B’TSELEM: Israeli politician calls for Gaza human rights group to be shut down

Jerusalem – VIJAY SHAH via the Jerusalem Post

An Israeli politician has called on the country’s most senior government lawyer to dismantle a human rights organisation in the country after its leader spoke up on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Nava Boker, a member of the Knesset (Israeli parliament) allied with the secular centre-right Likud party, issued a request to the Attorney General, Aluf Avichai Mandelblit, to order the closing down of human rights group B’Tselem after its director-general, Hagai El-Ad, spoke on the Palestinian crisis in front of the United Nations Security Council this past Thursday.


Boker also appealed to the Israeli Corporations Authority, which regulates businesses and non-profits in the country, to close down the charity run by El-Ad. The minister claimed that B’Tselem is anti-national and anti-democratic. After El-Ad made his speech, he was called a ‘wretched collaborator’ by the Israeli ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, the Post reported.

El-Ad responded to the mudslinging from the ambassador by stating: “I am not a traitor, nor am I a hero,”

“The heroes are the Palestinians who endure this occupation with courage and perseverance; who wake up in the middle of the night to find soldiers barging into their homes; who know that if a loved one is killed, impunity is all but guaranteed to the perpetrators; who stay on their land knowing that it is only a matter of time before the bulldozers arrive.”

The charity’s head also responded to the demands for his organisation’s shuttering by Boker. He said: “We would be happy to close B’Tselem and our initiative after the end of the occupation, not a minute earlier,”

“Until then, we invite members of Knesset and the general public to join us in the struggle to end it.”

B’Tselem, also known by its official English name of the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, was founded in 1989 to document violations of international law and human rights in the Palestinian Territories as well as foster the development of a human rights culture within Israel.


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“LIKUD MK CALLS ON ATTORNEY GENERAL TO DISMANTLE B’TSELEM” – KYC Israel, KYC Israel Research Services Ltd https://www.kycisrael.com/likud-mk-calls-on-attorney-general-to-dismantle-btselem/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

“LIKUD MK CALLS ON ATTORNEY GENERAL TO DISMANTLE B’TSELEM” – The Jerusalem Post/Jpost Inc. (21 October 2018) https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Likud-MK-calls-on-attorney-general-to-dismantle-BTselem-569884


“Hagai El-Ad, Samer Badawi, and Leila Hilal” – New America, Flickr (17 September 2014) https://www.flickr.com/photos/newamerica/15267818722


WATERFALL PHOTO DEATH: Tourist dies in fall while posing for photo


A tourist has died after falling a hundred feet while posing for a holiday snap at a waterfall, reports the newspaper Metro today.

Jiri Barta, a man aged 32 from the Czech Republic, was visiting the tourist spot on the popular holiday island of Koh Samui, Thailand with a group of eight fellow travellers. They had reached the Khun Sri waterfall, where Barta and another group member decided to sit at a cliff edge to take pictures. However, Barta lost his footing and tumbled off the cliff, falling 100 feet (30.5 metres) to the ground below. His horrified companions desperately tried to give him first aid, but he did not survive.


Local ambulance rescue teams were called and arrived at the scene. They also attempted to save Barta’s life but later declared him deceased and ferried his body to a local hospital for a post-mortem.

According to a friend of the deceased quoted in the Metro article, Barta was part of a group of five tourists who arrived in Thailand on February 5, and hired five motorcycles to travel around Koh Samui island. The friend, Romana Uassara, told the paper: We were just admiring the beauty of the waterfall and he walked over to the edge for a picture.

‘The edge is so steep and he fell onto his back. It took a long time for his body to hit the bottom. I don’t know why. ‘

We went down and he was still alive. We tried to do CPR and asked for help from villagers in the neighbourhood”

Tourist police spokesperson Boonchai Wannawatchanasuntorn said that rescuers spend five hours negotiating the terrain to retrieve Jiri Barta’s body. He added There is a sign in both Thai and English barring people from entering, but tourists keep ignoring it.

Accidents happened often because the slope is very steep, at almost 90 degrees, and it is very slippery.”

Lieutenant Colonel Piyawat Chunwat added: “This is a very dangerous area and we advise all tourist [sic] to stay away and be extra careful.

‘The rescue and recovery of the body was made more difficult by the steep cliffs and dangerous conditions.”

Koh Samui, with a population of 62,500, is Thailand’s second largest island and is popular with budget travellers. The island is famed for its many beaches and mountainous scenery.


