China’s President Xi Says He Is For Dialogue Among Civilizations

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S SHINE NEWS NETWORK)

 

Xi for dialogue among civilizations

Xinhua

Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping holds a welcome ceremony for Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos outside the Great Hall of the People before their talks in Beijing yesterday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday held talks with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who is on a state visit to China and will attend the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations in Beijing.

Xi spoke of the significance of Pavlopoulos’ visit to promote exchanges and mutual learning of civilizations in Europe and Asia, as well as dialogue among civilizations in the world.

Xi underscored the inclusiveness of Chinese civilization since ancient times, noting the entry of ancient Greek civilization, ancient Roman civilization, Mediterranean civilization, as well as Buddhism, Islam and Christianity into the country through the ancient Silk Road.

There has never been any clash of civilizations or any religious war in China, Xi said, adding that the Chinese nation does not have a tradition of aggression. The Chinese people have long upheld the devotion to the country, believing that the country always comes first, before the family. They are convinced there would be no individual and family happiness without a strong unified nation, he added.

He said the Chinese people remain rock-firm determined in safeguarding the national unification and territorial integrity, as well as protecting the national interests and the state dignity.

Describing people of all countries as living in a global village destined to swim or sink together, Xi stressed the need to promote exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations and win-win cooperation of various countries to build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.

Pavlopoulos said the “clash of civilizations” argument drummed up by certain people in the international arena was a huge mistake. He said different civilizations should respect each other, enhance mutual learning through dialogue and exchanges and draw upon each other’s strengths, which is the way to guarantee lasting peace of the world and harmonious coexistence of humanity.

Xi also met with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Singaporean President Halimah Yacob yesterday who are in Beijing for the CDAC.

Brunei Sultan backtracks on death penalty for gay sex

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S SHINE NEWS)

 

Brunei sultan backtracks on death penalty for gay sex

AFP

AFP

 In this file photo taken on April 3, 2019, Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah delivers a speech during an event in Bandar Seri Begawan.

Brunei’s sultan has announced death by stoning for gay sex and adultery will not be enforced after a global backlash, but critics yesterday called for harsh sharia laws to be abandoned entirely.

In a speech late on Sunday, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said a moratorium on capital punishment that already applies to Brunei’s regular criminal code would also extend to its new sharia code, which includes death by stoning for various crimes.

The code, which also punishes theft with the amputation of hands and feet, fully came into force last month in the small sultanate on Borneo island, making it the only country in East or Southeast Asia with sharia law at the national level.

The move sparked anger from governments and rights groups, the United Nations slammed it as a “clear violation” of human rights while celebrities led by actor George Clooney called for Brunei-owned hotels to be boycotted. In a televised address, the all-powerful sultan made his first public comments about the furore and took the rare step of addressing criticism, saying there had been “many questions and misperceptions” regarding the sharia laws.

“Both the common law and the sharia law aim to ensure peace and harmony of the country,” he insisted, according to an official translation of his speech.

Some crimes in Muslim-majority Brunei including murder and drug-trafficking were already punishable with death by hanging under the regular criminal code, which is enforced alongside the sharia code, but no one has been executed for decades.

Scope for remission

Hassanal said that “we have practiced a de facto moratorium on the execution of death penalty for cases under the common law. This will also be applied to cases under the (sharia penal code), which provides a wider scope for remission.”

But rights groups said the announcement did not go far enough.

“It really doesn’t change anything,” Matthew Woolfe, founder of rights group The Brunei Project, said. “This announcement does nothing to address the many other human rights concerns about the (sharia code).”

The maximum punishment for gay sex between men under the sharia code is death by stoning, but perpetrators can also be sentenced to lengthy jail terms or caning. Women convicted of having sexual relations with other women face up to 40 strokes of the cane or a maximum 10-year jail term.

Whipping and jail terms, as well as severing of limbs for theft, under the new code were not affected by the sultan’s announcement.

