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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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

World reacts to death of Cuba's Fidel Castro

Yahoo – AFP, November 26, 2016

Castro's ashes will be buried in the southeastern Cuban city of Santiago on
December 4 after a four-day procession through the country, a statement from the
state executive said (AFP Photo/Adalberto Roque)

Paris (AFP) - The death of Cuba's Fidel Castro prompted reaction across the spectrum Saturday with some world leaders describing him as a friend and ally, while rights groups recalled his repression of basic freedoms.

Here are some responses to the death of the 90-year-old Cold War icon, whose life was defined by his resistance to the capitalist United States.

Barack Obama

"History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him," said the US president, who made a landmark visit to Cuba in March after diplomatic ties between the two nations were restored.

Donald Trump

The US president-elect called Castro a "brutal dictator", but made no overt mention of earlier threats to roll back a historic rapprochement.

"Fidel Castro's legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights," Trump said in a statement.

Vladimir Putin

"The name of this distinguished statesman is rightly considered the symbol of an era in modern world history," the Russian president said.

"Fidel Castro was a sincere and reliable friend of Russia."

Xi Jinping

China's president hailed Castro in a message read out on state television. "The Chinese people have lost a good and true comrade," he said.

"Comrade Castro will live forever. "

Nicolas Maduro

The Venezuelan president, Cuba's main ally in the region, said on Twitter: "It is up to us to continue his legacy and carry his flag of independence."

Bashar al-Assad

"The great leader Fidel Castro led his people's and his country's struggle against imperialism and hegemony for decades," said the Syrian president, hailing Castro's "legendary resistance" to the US embargo against Cuba.

Syria has faced a barrage of US and EU sanctions over its brutal civil war.

Pope Francis

The Catholic world leader sent a message saying he was "praying to the Lord that he may rest in peace".

Ban Ki-moon

"Under former president Castro, Cuba made progress in the areas of education, literacy and health," the UN secretary-general told journalists.

Mikhail Gorbachev

"Fidel stood up and strengthened his country during the harshest American blockade, when there was colossal pressure on him and he still took his country out of this blockade to a path of independent development," Interfax news agency quoted the former Soviet leader as saying.

Jacob Zuma

The South African president gave one of the warmest tributes, saying: "President Castro identified with our struggle against apartheid. He inspired the Cuban people to join us in our own struggle.

"As a way of paying homage to the memory of President Castro, the strong bonds of solidarity, cooperation and friendship that exist between South Africa and Cuba must be maintained and nurtured."

Francois Hollande

Castro embodied Cuba's revolution in both its "hopes" and its later "disappointments", the French president said in a statement.

Narendra Modi

India's prime minister sent his "deepest condolences" to Cuba.

"Fidel Castro was one of the most iconic personalities of the 20th century. India mourns the loss of a great friend," Modi tweeted.

Mohammad Javad Zarif

Castro was "a unique figure who fought against colonialism and exploitation" and was "a model of the fight for independence by oppressed nations", said Iran's foreign minister, the Fars news agency reported.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

Brazil's once hugely popular leftist president Lula mourned Castro's death as equivalent to losing a brother.

"His spirit of combativeness and solidarity nourished dreams of liberty, sovereignty and equality," he said.

Rodrigo Duterte

For the Philippines' president, Castro distinguished himself by "standing up against the West and imperialism".

Communist Vietnam

Vietnam's official Communist news agency hailed Castro as "a great leader" who was "the shining reflection of the independence and revolutionary movements of countries in Latin America and around the world".

Mahmud Abbas

"He was a fierce defender ... of justice in the world," said the Palestinian president.

Diego Maradona

The Argentine football legend lamented Castro's death saying, "I'm terribly sad as he was like a second father."

Amnesty International

The London-based human rights organisation said the state of free expression in Cuba was Castro's "darkest legacy".

"Castro's achievements in improving access to public services for millions of Cubans were tempered by a systemic repression of basic freedoms," Amnesty said.

