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, September 29, 2017

North Korean firms in China ordered to close by January

Yahoo – AFP, Julien GIRAULT, September 28, 2017

A truck returns from North Korea over the Friendship Bridge, at the Chinese border
city of Dandong in northeast China's Liaoning province on September 4, 2017

Beijing (AFP) - China said Thursday North Korean companies operating in the country will have to shut down by January as Beijing applies UN sanctions imposed following Pyongyang's sixth nuclear test.

The commerce ministry said the companies, including joint ventures with Chinese firms, have 120 days to close from the date the United Nations resolution was adopted, September 11.

The sanctions spare, on a case by case basis, entities involved in non-commercial activities or public utility infrastructure projects that do not generate profits.

The announcement comes days after China confirmed that it will apply another major part of the sanctions: a limit on exports of refined petroleum products to North Korea starting October 1 and a ban on textiles from its neighbour.

In August, China banned North Korean firms and individuals from establishing new companies in its territory following a separate set of sanctions.

China's application of UN sanctions is particularly biting for North Korea. Beijing is Pyongyang's main ally and trading partner, responsible for around 90 percent of the hermit nation's commerce.

The United States has pressed China to use its economic leverage to strongarm North Korea into giving up its nuclear ambitions.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will visit Beijing this weekend for talks with China's top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Tillerson will discuss the North Korean nuclear tensions, trade issues and President Donald Trump's planned trip to China in November, the US State Department said.

Trump's tour will also take in regional allies Japan and South Korea.

'Abyss of misery'

Washington has alternated between criticising and praising Beijing's role in the North Korea crisis, on the one hand welcoming its support for new sanctions but also insisting it must do more to rein in its unruly neighbour.

For its part, China has called on both Trump and North Korean strongman Kim Jong-Un to tone down their increasingly bellicose rhetoric and instead try to begin peace talks.

"We are opposed to any war on the Korean peninsula, and the international community will never allow a war (which would) plunge people into an abyss of misery," foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular press briefing.

"Sanctions and the promoting of talks are both the requirements of the UN Security Council. We should not overemphasise one aspect while ignoring the other," Lu said.

While China has imposed sanctions on its renegade neighbour, it wants to avoid precipitating the regime's downfall over fears that its collapse could send an influx of refugees across its border and place the US army at its doorstep.

But Beijing appears to be running out of patience with North Korea's nuclear antics -- the last test earlier this month triggered an earthquake that was felt in northeast China.

Branches of China's biggest banks have told AFP that they have suspended financial transactions for North Koreans, a measure that is not required under UN sanctions.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Saudi Arabia to allow women to drive: state media

Saudi Arabian state media says provisions are being made for driving licenses to be issued to woman. The ultra-conservative kingdom is the only country in the world where women are not allowed behind the wheel.

Deutsche Welle, 26 Sep 2017

A Saudi woman at the wheel (picture-alliance/dpa)

Citing a royal decree, Saudi state media on Tuesday reported that women would be allowed to drive.

"The royal decree will implement the provisions of traffic regulations, including the issuance of driving licenses for men and women alike," the Saudi Press Agency said.

The highly conservative Muslim kingdom has some of the world's tightest curbs on women's freedoms, and is the only country in the world where they are not allowed to drive.

A ministerial body is to be formed to give advice within 30 days, with the order to be implemented by June 2018, according to state news agency SPA.

Approval needed

Under the country's guardianship system, male family members - normally a woman's father, husband or brother - must give their permission for her to study or travel.

However, the kingdom appears to have relaxed some rules as part of its "Vision 2030" plan for economic and social reforms championed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The news was welcomed by the US State Department which called it "a great step in the right direction."

rc/kms (AFP, dpa)
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“… With free choice, the percentage of DNA efficiently started to go down as humanity grew. As soon as the DNA started to lose percentage, the gender balance was dysfunctional. If you want to have a test of any society, anywhere on the planet, and you want to know the DNA percentage number [consciousness quota] as a society, there's an easy test: How do they perceive and treat their women? The higher the DNA functionality, the more the feminine divine is honored. This is the test! Different cultures create different DNA consciousness, even at the same time on the planet. So you can have a culture on Earth at 25 percent and one at 37 - and if you did, they would indeed clash. …”

