'Dump Trump': Tens of thousands join global march

'Dump Trump': Tens of thousands join global march
Demonstrators arrive on the National Mall in Washington, DC, for the 'Women's March on Washington' on January 21, 2017 (AFP Photo/Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS)

March for Science protesters hit the streets worldwide

March for Science protesters hit the streets worldwide
Thousands of people in Australia and New Zealand on Saturday kicked off the March for Science, the first of more than 500 marches around the globe in support of scienceThousands of people in Australia and New Zealand on Saturday kicked off the March for Science, the first of more than 500 marches around the globe in support of science

Bernie Sanders and the Movement Where the People Found Their Voice

"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.) -

“ … 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.)

Hong Kong's grandpa protesters speak softly but carry a stick

Hong Kong's grandpa protesters speak softly but carry a stick
'Grandpa Wong' is a regular sight at Hong Kong's street battles (AFP Photo/VIVEK PRAKASH)
A student holds a sign reading "Don't shoot, listen!!!" during a protest
on June 17, 2013 in Brasilia (AFP, Evaristo)

FIFA scandal engulfs Blatter and Platini

FIFA scandal engulfs Blatter and Platini
FIFA President Sepp Blatter (L) shakes hands with UEFA president Michel Platini after being re-elected following a vote in Zurich on May 29, 2015 (AFP Photo/Michael Buholzer)
"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. …

Wall Street's 'Fearless Girl' statue to stay until 2018

Wall Street's 'Fearless Girl' statue to stay until 2018
The " Fearless Girl " statue on Wall Street is seen by many as a defiant symbol of women's rights under the new administration of President Donald Trump (AFP Photo/ TIMOTHY A. CLARY)

“… The Fall of Many - Seen It Yet?

You are going to see more and more personal secrets being revealed about persons in high places of popularity or government. It will seem like an epidemic of non-integrity! But what is happening is exactly what we have been teaching. The new energy has light that will expose the darkness of things that are not commensurate with integrity. They have always been there, and they were kept from being seen by many who keep secrets in the dark. Seen the change yet?

In order to get to a more stable future, you will have to go through gyrations of dark and light. What this means is that the dark is going to be revealed and push back at you. It will eventually lose. We told you this. That's what you're here for is to help those around you who don't see an escape from the past. They didn't get their nuclear war, but everything else is going into the dumper anyway. … “

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Sunday, January 12, 2020

Kimia Alizadeh: Iran's top female athlete defects

DW, 12 January 2020

Iran's only female Olympic medallist, Kimia Alizadeh, has said she has left the country permanently following accusations of mistreatment and sexism against officials. The 21-year-old is reportedly in the Netherlands.

Kimia Alizadeh | 2016 Rio Olympics - Taekwondo (Reuters/I. Kato)

Amid rising unrest in Iran following the accidental shooting down of a Ukrainian plane and simmering tensions with the USA, Iran's only female Olympic medallist, Taekwondo athlete Kimia Alizadeh, has announced that she has defected.

In an Instagram post on Sunday, the 21-year-old said she didn't want to be a part of "hypocrisy, lies, injustice and flattery" as "one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran".

"I wore whatever they told me and repeated whatever they ordered. Every sentence they ordered I repeated. None of us matter for them, we are just tools," she added.

Alizadeh, who made history when she won bronze in Taekwondo at the Rio Olympics as an 18-year-old, is believed to be training in the Netherlands, according to Iran's ISNA news agency.

She has claimed in the past that the Islamic Republic has used her as a propaganda tool and accused Iranian officials of sexism and mistreatment.

The ISNA agency reported that Alizadeh is hoping to still compete at the Tokyo Olympics later this year, but not under the Iranian flag.

Iranian students demonstrated following a tribute for victims of
Wednesday's plane crash (AFP Photo/Atta KENARE)

Related Article:

Ex-pope Benedict rejects opening up priesthood to married men

Yahoo – AFP, Ella IDE, January 12, 2020

Former Pope Benedict, (R) has weighed in on the controversial question of whether
or not to allow married "men of proven virtue" to join the priesthood (AFP Photo/Handout)

Rome (AFP) - Former pope Benedict XVI has publicly urged his successor Pope Francis not to open the Catholic priesthood up to married men, in a plea that Sunday stunned Vatican experts.

