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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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Young Taliban must be heard, says new UN youth envoy

Yahoo – AFP, Pierre CELERIER, October 29, 2019

For Aisha Khurram, reaching out to all young Afghans -- including those joining
the ranks of the Taliban insurgency -- is critical (AFP Photo/WAKIL KOHSAR)

Afghanistan's ruling elite and international power brokers must listen to the fast-growing youth population -- including junior Taliban members -- if the war is ever to end, the country's new youth delegate to the United Nations says.

In a nation at war for 40 years and where two-thirds of the population is aged 24 or under, twenty-year-old Aisha Khurram says the younger generation's concerns have been shunted aside even as they inherit the conflict.

"For decades and even centuries, our fears and future have always been decided by the warring parties, irrespective of our perspective, irrespective of our opinions and our part in the process," Khurram told AFP in the UN's Kabul compound.

The international relations student at Kabul University was picked from 100 candidates for her high-profile role in early October, at the end of a tough selection process.

For Khurram, reaching out to all young Afghans -- including those joining the ranks of the Taliban insurgency -- is critical.

"Before they join the militant groups... we have to make the opportunities for them," she said.

"We have to hear their voices, we have to consider their right for education, their right for work opportunities and their right for life," she added.

"My own peer groups... do not enjoy the access to education, do not enjoy the opportunities that we have right now in Afghanistan."

Afghanistan's mainstream media -- concentrated in Kabul -- only reflect the views of urban Afghans she said, effectively blacking out opinions of vast swathes of the country, especially young people.

"It's not inclusive", she said.

She offered the #MyRedLine social media movement as an example in which young Afghans -- mostly educated -- state the "red line" they are not prepared to see Afghanistan cross in any eventual peace deal with the Taliban.

The campaign is "ignoring the needs and demands of the Afghan youth that are living outside of the Kabul (region)," she said, noting their urgent need for security trumps many "secondary" rights.

Global youth

Khurram, who was born in Pakistan after her family fled violence in Afghanistan, came of age at a time when the gruelling conflict is worsening.

According to the UN, the period of July to September this year was the deadliest on record for civilians, with more than 2,500 killed.

With half of the world's population now aged under 25, the UN is trying to amplify young voices at major summits through a youth delegation programme.

Countries can select representatives to advocate on several priority areas including the environment, juvenile justice and employment. But for Khurram, the key issue is peace.

She first went to Afghanistan in 2004, three years after the US-led invasion to topple the Taliban and hunt for Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

In recent years the security situation has only deteriorated, and the US spent the past year pushing for a deal with the Taliban that would have seen the Pentagon pull thousands of troops from Afghanistan in return for security guarantees.

But President Donald Trump nixed talks last month as Taliban attacks continued.

Khurram said many Afghans were suspicious of the negotiations, which cut out the government of President Ashraf Ghani, who is currently seeking election for a second term.

"There are three parties in the conflict, and only two of them now are engaged in negotiations," she said. "Afghan people deserve to be a part of this process."

Afghans under 18 make up around half the estimated population of 37 million, but Afghanistan's political class does not reflect the country's youth.

A grizzled crew of old-school warlords and bickering elders still dominate the political scene, focused on consolidating power instead of strengthening national governance.

Khurram said she is helping to organise a "youth jirga" -- a meeting in which young people from all over the country can come together and brainstorm ways to influence any peace process.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Lebanon protesters form nationwide human chain

Yahoo – AFP, Jean-Marc Mojon and Anwar Amro, October 27, 2019

Lebanese protesters hold hands to form a human chain (AFP Photo/

Beirut (AFP) - Tens of thousands of Lebanese protesters successfully formed a human chain running north-south across the entire country on Sunday to symbolise newfound national unity.

Demonstrators joined hands from Tripoli to Tyre, a 170-kilometre (105-mile) chain running through the capital Beirut, as part of an unprecedented cross-sectarian mobilisation.