“… You're at 35. There's an equality here, you're starting to see the dark and light, and it's changing everything. You take a look at history and you've come a long way, but it took a long time to get here. Dear ones, we've seen this process before and the snowball is rolling. There isn't anything in the way that's going to stop it. In the path of this snowball of higher consciousness are all kinds of things that will be run over and perish. Part of this is what you call "the establishment". Watch for some very big established things to fall over! The snowball will simply knock them down. …”

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Hindu refugees from Myanmar find sanctuary in Bangladesh

Yahoo – AFP, Claire COZENS, 22 September 2017

In a small village in southern Bangladesh, hundreds of Hindu refugees from
neighbouring Myanmar are being handed plates heaped with dal and rice,
less than a mile from where desperate Muslim Rohingya beg for food and shelter.

The contrast captures the sharp religious and ethnic divides that have only deepened since a convulsion of violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state unleashed a staggering refugee crisis.

The vast majority of those fleeing into Bangladesh are Rohingya Muslims, with more than 420,000 bolting from a campaign of violence that the United Nations has said amounts to "ethnic cleansing".

Their arrival in less than a month has overwhelmed authorities and aid agencies, and many have received little or no official help since they arrived, leaving them without basic shelter, food and water.

A far smaller but still significant number of Buddhists and Hindus were also caught up in the communal violence, which erupted after Rohingya militants attacked police posts on August 25, triggering a ruthless military crackdown.

While most were displaced within Rakhine, an estimated 500 Hindus fled to Bangladesh, where they initially tried to find space in the overflowing camps dominated by Rohingya.

But communal tensions trailed them there, according to Hindu refugees who have since been given sanctuary by a local Hindu community nearby.

In the small Hindu village they now call home, the refugees told of attacks on
their villages by masked men dressed all in black

In the small Hindu village in Kutupalong they now call home, the refugees first described attacks on their homes in Rakhine that triggered their escape.

"They came in black and they covered their faces," said Niranjan Rudro, 50, who worked as a barber in Myanmar.

"In my village there were 70 Hindu families. They surrounded us for three days and we couldn't leave the house even to get food."

Many of the refugees told similar stories, although all are impossible for AFP to verify.

Some said they believed their attackers were from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), the Rohingya militant group behind the ambushes on police posts.

Since the latest eruption of violence, Rakhine's ethnic groups have traded rival accusations over who is to blame for the carnage, exacerbating long-running mistrust between the communities.

Local families have taken in around 200, while another 300 are crammed 
into a basic shelter nearby

Rohingya refugees have blamed the army and ethnic Rakhine Buddhist mobs for killings and arson attacks that have ripped through their communities, turning hundreds of villages into piles of ash.

Buddhist and Hindu groups, meanwhile, say they were terrorised by Rohingya militants whose raids on police posts tipped the region into crisis.

According to the Hindu refugees, tensions spilled into violence even after they arrived in Bangladesh.

Some said they were ostracised and attacked at the nearby Kutupalong camp, where they initially tried to cram in among the hundreds of thousands of newly arrived Rohingya refugees.

Three young men showed AFP bruises and scars that they said were inflicted by the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

Puja Mollick, 18, said she came to Bangladesh after losing her parents and husband in the violence in Rakhine.

When she arrived in Kutupalong, men tried to force her into marriage against her will until she was rescued by an uncle.

A significant number of Hindus were caught up in the communal violence that has 
torn through Myanmar's Rakhine state since Rohingya militants staged deadly attacks 
on police posts on August 25

But she and others have now found safety in the Hindu village less than a mile from the Kutupalong camp.

Local families have taken in around 200, while another 300 are crammed into a basic shelter nearby.

All receive regular meals, paid for mainly by donations from local Hindus.

"We heard that Hindu people were here in Bangladesh, camping out in the forests. So we went to find them and brought them here," community leader Shapon Sharma told AFP.

"We reached out to Hindu communities... all over Bangladesh to arrange for food and shelter for them."

