United Nations Declaration (Articles 1 - 30):

Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2: Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Incoming UN chief names three women to top posts

Incoming UN chief names three women to top posts
Nigerian Minister of the Environment Amina Mohammed, seen in 2015, will be the UN's number two official (AFP Photo/Mireya ACIERTO)

Sustainable Development
"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.) -
"The Timing of the Great Shift" – Mar 21, 2009 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Text version)

“ … 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.)

The Declaration of Human Freedom

Archangel Michael (Via Steve Beckow), Feb. 19, 2011

Every being is a divine and eternal soul living in a temporal body. Every being was alive before birth and will live after death.

Every soul enters into physical life for the purpose of experience and education, that it may, in the course of many lifetimes, learn its true identity as a fragment of the Divine.

Life itself is a constant process of spiritual evolution and unfoldment, based on free choice, that continues until such time as we realize our true nature and return to the Divine from which we came.

No soul enters life to serve another, except by choice, but to serve its own purpose and that of the Divine from which it came.

All life is governed by natural and universal laws which precede and outweigh the laws of humanity. These laws, such as the law of karma, the law of attraction, and the law of free will, are decreed by God to order existence and assist each person to achieve life’s purpose.

No government can or should survive that derives its existence from the enforced submission of its people or that denies its people their basic rights and freedoms.

Life is a movement from one existence to another, in varied venues throughout the universe and in other universes and dimensions of existence. We are not alone in the universe but share it with other civilizations, most of them peace-loving, many of whom are more advanced than we are, some of whom can be seen with our eyes and some of whom cannot.

The evidence of our five senses is not the final arbiter of existence. Humans are spiritual as well as physical entities and the spiritual side of life transcends the physical. God is a Spirit and the final touchstone of God’s Truth is not physical but spiritual. The Truth is to be found within.

God is one and, because of this, souls are one. They form a unity. They are meant to live in peace and harmony together in a “common unity” or community. The use of force to settle affairs runs contrary to natural law. Every person should have the right to conduct his or her own affairs without force, as long as his or her choices do not harm another.

No person shall be forced into marriage against his or her will. No woman shall be forced to bear or not bear children, against her will. No person shall be forced to hold or not hold views or worship in a manner contrary to his or her choice. Nothing vital to existence shall be withheld from another if it is within the community’s power to give.

Every person shall retain the ability to think, speak, and act as they choose, as long as they not harm another. Every person has the right to choose, study and practice the education and career of their choice without interference, provided they not harm another.

No one has the right to kill another. No one has the right to steal from another. No one has the right to force himself or herself upon another in any way.

Any government that harms its citizens, deprives them of their property or rights without their consent, or makes offensive war upon its neighbors, no matter how it misrepresents the situation, has lost its legitimacy. No government may govern without the consent of its people. All governments are tasked with seeing to the wellbeing of their citizens. Any government which forces its citizens to see to its own wellbeing without attending to theirs has lost its legitimacy.

Men and women are meant to live fulfilling lives, free of want, wherever they wish and under the conditions they desire, providing their choices do not harm another and are humanly attainable.

Children are meant to live lives under the beneficent protection of all, free of exploitation, with unhindered access to the necessities of life, education, and health care.

All forms of exploitation, oppression, and persecution run counter to universal and natural law. All disagreements are meant to be resolved amicably.

Any human law that runs counter to natural and universal law is invalid and should not survive. The enactment or enforcement of human law that runs counter to natural and universal law brings consequences that cannot be escaped, in this life or another. While one may escape temporal justice, one does not escape divine justice.

All outcomes are to the greater glory of God and to God do we look for the fulfillment of our needs and for love, peace, and wisdom. So let it be. Aum/Amen.

