Davids and Goliath – Award-Winning Documentary

17 November, 2014 at 11:33 | Posted in China, Falun Dafa/Falun Gong, human rights, organ harvesting, persecution, slave labor camps, Society | Leave a comment
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Tuidang Movement

“Davids and Goliath,” a film about organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners in China, won Best Documentary at the 9th Hamilton Film Festival in Hamilton, Canada. The movie is currently available here to view for free until Nov. 27: http://tinyurl.com/nzx7fed

“It’s a movie like this that needs to get out to the public, and more people to become aware of it that it’s happening and how it’s happening. That kind of thing needs to be stopped.”— Administrative director of the Hamilton Film Festival, Nathan Fleet.

“Davids and Goliath” focuses on the investigation into organ harvesting by Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas and former Canadian Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific) David Kilgour. Both were separately nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for their work on forced organ harvesting in China.

Read more: http://tinyurl.com/q5cjkzm

DIY: Natural Floor Cleaning

16 November, 2014 at 07:14 | Posted in Body & Mind, Environmental issues, health, sustainable development | Leave a comment
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By Michael Edwards
Organic Lifestyle Magazine

Our floors are the largest surface area in our homes that require regular cleaning. If we use chemicals, we breathe them in day and night until they dissipate. There is no need to add to our indoor air pollution when we can use simple and handy, homemade cleaning solutions.

How to Clean Wood, Bamboo, and Laminate Floors

It would be so easy to clean every floor of our home with a steam cleaner. No muss, no fuss, nothing but water turned to steam. But regardless of the claims made by the manufacturers, steam cleaners can damage wood, bamboo, and laminate floors.

Laminate floors consist of layers of materials glued together. Any water, but especially steam, will break down the bonds between layers, causing them to buckle and split. Steam can strip the finish that is protecting your hardwood floor. Moisture that seeps into the wood will cause grains to swell and the wood to warp and splinter.

The primary rule for bamboo, laminate, and hardwood floors is the same: do not wet mop–dry mop (though damp mop would be a better descriptive term). After thoroughly sweeping or vacuuming your floor, use a well wrung out sponge or rag mop with plain water, water with a few drops of essential oil, or water with 1/4 cup of vinegar (added to a 2 gallon bucket). Use warm water; it will evaporate faster than cold. Buff the floors dry with a soft cloth or towel.

Perusing the net, you will find other suggestions such as 1/2 cup of lemon juice added to water. However, a manufactures’ site warns against using citrus to clean laminate flooring as it will damage the finish after repeated use.  Many sites, including a manufacturer’s site, suggest using 1/4 cup of dish soap to a bucket of water to clean sealed hardwood floors–without rinsing. But it only stands to reason that, over time, soap residue would accumulate. If you do rinse, you are using more water. Since the object is to clean with the least amount of water possible, this method doesn’t make sense.

One wood laminate manufacturer suggests mixing vinegar and water into a spray bottle. Rather than spraying the liquid on the floor, use it to dampen the bottom of your dust mop.

Another solution, claimed to be even better for wood floors than vinegar, is cleaning with tea. Brew black tea, (1 tea bag per cup of water) and either fill a spray bottle to mist the floor (a small area at a time) then follow with a damp mop, or make enough tea to immerse your mop in a bucket. As before, wring out your mop so it is as dry as possible.

How to Clean Linoleum, Tile, and Stone

Linoleum and tile floors can also be cleaned with vinegar and water. The ratios vary according to preference from 1/4 cup of vinegar to a one-to-one ratio of vinegar to water.  For a really dirty floor, try the following recipe:

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap (remember to choose a natural soap)
  • 2 gallons hot water
  • Add a few drops of essential oil, if desired

Rinsing is not required, but if streaking occurs, rinse.

Do not use lemon juice, vinegar or other acids on marble, limestone, or travertine. To wash these floors, use a squirt of liquid soap (such as castile soap or dish soap, not detergent) in your bucket of water and wet mop. Rinse. Too much soap will cause streaking.

These floors may be the best candidates for a steam mop, but first check with the manufacturer to be sure steam mopping does not void your warranty.

All floors of all types are scratched and scarred by dirt. Mats outside and inside each entrance can help limit the amount of dirt on your floors. A shoeless house can make a tremendous difference. Remember, how often you sweep or vacuum and what you use to mop your floors will determine the longevity of your floor’s finish as well as the level of pollution in your home.

via DIY: Natural Floor Cleaning

Are wireless phones linked with brain cancer risk?

