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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Monday, August 31, 2020

Qatar Enacts Key Worker Reforms Amid Criticism

Barrons – AFP, August 30, 2020

Workers on scaffolding at Khalifa International Stadium in the Qatari capital Doha.

Qatar on Sunday introduced a $275 monthly minimum wage and simplified the process for changing employers, the labour ministry said, following criticism of its treatment of foreign labourers.

It comes a week after a stinging Human Rights Watch (HRW) report highlighted the shortcomings of past efforts to improve conditions for the migrant labourers who make up almost 90 percent of the population.

The new rules, which were announced last October 16 but have only now been signed into law, abolish the requirement that workers obtain a "no objection" certificate from their employer to change jobs.

They require all workers, including domestic staff, be paid at least 1,000 riyals ($275) for a month of full-time work -- equivalent to around $1.30 an hour.

Employers are also required to either provide bed and board, or an additional 800 riyal a month allowance for food and accommodation and will have six months to implement the new minimum wage.

Previously, the temporary minimum wage was set at 750 riyals ($206) a month.

"The labour ministry has today taken a major step forward in its labour reform programme by introducing a non-discriminatory minimum wage and removing the no-objection certificate requirement," it said in a statement.

The ministry said the changes would "boost investment in the local economy and drive economic growth".

World Cup milestone

Qatar has made a series of reforms to its employment regulations since being selected to host the 2022 World Cup, which has required a vast programme of construction dependent on foreign workers.

Workers on scaffolding at Khalifa International Stadium in the Qatari capital Doha.

"Qatar is the first country in the Middle East to have a minimum wage for all workers without discrimination, whether domestic workers or private sector workers," Qatar's assistant under-secretary for labour affairs, Mohammed Hassan al-Obaidly, told AFP.

Rights groups have long said Qatar's system -- the same one used across the Gulf -- of private companies rather than the state sponsoring individual workers fuels abuses.

Amnesty International said the requirement to have an employer's agreement before changing jobs had "left migrant workers in Qatar at the mercy of abusive employers".

"We welcome the enactment of these laws, and now call on the Qatari authorities to ensure they are swiftly and properly implemented," said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty's head of economic and social justice.

Vani Sarasawthi, director of projects at the Migrant Rights non-governmental group, said she had already received a flurry of messages about the changes from workers.

HRW said last week that some workers in Qatar were struggling to eat because employers were illegally withholding salaries as economic conditions worsen amid the coronavirus crisis.

The government insisted HRW's survey of 93 migrant workers at 60 companies or employers was not representative and that "nearly all individuals who come to Qatar for employment never experience any form of wage abuse".

Qatar said on Sunday that penalties for non-payment of wages had been increased.

The UN International Labour Organization welcomed the package of reforms, calling them a "historic move".

"Qatar has delivered on a commitment. One that will give workers more freedom and protection, and employers more choice," said Guy Ryder, the ILO director general.

More than two million foreigners work in Qatar, many employed directly or indirectly on vast infrastructure projects for the World Cup.

"The World Cup is a milestone in Qatar's long-term development strategy. In the interests of our country, we will continue to introduce new reforms that benefit the economy, businesses and the people who come to work here," Obaidly said.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Bangladesh to lift Rohingya internet ban 'very soon'

Yahoo – AFP, Munir Uz zaman, August 24, 2020

A Rohingya worker walks across a bamboo bridge in Kutupalong refugee
camp in Ukhia, Bangladesh

Bangladesh will restore internet access to nearly a million Rohingya stuck in refugee camps "very soon", the government said Monday, on the eve of the third anniversary of their escape from Myanmar.

Authorities in Bangladesh cut mobile internet access to the sprawling, teeming camps in the country's southeast a year ago, citing security concerns, sparking international condemnation.

Foreign Secretary Masud bin Momen said Monday that the spread of "baseless rumours and misinformation" could create panic and destabilise the camps, where a few Rohingya have been killed in internal clashes in recent years.

"However, responding to the requests from our friends and also for the need of imparting education and COVID-19 response, for greater internet connectivity, we have taken a decision on lifting the restrictions on 3G and 4G mobile networks, which will be effective very soon," Momen said.