Pope Francis arrives for historic first US visit

Pope Francis arrives for historic first US visit
Pope Francis laughs alongside US President Barack Obama upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, on September 22, 2015, on the start of a 3-day trip to Washington (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

Today's doodle in the U.S. celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech on its 50th anniversary (28 Aug 2013)

'Love is love': Obama lauds gay marriage activists in hailing 'a victory for America'

'Love is love': Obama lauds gay marriage activists in hailing 'a victory for America'
The White House released this image, of the building colored like the rainbow flag, on Facebook following the supreme court’s ruling. Photograph: Facebook

Same-sex marriage around the world

"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. …

Merkel says Turkey media crackdown 'highly alarming'

Merkel says Turkey media crackdown 'highly alarming'
Reporters Without Borders labels Erdogan as 'enemy of press freedom'

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Thursday, December 31, 2009


The Jakarta Post | Thu, 12/31/2009 3:02 PM

This image provided by NASA Wednesday Dec. 30, 2009 shows a view combining infrared images from the ground (red, green) with X-ray data from NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory in the supernova remnant W49B. Studies of two supernova remnants using the Japan-U.S. Suzaku observatory have revealed never-before-seen embers of the high-temperature fireballs that immediately followed the explosions. Even after thousands of years, gas within these stellar wrecks retain the imprint of temperatures 10,000 times hotter than the sun's surface. Suzaku found another fossil fireball. It detected X-rays produced when heavily ionized iron atoms recapture an electron. (AP Photo/NASA)

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ayatollah Khamenei's jet put on standby

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 29 December 2009 - 7:46pm

Ayatollah Khamenei's jet put on standby

Reports from Iran indicate that the Supreme National Security Council has ordered a complete check-up of the jet which is on standby to fly Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei and his family to Russia should the situation in Iran spiral out of control. The order, to the Pasdaran Revolutionary Guard Corps, was dated on Sunday, 27 December. A fax containing the order was sent to Dutch-based Shahrzad News.

In Iran, tens of thousands of pro-government supporters took to the streets on Tuesday, calling for leaders of the opposition to be punished. They say the opposition is to blame for the protests during the Shiite festival of Ashura in which eight people are reported to have been killed by riot police.

Opposition supporters launched the demonstrations following the death of Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri a critic of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The protests were crushed by the authorities and the opposition is now calling for the government to apologise for the excessive violence used by the police.

President Ahmadinejad says the United States, Great Britain and Israel are behind the protests. The British ambassador in Tehran has been summoned by the Iranian authorities. The Revolutionary Guard says the foreign media and Iran's enemies are waging a psychological war aimed at bringing down the legitimate Iranian government.

Some Iranian MPs are calling for demonstrators to be sentenced to death. Various opposition figures have been arrested including the sister of Nobel peace prize laureate Schirin Ebadi.

Analysts see Iran at breaking point

Thirty Eight Iranian Smugglers Face Death Penalty

De Borj-e Azadi

Monday, December 28, 2009

Israeli defense chief: Iran can build bomb by 2011

The Jakarta Post, Associated Press, Jerusalem | Mon, 12/28/2009 8:28 PM

Iran will possess the technology to build a nuclear bomb by early 2010 and be able to produce one the following year, Israeli media quoted Israel's defense minister as saying Monday.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak delivered his assessment before the Israeli parliament's defense and foreign affairs committee. It broadly matches assessments from other nations including the U.S., which estimates that Tehran could produce a nuclear weapon between 2010 and 2015.

The Defense Ministry said it could not confirm the reports and a Barak spokesman wasn't immediately available for comment. The radio and newspaper Web site reports did not identify the source of their information, but participants in the committee meetings routinely brief reporters on the proceedings.

Earlier this month, Israel's military intelligence chief said Iran was close to an unspecified "technological breakthrough" that would enable it to build nuclear weapons. He did not elaborate on the breakthrough or say when exactly he expected Iran to have weapons-making capability.

Israel, like the West, disputes Tehran's claims that its nuclear program is designed to produce energy, not bombs. It has lobbied for tough sanctions against Iran and has not ruled out a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.

"The international community must act," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a separate gathering of Israeli diplomats. "If sanctions aren't imposed now, if true pressure isn't applied now - then when will they do it?"

A U.N.-drafted proposal aims to ease concerns that Iran could build a nuclear weapon by reducing its stockpile of low-enriched uranium. Under the proposal, the uranium would be shipped to France and Russia in exchange for more highly enriched fuel rods that are not suitable for use in weapons.