The ex-pontiff, who retired in 2013, issued the defence of clerical celibacy in a book written with arch-conservative Cardinal Robert Sarah, extracts of which were published in exclusive by France's Le Figaro.

"I cannot keep silent!" Benedict wrote in the book, which follows an extraordinary meeting of bishops from the Amazonian at the Vatican last year that recommended the ordination of married men in certain circumstances.

The pope emeritus, 92, and Sarah from Guinea weighed in on the controversial question of whether or not to allow "viri probati" -- married "men of proven virtue" -- to join the priesthood.

Francis is currently considering allowing it in remote locations, such as the Amazon, where communities seldom have Mass due to a lack of priests, and is expected to publish his decision in the coming weeks.

The pair asked the whole Church not to be "swayed" by "bad pleas, theatrics, diabolical lies, fashionable errors that want to devalue priestly celibacy".

"It is urgent, necessary, that everyone, bishops, priests and laity, let themselves be guided once more by faith as they look upon the Church and on priestly celibacy that protects her mystery," they wrote.

They warned of priests "confused by the incessant questioning of their consecrated celibacy".

"The conjugal state concerns man in his totality, and since the service of the Lord also requires the total gift of man, it does not seem possible to realise the two vocations simultaneously," Benedict wrote.

Sarah insisted that while celibacy can be "a trial" it is also "a liberation".

'Serious breach'

Benedict, who was the first pontiff to resign in almost 600 years, at first withdrew to a life of quiet contemplation in the Vatican, but has increasingly begun to speak out on key Catholic issues.

He and Sarah insisted their plea was not a "political manoeuvre" or "power game".

But Vatican experts expressed astonishment that the retired pope would speak out on such a sensitive topic.

"Benedict XVI is really not breaking his silence because he (and his entourage) never felt bound to that promise. But this is a serious breach," Massimo Faggioli, who writes for La Croix, said on Twitter.

Joshua McElwee of the National Catholic Reporter, tweeted that "a former pope speaking in public about something his successor is currently in the process of considering" was "incredible".

While Vatican expert Iacopo Scaramuzzi pointed out that "cohabitation (in the Vatican) is difficult if the emeritus pope does not respect his own promise to hide away and obey".

The idea of filling empty pulpits in remote locations by allowing married men to become priests is a divisive once, with critics warning the emotive issue could fracture the Catholic Church.

Supporters say it would not be necessary to rewrite Church law; Francis could simply make an exemption to the rules -- like the one already granted to married Anglican pastors who later converted to Catholicism.

But the ultra-conservative wing of the Church -- particularly in Europe and North America -- has spoken out strongly against the idea, warning that making exceptions could pave the way to the abolition of celibacy globally.

Related Article:

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Iran's 'catastrophic mistake': Speculation, pressure, then admission

Yahoo – AFP, Stuart WILLIAMS, January 11, 2020

An Iranian holds a newspaper with a picture of the debris of the Ukrainian plane
that crashed in Tehran on January 8, 2020, outside a news stand in the Islamic
republic's capital (AFP Photo/ATTA KENARE)

Paris (AFP) - When a Boeing passenger jet crashed in Iran early on January 8, speculation immediately swirled that the only plausible explanation was that it had been shot down by Iran.

The crash of the Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) flight came hours after Tehran had launched a barrage of missiles at bases housing American troops in Iraq, retaliating for the killing of commander Qasem Soleimani in a US strike.

Immediately, theories multiplied arguing that Tehran's air defence system, on high alert for possible US retaliation, may have been triggered by accident.

Western leaders cited intelligence pointing to an accidental strike by Iran. Verified video images later emerged showing a missile striking a plane.

From Wednesday to Friday, Iranian officials repeatedly insisted that the plane had not been shot down. Early on Saturday however, the Islamic republic admitted that the plane had been hit by a short-range missile in what President Hassan Rouhani described as a "catastrophic mistake".

