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)


"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. …

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Capturing Borobudur’s Soul

Calm opulence overlooking a Unesco site in Central Java

Jakarta Globe, Anita Surewicz, October 30, 2013

Amanjiwo in Magelang is renowned for its stunning architecture and unspoiled view
 of the ninth-century Buddhist monument of Borobudur. (Photo courtesy of Amanjiwo)

Amanjiwo’s clever architectural aesthetic takes center stage from the moment one glimpses Yogyakarta’s Buddhist monument of Borobudur, perfectly framed by the resort’s airy entrance.

Approximately three kilometers away, the ninth-century monument is the main inspiration behind the resort’s intricate design. In fact, Amanjiwo’s circular layout and dramatic domes present an innovative take on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Site.

Designed by Ed Tuttle — one of America’s best-known architects, who has masterminded a number of Aman’s other resorts including Amanpuri in Phuket, Amankila in Bali, Amanbagh in India’s Rajahstan state and Amanzoe in Kranidi, Greece — Amanjiwo is perhaps one of his most striking creations.

Featuring his characteristic grand sense of perspective and space, Amanjiwo stands majestic yet fits seamlessly into the rich greenery and verdant farmland that surrounds it.

“There is no doubt that Amanjiwo echoes the splendor of Borobudur,” general manager Mark Swinton said. “The circular motifs, geometric design features and crescents hark back to the centuries-old temple patterns of Borobudur.”

Fringed by the limestone Menorah Hills, the Kedu Plain and four volcanoes, Sumbing and Sundoro to the west and Merbabu and Merapi to the east, Amanjiwo, which opened its doors in 1997, preserves the nuance of Borobudur, and its location, through the use of natural materials and muted hues.

“The resort has been constructed from paras Yogya , a locally hewn coral-beige limestone,” Swinton explained. “We have kept the color scheme simple, and have also used a lot of traditional Javanese materials such as coconut wood, sunkai wood and bamboo for decoration.”

While beauty is said to lie in the detail, Amanjiwo’s most striking reference to Borobudur is its main structure, a circular limestone monolith topped by a soaring bell-shaped dome. An ambitious take on Borobudur’s emblematic stupa and circular platforms, the lofty-ceilinged salon houses the resort’s lobby, library, bar and restaurant.

The building, which features stone columns, drop fans, teak wood floors and a silver-leaf ceiling, overlooks a crescent-shaped terrace and its legion of stylish black terrazzo tables and rattan chairs. Murals of scenes from the Hindu Mahabharata epic at either end of the restaurant complete the magnetic picture.

Blink and you will miss the discreet black marble bar that sits inconspicuously to the left of the entrance.

“Amanjiwo’s main structure is on the most part circular so the most challenging aspect of the building process was translating all those curved lines in the drawings into reality,” Swinton said, adding that the resort took two years to construct.

Amanjiwo’s main rotunda is framed by 36 suites set in two semi-circular formations. All are linked to the main building by limestone-walled walkways. Perforated with a rhombus-shaped pattern, the walls bear a resemblance to Borobudur’s smaller stupas.

The suites are lavish yet simple in form and color, reflecting the spiritual ambience of Borobudur. The ash-colored ceilings, caramel-tiled floors and pillared four-poster beds elevated on platforms project a grand yet unassuming sensibility.

“The round gamelan brass pieces at the sunken outdoor bathtubs in the walled-in gardens are a further reference to Borobudur,” Swinton said. “In fact, the interiors and surroundings are so inspirational, we have equipped each suite with a set of watercolors in case any of our guests wish to unleash their inner artist.”

For those not yet convinced, Amanjiwo’s references to the world’s largest Buddhist sanctuary becomes particularly apparent after a visit to the monument. In fact, Amanjiwo offers 4 a.m. sunrise trips to Borobudur — the resort has special early access to the site.

Swinton believes Amanjiwo has captured the winning formula that pays homage to Borobudur’s grandeur. “There are no planned design changes,” he said. “Amanjiwo was designed to be timeless and relevant well into the future.”

Desa Majaksingi, Borobudur, Magelang
Tel: 0293 788 333

Bali Hindus Angered By Sacred Temple Tourism Plan

Jakarta Globe – AFP, October 30, 2013

Hundreds of Balinese Hindus gather for worship at the Besakih temple, Bali’s most
 holiest site located in Mount Agung, in this file photo taken on March 24, 2009. (AFP Photo)

Hindu leaders on the Indonesian holiday island of Bali Tuesday lashed out at a government plan to attract more tourists to their most sacred temple as “degrading” to Hinduism.