It was not clear how far other sharia punishments would be enforced.

The sultan also vowed in his speech that Brunei would ratify the United Nations convention against torture which it signed several years ago.

Sri Lanka Attacks: Relatives Of Key Suspect Zahran Hashim Killed

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Sri Lanka attacks: Relatives of key suspect Zahran Hashim killed

Sri Lankan army personnel stand guard at a checkpoint as they search people and their bags at a check point in Kattankudy near Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, 28 AprilImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Searches have been carried out in Kattankudy

The father and two brothers of the alleged organiser of the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka, Zahran Hashim, were killed in a security forces operation on Friday, police say.

Hashim, who blew himself up at a hotel in Colombo, founded an Islamist group, the NTJ, which has now been banned.

Police have raided the group’s HQ in the eastern town of Kattankudy.

The Sri Lankan president has announced a ban on face coverings, aimed at Muslim women following the attacks.

The attacks targeted churches and hotels, killing at least 250 people.

Sunday church services were cancelled across the country as a precaution but worshippers in the capital gathered to pray outside St Anthony’s, which was badly damaged in the attacks.

How did Hashim’s relatives die?

Security forces raided a house in Sainthamaruthu, near Hashim’s hometown Kattankudy, on Friday.

Gunmen opened fire as troops moved in, police say, and three men set off explosives, killing themselves, six children and three women. Three other people died in gunfire.

The headquarters of the NTJ under police guardImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionPolice sealed off the NTJ’s headquarters on Sunday

A close family relative confirmed for BBC News that Hashim’s father and two brothers died in the raid.

Police sources who spoke to Reuters news agency named the three men as Mohamed Hashim, and his sons Zainee Hashim and Rilwan Hashim.

All three had been seen in a video circulating on social media calling for all-out war against all non-believers, Reuters adds.

In Kattankudy itself, police searched the headquarters of the NTJ (National Thawheed Jamath), which Zahran Hashim had led.

Presentational grey line

‘Safe house’ discovered by chance

By Anbarasan Ethirajan, BBC News, Sainthamaruthu

GV of house that was raided
Image caption The safe house was discovered after local people alerted police

When I entered the house where the Islamists and their families were killed on Friday evening, the smell of death was unbearable.

A police officer at the site also said Zahran Hashim’s mother was also believed to be among the victims.

Security forces have been conducting raids across the country but this safe house was discovered by chance, when the suspicious house owner and local people alerted the police.

Every day, police are making arrests, seizing weapons, explosives and jihadist material suggesting the radicalisation process, however small it may be, has been happening over a period of time. If the security agencies had missed this, then it is a colossal failure.

The ongoing raids and discovery of weapons and material are gradually building up tensions among the communities. A hotel owner said she was worried because she was a Catholic. Muslims say they are nervous to visit Sinhala-majority areas. Some foreign governments have warned that there is a possibility of further attacks and if those happen, fragile ethnic relations could be further strained.

Presentational grey line

Announcing the ban on face coverings, which will begin on Monday, President Maithripala Sirisena said he was taking the emergency measure on national security grounds.

The announcement made no specific mention of the niqab and burka – worn by Muslim women – but instead said people’s faces should be fully visible so they could be identified.

What happened on Easter Sunday?

Sri Lanka has been on high alert since a co-ordinated wave of bombings last Sunday, which also wounded more than 500 people.

The bombings targeted churches that were packed full for the Easter holiday, as well as hotels popular with tourists.

As well as St Anthony’s Shrine, bombers struck churches in Negombo and the eastern city of Batticaloa, and hotels in the capital, Colombo.

Most of those killed were Sri Lankan, but dozens of foreign citizens were also among the dead.

Media caption‘This is Sri Lanka’: Fighting back with peace

While the authorities have blamed the NTJ for the attacks, they say they must have had help from a larger network.

The Islamic State group, which carried out mass attacks on civilians in Paris and other locations in recent years, has said it was involved, but has not given details.