Updated world reactions to the death of Fidel Castro (AFP Photo/Sophie 
Ramis, Iris Royer de Vericourt, Nicolas Ramallo)

Kryon Q&A

QUESTION (2005): Dear Kryon: I read in a spiritual article that Fidel Castro's mission is to show how to do things without money, that this is the reason why he and the tropical revolution have been kept alive. Is that true? If not, then why didn’t Cuba change when Eastern Europe changed? Has Fidel Castro been working for the light or is he a part of the old energy?

Answer: This leader is of the old energy, but was needed for the time. The real reason was to bring the Soviet Union close to your shores in order to help with the year 2000 Armageddon scenario that didn’t happen. His earthly masters would have played a very important part in Cuba with the nuclear war you didn’t have.

That’s the whole reason, and now he exists as a relic of what didn’t happen. His society is poor, and the culture is not elevated or pleased with itself. This energy will change soon… sooner than you think. Then you will see a Cuba that has been “hiding” for a very long time, and also realize the unbalance and cultural richness that has been there all along.

"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.

The Old Energy is Alive, But Not Happy

I want to tell you something: Old energy dies kicking and screaming. Old energy does not surrender, ever. Old energy simply dies hard and slow. There will be hold-outs for a long time. There will be those who are convinced that the only way to get what they want is to create drama, war, and fear. They continue to want to spring up in places you felt were safe, and to pull you backwards with them. They hate the fact that the earth is going soft on them, and they continue to rattle their sabers, make threats, and make news doing it. They're not the majority, Human Being, but often they are the loudest. When you walk around in perfect health and you are feeling great except for your sore toe, what do you think about? Your SORE TOE! So then you watch your media talk about sore toes for endless hours, and you get depressed. I know you understand the metaphor. ..."

"Recalibration of Free Choice"–  Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: (Old) SoulsMidpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth,  4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical)  8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) (Text version)

“ … Spirituality (Religions)

Number one: Spirituality. The systems of spiritual design on your planet are starting to change. This is not telling you that certain ones are going to go away. They're simply going to change. Some of the largest spiritual systems, which you would call organized religion on the planet, are shifting. They're going to shift away from that which is authority on the outside to authority on the inside. It will eventually be a different way of worship, slowly changing the rules while keeping the basic doctrine the same.

The doctrine of the Christ has always been to find the God inside. The teachings were clear. The examples of the miracles were given as an example of what humans could do, not to set a man up for worship as a God. So when that has been absorbed, the teaching of the Christ can remain the teaching of the Christ. It simply changes the interpretation. 

The teachings of the great prophets of the Middle East (all related to each other) are about unity and love. So once the holy words are redefined with new wisdom, the Human changes, not the words of the prophets. In fact, the prophets become even more divinely inspired and their wisdom becomes even more profound.

You're going to lose a pope soon. I have no clock. Soon to us can mean anything to you. The one who replaces him may surprise you, for his particular organization will be in survival mode at that point in time. That is to say that fewer and fewer are interested in starting the priesthood. Fewer and fewer young people are interested in the organization, and the new pope must make changes to keep his church alive. That means that his organization will remain, but with a more modern look at what truly is before all of you in a new energy. It is not the fall of the church. It is instead the recalibration of the divinity inside that would match the worship that goes on. It's a win-win situation. The new pope will have a difficult time, since the old guard will still be there. There could even be an assassination attempt, such is the way the old energy dies hard. That is number one. Watch for it. It's a change in the way spiritual systems work. It's a realignment of spiritual systems that resound to a stronger truth that is Human driven, rather than prophet driven.…”

Monday, November 28, 2016

Thousands call for equality in Hong Kong pride parade

Yahoo – AFP, November 26, 2016

Participants, many from Hong Kong's LGBT community, take part in their annual
 pride parade through the streets with a large rainbow flag on November 26, 2016
(AFP Photo/Aaron Tam)

A huge rainbow flag led thousands through the streets of Hong Kong Saturday as the city's LGBT community braved the rain and wind to call for equality at its annual pride parade.

Participants dressed for this year's "naughty green" theme sang and danced through downtown Hong Kong, which has been criticised for lagging behind other Asian hubs in terms of LGBT rights.

