Indonesia executes six drug convicts, five of them foreigners

Indonesia executes six drug convicts, five of them foreigners
Widodo has pledged to bring reform to Indonesia

Ban appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions

Ban appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has pleaded to Indonesia to stop the execution of prisoners on death row for drug crimes. AFP PHOTO

Pope: 'Death penalty represents failure' – no 'humane' way to kill a person

Pope: 'Death penalty represents failure' – no 'humane' way to kill a person
The pope wrote that the principle of legitimate personal defense isn’t adequate justification to execute someone. Photograph: Zuma/Rex

Obama becomes first president to visit US prison (US Justice Systems / Human Rights)

Obama becomes first president to visit US prison   (US Justice Systems / Human Rights)
US President Barack Obama speaks as he tours the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, July 16, 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

US Death Penalty (Justice Systems / Human Rights)

US Death Penalty (Justice Systems / Human Rights)
Woman who spent 23 years on US death row cleared (Photo: dpa)



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.
"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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Thursday, February 11, 2016

World tourism map redrawn since attacks, epidemics, migrants

Yahoo – AFP, Katia Dolmadjian, 10 February 2016

People react at the site of a shooting attack on the beach in front of the Riu Imperial 
Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui, on the outskirts of Sousse south of the capital 
Tunis, on June 27, 2015 (AFP Photo/Kenzo Tribouillard)

Paris (AFP) - The world's tourism map is being redrawn at lightning speed as holidaymakers switch preferences prompted by terror attacks, epidemics and migrant crises.

Jihadist attacks on tourists in Tunisia last year and the October 31 crash of a Russian plane which took off from its Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh have devastated the tourism sectors in both countries.

An Egyptian man waits with his camel for
 customers near the pyramids in the southern 
Cairo district of Giza on January 19, 2016
(AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)
But Muslim countries everywhere are the main losers of the shift in tastes, sector professionals say, as tourists move to destinations they consider safe -- so long as they're also sunny.

Overall, world tourism has never been in better shape. Nearly 1.2 billion people travelled abroad in 2015, an increase of 4.4 percent over the previous year, but the casual observer could be fooled by the sight of deserted North African beaches, once tourist hotspots.

Tunisia, which built its tourism industry on guaranteed sunshine and rock-bottom prices, is the most stunning example of the devastating impact of security fears after murderous attacks targeted foreigners.

Visitor numbers to Tunisia tumbled by two million in 2015, leaving coast resorts empty, hotels idle and the economy in tatters.

Tunisia's tourism sector accounted for almost 10 percent of the nation's economy.

'Muslim countries are suffering'

Turkey is another victim of attack fears. Germany's TUI, the world's biggest tourism group, said Tuesday that it had seen bookings to Turkey drop by 40 percent in the wake of an Islamic State suicide attack in Istanbul.

Turkish media, meanwhile, reported that visitor numbers to the top Turkish resort of Antalya dropped by 17 percent last month, the lowest level for the month of January in a decade.

Some destinations are collateral damage from attack fears, as tourists appear to make little distinction between countries within the Middle East or North Africa, as Jordan has found to its cost.

"There was no attack, but we were affected tremendously by a drop of visitors coming from Europe," Jordan's tourism minister Nayef al-Fayez said recently.

Turkey is another victim of attack fears, with tourism numbers dropping in 
some cases by 40 percent (AFP Photo/Ozan Kose)

"All Muslim countries are suffering to a greater or lesser degree, even those which have been made totally secure, like Oman," said Jean-Francois Rial, chairman of French travel operator Voyageurs du Monde.

"The only exception is Iran, but they've started from scratch," he told AFP, noting that many European agencies have begun offering travel to Iran since Western powers have started dismantling sanctions.

"There is no doubt that the whole Middle East region is today associated with insecurity in the mind of the Western tourist," said Wouter Geerts, analyst at the Euromonitor research company.

"We expect countries such as Greece, Portugal and Spain to largely benefit from the situation, offering similar weather, competitive prices, and security," he said.

The sudden surge in demand is leading to higher prices in these destinations.

"Hotel owners tell clients 'Instead of charging 50 euros per double room, I'm going to charge 55, take it or leave it. If you don't want it, others will'," said Olivier Petit, at the In Extenso firm.

Cuban bottlenecks

Cuba, which already got a boost from the thawing of relations with the United States in late 2014, is now also battling with bottlenecks, with daily arrivals of huge cruise ships in the Havana bay.