Tension has mounted in recent days between security forces and protesters, who have blocked roads and brought the country to a standstill to press their demands for a complete overhaul of the political system.

Lebanon's reviled political elite has defended a belated package of economic reforms and appeared willing to reshuffle the government, but protesters who have stayed on the streets since October 17 want more.

On foot, by bicycle and on motorbikes, demonstrators and volunteers fanned out along the main north-south highway.

"The idea behind this human chain is to show an image of a Lebanon which, from north to south, rejects any sectarian affiliation," Julie Tegho Bou Nassif, one of the organisers, told AFP.

Lebanese protesters formed a 170-kilometre human chain from the southern port 
of Tyre to Tripoli in the north to underscore their unity against sectarian politics 
(AFP Photo/Patrick BAZ)

"There is no political demand today, we only want to send a message by simply holding hands under the Lebanese flag," the 31-year-old history professor told AFP.

On the Beirut seafront, men, women and children held hands, some carrying Lebanese flags and many singing the national anthem, an AFP photographer said.

'Dignified life'

In the northern city of Tripoli, where more than half the population lives under the poverty line, some had painted the Lebanese national symbol of a cedar tree on their faces, an AFP reporter said.

"We're expressing our demand for a dignified life and our dream as youth for a decent future," 30-year-old participant Tariq Fadli told AFP.

In the southern city of Tyre, protesters standing in a line held the edges of a long Lebanese flag, local television showed.

A young boy played with it, making it billow up and down.

The protests have been remarkable for their territorial reach and the absence of political or sectarian banners, in a country often defined by its divisions.

Protestors join hands in Nahr al-Kalb, north of Beirut, in a symbol of 
anti-government protest and national unity (AFP Photo/JOSEPH EID)

The leaderless protest movement, driven mostly by a young generation of men and women born after the 1975-1990 civil war, has even been described by some as the birth of a Lebanese civic identity.

The army has sought to re-open main roads across the country, where schools and banks have been closed for more than a week.

In one of the most serious incidents, the army opened fire on Friday to confront a group of protesters blocking a road in Tripoli, wounding at least six people.

But the unprecedented protest movement has been relatively incident-free, despite tensions with the armed forces and attempts by party loyalists to stage counter-demonstrations.

Protesters have been demanding the removal of the entire ruling class, which has remained largely unchanged in three decades.

Many of the political heavyweights are former warlords seen as representing little beyond their own sectarian or geographical community.

An aerial view shows Lebanese protesters holding hands to form a human 
chain along the coast (AFP Photo)

Brink of collapse

The protesters see them as corrupt and incompetent and have so far dismissed measures proposed by the political leadership to quell the protests.

"We've had the same people in charge for 30 years," said Elie, a 40-year-old demonstrator walking in central Beirut on Sunday morning with a Lebanese flag.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Monday announced a package of economic reforms which aims to revive an economy that has been on the brink of collapse for months.

His coalition partners have supported the move and warned that a political vacuum in times of economic peril risked chaos.

But the protesters have accused the political elite of desperately attempting to save their jobs and have stuck to their demands for deep, systemic change.

In a now well-established routine, entire families of volunteers showed up early on the main protest sites Sunday to clean up after another night of protests and parties.

After dusk, the central Martyrs' Square in Beirut and other protest hubs in Lebanon -- including the relatively conservative city of Tripoli -- turn into a vast, open ground where protesters dance, sing or organise political meetings.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Pakistan, India sign deal on visa-free corridor for Sikh pilgrims

Yahoo – AFP, October 24, 2019

The Katarpur Corridor deal is a rare example of cooperation between arch-
rivals India and Pakistan (AFP Photo/AAMIR QURESHI)

Islamabad and New Delhi signed an agreement Thursday on a visa-free corridor between the two countries that will allow Sikh pilgrims in India to visit the shrine to their religion's founder, which is in Pakistan.