How are the victims being remembered?

Christians in Sri Lanka prayed at home while the Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, held a televised Mass, attended by the president and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

He called the attacks an “insult to humanity” in the service, broadcast from a chapel in his residence.

Media caption Sri Lankans pray and light candles, one week after a string of bombings by Islamist militants

“Today during this Mass we are paying attention to last Sunday’s tragedy and we try to understand it,” he said.

“We pray that in this country there will be peace and co-existence and understanding each other without division.”

Scores of people gathered for the public service outside St Anthony’s, where Buddhist monks joined Catholic priests in a show of solidarity with the Christian community.

Crowds of people watched the heavily-guarded church from behind a barricade, with some singing hymns and passing rosary beads through their hands.

Many lit candles and placed them in a makeshift memorial for the victims.

The church’s bells tolled at 08:45 (03:15 GMT) – the exact moment a bomber detonated his device one week ago.

The hands of its damaged clock tower are still stuck at that time.

At Least 15 Dead In A Police Raid In Sri Lanka

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

At least 15 people are dead and two or more suspected terrorists on the run after a shootout between police and alleged militants in eastern Sri Lanka late Friday.

There were three explosions during the shootout with suspects at a house in the town of Sainthamaruthu, Kalmunai, local police said. Authorities said they seized a large cache of explosives, 100,000 ball bearings and ISIS uniforms and flags from the house, which appeared to be a bomb making factory or storage facility.
The raids came after the coordinated attacks on Easter Sunday, which killed 253 people, including many worshipers attending Easter Mass services.
National Tawheed Jamath (NTJ), a local extremist group, has been blamed for the bombings, but has not claimed the attacks. ISIS claimed responsibility, but a link between the attackers and the terror group has not been proven.
Of the 15 people found dead in the house following the raid, six are suspected terrorists and nine are civilians, including six children, Maj. Gen. Aruna Jayasekera said.
Police are investigating the possible relationship of the civilians to the suspected terrorists.
One wounded suspect fled on a motorbike, and another suspected terrorist could be on the run as well, Jayasekera said.
One of the six suspected terrorists found dead has been identified as Mohamed Niyas, known to the authorities as a prominent member of the NTJ. Earlier in a statement from the army, Niyas was identified as the brother-in-law of the alleged ringleader of the Easter Sunday attacks, Zahran Hashim.
The eastern cities of Kalmunai, Chavalakade and Sammanthurai remain under extended curfew until further notice, according to police. The curfew on these cities was imposed after the shootout.
CNN goes inside St. Anthony's Church after terror attack

Play Video

CNN goes inside St. Anthony’s Church after terror attack 02:13
Sri Lankan authorities have been attempting to root out “sleeper” cells that could initiate another round of attacks, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told CNN on Thursday.
On Friday, Sri Lanka’s President announced a “major search operation” in the nation.
“Every household in the country will be checked,” President Maithripala Sirisena told a news conference, according to a statement. “The lists of permanent residents of every house will be established to ensure no unknown persons could live anywhere.”
The heightened tensions have put Sri Lankans on edge.
Catholic Sunday masses have been suspended “until further notice” in Sri Lanka, the Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith announced Friday. He said the move will ensure the safety of the worshipers, and the church “will try to introduce some services” once better security was in place.
The government urged Muslims to stay at home for Friday prayers, and many mosques were closed. However, some mosques defied the call, opening for the midday prayers.
Both Christianity and Islam are minority religions in Sri Lanka, each accounting for under 10% of the total population. The vast majority of Sri Lankans identify as Buddhist.

In Laos, A Chinese-Funded Railway Sparks Hope For Growth—And Fears Of Debt

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)
(OPED BY OLDPOET56)—(ANY COUNTRY THAT ACCEPTS CHINA’S MONEY IS IN REALITY SELLING THEIR SOVEREIGNTY AND THEIR LAND TO THE COMMUNISTS LEADERSHIP IN BEIJING AND THEIR MILITARY WHEN YOU CAN’T PAY BACK THEIR HIGH INTEREST LOANS.) 