Cuba is now also battling with bottlenecks of tourists, with daily arrivals of huge
cruise ships in Havana bay (AFP Photo/Ana Rodriguez)

"I have a group of 250 people arriving this week and I've just heard that I can no longer count on 80 rooms that were booked and paid for in March, all because of over-booking," said Stephane Ferrux, director of French specialist travel agency "Cuba autrement" ("Cuba with a difference").

Tourism numbers in Cuba rose by 17 percent in 2015, "but the country is not ready, they don't have the quality to justify prices that have gone up by half in a year. Everybody wants a piece of the cake," he said.

Haiti's unspoilt beaches are also becoming a magnet for tourists, six years after the country was devastated by an earthquake.

Battalions of tourists have been going to Colombia, Peru, Mexico and Argentina, but Latin American destinations could soon be affected by the spreading Zika crisis, experts say, pointing to the impact on sub-Saharan Africa of Ebola, of Chikungunya in the Carribbean and MERS Coronavirus, or Camel flu, in South Korea.

The migrant crisis has also taken a heavy toll on Greek islands, once a very safe bet for operators, but where masses of refugees have landed, scaring tourists.

"The Greek islands, especially tourism in Kos, have been severely damaged, as holidaymakers feel uneasy about the situation," according to Euromonitor, pointing to data saying that there were 178,000 cancellations of Kos bookings between January and August 2015.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Former Minister Jero Gets Four Years for Embezzlement

Jakarta Globe, February 09, 2016

Jero Wacik was found guilty of corruption during both his time as tourism
minister and as energy minister. (Antara Photo/M. Agung Rajasa)

Jakarta. The Jakarta Anti Corruption Court sentenced former minister and Democratic Party politician Jero Wacik to four years in prison on Tuesday (09/02) for two separate embezzlement cases during his time as the country's tourism minister and later as energy minister.

The court, presided over by Judge Sumpeno, also ordered to Jero pay a fine of Rp 150 million ($11,000) and return Rp 5 billion in state losses or face an additional year in prison.

The sentence is far from the nine years imprisonment, Rp 350 million in fines and Rp 18.79 billion in compensation that the prosecution had earlier demanded, despite Jero becoming one of the few people to be found guilty of corruption in two separate public posts.

Judge Sumpeno argued that Jero's cancer-stricken wife Trisna Wacik is gravely ill and Jero "still has to pay for his daughters' college tuition," when he explained the court's decision to not meet the prosecution's demand.

Sumpeno also instructed the Corruption Eradication Commission, also known as the KPK, to unfreeze bank accounts belonging to Jero's wife and one of his daughters, Sagita Sinta Pratiwi, saying that they were not related to the crime.

The court ruled that Jero had embezzled Rp 7 billion in operational funds for personal expenses during his time as tourism minister from 2008 to 2011 and another Rp 1 billion during his time as energy minister from 2011 to 2014.

The funds, meant to cover expenses related to his roles as ministers, were instead used to buy concert tickets for his daughters, designer handbags for his wife and to pay for Jero's weekly trips to massage parlors, among other expenses.

He was also found guilty of bilking energy companies out of Rp 10 billion in kickbacks while serving as energy minister.

Both sides can still lodge an appeal.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Pope and Russian patriarch to meet for the first time

The Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church have announced that Pope Francis would meet Moscow Patriarch Kirill for the first time. The two religious leaders are set to discuss the persecution of Christians.

Deutsche Welle, 5 February 2016


The pope and the head of the largest Orthodox Church would meet next week in Cuba, the churches said in a joint statement on Friday.

According to the statement, the high-profile summit on February 12 "will mark an important stage in relations between the two churches. The Holy See and the Moscow Patriarchate hope that it will also be a sign of hope for all people of good will.

"They invite all Christians to pray fervently for God to bless this meeting, that it may bear good fruits," the statement added.

The two leaders are set to meet at the Havana airport during Kirill's visit to Cuba, with Francis making a stop on his way to Mexico.

Pope Francis has been focusing
on relations between religions
Metropolitan Illarion, the Russian cleric in charge of foreign affairs, said the main topic on the agenda would be persecution of Christians worldwide.

"The situation in the Middle East, in northern and central Africa and in other regions where extremists are perpetrating genocide of Christians requires immediate action and an even closer cooperation between Christian churches," Illarion said.

