Asean Summit, Malaysia on Nov 21, 1015

Asean Summit, Malaysia  on Nov 21, 1015
Asean Establishes Landmark Economic and Security Bloc
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) - Text version)

“….. Here is the prediction: China will turn North Korea loose soon. The alliance will dissolve, or become stale. There will be political upheaval in China. Not a coup and not a revolution. Within the inner circles of that which you call Chinese politics, there will be a re-evaluation of goals and monetary policy. Eventually, you will see a break with North Korea, allowing still another dictator to fall and unification to occur with the south. ….”

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)









North Korean defector criticises China in rare Beijing talk

North Korean defector criticises China in rare Beijing talk
North Korean defector and activist Hyeonseo Lee, who lives in South Korea, poses as she presents her book 'The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story' in Beijing on March 26, 2016 (AFP Photo/Fred Dufour)

US under fire in global press freedom report

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sri Lanka hands over debt-laden port to Chinese owner

Yahoo – AFP, 9 December 2017

Sri Lanka hands over debt-laden port to Chinese owner

Colombo (AFP) - Sri Lanka Saturday handed over a deep-sea port to a Chinese firm, in a deal agreed to boost the cash-strapped island's finances that has raised concerns at home and abroad over Beijing's growing influence.

The $1.12 billion deal first announced in July lets a Chinese state company take over the southern port of Hambantota, which straddles the world's busiest east-west shipping route, on a 99-year lease.

"With the signing of the agreement today the Treasury has received $300 million," Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said at a ceremony in the capital to mark the handover.

"This is the beginning of our debt settlement," Wickremesinghe said.

The loss-making port will now be jointly managed by the state-owned Sri Lanka Port Authority and China Merchants Port Holdings.

Sri Lanka owes China $8 billion that former president Mahinda Rajapaksa's regime borrowed for its infrastructure development projects, including the port.

The deal has raised concerns at home and overseas, where countries such as India and the United States are known to be worried that China getting a foothold at the deep-sea port could give it a military naval advantage in the Indian Ocean.

On Friday Sri Lanka's parliament approved wide-ranging tax concessions for the port deal, including a tax holiday of up to 32 years for the Chinese firm, that opposition parties objected to.

"Please tell this House the details of very favourable tax concessions you gave China on the deal. What are you getting out of it?" Anura Dissanayake, an opposition law marker asked in parliament Saturday.

Sri Lanka has said it wants to reduce its high foreign debt with the proceeds of the Hambantota port deal, and is selling off some other enterprises to raise revenue.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Most detained in Saudi purge agree to cash settlements

Yahoo – AFP, December 5, 2017

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, shown here attending an investment
forum in October, has launched a sweeping purge (AFP Photo/FAYEZ NURELDINE)

Riyadh (AFP) - Most of those detained in a sweeping anti-corruption purge of the Saudi elite have struck monetary settlements in exchange for their freedom, the attorney general said Tuesday, a month after they were locked up in a 5-star hotel.

Dozens of high-profile figures including princes, ministers and tycoons are being held in Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton hotel, now a makeshift luxury prison, in the biggest sweep of the kingdom's elite in its recent history.

Some 320 people were called in for questioning and 159 people are currently being detained, many of whom have agreed to a "settlement", or handing over allegedly ill-gotten gains to the Saudi state treasury, attorney general Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said.

"The necessary arrangements are being finalised to conclude such agreements," Mojeb said in a statement.

The attorney general has previously said he estimates at least $100 billion has been lost in embezzlement or corruption over several decades.

His latest statement comes after Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, the former National Guard chief once seen as a contender to the throne, was released last week following a settlement reportedly exceeding $1 billion.

Some analysts saw Prince Miteb's removal as an attempt by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also Saudi defence minister, to consolidate his control over the security services.

But Saudi authorities insist the purge was meant solely to target endemic corruption as the kingdom seeks to diversify its oil-dependent economy.

In a recent interview to The New York Times, Prince Mohammed described as "ludicrous" reports equating the crackdown to a power grab, saying that many of those detained at the opulent Ritz-Carlton had already pledged allegiance to him.

The attorney general said the bank accounts of 376 people have been frozen, all of whom are detained or linked to corruption allegations.