14 November, 2014 at 07:31 | Posted in Body & Mind, Environmental issues, health, IT and Media, Science, sustainable development, Technology | Leave a comment
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By Ronnie Cohen

Reuters Health – Swedes who talked on mobile or cordless phones for more than 25 years had triple the risk of a certain kind of brain cancer compared to those who used wireless phones for less than a year, a new study suggests.

The odds of developing glioma, an often deadly brain cancer, rose with years and hours of use, researchers reported in the journal Pathophysiology.

“The risk is three times higher after 25 years of use. We can see this clearly,” lead researcher Dr. Lennart Hardell told Reuters Health in a telephone interview.

His finding contrasts with the largest-ever study on the topic – the international Interphone study, which was conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and funded in part by cell phone companies. That study, published in 2010, failed to find strong evidence that mobile phones increased the risk of brain tumors.

Even if the odds of developing a glioma were doubled or tripled, however, the risk would still remain low.

A little more than 5 out of 100,000 Europeans (or 0.005 percent) were diagnosed with any kind of malignant brain tumor between 1995 and 2002, according to a 2012 study in the European Journal of Cancer (bit.ly/1xIlQam). If the rate triples, the odds rise to about 16 out of 100,000 (or 0.016 percent).

Hardell, an oncologist from University Hospital in Orebro, Sweden, and his colleague Michael Carlberg matched 1,380 patients with malignant brain tumors to people without such tumors and compared their wireless phone use.

People who reported using wireless phones for 20 to 25 years were nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with glioma as those who reported using them for less than a year, the study found. Those who used cell and cordless phones for more than 25 years were three times more likely to develop one of these tumors.

Read more: Are wireless phones linked with brain cancer risk?

Have Researchers Cracked the Code of the 4,000-Year-Old Phaistos Disc?

12 November, 2014 at 07:29 | Posted in archaeology, Culture, Science | Leave a comment
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By April Holloway
http://www.ancient-origins.net

The Phaistos Disc is a fired clay plate from the 2nd millennium BC with both sides showing a spiral of strange stamped symbols. Ever since its discovery in 1908, in a palace called Phaistos on the island of Crete, the meaning of the unusual inscription has mystified scholars. But now, after more than a century, scholars may have finally come a step closer to solving one of the most famous mysteries in archaeology.

The Phaistos Disc, along with other artifacts, was first discovered by Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier in a basement room of an ancient Minoan palace, which had collapsed due to earthquake or volcanic eruption.  Phaistos had been a powerful centre of the Minoan civilization, and one of the wealthiest cities in Crete.

Mysterious Symbols The Phaistos Disc was inscribed with 241 picture segments created from 45 unique symbols thought to be similar to Linear A, an undeciphered writing system used in ancient Greece. The symbols portray images such as an eagle, a helmet, a plumed head, a beehive, and more.

Nearly 30 notable attempts have been made over the years to decipher the code, but each met with a dead end, until now. According to the Archaeology News Network, the latest attempt to unravel the mystery was made by Dr Gareth Owens of the Technological Educational Institute of Crete, who says he has worked out some of its keywords and the general message it conveys.

Cracking the Code

Dr Owens looked at groupings of signs found in three parts on one side of the disc. They spell out I-QE-KU-RJA, which means “great lady of importance”, while on the other side, he identified the word AKKA, which means “pregnant mother”.  Dr Owens’ interpretations is that the Phaistos Disc is a prayer to the mother goddess of the Minoan era.

“The most stable word and value is ‘mother,’ and in particular, the mother goddess of the Minoan era,” said Owens, according to Archaeology News Network.

Speaking at a TED talk in May, Dr Owens explained how he worked with John Coleman at Oxford University for six years to crack the code. “It’s the closest thing to a partial Minoan Rosetta Stone,” he said, stating that they can now read 90 per cent of ‘Side A’ of the disk. Work is still underway to try to decode the remainder of the symbols. Watch TED talk with Dr Gareth Owens:

via Have Researchers Cracked the Code of the 4,000-Year-Old Phaistos Disc? – The Epoch Times

Umbrella Movement Student Refused Entry to Mainland China

11 November, 2014 at 10:21 | Posted in China, human rights, Society | Leave a comment
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By Lu Chen
Epoch Times

A student member of Scholarism, an organization leading the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement protests in Hong Kong, was recently refused entry by customs officers in the city of Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong.

On Nov. 8. Scholarism posted on Facebook that the customs officers accused a middle school student of “participating activities violating state security” and refused his entry to Shenzhen on Nov. 7.