While there are still issues separating the two organizations, "we need to put aside internal disagreements and pool efforts to save Christianity in the regions where it is subject to most severe persecution," he added.

Religion coming back to Russia

The relations between the two Christian denominations have been strained for nearly a millennium, ever since the split between the Western and the Eastern branches of Christianity in 1054.

Kirill was elected patriarch in 2009
Even today, Orthodox Christians differ from Catholics on a range of issues, most notably allowing their priests to marry and rejecting the Vatican's authority.

There is also no counterpart of the pope in the Orthodox world.

However, Patriarch Kirill leads the Orthodox community with the most members. Some 75 percent of Russia's 144 million people declare themselves to be Orthodox.

The church in Russia has boosted its influence dramatically since the fall of communism in the early 90's. The current patriarch has been criticized for his increasingly close ties to the Kremlin.

dj/sms (AP, Reuters, Interfax)

Pope Francis listens to chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni (R) in Rome's main
Synagogue on January 17, 2016 (AFP Photo/Vincenzo Pinto)

Related Articles:


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


"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration LecturesGod / CreatorReligions/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)

“.   New Tolerance

Look for a softening of finger pointing and an awakening of new tolerance. There will remain many systems for different cultures, as traditions and history are important to sustaining the integrity of culture. So there are many in the Middle East who would follow the prophet and they will continue, but with an increase of awareness. It will be the increase of awareness of what the prophet really wanted all along - unity and tolerance. The angel in the cave instructed him to "unify the tribes and give them the God of Israel." You're going to start seeing a softening of intolerance and the beginning of a new way of being.

Eventually, this will create an acknowledgement that says, "You may not believe the way we believe, but we honor you and your God. We honor our prophet and we will love you according to his teachings. We don't have to agree in order to love." How would you like that? The earth is not going to turn into one belief system. It never will, for Humans don't do that. There must be variety, and there must be the beauty of cultural differences. But the systems will slowly update themselves with increased awareness of the truth of a new kind of balance. So that's the first thing. Watch for these changes, dear ones. ...."


"The Humanization of God"–  Jul 16, 2011 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) (Text version)

“… The Humanization of God

I'm going to title this channelling so that my partner will not. I don't always title them, for labeling items is something done for 3D reasons. In your reality, you want a label for the message you're about to hear. So I'll give it to you, just as a dichotomous exercise. Its title will be, "The Humanization of God."

My partner sits in a chair. It has taken him 22 years to bring my conceptual thoughts to you. Even though these conceptual thoughts from the other side of the veil are also within each Human, within your Higher-Self, they are not easy to access. This is because they exist in a multidimensional state and not one that a Human relates to. Therefore, it has taken 22 years for my partner to learn to linearize the concepts into a string of words, presented in a language that you will understand.

Not all of you here and reading this will understand what I'm teaching today. I am aware of that, for Spirit does not speak to Human Beings with words in this fashion. Instead, the language of Spirit speaks in that what you call intuitive flashes, outside of linear time, and all at once. That is how you get your best information. Yet many of you feel you have God all figured out.

Examples of the Linear

As I sit here, perhaps an individual who may be here for the very first time asks the question, "Who are you, Kryon, and where are you from?" Now those two questions may absolutely be logical and normal to every single Human Being who hears and reads this message, but I will tell you that the questions themselves betray biased linear thinking. For Kryon is not a who and is from nowhere. How can that be? The only way I can explain this is to give you metaphors. I know that metaphors don't hold up under full examination, since no analogy is perfect. So consider it only a close example to get you to begin the understanding process.

Let's say you feel incredible love in your life for another Human, or for an animal, for instance, or for your child. Let us say that it is overwhelming and perhaps even has you weep with joy, so strong it is! Now, when you feel this way, do you look around and say, "Who are you, really? Who is there?" Would you address that love emotion as though it had a body and ask, "Where are you from?" You would not! Instead, you'd simply accept it and say, "I know it's coming from me, but it really doesn't feel part of me."

There's something about love. It comes from everywhere. It permeates the soul of the Human Being. You feel it so strongly. You are not aware of it being sent to you, or pulled to you; it just is. But it's unusual and profound, almost like it's part of something else, something bigger. Perhaps it's the God part of you, expanding? You'd be right about that. Love is not singular. You don't segment it into parts, or put a body on it and give it a name either. It's a concept that affects every cell of your body and all your body functions. It sometimes even takes over! This is the beauty of love.