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Saudi to allow women into stadium for national day

Yahoo – AFP, September 20, 2017

Saudi Arabia has some of the world's tightest restrictions on women and is the only
country where they are not allowed to drive (AFP Photo/FAYEZ NURELDINE)

Riyadh (AFP) - Saudi Arabia has invited women to a sports stadium for the first time to attend annual national day celebrations with their families, state media said Wednesday, opening up a previously male-only venue.

Families will be allowed into the King Fahd stadium in Riyadh, used mostly for football matches, and seated separately from single men to mark the kingdom's 87th National Day this weekend.

"The stadium is ready to receive about 40,000 people divided between individuals and families to be seated separately," the official Saudi Press Agency said in a statement, citing the general authority of entertainment.

This marks a shift from previous celebrations in the kingdom where women are effectively barred from sports arenas by strict rules on segregation of the sexes in public.

Saudi Arabia has some of the world's tightest restrictions on women and is the only country where they are not allowed to drive.

Under the country's guardianship system, a male family member -- normally the father, husband or brother -- must grant permission for a woman's study, travel and other activities.

But the kingdom appears to be relaxing some norms as part of its "Vision 2030" plan for economic and social reforms.

In July, rights campaigners welcomed an "overdue" reform by the education ministry to allow girls to take part in sports at state schools.

Bangladesh army steps up as Rohingya suffer heavy rain

Yahoo – AFP, Sam JAHAN, September 20, 2017

Bangladesh Border Guard (BGB) attempts to clear Rohingya Muslim refugees off a
road near Balukhali refugee camp near the Bangladehsi district of Ukhia on
September 19, 2017 (AFP Photo/DOMINIQUE FAGET)

Cox's Bazar (Bangladesh) (AFP) - Bangladesh's army was ordered Wednesday to take a bigger role helping hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who have fled violence in Myanmar, amid warnings it could take six months to register the new refugees.

Troops would be deployed immediately in Cox's Bazar near the border where more than 420,000 Rohingya Muslims have arrived since August 25, said Obaidul Quader, a senior minister and deputy head of the ruling Awami League party.

Soldiers would help build shelters and toilets for the thousands of refugees still sleeping in the open under pounding monsoon rain, Quader told AFP.

"The army presence is especially needed on the spot to construct their shelters, which is a very tough task, and ensure sanitation," he said.

The latest order came from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Quader said.

The soldiers would also ensure order and assist with distributing relief, a chaotic process that seen stampedes as donors have hurled food and other staples from moving trucks.

Previously troops had been tasked with transporting foreign relief supplies from the country's port city of Chittagong airport to Cox's Bazar where the overcrowded camps are located.

Map of Myanmar's Rakhine State showing areas where fires were detected by 
satellites, according to Human Rights Watch (AFP Photo/Gal ROMA)

As the handful of ill-equipped camps rapidly reached capacity, Bangladesh announced it would create a new site capable of housing some 400,000 refugees within 10 days.

Extra water pumps have been installed at some locations, and concrete rings for latrines stockpiled along the roadside.

But there were few signs of major construction work underway, with many refugees complaining they were being ordered to move on without any idea where to go.

"We don't know where to go"

"We don't know where would we go. We are poor. We managed to buy the bamboo and tarpaulin with people's help, and now I have to relocate again," said Mujibur Rahman, a 48-year-old Rohingya father of 10.

"I don't know when this moving game will stop."

The government has been trying to herd refugees into designated areas, fearful that nearby cities could be overwhelmed if they are left unchecked.

Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has issued a new call for Myanmar to take 
back the some 420,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled violence in the Buddhist-
dominated country (AFP Photo/OLI SCARFF)

"I tried to go to the place where the Bangladeshi government said they set aside land for us. But locals drove us out asking for money to settle us down," a Rohingya community leader, Yusuf Majhi, told AFP.

Local authorities have set up a dozen relief centres and several emergency kitchens to streamline aid distribution.

But efforts by the army to officially register the new arrivals amid the crowded camps has been moving at a glacial pace, said Brigadier General Saidur Rahman.

"We are aiming to finish it within five or six months," said Rahman, who heads the registration drive.