Organisers said 6,800 people took part, while police put the figure at 2,500.

Attendees included city lawmakers, who said they will raise the topic of equal rights in parliament.

"After decades, we still do not have anti-discrimination laws and marriage equality is still far away," Hong Kong's first openly gay lawmaker Ray Chan said.

Chan said he had many friends who work in the government or as teachers who find it difficult to reveal their sexual orientation.

"I hope that one day with our hard work, they can openly attend the pride parade."

Some traveled from the neighbouring Chinese city of Guangzhou to take part.

"We wanted to come and show support from mainland China," Steve Imrie, 36, told AFP.

"Hong Kong should be much more forward-thinking than the rest of the country, so we are looking for Hong Kong to be allowing same sex marriage, and China should follow it, hopefully," the school headmaster, who was in a bright green wig and a dress, said.

Taiwan, one of the region's most progressive societies in terms of gay rights, saw tens of thousands attend its pride parade last month.

They called on the island's government to legalise same-sex marriage, as progress on the issue has remained stagnant and attempts to pass a marriage equality bill has stalled.

Taiwan's current president Tsai Ing-wen has openly supported marriage equality and its parliament is expected to deliberate fresh proposals on the issue soon.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Critics round on Myanmar's Suu Kyi over Rohingya crisis

Yahoo – AFP, Caroline Henshaw, November 25, 2016

Aung San Suu Kyi (right) steered her National League for Democracy into
 power after championing a decades-long struggle against military rule
(AFP Photo/Don Emmert)

Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday stood accused of failing to protect Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims from what rights groups say is a systematic campaign of abuse by the army.

The democracy icon, garlanded by the international community as a moral force during the junta years, has remained near-silent despite mounting evidence of army abuses in Rakhine State.

The United Nations has said recent security operations amount to "ethnic cleansing" of the Muslim Rohingya minority, with thousands fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Suu Kyi, Myanmar's de facto leader, has seen her halo start to slip since her party took power this year after winning the country's first free elections in a generation.

Her failure to speak out in support of the Rohingya "is baffling to an international audience that persists in casting her as a human rights icon," said David Mathieson of Human Rights Watch.

"One version to explain her silence is callous indifference, another is calculated limited messaging... but the most likely is she simply has no control over the Burmese army."

Thousands of Rohingya have fled the army lockdown in Rakhine to Bangladesh, bringing with them horrifying stories of gang rape, torture and murder at the hands of Myanmar's military.

Rights groups say the military has used attacks on police border posts last month as an excuse for a crackdown on the Rohingya, a Muslim group reviled by many Myanmar Buddhists.

The government flatly denies the allegations, saying troops are defending the country from an armed insurgency.

It has barred investigators and foreign journalists from the locked-down area and lashed out at reports of abuse as "fabrications".

'Legitimising genocide'

Suu Kyi, who has travelled to India and Japan during the six-week crisis, has commented only to say a probe into the attacks was underway in accordance with the law.

But she has faced growing criticism for her inaction.

The UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, has slammed the lockdown as "unacceptable".

Researchers at Queen Mary University London said her silence amounts to "legitimising genocide" and entrenching "the persecution of the Rohingya minority".

"Despite the fact that this is the most significant test of Suu Kyi's leadership, the country's de facto leader has remained remarkably indifferent," they said this week.

Even though she led her party to power Suu Kyi is hampered by a junta-era constitution that gives the army a quarter of parliamentary seats and control over security.

She is also cramped by the prevailing view among many Myanmar Buddhists that the Rohingya are illegal immigrants, meaning any moves to support them would risk a public backlash.

"The government's response suggests that it either has no control over the still-powerful military, or considers protecting the ethnic minority as too politically charged," said risk analysts Verisk Maplecroft.

But inside the conflict zone, Rohingya still invest hope in Suu Kyi's star power.