I'm not a who. You hear me within this voice, coming from a singular body of a Human Being. So you understandably want to know who's talking. But the only thing singular here is the Human who I come through. I am best identified as that which is the collection of the confluence of the creative energy source in the Universe. I am uncountable and am not isolated and singular. You can't notate me (define me with attributes in 3D). Twenty-two years ago, I identified myself and said, "I am, that I am." And then I said, "And so are you!" I told you that at the center of the atom is where I am. I told you that the space between the electron haze and the nucleus is filled with love. I told you that the benevolent, creative source energy that is part of you is part of me. It is all things together. You'll find it in a tree, in the dirt and in the grass. You'll find it in the air and you can't ask who because we are not singular. You can't count the flavor in the soup, or identify "where is the salt?" It just "is" the soup.

God does not have the mind of a Human Being with the consciousness of a Human Being. God is not a collection of many separate consciousness parts either, and this is difficult for you to understand. God can talk to every single Human - all 6, 7 billion of them - at the same time. God can carry on a loving, healing conversation, being personal all at once with every single one of you. Think of that! That's not a who. That's the creator of the Universe. That's a divine, intelligent, loving energy. Don't humanize this source! It's not like you.

The Linear Thinker

Humans want to make everything separate and individual. You want to separate, identify, and quantify. This is Human nature, for every living thing you come into contact with is separate and singular - a Human, an animal, a bug, a tree. They all have this in common. Each one is a closed life system and is ONE thing. So placing God in this box makes you feel better. Because only then can you grasp how you're supposed to act and react to Spirit. Linearizing God helps you to feel what you're supposed to do and when you're supposed to do it. All of the survival attributes that you've learned all your life go into this, and we call it the Human linear bias. God is better understood if it's a man with a beard and a low voice - the authority figure. But Spirit is not like that.

God is not an authority figure, either! Yet many of you will not accept that. "You mean the creator of the Universe is not in charge?" I didn't say that. I said that God is not an authority figure. God is family. If there is any authority energy, then you share it with God, for God is in you. Therefore, YOU are the authority figure.

There is no protocol, either! Did you hear me? There is no generic protocol! Thousands of years of religion have created thousands of "rules" of how to "get God's favor." What if none of that is so? Let me ask you something: If you wanted to talk to your own body's cellular structure, what's the protocol? If it's you with you, how do you start? Should you dress up a bit, kneel, prepare yourself? Do you invent something, some framework of motions, so it will work better? Or do you simply go inside with your mind, talk to that which you own, and work the puzzle out? Do you see what I mean? Humans never consider God in them. Instead, they wish to separate God. They wish to elevate God and put Spirit on the altar where they can face it and perhaps even create a statue so they can visualize who to talk to. That is humanizing God.  …”

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Obama decries anti-Muslim rhetoric on first mosque visit

Yahoo – AFP, Andrew Beatty, 3 February 2016

US President Barack Obama speaks at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, in 
Windsor Mill, Maryland on February 3, 2016 (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

Baltimore (AFP) - Barack Obama offered an impassioned rebuttal of "inexcusable" Republican election rhetoric against Muslims Wednesday, on his first trip to an American mosque since becoming president seven years ago.

Obama, whose grandfather converted to Islam, made the short trip to the Islamic Society of Baltimore to call on Americans not to be "bystanders to bigotry."

Invoking the Prophet Mohammed and hailing the tolerance shown by American political icons from Thomas Jefferson to Dwight Eisenhower, Obama hit out at anti-Islamic sentiment that is "not who we are."

"We've heard inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim-Americans that has no place in our country," he said, lauding Muslim-Americans as sports heroes, entrepreneurs and the architect who fashioned Chicago's dizzying skyline.

His comments came as a shrill election debate has sullied America's image abroad, and as jihadist attacks in San Bernardino and Philadelphia threatened to shatter post-9/11 religious solidarity at home.

Copies of the Quran are seen on reserved chairs prior to a speech by US President 
Barack Obama at the Islamic Society of Baltimore on February 3, 2016 in Windsor 
Mill, Maryland (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

Six days after the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, then president George W. Bush visited the Islamic Center of Washington, declaring "Islam is peace."

Today, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has wooed conservative voters by demanding a ban on Muslim immigrants, while frontrunner Ted Cruz has advocated Christian-only admissions and championed "Judeo-Christian values."

Obama took on such comments, and asked Christians to see "an attack on one faith is an attack on all our faiths."