 

In Laos, A Chinese-Funded Railway Sparks Hope For Growth — And Fears Of Debt

LISTEN·3:57QUEUE

Giant concrete pylons rise from the Mekong River north of Luang Prabang, where a bridge is under construction.

Ashley Westerman/NPR

In Southeast Asia’s only landlocked country, the Mekong River is a lifeline. From a slow boat heading up the river in Laos, you’ll see fishermen working in their boats, riverside farms where bananas grow, and domesticated buffalo lazing. Occasionally a ferry chugs by. From time to time, steps leading to a riverside village become visible on the banks through the foliage. The wind is swift, and the brown fresh water laps up onto the side of the boat.

Just over 9 miles north of Luang Prabang, a startling aberration appears: five giant concrete pylons rising out of the water.

Red cranes top each of the pylons. A bridge is being built here. On either bank, the row of pylons continues until it almost hits the mountainsides, with scaffolding and other heavy construction equipment scattered below.

When it’s finished, the bridge will be part of a new China-Laos railway. Its planned 250-plus miles of track are meant to connect China’s southern Yunnan province with Laos’ capital, Vientiane.

Laotian officials have promised the high-speed railway, slated to open in 2021, will be good for the country.

“Once completed, the railway will benefit Lao people of all ethnic groups, facilitate and reduce costs of transportation, stimulate the development of agricultural and industrial sectors, tourism, investment and trade, as well as generate income for Lao people and the country,” Lao Minister of Public Works and Transport Bouchanh Sinthavong said during the groundbreaking ceremony outside Luang Prabang in 2016.

The railway is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative — a $1.3 trillion project that looks to establish a vast network of investment and infrastructure spanning Asia, Europe and Africa.

Ashley Westerman/NPR

But for many Laotian people, the benefits aren’t yet clear.

The risk of debt distress

The railway is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative — a $1.3 trillion project that looks to establish a vast network of investment and infrastructure spanning Asia, Europe and Africa.

Brian Eyler, Southeast Asia program director at the Stimson Center in Washington, D.C., describes the plan as a “grand vision” that involves China building bridges, railways, ports, highways and airports all over the world.

“Not necessarily to link China to the rest of the world,” he explains. “But to create channels to bring natural resources and commercial inputs back to China so that China’s economy can keep growing.”

As a direct neighbor to China with ample access to the critical Mekong River, Laos is seen as a “linking country,” Eyler says. The China-Laos railway is part of a line that will eventually extend from Kunming, the Yunnan provincial capital, through Malaysia and all the way south to Singapore.

It’s an expensive project for one of Southeast Asia’s poorest countries. According to the World Bank, while Laos’ economy has grown consistently over the past decade, the country’s GDP was still only about $16 billion in 2017. The International Monetary Fund ranked Laos 36th out of 42 Asian countries in 2018.

Of the almost $6 billion cost for the China-Laos railway, the Chinese government will pay 70 percent. Laos will finance the remaining 30 percent with loans from Chinese financial institutions.

Eyler says China is a new power player in Laos, whose government most likely found this influx of cash for much needed infrastructure projects attractive. But many wonder if the Laotian government has the ability to pay back such large loans.

“And it’s not just the railway’s debt that’s of concern, but it’s the accumulating mass of debt related to Chinese projects in Laos that have put the country very much on alert for … overleveraged debt,” Eyler says.

Concerns about debt are not unique to Laos. Many experts have expressed misgivings over how China is financing large infrastructure projects in developing nations. A 2018 report by the Center for Global Development identified eight countries, including Laos, among 68 potential Belt and Road Initiative borrowers as being “at particular risk of debt distress.”

A Vientiane resident is not convinced. She does not want NPR to use her name for fear that giving an interview to a journalist will result in retribution from the Laotian government.