The row highlighted concerns that Bali’s booming tourism industry is a double-edged sword, as it threatens to erode the Hindu culture which is part of the attraction for the millions who visit the tropical island.

The Indonesian Hindu Association’s concerns centered on a government decision to include the Besakih temple and the volcano upon which it sits on an official list of sites to be developed for tourism.

“These sites are the center of the universe for us Balinese Hindus, and we are worried that by making it an official tourist destination, our spiritual lives will be disrupted,” association head Ngurah Sudyana told AFP.

“We are concerned that our spirituality will be degraded and exploited if these sites are just seen as commercial.”

While the sites in eastern Bali already receive considerable numbers of visitors, they are far less crowded than the major tourist areas in the south.

Sudyana said he was worried the government plan would change this.

“We are worried big buildings for accommodation and entertainment will be erected,” he said.

The temple and volcano, in eastern Bali, were included in the list of 88 places across Indonesia to be developed for tourism over a 15-year period.

Besakih, known as the “mother temple” by Balinese Hindus, is a huge, stone complex which sits 1,000 meters (3,000 feet) up the side of Mount Agung, a volcano that has great spiritual significance for Bali’s Hindus.

The tourism ministry plans to improve tourism links and accommodation at the selected destinations to boost an industry that is often criticized as underdeveloped compared with neighbors like Thailand and Malaysia.

The list was first drawn up in 2011 but Hindu leaders have spoken out amid growing unease on Bali about the pace of development.

The tourism ministry defended the plan, however, and said it planned to hold consultations with Bali’s religious leaders to address their concerns.

“We are trying to conserve strategic tourism destinations, not cause any disruption to them. It will certainly bring benefits to the communities,” ministry spokesman Noviendi Makalam said.

“There will be no major developments there without consultations with the community first.”

As a Hindu-majority island, Bali is an anomaly in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation of around 250 million people and is known for its hedonistic party scene and comparatively relaxed social attitudes.

Agence France-Presse

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Vatican official: Pope's Twitter account teaches us about authority

Mons. Tighe's talk at 2013 Catholic
 New Media Conference: "The Vatican
and Digital Media”
Because of its expanding use of social media and handling of Pope Francis' wildly popular Twitter account, the Vatican is learning a wide range of lessons on the nature of authority in the 21st century, one of the officials who handles its new media outreach has said.

At the center of those lessons, said Msgr. Paul Tighe, is the fact that the church can no longer claim authority without working for it.

"The social media landscape is peer to peer, it's free and it's open," said Tighe, the second-in-command at the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Social Communications, speaking Saturday at a conference on the use of so-called new media.

"That's not the immediate description of the church at times," he continued. "What we need to realize is when in an environment where authority is different ... authority, broadly, we have to earn it rather than we can claim it."

Tighe, an Irishman who served as the director of public affairs for the Dublin archdiocese before taking up the job as secretary for the pontifical council in 2007, gave the keynote at the conference, hosted by the Boston archdiocese.

Speaking for more than an hour, the Vatican official laced his talk with both tidbits on the inside day-to-day running of the pope's Twitter accounts, available in English @Pontifex and in several other languages, and with deeper insights into what his council's work means for the future direction of the church.

Explaining that the pope's Twitter posts, called tweets, are re-tweeted more than any other public figure, Tighe said that shows that church "comes not from the center, but from the local."

"How would it look for the church to build a capillary network?" he asked. "So that the church becomes interactive, using the platform of the Pontifex account."

He said people who re-tweet the pope may end up "touching the hearts of people who might not normally choose to read the Gospel message or the thought of the church."

Tighe also said Vatican officials were surprised with how quickly Twitter followers latched onto the pope's efforts for a day of prayer for peace in Syria as part of his call against U.S. military intervention in the country.

Officials at the communications office chose for the event a special hashtag -- a way for Twitter users to easily categorize each others tweets -- labeled #Prayforpeace.

"It's almost like the hashtag became the point of contact for Catholic communities around the world to get that message out there," said Tighe.

"The hashtag created this almost subversive network of people who were getting the word out there, even though it wasn't getting a huge amount of play in the mainstream media."