He also criticized the media and Hollywood, which he said portrayed Muslims in a narrow way.

"Our television shows should have Muslim characters that are unrelated to national security," he said.

'Thank you'

Obama has visited mosques in Malaysia, Indonesia and Egypt as president, but this was his first visit to one of America's 2,000-plus places of Islamic worship.

Women watch as US President Barack Obama speaks at the Islamic Society of 
Baltimore, in Windsor Mill, Maryland on February 3, 2016 (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

In 2009, a freshly elected Obama traveled to Cairo to call for a "new beginning" with the Muslim world.

Much of Obama's foreign policy agenda has focused on improving ties with Muslim nations, from making a nuclear deal with Iran to ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the effort has been stymied by continued confrontation with jihadist groups and military strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

Obama restated his case that organizations like the Islamic State group pervert Islam and do not represent the vast majority of Muslims.

The president offered "two words that Muslim-Americans don't hear often enough, and that is 'thank you'."

But he also called on Muslims to help tackle radicalization.

"How do we defend ourselves against organizations that are bent on killing innocents?" he asked.

"It can't be the work of any one faith alone. It can't be just a burden on the Muslim community, although the Muslim community has to play a role."

That message is a vexed one for members of the Muslim community, including audience member Riham Osman, who works for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, an advocacy group.

US President Barack Obama participates in a roundtable discussion with members 
of the Muslim community while visiting the Islamic Society of Baltimore on February 3, 
2016 in Windsor Mill, Maryland (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

"I know national security will come up in the speech just because of the climate of today," she said ahead of Obama's remarks.

"It does upset me a little bit that it is his first time coming to visit a mosque, and there will be kids there who have grown up in this post 9/11 era and their faith is constantly linked to national security and extremism."

Around 49 percent of all Americans think "at least some" US Muslims hold anti-American sentiments, according to a Pew Research Center poll released Wednesday.

The United States is home to around 3.3 million Muslims.

Around 81 Muslim-Americans were involved in violent extremist plots in 2015, according to the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security.

Related Article:

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration LecturesGod / CreatorReligions/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)

“.   New Tolerance

Look for a softening of finger pointing and an awakening of new tolerance. There will remain many systems for different cultures, as traditions and history are important to sustaining the integrity of culture. So there are many in the Middle East who would follow the prophet and they will continue, but with an increase of awareness. It will be the increase of awareness of what the prophet really wanted all along - unity and tolerance. The angel in the cave instructed him to "unify the tribes and give them the God of Israel." You're going to start seeing a softening of intolerance and the beginning of a new way of being.

Eventually, this will create an acknowledgement that says, "You may not believe the way we believe, but we honor you and your God. We honor our prophet and we will love you according to his teachings. We don't have to agree in order to love." How would you like that? The earth is not going to turn into one belief system. It never will, for Humans don't do that. There must be variety, and there must be the beauty of cultural differences. But the systems will slowly update themselves with increased awareness of the truth of a new kind of balance. So that's the first thing. Watch for these changes, dear ones. ...."

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Suu Kyi's party strides into Myanmar parliament as new era dawns

Yahoo – AFP, Hla-Hla Htay, 1 February 2016

Aung San Suu Kyi arrives for a parliamentary session in Naypyidaw on February 1,
 2016 (AFP Photo/Ye Aung Thu)

Naypyidaw (Myanmar) (AFP) - Myanmar entered a new political era Monday as Aung San Suu Kyi's pro-democracy MPs took their seats in parliament, bearing the hopes of a nation subjugated for decades by the military.

Wearing pastel orange uniforms, lawmakers from the National League for Democracy (NLD) arrived for their first day of work in the capital Naypyidaw, buoyed by a massive popular mandate from November's election.

Aung San Suu Kyi is barred from the office of 
president in Myanmar by a military-scripted 
constitution because she married and had
 children with a foreigner (AFP Photo/
Ye Aung Thu)
That poll saw the NLD wrest a majority from the army establishment and has spurred hopes of a new political dawn in the long-repressed nation.

Suu Kyi, the centrepiece of Myanmar's struggle for democracy, entered the cavernous parliament building without comment.

She took a seat alone for the short opening session which saw the lawmakers sworn in and the appointment of a close ally, Win Myint, as lower house speaker.

"Today is a day to be proud of in Myanmar's political history and for the democratic transition," Win Myint said in an acceptance speech.