The Kartarpur Corridor deal -- a rare example of cooperation between the nuclear-armed arch-rivals -- follows months of heightened tensions, mainly over the disputed region of Kashmir.

"Indian pilgrims of all faiths and persons of Indian origin... can use the corridor. The travel will be visa-free," said S.C.L. Das, a joint secretary in the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs, at a press conference after the agreement was signed.

"Pilgrims from around the world are also welcome," added Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal.

The deal allows for a secure corridor and bridge between the two countries, leading directly to the grave of Sikhism's founder Guru Nanak, just four kilometres (two miles) from the Indian border.

Pakistan had employed hundreds of labourers to spruce up the shrine, including building a border immigration checkpoint and a bridge, as well as expanding the grounds comprising the shrine itself.

India had long been asking Pakistan for such a corridor, but the project's realisation was prevented by years of diplomatic tensions between the two countries that have fought three wars since the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947.

The corridor is expected to be inaugurated in early November, ahead of the guru's 550th birthday on November 12, which is marked with celebrations by millions of Sikhs around the world.

However Delhi said that it is still contesting Pakistan's bid to charge each pilgrim $20 per visit.

The pair have maintained an uneasy calm since tit-for-tat cross-border air raids across their disputed Kashmir frontier in February sparked fears of wider war, with each side claiming to have shot down a fighter jet from the other side.

Pakistani and Indian soldiers have also continued to fire over the Line of Control -- the de-facto border dividing the Himalayan territory, killing civilians on both sides in recent days.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947.

Both claim the Himalayan territory in full and have fought two wars over it.

The Sikh faith began in the 15th century in the city of Lahore, which is now part of Pakistan, when Guru Nanak began teaching a faith that preached equality between all men.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Loopholes riddle Saudi reforms on 'guardianship' of women

Yahoo – AFP, Anuj Chopra, October 23, 2019

Saudi Arabia now allows women over the age of 21 to obtain passports without
seeking the approval of their 'guardians' (AFP Photo/FAYEZ NURELDINE)

Riyadh (AFP) - Saudi Arabia has eased travel restrictions on women but observers say loopholes still allow male relatives to curtail their movements and, in the worst cases, leave them marooned in prison-like shelters.

In August, the conservative kingdom allowed women over the age of 21 to obtain passports without seeking the approval of their "guardians" -— fathers, husbands or other male relatives.

The move, part of de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's plan to revamp the national image, ended a longstanding rule that prompted some extreme attempts to flee the kingdom.

But campaigners warn it is easy to sidestep the reform.

While allowing travel documents, Saudi Arabia has not done away with "taghayyub" -- a legal provision that means "absent" in Arabic and which has long been used to constrain women who leave home without permission.

"Guardians can still file a police complaint that their female relatives are 'absent', which would lead to their arrest and possible detention in Dar al-Reaya (women's shelter)," Eman Alhussein, a fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told AFP.

The system of shelters operated around the kingdom is opaque but accounts of conditions there paint a dire picture.

Activists including Human Rights Watch (HRW) say they are run like detention facilities, and it is unclear how many women they hold.

Saudi Arabia now allows women over the age of 21 to obtain passports without
seeking the approval of their 'guardians' (AFP Photo/FAYEZ NURELDINE)

"Saudi (fathers) can't stop the girls getting passports but they can still declare them missing to local police who will then track them down for the parents," a Western official told AFP, calling it a "massive loophole".

Saudi authorities did not respond to requests for comment.

Last year, members of the advisory Shura Council recommended the justice ministry stop accepting taghayyub cases as a way to slowly dismantle the guardianship system, but the suggestion seems to have been ignored.

Officials in Riyadh told AFP that dozens of women have applied for passports since the reform was announced.

"Today, I came to issue a new passport for the first time in my life," one 40-year-old woman told AFP as she made the application at a government office.

"I am very happy and this step gives confidence to Saudi women."