The Chinese government has claimed that the rail project would create thousands of jobs for local people, but many Laotians say they don’t know anyone who has been employed.

Ashley Westerman/NPR

Her concern about the railway: “Because we borrow money from the Chinese government to build this railway and how much the Lao people have to owe, and pay back. The debt,” she says. “So I’m not quite sure about the benefits.”

Feeling left out

As Laos is a tightly controlled communist state, there likely isn’t much dialogue between the Laotian government and the public, Eyler notes. The benefits of the railway to the Laotian people haven’t been well-articulated, he says.

Just seeing the way in which the railway is being constructed has given residents pause. Despite the Chinese government’s claiming that the project would create thousands of jobs for local people, many Laotians say they don’t know anyone who has been employed.

“All the construction work was handed off to China Railway Group, and Chinese engineers and laborers have descended on [Laos] in droves. … Not even the Laotian government is clear on the exact number of Chinese workers in the country,” the Nikkei Asian Review reported in 2017.

As a direct neighbor with ample access to the critical Mekong River, China sees Laos as a vital link. The China-Laos railway is part of a line that will eventually extend from Kunming, the Yunnan provincial capital, south to Singapore.

Ashley Westerman/NPR

Chinese state-run media have published various articles claiming the railway is changing local lives for the better. But on the ground, residents have told journalists that thousands were ordered off their land to make way for the railway and aren’t being compensated as promised.

Some people living along the path of the new railway see its completion as tantamount to a Chinese invasion.

In Luang Prabang, a man who did not want to use his name for fear of government retribution says he understands why people would like a new train. It’s faster, cheaper and makes traveling easier.

“But I worry that when the trains are completed, there will be many, many Chinese [moving] in from China to live in Laos and they will take the job[s] from local people,” he says.

He says even the promise of more tourists coming into Luang Prabang isn’t necessarily appealing. According to the local tourism office, the number of visitors to Luang Prabang in 2000 was just under 102,000. In 2018, more than 755,000 tourists came to the city — an increase of more than 600 percent. And in recent years, the tourists have overwhelmingly been Chinese. But Chinese tourists rely on Chinese-run tour groups, stay in Chinese-owned hotels and eat at Chinese-owned restaurants, the man says.

“All the money go back to China, not for Laos people,” he says.

Some say they wish the money for the railway could be used to fix their country’s crumbling roads and schools. Others are deeply concerned about the potential impact of the new railway on Laos’ ecosystem as it cuts through the country’s dwindling foreststunnels through its mountains and disrupts the landscape of the Mekong River.

Conservationists working to rehabilitate Laos’ critically low elephant population — just 400 in the wild — are worried that these animals won’t survive more habitat fragmentation and disruption from such large infrastructure projects.

Both the Luong Prabang resident and the Vientiane resident say many others in their communities share their misgivings about the railway.

“Zero of my friend[s] agree with it,” says the Vientiane resident. “However, we cannot go against because it’s already been decided by the top people and we just have to accept.”

We’re Cracking Apart From The Inside, With Missiles Aimed At Our Back

We’re Cracking Apart From The Inside, With Missiles Aimed At Our Back

 

I’m sorry, but I don’t exactly like the Title either. Here in our Country we are acting like it is back in the 20’s or something ignorant like that. We have our HollyWood and our Politics, the never-ending battle between the Dems and the GOP and we pick Our Country apart. We have several outside State Players and other well-funded hate groups who are actually in the Chess Possession to make this play. Folks, I hope they do not push the ‘ignite’ button. This would be the end of the world as we all know it all because of a couple of dozen people from around whom have some Power in this world who hate us and hate everything’ the West’ stands for. Attacking us from the inside while we bicker among ourselves is a sure Cancer to our Cells.

