Afghanistan’s new government and the United States have signed a long-delayed bilateral security agreement that will allow about 10,000 soldiers to remain in Afghanistan when the international combat mission ends December 31.
The two sides signed the pact in Kabul Tuesday, a day after Ashraf Ghani officially took over as Afghanistan’s president from Hamid Karzai.
Under tight security, representatives from around the world joined Afghan political and religious leaders at Monday’s inauguration ceremony, held at the presidential palace in Kabul. Foreign dignitaries included neighboring Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain and senior U.S. presidential adviser John Podesta.
In the wake of the pro-democracy Occupy Central protests rocking Hong Kong, the Chinese government has tightened its already short censorship leash, adding photo sharing site Instagram to the list of sites now unusable in mainland China.
The news broke over Twitter last night when, as more and more photos from the protests were finding their way onto the photo sharing network, China finally blocked it entirely on the mainland.
As of this writing, over 13,000 photos had been uploaded under the hashtag #occupycentral, with many more going up each minute and others spread out among other hashtags and identifiers
Pro-democracy protesters wearing masks and wielding umbrellas to protect against pepper spray and tear gas expanded their rallies throughout Hong Kong on Monday, defying calls to disperse in a major pushback against Beijing’s decision to limit democratic reforms in the Asian financial hub.
Riot police withdrew from the extraordinary scene of chaotic tear gas-fueled clashes that erupted the evening before and the government asked the student-led protesters to disperse peacefully.
But the demonstrators, whose use of umbrellas, plastic wrap and other improvised defenses has led some to dub their movement the “Umbrella Revolution,” remained camped out on a normally busy highway near the Hong Kong government headquarters. Supporters were using the phrase on social media.
[Corrected for clarity]
This article in The Nation does a good job in explaining the situation in Hong Kong now, and why so many people resent Beijing’s interference in HK politics.
It will make Hong Kong even more anti-democratic than it already is, and Beijing’s moves belie the promises the mainland government made before the 1997 handover to ensure HK’s political independence.
The status quo is not great. HK is not democratic in the American sense, or even in the British parliamentary sense. The 1% are in definite control, and the economic disparity between the haves and have-nots is wide.
Long hailed by conservatives in the West as a bastion of free markets and free enterprise, Hong Kong in 2011 had a Gini coefficient of .537—making it perhaps the most unequal developed economy in the world. Hong Kong recently crushed the competition to come in first in The Economist’s “crony-capitalism index.”
Beijing’s proposed rule changes would remove even more political power from the common people and hand it to the powerful elite, who are generally handpicked by the mainland government.
Before the 1997 handover, Beijing promised universal suffrage to Hong Kongers, which would give Hong Kong’s populace more of a voice in Hong Kong’s governance. But Beijing wants to eliminate general elections for chief executive beginning in 2017, leaving the choice of chief executive with the political bosses.
Not surprisingly, big business is just fine with the status quo, and it has lined up behind Beijing. Yiu Kai Pang, chairman of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the recent decision from Beijing, saying that occupying Central “will not only affect Hong Kong’s social order and economic prosperity, but also undermine our position as an international business and financial hub.” HSBC also warned that Occupy could hurt the economy as it downgraded the outlook for the city’s stock market—a warning the company almost immediately retracted after public outrage.
The Communist Party is counting on such enthusiastic support from corporate interests. In a moment of surprising honesty, Wang Zhenmin, dean of Tsinghua University Law School and a top adviser on Hong Kong to the central government, said that too much democracy would threaten the interests of economic elites as well as the capitalist system of Hong Kong—and suggested that this was to be avoided at all costs.
The article goes on to suggest that Occupy Central is this generation’s version of the 1989 Tian’anmen Square student protests, and that the mainland government will respond to the protests in much the same fashion as it did in ‘89. Already, the Great Firewall of China has added Instagram to its ever-growing blocklist, in an effort to keep mainlanders from getting any ideas about doing something similar on the mainland.
This will not end well for Hong Kongers.
ADDENDUM: As an example of how the PRC is controlling media, this BBC article is unavailable, although the rest of the BBC website is accessible. bbc.co.uk
ADDENDUM 2: Here is a live streaming video from Hong Kong of the protests.
A huge cloud of rolling ash and dust poured down the side of Mt. Ontake in central Japan Saturday, as the volcano erupted and coated the surrounding area in ash. The sudden eruption initially stranded more than 250 hikers; one of them managed to shoot video of the shocking sight of an immense billowing gray cloud speeding toward them.
Dozens of people are reportedly injured and at least seven are missing on the mountain, whose summit is around 10,000 feet. This is a busy time of year on Mt. Ontake, where a relatively gentle slope and mountainside lodges draw visitors who want to take in views of the fall foliage.
Update at 12:15 and 7:15 p.m. ET: Hundreds Reach Safety, One Killed
“Police say about 230 people have since descended the volcano, while 41 people remain on the mountain, including injured climbers waiting to be rescued.”
That’s the word from Japan’s NHK News, which says the eruption seriously injured more than 30 people. The agency also says more than 10 people who were rescued remain unconscious.
A volcano erupted in central Japan on Saturday, catching mountain climbers by surprise and trapping more than 250 people. At least 11 people were injured, including seven who were unconscious.
With a sound likened to thunder, Mount Ontake erupted shortly before noon, spewing large white plumes of ash high into the sky and sending people on the mountainside fleeing, covering some in ash.
More than 250 people were trapped on the mountain and a nearby peak in areas that were dangerous to approach, though some had decided to try making their way down as sunset approached, said Nagano prefecture crisis management official Minoru Kashiwabara.
Seeking to speed the response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, President Obama delivered a blunt warning on Thursday at a high-level United Nations meeting devoted to the health crisis: The world was doing too little and moving too slowly.
Britain is preparing to join the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State militants as members of parliament debate whether to participate in airstrikes in Iraq.
Prime Minister David Cameron is making the case to British legislators Friday and MPs will vote later in the day on whether to support action combating the organization that has captured large parts of Iraq and Syria and threatens to further destabilize the entire Middle East region.
For the record - Feminism by definition is: “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes”.
I started questioning gender-based assumptions a long time ago. When at 8 I was confused at being called ‘bossy’ because I wanted to direct the plays we would put on for our parents - but the boys were not. When at 14 I started to be sexualized by certain elements of the press. When at 15 my girlfriends started dropping out of their beloved sports teams because they didn’t want to appear ‘muscly’. When at 18 my male friends were unable to express their feelings. I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word. Women are choosing not to identify as feminist. Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and,
unattractive. Why is the word become such an uncomfortable one?
Men - I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender Equality is your issue too. Because to date, I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society despite my needing his presence as a child as much as my mother’s. I’ve seen a young man suffering from mental illness unable to ask for help for fear it would make him less of a man - in fact in the UK suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20-49;
eclipsing road accidents, cancer and coronary heart disease. I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality either.
Another Young Woman we have the Privilege to have among us:
Malala Yousafzai addresses United Nations Youth Assembly
The draft reform, approved in January, would have allowed abortions only in cases of rape which had been reported to the police or when there was a medically-certified threat to the mother’s physical or psychological health.
Current legislation will now be revamped to ensure that 16 and 17-year-olds have to obtain parental permission before having an abortion, meaning that the most controversial aspects of the planned reforms will fall by the wayside.
“We are very happy with the decision, and we should all be celebrating,” Rosa Escapa, the president of Spanish women’s lobby group Celem told The Local.