Iran has not formally responded to the U.N. proposal, but recently proposed Turkey as a possible venue for exchanging nuclear material with the West.

EU urges Israel to suspend construction plans

Israel plans to build more homes in E Jerusalem

Netanyahu wants Israeli force on Palestinian border

Saturday, December 26, 2009

China defends Wen Jiabao's role in Copenhagen talks

Reuters, Beijng, Fri Dec 25, 2009 2:44am EST

BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Friday defended the role played by premier Wen Jiabao at climate change talks in Copenhagen this month after a barrage of international criticism blaming China for obstructing negotiations.

The Copenhagen meeting ended with a broad political agreement but left specifics to be ironed out in 2010, angering many of the poorest nations as well as Western groups who had hoped for a more ambitious commitment.

China insisted that firm targets agreed to by European nations not be included in the final deal, and Wen himself was absent from a final round of direct negotiations between national leaders. British climate minister Ed Miliband said China and its allies had "hijacked" talks, according to the Guardian newspaper.

In a long account of the Copenhagen meeting, Xinhua gave Wen credit for "the last minute attempt to exchange ideas and reach consensus" despite his belief that it was "impossible" to reach a legally binding agreement.

"China showed the greatest sincerity, tried its best and played a constructive role," Xinhua said.

Issues of verification of emissions cut pledges plagued the meeting, with rich nations saying China's efforts to slow greenhouse gas growth should be subject to international verification to ensure that Beijing is keeping its word. China has said such checks would violate its sovereignty.

"On the transparency issue in self-mitigation actions, Wen said China was willing to conduct talks and cooperation," Xinhua said.

China has made its own pledges to reduce carbon intensity, or the amount of emissions produced per unit of GDP, but blocked European countries from including their commitment to cut absolute emissions by 80 percent by 2050, as well as commitments to specific dates when emissions would peak.

Other Reuters sources had also said China blocked the inclusion of specific targets.

Xinhua acknowledged Wen's absence from the late night meetings on Dec 17, saying that Wen had not been informed, and had learned the Chinese delegation was included in the meeting list from another, unidentified foreign leader.

"Premier Wen felt quite astonished and was vigilant," Xinhua said, adding that China sent a vice foreign minister instead.

The U.S. administration has played up President Barack Obama's role in breaking through a deadlock by arriving unannounced at a meeting of the heads of China, Brazil, India and South Africa, all powerful developing countries concerned that emissions concessions could impede growth.

Xinhua said that meeting -- which occurred as the U.S. sought a meeting with China and was rebuffed from meeting the others -- represented Wen's efforts to reach consensus before bringing a final deal to the Western nations and poorest developing nations.

(Reporting by Lucy Hornby; Editing by David Fox)

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Russian president announces interior ministry job cuts

Russia's interior ministry currently has 1.4 million employees

A new decree aiming to eradicate corruption is set to cut one fifth of the employees from Russia's interior ministry.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree on Thursday designed to cut the the number of staff at the interior ministry by 20 percent. The cuts, which could affect more than 280,000 members of the 1.4 million strong ministry, are designed to combat corruption within the scandal-plagued police force.

The decree would also cut interior ministry troops, civilian employess and investigators by January 1, 2012.

"A huge amount of complaints from our citizens have been piling up about the work of the interior ministry," Medvedev said during his end-of-year interview with three state-controlled television stations. "We need rather tough and serious changes."

The document provides for changes in police recruitment rules to better vet applicants, and outlines measures to combat police corruption.

Eroding authority

Bribe-taking and documented cases of torture while in custody have earned the Russian police a fearful reputation, resulting in many crimes going unreported out of fear.

Recent months saw a slew of high profile scandals that precipitated Thursday's decree. On Wednesday a Russian police colonel was detained as a suspect in the murder of a lawyer last year, on Tuesday a police major went on trial for going on a shooting spree in a Moscow supermarket in November, killing two, and in November three Moscow police officers were detained for drunkenly beating a man to death while off duty.