Ukrainian passenger jet crash in Iran (AFP Photo)

What happened on January 8?

The Boeing 737-800NG for UIA's flight PS752 between Tehran and Kiev took off from Imam Khomeini International Airport at 6:12 am local time.

Although there was no distress message from the pilot, the plane had begun to turn back for the airport before crashing at 6:18 am, said the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization. The aircraft came down near Sabashahr on the outskirts of Tehran.

There were 10 departures from Tehran airport that day before flight PS752, according to the Flight Radar 24 monitoring site. That raised questions as to why air traffic had not been halted given the situation.

All 176 people on board the flight PS752 -- mainly Iranians and Canadians, including dual nationals, but also Ukrainians, Afghans, Britons and Swedes -- were killed.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was the first major leader to publicly 
state Iran could be to blame for the plane crash (AFP Photo/Dave Chan)

How did pressure grow?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was the first major leader to publicly state Iran could be to blame. He said Canada had intelligence from multiple sources "including our allies and our own intelligence" that indicated "the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile."

"This may well have been unintentional," Trudeau added.

His language was echoed by other Western leaders including Dutch Premier Mark Rutte, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

US President Donald Trump said he had "suspicions" as "somebody could have made a mistake", and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo then said the United States believed it was "likely" that an Iranian missile downed the airliner.

The New York Times also said it had verified a video appearing to show a missile hitting a plane at night above the Tehran suburb of Parand, west of the airport.

What did Iran initially say?

For three days, Iranian officials refused to countenance any suggestion that one of its missiles had brought down the plane.

The country's civil aviation chief Ali Abedzadeh said that one "thing is for certain, this airplane was not hit by a missile", arguing that it would have exploded immediately if hit by a missile.

Experts questioned that claim, arguing that such missiles explode before coming into contact with the target.

This handout photograph taken and released on January 11, 2019, by The 
National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, shows people analysing 
the remains of the Ukraine International Airlines plane Boeing 737-800 that
crashed outside Tehran (AFP Photo/STR)

What does Iran now admit?

In an announcement early Saturday that took many experts by surprise, Iran admitted it had "unintentionally" shot down the jet after a missile operator mistook the plane for a cruise missile.

Tehran said its systems had been on high alert for American retaliation in the hours after the Iranian strikes on bases housing US troops in Iran.

"He had 10 seconds to decide," the aerospace commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh said of the operator, who he insisted had "acted alone".

"He could have decided to strike or not to strike and under such circumstances he took the wrong decision."

Rouhani called it an "unforgivable mistake", vowed that compensation would be paid to the families while those responsible would be prosecuted.

What kind of missile was used?

Unverified images posted on social media show the remains of a Russian-made Tor M-1 missile but Tehran has yet to give details on the kind of weaponry used.

Tehran received 29 such air defence systems from Moscow under a $700 million contract signed in 2005, a deal that caused considerable unease in the West.

The Bellingcat open-source analytics website has said the origin of the images is yet to be determined, and the people who captured the images have not come forward.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, pictured on January 9, 2020 in a 
presidential press handout photo placing flowers at a memorial for the victims 
of the Ukraine International Airlines crash in Tehran, has toughened his stance 
on Iran (AFP Photo/HO)

What does Ukraine want now?

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, initially wary of blaming Tehran, has toughened his line since Tehran's admission.

After Zelensky spoke to Rouhani later Saturday, the Ukrainian presidency said that Zelensky asked Tehran to allow the bodies of the 11 Ukrainian victims to be repatriated "by January 19".

He added that Ukrainian diplomats had produced a list of steps to be taken to "resolve the compensation issue".