The move was celebrated as a historic leap for gender equality, triggering humorous online memes featuring women dashing to the airport with suitcases —- alone.

But it also prompted laments for the perceived loss of men's control, with one social media portrait showing fully veiled women wriggling underneath a barbed wire fence and emerging scantily clad on the other side.

A Saudi woman rolls her suitcase at the departure 
hall of the Jeddah Airport (AFP Photo)

'Restrict travel'

Campaigners, however, say that control is far from lost, with HRW warning that male guardians could also possibly circumvent the passport reform by seeking a "court order to restrict female relatives' travel".

Cases of filial "disobedience" can be filed against adult women -- a crime that can lead to imprisonment.

Women also still require a guardian's permission to marry or to be released from prisons and shelters.

Campaigners warn even those with valid passports could wind up in Dar al-Reaya.

Two Saudi women detained there for about a year after fleeing what they called abusive guardians told AFP they were watched round the clock through surveillance cameras inside their cells.

They said inmates were subject to flogging as punishment -- by men.

One said the shelter in Riyadh also kept a notebook to account for their menstrual period -- an invasive practice corroborated by HRW -- to ensure they didn't break rules surrounding Muslim prayers.

A document from the facility seen by AFP described one of the women as "frustrated", "rebellious" and seeking to sully her family's reputation. There was no mention of her guardian's alleged abuse.

"Some women can stay in these homes for a prolonged period if their guardians fail to receive them, perhaps as a way to punish them," said Alhussein.

Saudi women line up to apply for passports in Riyadh City (AFP Photo/

'Disobedient daughters'

When their guardians refused to get them out, the two women said they were transferred to another shelter known as Dar al-Diyafa, or "hospitality home".

They described it as a dark place with boarded-up windows and depressed women unclaimed for years. Others made desperate attempts to escape despite tight security.

Often the only legal escape is through an arranged marriage —- sometimes to strangers vetted by the shelter -— a move that transfers guardianship to the husband, campaigners say.

"Many women are stuck there for years with some waiting for someone to marry them —- and men come to the place with specifics such as 'I want a tall girl'," HRW researcher Rothna Begum told AFP.

Saudi authorities did not respond to repeated requests for access to the shelters.

The testimonies underscore how taghayyub -- often a tool against a young generation of what arch-conservatives call "disobedient daughters" -- effectively obstructs women from breaking free from abusive guardians.

They also offer clues into why Saudi women alleging abuse undertake perilous attempts to escape overseas despite the pro-women reforms, including a historic decree allowing them to drive.

"Women are free to get passports but guardians still control whether they can leave their homes," said Alhussein.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Lebanon's Hezbollah under rare street pressure

Yahoo – AFP, Hashem Osseiran, October 22, 2019

Lebanese protests have grown into an unprecedented cross-sectarian street
mobilisation against the political class (AFP Photo/Anwar AMRO)

Beirut (AFP) - When mass anti-government protests engulfed Lebanon, a taboo was broken as strongholds of the Shiite Hezbollah movement saw rare demonstrations criticising the party and revered leader Hassan Nasrallah.

On live TV and in protest sites, citizens accused the party of providing political cover for a corrupt government that they say has robbed people of their livelihoods.

This shattered the myth of absolute acquiesence among Hezbollah's popular base, baffling even those who hail from the movement's strongholds.

"No one ever expected that in any of these areas in south Lebanon we would hear a single word against Nasrallah," or Amal Movement leader Nabih Berri, said Sara, a 32-year-old activist who participated in protests in the southern city of Nabatiyeh.

"It's unbelievable," the activist added, asking to use a pseudonym due to security concerns.

The popular Iran-backed movement is a major political player that took 13 seats in the country's May 2018 parliamentary elections and secured three cabinet posts.

It is the only political party not to have disarmed after Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war, and helped its Christian ally Michel Aoun assume the presidency in 2016.