Tighe also said his office was surprised at how quickly the pope's first message in English, made Friday for a conference in the Philippines, spread on Facebook. Within 3.5 hours of posting, Tighe said, some 250,000 Facebook users had shared the message.

Church officials, Tighe said, have to realize that young people in the 21st century are "forming relationships and creating community in a different way."

"That is challenging all of us because the change is not in technologies, but it's a change in communication itself," he said.

Tighe also likened the church's work in the digital sphere, what he called the "digital continent," with its evangelization of the world's physical continents in past centuries. Missionary efforts in places like Africa or Asia "began with an understanding of the language and its culture," he said.

Coming to the concept of authority, Tighe said members of his generation grew up with a linear sense of communication and authority.

"We grew up with the idea of the pulpit," he said. "I'm here. I talk; you listen. The microphone let us reach further. The radio took us even further. The TV let you see us as well as hear us. But we were at the center and you were out there consuming."

"New media is different," he continued. "I speak, I talk, I reflect, I say something. If you like it, or if you disagree with it enough to comment on it … you might share it."

"It's participative," he said. "It's interactive. If I say something, I have to be prepared to answer questions back."

Pope Francis has some 10 million followers on Twitter across accounts in eight languages. Tighe's office manages those accounts as well as many of the Vatican's other social media efforts, including the portal, which collects many of the pope's statements and official acts on one website.

Here is a video of Tighe's full address at the Boston conference, made available by the archdiocese. His remarks start at about the six-minute mark.

[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR national correspondent. His email address is Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

UPDATE: The Pontifical Council for Social Communications has now made an unofficial transcript of Tighe's remarks available online here.

Related Articles:

"Recalibration of Free Choice"–  Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: (Old) SoulsMidpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth,  4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical)  8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) (Text version)

“…  1 - Spirituality (Religions)

Number one: Spirituality. The systems of spiritual design on your planet are starting to change. This is not telling you that certain ones are going to go away. They're simply going to change. Some of the largest spiritual systems, which you would call organized religion on the planet, are shifting. They're going to shift away from that which is authority on the outside to authority on the inside. It will eventually be a different way of worship, slowly changing the rules while keeping the basic doctrine the same.

The doctrine of the Christ has always been to find the God inside. The teachings were clear. The examples of the miracles were given as an example of what humans could do, not to set a man up for worship as a God. So when that has been absorbed, the teaching of the Christ can remain the teaching of the Christ. It simply changes the interpretation.

The teachings of the great prophets of the Middle East (all related to each other) are about unity and love. So once the holy words are redefined with new wisdom, the Human changes, not the words of the prophets. In fact, the prophets become even more divinely inspired and their wisdom becomes even more profound.

You're going to lose a pope soon. I have no clock. Soon to us can mean anything to you. The one who replaces him may surprise you, for his particular organization will be in survival mode at that point in time. That is to say that fewer and fewer are interested in starting the priesthood. Fewer and fewer young people are interested in the organization, and the new pope must make changes to keep his church alive. That means that his organization will remain, but with a more modern look at what truly is before all of you in a new energy. It is not the fall of the church. It is instead the recalibration of the divinity inside that would match the worship that goes on. It's a win-win situation. The new pope will have a difficult time, since the old guard will still be there. There could even be an assassination attempt, such is the way the old energy dies hard. That is number one. Watch for it. It's a change in the way spiritual systems work. It's a realignment of spiritual systems that resound to a stronger truth that is Human driven, rather than prophet driven. …”

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

“… I gave you a channelling years ago when Pope John Paul was alive. John Paul loved Mary, the mother. Had John Paul survived another 10 years, he would have done what the next Pope [The one after the current one, Benedict XVI] will do, and that is to bring women into the Church. This Pope you have now [Benedict XVI] won't be here long.* The next Pope will be the one who has to change the rules, should he survive. If he doesn't, it will be the one after that.

There is a large struggle within the Church, even right now, and great dissention, for it knows that it is not giving what humanity wants. The doctrine is not current to the puzzles of life. The answer will be to create a better balance between the feminine and masculine, and the new Pope, or the one after that, will try to allow women to be in the higher echelon of the Church structure to assist the priests.