The student was a volunteer of Scholarism who’s not well-known and had not been interviewed by any media, the Scholarism statement says. The student’s trip to mainland China was simply for personal errands unrelated to politics.

Scholarism leader Joshua Wong expressed deep concern that members’ information has been leaked. He said the name list of Scholarism members has never been open to the public and few people in the organization have the list, the Facebook post says.

Wong indicated that the organization would be more concerned and cautious when taking on volunteers in the future.

Vice secretary of Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) Lester Shum expressed disappointment at the mainland authority’s action of banning a supporter of the pro-democracy Occupy Central, according to Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily.

Shum believes that the blocking of this Scholarism member’s trip to the mainland is related to the plan of pro-democracy activists to visit Beijing. The students plan on appealing to the central authorities for the Hong Kong people to have the right to nominate candidates for the chief executive.

According to a decision handed down at the end of August by the Standing Committee of the Chinese regime’s rubber stamp legislature, the nominees for the chief executive position will be chosen by a committee that Beijing effectively controls.

HKFS stated last week that it was planning on marching to Beijing jointly with Scholarism and the pro-democracy Civil Human Rights Front. HKFS requested Tung Chee-hwa, a former Hong Kong chief executive who’s currently a Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, to arrange a meeting with the central leadership.

Tung hasn’t given a clear answer, and has urged the students to end the protests and go back to their studies.

Shum told Apple Daily that HKFS’s plan of going to Beijing would not be influenced by mainland customs refusing entry to the Scholarism member, and once again urged Tung to arrange the meeting soon.

The human rights group Amnesty International reported on Nov. 7 that at least 76 mainland Chinese have been arrested for supporting the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. It urged the Chinese authorities to release mainland supporters immediately and unconditionally.

via Umbrella Movement Student Refused Entry to Mainland China – The Epoch Times

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China criminal gang floods market with 100 metric tons of toxic tofu

10 November, 2014 at 10:53 | Posted in Body & Mind, China, Food, health | Leave a comment
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(Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Ryan Woo)

SHANGHAI

A criminal gang in eastern China has sold almost 100 metric tons 110.23 tons of toxic tofu onto the local market, the latest in a string of scares that have thrown light on shady practices in the country’s food industry.

The gang added industrial bleaching agent rongalite to make dried tofu sticks brighter and chewier, the Shanghai Daily reported on Monday, citing official media in Shandong province. Rongalite is banned in food production as it can lead to cancer.

Gut-wrenching food scares erupt regularly in China and highlight the challenges firms face to control supply chains.

Read more: China criminal gang floods market with 100 metric tons of toxic tofu | Reuters

Rest Your Mind the Right Way to Boost Learning

2 November, 2014 at 07:32 | Posted in Body & Mind, Science | 1 Comment
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By University of Texas at Austin

Scientists have previously found that resting the mind, such as daydreaming, helps strengthen memories of events and retention of information.

Now, research shows that the right kind of mental rest, which strengthens and consolidates memories from recent learning, may boost later learning.

At the University of Texas at Austin, graduate student research Margaret Schlichting and associate professor of psychology and neuroscience Alison Preston gave participants in the study two learning tasks in which participants were asked to memorize different series of associated photo pairs.

Between the tasks, participants rested and could think about anything they chose, but brain scans found that the ones who used that time to reflect on what they had learned earlier in the day fared better on tests pertaining to what they learned later, especially where small threads of information between the two tasks overlapped.

Participants seemed to be making connections that helped them absorb information later on, even if it was only loosely related to something they learned before.

Read more: Rest Your Mind the Right Way to Boost Learning

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Help, Not Incarceration

31 October, 2014 at 07:31 | Posted in Body & Mind, Society | Leave a comment
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By Annie WuThe Epoch Times

NEW YORK—Anthony Cruz is a different man now that he has been locked up several times.

Before serving his 10-year sentence in New York state prisons for manslaughter in the first degree he was diagnosed with adjustment disorder and depression, among other mental health conditions. Cruz spent a total of three years in solitary confinement, but he said he was denied help from mental health staff in prison. Unless he had suicidal thoughts, he wasn’t allowed to talk to a psychiatrist. 

Since Cruz was released on parole two years ago, it’s been difficult finding a steady job with a felony conviction on his record. This summer, he received notice from the city that his family would have to relocate from their current homeless shelter location in the Bronx. Then, his wife’s temporary teaching job ended, and her weeks of job searching didn’t yield results. To cope with the stress, Cruz turned to MDMA, a drug he was addicted to before. “I was going through so much,” Cruz explained.