Saudi forces also grounded private jets at airports, possibly to prevent high-profile figures from leaving the country, an aviation source told AFP.

The purge has triggered uncertainty among businesses that could lead to capital flight or derail reforms, experts say, at a time when the kingdom is seeking to attract badly needed investments to offset a protracted oil slump.

Other high-profile targets of the crackdown include billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, dubbed the Warren Buffett of Saudi Arabia. The government has not commented on his current status.

The crackdown has exposed the kingdom's once-untouchable elite to rare public scrutiny -- Saudis on social media have quipped that the Ritz-Carlton was not the worst place to be trapped.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Australia MP proposes to gay partner in parliament

Yahoo – AFP, December 4, 2017

Australian lawmaker Tim Wilson proposes to his partner in parliament in Canberra,
moments after a bill paving the way for same-sex marriage was introduced (AFP Photo)

Sydney (AFP) - A gay Australian lawmaker popped the question to his partner in parliament on Monday, with the first ever proposal in the chamber coming shortly after a bill paving the way for same-sex marriage was introduced.

Tim Wilson, who has reportedly been engaged to Ryan Bolger for nine years, fought back tears as he thanked his fiance for enduring a marriage debate that "has been the soundtrack to our relationship".

"In my first speech I defined our bond by the ring that sits on both of our left hands -- that they are the answer to the questions we cannot ask," the 37-year-old lawmaker from the ruling conservative party said.

"So there is only one thing left to do: Ryan Patrick Bolger will you marry me?"

Bolger, who was sitting in the public gallery, quickly responded "yes" as the floor erupted in applause.

"That was a 'yes', a resounding 'yes'," house speaker Rob Mitchell noted for the record. "Congratulations, well done mate."

Ryan Bolger, who was sitting in the public gallery in the Canberra parliament, quickly 
responded "yes" to the marriage proposal as the floor erupted in applause (AFP Photo)

The Australian House of Representatives official twitter account confirmed later that after reviewing past records, Wilson's proposal was likely the first ever in that chamber of Parliament.

"Update: We've dug through Hansard and @timwilsoncomau appears to be the first ever Member to propose on the floor of the House," it tweeted.

Wilson earlier emotionally recalled the uneasiness he experienced with some friends when he and Bolger were first engaged.

"Many simply didn't know how to react. Many SMS went unresponded. In conversations some people politely changed the topic, or fell silent entirely," he said.

His partner had pushed him to have an engagement party.

"On informing one person of our news, they responded: Why bother?

"At the time I fell silent and I have never had an answer to that question. But the Australian people have now answered that for me."

'Historic moment of inclusion'

The same-sex marriage bill being debated is expected to comfortably pass through the House of Representatives before Christmas after the upper house Senate last week overwhelmingly voted in its favour.

After more than a decade of debate, Australians emphatically endorsed gay marriage in a recent nationwide postal vote, with some 62 percent of the 12.7 million who took part voting "yes" last month.

Australians voted overwhelmingly in favour of allowing same-sex couples to
marry (AFP Photo/WILLIAM WEST)

"This is a historic moment of inclusion, of recognition, of respect," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said shortly after the bill was introduced for debate in the lower house Monday.

"This is a day to be especially proud that all of our friends, our colleagues, our neighbours, our brothers, our sisters, can marry the people they love."

Former conservative prime minister Tony Abbott, a leading voice in the 'no' campaign, said he would now back the bill.

"I certainly don't pretend to be an overnight convert to support same-sex marriage but I am pledged to respect and to facilitate the verdict of the Australian people," he said.

"Same-sex marriage should now be recognised. It will now be recognised."

Abbott moved an amendment he said protected discrimination against anyone over their "conscientious view about the nature of marriage", before saying he planned to attend his gay sister's wedding next year.

"I am looking forward to attending the marriage of my sister, Christine, to her partner Virginia some time early in the new year."


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Trump promises 'major sanctions' against North Korea

Yahoo – AFP, November 29, 2017

People watch a television news screen showing pictures of US President Donald
Trump (C) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (R) at a railway station in Seoul as
a new North Korean missile test sends tensions soaring (AFP Photo/JUNG Yeon-Je)

Washington (AFP) - US President Donald Trump vowed to impose additional "major sanctions" against North Korea on Wednesday in response to its latest groundbreaking missile test.