Popular dissatisfaction with the government peaked last week following protests over taxes, corruption and dire economic conditions.

Even in the southern city of Tyre where Hezbollah and its political affiliate the Amal 
Movement hold sway, there were large protests against Lebanon's dire economic
conditions (AFP Photo/Mahmoud ZAYYAT)

South Lebanon -- a bastion of the powerful Shiite movement since the group liberated the region from Israeli occupation in 2000 -- was not spared.

Protests have been reported in the cities of Nabatiyeh, Bint Jbeil, and Tyre, where Hezbollah and its political affiliate the Amal Movement hold sway.

With the exception of Tyre, they were not as big as other parts of the country.

But "the novelty here is that some of these protesters are party loyalists," said Sara.

"They support Hezbollah, but they are suffocating."

Among his supporters, Nasrallah is revered as an icon, with his pictures inundating highways, shops and homes.

In the past, his followers have mobilised against anyone who tried to criticise him, often ostracising opponents as supporters of rival Israel.

'The resistance'

But anti-government protests that started in Beirut on October 17 and quickly spread across the country left no politician unscathed, not even the Hezbollah leader.

"All of them means all of them, Nasrallah is one of them," protesters chanted in Beirut.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has acknowledged the criticism in recent 
days telling protesters: 'Curse me I don't mind' (AFP Photo)

Criticism of Nasrallah even aired on the Hezbollah-run Al-Manar TV, in a scene that was previously unfathomable for watchers of the movement's propaganda arm.

In a live interview from central Beirut, one protester urged Nasrallah to "look after his people in Lebanon" instead of focusing on regional enterprises like Syria, where he has deployed fighters to defend President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Nasrallah acknowledged the mounting criticism against him in a speech on Saturday: "Curse me, I don't mind."

Speaking on the protesters demands, he warned against calling for the resignation of the government -- saying it could take a long time to form a new one and solve the crisis.

Hatem Gharbeel, a protester in Nabatiyeh, said Hezbollah loyalists felt let down.

"The messages being addressed to Nasrallah by his own supporters in Nabatiyeh is that the resistance is not just about fighting Israel or terrorism," he said.

"It should also be about supporting people's livelihoods."

Other party heads have come in for even greater criticism.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Foreign Minster Gebran Bassil and Speaker Nabih Berri have been the targets of strong insults and slurs by demonstrators, even in areas where they are popular.

Key socio-economic indicators for Lebanon. (AFP Photo)

'Nothing to lose'

But the relatively toned-down criticism of Nasrallah has broken taboos, said Gharbeel.

"The barrier of fear has been broken, " he said.

"It shows that people are not blindly following their political or sectarian leaders anymore."

Lokman Slim, an independent political activist and an outspoken critic of Hezbollah, said that resentment among Lebanon's Shiite community "is not born out of a single event or a single moment."

"Frustration has been fermenting over the past few years over an economic crisis hampering not just the Lebanese state but also Hezbollah's statelet."

Hezbollah has filled in for the weak central government in areas where it has influence, creating social welfare institutions and provided an array of public services, including education and health services.

But the group has come under financial strain due to tightening US sanctions since President Donald Trump assumed office, forcing Nasrallah to appeal to his popular base for donations earlier this year.

"The Shiites have nothing to lose anymore," said Slim.

"This is why they are out on the streets."

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Lebanon cabinet fast-tracks reforms as protests rage on

Yahoo – AFP, Layal Abou Rahal and Joe Dyke, October 21, 2019

Hundreds of thousands of people have joined protests demanding a sweeping
overhaul of Lebanon's political system (AFP Photo/Anwar AMRO)

Beirut (AFP) - Lebanon's teetering government approved an economic rescue plan Monday but the last-ditch move was met with deep distrust from a swelling protest movement seeking the removal of the entire political class.