At a regular visit to the parole office for a drug urine test, Cruz was caught with the drug in his system.

He had a panic attack upon hearing that he’d have to go to jail at Rikers Island for his parole violation. “I was wailing and crying, telling the parole officers that I didn’t want to go back to a cell.”

Cruz suffered several more panic attacks while inside. He couldn’t sleep being around so many people. He was reliving his deepest fear.

Local jail reform advocate Five Mualimm-ak, with the Incarcerated Nation Corporation, sought to get Cruz treatment for his drug dependence and other mental health needs, but nothing came of the requests.

Across the country, people with mental illness and substance abuse are repeatedly cycled in and out of the criminal justice system. The latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) estimate that more than 1.26 million mentally ill adults are detained in the country’s jails and prisons. Some cities are trying to change this statistic through programs that offer some of these nonviolent offenders a way out of incarceration, and a chance to improve their lives.

Out of Jail, Into Treatment

In the 1980s and ’90s, different communities across the country created programs to provide treatment alternatives to incarceration for people like Cruz, who would otherwise face jail time for nonviolent drug charges, or those who committed offenses during a mental health crisis.

For example, in the late ’80s, the police department in Memphis, Tenn., devised a crisis intervention team (CIT) where officers would be trained in identifying and responding appropriately to the emotionally or mentally disturbed. Police are taught de-escalation techniques to calm down individuals who may be agitated or aggressive. And instead of arresting them, police would bring them to a mental health treatment center.

The Memphis model has been adopted by other cities, including in San Antonio, Texas, where police officers bring people to The Restoration Center. There, they can get medical and mental health treatment, as well as social services such as housing and job training.

San Antonio also has a detox center and a 90-day residential program for those in need of substance abuse treatment. For those in need of more intensive care, they get transferred to state hospitals or private institutions if the individual has private health insurance.

Leon Evans, the director of San Antonio’s mental health care system who developed the center, said he got the idea after he saw the county jail overcrowded with people in need of mental health treatment.

Police would bring the mentally distressed to the emergency room or jail, but without treatment or housing, they get released back to the streets and may turn to drugs and alcohol to deal with their illnesses. “They would get arrested the same day and go right back into jail,” Evans said.

“Texas is a pretty conservative place,” said Evans. “[W]e realized that putting them in jail was the last thing we should be doing.”

Evans said the center has been proven effective: about 70 percent of those who graduate from the center’s treatment programs are living and working independently a year later. Since the center was built five years ago, the county has also saved $10 million per year.

Dangerous for the Mentally Ill

The country’s jails and prisons are toxic environments for those with a mental illness.

In August, a DOJ investigation of jail conditions at the city’s main jail Rikers Island found that adolescent mentally ill inmates were routinely abused by corrections officers and placed into solitary confinement for extended periods of time—as punishment for breaking rules, or getting into verbal disputes with the officers. Several high-profile cases of mentally ill inmates dying under questionable circumstances while detained at Rikers have been reported in the last year.

DOJ data shows that across the country, mentally ill jail inmates are twice as likely to be charged with a rule violation and three times as likely to be injured in a fight. Studies have also shown that mentally ill inmates are detained longer on average than those without a mental illness.

Incarceration also has heavy financial costs. A recent analysis by the city comptroller’s office revealed that in fiscal year 2014, it cost city taxpayers more than $96,000 a year to house an inmate in jail.

Treatment is more cost-effective than jail, said Jim Parsons, research director at the Vera Institute, a criminal justice policy research organization based in New York. The organization found that alternative-to-incarceration programs in New York City save an average of $7,038 per person.

Read more: Help, Not Incarceration

Xi Jinping Averts Tiananmen-style Massacre in Hong Kong

30 October, 2014 at 09:51 | Posted in China, human rights, persecution, Society | Leave a comment
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Jiang Zemin faction sought bloody end to the Umbrella Movement

By Lu Chen
Epoch Times

Hong Kong media are reporting that one faction of the Chinese Communist Party CCP has attempted to manipulate recent events in order to produce a Tiananmen Square-like massacre in Hong Kong. The goal of the bloodshed would be to bring down Party leader Xi Jinping, according to the reports, which corroborate previous reporting by Epoch Times.