 

Our current Government has weakened Us with our long-standing Allies and gotten off to a bad start with several other ‘not so friendly States.’ There is always the issue of other ‘unfriendliness’ such as Hezbollah, Hamas and many others. I pray for our Children, and Theirs. Hate, it is such a disgusting thing when we direct it at each other. Our System has many errors within it but it could be very much better. We need to address these things quickly before there is no tomorrow in which to be concerned about.

 

 

 

How preserving folktales and legends help raise environment awareness in the Mekong

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

How preserving folktales and legends help raise environment awareness in the Mekong

The Mekong Basin. Photo from the website of The People’s Stories project. Used with permission

In 2014, several indigenous communities in the Mekong started recording their stories and legends with the help of a group of researchers who are exploring how these narratives can help exposing the destructive impact of large-scale projects in the region.

The Mekong is one of Asia’s great river systems which flows through six countries: China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. It is rich in biodiversity and a vital source of livelihood for millions of farmers and fisherfolk.

In recent years, several large-scale projects such as hydropower dams have displaced residents while threatening the river basin’s ecosystem. Despite protests, the construction of dams has continued, especially in Laos and Thailand.

In partnership with Mekong Watch, a Japan-based group advocating sustainable development in the region, several community elders in the Mekong began recording some of their stories and legends in 2014 that revolve around nature. Mekong Watch believes that these stories “have played an important role in protecting nature by avoiding the over-exploitation of natural resources.”

Mekong Watch asserts that part of the commons that need to be protected are not just natural resources but also “intangible heritages” that can be shared and accessed by the local community. Toshiyuki Doi, senior adviser of Mekong watch, adds:

People’s stories should be regarded, recognized, and respected as Mekong’s commons, especially these days when they are losing their place in local communities to more modern media, and are not passed on to next generations.

Areas in the Mekong where researchers conducted fieldwork. 1. Kmhmu’ in northern and central Laos; 2. Siphandon in southern Laos; 3. Akha in northern Thailand; 4. Thai So and Isan in northeastern Thailand; 5. Bunong in northeastern Cambodia. Used with permission.

The group was able to collect a total of 102 stories in Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. Stories were recorded, transcribed, and translated into the national languages of Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia before an English version was made. Mekong Watch published these stories as pamphlets in both printed and digital formats, and used them during environment workshops they conducted at the communities.

Since late 2016, we have used people’s stories to provide environmental education to children in rural Laos and Thailand. We have hosted workshops in schools and local communities to guide children, and sometimes adults, to collect stories from elderly people, learn from the stories, and turn them into reading materials.

An example of a workshop involves the retelling of the story of ‘The Owl and the Deer ’from Kmhmu’ people in central and northern Laos. The story is about an owl who lost his ability to see during the day after cheating a deer.

During a workshop, young participants are asked: “What kinds of animals appear in the story?”, “Can you see these animals in your village?”, and “If there are fewer of these animals in your village than before, why do you think this has happened?”

After this, participants are encouraged to connect the story to the deterioration of the environment in their communities.

In Champasak Province, south Laos, the legend of the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin and the Sida bird is used to highlight how a dam project is disrupting the seasonal migration of Mekong River fisheries.

Another story also from southern Laos is instructive on the value of resource management:

The story about the Rhino Head was recorded on November 16, 2014, at the Songkram River bank in northeast Thailand. The narrator was Mun Kimprasert, aged 68. Photo by Mekong Watch, used with permission.

Once, a soldier stepped into a spirit forest. He discovered a lot of tobacco leaves there and collected them. However, when trying to leave the forest, he could not find an exit. It was because he took more tobacco leaves than he could possibly consume for himself. No matter how hard he searched, he could not find a way out of the forest. Realizing what might have been the problem, he finally decided to return the tobacco leaves to the forest. The moment he dropped them on the ground, he was able to see an exit in front of him.

In northern Thailand, a story by the Akha people about the origin of the swingteaches self-sacrifice through a heroic episode of a brother and a sister who put the world in order.