"The international community must put serious pressure on Aung San Suu Kyi or the problem will not be solved," said one man, describing how troops stormed into a neighbouring village on Friday shooting indiscriminately.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Sri Lanka bans use of young elephants for work

Yahoo – AFP, November 23, 2016

A buddhist monk feeds fruits to an elephant at a Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka
(AFP Photo/Ishara S.Kodikara)

Sri Lanka unveiled tougher laws Wednesday, including a ban on using young elephants for logging and other physical work, as part of a crackdown on cruelty to domesticated wild animals.

Wildlife Minister Gamini Jayawickrama Perera said the cabinet approved new regulations imposing tough conditions on owners of elephants, which are considered sacred by Buddhists in Sri Lanka.

The animals are also legally protected but are often subjected to cruel treatment by some owners.

Under the new regulations seen by AFP, owners are banned from using working elephants below the age of 10 years while those under five years cannot be used in parades, even at religious festivals.

There are 41 new conditions aimed at ensuring minimum standards of care, including the daily diet that should include fresh fruit in addition to leaves and vegetables.

Owners must also take their elephants for daily walks of not less than five kilometres (three miles) and the animals must be allowed two and a half hours for bathing.

The minister is also seeking to regulate the use of elephants in movie productions.

Elephants cannot be made to fight each other on camera. Flash or floodlights cannot be shone on the animals and letting off firecrackers near them is also banned.

Sri Lanka elephant owners must take their elephants for daily walks of not less 
than 5km (AFP Photo/Ishara S.Kodikara)

Those violating the new regulations could lose their ownership licence and face up to three years in jail.

The new laws come into force as the authorities investigate allegations that over 40 baby elephants had been stolen from national wildlife parks over the last decade and are being kept as pets.

Asian elephant expert Jayantha Jayewardene said the new rules were welcome.

"The regulations are a step in the right direction, but it will be difficult to enforce things like the quality and the quantity of food that should be given to each animal," Jayawardene told AFP.

Many rich Sri Lankans keep elephants as pets to show off their wealth, but there have been numerous complaints of ill treatment and cruelty.

Capturing wild elephants is illegal. Official records show there are about 200 domesticated elephants in a country where the population in the wild is estimated at about 7,500.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

After poncho mockery, world leaders tone it down in Peru with shawls

Yahoo – AFP, Sam Reeves,  November 20, 2016

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group has a decades-old tradition of
getting presidents and prime ministers to don traditional garments of the host
country for their annual get-together (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

Lima (AFP) - After sparking ridicule several years ago by dressing world leaders in baggy ponchos, Peru toned it down Sunday by getting dignitaries at a major summit to wear shawls made from the fine wool of a mountain-dwelling creature called the vicuna.

From Chinese tunics to Philippine pineapple shirts, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group has a decades-old tradition of getting presidents and prime ministers to don traditional garments of the host country for their annual get-together.

And Peru was not going to disappoint as heads of APEC nations gathered in the capital Lima, with leaders appearing for the traditional "family photo" with long, brown shawls made from the coveted wool of the vicuna -- a llama-like animal -- draped over their shoulders.

The global power players, among them US President Barack Obama, China's Xi Jinping and Japan's Shinzo Abe, looked relaxed, smiling and waving as they lined up in alphabetical order according to their countries.

By opting for shawls rather than ponchos, the attire generally associated with the South American nation, Peru may have been seeking to avoid the mockery that accompanied its hosting of the 2008 APEC summit.

On that occasion, world leaders appeared in voluminous ponchos, leading some to poke fun at the unflattering, shapeless garments for resembling potato sacks.

The wool of the vicuna, an animal found in the Andes mountains, is among the rarest natural fibers in the world, making it extremely costly and prized by fashion designers.

It was a relatively modest APEC fashion parade compared to previous editions, 
which have sometimes led to awkward moments (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

A businesswoman working in the fashion industry in Peru told AFP the price of such a shawl would be "between $1,500 and $3,000, depending on the quality."

The vicuna, which as the national animal of Peru appears in the country's coat of arms, was revered by the Incas, whose ancient empire stretched over a large part of South America. Only members of royalty were permitted to wear its wool.

This year's was a relatively modest APEC fashion parade compared to previous editions, which have sometimes led to awkward moments.