It will be suggested to let women participate in services, doing things women did not do before. This graduates them within church law to an equality with priests, but doesn't actually let them become priests just yet. However, don't be surprised if this begins in another way, and instead gives priests the ability to marry. This will bring the feminine into the church in other ways. It will eventually happen and has to happen. If it does not, it will be the end of the Catholic Church, for humanity will not sustain a spiritual belief system that is out of balance with the love of God and also out of balance with intuitive Human awareness.  …”

Monday, October 28, 2013

Saudi 'no woman, no drive' mockery video goes viral

Yahoo – AFP, 28 October 2013

An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube by Alaa Wardi on
October 26, 2013, shows Hisham Fageeh, a Saudi who introduces himself as
an artist social activist, singing "No woman, no drive", an adaptation of Bob
Marley's famous song (AFP Photo/)

Riyadh (AFP) - A Saudi video mocking the kingdom's unique ban on female driving has gone viral, featuring a male performer singing "no woman, no drive", an adaptation of Bob Marley's famous song.

Nearly 3.5 million people had seen the 4:15-minute video by Monday, two days after the adaptation of the reggae legend's "no woman, no cry" had been posted on YouTube.

"Say I remember when you used to sit, in the family car, but backseat," sings Hisham Fageeh, a Saudi who introduces himself as an artist social activist, dressed in traditional white thawb cloak and checkered red headgear.

The video that sarcastically tells women not to consider getting behind the wheel was posted on the day set by female activists to launch an new campaign to defy the kingdom's ban on women driving.

At least 16 women were stopped by police while at the wheel on Saturday. They were fined and forced along with their male guardians to pledge to obey the conservative-kingdom's laws.

Fageeh goes on to mock a claim by a Saudi cleric that driving would hurt women's ovaries and bring "clinical disorder" upon their children.

"Ovaries are safe and well, so you can make lots and lots of babies," he sings.

"In this bright future, you can't forget your past, so put your car key away," the song continues.

Women who in the past have defied the ban, which is not even enshrined in law, have run into trouble with the authorities.

In 1990, 47 women who got behind the wheel in a demonstration against the driving ban were stopped by the authorities.

In 2011, police arrested a number of women who defied the ban and forced them to sign a pledge not to drive again.

Saudi women are forced to cover from head to toe and need permission from a male guardian to travel, work and marry.

The New York Arab-American Comedy Festival this month introduced Fageeh as an up-and-running stand-up comedian who performs in Arabic and English.

On his YouTube account, "HishamComedy", Saudi-based Fageeh has posted many of his earlier videos, including 16 episodes of "Isboiyat Hisham," or Hisham Weeklies, including some reflecting on the lives of Saudi students in the United States.

"A simple contribution by me and my colleagues on the occasion of the" women driving campaign, Fageeh wrote on his Twitter account, on October 26, referring to his latest release.

Related Articles:

Saudi Arabian women vow to keep up campaign against driving ban

Few Saudi women get behind the wheel after threats

Image taken from a video uploaded by Saudi activists on YouTube
on October 17, 2013 shows a fully veiled woman driving in Riyadh
ahead of a planned nationwide day of defiance of the ban on
women driving (YouTube/AFP/File)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Couple's 'holiday' prize to Canada makes them unwitting drug mules

Google – AFP, 25 October 2013

Illustration: an Australian couple were duped into thinking they had won a holiday
 to Canada, but when they returned discovered they had become unwitting drug mules
(AFP/File, Tony Ashby)

Sydney — It seemed like a dream come true -- a free holiday to Canada complete with new luggage -- until the Australian couple involved realised they had unwittingly become drug mules.

Australian Federal Police on Friday said the pair, a 72-year-old man and 64-year-old woman, told Customs officials they had some concerns about their bags when they returned to Perth International Airport on October 13.

On examination, some 3.5 kilograms (7.7 pounds) of methamphetamine was found stashed within the lining of each bag, which police reportedly believe were swapped while in Canada.
"The Australian Federal Police will allege the couple were victims of an elaborate scam and were unwitting participants in the drug importation," police said in a statement.

Authorities said the scam by a bogus Canada-based tour company calling itself "AusCan Tours" apparently targeted older people, offering two tickets to Canada, seven nights' accommodation and new luggage as a prize.

"The organisers of this scam went to great lengths to provide a facade of legitimacy," Perth airport police commander David Bachi said.

"Thankfully the travellers contacted Customs and didn't dismiss their concerns, allowing us to make the arrest."

Authorities arrested a 38-year-old Canadian man at the airport the day the couple returned and have since charged him with importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.

A raid on a hotel in the Perth suburb of Scarborough uncovered documents allegedly associated with the scam, along with electronic equipment, two suitcases (similar to the ones seized at the airport) and Aus$15,000 (US$14,422) in cash.