The internet clampdown disrupted communications between different camps, as well as with Rohingya still in Myanmar and elsewhere. It also complicated wire transfers of money from the Rohingya diaspora.

A young Rohingya flies a kite in Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhia, Bangladesh

Rights groups said the lack of internet access meant misinformation and rumours, particularly about the coronavirus, could spread unverified.

The first infection in the camps was detected in May but fears that the virus could spread quickly have so far not been realised.

Khin Maung, head of the Rohingya Youth Association, said the restoration of internet access was "very good news".

"We can now get regular updates on COVID-19. And we can mobilise people against the activities of the human traffickers," he said.

"With internet connections, we can also communicate with family members who live in Myanmar or other countries."

Some 750,000 Rohingya flooded across the border as they fled a military crackdown in Rakhine state in Myanmar in August 2017 that the UN has likened to ethnic cleansing, joining some 200,000 already in Bangladesh.

With protests banned by Bangladesh -- the government citing coronavirus restrictions -- the refugees were due to mark what they call "Genocide Remembrance Day" with a day of "silent protest" that organisers say will turn the camps into ghost towns.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Saudi appoints 10 women in senior roles in holy mosques

Yahoo – AFP, FAYEZ NURELDINE, August 17, 2020

Conservative Saudi Arabia is seeking to boost female employment and has
appointed 10 women in senior roles at Islam's holiest sites, according to authorities

Saudi Arabia has appointed 10 women in senior roles at Islam's two holiest sites, authorities said Sunday, as the conservative petro-state seeks to boost female employment.

The appointment of women in senior positions at religious institutions is rare in the Islamic kingdom, which is in the midst of a wide-ranging liberalisation drive spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The women were appointed in the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina across various departments, including administrative and technical, according to statement released by the general presidency for the affairs of the two holy mosques.

The recruitment drive was aimed at "empowering Saudi women with high qualifications and capabilities", the statement said.

The two holy mosques previously recruited 41 women in leadership positions in 2018, according to Saudi media.

Prince Mohammed has sought to boost employment for women as part of his "Vision 2030" plan, which is aimed at diversifying the kingdom's economy and ending its addiction to oil.

The number of working women in Saudi Arabia reached 1.03 million in the third quarter of 2019, 35 percent of the total workforce, compared to 816,000 in 2015, according to official figures.

In other reforms, women in the kingdom are now allowed to drive cars, cinemas have reopened and genders are permitted to mix at events, including concerts, and in public places.

But the reforms have also been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent.

Saudi Arabia has detained and put on trial a dozen women activists who long campaigned for the right to drive, sparking widespread condemnation.

Some of the activists allege they were tortured and sexually harassed by interrogators.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Latest Thailand pro-democracy protest draws at least 10,000

Yahoo – AFP, Lillian SUWANRUMPHA, August 16, 2020

Student-led groups have held near-daily protests across the country for the past month

An anti-government protest in Thailand drew more than 10,000 people on Sunday, the largest political demonstration the kingdom has seen in years as a pro-democracy movement gathers steam.

Student-led groups have held near-daily protests across the country for the past month to denounce Premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha -- a former army chief who led a 2014 coup -- and his military-aligned administration.

By Sunday evening the protesters -- who are demanding major democratic reforms -- had taken over the busy intersection around Bangkok's Democracy Monument, which was built to mark the 1932 revolution that ended royal absolutism.

Police closed off surrounding main roads to stop incoming traffic, and an official at Bangkok's Metropolitan Police Bureau told AFP the crowd size had grown to 10,000 by 6:00 pm (1100 GMT).

"Down with the dictatorship," the students chanted, many holding signs critical of the administration. Others held bird-shaped cutouts representing peace.

The peaceful gathering at Democracy Monument is the largest the kingdom has seen since Prayut staged a putsch in 2014.

The protesters are demanding major democratic reforms in Thailand

Partly inspired by the Hong Kong democracy movement, the protesters claim to be leaderless and have relied mostly on social media campaigns to draw support across the country.

"Give a deadline to dictatorship" was the top Twitter hashtag in Thailand on Sunday.

They are demanding an overhaul of the government and a rewriting of the 2017 military-scripted constitution, which they believe skewed last year's election in favour of Prayut's military-aligned party.