A proposed tax on mobile messaging applications last week sparked a spontaneous, cross-sectarian mobilisation -- at first dubbed a "WhatsApp revolution" -- that has brought Lebanon to a standstill and united the people against its hereditary, ruling elite.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri seemed aware that the measures he announced -- which include a deal on the 2020 budget and significant reforms that seemed unlikely only a week ago -- would not quench the people's thirst for change.

"These decisions are not designed as a trade-off. They are not to ask you to stop expressing your anger. That is your decision to make," Hariri, himself an ex-prime minister's son, said in a televised press conference.

Euphoric crowds partied deep into the night Sunday, leaving political and sectarian paraphernalia at home to gather under the cedar-stamped national flag, dance to impromptu concerts and chant often hilarious anti-establishment slogans.

They were back in front of the houses of government and on the main Martyrs' Square on Monday to listen to Hariri's announcement, which was broadcast on loudspeakers.

The crowd erupted into shouts of "revolution, revolution" when Hariri finished his address.

"We want the fall of the regime," they went on.

Lebanese protesters take to the streets during demonstrations to demand better 
living conditions and the ouster of a cast of politicians who have monopolised power 
and influence for decades (AFP Photo/Anwar AMRO)

"This is all just smoke and mirrors... How do we know these reforms will be implemented?" asked Chantal, a 40-year-old who joined the protest with her little daughter and a Lebanese flag painted on her cheek.

'Day of destiny'

Hariri detailed some of the measures taken by his fractious cabinet, including a programme of privatisations, a decision to scrap new tax hikes and halving the generous salaries of ministers and lawmakers.

He also said his government would in three weeks approve the first batch of infrastructure projects funded by an $11-billion aid package pledged to Lebanon by international donors last year.

The premier said the economic rescue plan would "satisfy" international donors who took part in the CEDRE conference in Paris in 2018.

Lebanese economist Ghazi Wazni said it would also likely be well received by rating agencies and the International Monetary Fund.

Lebanon's embattled political leaders have warned that the government's resignation at this time would only deepen the crisis gripping the small Mediterranean country.

The protesters are from across Lebanon's sectarian divides (AFP Photo/Mahmoud ZAYYAT)

Hariri also said he supported the idea of early elections, a key demand among the hundreds of thousands of protesters who have taken to Lebanon's streets since last Thursday.

President Michel Aoun, who had been conspicuously silent since the start of the demonstrations, suggested at the start of the cabinet meeting that banking secrecy should be lifted for high-ranking officials.

Lebanon has strict rules over bank account privacy that critics say makes the country susceptible to money laundering.

Dozens of demonstrators on Monday night gathered in front of the central bank in Beirut, accusing its chief Riad Salameh of worsening the country's debt through faulty monetary policies.

Aoun's son-in-law and ally, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, has also been a particular figure of anger among protesters.

To many demonstrators, the reforms Hariri announced smacked of a desperate attempt by a corrupt elite to cling to their jobs, and there was little sign Monday that the mobilisation was weakening.

"It is a day of destiny for us. All our hard work and efforts in previous days and years were to get us to this moment," said Roni al-Asaad, a 32-year-old activist in central Beirut.

"If they could have implemented these reforms before, why haven't they? And why should we believe them today?"

The protests were initially dubbed the "WhatsApp revolution" because of anger 
over a proposed tax on mobile messaging applications (AFP Photo/JOSEPH EID)

The protests have morphed into a mass non-partisan push for a total overhaul of a sectarian power system still run mostly by civil war-era warlords, three decades after the end of Lebanon's conflict.


Given the size of the gatherings, the five-day-old mobilisation has been remarkably incident free, with armies of volunteers forming to clean up the streets, provide water to protesters and organise first aid tents.

Lebanon's debt-burdened economy has been sliding towards collapse in recent months, adding to the economic woes of a population exasperated by rampant corruption, a lack of job opportunities and poor public services.

Among the protesters' main grievances is the erratic supply of electricity from the state.