The Customs director at Perth airport, Jan Hill, warned travellers about carrying someone else's luggage.

"If you've been asked to carry something on behalf of another person, make the right choice and alert local authorities," she said.

"Do not allow another person to pack your bag and do not carry luggage on behalf of another person."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dark skin campaign seeks to stop prejudice

Deutsche Welle, 24 October 2013

A campaign called 'Dark is Beautiful' has gained popularity in India and is bringing an important debate to the forefront: the idea that beauty is equated with fair skin.

The "Dark is Beautiful" campaign originally started in 2009. Recently, though, it has become quite popular due to a controversial, and some would say prejudice, TV ad for skin lightening cream. The advertisement stars famous Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan who gives a pot of the cream to a darker-skinned man. The viewer is led to believe that the man's dreams will come true, now that he will soon have fair skin.

The people behind the Dark is Beautiful campaign are pushing for this advertisement to be withdrawn. They are also working to change the mindset of society and to create awareness about the deep-rooted prejudice that fair skin is better than dark skin.


"The idea that dark skin is not good looking is something that is deeply rooted in society and we are trying to create awareness about it," Kavitha Emmanuel, director and founder of the organization Women of Worth, which is behind the movement, told DW.

Emmanuel's NGO has been working with students from schools and colleges, training them in soft skills, teaching them to deal with self-esteem issues, peer-pressure and depression. As part of her work, she is constantly confronted with the problems faced by people of dark skin and the discrimination they face in their personal and professional lives.

Nandita Das is an actress who has starred in a number of successful films, such as Fire, Earth, Firaq. Hers is the face of the campaign. As a dark-skinned woman, she knows what discrimination dark-skinned Indians face, especially in Bollywood. "If you are dark then you are cast for roles such as a village women or a slum dweller but an urban affluent character always must be the fair faced person!"

Nandita Das is the poster girl for the campaign
 that seeks to draw attention to the skin color bias
Is Bollywood to blame?

The Indian film industry coupled with the advertising industry continues to show a preference for light-skinned models and actresses. Famous film stars endorse beauty products and the fans follow the message in the hope of being able to imitate their role models.

"The industry has capitalized on it; they have encouraged it to an extent. But in their defense, they say that they have given people what they want or what people thought was beautiful," Emmanuel said.

According to Nielsen India, a market research company based in Mumbai, the fairness cream industry is currently worth 430 million dollars. But the industry has been around for a while. The company Hindustan Lever first launched its Fair & Lovely cream in 1978. The original target group has changed over time. A study conducted by the company showed that the fairness creams are even now popular among men in the southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, where skin tones tends to be darker.

The skin bias in the sub continent goes back a long way in the history of the country. As Das points out, "This theory about fair skin being more beautiful and desirable stems from ancient caste hierarchy which overlaps with the class pyramid. For centuries, the upper class/caste has been fair and the lower caste/working class, dark. The former works indoors and has had the best nutrition while the latter toils in the sun and is under privileged in many ways."

Obsession with fairness

The obsession with fair skin goes under Indian society's skin. An overwhelming amount of matrimonial ads in newspapers and online portals read "looking for a suitable match for tall, slim, fair girl from the same religious background" or along those lines.

Emmanuel recounts a story during her interview with DW. "A colleague had a marriage proposal from a doctor based in the UK. This doctor was in a wheelchair and my colleague still accepted the proposal, saying that she would look beyond the physical challenges of her potential partner. But after the doctor's family met my colleague, they rejected her on the grounds of her dark skin."

The prejudice is deep-rooted, says Kavitha Emmanuel

Most Indians opt for an arranged marriage - a traditional setup in India, whereby the parents pick out a suitable spouse for their children. Matches are found by word of mouth or through a matrimonial advertisements. The advertisement's basic elements include physical features, religion, salary and educational qualifications.

Dr. Kanchana Lanzet, an anthropologist and vice president of the German National Committee UN Women, told DW, "I have often heard parents and elders in the family say things like 'unfortunate dark skin girl! she has such fine features if only she was fair!' And this is followed by the million dollar question: who will marry a dark skinned girl, it will be difficult to find a good match for her."

Need to change mindset

Activists feel that there is an urgent need to change the mindset of the people. They are aware of the fact that this may not happen overnight but the success of the Dark is Beautiful campaign shows that people are coming forward and are willing to discuss and debate this sensitive issue.