Organiser Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree reaffirmed the call Sunday, adding that the government must "stop threatening the people".

"If there's no positive response from the government by September, we will step up," Tattep shouted to a sea of supporters holding up their mobile phones as flashlights.

Tensions have risen over the last two weeks with authorities arresting three activists. They were released on bail after being charged with sedition.

Thai activist Parit 'Penguin' Chirawak also participated in the rally, flanked by 
cheering supporters

They were told not to repeat the alleged offences, but two of them -- prominent student leader Parit Chiwarak and human rights lawyer Anon Numpa -- arrived at the protest venue on Sunday flanked by cheering supporters.

A rally last week by around 4,000 demonstrators called for the abolition of a law protecting Thailand's unassailable monarchy, and for a frank discussion about its role in Thailand.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn sits at the apex of Thai power, flanked by the military and the country's billionaire business elite.

A draconian "112" law can see those convicted sentenced to up to 15 years in jail per charge.

During Sunday's demonstration, which drew a diverse crowd of all ages, many said they agreed with the student demands.

"We can't let the students walk on this difficult path alone," a 68-year-old woman told AFP, declining to provide her name.

Growing discontent

But the increasingly bold pro-democracy movement also has its detractors.

There were royalist counter-protesters as well, who chanted 'Long live the king'

Standing at one corner of the monument's intersection were dozens of royalist protesters carrying portraits of the king and queen, shouting "Long live the king".

Prayut last week described the protesters' demands as "unacceptable" for Thailand's majority, calling the pro-democracy movement "risky" a day before Parit was arrested.

Sunday's massive turnout is meant to send a message to the government that "they cannot forever use legal mechanisms against the people", said political analyst Titipol Phakdeewanich of Ubon Ratchathani University.

"They can see that it's only used to serve the interests of the military and the establishment parties."

After the eight-hour rally, the activists linked arms and marched to a nearby police station to challenge authorities on arrest warrants that local media reported were issued for various leaders.

The police did not arrest anyone, and after a brief stand-off, the activists left.

The growing discontent also comes as the kingdom goes through one of its worst economic periods since 1997 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Millions have been left jobless, and the crisis has exposed the inequalities in the Thai economy, which is perceived to benefit the elite, pro-military establishment.

Israel and UAE to normalise ties in 'historic' US-brokered deal

Yahoo – AFP, Mohamad Ali Harissi and Sarah Stewart, August 13, 2020

Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the tallest structure in the world, and a symbol of the oil-rich UAE

Israel and the UAE agreed Thursday to normalise ties in a landmark US-brokered deal, only the third such accord the Jewish state has struck with an Arab nation, in which it pledged to suspend annexation of Palestinian lands.

The bombshell news was broken by US President Donald Trump, in a tweet hailing a "HUGE breakthrough" and a "Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends".

Establishing diplomatic ties between Israel and Washington's Middle East allies, including the oil-rich Gulf monarchies, has been central to Trump's regional strategy to contain Iran, also an arch-foe of Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was a "historic day" and would launch a "new era" for the Arab world and Israel.

US President Donald Trump announced the agreement between the United 
Arab Emirates and Israel to normalize diplomatic ties

The Palestinians strongly rejected the deal, calling it a "betrayal" of their cause, including their claim to Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

They also announced they were withdrawing their ambassador from the Emirates, and demanded an emergency Arab League meeting.

Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which runs the coastal Gaza Strip, quickly said the agreement "does not serve the Palestinian cause".

A joint statement by Trump, Netanyahu and UAE's leader Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan announced that they had "agreed to the full normalisation of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates".

It added that Israel would "suspend declaring sovereignty" over occupied Palestinian West Bank areas -- an idea proposed in Trump's controversial earlier plan to resolve the conflict.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was a "historic day" and 
represented a "new era" for the Arab world and Israel

Sheikh Mohamed quickly stressed in a tweet that "during a call with President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu, an agreement was reached to stop further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories".

But Netanyahu said shortly afterwards in a national television address that he had only agreed to delay, not cancel, the annexations, that the plans remained "on the table" and that he would "never give up our rights to our land".