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“Tourist fell 100ft to his death whilst posing for a photograph on waterfall” – Georgia Diebelius, Metro/Associated Newspapers Limited (24 February 2018) http://metro.co.uk/2018/02/24/tourist-fell-100ft-death-whilst-posing-photograph-waterfall-7338311/?ito=social


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FIGHTBACK AGAINST DAESH: Syrian forces take back large areas of Manbij

Manbij, SYRIA
VIJAY SHAH via The Jerusalem Post & Reuters


In breaking news, the Israeli English-language newspaper The Jerusalem Post reports via the Reuters news agency that Syrian forces, with backing from the American military have succeeded in taking back forty per cent of the city of Manbij, which was previously part of the self-declared ‘caliphate’ of Daesh (so-called Islamic State). The city lies in the Aleppo governorate, thirty miles from the Euphrates river in north Syria, and is around 40-50 kilometres from the Turkish border.

Manbij had witnessed heavy fighting and casualties in the past few months as the Syrian Democratic Army and other forces had tried to retake it, with the help of US Special Forces. New advances by the Syrian forces have meant non-Daesh fighters now control just under half of Manbij’s terrirtory.

The British based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a one-man observation post for activities inside Syria, said that soldiers from the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), with help from controversial US air strikes, had succeeded in wresting back control of the eastern flank of Manbij, after making some slow advances in the western part. The US is also working with local Kurdish peshmerga and Arab allies in moping up the heavy resistance of Daesh. The alliance formed last year and since then has engaged in a campaign for the past two months aimed at driving out Daesh from its territories straddling the Syrian-Turkish frontier. The Daesh’s proximity to the Turkish border has been a headache for the country, with Daesh militants crossing it to perpetrate bombings on Turkish soil and border villages and towns regularly hit by the group’s artillery.

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“Report: US-backed forces now control 40 percent of IS-held city of Manbij” – Reuters via The Jerusalem Post – Breaking News/Jpost Inc. (31 July 2016) http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Report-US-backed-forces-now-control-40-percent-of-IS-held-city-of-Manbij-462818
“A street view of Manbij city” – Jacky Lee, Panoramio via Wikipedia (22 September 2005) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manbij#/media/File:A_street_view_of_manbij_city_-_panoramio.jpg [CC BY 3.0]

KUNDUZ TAKEBACK: Afghan hospital hit by US strike, three killed

VIJAY SHAH via Financial Times/Reuters

As the Afghan armed forces seek to retake the northern city of Kunduz after a surprise invasion by the Taliban earlier this week, reports have come in of a possibly misplaced American air strike on a hospital, killing three people, the UK’s Financial Times and news agency Reuters have claimed.

The US military, currently working alongside Afghan forces to hold back the Taliban, once Afghanistan’s rulers before the 9/11 attack, had acknowledged today that it may have been responsible for the attack on the hospital facility, which is managed by international medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The casualty estimate at the moment stands at three dead and another thirty missing, possibly more.

English: Afghan soldiers holding position duri...
English: Afghan soldiers holding position during a joint operation in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan conducted by USSOF, Afghan Nationa Army and German PRT infantry forces. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to a statement released by US colonel Brian Tribus, the US sorties were sent in around 2.15 am local time as the Taliban were engaged in street fighting with the Afghan national army following their biggest surprise victory in the last fourteen years. Hundreds of Taliban fighters swarmed into Kunduz, completely catching the local provincial government by surprise. 

In the statement, Col. Tribus also said: “The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility,” he added. “This incident is under investigation.”

Eyewitness reports of the damage to the hospital state that one wall of the main building has been completely obliterated, leaving behind debris including shattered wooden door frames and broken glass from the hospital’s windows. Three of the facility rooms are also said to be on fire, according to Saad Mukhtar, director of public health in Kunduz.

Mukhtar was one of those who witnessed the damage from the strike. In a visit to the MSF building, the director said: “Thick black smoke could be seen rising from some of the rooms,”

“The fighting is still going on, so we had to leave.”

Due to the ongoing fighting, MSF have not been able to take a complete note of casualties or to assess structural damage. At the time of the strike, there were believed to be around 200 patients and staff present in the Kunduz hospital. It is the only hospital in the Kunduz Province, which borders Tajikistan, equipped to deal with major injuries.

“We are deeply shocked by the attack, the killing of our staff and patients and the heavy toll it has inflicted on healthcare in Kunduz,” the aid group’s operations director, Bart Janssens, said.

MSF staff members are currently battling to not only treat existing patients, but also those injured in the strike.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, told Reuters that US air strikes had targeted the hospital, killing patients, doctors and nurses. He denied allegations that Taliban militants were being treated at the hospital, which might have made it a target for US drones trying to pick off Taliban leadership figures.

The hospital’s chief, Dr Masood Nasim, said the hospital was under increasing strain and risk as the battle frontline reached it this week, with gunfights taking place just outside its gates. Medical staff reported hearing all manners of ammunition, such as shelling, rockets, and fighter jets passing overhead, Nasim claimed. Staff even discovered stray bullets coming through the roof of its intensive care unit.