"Just spoke to President XI JINPING of China concerning the provocative actions of North Korea," Trump tweeted.

"Additional major sanctions will be imposed on North Korea today. This situation will be handled!"

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explained that the sanctions would be announced by the US Treasury and would target "additional financial institutions."

This suggests that secondary measures could target foreign banks that still deal with North Korea. A Chinese bank has already been hit in this way.

"We have a long list of additional potential sanctions," Tillerson told reporters.

Asked how long Washington could continue to mount peaceful pressure on Pyongyang without resorting to military action, Tillerson said: "Diplomatically, we keep working at it every day."

During his call with Xi, the White House said Trump urged Beijing to use "all available levers" to press North Korea.

On Tuesday, Pyongyang fired what is believed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting Washington.

The US president has threatened North Korea with "fire and fury" if it continues to threaten the United States or its allies with work toward an ICBM capable of carrying a nuclear payload.

The latest test came after a more than two-month pause, which had prompted speculation that talks could end the nuclear standoff.

Since coming to office, Trump has ratcheted up the diplomatic and economic pressure on the regime of Kim Jong-Un, demanding he abandon nuclear and ballistic weapons.

As part of that effort, Trump has repeatedly pressed China to break trade ties with its dependent neighbor and has applauded countries for shuttering Pyongyang's diplomatic installations, which have long been used to gather illicit finance.

Earlier this month, Trump declared North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism -- a symbolic move, but one which amps up diplomatic pressure on the regime.

The UN Security Council is expected to hold an emergency meeting later Wednesday to discuss the response to Pyongyang's latest test.


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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Pope sidesteps Rohingya crisis during Myanmar address

Yahoo - AFP, Catherine MARCIANO, Phyo Hein KYAW, 28 November 2017

The pope's trip to Myanmar has so far avoided explicit mention of the country's
Rohingya Muslim minority

Pope Francis urged respect for rights and justice in a keenly-watched address in Myanmar on Tuesday, but refrained from any mention of the Rohingya or the alleged ethnic cleansing that has driven huge numbers of the Muslim minority from the country.

Sharing a stage with Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi in the capital Naypyidaw, the pontiff tip-toed around the humanitarian emergency of the Rohingya.

Peace can only be achieved through "justice and a respect for human rights", he said in a broadly-framed speech that also called for "respect for each ethnic group and its identity".

The word "Rohingya", an incendiary term in a mainly Buddhist country where the minority are denied citizenship and branded illegal "Bengali" immigrants, was entirely absent from his speech.

Francis has repeatedly defended the group, 620,000 of whom have fled from Myanmar's Rakhine state to Bangladesh since August.

Rights groups had urged him during his four-day visit to confront Myanmar about its actions, but the local Catholic Church cautioned him against straying into the Rohingya issue.

Also on Tuesday, the UN Human Rights Council announced it will hold a special session next week to discuss the situation facing the Rohingya and other minorities in Rakhine.

The December 5 session "is being convened per an official request submitted today by Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia" that has been supported by 73 states, the rights council said in a statement.

Rohingya refugees react as police and officials attempt to control a surging crowd as
 they wait for rice, water, and cooking oil in a relief centre at the Kutupalong refugee 
camp in Cox's Bazar on November 28, 2017

Widespread loathing

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, has been ostracised by a global rights community that once adored her but is now outraged at her tepid response to the crisis.

She spoke of the challenges her country faces as it creeps out of the shadow of five decades of military rule, but also did not reference the Rohingya.

The government aimed to build the nation by "protecting rights, fostering tolerance, ensuring security for all", she said in a short speech, that gave a nod to the "situation in the Rakhine."

The pope's peace mission is strewn with pitfalls in Myanmar, where a monk-led Buddhist nationalist movement has fostered widespread loathing for the Rohingya.

In recognition of those tensions his public speech was "very carefully worded", Myanmar-based political analyst Richard Horsey told AFP, speculating "he is likely to have been more forthright in private meetings with Myanmar's leaders."