More registration boothes would be erected to complete the mammoth task, he added.

Monsoon downpours are compounding the misery.

Cox's Bazar has been pounded with 21.4 centimetres (8.4 inches) of rain in the past five days, raising fears of landslides in the unstable, muddy hills on which thousands of refugees were camped.

Hundreds of refugees were forced to abandon their shanties Wednesday in a rubber plantation after heavy rain flooded the area, according to an AFP correspondent at the scene.

Rohingya Muslim refugees carry an elderly woman along a road near Balukhali refugee
camp near the Bangladehsi district of Ukhia on September 19, 2017 (AFP Photo/

"My tent has been flooded in knee-deep water. The children are suffering from the cold," said Nur Mohammad, a 62-year-old Rohingya man who arrived in Bangladesh with 16 members of his family.

Rohingya, who are predominantly Muslim, are reviled by many in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

The UN human rights chief has described the systematic attacks against the Rohingya minority by Myanmar's security forces as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing".

Sheikh Hasina has issued a new call for Myanmar to take back some of the Rohingya.

Myanmar's de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi said in a speech Tuesday that the country would take back verified refugees.

But her speech "did not present the real picture" of the Rohingya situation, said Bangladesh's information minister Hasanul Haq, who has been briefing reporters on the crisis.

"The condition she set on the return of the refugees is not acceptable," he said in Dhaka on Wednesday.

"Her speech also did not highlight the ethnic oppression and genocide of the Rohingya."

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Crackdown and charm offensive: Saudi prince shores up power

Yahoo – AFP, Anuj Chopra, September 18, 2017

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, often known as MBS, is set to be
the first millennial to occupy the throne in a country where half the population is
under 25 (AFP Photo/BANDAR AL-JALOUD)

Riyadh (AFP) - With a crackdown on dissenters and a charm offensive to woo the kingdom's swelling youth population, Saudi Arabia's king-in-waiting Mohammed bin Salman is cementing his grip on power, analysts say.

The 32-year-old crown prince, often known as MBS, is set to be the first millennial to occupy the throne in a country where half the population is under 25, though the timing of his ascension remains unknown.

Already viewed as the de facto ruler controlling all the major levers of government, from defence to economy, MBS is seen as stamping out traces of internal dissent before any formal transfer of power from his 81-year-old father King Salman.

Authorities last week arrested around two dozen people, including influential clerics, in what activists decried as a coordinated crackdown.

Analysts say many of those detained are resistant to MBS's aggressive foreign policy that includes the boycott of Gulf neighbour Qatar as well as some of his bold reforms, including privatising state assets and cutting subsidies.

Saudi officials have instead suggested a foreign plot to overthrow the government, without disclosing details.

"In recent years we cannot recall a week in which so many prominent Saudi Arabian figures have been targeted in such a short space of time," said Samah Hadid, a director at Amnesty International.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made a rare appearance this month in the 
football match that saw Saudi Arabia qualify for next year's World Cup (AFP Photo/STR)

Meteoric rise

To analysts, MBS's meteoric rise has seemed almost Shakespearean in its aggression and calculation. In June, he edged out a 58-year-old cousin, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, to become heir to the throne.

At the time, Saudi television channels showed the bearded MBS kissing the hand of the older prince and kneeling before him in a show of reverence. Western media reports later said that the deposed prince had been placed under house arrest, a claim strongly denied by Saudi authorities.

Foreign diplomats predict MBS could well be in control of Saudi Arabia for at least half a century.

"I can't say when the formal ascension of Mohammed bin Salman might happen, but the real transfer of power has already happened –- he is effectively ruling Saudi Arabia," Perry Cammack, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told AFP.

"With the (older) generation having now left the scene and his main younger rivals having been removed, Mohammed is primed to enjoy a dominance over Saudi Arabia unseen since the rule of Abdulaziz, who founded the modern Saudi kingdom in the 1930s."