Despite the three days of denial from Tehran, some have compared its reaction favourably to that from Moscow over the crash of the Malaysia Airlines flight shot down over eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Although the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team says a Russian-made BUK missile fired by pro-Russian separatists was to blame, Russia still denies any involvement.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Australia's Morrison faces fresh fury for bushfire 'campaign ad'

Yahoo – AFP, January 4, 2020

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison (L) has faced sustained anger for his
handling of the months-long bushfire crisis (AFP Photo/James ROSS)

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison faced renewed criticism Saturday, after sharing bushfire themed party campaign ads that opponents condemned as "disgusting" and a respected defence association said was "milking" the crisis.

Facing sustained anger for his handling of the months-long crisis, Morrison sought to get on the front foot Saturday, announcing increased military assistance to beleaguered volunteer firefighters.

In a string of media appearances, he vowed every resource would be provided to help ease a disaster that has killed 23 people and burned swathes of the country, announcing more funding for water-bombing planes and the call up of 3,000 reservists.

But he found himself in fresh scandal late Saturday after tweeting a video heralding his announcements about the military, and his Liberal Party made a similar post linking to the party website.

Australia's bushfire crisis has killed 23 people and burned swathes of the country 

The non-partisan Australia Defence Association, a public-interest watchdog, said the Liberal Party advert was a "clear breach" of conventions keeping the military out of politics and accused the party of "milking ADF support to civil agencies fighting bushfires".

There was more fervent criticism from Morrison's political opponents for his tweet that promised "more Defence Force boots on the ground, more planes in the sky, more ships to sea, and more trucks to roll in to support the bushfire fighting effort".

It was accompanied by a military-themed video that was "authorised by S. Morrison, Liberal Party, Canberra."

Shadow minister for international development Pat Conroy accused Morrison of trying to "exploit a national tragedy" and described the ad as a "new low".

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison (L) has vowed every resource 
will be provided to help ease the bushfire disaster (AFP Photo/James ROSS)

"To then solicit donations to the Liberal Party while millions of Aussies are giving to fire appeals is beyond belief. Note this disgusting ad was personally authorised by this scum of a PM," he tweeted.

Labor Senator Murray Watt also took to Twitter to demand Morrison "show some respect to fire victims, the fireys (firefighters), the ADF, and the people facing fire fronts right now. Take down this Liberal Party ad. Now".

Morrison was earlier forced to cut short a Hawaii holiday following a barrage of criticism for vacationing while exhausted volunteer firefighters battled blazes across the country and millions of people in Sydney choked on toxic smoke.

Criticism of Morrison's absence was widespread, sparking street protests and a flood of angry social media posts demanding #whereisscomo.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced increased military
assistance to beleaguered volunteer firefighters (AFP Photo/PETER PARKS

He returned and promptly visited bushfire-hit communities where he was heckled by residents and criticised by a party ally.

A tearful pregnant woman and a volunteer firefighter refused to shake his hand and other residents peppered him with verbal abuse and suggested, colourfully, that he leave.

"People in these situations have a mix of emotions," Morrison said playing down the interactions and stressing he had been welcomed elsewhere.

"These arms have given a lot of hugs," he said.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Underage rape probe opened into French author Matzneff

Yahoo – AFP, Eleonore DERMY, January 3, 2020

In the book "Consent", Springora describes how she was seduced at the age
of 14 by Matzneff (AFP Photo/Martin BUREAU)

Paris (AFP) - Paris prosecutors on Friday opened a rape investigation into the author Gabriel Matzneff, a day after the publication of a book detailing his sexual relationship with a girl of 14 over three decades ago.

The case has attracted huge interest in France, which is only now beginning to scrutinise attitudes after decades of what is seen by some as an overly permissive attitude towards sexual exploitation of women and paedophilia.

The probe was launched after an examination of the book "Consent", published on Thursday, where author Vanessa Springora describes a sexual relationship she had with Matzneff in the mid-1980s when he was 36 years her senior, Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said in a statement.

Heitz said the inquiry would focus on "rapes committed against a minor" aged under 15.

In "Consent", Springora, 47, now a leading publisher, describes how she was seduced at the age of 14 by Matzneff and how this left lasting scars.

Matzneff, an essay writer long admired by some in French literary circles, never made any secret of his preference for sex with adolescent girls and boys.