In northeast Thailand, a folktale about Ta Sorn narrated by Tongsin Tanakanya promotes unity among neighbors in a farming community. Another story recalls how the hunting of a rhinoceros led to the formation of salt trading in this part of the country.

In Bunong, located in northeast Cambodia, there are stories about rituals to fix bad marriages and planting and harvest ceremonies narrated by Khoeuk Keosineam. There is also the legend of the elephant as retold by Chhot Pich which reveals how villagers who once poisoned a river were punished by the gods and turned into elephants. It explains why elephants were comfortable living with humans but, after several generations, they forgot their origins and went to live in the forest.

Hea Phoeun from the Laoka Village, Senmonorom, Mondulkiri Province in Cambodia shares a village ritual on how to fix an ‘unfit’ marriage. Photo by Mekong Watch, used with permission.

For Mekong Watch and the threatened communities in the region, preserving these stories is integral in the campaign to resist projects that would displace thousands of people living in the Mekong:

These stories can help form their identity as a community member and identify with the environment. By means of stories, the communities search for ways to accommodate and/or resist changes that are taking place in the Mekong river basin.

South Korea Legalizes Medical Marijuana, First Country In Asia To Do So

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS DAILY NEWS)

 

South Korea became the first country in East Asia to legalize medical cannabis, marking a significant milestone in the global industry and a potential turning point in how the drug is perceived in traditionally conservative societies.

The country’s National Assembly voted to approve amending the Act on the Management of Narcotic Drugs to pave the way for non-hallucinogenic dosages of medical cannabis prescriptions.

Medical marijuana will still be tightly restricted, but the law’s approval by the central government is seen as a breakthrough in a country many believed would be last – not among the first – to approve any use of cannabis, even if it is just low-THC, or CBD, to start.

To receive medical cannabis, patients would be required to apply to the Korea Orphan Drug Center, a government body established to facilitate patient access to rare medicines in the country.

Approval would be granted on a case-by-case basis.

Patients would also need to receive a prescription from a medical practitioner.

South Korea’s cannabis law overcame a major obstacle in July when it won the support of the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, which said at the time it would permit Epidiolex, Marinol, Cesamet and Sativex for conditions including epilepsy, symptoms of HIV/AIDS and cancer-related treatments.

On Nov. 23 the ministry said a series of amended laws passed in a National Assembly session will expand the treatment opportunities for patients with rare diseases.

A number of other countries had been vying to join Israel as the first countries in Asia to allow medical cannabis, including Thailand and Malaysia.

“South Korea legalizing medical cannabis, even if it will be tightly controlled with limited product selection, represents a significant breakthrough for the global cannabis industry,” said Vijay Sappani, CEO of Toronto-based Ela Capital, a venture capital firm exploring emerging markets in the cannabis space.

“The importance of Korea being the first country in East Asia to allow medical cannabis at a federal level should not be understated. Now it’s a matter of when other Asian countries follow South Korea, not if.”

Matt Lamers can be reached at [email protected]

To sign up for our weekly international marijuana business newsletter, click here.

India: Country passing through rising intolerance says former President Pranab Mukherjee

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE INDIAN NEWS AGENCY THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

‘Country passing through rising intolerance,’ says former President Pranab Mukherjee

Pranab Mukherjee expressed concern over rising intolerance and violation of human rights, coupled with a widening gulf between the rich and poor with top one percent rich pocketing the lion’s share of country’s wealth.

INDIA Updated: Nov 24, 2018 13:42 IST

Indo Asian News Service
Indo Asian News Service
Indo Asian News Service
Former President Pranab Mukherjee addressed the National Conference on ‘Towards Peace, Harmony and Happiness: Transition to Transformation’, in New Delhi on Friday, November 23, 2018.(PTI)

Former President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday expressed concern over rising intolerance and violation of human rights, coupled with a widening gulf between the rich and poor with top one per cent rich pocketing the lion’s share of country’s wealth.