MSF have said they have so far treated almost 400 patients at the Kunduz hospital since fighting broke out six days ago. Most of the people rushed to the 150-bed facility were victims of gunshot wounds sustained in the fighting, although it did not state if they were civilians or military personnel of whatever side. The hospital had been struggling to cope the massive influx, with many new patients being forced to recuperate on mattresses laid on floors or in the hospital’s offices.

There is no word on who ordered the strike on the Kunduz hospital, or whether it was deliberately targetted in hit in error.


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“Three dead at Afghan hospital after US air strike” – Reuters via Financial Times/ft.com – World – Asia-Pacific/The Financial Times Ltd. (3 October 2015) http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0aa6a070-69b1-11e5-8171-ba1968cf791a.html?ftcamp=published_links/rss/home_europe/feed//product#axzz3nV1Mffqp
“File:Joint US-Afghan-German operation in Kunduz Province.jpg” – ISAF Headquarters Public Affairs Office/Flickr, Wikimedia Commons (4 November 2009) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Joint_US-Afghan-German_operation_in_Kunduz_Province.jpg

VIRTUAL VEXILLOLOGY: Animated world flags with TLDs (Part 5 – Asia)

HEM Animated ccTLD Flags Ident pizap.com14318621928841

Asia is one of the most linguistically, ethnically and religiously diverse continents on the planet. Its kaleidoscope of nations and cultures is well reflected in its range of flags.

Just like Africa and South America, which we explored earlier on in the Animated ccTLD Flags series, Asia was once part of foreign empires, but is also home to many countries which escaped colonialism and have a long and vibrant history.

Asia is home to a wide variety of alphabets and writing systems, which makes it an interesting point to note in what comes next. While the first set of ccTLDs which became current from the 1980s onwards (and featured in our series) were rendered solely in the Roman alphabet, the advances in internet and computing technologies mean that such domains are no longer restricted only to Western-style letters.

In October 2009, at its annual meeting in Seoul, South Korea, the organisation in charge of TLDs, ICANN, announced a plan to extend the range of alphabets enabled for use in domains and URLs from the old American influenced system of writing ‘root zones’ in Latin characters. At this critical meeting, ICANN representatives tabled a motion to introduce the ‘Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs)’ which would enable people using other scripts to use the Web in those scripts, thus ending the discrimination of the current state web in favour of those using languages written in the Roman alphabet. The new generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) Program, approved at the ICANN meeting in Singapore in June 2011, paved the way for countries using other scripts to create their own TLDs in their own writing.

By May 2010, the first such internationalised codes were implemented for Arabic, applying to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE. Russia followed soon after. According to ICANN, Arabic was chosen for the initial rollout because it is one of the most widely used non-Latin languages on the Internet. Languages in India and much of South Asia were then catered for. As of December 2014 there are 45 approved internationalized country code top-level domains. The most used are .рф (Russia) with over 900,000 domains names, .台灣(Taiwan) with around 500,000 and .中国 (China) with over 200,000 domains.

(c) Wikipedia
(c) Wikipedia

A comprehensive list of IccTLDs published by Wikipedia.

The oldest flag-like object ever found, according to one source, was a metal square sheet mounted on a copper pole. Dating to the third millennium BC (BCE) it was uncovered in an archaeological site near Shahdad in Iran. Depicting depicts two figures facing one another on a rich background of animals, plants, and goddesses, the vexilloid is still a mystery as to what purpose it served or who created it.

Asia is also home to the world’s only pennant style national flag, that of Nepal. Nepal adopted this unique flag with its crescent moon and sun design in 1962, and the deep red is said to reflect the hue of the rhododendron, Nepal’s national flower.


(c) Tsui/Wikimedia Commons

ae - United Arab Emirates

af - Afghanistan

am - Armenia

az - Azerbaijan

bd - Bangladesh

bh - Bahrain

bn - Brunei

bt - Bhutan

cn - China

ge - Georgia

hk - Hong Kong

id - Indonesia

il - Israel

in - India

iq - Iraq

ir - Iran (Islamic Republic of)

jo - Jordan

jp - Japan

kg - Kyrgyzstan

kh - Cambodia

kp - Korea (Democratic People's Republic of)

kr - Korea (Republic of)

kw - Kuwait

kz - Kazakhstan

la - Laos

lb - Lebanon

lk - Sri Lanka

mm - Myanmar

mn - Mongolia

mo - Macao

mv - Maldives

my - Malaysia

np - Nepal (rectangular flag)