In the mid-1970s, he published a notorious essay called "Les Moins de Seize Ans" ("Those Less than 16").

'All other victims'

Springora had indicated she did not intend to bring a criminal complaint against Matzneff. But the Paris prosecutors used their power to open an investigation of their own accord.

Heitz said that beyond the events described by Springora, the investigation "will work to identify all other eventual victims who could have been subjected to crimes of the same nature in France or abroad".

In France it is against the law to have a sexual relationship with anyone under the age of 15.

Gabriel Matzneff has denounced Springora's book, saying it attempts to 
portray him as "a pervert, a manipulator and a predator." (AFP Photo/

It is possible that investigations into Springora's evidence could be restricted by the statute of limitations, which in 2018 was extended to 30 from 20 years for this kind of crime but is not retroactive.

The book comes in the age of #MeToo as France wrestles with a series of accusations by women who say they were exploited by men who often held positions of power.

In one of the most prominent recent cases, French actress Adele Haenel accused film director Christophe Ruggia of constantly harassing her from the age of 12 to 15. She has since filed a complaint against him.

And the controversy has intensified around French-Polish film director Roman Polanski, a fugitive from US justice since 1978 when he admitted to statutory rape of a 13 year-old, after he brought out his new film "An Officer and a Spy".

'Not what we experienced'

Matzneff has denied any wrongdoing and in a lengthy statement sent to the L'Express magazine claimed that there had been an "exceptional love" between him and Springora, and that he did not "deserve the ugly portrait" that had been painted of him.

"No, this is not me, this is not what we experienced together and you know it," said the writer, now 83, denouncing a book that he says tries to portray him as "a pervert, a manipulator and a predator".

In 2013, Matzneff was awarded the Renaudot prize for his essays on international affairs and philosophy, an award one member of the jury has now conceded was a mistake.

"It is clear that he would not have got the prize for one of his intimate journals," jury member Frederic Beigbeder told the Parisien daily. "This prize was a blunder."

In the book Springora writes: "Aged 14, you are not supposed to have a 50-year-old man waiting for you when you leave school, you are not supposed to live in a hotel with him, or find yourself in his bed with his penis in your mouth when you should be having a snack."

Ahead of the book's publication, French ministers rounded on Matzneff, with Culture Minister Franck Riester saying "having a literary aura is not a guarantee of impunity."

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Pompadour & rooster cuts: Iraqi styles sculpt 'revolution'

Yahoo – AFP, Hervé Bar, December 28, 2019

Iraqi anti-government protesters are expressing their rebellion against the
existing social order via wild hairstyles (AFP Photo/SABAH ARAR)

Baghdad (AFP) - Elvis Presley may have been the advance guard, but young Iraqis own it -- protesters in Baghdad sport slicked styles and rockabilly haircuts, a testament to their unyielding rebel spirit.

"The revolution has changed everything," said Qassem, nearly three months into a popular movement that seeks to unseat Iraq's highly dysfunctional political establishment.

"Now, it is all so different -- we are free," the young protester added under a tent where he doles out tea and biscuits to peers in Tahrir Square.

"We also know how to let loose," Qassem continued, his face switching suddenly from serious to smiling.

"And so I invented a new style," he chuckled, glancing upwards towards his rectangular pompadour.

Outside his tent, thousands of students and young unemployed people thronged the iconic square, railing once more against "crooked" politicians.

Their enthusiasm has remained undimmed since the start of the revolt on October 1, despite clashes with security forces that have killed close to 460.

One thing strikes the eye perhaps above all else -- the unbridled hairstyles young men sport.

High quiffs, tight fades and loads of attitude -- it is quite the male beauty pageant.

Unorthodox hairstyles can be dangerous in Iraq, where in 2012 at least 15 young 
men were murdered for sporting the "emo" look (AFP Photo/SABAH ARAR)

'Why be scared?'

Exclusively male and in large part inspired by the fashionable cuts of football stars, the phenomenon is coursing through the Arab world.

And it is particularly exuberant in Tahrir Square.

"Here, we call it the rooster comb," explained a local journalist.