The new government faces a daunting rebuilding task in one of Southeast Asia's poorest countries, whose economy was crushed by almost half a century of junta rule.

Many NLD MPs are also political novices, unskilled in the business of government.

They must swiftly adapt to a difficult decision-making process in a legislature where unelected soldiers occupy 25 percent of all seats.

"It's a historic moment for the country," said Myanmar political analyst Khin Zaw Win.

The country will now choose a new president to succeed President Thein Sein, the former general who in 2011 launched dramatic political and economic reforms which culminated in the election.

Suu Kyi herself is barred from the post by a military-scripted constitution because she married and had children with a foreigner.

The 70-year-old has vowed to sidestep this hurdle by ruling "above" a proxy president, although she has yet to reveal her choice for the role.

While there is no clear schedule for the selection of candidates, it could be within days.

Elected members of both houses and the military will nominate three candidates to replace Thein Sein, who retains his post until the end of March.

Lawmakers from the National League for Democracy arrived for their first day
of work in the capital Naypyidaw on February 1, 2016 (AFP Photo/Ye Aung Thu)

The new president will then be chosen by a vote of the combined houses.

Great expectations

Observers are closely watching Suu Kyi's relationship with the still-powerful military, which holds key ministries as well as the 25 percent parliamentary bloc.

Suu Kyi may try to persuade the army to help her change the charter clause that blocks her path to power, analysts say, although it has so far baulked at any attempt to redraft it.

After decades under the military yoke, Myanmar's people queued in their thousands to cast ballots for Suu Kyi and her party last November, throwing their support behind her simple campaign message of "change".

With a resounding parliamentary majority, her lawmakers are -- at least initially -- expected to act as a rubber-stamp for her government.

While the NLD majority will need to time to find their feet, the military has had plenty of time to prepare for the handover.

A quasi-civilian government has steered reforms since outright army rule ended in 2011.

Military members of parliament attend a lower house session in Naypyidaw
 on February 1, 2016 (AFP Photo/Ye Aung Thu)

The military has appointed "more senior and experienced, and probably better prepared" soldiers to parliament, according to Renaud Egreteau, an analyst who has studied Myanmar's legislature.

Thein Sein has led the opening up of the long-isolated country, spurring international investment with sweeping political reforms.

But Myanmar remains blighted by civil wars and ethnic and religious divisions. Poverty rates are high and the bureaucracy is poorly funded and riven with corruption.

On the streets of Yangon, however, ordinary people were optimistic about what Suu Kyi could achieve.

"We have been hoping for an NLD government for a long time. I feel happy now," said 22-year-old dentist Kyaw Htet.



Thursday, January 28, 2016

China's Ai Weiwei shuts show to protest Danish migrant law

Yahoo – AFP, January 27, 2016

Chinese activist Ai Weiwei plans to create a memorial to the plight of refugees
on the Greek island of Lesbos (AFP Photo/Angelos Tzortzinis)

Copenhagen (AFP) - Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei on Wednesday closed down his exhibition in the Danish capital after lawmakers passed a controversial bill allowing authorities to seize valuables from asylum seekers.

"Ai Weiwei has decided to close his exhibition 'Ruptures' at Faurschou Foundation Copenhagen, Denmark. This decision follows the Danish parliament's approval of the law proposal that allows seizing valuables and delaying family reunions for asylum seekers," a post on his official Instagram and Facebook accounts read.

The exhibition opened in March 2015 and had been due to close in mid-April 2016.

"I support Ai Weiwei's decision, which is all about freedom and human rights. I think it's so very sad," Jens Faurschou, owner of the Faurschou Foundation in Copenhagen, told AFP.

Denmark's parliament on Tuesday adopted reforms aimed at dissuading migrants from seeking asylum by delaying family reunifications and allowing authorities to confiscate migrants' valuables.

The law has provoked international outrage, with many rights activists blasting the delay for family reunifications as a breach of international conventions.

"Denmark has decided that it wants to be in the forefront of the symbolic and inhuman politics of today's biggest humanitarian crisis in Europe and the Middle East. We both wish that Denmark had decided instead to be in the forefront of a respectful European solution to solve the acute humanitarian crisis," Faurschou said.

China's most prominent contemporary artist, Ai helped design the Bird's Nest stadium for the Beijing Olympics and has been exhibited around the globe, but his works have often run afoul of China's authorities.

