, dpa)