np - Nepal

om - Oman

ph - Philippines

pk - Pakistan

ps - Palestine, State of

qa - Qatar

sa - Saudi Arabia

sg - Singapore

sy - Syrian Arab Republic

th - Thailand

tj - Tajikistan

tm - Turkmenistan

tp - East Timor

tr - Turkey

tw - Taiwan

uz - Uzbekistan

vn - Viet Nam

ye - Yemen

.ae United Arab Emirates
.af Afghanistan
.am Armenia
.az Azerbaijan
.bd Bangladesh
.bh Bahrain
.bn Brunei
.bt Bhutan
.cn China
.ge Georgia
.hk Hong Kong
.id Indonesia
.il Israel
.in India
.iq Iraq
.ir Iran (Islamic Republic of)
.jo Jordan
.jp Japan
.kg Kyrgyzstan
.kh Cambodia
.kpKorea (Democratic People’s Republic of)
.kr Korea (Republic of)
.kw Kuwait
.kz Kazakhstan
.la Laos
.lb Lebanon
.lk Sri Lanka
.mm Myanmar
.mn Mongolia
.mo Macao
.mv Maldives
.my Malaysia
.np Nepal
.om Oman
.ph Philippines
.pk Pakistan
.ps Palestine, State of
.qa Qatar
.sa Saudi Arabia
.sg Singapore
.sy Syrian Arab Republic
.th Thailand
.tj Tajikistan
.tm Turkmenistan
.tp East Timor
.tr Turkey
.tw Taiwan
.uz Uzbekistan
.vn Viet Nam
.ye Yemen

Next weekend, we’ll be completing the final leg of our world ccTLD tour by visiting Australia, New Zealand and a panoply of beautiful ‘South Sea’ islands as we move southwards to Australasia, otherwise known as Oceania. This will be our second to last article in the series, and the very final blogpost will bring all of the flags together as a reference, possibly to be arranged in alphabetical order.

Previous Articles in the Series

Part 1 – North America

Part 2 – South America

Part 3 – Europe

Part 4 – Africa

This article was mainly prepared at the HEM home office in Plaistow, with some writing and formatting work done at Informa in Maple House, Euston, London.

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“Internationalized Domain Names” – ICANN/Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers (25 February 2012) https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/idn-2012-02-25-en
“Internationalized country code top-level domain” – Wikipedia/ Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internationalized_country_code_top-level_domain
“Bronze flag, Iran, 3rd millennium BC” – HISTORICAL FLAGS, Tumblr  http://historicalflags.tumblr.com/post/61418440418/bronze-flag-iran-3rd-millennium-bc-this-is-a
“Flag of Nepal” – Wikipedia/ Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Nepal
“Internationalized country code top-level domain” – Wikipedia/ Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internationalized_country_code_top-level_domain
“File:Asia map pastel de.png” – Tsui, Wikimedia Commons (18 January 2006) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Asia_map_pastel_de.png
“Pakistan Defence” – Pakistan Defence http://defence.pk/
“RIGS OF RODS” – Rigs of Rods http://www.rigsofrods.com/content/
IPBURGER/IPBurger.com http://ipburger.com/
“Category:Country Flags” – EP.com Wiki/EntropiaPlanets.com/EntropiaPlanets Wiki – Entropia Universe Guides Wiki Info http://www.entropiaplanets.com/wiki/Category:Country_Flags

SOUTHERN THAILAND: Soldier shoots two colleagues dead

soldier in the restive south of Thailand has gunned down two of his armed forces colleagues, killing them both, Singapore’s Strait Times reports today.

According to the report, received via the international news agency Agence France Presse (AFP), the soldier has now been charged with murder after shooting two other soldiers at an army barracks in the south of Thailand, home to a Malay minority and a religiously and ethnically inspired insurgency that has claimed 6,300 lives over the past decade. The majority of the victims have been civilians. Hundreds of Thai troops have been stationed in the southern areas which have seen the army and police battle against an agitation by rebels in the Muslim-majority southern provinces bordering Malaysia. The rebels are demanding greater self-government for the Muslim areas in the south. The vast majority of Thais follow Buddhism.

Royal Thai Army soldier armed with M16A2 stand...
Royal Thai Army soldier armed with M16A2 stands on the streets of Bangkok following the 2006 Thailand coup d’état. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The unnamed soldier, believed to be 57 years old and hailing from the southern province of Phatthalung, opened fire late on Friday at a barracks in the Yaring district of Pattani province, killing two other soldiers, local police chief Montri Kongwatmai told AFP.

“The soldier killed two other soldiers and then surrendered himself,” he said. “Our investigation shows he had a personal conflict with them.” The soldier has been charged with murder and will face trial in a military court, Kongwatmai added. There is no implication of any political or insurgency-linked motive for the killings.

There are estimated to be 60,000 troops and police in the region attempting to secure the area and protect locals. They are regularly the target of roadside bombs and gun attacks by rebels, and the pressure of working in such an environment has caused numerous episodes of soldier-on-soldier violence. Last November, an army conscript went on the rampage, killing four officers and then committing suicide. The Thai armed forces chief has said that more needs to be done to offer support and counselling to troops battling rebels in the south. The south was originally part of what is now Malaysia, but was annexed by Thailand over a century ago.

While Thai security forces are often the subject of attacks by rebels, they have also been accused of human rights violations that have been described as widespread. Recently they have been condemned for killing civilians in raids on suspected rebel hideouts.