With his youth a novelty in a country accustomed to ageing rulers, MBS has sought to woo young Saudis by putting sports and entertainment on the cutting edge of his reform effort, dubbed Vision 2030, at the risk of riling conservatives.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a meeting in Jeddah, under 
a portrait of King Abdulaziz al-Saud, the founder of the Saudi kingdom (AFP Photo/

Public cinemas have long been banned inside the kingdom and there are few outlets for leisure activities.

MBS made a rare appearance this month in the football match that saw Saudi Arabia qualify for next year's World Cup. Alone in what appeared to be a bullet-proof royal box, the smiling prince flashed the victory sign —- an image embossed on a new government poster for Vision 2030.

"The image perfectly captures two aspects of his power: his appeal to youth and to nationalism," Kristin Diwan, from the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, told AFP.

"National pride is replacing the appeal of Islamism. And sports and other forms of entertainment are compensating youth for the weakness of the welfare state."

A slump in oil prices has prompted Saudi Arabia to take steps to reduce the kingdom's generous welfare system after decades of using its vast energy resources to pay generous salaries and benefits.

Generational shift

This direct outreach to youth amid Saudi Arabia's transition to a post-oil era marks a clear departure from the past, when previous rulers appeared more inclined to court society's elders out of a deference to age.

But sluggish economic growth and soaring youth unemployment could hinder MBS's outreach.

His reform plan seeks to reduce reliance on oil and develop the kingdom's industrial and investment base to generate more private-sector jobs for young Saudis.

But recent reports that the government is rejigging its reform strategy, which has already fallen short in key areas, is a sign that "broader opposition to reform is building," said research firm Capital Economics.

"His own youth, his tendency to centralise power, and his rapid changes to foreign policy have all alienated some of the senior ruling family members, while his changes to the economy have upset some of the merchant families," Jane Kinninmont, from the London-based Chatham House, told AFP.

"Building up a youth support base may help MBS compensate for alienating some of the supporters that Saudi princes have traditionally counted on."

MBS, who boasts of close ties to the White House, also appears to be empowering third-generation royals, with several younger princes holding deputy positions in various ministries and regional governments.

A series of full-page ads in Saudi newspapers recently extolled the virtues of the "charismatic" prince, tackling the unease in some quarters over his youth and perceived inexperience.

"His teachers describe him: He has never been part of a problem," said the ad by a regional men's magazine that profiled MBS, splashed with pictures from his childhood.

"Takes initiative and acts older than his age."

Friday, September 15, 2017

Another town scraps Australia Day, drawing government ire

Yahoo – AFP, 14 Sep 2017

Another town scraps Australia Day, drawing government ire
Sydney (AFP) - Marking Australia Day is like celebrating the Holocaust, a Melbourne politician said as her council scrapped a holiday it deemed offensive to Aboriginal people, in a move the government on Thursday labelled "extreme and divisive".

The council in the Melbourne suburb of Moreland became the third in Victoria state to decide not to recognise Australia Day.

The annual holiday, on January 26, commemorates the arrival of the country's first British settlers in 1788 and is a time when citizenship ceremonies are held.

But it is termed "Invasion Day" by many indigenous Australians who say it marks the beginning of the decline of Aboriginal culture.

In debating the issue Wednesday, Moreland Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton said commemorating Australia Day "would be like celebrating the Nazi Holocaust", state broadcaster ABC reported.

Assistant Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke said in a statement the government rejected "the extreme and divisive nature of the discussion Greens and Socialist councillors are promoting".

He said the government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull "strongly condemns comparisons of Australia Day with the Nazi Holocaust as deeply offensive to all Australians".

"Australia Day is a recognition of our shared history and the Turnbull government, along with the vast majority of Australians, indigenous and non-indigenous, fully support Australia Day remaining on January 26."

Australia's colonial history credits Captain James Cook with discovering the country, but Aboriginal people inhabited the land for more than 60,000 years before the first European explorers arrived.

Last month a war of words erupted over colonial-era statues in Australia, with several in Sydney defaced, including one of Cook with the words "change the date" in reference to Australia Day.

The vandalism sparked a furious response from Turnbull, who brushed off calls for the statues to be torn down, adding that the defacement was "what Stalin did" in denying history.

Aborigines remain the most disadvantaged Australians. They were believed to have numbered around one million at the time of British settlement, but now make up only about three percent of the total population of 24 million.