But the pontiff's words were of little comfort to Rohingya stuck in dire conditions in Bangladesh.

"We are very much disappointed that he did not mention the Rohingya crisis," said activist Mohammad Zubair from Kutupalong refugee camp, speaking of a religious leader who previously "even held prayers for the Rohingya".

This handout picture taken and released by the Vatican press office (Osservatore 
Romano) on November 28, 2017 shows Pope Francis (L) and Myanmar's civilian
leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a meeting in Naypyidaw

The Pope, The Lady and a General

Late on Monday the 80-year-old pontiff received a "courtesy visit" from Myanmar's powerful army chief -- whose troops, according to the UN and US, have waged a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Rakhine.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has firmly denied allegations of widespread brutality by his forces, despite the flight of hundreds of thousands who have recounted rape, murder and arson.

His office said the general told the pope there was "no discrimination" in Myanmar, and he praised his military for maintaining "the peace and stability of the country".

Known fondly as The Lady, in Myanmar, Suu Kyi finally came to power after elections in 2015 but has fallen from grace abroad for not doing more to stand up to the army in defence of the Rohingya.

Rights groups have clamoured for Suu Kyi to be stripped of her Nobel prize. Oxford, the English city she once called home, on Monday removed her Freedom of the City award for "inaction" in the face of oppression of the Rohingya.

Just days before the papal visit, Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a deal to start repatriating Rohingya refugees within two months.

But details of the agreement -- including the use of temporary shelters for returnees, many of whose homes have been burned to the ground -- raise questions for Rohingya fearful of returning without guarantees of basic rights.

The pontiff has received a warm welcome in Myanmar, whose Catholic community numbers just over one percent of a 51 million population.

But around 200,000 Catholics from all corners of the country are pouring into the commercial capital Yangon ahead of a huge, open-air mass on Wednesday morning.

Francis will travel on to Bangladesh on Thursday.




Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Myanmar has 'no religious discrimination', army chief tells pope

Yahoo – AFP, Catherine MARCIANO, Richard SARGENT, 27 November 2017

Pope Francis faces a tricky high wire act in Myanmar where his comments
on the plight of Rohingya Muslims will be scrutinised by his hosts

Pope Francis met Myanmar's powerful army chief on Monday at the start of a highly sensitive trip, with the military man saying he told the pontiff there was "no religious discrimination" in his country despite allegations of ethnic cleansing.

The 80-year-old pope, the first to travel to Myanmar, received Senior General Min Aung Hlaing for a 15-minute meeting at the archbishop's residence in Yangon, where the pontiff is staying during his visit.

At least 620,000 Rohingya have fled western Rakhine state to Bangladesh, describing rape, murder and arson at the hands of Min Aung Hlaing's army and ethnic Rakhine Buddhist mobs.

The UN and US have accused the military of "ethnic cleansing" in a campaign sparked by attacks by a militant Rohingya group on police border posts in late August.

The army chief told the pope that "Myanmar has no religious discrimination at all. Likewise our military too... performs for the peace and stability of the country", according to a Facebook post published by the general's office a few hours after the meeting.

There is also "no discrimination between ethnic groups in Myanmar", he added.

The Rohingya, who are denied citizenship, are not recognised as one of the Buddhist-majority country's formal ethnic groups.

Itinerary of Pope Francis' visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh
from November 27 to December 2

After the meeting a Vatican spokesman said the religious leader and the army chief had discussed the "great responsiblilty of the country's authorities in this moment of transition".

Myanmar was ruled by a junta for five decades until a civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi came to power last year. The army retains sweeping powers over security and political heft through a parliamentary bloc of seats.

The army crackdown on the widely reviled Rohingya looms large over the pope's four-day trip to a country with a tiny Catholic minority.

Francis has called the Rohingya his "brothers and sisters" in repeated entreaties to ease their plight as the latest round of a festering crisis has unfolded.

Earlier on Monday he was welcomed at Yangon's airport in a colourful ceremony led by children from different minority groups in bright bejewelled clothes, who gave him flowers and received a papal embrace in return.

Nuns in white habits were among devotees waving flags as his motorcade swept past the golden Shwedagon Pagoda.