The insurgency has intensified since 2001, as various Thai elected and military governments have either fought an all-out war with the Malay insurgents or attempted to win over their hearts and minds. There are numerous insurgent groups fighting for greater autonomy in Thailand’s four southernmost provinces. They include the National Revolution FrontRunda Kumpulan Kecil, the Pattani Islamic Mujahideen Movement and the United Mujahideen Front of Pattani.

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“Thai soldier shoots dead two colleagues in deep south” – Agence France Presse (AFP) via The Sunday Times – Home – Asia – Story/The Strait Times/SPH Digital News/Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. (10 May 2015) http://www.straitstimes.com/news/asia/south-east-asia/story/thai-soldier-shoots-dead-two-colleagues-deep-south-20150510
“Thai soldier shoots dead two colleagues in deep south” – Agence France Presse (AFP) via Zee News – Latest News – World News (10 May 2015) http://zeenews.india.com/news/world/thai-soldier-shoots-dead-two-colleagues-in-deep-south_1593014.html
“South Thailand insurgency” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Thailand_insurgency
“File:Thai coup soldier.jpg” – goshen42, ChrisO & Fanghong, Wikimedia Commons (19 September 2006) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thai_coup_soldier.jpg


ASEF: Journalism event on crisis reporting in November

The Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) is launching a special event for journalists this November to explore and share best practice on reporting global crises. The 10th ASEF Journalists’ Colloquium on Crisis Reporting is being held in Luxembourg over three days from the 4-6 November 2014, according to a source with ASEF’s branch in Singapore.

The colloquium is being organised in conjunction with the 12th ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (ASEM FMM12), an important regional political meeting being held at the same time also in Luxembourg. A specially selected number of 25 practicing journalists from Asia and Europe to come together to discuss and learn different approaches, skills and tools used in crisis reporting from Asian and European perspectives.

(c) ASEF via Journalism.co.uk/Mousetrap Media.

From public health crises such as the E. Coli out breakout of 2011 in Germany, to environmental disasters such as the devastating 2013 cyclone Haiyan that struck the Philippines and this weekend’s earthquake in Nepal and India, the attendees will learn and build upon their understanding of the many issues these crises pose for Asian and European media. The recent terror attacks in places like France, and the ongoing war in Iraq and Syria also pose many challenges for reporters.

This colloquium will enable journalists to share their perspectives and best practices regarding international and regional challenges during crisis reporting from the different regional perspectives, as well as definitively understanding the role of the European and Asian media in reporting and witnessing such profound events. Journalists from ASEM countries (members of the Asia-Europe Meeting) can qualify to answer the call for applications. A list of participating ASEM nations can be found at http://www.aseminfoboard.org/members

Participating media professionals will see their recommendations and the event’s highlights published as the ASEF Media Handbook, which will be a ready reference for Asian and European journalists as well as for research and civil society organisations working in the field.

Founded in 1997, ASEF fosters understanding and dialogue between European and Asian countries through intellectual, cultural and people-to-people exchanges. This is with the goal to help encourage the growth of common development and stability, as well as contributing to world peace and prosperity. The Foundation particularly focusses on matters of concern such as war and famine in addition, and offers a range of collaborative events including seminars, workshops, conferences, lecture tours and exhibitions. In the past seventeen years, ASEF has seeded over 650 projects involving 17,000 direct participants over the two continents.

Interested journalists from ASEM countries can apply to take part at the colloquium. Application information can be found here: http://bit.ly/ASEFJC10

Travel (by economy class only) to and from Luxembourg and nearby hotel accommodation will be provided by the organisers for participants selected to attend this unique event. All applications should be submitted online by Tuesday, 12 May 2015, at the link above.




Nepal Quake Emergency Appeal pizap_opt

As many of you are well aware, Nepal was struck yesterday by the worst earthquake to be witnessed in its recent history. More than 1,200 people have lost their lives, mainly in Nepal, but also in India and Bangladesh. Much of the tourism infrastructure in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu has been obliterated, and thousands more are injured and without homes, food, and blankets for the harsh cold nights there.

The Half-Eaten Mind has joined forces with the international development charity Oxfam to support them in their Emergency Appeal. The top of the sidebar has a special link to Oxfam Great Britain’s giving page, where you can make donations securely via credit and debit card or PayPal. I am not aware if givers from outside the U.K. can donate via this link, but if you cannot, then please support any charities helping Nepal in your country.

Please donate what you can. Every little helps.

Thanks for reading.

Vijay Shah,

Editor and Blogger – the Half-Eaten Mind.