The controversial Trump plan, unveiled in January, had offered a path for Israel to annex territory and Jewish West Bank settlements, communities considered illegal under international law.

The Palestinians rejected it outright as biased and untenable, as did Israel's Arab neighbours, and it sparked fears of further escalation in a tense region. 

Protestors confront Israeli forces as a structure serving as a home to a 
Palestinian family is demolished in the southern West Bank on August 11

'Things are happening'

Israel has had difficult relations and several wars with its Muslim and Arab neighbours since its founding in 1948, with most states ruling out relations until the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is resolved.

Thursday's deal would make the UAE only the third Arab country to establish formal diplomatic ties with Israel, after its peace deals with former enemies Egypt and Jordan.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, which signed a treaty with Israel in 1979 to opposition from across the Arab world, praised the deal on "the halt of Israel's annexation of Palestinian land," and said he hoped it would bring "peace".

The deal marks a major foreign policy achievement for Trump as he heads into a difficult campaign for re-election in November.

The city hall in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv is lit up in the colours of
the United Arab Emirates national flag

His presumptive Democratic challenger for the presidency Joe Biden welcomed the "historic" agreement and called the UAE's move a "badly-needed act of statesmanship".

Trump hinted to reporters that more diplomatic breakthroughs between Israel and Arab countries in the region were expected, but gave no further details.

"Things are happening that I can't talk about," he said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described it as "a historic day and a significant step forward for peace in the Middle East".

"The United States hopes that this brave step will be the first in a series of agreements that ends 72 years of hostilities in the region," Pompeo said, adding that the formal agreement would be signed at the White House at a future date.

Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the tallest structure in the world, and a symbol of the oil-rich UAE

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, told AFP the deal was "a milestone in Arab acceptance of Israel in the region".

It was also be "a brake on annexation, which would jeopardise Israel's peace with Jordan and Israel's own future as a Jewish, democratic state", he said. 

'Annexation trap'

Israeli and UAE delegations will meet in the coming weeks to discuss investment, tourism, direct flights, security and the establishment of embassies, they said.

The trio were confident of further similar deals with other countries, their statement added.

Israeli and UAE delegations will meet in the coming weeks to discuss investment,
tourism, direct flights, security and the establishment of reciprocal embassies

The UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash told a media briefing that "most countries will see this as a bold step to secure a two-state solution, allowing time for negotiations".

Hours after the deal was announced, the Emirati flag was projected onto Tel Aviv's town hall.

Aaron David Miller, a veteran US negotiator on the Middle East peace process and analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, called the deal a "win for all".

"(The) UAE says it's prevented annexation; US prevents annexation too and gets big breakthrough and Netanyahu gets enormous win and off hook from the annexation trap," he tweeted.

Pope Francis and other religious leaders at the Vatican. Photograph: AP

Related Articles:

"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)
" ....Abraham, Father of the Jews

I want to honor Abraham [Abram], born in Ur, which is now part of modern Iraq, and I want to honor his sons, not all born of Sara. The one I wish to speak of is Ishmael. Abraham is Jewish... the great Jewish prophet. Ishmael is his son. There's no way that you could say Ishmael was not Jewish, and he is even to this day. Ishmael was born in Hebron. So in addition, he is very Israeli. Ishmael is a Jew.

Now some would argue, due to how the Jewish lineage is computed by men [mother's side]. But Spirit looks at the DNA and the Akashic lineage, so spiritually, Ishmael is a Jew. He came in to be part of the lineage of the Jews.

He fell from favor even with the Jewish people early on for political reasons. Then Ishmael went on to become that which is the ancestor of all Arabs... the father of Arabia. Therefore, you could say that the Arabs are with Jewish blood, that of Abraham flowing through them. But early on, the Jews cast Ishmael out. So although you have the one God and monotheism, and you have the principle of the love of God and the unity of God, there was a split. The truth was mixed with untruths and, even to this day, there would be a billion Human Beings who would say it was Ishmael and not Isaac who was almost sacrificed at the Temple Mount. They would also say that he is not a Jew.