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Anger as Singapore gets first female president without a vote

Yahoo – AFP, Elizabeth Law, September 13, 2017

A supporter displays a figurine of former parliamentary speaker Halimah Yacob,
who has been named the country's new president (AFP Photo/ROSLAN RAHMAN)

Singapore (AFP) - Singapore got its first female president Wednesday, but the milestone was overshadowed by criticism that her selection was undemocratic after she was handed the job without a vote.

Halimah Yacob, a former speaker of parliament from the Muslim Malay minority, did not have to face an election for the largely ceremonial post after authorities decided her rivals did not meet eligibility criteria.

It was not the first time in the affluent city-state -- which is tightly controlled and has been ruled by the same party for decades -- that the government has disqualified presidential candidates, making an election unnecessary.

But there was already unease about the process as it was the first time that the presidency had been reserved for a particular race, in this case the Malay community. The decision to hand her the job without an election added to the anger.

Social media was abuzz with criticism as Halimah, a bespectacled 63-year-old who wears a headscarf, was formally announced as president-elect, with Facebook user Pat Eng writing: "Elected without an election. What a joke."

"I will call her President Select from now on," said Joel Kong on the networking site, while some posts were marked with the hashtag #NotMyPresident -- echoing the message used by upset Americans after the election of President Donald Trump.

'President for everyone'

Halimah was a member of parliament for the ruling People's Action Party for nearly two decades before resigning to contest the presidency. She addressed the concerns about the selection process after being named president-elect.

"I'm a president for everyone. Although there's no election, my commitment to serve you remains the same," she said.

Former parliamentary speaker Halimah Yacob (R), who was named the country's 
new president, waves to supporters with her husband Mohammed Abdullah Alhabshee 
as they arrive at the nomination centre in Singapore on September 13, 2017 (AFP Photo/

Halimah added she would "start working immediately" to bring the country together.

She also insisted her status as Singapore's first female president was "not just tokenism", in a speech to a cheering crowd while wearing orange, a colour supposed to symbolise unity.

"Every woman can aspire to the highest office in the land when you have the courage, determination and will to work hard," she said.

Singapore's head of state has limited powers, including vetoing senior official appointments. But an establishment figure has always held the role and there are rarely tensions with the government.

Authorities decided to allow only candidates from the Malay community to put themselves forward for the presidency to foster harmony in the city-state of 5.5 million people which is dominated by ethnic Chinese, and give more opportunities to minorities.

Halimah is the first Malay president of Singapore for almost five decades. The last was Yusof Ishak, president from 1965 to 1970, the first years of the city-state's independence.

But the decision to limit candidates to one race had caused concern, including among Malays, as it was seen as positive discrimination that ran counter to the city-state's traditional meritocratic principles.

Five people had originally put their names forward for the presidency and the government had scheduled an election for September 23.

Two were quickly eliminated as they were not Malay. The two others, Malay businessmen, were disqualified on Monday as their companies were smaller than required by strict new eligibility rules introduced last year.

Halimah automatically qualified as she has held public office. She will be inaugurated in a ceremony on Thursday.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

New UN sanctions on North Korea: what do they mean?

Yahoo – AFP, Hwang Sunghee, September 12, 2017

North Korea has shrugged off numerous sets of sanctions aimed at crimping
 its nuclear and missile programmes, and this month unveiled what it said was a
working hydrogen bomb (AFP Photo/STR)

Seoul (AFP) - The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted new sanctions on North Korea, including restrictions on oil shipments, to punish Pyongyang for its sixth and largest nuclear test.

But Washington toned down its initial proposals to secure backing from China and Russia.

Here are some key questions on UNSC resolution 2375, and its attempt to end the North's nuclear weapons and missile programmes.

What impact will the oil measures have?

The new resolution ends natural gas shipments to North Korea, caps crude oil shipments at their current levels, and puts a ceiling on refined oil products such as petrol and diesel.

North Korea has little oil of its own, relying on imports to keep its citizens and soldiers moving.

The US initially sought an oil embargo, which China -- North Korea's sole ally and main trading partner -- strongly opposed.