"I saw the pope... I was so pleased, I cried!" Christina Aye Aye Sein, 48, told AFP after the pope's convoy received a warm but modest welcome.

"His face looked very lovely and sweet... He is coming here for peace."

Myanmar's estimated 700,000 Catholics make up just over one percent of the country's 51 million people.

But around 200,000 Catholics are pouring into Myanmar's commercial capital Yangon before a huge open-air mass on Wednesday.

Francis' visit is a papal first for Myanmar, whose 700,000 Christians have 
turned out in force to welcome him

"People came from all corners of the country, even if we could only see him for a few seconds," Sister Genevieve Mu, an ethnic Karen nun, told AFP.

Peace and prayers

The pope's speeches in Mynamar will be scrutinised by Buddhist hardliners for any mention of the word "Rohingya", an incendiary term in a country where the Muslim group are labelled "Bengalis" -- alleged illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

On Tuesday Francis will meet Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, whose lustre has faded because of her failure to speak up publicly for the Rohingya.

He will hold two masses in Yangon.

Speaking shortly before he left Rome, the pontiff said: "I ask you to be with me in prayer so that, for these peoples, my presence is a sign of affinity and hope."

The army insists its Rakhine operation has been a proportionate response to Rohingya "terrorists" who raided police posts in late August, killing at least a dozen officers.

But rights groups have accused the military of using its operation as cover to drive out a minority it has oppressed for decades and forced out in great numbers in previous "clearance operations".

Days before the papal visit, Myanmar and Bangladesh inked a deal vowing to begin repatriating Rohingya refugees in two months.

But details of the agreement -- including the use of temporary shelters for returnees, many of whose homes have been burned to the ground -- raise questions for Rohingya fearful of returning without guarantees of basic rights.

Francis will travel on to Bangladesh on Thursday, where he will meet a group of Rohingya Muslims in the capital Dhaka.

In Kutupalong, the largest fresh encampment of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, 25-year-old Aziz Khan implored the pope to help his people.

"If he can help us, then I want to tell him that we want our country and our rights back," he told AFP.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Saudi vows new Islamic alliance 'will wipe terrorists from the earth'

Yahoo – AFP, Anuj Chopra, November 26, 2017

A member of the Saudi Royal Guard stands on duty inside the hall where the
first meeting of the defence ministers of the 41-member Saudi-led Muslim
counter-terrorism alliance is taking place in the capital Riyadh on
November 26, 2017 (AFP Photo/Fayez Nureldine)

Riyadh (AFP) - Saudi Arabia's crown prince vowed to "pursue terrorists until they are wiped from the face of the earth" as officials from 40 Muslim countries gathered Sunday in the first meeting of an Islamic counter-terrorism alliance.

"In past years, terrorism has been functioning in all of our countries... with no coordination" among national authorities, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also Saudi defence minister, said in his keynote address to the gathering in Riyadh.

"This ends today, with this alliance."

The summit is the first meeting of defence ministers and other senior officials from the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, which officially counts 41 countries and identifies as a "pan-Islamic unified front" against violent extremism.

The alliance was announced in 2015 under the auspices of Prince Mohammed, whose rapid ascent since his appointment as heir to the throne in June has shaken the political scene across the region.

Sunday's meeting comes as several military coalitions, including key Saudi ally the United States, battle to push the Islamic State group from its last remaining bastions in Iraq and Syria.

The alliance groups largely, although not exclusively, Sunni-majority or Sunni-ruled countries.

It excludes Saudi Arabia's arch-rival, Shiite-dominated Iran, as well as Syria and Iraq, ose leaders have close ties to Tehran.

Sunday's meeting coincides with an escalation in tensions between Riyadh and Tehran, particularly over wars in Syria and Yemen and the political structure of multi-confessional Lebanon.

Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of supporting armed groups across the Middle East, including Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah and Yemen's Huthi rebels.

"The pillar of this coalition is inclusion," said Saudi General Abdulelah al-Saleh, the alliance's acting secretary general, playing down the exclusion of the three countries.

"Our common enemy is terrorism, not any religion, sect or race."