So what is the truth here? Human Beings were not built to unify. In an older energy on the planet from those days, and even the days that you were born in, the energy laid upon you is for you to separate, not unify. And that is why we call it the old energy. Oh, they were wise men and women who knew better, but it is the old energy that separates and divides, and it is the old energy that has created the divisions of hatred within millions of those who are actually "all Jews."

Muhammad's Beautiful Message of Unity

Let me tell you about Muhammad, the prophet. Muhammad is of the lineage of Ishmael, who is of the lineage of Abraham. Therefore, Muhammad had Jewish blood, so that was his lineage but not necessarily his culture. But his Akashic lineage was from Abraham. [Abraham is the founder of Islam, according to the Quran.]

Muhammad had a beautiful meeting, more than one, with an angelic presence. The angels talked to humanity back then in basic 3D ways. But how many of you have put together that most of the angels in that time who spoke to Human Beings talked to those of Jewish lineage? Like Muhammad, like Moses, like Jesus, like Abraham. For this was part of a set-up of history, part of what makes the Jewish lineage important to the core Akash of humanity, and we have spoken before, "As go the Jews, go Earth." Indeed, there is something there to look at which is important, and it is going to change soon. For in our eyes, the "Jews" are all those in the Middle East.

Muhammad's information from the angel was this: "Unify the Arabs and give them the God of Israel." And he did! The information he had was beautiful and was written down later for his followers. It was all about the incredible love of God and the unity of man. Muhammad the prophet was a unifier, not a separatist.

Long before Muhammad, there came Jesus - Jesus the Jew. He became responsible for what you would call Christianity today. All of his disciples were Jewish. The Rock, Peter the fisherman, who started the Christian church, was Jewish. And we tell you these things to remind you that there's a unity here. Perhaps there is a reason, dear ones, why the 12 layers of DNA have Hebrew names? Indeed, it's in honor of the masters and the lineage, including that of Muhammad, of Ishmael, of Isaac, of Abraham and of Jesus. All of them, part of the original spiritual language [Hebrew].

"Oh," you might say, "there was Sumerian and before that there was Lemurian. There was Sanskrit and Tamil, and many other older languages." Correct, but we're speaking of a language of today - one that you can relate to, that has power, and that is spoken today by the pure lineage of the masters who walked the planet.

So what did humanity do with all this? What did they do with all this sacred information from these Jewish masters? They went to war, because Humans separate things. They don't put them together. So here we are with one beautiful God, creator of all there is, and millions who believe that very thing, yet they are going to war with each other over ideology about what God said, which prophet was best, and which group is in God's favor. That's ancient history, thousands of years old. But it shows exactly what the old energy is all about. ..."

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Thai pro-democracy rally attracts thousands as discontent swells

Yahoo – AFP, Lillian SUWANRUMPHA, August 10, 2020

Demonstrators descended in waves to Thammasat University in the outer
edges of Bangkok as the sun set

Young Thai protesters listened in rapt attention on Monday night as a pro-democracy activist called for open discussion of the unassailable monarchy's role in the kingdom, at a rally in Bangkok that drew thousands.

The massive demonstration comes after weeks of near-daily student-led protests denouncing Premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha's military-aligned administration.

The student-led movement has repeatedly demanded a rewrite to a 2017 constitution, the parliament's dissolution, and called for the government to "stop threatening the people".

Protesters regard former army chief Prayut, who led a 2014 coup, as a remnant of Thailand's junta legacy as his premiership was ushered in under a military-scripted charter in last year's poll.

But activists have waded further into sensitive territory by calling for the abolition of the kingdom's draconian royal defamation law, which protects the powerful, super-rich King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

Monday's rally outside Bangkok -- which started off with anti-government songs -- ended with speeches by two activists who were arrested over the weekend and later released on bail.

Lawyer Anon Numpa and activist Panupong Jadnok were charged with sedition for their alleged role at a massive July 18 rally.

But their arrests came days after Anon led a discussion at a protest of the monarchy's role in the kingdom.

He revisited the topic onstage Monday night, calling for the frank discussion of the unassailable institution.

Protesters held up a three-finger salute, a symbol for freedom taken from "The Hunger Games" trilogy, after his speech. 

The king sits at the apex of Thai power, buttressed by the powerful military and elite billionaire clans.