For 23-year-old actor and renowned activist Omar Dabbour, "the style began two years ago".

Then "it exploded with the revolution in Tahrir. The people feel increasingly free," he noted.

Dabbour himself sports an impressive, albeit more natural, style -- an afro worthy of the Jackson Five, which amounts to a radical departure, in what is otherwise an ocean of hair gel.

"In Tahrir Square, young people are daring -- it has become normal," added Dabbour.

"But in the rest of the city, it's a bit different -- more conservative. There is the army, the militiamen who can bother you at checkpoints," he continued.

"I don't care. Before, I had a short haircut. Now I have let it grow. Why be scared?"

Sporting yellow tinted glasses and maintaining a studious air, Karrar Riad, 20, pushed a hand through his long and deliberately disordered locks.

With a black leather bracelet, he has the air of a young Johnny Depp. "Today, everything is possible. We do what we want here," he said.

Here perhaps, but not in Riad's home district of Kadhimiya, which houses a key Shiite mausoleum.

Going home requires him to restore some conventional order to his unruly mop.

Other fashionistos don a cap to blend back in when they depart the protest hotbed.

Their caution is not without reason.

In 2012, at least 15 youths were stoned, beaten or shot to death in a spate of targeted attacks against people sporting the "emo" look -- tight-fitting black clothes and alternative hairstyles.

As new hairstyles are shared on social media in Iraq, the trend is towards ever more 
elaborate looks (AFP Photo/SABAH ARAR)

Voluminous proliferation

The range of styles is wide, but it is Iraq's take on the Elvis cut that rises head and shoulders above the rest: a towering pompadour with undercut back and sides.

"Adopted by celebrities, students and hipsters," the pompadour -- named after a mistress of French King Louis XV -- will transform you into a "sexy and trendy man", according to one website.

But this style itself unfurls into a multitude of sub-styles in Iraq, from classic rockabilly to even the mohawk.

And amid the proliferation of looks, cuts are becoming ever more voluminous.

"The idea is to do what you want to do," said Dabbour.

And probably also to attract the throngs of young women who frequent Tahrir Square, in a commingling that is unusual in Iraq.

The hair styles on display have "roots in the 1990s, in the hairdressing salons and male beauty parlours of Sadr City," explained Zahraa Ghandour, an Iraqi documentary film maker.

Sadr City -- a huge working-class district of northeastern Baghdad -- was marginalised under the regime of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein.

"The residents wanted to mark themselves out. It was a means to express themselves, to protest," said Ghandour.

Baroque haircuts, meanwhile, "really started around two years ago, again in Sadr city."

Zouheir-al-Atouani, a local videographer who has gained nationwide fame, spread this style by posting wedding videos in which men sport ever more sculpted looks.

According to Ghandour, "in Tahrir, ever more frequented by young people from Sadr city, it's a way to rebel, to free oneself".

It is also most likely a way of defying the country's all-powerful militias, and social revenge for young people who feel despised, yet now find themselves at the forefront of fashion.

"They are especially creative," smiles Ghandour.

And the styles are "spread far and wide by social networks", where dandies love to showcase their ever crazier cuts.

India's protests: why now?

Yahoo – AFP, Ammu KANNAMPILLY, December 28, 2019

The new citizenship law has sparked two weeks of protests across India (AFP
Photo/Manjunath Kiran)

New Delhi (AFP) - Mumbai-based copywriter Sarah Syed says she was long alarmed by the Hindu nationalist direction of India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi but felt powerless to stop it -- until now.

Like many others taking part in the current wave of protests, the final straw was Modi's new citizenship law and then the images of students being tear-gassed when they demonstrated against it.

"It's not as if one didn't know that things were not right. But for many of us, politics was just too depressing to think about," said Syed, a Muslim married to a Catholic.

"Now though it feels criminal to sit out the protests and say nothing," the 27-year-old told AFP.

The law, which offers fast-track citizenship to non-Muslim nationals from three neighbouring countries, is the latest policy instituted by Modi's government that critics accuse of marginalising Muslims in the Hindu-majority nation.