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (C) poses for a group picture with 
officials of the 41-member Saudi-led Muslim counter-terrorism alliance in the
capital Riyadh on November 26, 2017 (AFP Photo/Fayez Nureldine)

The alliance meeting in Riyadh brings together Muslim or Muslim-majority nations including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Uganda, Somalia, Mauritania, Lebanon, Libya, Yemen and Turkey.

'Distorted image of Islam'

Retired Pakistani general Raheel Sharif, who has been appointed commander-in-chief, also insisted that the coalition was not against any religion or state.

The alliance aims to "mobilise and coordinate the use of resources, facilitate the exchange of information and help member countries build their own counter-terrorism capacity," Sharif said.

While the alliance officially includes Qatar, which is the target of a six-month boycott led by Saudi Arabia, organisers in Riyadh said no Qatari officials were present at the meeting.

Qatar's flag was also absent.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain abruptly cut diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar in June, accusing the emirate of being too close to Iran and supporting Islamist extremism.

Doha denies the allegations.

Egypt, which sent a military official and not its defence minister to Sunday's meeting, is reeling from a Friday attack on a mosque that killed more than 300 people during prayer time.

While IS has not claimed responsibility, Egyptian authorities say the organisation is the main suspect as the mosque is associated with followers of the mystical Sufi branch of Sunni Islam, whom IS has branded heretics.

Prince Mohammed said Friday's "painful event" was a reminder of the "danger of terrorism and extremism".

"Beyond the killing of innocent people and the spread of hatred, terrorism and extremism distort the image of our religion," he said.

Since his sudden appointment as crown prince, Prince Mohammed has moved to consolidate power, announcing crackdowns on both terrorism and corruption.

A corruption purge saw around 200 members of the Saudi elite including princes, ministers and business tycoons arrested or sacked earlier this month.


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Arrests made in China kindergarten abuse scandal

Two women have been detained by police over claims a Beijing daycare center engaged in widespread child abuse. The CEO of the daycare chain RYB has issued an apology as authorities opened an official investigation.

Deutsche Welle, 25 November 2017


Two women were detained in Beijing, police said Saturday, over their alleged involvement in a school abuse scandal that has shocked China.

Authorities have begun an official investigation into the goings-on at the city's RYB Education New World kindergarten after parents complained that their children had needle marks on their bodies and had been given unknown medication.

According to China's Xinhua news agency, there were also claims that the children were "sexually molested."

One of the women was detained for "using the internet to fabricate and disseminate fake news" after she claimed military personnel at a base near the RYB kindergarten were involved in the abuse. Although rumors about the soldiers stationed near the daycare center have been circulating for some time, authorities say there is still "no evidence" that anyone from the army were involved in the scandal.

The other detainee was a 22-year-old teacher, who has been arrested "on suspicion of abusing those under her care."

String of scandals

RYB Education manages dozens of daycare centers across China, and its parent company has been publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange since September.

The company's chief executive officer, Shi Yinlai, issued an apology for the "severe disquiet" the accusations had caused, and promised that "if any wrongdoing is found, we will not shirk the responsibility."

This is the third major scandal to hit an RYB kindergarten in the past year. In April, the company apologized for "severe mistakes" made at a Beijing branch after a video surfaced showing a teacher throwing a child on a bed and kicking another child in the back.

In October, according to the People's Court Daily newspaper, two teachers from an RYB daycare in northeast Jilin province were sentenced to 34 months in jail for jabbing children with sewing needles.

es/jlw (AFP, Reuters)
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Friday, November 24, 2017

Bangladesh, Myanmar agree to start Rohingya return in two months

Yahoo – AFP, November 23, 2017

The United Nations says 620,000 Rohingya Muslims have arrived in Bangladesh
 since a military crackdown in Myanmar in August, to form the world's largest refugee
camp (AFP Photo/Munir UZ ZAMAN)

Yangon (AFP) - Bangladesh and Myanmar will start repatriating refugees in two months, Dhaka said Thursday, as global pressure mounts over a crisis that has forced more than half a million Rohingya to flee across the border.

The United Nations says 620,000 Rohingya have arrived in Bangladesh since August and now live in squalor in the world's largest refugee camp after a military crackdown in Myanmar that Washington said this week clearly constitutes "ethnic cleansing".