Medvedev said police abuse and corruption had undermined the authority of the government, necessitating the decree.

sjt/AFP/Reuters / Editor: Chuck Penfold

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Top Roman Catholic in Holy Land prays for peace

The Jakarta Post, The Associated Press, Bethlehem | Thu, 12/24/2009 8:31 PM | World

Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate midnight mass at 10pm for the first time in the Vatican's history (CNN)

The top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land delivered Christmas wishes Thursday for peace in the Middle East - and prayed for the day when Palestinians would no longer be confined by Israeli barriers.

Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal began Christmas celebrations with an annual procession from Jerusalem to the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Jesus' traditional birthplace.

"The wish that we most want, we most hope for, is not coming. We want peace," Twal said after he passed into Bethlehem.

"We don't have a shortage of food, we don't need aid," he added. "All we want is peace, and that is the wish that still has not been answered."

Twal and his convoy of dozens of vehicles entered the Palestinian territory through a massive steel gate in Israel's heavily guarded West Bank separation barrier, escorted by Israeli soldiers and police in jeeps.

The barrier and the heavy Israeli security presence was a potent reminder of the fractions and hostilities that have made peace impossible.

"We want freedom of movement, we don't want walls," Twal said after passing through the barrier. "We don't want separation fences. We hope that things will become more normal for us."

Israel began building the barrier of towering concrete slabs and electronic fences after Palestinian militants carried out a series of suicide bombings that killed dozens of Israelis. But Palestinians see it as a land grab because its route juts into the West Bank in various places, putting that land on the "Israeli" side of the enclosure.

Thousands of people were already milling around Manger Square when Twal arrived: tourists from all over the world, locals hawking food at stalls, and Palestinian scouts decked out in kilts and playing bagpipes, as they do each Christmas.

Balloons of all colors gave an added note of cheer to the festivities.

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Chinese children attend Christmas Mass at a Church in Beijing. Chinese official data suggest about 15m Protestants and five million Catholics worship at churches in the country. (BBC)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Islam-inspired green initiatives deserve Western support

The West should co-opt Islam in the fight for a better environment, says Evert Faber van der Meulen

NRC International, by Evert Faber van der Meulen, 22 December 2009 16:54, Opinion

A Danish imam reads the Koran in his mosque. (Photo AP)

Despite the disappointing agreement reached at the climate conference in Copenhagen, the US seems to have joined the EU in its commitment to binding carbon dioxide reduction schemes. This guarantees climate change will remain at the top of the agenda in the Western world in the coming years.

In the Islamic world, however, this is not the case. Hardly any country has put climate change on the agenda at all. This is made all the more tragic because Islamic countries will face the brunt of a changing climate. Desertification is a major threat in North Africa and the Middle East, and rising sea levels are expected to have dire consequences for the worlds’ poor in countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia.

The 1.2 billion Muslims of this world currently produce a relatively small amount of carbon dioxide emissions. Islamic countries are roughly responsible for ten percent of global carbon dioxide output, whilst 300 million US citizens alone produce more than 20 percent. But over the last ten years both energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions have risen by 4.5 percent annually in the Islamic world.

It is only a matter of time before the carbon dioxide output of Islamic countries will become a major problem, and the sooner these countries can be involved in global climate policy, the better.

One of the lessons learnt from the Western world is that it took time before climate change moved from the scientific to the political agenda. Individuals and NGOs played an important part in this process by bringing the existing scientific evidence to the fore. But what to do in countries where freedom of speech is limited and Western-style NGOs don’t exist?

We can look to the grassroots organisation that is able to reach the population at large in these countries: Islam. Born in the deserts of Arabia, where means of livelihood were scarce, early Islam already pleaded for modesty and humility, especially at a material level. Moreover, Islam sees humanity as the pinnacle of creation and therefore charged with the responsibility to safeguard this world.

Islam and the climate movement also have something in common, the colour green. Green is the colour of the prophet and represents paradise, because the desert people of early Islam imagined paradise to be a fertile green oasis.