When Vietnam hosted the summit several years ago, world leaders looked visibly uncomfortable as they shuffled onto the stage for a photo-op wearing the tight-fitting traditional "ao dai" tunics, which are now most commonly worn by women.

The tradition harks back to 1993, when US President Bill Clinton put his APEC colleagues in macho-looking leather bomber jackets -- the kind worn by World War II fighter pilots.

Related Article:

Asia-Pacific leaders pose for the traditional family photo at the APEC summit in Lima

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Could the US be tried for war crimes in Afghanistan?

The ICC is looking into possible war crimes committed by the US in Afghanistan. There are doubts about whether any CIA agents will ever be prosecuted for torture - but there are other options.

Deutsche Welle, 15 November 2016

 The alleged kidnapping, torture and rape of detainees in Afghanistan by US armed forces are coming under more scrutiny at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

Chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda's annual Preliminary Examination Activities report for 2015 found that "members of the US armed forces and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) resorted to techniques amounting to the commission of the war crimes of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, and rape."

The prosecutors have found evidence that 61 detainees were subjected to "torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity" in Afghanistan between May 2003 and December 2014 (mostly at the outset of the war in 2003 and 2004). Meanwhile, the CIA is being investigated for the same crimes - as well as rape - against 27 detainees in Afghanistan and secret prisons in Poland, Romania and Lithuania.

Fatou Bensouda presented the report 
this week
Systematic cruelty

The ICC also underlined that the alleged crimes seemed to have been part of an officially sanctioned system "approved at senior levels of the US government." "The alleged crimes were not the abuses of a few isolated individuals," it read. "Rather, they appear to have been committed as part of approved interrogation techniques in an attempt to extract 'actionable intelligence' from detainees."

This systematic nature of the crimes increased their "gravity," the report added, and caused considerable suffering: "Some victims reportedly exhibited psychological and behavioral issues, including hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia, and attempts at self-harm and self-mutilation."

Andreas Schüller, program director for international crimes at the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), welcomed the report, but emphasized that this was just part of a wider examination, and that the ICC itself was part of an international judicial process that also involves military and civilian courts in the US and elsewhere: there are criminal investigations and pending court cases ongoing in Spain, Germany, Poland, Romania and Lithuania into alleged crimes committed by the CIA - either because they were perpetrated on their territories or with the collusion of their security forces.

The ECCHR itself filed a lawsuit on behalf of the German-Lebanese man Khalid el Masri, who was a victim of the CIA's extraordinary rendition program and says he spent several months being tortured in Afghanistan.

"You also have cases currently open on Guantanamo against US officials by the French judiciary, where former Guantanamo commander Geoffrey Miller has been summoned earlier this year to appear as an accused witness," said Schüller. (Miller, a retired US army general, ignored the summons.)

Overcoming the obstacles

The fact that the US, like many African countries, is not a party to the ICC is not an obstacle to the investigation. For one thing, Afghanistan ratified the Rome Statute that underpins the court in 2003, and therefore any crimes carried out on its territory (whether by military personnel or not) are within ICC jurisdiction.

German citizen Khalid el Masri was
abused in Afghanistan by CIA agents
Moreover, as the ICC itself pointed out in a statement on Tuesday, its prosecutor's office is obliged to investigate all alleged crimes brought to its attention, regardless of potential legal problems. In the case of Afghanistan, prosecutors said on Tuesday that they will decide "imminently" whether to seek authorization to open a full-scale investigation.

But whether that will ever lead to any prosecutions of CIA agents is very doubtful. "It's not realistic, because the US has not signed the statute, and even if it had, the US government has said repeatedly that it will not extradite any of its citizens to the ICC," said Wolfgang Heinz, senior policy adviser at the German Institute for Human Rights.

Nevertheless, should the ICC decide to pursue its investigations and if it identifies US suspects living in other countries, it could seek their extradition. "That's been done before - the US embassy will apply pressure of course, but then you're not absolutely safe," Heinz said.

Not only that, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) can also file charges against European governments suspected of colluding in the CIA's human rights abuses. This has happened before: in 2014, the Polish government was convicted of collusion in the CIA's extraordinary rendition program and ordered to pay compensation to two men.