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“Call for Journalists: 10th ASEF Journalists’ Colloquium on Crisis Reporting” – Debasmita Dasgupta, Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) via Journalism.co.uk/Mousetrap Media Ltd (24 April 2015) https://www.journalism.co.uk/press-releases/call-for-journalists-10th-asef-journalists-colloquium-on-crisis-reporting/s66/a564889/
“Project Updates” – Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) http://asef.org/projects/themes/sustainable-development/3412-10th-asef-journalists-colloquium#3511-call-for-applications-10th-asef-journalists-colloquium
“Upcoming Events 10th ASEF Journalists’ Colloquium 4-7 November 2015 (tbc)” – Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) http://asef.org/projects/themes/sustainable-development/3412-10th-asef-journalists-colloquium
“The History” – Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) http://www.asef.org/about/history
“What We Do” – Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) http://www.asef.org/about/what-we-do
“Call for Journalists: 10th ASEF Journalists’ Colloquium on Crisis Reporting” – Debasmita Dasgupta, Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) via Journalism.co.uk/Mousetrap Media Ltd (24 April 2015) https://www.journalism.co.uk/press-releases/call-for-journalists-10th-asef-journalists-colloquium-on-crisis-reporting/s66/a564889/

PHOTO MOMENT: Chinese New Year 2015 – Year of the Sheep/Goat

This year, the Chinese New Year will fall on Thursday, February 19, and according to the hallowed annals of the ancient zodiac from which originated the animals and their associated years, we will see the dawn of the Year of the Sheep. The sheep in question is said to be specifically the female Wood Sheep, although some will say it is the Green Sheep. Whichever material or colour the sheep of 2015 will arrive as, the New Year will be a time of new beginnings, family reunions and much excitement.

The sheep is considered a lucky animal, attached to the easy life. An important and ubiquitous creature even today in the rural areas of the world’s most populous nation, the sheep is associated with the elements of earth and wood in the Chinese Five Element theory. Interestingly enough, some users of the Chinese zodiac in fact will state it will soon be the Year of the Goat, another farmyard animal that enjoys nibbling vegetation, although with a range restricted to pastures and mountains in northern China.

The confusion over whether this new lunar year is in honour of the sheep or goat stems from the use of the Mandarin word ‘yang’ to describe this year. The problem is, ‘yang’ can be used to refer to many kinds of herbivorous animals with cloven feet, including sheep, goats, camels and even gazelles, according to Isaac Yue, a professor of Chinese religion and mythology at the University of Hong Kong (interviewed by CNN).

People born in the Year of the Sheep (or Goat or Ram) are said to be tender, kind-hearted, family oriented and endowed with an intelligent nature while being humble and polite. You shouldn’t expect too much boasting bravado or fiery tempers to come out of a Sheep. They are also said to be good with business dealings and can be relied upon to keep the household budget in the black in their everyday economics. They are also aesthetically pleasing with symmetrical faces and figures, if you believe the old legends.

Previous years of the Sheep/Goat this and last century were:- 1907, 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003.

Whichever animal takes pride of place in this year’s fantastic celebrations, I’ll be wishing you a very happy Year of the Sheep or Goat.






往年羊/山羊这和上个世纪是: – 1907年,1919年,1931年,1943年,1955年,1967年,1979年,1991年,2003年



Here is our selection of lucky images for the occasion. Enjoy!!!




(c) Sky HD Wallpaper
Via HD Wallpapers Inn
(c) Chinese New Year 2015
(c) AliExpress
(c) Zazzle
(c) Zazzle Australia
(c) Colourbox via Holiday Pictures
(c) Zazzle
(c) 123newyear.com via R. Tayal/YouTube GB
(c) playrific