Islamic ‘green’ initiatives are rare. Many Muslim countries are poor, and one cannot really blame the population that climate change is not its first priority. Of course, oil and gas are mostly found in Islamic countries, which gives them a vested interest in the non-sustainable energy mix. But equally important is that Islamic countries see climate policy as simply the next initiative produced by a Western neo-colonial mentality.

In the short term the West can do two relatively simple things. First, it should support the global Islamic initiatives that are taking place. For instance, in July of this year, the Muslim Association for Climate Change (MACCA) was founded by a number of influential Muslims, including several influential Islamic spiritual leaders. Western governments and NGOs could work together with such an organisation and supply funding and knowledge for concrete initiatives. A first initiative could involve supplying green power to all mosques worldwide, for instance.

Secondly, our own European Muslim minority could fulfil an important role as mediator between the West and the Islamic world. Especially in the UK, a number of Islamic organisations is already trying to enhance ecological awareness amongst Muslims in their own country and abroad.

As an example we can look at the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES). One of their most interesting projects involved the introduction of sustainable fishing methods in Zanzibar. During the 1990s, the World Wildlife Foundation had started a campaign in order to discourage local fishermen from using dynamite as their preferred method of fishing. The situation started to improve only when IFEES was asked for help in 2000. Via an Islamic educational program IFEES explained to the local populace that this fishing method was against Islamic values. As a result the population has now declared the area to be a ‘Hima’ (an Islamic reservation).

Finally, there is another reason why Islam should be involved in the debate on climate change. Generally western politicians and NGOs have terse discussions with Islamic countries on topics such as democracy, human rights and freedom of speech. Islamic leaders often interpret these discussions as veiled attempts to undermine Islamic values. However, the challenge posed by climate change is a global problem that affects both Islam and the West equally. In that sense climate change is not only a major problem, but also a golden opportunity to show that the world does have to sink into a ‘clash of civilisations’.

Evert Faber van der Meulen reads Islamic Studies and History (M.Phil) at Oxford University

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A backlash builds up against China

The Economic Times, 22 Dec 2009, 0153 hrs IST, NYT News Service
HANOI: Trung Son, Vietnam — It seemed as if this village in northern Vietnam had struck gold when a Chinese and a Japanese company arrived to jointly build a coal-fired power plant. Thousands of jobs would start flowing in, or so the local residents hoped.