Lanzet told DW that the mindset of society will change when it realizes that beauty is only skin deep. Or when "society starts accepting that girls and women are people in their own right, not only with physical attributes, but endowed with talents and the potential to be artists of their own lives - that people are more than the color of their skin."

Related Articles:

Question: I’m a black woman who enjoys your teachings tremendously. It seems that there aren’t a lot of black people involved in these discussions. Is this true, and is there a reason for this? Is it cultural? Or am I wrong in this assumption?

Answer: Dear one, yes. If you’re speaking about black Americans, you’re right. It’s cultural. There are two basic reasons you won’t find many blacks in metaphysics in your culture: The first one is that in your land, your race is a minority with a history of oppression. This has created a very strong spiritual support base. Almost from birth, most of you have been exposed to very high church and spiritual support and a feeling of belonging and sticking together. There are few groups that have this kind of support and prayer base. So spiritually, you don’t look around much for answers other than what you have already learned about the love of God. This works for you and is honored.

The second reason is perhaps politically incorrect in your culture to speak of, but Kryon is not of your culture. Many of you are in survival mode due to sustained second-class citizenship you experience from birth. This causes despair, poverty, and a shift to crime among many due to despondency over life and a need to survive in a system that does not honor you. When a Human is consumed with survival in a difficult environment, they don’t have time or a desire for introspection or a search to better themselves spiritually. All their time is spent spinning within the challenges they have, many of which they assume to be their plight, many of which they have created themselves.

The sadness here is that if they did look within, they would find the tools to co-create a life outside of survival, and start processes that honors their endeavors and their lives. Blessed are those with life challenges, as so many of the minorities have, but who have decided to increase their spiritual knowledge as a solution, instead of trying to force-manipulate the reality of the cultural situation.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Vatican launches cricket club, challenges Anglicans

Google – AFP, Dario Thuburn (AFP), 22 October 2013

Seminarians play cricket on October 22, 2013 in the Vatican (AFP, Andreas Solaro)

Vatican City — The Vatican served up tea and cucumber sandwiches on Tuesday as it launched its own cricket club, challenging the Church of England to a match and vowing to take on Indian Hindu and Muslim clerics.

With the coat of arms of St Peter's as its symbol and the Vatican yellow-and-white flag as its colours, the club will unite cricket-mad priests and seminarians -- and perhaps eventually nuns.

"The team will be strong enough to beat anyone in the world," said Father Theodore Mascarenhas, an Indian priest and a mean off-spin bowler, who is the chairman of the new St Peter's Cricket Club.

The initiative brings together the sporting madness of hundreds of clerics -- mainly from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka -- with a Vatican aim to find new ways to spread the word.

Seminarians play cricket on October 22, 
2013 in the Vatican (AFP, Andreas
"This represents the council's desire to go to the peripheries of the world that Pope Francis has spoken of," said Monsignor Melchor Sanchez, who is the club's honorary president and an official at the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Culture.

Sanchez said cricket could be a way of engaging with other denominations and religions, saying he hoped the Church of England would form its own team and the two could square off on Lord's cricket ground in London -- the "home of cricket".

The planned "oecumenical" game could be in September next year -- the month chosen because it is a time of holiday for seminarians in Rome.

The club is also thinking of other possible matches against teams of Hindu and Muslim trainee clerics who would come over especially from India.

"I never imagined cricket was so popular in Rome!" said Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, who is informally known as the Vatican's "culture minister".

"Cricket is alien to our culture but it has become part of our culture as an expression of inter-culturality," he said, explaining that a wave of immigration in Italy had brought many young aficionados of the sport to the country.

While Pope Francis is known as a fan of the San Lorenzo football club in his native Argentina, Mascarenhas said he was also "a very open man".

"I think cricket is another thing that would be part of that openness," he said, adding: "Cricket will speak a new language -- perhaps Latin."

Various clerics in Rome already play and the plan is to encourage more to join in and to then select a team of the best players by early next year, so as to train together ahead of the Anglican game.

Father Eamonn O'Higgins, spiritual director at the pontifical college of Maria Mater Ecclesiae, said his college team had recently defeated a strong challenge from the lads at Propaganda Fide, the Vatican department overseeing Catholic dogma.

He said cricket could provide spiritual lessons.