(c) Pixel Jeff/Tumblr
*The Half-Eaten Mind’s first ever bilingual article!!
*Text written mainly at Informa offices at Maple House, Tottenham Court Rd., Euston. Picture sourcing and editing of article carried out at the HEM home office in Plaistow. Published as per normal location listed above.
Chinese New Year 2015 – The Year of Green Wood Sheep or Goat” – Chinese Horoscope Fortune Calendar http://www.chinesefortunecalendar.com/2015.htm
“Is it the Year of the Sheep, Goat or Ram?” – , CNN International Edition/Cable News Network/Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (13 February 2015) http://edition.cnn.com/2015/02/12/asia/year-of-the-goat-sheep-ram/
“Chinese Zodiac – Sheep / Goat / Ram” – TravelChinaGuide http://www.travelchinaguide.com/intro/social_customs/zodiac/sheep.htm
“2015 Chinese Zodiac Sheep – Year of Sheep” – Legend of Chinese Zodiac http://www.chinesefortunecalendar.com/Zodiac/SummarySheep.htm
Getty Images via Zemanta.
“Chinese New Year 2015” – Sky HD Wallpaper, SkyHDWallpaper.com http://www.skyhdwallpaper.com/chinese-new-year-2015
“Animated Happy New Year Wallpaper 2015” – HD Wallpapers Inn http://www.hdwallpapersinn.com/animated-happy-new-year-wallpaper-2015.html
“Chinese New Year 2015 Sheep HD GIF Animated Wallpapers,Images,Pictures” – Namit Kapoor, Chinese New Year 2015 (6 February 2015) http://chinesenew-year.com/chinese-new-year-2015-sheep-hd-gif-animated-wallpapersimagespictures/
“animated goats Results” – AliExpress, AliExpress.com http://www.aliexpress.com/popular/animated-goats.html
“2015 Chinese New Year Gifts – Shirts, Posters, Art, & more Gift Ideas” – Zazzle, Zazzle Inc http://www.zazzle.co.uk/2015+chinese+new+year+gifts
“Happy New Year Wishes Sms Greeting Card New Year Images Tee 2015” – Holiday Pictures http://holidaypictures.org/new-year-2015/happy-new-year-wishes-sms-greeting-card-new-year-images-tee-2015-10
“Chinese New Year 2015 – Year Of The Sheep/Ram/Goat” – Raghav Tayal, YouTube GB (4 February 2015) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuVIbZJZ73c
“Chinese New Year 2015 Wallpaper, Images, Pictures in HD” – Kartik Shah, CHINESE NEW YEAR 2015 HAPPY VALENTINES DAY WALLPAPER http://www.happynewyear2015wallpaper.com/2015/01/chinese-new-year-2015-wallpaper-images.html
“Happy 2015 Year of the Sheep!” – playrific, Playrific® Inc (January 2015)  http://playrific.com/m/19381/happy-2015-year-of-the-sheep
Pixel Jeff, Tumblr http://pixeljeff.tumblr.com/

OCCUPY CENTRAL: Hong Kong protesters cancel vote on street occupation

Occupy Central, a network of pro-democracy activists and university students who have brought much of central Hong Kong to a standstill in a weeks-long sit-in protest against what they see as mainland Chinese interference in the election of the former British colony‘s chief executive, have cancelled a vote on what their next steps will be in their street occupation, reports the Voice of America in Asia. The vote was dropped only hours before it was meant to take place, suggests reports from Hong Kong.

Following landmark talks between leaders of the protest movement and representatives of the Hong Kong SAR assembly, the city-state’s authorities had planned to send a letter to the Beijing cabinet. The letter was to illustrate protesters’ opposition to China’s decision to pre-approve candidates for the 2017 elections in Hong Kong. Candidates with a pro-Beijing stance are more likely to be favoured in the selection process, several world media have reported.

The Hong Kong government also offered to hold more talks with Occupy Central protesters on democratic reform, with a proviso that the protesters withdraw from the street sit-ins and barricades they have erected all over Central’s main roads. Senior leaders of the protest have rubbished the overture by the Leung administration, saying the proposals were insufficient, however others in the camp have said that a protesters’ referendum is needed to get everyone’s viewpoints aired. It is not known when the vote on the future or intensity of the protests will be rescheduled, Voice of America said.

Tens of thousands of protesters have built camps around the Central district, blocking main traffic routes and threatening to extend their occupation to government buildings if their demands for more democracy in Hong Kong were not met. The protests soon degenerated into anarchy as local police began teargasing and arresting protesters en masse. Protesters began using umbrellas to shield themselves from the highly disabling gas, leading the international media to dub the protests the ‘Umbrella Revolution’. Police there have been accused of acting heavy-handed in their treatment of people participating in Occupy Central, including one protest leader who was dragged by officers into a side street and viciously beaten. The policemen involved were suspended after footage of the assault on activist Ken Tsang, which was caught on camera phone, was widely broadcast on television.

Both Beijing and Hong Kong authorities have condemned the protests as ‘illegal’ and that they do not reflect the will of the majority of Hong Kong residents. Beijing has also alleged the presence of foreign involvement and interference in the protests, while sympathisers and supporters of democracy in the region have staged simultaneous protests in solidarity with Occupy Central in several major cities across the world, often in front of Chinese embassies. This past Thursday, the protesters received support from the United Nations Human Rights Commission, which urged China to rethink its vetting of candidates for the elections in three years’ time. The UN agency called on Beijing to ensure ‘universal suffrage’ in Hong Kong, including the “right to stand for elections.”

Occupy Central began after local protesters, including many university students who grew up during the current SAR era, began occupying the streets of Hong Kong’s financial heartland, the Central district to demand the resignation of the special administrative region’s chief executive Chun-Ying Leung and for Beijing to give up its plans for nominating future chief executives and government leaders according to their level of support for the People’s Republic. Hong Kong has been administered as a ‘special administrative region’ in China since the handover from the U.K. in 1997. Under the ‘one country, two systems’ policy, Hong Kong’s democratic setup was to be left intact for fifty years, but increasingly, China’s government has been called into question by external observers for dampening democratic reform.

Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind
VOA Asia, Twitter https://twitter.com/VOAAsia
“Hong Kong Protesters Scrap Vote” – VOA News, AP & AFP, Voice of America – News- Asia (26 October 2014) http://www.voanews.com/content/hong-kong-protesters-scrap-vote/2496786.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
Getty Images via Zemanta.

TALIBAN PRISON BREAK: Inmates flee prison in Afghanistan, three guards killed.

The Pakistani newspaper Dawn has reported that several Taliban militiamen have broken out of a prison in Afghanistan yesterday. According to a report delivered by the English-language publication via the news agency Associated Press, an official with the Faryab provincial government said that three men escaped from the jail after getting hold of weapons. The weapons had been smuggled into the prison grounds by Taliban sympathisers. The resulting mêlée which lead to the jailbreak saw three prison guards die in the line of duty.

The official, Ahmad Jawad Dedar, told media today (Friday 18 April) that the breakout took place yesterday and that a fourth inmate who also tried to escape was shot dead in a gunfight with security forces who were called to the scene. Dedar said that the Taliban men were not cell leaders but low-level operatives who were imprisoned for setting up roadside explosives. These homemade explosives are often aimed at the thousands of foreign soldiers stationed in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban government following the United States-led invasion in 2003. The Taliban, a theocratic militia who developed from the ‘mujahideen’ that faced the Soviets in the 1980s Russian invasion of Afghanistan, ruled the country with an iron fist before they themselves were toppled in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York. Their name means ‘students’ in Arabic, but they are widely reviled by the West and ordinary Afghans for their frequent bombing and shooting attacks on both occupying forces and civilians. The north of Afghanistan has largely escaped the attention of the Taliban, who are mostly active in the capital Kabul and some restive southern provinces.

English: HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan (May 8,...
English: HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan (May 8, 2009) – An Afghan National Police officer picks up a bag of opium. Afghan National Police officers, along with U.S. Special Operations Soldiers, discovered 600 pounds of opium May 7, 2009, during a cordon and search operation of a known Taliban safe house, collection center and trauma center in Babaji Village, in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. Photo by Cpl. Sean K. Harp, U.S. Army. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
(c) Mapquest
(c) Mapquest

The location of Faryab province in north Afghanistan, where the latest Taliban jailbreak took place. The province is marked with the purple pointer.

The four inmates allegedly used grenades which were thrown at guards as the nightly roll call of prisoners was in progress. They were also believed to have shot at prison personnel with a smuggled pistol,  before making their escape into the local area. Authorities are still on the lookout for the three prisoners, whose names and appearances were not identified by either Dawn or the Faryab provincial government.

The Taliban have a frequent habit of escaping from poorly run, insecure and little funded Afghan prisons. A forged letter from an attorney-general was used by twelve inmates with alleged links to the Taliban who walked out unchallenged from Sarposa prison in Kandahar in early March. The escape was aided by corrupt prison staff who added the prisoners’ names to a list of people to be freed after completing their sentences. Two were later recaptured. Two years earlier, in June 2011, 500 detained Taliban personnel escaped en masse in the central jail in Kandahar city after digging a 1,000 feet tunnel prisoners’ cells. The tunnel was constructed over a period of five months right under the noses of prison officers and bypassing security checkpoints manned by both Afghan and international forces. Sixty-five were recaptured and two were shot dead after resisting arrest. 

Neighbouring Pakistan which has its own equally vicious version of the Taliban, has also borne the brunt of both terrorist attacks and jailbreaks. Militants stormed a prison in the north-western town of Dera Ismail Khan in July 2013 and freed 248 of their comrades. Armed with automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and bombs, the hundred attackers in police uniforms blew up the prison walls before quickly streaming inside. Thirteen people died as a gun battle raged on for several hours, while the militants allegedly used a loudhailer to call out the names of their jailed fellow fighters. A similar attack at a correctional facility in the nearby town of Bannu, also in the militancy-infested Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, saw the freeing of almost 400 prisoners two weeks earlier, reported the BBC. 

HEM News Agency, The Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter LINK
Dawn Media Group, Twitter LINK
“Taliban inmates break out of Afghan prison” – AP, Dawn.com/DAWN MEDIA GROUP (18 April 2014) LINK
“Forged letter frees 12 Afghan prisoners” – Emma Graham-Harrison, The Guardian/Guardian News and Media Limited (2 March 2014) LINK
“After 500 Taliban prisoners are freed through Great Escape-style tunnels in Afghanistan – forces fight back by recapturing 65” – David Gardner, Mail Online News/Daily Mail/Associated Newspapers Ltd (24 June 2011) LINK
“Pakistan jailbreak: Taliban free 248 in Dera Ismail Khan” – BBC News Asia/BBC (30 July 2013) LINK
“File:ANA soldier shows opium captured in an alleged Taliban safe house in Helmand.jpg” – Sean K. Harp, Wikimedia Commons (8 May 2009) LINK
“Map of Afghanistan” – Mapquest LINK



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