During his nearly six years in power, Modi's party has renamed places with Islamic-origin names, rewritten history textbooks to diminish or discredit the role of Muslim leaders, and stripped the Muslim-dominated region of Kashmir of its special autonomy.

The new citizenship law offers fast-track citizenship to non-Muslim nationals from 
three of India's neighbouring countries (AFP Photo/NARINDER NANU)

Modi has insisted the legislation will have no impact on Indian Muslims, however his party's 2019 election pledge to conduct a nationwide survey to identify illegal immigrants has raised fears among Muslims of becoming stateless, with no fast-track naturalisation option available to them.

Mumbai-based lawyer Momin Musaddique, who has been providing free legal advice to people worried about the implications of the law, said years of pent-up anxiety among Muslims have finally found an outlet in the protests rippling across the country.

"People have been afraid for so long of this government's Hindu nationalist agenda that they now feel like they have nothing left to fear," he told AFP.

"Now that their very survival in India is under threat, they have no option but to protest," he added.

'We have woken up'

In addition to Muslims, the demonstrations have galvanised large sections of Indian society, from secular Hindus and members of other minorities to intellectuals and opposition politicians.

Historian Zoya Hasan of Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University told AFP the protests represented "the biggest challenge to the Modi government in the last six years".

The unrest is unlikely to derail Modi's Hindu nationalist campaign, said one 
analyst (AFP Photo/Manjunath Kiran)

Several local governments in opposition-ruled states such as Kerala and West Bengal have said they will not conduct surveys for the national citizens' register, responding to the public mood and undermining the prime minister's authority.

Although the protests began as a fight against the citizenship law, many of the demonstrators are now seeking a rollback of the government's push to remake officially secular India as a Hindu nation, said Hasan.

Nevertheless, she added that the unrest was unlikely to derail Modi's Hindu nationalist campaign and risk alienating his base which propelled him to a landslide re-election victory in May.

"The government may take a step back as a result of the protests but they are not going to move away from their core agenda," Hasan said.

For first-time protester Syed, participating in the demonstrations left her with "goosebumps" as she described her elation at seeing people from different communities come together.

"I used to feel so helpless before, like there was nothing I could do to change the way things were in this country," she said.

"The government's strategy has been all smoke and mirrors", she said.

"Now we have woken up."

China bans 'custody and education' punishment for sex workers

Yahoo – AFP, 28 December 2019

China's 'custody and detention' system for sex workers will cease from December 29

Chinese lawmakers Saturday voted to abolish the "custody and education" punishment system, which allowed police to hold sex workers and their clients without charge for up to two years, state media reported.

Critics say the nearly three-decade-old system has little to do with education.

"Sex workers are subjected to police violence... forced labour, compulsory testing for sexually transmitted disease... humiliation and physical violence at these centres," said Shen Tingting, director of advocacy and policy at Asia Catalyst, an NGO working with marginalised groups in the region.

Abolishing this system is a "significant positive step," she said.

The arbitrary detention system will cease from December 29, and those held at "education centers" should be released immediately, state news agency Xinhua reported.

There has been a public push to close the centres ever since China's top legislative committee abolished its system of "re-education through labour camps" in 2013.

Shutting the labour camps -- introduced as a speedy way to handle petty offenders -- ended a practice long criticised by human rights groups.

Yet authorities retained the right to detain sex workers and their clients, and in 2014 police announced that popular actor Huang Haibo would be held for six months for having solicited a prostitute.

That prompted a rare instance of dissent from state media, which questioned the system.

Although illegal, prostitution remains widespread in China, with an estimated several million sex workers.

Under current laws prostitutes and their clients can be fined up to 5,000 yuan ($714) and face up to 15 days of administrative detention.

"Sex workers' issues seldom sits on the agenda of the government," said Shen, adding that abolishing detention centers is only a small step towards safeguarding the rights of prostitutes.

"Chinese law and policies focus on prohibition and cracking down on sex work rather than providing a framework to ensure the health and safety of sex work as a profession."