Saturday, 22 November 2014

Thai Martial Law To Remain In Place ‘Indefinitely’

from Press TV: Bangkok says the martial law imposed all over Thailand in May will remain in place “indefinitely” amid growing protests against the military rule in the Southeast Asian country.
“We are not saying that martial law will stay in place for 50 years, no this is not it. We just ask that it remain in place for now, indefinitely,” Thai Justice Minister General Paiboon Koomchaya said on Friday. 

Paiboon further described the law as “necessary”, adding that Bangkok cannot “lift it because the government and junta need it as the army’s tool.”

The comments come despite an earlier pledge by the Thai government to lift the law in some provinces to help boost the country’s tourism industry, which has struggled since the military overthrew the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in May.

The army imposed nationwide martial law later that month days before it seized power in a coup amid anti-government protests and violence across the country.

The martial law has banned all political demonstrations. However, some university students defied the law and staged protest rallies against the junta this week.

Thailand’s tourism industry, which accounts for nearly 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), has been badly affected by the coup.

China's President Targets Strategic Ties In Pacific

from channelnewsasia.com: Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Fiji Friday (Nov 21) on a whirlwind visit aimed at strengthening economic and strategic ties with Pacific island nations.

Xi's visit comes after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, head of the world's largest democracy, stopped over in Fiji to also court regional leaders who form one of the largest voting blocs at the United Nations. Both leaders have targeted the Pacific as a vital stop on their way home from the recent Group of 20 summit in Australia.

Xi, who has already established a rapport with Fiji after visiting four years ago as vice president of China, will hold talks Friday evening with Fiji's 2006 coup leader and recently elected prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama. On Saturday, he will then meet a delegation of up to eight Pacific island leaders.

"An important agenda of my visit is to invite leaders of all Pacific island countries that have diplomatic ties with China to Fiji for discussions on ways to further grow China's relations with these countries and jointly draw a blueprint for the bright future of our friendly exchanges and mutually beneficial co-operation," Xi said in a statement released ahead of his arrival.

Friday, 21 November 2014

China To Step Up Oil, Gas Exploration in East, South China Seas

from chinadaily.com: China aims to raise petroleum output by updating its technology and stepping up oil and gas exploration across Bohai, East China and South China Seas.

The plan was outlined in an energy development scheme for 2014 to 2020 issued by the State Council on Wednesday.

To accelerate offshore oil and natural gas exploration, China will improve its own technology as well as actively seek overseas partners.

The country will attach equal importance to onshore oil fields, stabilizing old sites and exploring new alternatives, especially those in West China.

Coal's proportion of overall mix cut to 62% by 2020
China has announced plans to cap its annual energy use equivalent to 4.8 billion metric tons of standard coal by 2020, in an effort to cut carbon emissions.

The headline figure was revealed within the State Council's energy development strategy plan (2014-20), which also detailed moves to cut coal's share of the country's overall energy mix to 62 percent from the current 67 percent, and raise non-fossil fuel consumption to more than 15 percent.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

China, Australia Sign Landmark Free Trade Deal

from RT.com: China and Australia have sealed a major free trade agreement worth billions of dollars giving the Australian agricultural sector tariff free access to the massive Chinese market, while China will get greater access to investment projects in Australia.

Ministers from China and Australia signed a Declaration of Intent on Monday, culminating over a decade of work towards the deal. The actual agreement will not take effect until after 2015, when all the legal points have been drafted and translated. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a speech to the Australian parliament that China would deepen cooperation with Australia and other nations. 

The agreement would “create a high-level platform and provide better institutional arrangements for our economic cooperation. The Chinese government is ready to enhance dialogue and co-operation with relevant countries to jointly maintain freedom of navigation and safety of maritime rules,” said Mr. Xi.

Thai Radio Host Jailed For 5 Years For 'Royal Defamation'

Image: rappler.com
from channelnewsasia.com: A Thai radio show host has been jailed for five years for royal defamation, his lawyer said Tuesday (Nov 18), one of the first sentences passed by a military court for breaching the draconian law since a May coup.

Kathawut, 59, who presents an online radio show from overseas, was arrested on his return to Thailand in June for defaming the monarchy on his programme, according to his lawyer, who only wished to be identified as a representative of the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. Under Thailand's strict lese majeste rules anyone convicted of insulting the king, queen, heir or regent faces up to 15 years in prison on each count.

Shortly after seizing power on May 22, the junta vowed a crackdown on lese majeste offences. Rights groups say there has since been a rise in both charges and convictions under the law. Most cases have been handled in civilian courts rather than military ones.

"Initially the military court sentenced him to 10 years in prison but as he confessed the judge halved the sentence to five years," said the lawyer, who did not identify the accused by his surname for fear of reprisals against his family.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

P.L.A has set up Chinese version of ‘PRISM’ monitoring in Hong Kong

from Strat Risks: The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has established a large-scale signals and information monitoring facility in Hong Kong similar to the U.S. PRISM monitoring program, according to the Canada-based Kanwa Information Center.

In a report obtained by CNA, Kanwa, which publishes a monthly magazine on Asian defense issues, said that intelligence experts have made the findings after observing the facility from the top of Tai Mo Shan, the highest mountain in Hong Kong with a altitude of 950 meters.