Four years later, the Haiphong Thermal Power Plant is nearing completion. But only a few hundred Vietnamese ever got jobs. Most of the workers were Chinese, about 1,500 at the peak. Hundreds of them are still here, toiling by day on the dusty construction site and cloistered at night in dingy dormitories.
“The Chinese workers overwhelm the Vietnamese workers here,” said Nguyen Thai Bang, 29, a Vietnamese electrician. China, famous for its export of cheap goods, is increasingly known for shipping out cheap labour. These global migrants often work in factories or on Chinese-run construction and engineering projects, though the range of jobs is astonishing: from planting flowers in the Netherlands to doing secretarial work in Singapore to herding cows in Mongolia — even delivering newspapers in the Middle East.
But a backlash against them has grown. Across Asia and Africa, episodes of protest and violence against Chinese workers have flared. Vietnam and India are among the nations that have moved this year to impose new labour rules for foreign companies and restrict the number of Chinese workers allowed to enter, straining diplomatic relations with Beijing.
In Vietnam, dissidents and intellectuals are using the issue of Chinese labour to challenge Vietnam’s governing Communist Party. A lawyer has sued Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung over his approval of a Chinese bauxite mining project, and the National Assembly is questioning top officials over Chinese contracts, both unusual moves in this authoritarian state.
Chinese workers continue to follow China’s state-owned construction companies as they win bids abroad to build power plants, factories, railroads, highways, subway lines and stadiums. From January to October 2009, Chinese companies completed $58 billion of projects, a 33% increase over the same period in 2008, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. From Angola to Uzbekistan, Iran to Indonesia, some 740,000 Chinese workers were abroad at the end of 2008, with 58% sent out last year alone, the Commerce Ministry said. The number going abroad this year is on track to roughly match that rate.
Chinese executives say that Chinese workers are not always less expensive, but that they tend to be more skilled and easier to manage than local workers. “Whether you’re talking about the social benefits or economic benefits to the countries receiving the workers, the countries have had very good things to say about the Chinese workers and their skills,” said Diao Chunhe, director of the China International Contractors Association, a government organisation in Beijing.
But in some countries, local residents accuse the Chinese of stealing jobs, staying on illegally and isolating themselves by building bubble worlds that replicate life in China, not unlike American military bases in the Middle East. “There are entire Chinese villages now,” said Pham Chi Lan, former executive V-P of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “We’ve never seen such a practice on projects done by companies from other countries.”
At this construction site northeast of the port city of Haiphong, an entire Chinese world has sprung up: four walled dormitory compounds, restaurants with Chinese signs advertising dumplings and fried rice, currency exchange shops, massage parlors — even a sign on the site itself that says “Guangxi Road,” referring to the Chinese province that most of the workers call home. One night, eight Chinese workers in blue uniforms sat in a cramped restaurant that had been opened by a man from Guangxi at the request of the project’s main subcontractor, Guangxi Power Construction Company. Their faces were flushed from drinking Chinese rice wine.
“I was sent here, and I’m fulfilling my patriotic duty,” said Lin Dengji, 52, an equipment installation manager. Such scenes can set off anxieties in Vietnam, which prides itself on resisting Chinese domination, starting with its break from Chinese rule in the 10th century. Vietnamese are all too aware of the economic juggernaut to their north. Vietnam had a $10-billion trade deficit with China last year. In July, a senior official said that 35,000 Chinese workers were in Vietnam, according to Tuoi Tre newspaper. The announcement shocked many Vietnamese.
“The Chinese economic presence in Vietnam is deeper, more far-reaching and progressing faster than people realise,” said Le Dang Doanh, an economist in Hanoi who advised the preceding prime minister.
Conflict has broken out between Vietnamese and Chinese labourers. In Thanh Hoa province in June, a drunken Chinese worker from a cement plant traded blows with the husband of a Vietnamese shopkeeper.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Nuclear test land returned to Australian Aborigines

BBC News, by Phil Mercer, Sydney

Aboriginal communities have received apologies and lands in recent years

An indigenous group in Australia has finally received the last tract of territory seized from it half a century ago.

The land, at Maralinga, had been taken for use in British nuclear tests.

The tribe has now taken possession of 3,000 sq km (1,158 sq miles) of ancestral land.

Britain detonated its first atomic bomb in the red desert at Maralinga in 1956, and half a dozen similar explosions followed over the next decade.

Off limits

At an official ceremony at Maralinga village, the final section of the nuclear test site was handed back by the South Australian Governor Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce, who said that a sad chapter in history was now closing.

"In Britain's race to develop a nuclear weapon capability, this area was declared off limits to the traditional owners and they were forced to leave. Most were moved to coastal grey-sand country at Yalata, a place which they had no connection," he said.

The site, known as Section 400, was heavily polluted by radiation and hazardous chemicals.

It has taken the Australian government five years to decontaminate the area.

Despite concerns among some locals that the land remains tainted, Maralinga elder Keith Peters celebrated a triumphant day.

"Our people fought, they fought so bad to get the land back, back in the past in the '80s, and they've finally made it," he said.

South Australia's Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jay Weatherill insisted that British nuclear tests had been conducted with little regard to indigenous people, who had been through "an unthinkable experience".

Mr Weatherill said that while the Maralinga story was one of suffering and loss, the return of sacred country would heal some of the wounds of the past.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Focus on microfinance

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 18 December 2009 - 1:46pm | By RNW English section


Five years after the 'Year of Microcredit' Radio Netherlands Worldwide takes the debate on microfinance a step further.

The theme will be central to RNW broadcasts via radio and the internet from January 2010 and Radio Netherlands is organising a special meeting on the issue.

In this way, the international broadcaster wants to draw the attention of a wide audience to the opportunities and difficulties involved in microfinance.


Radio Netherlands Worldwide is organising the meeting ''Microfinance: Who profits?" in the Peace Palace in The Hague on 25 January 2010. Her Royal Highness Princess Máxima and Development Minister Bert Koenders will address the meeting.