He was detained in 2011 for 81 days over his advocacy of democracy and human rights as well as other criticisms of the government in Beijing. Following the detention, he was placed under house arrest and his passport was taken away. The document was only returned last July, enabling him to travel overseas.

Ai's show in Copenhagen included some of his most important work including Sunflower Seeds, made from 100 million handmade porcelain sunflower seeds.

The show also featured several of the artist's sculptures made of wood from Buddhist temples torn down during China's Cultural Revolution.

Earlier this month, the 58-year-old announced plans to create a memorial to the plight of refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos, after meeting some of the many migrants there who risked their lives to reach Europe.


Related Article:

Holocaust survivor lauds Merkel's 'heroic' refugee policy

Holocaust survivor Ruth Klueger delivers a speech on Holocaust Remembrance Day,
January 27, 2016 at the German parliament in Berlin (AFP Photo/John MacDougall)

Court says Dutch state must compensate woman for rape 67 years ago Crime

DutchNews, January 27, 2016

Photo: Depositphotos.com
The Dutch state has been ordered to pay compensation to an Indonesian woman who was raped by several Dutch soldiers in 1949, when Indonesia was still under Dutch rule.

The woman, who was 18 at the time, will receive €7,500 in what is thought to be the first successful compensation claim for a war crime other than execution.

The court in The Hague said there was sufficient proof that the woman had been raped by several soldiers at gunpoint in the run up to independence. 

In addition, the court said the state cannot appeal against the ruling on the basis that it is too old, even though the rapes took place almost 70 years ago. 

Other rulings

Last year, judges in The Hague said the Netherlands must pay compensation to the children and widows of men executed in South Sulawesi without trial by Dutch soldiers in 1946 and 1947. The claims are still being looked into. 

The Dutch military interventions in Indonesia, or Dutch Indies as it was known then, followed the proclamation of the independent Republic of Indonesia in 1945 and lasted until the country formally gained independence in 1949 after a bloody struggle. 

Thousands of Indonesian independence fighters were executed by the Dutch. At the end of 2011, the Netherlands finally formally apologised for the massacre of hundreds of men and boys in the Javanese village of Rawagede in 1947. Those widows, too, have been given compensation.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Saudi fatwa banning chess stirs online outcry

Yahoo – AFP, January 22, 2016

"Chess is prohibited. It is gambling," says a top Saudi cleric, insisting that it is a
 "waste of time and money and a cause for animosity between players" (AFP
Photo/Kirill Kudryavtsev)

Dubai (AFP) - A fatwa issued by Saudi Arabia's top cleric prohibiting chess in Islam and equating it with gambling has caused a stir on social media.

In a video of a television programme posted online, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh appears categorical when asked about the board game in Islam.

"Chess is prohibited. It is gambling," said Sheikh, insisting that it was a "waste of time and money and a cause for animosity between players".

Grand mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz 
al-Shaikh (C) sat among Saudi royals
in 2013 (AFP Photo/HO)
The video was originally recorded about a month ago but has resurfaced online, generating strong reactions on social media in recent days.

Among those who have condemned the fatwa is Russian former world chess champion Garry Kasparov.

"Saudi Arabia trying to ban chess is stupid, but we should be more concerned about their bans on human rights and democracy," Kasparov wrote on his Twitter account.

Lebanese television producer Nasser Fakih tweeted: "Saudi mufti has declared chess haram. Apparently this game makes you use your brain, and this is haram!"

And Twitter user @RaKaN4you said: "Ok, how about PlayStation and Xbox, halal or haram?"

But many tweets were also supportive of the cleric's decision to issue the fatwa.

Saudi Arabia applies a strict interpretation of Sunni Islam, which imposes many restrictions, including the segregation between men and women in public, and reinforces a ban on women driving.

Related Article:


“… The Humanization of God

I'm going to title this channelling so that my partner will not. I don't always title them, for labeling items is something done for 3D reasons. In your reality, you want a label for the message you're about to hear. So I'll give it to you, just as a dichotomous exercise. Its title will be, "The Humanization of God."

My partner sits in a chair. It has taken him 22 years to bring my conceptual thoughts to you. Even though these conceptual thoughts from the other side of the veil are also within each Human, within your Higher-Self, they are not easy to access. This is because they exist in a multidimensional state and not one that a Human relates to. Therefore, it has taken 22 years for my partner to learn to linearize the concepts into a string of words, presented in a language that you will understand.