The US' alleged crimes are not the only ones being examined in Afghanistan - those perpetrated by the Taliban, other anti-government groups, and Afghan government forces are also mentioned in the report, as are war crimes by various parties in eight other conflict zones around the world - in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and South America.

Monday, November 14, 2016

'Million'-strong protest piles pressure on S. Korea president to quit

Yahoo – AFP, Hwang Sunghee, Park Chan-Kyong, November 12, 2016

Demonstrators attend a protest against South Korean President Park Geun-Hye
in Seoul on November 12, 2016 (AFP Photo/Jeon Heon-Kyun)

Seoul (AFP) - Pressure on South Korea's scandal-hit president to resign escalated sharply Saturday, with organisers claiming a million-strong turnout at one of the largest -- and loudest -- anti-government protests the country has ever witnessed.

Chanting "Step down Park Geun-Hye!" enormous crowds, including high school students, Catholic nuns, labourers, farmers, retirees and young couples with babies, massed in the streets of central Seoul in a powerful display of popular anger and dissent.

While police put the turnout at 260,000, organisers said one million people took part in what was the third in a series of weekly protests over a corruption scandal that has left Park fighting for her political survival.

On the back of official appeals for calm, police deployed around 25,000 officers, many of them in full riot gear, while police buses and trucks blocked every access road -- major or minor -- around the presidential Blue House.

As night fell, Seoul's main ceremonial boulevard Gwanghwamun became a moving river of flickering candles held by the banner-waving, slogan-chanting demonstrators calling on Park to quit.

"It was our wedding anniversary yesterday but we cancelled our anniversary trip and came to Seoul because we thought it was more important for our daughter," said Cho Joo-Pyo, who came with his wife and their two-year-old.

Cho's family had travelled from Jeonju, around 200 kilometres (120 miles) south of Seoul -- one of tens of thousands who travelled from cities across the country to participate in the biggest anti-government rally since the pro-democracy protests of the late 1980s.

Long exposure photograph shows protesters holding candles during an 
anti-government rally in central Seoul on November 12, 2016 (AFP Photo/
Jeon Heon-Kyun)

Fraud and scandal

The scandal engulfing Park for the past three weeks has focused on her close friend, Choi Soon-Sil, who is currently under arrest on charges of fraud and abuse of power.

Prosecutors are investigating allegations that Choi, 60, leveraged their friendship to coerce donations from large companies like Samsung to non-profit foundations which she set up and used for personal gain.

She is also accused of interfering in government affairs, despite holding no official position.

Lurid reports of the unhealthy influence Choi wielded over Park have seen the president's approval ratings plunge to five percent -- a record low for a serving president.

And Saturday's rally was a focal point for a litany of other complaints, from plunging rice prices to the government's handling of the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster.

One group dressed in traditional funeral gear carried a large "presidential coffin" covered with a banner reading: "Step down Park Geun-Hye, killer of agriculture, farms and farmers."

The family-friendly protest was peaceful but sometimes reached deafening volumes as performers and activists whipped the crowds into a raucous frenzy from a giant stage.

"We're so close to the Blue House. Let her hear us roar!" yelled one speaker who was rewarded with a massed bellow of approval.

Protesters hold placards calling for the resignation of South Korean President 
Park Geun-Hye during an anti-government rally in central Seoul on November 12, 
2016 (AFP Photo/Jung Yeon-je)

Spurned apologies

In an effort to soothe public anger, Park has issued several public apologies, voicing her personal "heartbreak" at being the cause of such widespread anger and distress.

She has also reshuffled top officials and even agreed to relinquish some of her extensive executive powers, but the popular calls for her to step down have been relentless.

"She has apologised but I don't think it was sincere," said college student Ahn Ye-jin.

"As Korean citizens, it is up to us to bring about change in this country and that is why I am here today. Park has to go," Ahn said.

Most experts have suggested the president, who has just over a year left of her single five-year term, will be able to ride out the crisis and remain in office, albeit with her authority and ability to govern seriously undermined.