In addition, distinguished international experts will consider the question who benefits from microfinance. Tortilla baker Linda Flores from Nicaragua will speak on how microcredit changed her life.

If you want to follow the meeting live on 25 January, watch the live steam in this web dossier.

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Microfinance Institution Bandhan Now Serves More Than 500,000 Working Poor

Royal kick-off for RNW's microcredit project

Princess Máxima of the Netherlands will deliver a speech at a meeting on microcredit hosted by Radio Netherlands Worldwide on 25 January 2010.

The event, which takes place in the International Court of Justice building in The Hague, is part of a multimedia project aiming to present the possibilities of microcredits to a worldwide audience.

Development Aid Minister Bert Koenders will also speak at the conference, where 150 invitees from all over the world will be focusing on the question who is benefiting from microfinancing.

On 5 January Radio Netherlands Worldwide will launch a web dossier in four languages about microfinancing on its website, www.rnw.nl.

Microcredits, small loans under favourable conditions, enable individual people in poor countries to set up their own companies and earn a living.

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Negotiators at UN Climate Change Conference

www.chinaview.cn 2009-12-19 20:51:05

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (1st, R) talks with Yvo de Boer (2nd, L), Executive Secretary of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, during the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, capital of Denmark, on Dec. 19, 2009. (Xinhua/Wu Wei)

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Religion Repressed in a Third of All Nations: Study

The Jakarta Globe, Dave Bryan, New York

In Indonesia, Muslim groups burn down a mosque belonging to the minority Ahmadiyya. In Singapore, the government refuses to recognize Jehovah's Witnesses. In Belgium, 68 religion-based hate crimes are reported in 2007 alone.

People living in a third of all countries are restricted from practicing religion freely, either because of government policies and laws or hostile acts by individuals or groups, according to a study released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center, "Global Restrictions on Religion." That amounts to 70 percent of the globe's population, since some of the most restrictive countries are very populous.

Of the world's 25 most populous countries, citizens in Iran, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and India live with the most restrictions when both measures are taken into account, the study found." Where those two come together is where it's most intense," said Brian Grim, senior researcher at the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The United States, Brazil, Japan, Italy, South Africa and the United Kingdom have the least amount of restrictions on religious practices when measured by both government infringement and religion-based violence or harassment, according to the study.

The study found that religious minorities suffer the brunt of the intolerance.

Timothy Shah, a senior research scholar at Boston University who is familiar with the study, said he was struck by the fact that more than 30 countries have high levels of both government and social restrictions on religion.

Shah pointed to Nigeria, where 12 majority-Muslim states adopted the Islamic Sharia criminal code after returning to civilian rule in 1999, resulting in hostilities against religious minorities." Where the state throws its weight around, that naturally creates a response of social hostility," he said.

The Pew Center sought answers to 20 questions it created related to government restrictions on religious practices, such as policies or laws, and on 13 questions on social restrictions, such as individual acts of violence.

The group then examined published public information sources, including reports by the U.S. State Department, the United Nations and various non-governmental organizations, to answer the questions on a county-by-country basis. Researchers analyzed information from July 1, 2006, to June 30, 2008.

The report found that the percentage of the world's countries with high or very high government restrictions is at about 20 percent, which amounts to 57 percent of the world's population. These countries include Saudi Arabia, Iran and former communist countries, such as Russia, Belarus and Bulgaria, where state atheism has been replaced by favored religions that are accorded special protections or privileges.

Grim pointed out that many countries have language in their constitutions or basic laws that ban infringements on religion. But the reality is that governments often place restrictions on religions in practice.

For example, 90 percent of countries require religious groups to register for reasons including obtaining tax-exempt status or import privileges. But in almost three in five countries, the registration requirements result in problems or discrimination against certain groups.

The Singapore's Societies Act, for example, requires all religious groups to register with the government but it doesn't recognize Jehovah's Witnesses or the Unification Church.

In practice, only about a quarter of the world's countries implement constitutional language protecting religious freedom.

Associated Press

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