Not all of you here and reading this will understand what I'm teaching today. I am aware of that, for Spirit does not speak to Human Beings with words in this fashion. Instead, the language of Spirit speaks in that what you call intuitive flashes, outside of linear time, and all at once. That is how you get your best information. Yet many of you feel you have God all figured out.

Examples of the Linear

As I sit here, perhaps an individual who may be here for the very first time asks the question, "Who are you, Kryon, and where are you from?" Now those two questions may absolutely be logical and normal to every single Human Being who hears and reads this message, but I will tell you that the questions themselves betray biased linear thinking. For Kryon is not a who and is from nowhere. How can that be? The only way I can explain this is to give you metaphors. I know that metaphors don't hold up under full examination, since no analogy is perfect. So consider it only a close example to get you to begin the understanding process.

Let's say you feel incredible love in your life for another Human, or for an animal, for instance, or for your child. Let us say that it is overwhelming and perhaps even has you weep with joy, so strong it is! Now, when you feel this way, do you look around and say, "Who are you, really? Who is there?" Would you address that love emotion as though it had a body and ask, "Where are you from?" You would not! Instead, you'd simply accept it and say, "I know it's coming from me, but it really doesn't feel part of me."

There's something about love. It comes from everywhere. It permeates the soul of the Human Being. You feel it so strongly. You are not aware of it being sent to you, or pulled to you; it just is. But it's unusual and profound, almost like it's part of something else, something bigger. Perhaps it's the God part of you, expanding? You'd be right about that. Love is not singular. You don't segment it into parts, or put a body on it and give it a name either. It's a concept that affects every cell of your body and all your body functions. It sometimes even takes over! This is the beauty of love.

I'm not a who. You hear me within this voice, coming from a singular body of a Human Being. So you understandably want to know who's talking. But the only thing singular here is the Human who I come through. I am best identified as that which is the collection of the confluence of the creative energy source in the Universe. I am uncountable and am not isolated and singular. You can't notate me (define me with attributes in 3D). Twenty-two years ago, I identified myself and said, "I am, that I am." And then I said, "And so are you!" I told you that at the center of the atom is where I am. I told you that the space between the electron haze and the nucleus is filled with love. I told you that the benevolent, creative source energy that is part of you is part of me. It is all things together. You'll find it in a tree, in the dirt and in the grass. You'll find it in the air and you can't ask who because we are not singular. You can't count the flavor in the soup, or identify "where is the salt?" It just "is" the soup.

God does not have the mind of a Human Being with the consciousness of a Human Being. God is not a collection of many separate consciousness parts either, and this is difficult for you to understand. God can talk to every single Human - all 6, 7 billion of them - at the same time. God can carry on a loving, healing conversation, being personal all at once with every single one of you. Think of that! That's not a who. That's the creator of the Universe. That's a divine, intelligent, loving energy. Don't humanize this source! It's not like you.

The Linear Thinker

Humans want to make everything separate and individual. You want to separate, identify, and quantify. This is Human nature, for every living thing you come into contact with is separate and singular - a Human, an animal, a bug, a tree. They all have this in common. Each one is a closed life system and is ONE thing. So placing God in this box makes you feel better. Because only then can you grasp how you're supposed to act and react to Spirit. Linearizing God helps you to feel what you're supposed to do and when you're supposed to do it. All of the survival attributes that you've learned all your life go into this, and we call it the Human linear bias. God is better understood if it's a man with a beard and a low voice - the authority figure. But Spirit is not like that.

God is not an authority figure, either! Yet many of you will not accept that. "You mean the creator of the Universe is not in charge?" I didn't say that. I said that God is not an authority figure. God is family. If there is any authority energy, then you share it with God, for God is in you. Therefore, YOU are the authority figure.

There is no protocol, either! Did you hear me? There is no generic protocol! Thousands of years of religion have created thousands of "rules" of how to "get God's favor." What if none of that is so? Let me ask you something: If you wanted to talk to your own body's cellular structure, what's the protocol? If it's you with you, how do you start? Should you dress up a bit, kneel, prepare yourself? Do you invent something, some framework of motions, so it will work better? Or do you simply go inside with your mind, talk to that which you own, and work the puzzle out? Do you see what I mean? Humans never consider God in them. Instead, they wish to separate God. They wish to elevate God and put Spirit on the altar where they can face it and perhaps even create a statue so they can visualize who to talk to. That is humanizing God.  …”