After months of wrangling, Myanmar's civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Dhaka's Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali inked a deal in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw on Thursday.

Dhaka said they had agreed to start returning the refugees to mainly Buddhist Myanmar in two months.

It said that a working group would be set up within three weeks to agree the arrangements for the repatriation.

"This is a primary step. (They) will take back (Rohingya). Now we have to start working," Ali told reporters in Naypyidaw.

Impoverished and overcrowded Bangladesh has won international praise for allowing the refugees into the country, but has imposed restrictions on their movements and said it does not want them to stay.

Updated map showing major Rohingya refugee camp populations in Bangladesh 
on the border with Myanmar. Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed to start 
repatriating Rohingya refugees in two months. (AFP Photo/Gal ROMA)

Myanmar, meanwhile, has bristled at the growing chorus of global criticism.

Aung San Suu Kyi, a one-time heroine of the human rights movement whose halo has been badly tarnished, shot back Thursday at foreign interference in what she said was a "bilateral" issue.

"Western countries as well the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) had portrayed the matter as an international issue by passing resolutions at the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations," her office said in a statement.

"The principled position of Myanmar is that issues that emerge between neighbouring countries must be resolved amicably through bilateral negotiations."

Thursday's agreement is a "win-win situation for both countries", the statement added.

'Horrendous atrocities'

The tentative deal comes the day after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who met with Suu Kyi in Myanmar last week, issued Washington’s strongest-yet denunciation.

"It is clear that the situation in northern Rakhine state constitutes ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya," Tillerson said.

"No provocation can justify the horrendous atrocities that have ensued."

The UN Children's Fund, UNICEF, has estimates that 25,000 children in the 
overcrowded Rohingya camps are suffering from severe malnutrition (AFP
 Photo/Munir UZ ZAMAN)

The tide of desperate humanity that has poured over the riverine border into Bangladesh is thick with horrifying stories of rape, murder and arson at the hands of Myanmar's military and Buddhist mobs.

The Burmese army insists its crackdown has been proportionate and targeted only at Rohingya rebels.

Thursday's outline deal offered no detail on how many Rohingya will be allowed back and how long the process will take.

The European Union's top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said it was "an important and welcomed step towards addressing one of the worst humanitarian and human rights crises of our times".

Mogherini, who visited Myanmar on Monday, urged both nations to act swiftly to enable the "voluntary, safe and dignified return" of the refugees, in a statement.

Rights groups have raised concerns about the repatriation plans, including questioning where the minority will be resettled after hundreds of their villages were razed, and how their safety will be ensured in a country where anti-Muslim sentiment is surging.

'Won't go back'

The stateless Rohingya have been the target of communal violence and vicious anti-Muslim sentiment in mainly Buddhist Myanmar for years.

They have also been systematically oppressed by the government, which stripped the minority of citizenship and severely restricts their movement, as well as their access to basic services.

More than half a million Rohingya have fled across the frontier into Bangladesh 
since August, carrying harrowing stories of violence (AFP Photo/Munir UZ ZAMAN)

Tensions erupted into bouts of bloodshed in 2012 that pushed more than 100,000 Rohingya into grim displacement camps.

Despite the squalid conditions in the overcrowded camps in Bangladesh, many of the refugees say they are reluctant to return to Myanmar unless they are granted full citizenship.

"We won't go back to Myanmar unless all Rohingya are granted citizenship with full rights like any other Myanmar nationals," said Abdur Rahim, 52, who was a teacher at a government-run school in Buthidaung in Myanmar's Rakhine state before fleeing across the border.

"We won't return to any refugee camps in Rakhine," he told AFP in Bangladesh.

The signing of the deal came ahead of a highly-anticipated visit to both nations from Pope Francis, who has been outspoken about his sympathy for the plight of the Rohingya.

The latest unrest occurred after Rohingya rebels attacked police posts on August 25.

The army backlash rained violence across northern Rakhine, with refugees recounting nightmarish scenes of soldiers and Buddhist mobs slaughtering villagers and burning down entire communities.

The military denies all allegations but has restricted access to the conflict zone.

Suu Kyi's government has blocked visas for a UN-fact finding mission tasked with probing accusations of military abuse.