Opposition lawmakers have largely avoided direct resignation calls and appear more interested in extracting further concessions from Park in terms of devolving power to the legislature.

But the sheer size and volume of Saturday's demonstration will be impossible to just ignore.

"Judging from what I saw today, people's resentment against her is simply too strong for Park to stare this down," said Lee Yeon-Ho, a political science professor at Yonsei University.

"People are literally seething with anger," Lee said.

Refugees in Australia's remote camps offered US resettlement

Yahoo – AFP, Glenda Kwek, November 13, 2016

A refugee is seen walking between tents at Australia's regional processing centre
on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea (AFP Photo/Refugee Action Coalition)

Sydney (AFP) - Refugees held on remote Pacific camps after trying to reach Australia by boat will be resettled in the US in a "one-off" deal, the premier says, a breakthrough that could see the controversial facilities closed.

Canberra sends asylum-seekers who try to reach Australia by boat to detention facilities on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island and Nauru. They are blocked from resettling in Australia even if found to be refugees.

"The arrangements with the United States will offer the opportunity for refugees, both on Nauru and Manus, to be resettled," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters in Canberra.

"It is a one-off agreement. It will not be repeated... Our priority is the resettlement of women, children and families."

Successive Australian governments have sought to stem waves of boat migration by people from war-torn Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and the Middle East, using harsh policies including turning back the vessels, and strict secrecy about operations on the high seas and at the remote camps.

Although the latest policies by the current conservative government largely stopped the arrivals, conditions in the camps have been widely criticised by refugee advocates and medical professionals.

They say some asylum-seekers suffer from mental health problems due to their prolonged, indefinite detention.

The UNHCR said the arrangement was a "much-needed, long-term solution" but warned that options should be found for everyone on Manus and Nauru.

"This announcement is full of holes. No timeframe. No numbers," added Daniel Webb from the Human Rights Law Centre, which has challenged offshore detention in court.

"This ugly chapter in our history only closes when every single man, woman and child suffering at our government's hand on Nauru and Manus is finally rebuilding their lives in safety. No one can be left behind."

Map and factfile on Australia's immigration detention facilities (AFP Photo)

Trump uncertainty

The arrangement followed Turnbull's announcement in September that Australia would join a US-led programme to resettle Central American refugees at a Costa Rica centre.

Turnbull said officials from the US Department of Homeland Security would be arriving in Australia "in the next few days".

But he could not say how many refugees would be offered US resettlement and if the agreement would continue under the incoming Donald Trump administration.

President-elect Trump said on the campaign trail that he would tighten immigration, particularly for Muslims.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is in New Zealand, confirmed the deal, adding that "we in the United States have agreed to consider referrals from (UN refugee body) UNHCR on refugees now residing in Nauru and in Papua New Guinea".

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said asylum-seekers whose refugee applications are rejected would be expected to return home.

Refugees who are offered the US move but reject it would be offered a 20-year Nauru visa, while any future boat arrivals will not be eligible for the deal.

Dutton stressed the deal was not an incentive for people-smugglers to send more asylum-seekers by boat, with Canberra set to ramp up its marine border patrols to turn back vessels.

No 'indefinite detention'

A resettlement agreement with Phnom Penh struck in 2014 was criticised after only several refugees made the move.

Refugees can also resettle in PNG, although only about two dozen have taken up that option, Port Moresby said last month. Others reportedly cited safety fears in not wanting to settle in the Pacific country.

Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten welcomed the potential "end to indefinite detention, especially for genuine refugees".

Australia agreed in August close the Manus camp following a PNG Supreme Court ruling in April declaring that holding people there was unconstitutional and illegal.

Dutton said Sunday that Nauru "will remain in its current status forever" without elaborating further. Fairfax Media reported Saturday that Canberra wanted to close both centres by 2019.

Some 675 asylum-seekers on Manus and 941 on Nauru out of more than 2,000 applications have been successful in obtaining initial or final refugee status, the immigration department said earlier this month.

Canberra has long defended its policy of denying asylum-seekers resettlement in Australia, saying it has prevented deaths at sea.