Instead the resolution limits crude oil shipments from any country to the amount sent to the North in the last 12 months.

Beijing does not publish statistics for crude oil shipments to the North, shrouding the issue in secrecy, but is believed to supply around 4 million barrels a year.

Chart showing the value of North Korea's refined oil imports 2012 to 2016, 
with China and Russia's share of the yearly total. Non-photo version. (AFP 
Photo/John SAEKI)

The resolution also limits the North to importing 2 million barrels a year of refined oil products -- representing a 15 percent cut based on UN-WTO International Trade Centre estimates, although some analysts put the effect as high as 56 percent.

"It's a red light for the growth of the North Korean economy," said Cheong Seong-Chang of Seoul's Sejong Institute, "but will not have huge impact on North Korea's military because the crude oil supply remains the same".

Crucially, the resolution includes an exemption for "livelihood purposes" -- similar to clauses in past resolutions that have been used as loopholes.

Kim Hyun-Wook, professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy, warned there are "no means to check how much crude oil is delivered through the pipeline" between China and North Korea.

Koo Kab-Woo of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul said the measures carried symbolic value as the "first US attempt at touching North Korea's economic lifeline".

How significant is the textiles ban?

The resolution bans the import and export of textiles -- both fabric and clothing -- by the North.

Textiles are one of North Korea's major exports, estimated to be worth around 
$750 million a year (AFP Photo/KNS)

Textiles are one of North Korea's major exports, estimated by Rajiv Biswas of IHS Markit to value $750 million.

Analysts say the move could cut off a major source of foreign currency for Pyongyang.

China supplies materials to the North, where they are made into clothing in factories using cheap labour, and re-exported to China.

Most go to China and Russia, so the effects will depend on enforcement by Beijing and Moscow, said Koo.

"It all depends on China and Russia's willingness."

A UN report published at the weekend said Pyongyang collected at least $270 million over a six month-period this year by exporting "almost all of the commodities prohibited" by existing sanctions.

What about overseas workers?

The resolution bars countries from issuing new permits to the roughly 93,000 North Korean labourers working abroad.

Map showing countries which host North Korean labourers, according to 
reports by UN and academics. (AFP Photo/Gal ROMA)

Their toil, mainly at construction sites in Middle Eastern countries as well as Russia and China, earns revenue for Pyongyang.

There is an exemption for existing contracts. Analysts are sceptical about any immediate effects of the ban, but say it could increase pressure on Pyongyang over time.

Will cargo inspections increase?

Under the measure, countries are authorised to inspect ships suspected of carrying banned North Korean cargo -- but must first seek the consent of the vessel's flag state, limiting the impact.

Washington had sought authorisation for searches by force, which Koo said China and Russia "strongly opposed".

North Korea is suspected of engaging in arms trade with countries in Africa and the Middle East.

The UN report said it was investigating "chemical, ballistic missile and conventional arms cooperation" between North Korea and Syria.

UN member states had interdicted shipments destined for Syria believed to be from the North's state-owned arms dealer, the Korea Mining and Development Trading Corporation (KOMID), it said.

North Korea is already under multiple UN sanctions but has still made rapid 
progress in its nuclear and missile programmes (AFP Photo/STR)

Will the sanctions curb Pyongyang's ambitions?

Analysts say the sanctions were significantly watered down from the initial draft proposal to get China and Russia on board and are sceptical about whether they will curb Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

North Korea is already under multiple UN sanctions but has still made rapid progress in its nuclear and missile programmes.

"It is not enough to cause pain," said Go Myong-Hyun at the Asan Institute of Policy Studies.

Instead, said Koh of Dongguk University, the new sanctions will drive Pyongyang to accelerate its programmes.

"North Korea will try to become a nuclear state as quickly as possible to negotiate with the US as an equal before the effect of the sanctions fully kicks in," he said.

Pyongyang habitually attributes UN measures to the "hostile" US, which it blames for the body's actions.

And Kim Hyun-Wook of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy, predicted: "The sanctions will only provide North Korea with an excuse for further provocations, such as an ICBM launch."