"Any competitive sport implies a battle, overcoming an adversary... A Catholic priest is also called to battle an adversary," he said, adding that "submission to the rules of the game" and "teamwork" were also key for future clerics.

Philippa Hitchen, who works for Vatican Radio, is also a club member in the hope that at some point "we will have nuns playing so the gentlemen's game can also be a ladies' game," Mascarenhas said.

Preparations for the cricket club began a year ago thanks largely to the enthusiasm of Australia's ambassador to the Holy See, John McCarthy, who said this was "sporting diplomacy" in action.

McCarthy said he had heard Pope Francis had "an awareness" of cricket because it was played in the Jesuit colleges in Argentina he once oversaw.

"The Holy Father has heard of cricket," he said.

St Peter's Cricket Club will initially play on the grounds of Capannelle Cricket Club outside Rome and will practice in Trastevere, near the centre.

While the initiative has novelty value, club members said it could also produce genuine talent.

One member is Brother K.M. Joseph, who helped promote sports in schools in India and was behind the rise of former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin and former international V.V.S. Laxman.

Father Robert McCulloch, an Australian priest who works in Pakistan, said: "When it comes to cricket, every Pakistani is a fundamentalist.

He said the Vatican club "brings together many countries and nationalities united by two things -- their faith and their passion for cricket".

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Monday, October 21, 2013

9 Foreign Nationals Detained for Entering Grasberg Mine Without Permit

Jakarta Globe, Banjir Ambarita, October 21, 2013

An aerial view of the Grasberg Mine. (Reuters Photo/Muhammad Yamin)

Jayapura. Security officials at Freeport Indonesia’s massive Grasberg Mine discovered that nine foreign nationals who said they were mountain climbers had entered the mine without permission, according to a source within the company.

The nine hikers allegedly entered the open pit mine in Papua province, which is the largest gold mine and the third largest copper mine in the world, at some point on Sunday and were found by security later that day.

The climbers have been identified by the anonymous source within the company as Swiss nationals Michel Wirth-Fragata, 44; Silvan Schenk, 57; Matthias Halchey, 34; Fritz Yacobv, 60; and Daniel Meyerhoff, 45; German national Reinhard Buscher, 61; Austrian national Alois Fuchs; and Matheus ven der Maulen, 59, from the Netherlands.

The ninth climber and the only female in the group, who has been identified only as Elen Anezlua, 42, was taken to the hospital in Tembagapura to receive treatment for severe dehydration.

The others were taken to the Freeport security office in Sugapa Grasberg.

“What happened is that those foreign climbers took their own route to climb Mount Carstensz,” said Freeport Indonesia spokeswoman Daisy Primayanti. Mount Carstensz is the tallest mountain in central Papua province’s Sudirman range.

“One suffered from a light injury and they decided to turn back, through a [mining] work route,” she said. “In light of the conditions, [we] have facilitated logistical relief so that they can descend to the plateau.”

She said they were not allowed in the work area “for safety reasons.”

Local police were not immediately available to comment.

Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of US mining giant Freeport McMoRan, operates gold and copper mining in Papua’s Timika district. The Indonesian government owns a stake in Freeport Indonesia as well.

Contrary to announcement, Israel PM not meeting pope

Google – AFP, 20 October 2013

This handout picture released on October 17, 2013 by the Vatican press office
 shows Pope Francis (R) speaking with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas during
a private audience (Osservatore Romano/AFP/File)

Jerusalem — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not be meeting with Pope Francis in three days, a diplomatic source said Sunday, after the premier's office had previously said they would.

A statement from Netanyahu's office had said the premier would be "meeting Pope Francis next Wednesday at the Vatican" and with US Secretary of State John Kerry for updates on nuclear talks with Iran and negotiations with the Palestinians in Rome.

But a diplomatic source on Sunday told AFP no such meeting with Francis will be taking place, noting that audiences with the Pope must be arranged sufficiently in advance.

A spokesman for Netanyahu refused to comment on the matter.

This was to be Netanyahu's first meeting with Pope Francis. On Thursday, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas met with the pope and invited him to the Holy Land. Israeli President Shimon Peres also invited Francis during a visit earlier this year.

Francis has said he would like to travel to the Middle East, but the Vatican has not confirmed the trip, despite a report by Israel's Channel 2 television that it will take place in March.

Abbas is the fourth Middle East leader to have met Pope Francis after Peres, Lebanese President Michel Sleiman and King Abdullah of Jordan.

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