He was speaking at the inauguration of the two-day national conference on “Towards Peace, Harmony and Happiness: Transition to Transformation”, organised by Pranab Mukherjee Foundation along with the Centre for Research for Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID).

“The land which gave the world the concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ and the civilisational ethos of tolerance, acceptance and forgiveness, is now in news for rising levels of intolerance, manifestations of rage and infringement of human rights,” Mukherjee said.

“Peace and harmony prevails when a nation celebrates pluralism, practices tolerance and promotes goodwill among diverse communities and when we purge the toxin of hatred, envy, jealousy and aggression from our everyday lives,” he said.

He said “happiness is higher in countries that ensure their inhabitants basic amenities and resources, greater security, autonomy and freedom as well as sufficient educational opportunities and access to information. People are manifestly happier in countries where personal freedoms are guaranteed and democracy is secured.”

“Regardless of economic conditions, citizens are happy in a climate of peace,” Mukherjee said.

Referring to the statistics, he said, “If these statistics are anything to go by, we appear to be caught in a ‘rising economy, receding happiness’ syndrome. Our growth paradigm calls for an urgent look.”

Paying tributes to Guru Nanak Dev on his 549th birth anniversary, Mukherjee said given the times we are living in, it is important to recall his message of “peace and oneness”.

He also recalled what Chanakya said that “In the happiness of the people lies the happiness of the king” and the Rig Veda saying that we must live in one assembly, speak in one voice, with our minds in accord.

In a poser he asked whether the state was functioning in conformity with the preamble of the Constitution guaranteeing socio-economic and political justice, liberty of expression and thought and the equality of status and of opportunity, Mukherjee said that on the ranking of the happiness of common man, India ranks at 113, on the index of hunger, India is at 119. Similar is the situation on the rating of malnutrition, suicides, inequality and economic freedom.

Mukherjee said, “We need a State that inspires confidence among people in its ability to surmount challenges before us. We need the media and citizens, who even as they claim their rights, are equally committed to their responsibilities.”

Referring to the Parliament, Executive and the Judiciary, Mukherjee said in recent past these institutions have come under “severe stress” and their credibility is being questioned.

He said “There is a widespread cynicism and disillusionment with the governance and the functioning of these institutions.”

However, former President said that to “save democracy”, it was incumbent upon these institutions to “win back the trust of the people, without any delay.”

Former Union Minister and BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi in his valedictory address described as “disturbing” the merging scenarios where the “techno-economic system adopted to produce a democratic egalitarian world order has resulted in an exploitative, extremely unequal and fragmented world”.

“Mankind today is, therefore, unhappy, more turbulent, more violent, more fundamentalist and more alienated than ever before”, Joshi said.

The root cause of this “out of balance world” needs to be investigated, the veteran leader said.

First Published: Nov 24, 2018 09:49 IST

Lion Air crash: Body of Indian pilot identified

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS)

 

Lion Air crash: Body of Indian pilot identified

Indian pilot Bhavye Suneja’s body was cremated in Indonesia on Friday.

INDIA Updated: Nov 25, 2018 08:28 IST

Lion Air crash,Lion Air,Indonesia Plane crash
Lion Air investigators examine part of the landing gear of the ill-fated Lion Air flight JT 610 at the port in northern Jakarta on November 5.(AFP Photo)

Indonesian authorities have identified the body of Indian pilot Bhavye Suneja who captained the ill-fated plane that crashed into the sea on October 29. He was cremated on Friday.

“Indonesian authorities have confirmed identification of body of Capt.Bhavya Suneja. The remains will be handed over to the family in presence of @IndianEmbJkt today. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family,” tweeted external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.

His body was cremated in Indonesia on Friday. “His parents, wife and in-laws are there. The body was handed over to the family Friday and cremated the same day,” said Rohit Dhingra, cousin of Bhavya’s wife.

The Lion Air flight, with 188 fliers and crew on board, crashed into the sea off Java, minutes after taking off from Jakarta.

First Published: Nov 25, 2018 00:08 IST