Usually prone to blame anti-government mobilisation on another party or a foreign conspiracy, Lebanon's top political figures have appeared to acknowledge that none of them have been spared in the show of public anger.

"What happened in the street is a volcano that can't be contained with timely solutions," said Imad Salamey, a political science professor at the Lebanese American University.

"It is difficult for the demonstrators to regain trust in the state in 72 hours and with solutions only presented on paper," he said.

Schools, banks, universities and many private businesses closed their doors Monday, both for security reasons and in an apparent bid to encourage people to join the demonstrations.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Storm forces William and Kate's royal plane to abandon Islamabad landing

Yahoo – AFP, 17 October 2019

Prince William and his wife Kate explored Lahore's famous Badshahi Mosque
-- one of the world's largest

A fierce storm in Islamabad forced a plane carrying Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate to abandon two landings before returning to Lahore late Thursday, reporters travelling with them said, in a dramatic end to a day of cracking cricket balls and touring the towering historic Badshahi Mosque.

The Voyager, a British Royal Air Force jet transporting the couple during their five-day tour of Pakistan, was caught in one of the thunderous storms that periodically rock the capital in October.

"The pilot circled for an hour but the lightening - and turbulence - was so bad we had to fly back," tweeted the Daily Mail's royal correspondent Rebecca English, who was on board the plane.

"Few of us have experienced turbulence as bad as that," she added.

"If I'm honest ... that was the most nervous I've ever felt in a plane," added ITV royal correspondent Chris Ship.

Daily Telegraph correspondent Ben Farmer said the pilot had tried to land twice, once at a military base in the garrison city of Rawalpindi adjacent to Islamabad, and once at Islamabad International before abandoning the attempt and returning to Lahore, some 270 kilometres (170 miles) flying distance away.

However all on board appeared to be safe, with English tweeting that Prince William -- himself a pilot -- had joked with the press pack that he had been flying.

English said it was unclear when they would be able to take off again. There was no immediate statement from Kensington Palace.

Sporting visitors

The mid-air flight drama came after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had spent the day exploring Lahore, Pakistan's cultural capital.

The royal couple kicked off their fourth day in Pakistan with a visit to the SOS Children's Village orphanage, where Kate gave a brief speech along with a short greeting in Urdu and celebrated children's birthdays.

The royal couple have spent much of the trip promoting 
various causes, from girls' education to conservation

"Earlier this year I talked about the fact that it takes a village to raise a child. The village we've seen here today is the best representation of that ideal that I could have possibly imagined," she said.

The Duke and Duchess later took to the crease at the National Cricket Academy, where they both hit a few runs as they played alongside a host of current and former cricket stars, including current bowling coach Waqar Younis.

After an outfit change, the duo headed to Lahore's famous Badshahi Mosque -- one of the world's largest.

William sported a cream-coloured linen suit and Kate donned a light green shalwar kameez, wrapping her hair in a matching headscarf and walking in stockinged feet to show her respect.

William's mother, the late Princess Diana, caused a controversy at the same mosque in 1991 when she wore an above-the-knee dress, sparking a backlash from some Muslim leaders who argued she should have covered up.

The couple rounded off the trip with a visit to the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, founded by Prime Minister Imran Khan, where Diana is remembered fondly for helping raise money for the facility in the 1990s.

Kensington Palace has called the Cambridges' five-day trip, which ends Friday, their "most complex" tour to date as the royals seek to boost ties between Britain and the second largest country in the Commonwealth.

The couple have spent much of the trip promoting various causes, from girls' education to conservation and climate change awareness as they criss-crossed the country.

Security has improved dramatically since the army intensified a crackdown on militant groups in 2015, with several countries changing their travel warnings for Pakistan as a result, and Islamabad eager to promote both tourism and foreign investment.

There are promising signs, such as the British Airways return earlier this year after more than a decade, and the slow but steady revival of international cricket.