The royal defamation law carries a sentence of up to 15 years per charge, and experts say the law's vagueness makes open reporting or discussion of the royal family virtually impossible.

Organisers said the next rally  will be on Wednesday, which is a public holiday in Thailand commemorating the Queen Mother's birthday.

'No more fake democracy'

Monday's rally closed with a video conference call by prominent Thai dissident Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a Kyoto-based academic who was granted asylum in Japan following his vocal criticism of Thailand's junta, broadcast on stage.

Held at Thammasat University, the protest drew a diverse crowd from the LGBTQI community, high schoolers and elderly pro-democracy supporters.

"Us seniors must support the students," said a 70-year-old woman who declined to be named. "We must fight for our sons, daughters, nephews and nieces."

The kingdom has long been locked in a cycle of violent street protests and coups by a putsch-happy army.

The coronavirus pandemic seized up Thailand's economy, leaving millions jobless and angry at the inequalities of a society perceived to favour the kingdom's elite establishment.

"No more fake democracy," read a sign at the demonstration, which drew around 4,000 by nightfall, according to an AFP estimate.

At the end of the night, the hashtag "Thammasat will not tolerate" was trending on Thai Twitter.

Prayut has vowed to hold public forums with young people.

But army chief Apirat Kongsompong -- an arch-royalist who in the past has angrily ranted about pro-democracy figures -- called "hatred of the nation" an incurable disease.

Earlier Monday, a group of royalist supporters marched to parliament to counter a pro-democracy rally where protesters were burning models of army tanks and the constitution.

Holding portraits of the monarch above their heads, the pro-monarchy group called for the protesters not to insult the king and carried posters saying "The people protect the king". 

Besides the arrests of two activists over the weekend, protest organisers in northern Phitsanulok province were detained for hours without charge, according to a Thai legal aid group.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

New Zealand's Ardern kicks off election campaign after taming virus

Yahoo – AFP, MICHAEL BRADLEY, August 8, 2020

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is riding high in opinion polls after
her leadership through the Christchurch mosque attacks, the White Island volcanic
eruption and the coronavirus pandemic

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern kicked off her Labour Party's election campaign Saturday riding high in the opinion polls after a successful response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Ardern's popularity as preferred prime minister -- often referred to as "Jacindamania" -- topped 60 percent in the latest surveys following her leadership through the Christchurch mosque attacks, the White Island volcanic eruption and the pandemic.

Before the virus forced New Zealand to seal its borders, the polls had pointed to a cliffhanger election on September 19, but support swung sharply towards the centre-left Labour Party as the country eliminated community transmission in a matter on months.

In a country of five million people, New Zealand has had only 22 COVID-19 deaths and it has been 99 days since the last recorded case of infection from an unknown source.

"When people ask, is this a COVID election, my answer is yes, it is," the charismatic 40-year-old said as she launched the campaign with a NZ$311 million (US$205 million) pledge to boost jobs.

"Businesses large and small are crucial to our economic recovery."

Labour is the senior partner in a three-party coalition government but if it can maintain the support shown in recent opinion polls, where it has consistently been above 50 percent, it could govern alone after the election.

Ardern was an unheralded MP when thrust into the Labour leadership shortly before the 2017 election when the party was struggling and "there were plenty who thought it couldn't (win)," she said.

"If you had told me then that our launch in 2020 would be in the midst of a global pandemic with our borders closed –- I would have found that very hard to fathom."

The centrepiece of Labour's campaign is to support businesses in hiring at least 40,000 people whose employment has been affected by the coronavirus.

It pledged to expand existing job schemes to help employers hire staff at risk of long-term unemployment.

It will also help out-of-work New Zealanders start a business through an expanded self-employment programme which will provide the equivalent of the minimum wage for up to 30-hours a week.

"The new flexi-wage scheme is a key plank of our economic plan to support businesses to recover and to provide jobs to those who have lost work due to COVID," Ardern said.

"Our team-of-five-million approach to fighting COVID means there is huge willingness in our business community to avoid unemployment rising by retaining staff and taking on new employees where they can, but many just need a little bit of extra support to do that, which this package provides."