The facility was reportedly constructed in 2011.

Satellite photos show that with a diameter of 15.63 meters, the facility is far larger than the aerial fairings of Hong Kong’s weather radar and aviation radar, which Kanwa said allows it to intercept and record signals from telephones, cellphones, Wi-Fi networks and radios.

It looks similar to other data mining facilities established in Kashgar in the restive western regions of Xinjiang and Tibet and along the contested border with India, Kanwa said. It is likely manned by the PLA’s Unit 61398, the alleged source of China’s major cyber attacks, the center said.

“It’s the Chinese version of the U.S. PRISM program,” mainly targeted at democracy activists’ communications with foreign diplomats in the former British colony, Kanwa said. Political figures may also be the targets of the monitoring facility, it added.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Thousands March In Response To The G20 Leaders’ Summit in Brisbane, Mainstream Media Exposed

from TOTTNews.com: This weekend in Brisbane, upwards of 3,000 people marched in solidarity throughout the city in opposition to the G20 Leaders’ Summit currently taking place at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Center. The protesters – including indigenous groups, anti-capitalists, opponents to transnational corporations and many more – rallied in unison; sending empathic messages to the representatives of each nation, and the corporate agendas they serve.

The G20 Summit is a annual gathering of the representatives of the 20 largest economies in the world, and Brisbane was announced as the host for 2014 almost two years ago. Through this, many panels and discussions were held to critique how the protests will unfold, methods to effectively convey messages and the diminishing of civil liberties under Draconian-type legislative pieces.

In Brisbane yesterday, the G20 officially kicked off, and despite almost a dozen arrests – including Brisbane activist, Ciaron O’Reilly – protesters marched peacefully and in coherence & cooperation with Queensland Police. The protesters, following their march, gathered in Musgrave Park for celebrations and idea-discussions – as the G20 Summit leaders met to supposedly discuss a range of geopolitical issues.

 Following a number of speeches beginning at the Roma Street Forum, Police guided the collective response through a calculated route to ensure the safety and protection of all parties involved. Contrary to the interpretation – and predictions from myself in the lead up to the event – Police did their job efficiently and any observable arrests were justified under legislation in Queensland.

Protesters and organisers of the event made their intentions clear during the beginning stages of planning for the G20 that collective responses will be a peaceful, democratic approach to counter the summit. The Police, in a number of press conferences and forums, also agreed that the plan was a somewhat mutual agreement – thus the catalyst had been set for a non-violent demonstration of concerned individuals.

Despite this understanding, Murdoch-lead pieces of propaganda from the press – particularly The Courier Mail – deliberately attempted to construct the environment to fit an agenda-serving purpose. The media, through sensationalism and fear-mongering campaigns, are able to manipulate the public opinion of most events in this country – in means of offering a pre-concieved, subconscious notion of reality that may or may not be true.

Campaigns of protester-demonising and subsequent justification of a unjustified police presence painted a morphed viewpoint – and the fact that the complete opposite is what took place – should reflect on the media’s self-centered goals of reporting and the increasing potential for individuals to disassociate with the mainstream media.

Japan PM Abe Plans Snap Election on Dec 14: Reports

from channelnewsasia.com: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to hold snap elections on December 14, two years ahead of schedule, as he seeks to bolster his public support by delaying another scheduled tax hike, reports said Saturday (Nov 15).

Abe is expected to announce his decision at a press conference on Tuesday, according to major media, including the Yomiuri Shimbun. The development comes as the Abe government moves to postpone a consumption tax hike to 10.0 percent from the current 8.0 percent amid a series of weak economic indicators fuelling fears of a recession.

The tax hike was originally scheduled for October 2015, but the government wants to delay it until April 2017 to safeguard fragile recovery, according to local media.

Abe's decision would cut short the current four-year term of the powerful lower house, which is scheduled to expire in December 2016. The premier wanted an early election while opposition parties remain weak after the ruling party's spectacular election victory two years ago, pundits said.

Abe also wanted to put a national election behind him before he pushes unpopular bills such as those related to expanding roles of Japanese military, Kyodo News said.

RELATED: Japan is the best hope for US 'pivot'

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Brisbane CBD Becomes Ghost Town Ahead Of G20 Summit

from 9news.com.au: As world leaders jet into Brisbane for the G20 conference - it appears locals are getting out, leaving the Queensland capital a virtual ghost town ringed by security checkpoints, barricades and road blocks.

The Queensland Government declared today a public holiday for those living or working in the Brisbane Local Government Area.

And locals are taking the opportunity to avoid the inner-city and the increased security G20 has brought with it.

Major CBD streets, usually full of commuter traffic, were strangely quiet this morning and most shops were shut up.

Report: G20 Peoples' Summit - Day 2 | TOTTNews.com

from TOTTNews.com: After a very successful Day 1 in Brisbane yesterday, the G20 Peoples’ Summit continued the momentum with another round of discussions, forums and collective action across the city today. TOTT News was present at discussions relating to free trade agreements, indigenous rights and civil society – and all of our coverage can be found below.


CLICK HERE FOR FULL COVERAGE OF DAY 2 AT THE G20 SUMMIT