Sunday, August 2, 2020

In Mecca, dreams of a 'green hajj'

Yahoo – AFP, August 1, 2020

This year's dramatically downscaled Hajj pilgrimage has had a much less
adverse effect on the environment than previous years (AFP Photo/STR)

Mecca (Saudi Arabia) (AFP) - A smaller carbon footprint, less waste and more environmentally friendly -- this year's pilgrimage to Mecca, dramatically scaled down due to coronavirus, has opened up the prospect of a "green hajj".

In addition to being a logistical and security headache, one of the planet's largest gatherings, which drew some 2.5 million people last year, also typically poses huge environmental challenges.

The procession of so many worshippers, over a short time and in a limited space, results in an assault on the desert kingdom's delicate environment.

Thousands of vehicles generate substantial air pollution, while the pilgrims leave behind an avalanche of waste, including enormous quantities of plastic water bottles.

This year's hajj, limited to a maximum of 10,000 attendees, was by all accounts literally a breath of fresh air.

But for environmental activist Nouhad Awwad, it's not so much the size of the crowd that determines the impact on the environment but more "our collective behaviour".

"This year's hajj, although taking place at a difficult time globally, can be a source of hope," the Greenpeace campaigner told AFP.

A Muslim worshipper throws pebbles as part of the symbolic al-A'qabah (stoning 
of the devil ritual) at the Jamarat Bridge during the Hajj pilgrimage (AFP Photo)

"It gives an idea of what a green pilgrimage could look like," she added.

The scenes in Mecca since the hajj began on Wednesday are very different from those of past years.

Rather than the vast crowds that move between the sites, casting rubbish as they go and sometimes prone to deadly crushes, the movement of the pilgrims has been limited and orderly.

Even the pebbles they use to symbolically "stone the devil" have been sanitised, as part of elaborate amenity kits provided by authorities that include disinfectant and masks.

"Everything is clean and there are only a few municipal workers collecting the small amounts of garbage," Azim Allah Farha, a pilgrim from Afghanistan who has performed the hajj several times before, said at Mount Arafat, the site of one of the main rituals.

One of those workers, Rahim Fajreddine, recalls the hundreds of tonnes of rubbish -- plastic bags, cans and food plates -- left in past years at the rocky hill outside Mecca where pilgrims pray and repent in the high point of the hajj.

"Large numbers of workers had to be mobilised to remove all the debris they left behind as they passed," he recalled.

Pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba in the Grand mosque in the holy 
Saudi city of Mecca (AFP Photo)

Eco awakening

Until recently, the environment was not a central concern of Saudi Arabia when it came to the hajj.

As "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques", the kingdom was concerned primarily with accommodating as many pilgrims as possible, mindful of the long waiting lists for Muslims, who must complete the hajj at least once in their lifetime if they are able.

Huge extensions have been built in recent decades to increase the capacity of the two mosques and pilgrimage sites.

Saudi Arabia hopes to welcome 30 million pilgrims to the kingdom annually by 2030.

However, by 2018 the local authorities launched a waste separation programme and began to consider recycling. Signs in several languages were posted to encourage the pilgrims to do their bit and dispose of their waste properly.

This year, despite the relatively tiny number of pilgrims, the municipality deployed more than 13,000 cleaners to the holy sites, equipped with hundreds of skips, according to an official statement.

Stark contrast: Muslim pilgrims praying on Mount Arafat, southeast of the holy 
city of Mecca, during the climax of the Hajj pilgrimage this week (top) and during 
the August 2018 pilgrimage (bottom) (AFP Photo/STR, AHMAD AL-RUBAYE)

'This is our future'

Awwad said that although this year's hajj is leaving a small environmental footprint because of the constraints generated by the global pandemic, in the future the same outcome must be achieved by choice.

"By investing in sustainable development and adopting green practises, we can continue to live our traditions and perform our rituals while keeping our skies clear of pollution and our streets free of waste," the activist said.

She imagines "a hajj with its millions of pilgrims in total symbiosis with their environment, in a Mecca powered by solar energy".

In a kingdom that ranks as the world's top energy exporter, and where the shift to renewables is going slower than planned, her vision is unlikely to become a reality any time soon.

"But this is the future we should all be working towards," she insisted.