The recently released November edition of Hong Kong’s Frontline magazine cited a Beijing source with inside knowledge of the CCP’s affairs as saying Politburo Standing Committee member Zhang Dejiang wanted to turn the suppression of pro-democracy protesters by Hong Kong police on Sept. 28 into a second Tiananmen Square massacre. The Frontline article, which is not available online, was quoted by the U.S.-based, Chinese-language news website Aboluowang.

Zhang is the chair of the Standing Committee of the CCP’s rubber stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress, and holds the Party’s portfolio for Hong Kong and Macau affairs. Zhang is also a close ally of former CCP head Jiang Zemin.

According to the Beijing source, the faction loyal to Jiang Zemin believed that if a massacre in Hong Kong took place under the spotlight of the world’s media, it would spell the end of Xi Jinping’s rule.

As Epoch Times has previously reported, Jiang’s faction has sought to displace Xi since before he took office. Part of the Jiang faction’s strategy has been to create unrest in Hong Kong as a way of making trouble for Xi, as Epoch Times, relying on sources inside the Party, first reported on Dec. 3, 2012.

MORE: Chinese Officials Seek to Discredit Xi Jinping in Hong Kong

Again relying on sources inside the Party, Epoch Times reported in 2014 before the Occupy Central protests began that Jiang’s faction sought to incite bloodshed in Hong Kong as a way of unseating Xi.

After the Hong Kong police volleyed dozens of tear gas canisters at the protesters on the night of Sept. 28, Xi issued orders prohibiting a violent crackdown, Frontline reported.

The leaked order from Xi to the Hong Kong government says: “It’s absolutely not allowed to open fire. Wasn’t the lesson of June 4 deep enough? Whoever permits shooting steps down! Even tear gas wasn’t necessary. Let it be, if it was already done. If people are not scared away, just leave. The condition has deteriorated to this point, and it’s your job to figure out how to solve the problem. Overall, never allow bloodshed. Try to win public support. Hong Kong affairs must be negotiated with the Hong Kong people.”

MORE: Xi Jinping Grabs His Umbrella, Joins Occupy Central [Funny]

Senior political commentator, column writer, and historian of the CCP Lin Baohua published an opinion article on Taiwan People News on Oct. 25 that argued that the central authorities didn’t want a bloody incident in Hong Kong.

“If Beijing didn’t stop [the violence], with [Hong Kong chief executive] Leung Chun-ying’s wolf nature, he would have long committed the slaughter.” Lin wrote.

Lin said the lack of firm action against Occupy Central reflects the division of opinions high in the CCP.

Inciting Protest

The October edition of Hong Kong’s Trend magazine gives a picture of Hong Kong that complements that provided by Frontline and Lin Baohua.

The magazine quotes some anonymous princelings—offspring of the founders of the CCP—as saying Zhang Dejiang was “as bad as a violent terrorist” and was “using Hong Kong to bring trouble to Xi.”

Xi, son of communist revolutionary and a political leader Xi Zhongxun, is considered as a representative of offsprings of China’s elites.

Many princelings consider Xi Jinping, the son of communist revolutionary Xi Zhongxun, as a representative for their group.

Trend magazine sketches some of the steps the Jiang faction took to help incite the pro-democracy protests.

MORE: Anything for Power: The Real Story of China’s Jiang Zemin

Politburo Standing Committee member Liu Yunshan, an ally of Jiang Zemin, issued the White Paper on Hong Kong on June 10 that defined the concept of one country, two systems out of existence by ending any claim Hong Kong had to autonomy.

The decision by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Aug. 31 that denied meaningful universal suffrage to Hong Kong was issued by Zhang Dejiang.

Trend magazine reports that the White Paper and the decision on universal suffrage were meant by Jiang’s faction to arouse anger in Hongkongers.

In response to the White Paper, more than 500,000 took part in the July 1 march for democracy. The decision on universal suffrage triggered the student strike on Sept. 22, which evolved into full-blown protests on Sept. 27.

A commentary article in the November edition of Frontline magazine criticizes Zhang for being “insane” for insisting NPC’s decision on universal suffrage was unchallengeable.

During the meeting of Zhang with Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions on Sept. 16, Zhang stated that the NPC’s decision on Hong Kong’s election in 2017 was “the supreme legal authority.”

In making this claim, the Frontline commentary pointed out that Zhang was contradicting the Basic Law of Hong Kong, which requires the Legislative Council and the chief executive to approve changes to the means for electing the chief executive.

MORE: Xi Jinping Seizes Control Over Key Law Enforcement Agency

One week after Zhang’s statement, Xi Jinping spoke in a much softer tone in a Sept. 23 meeting with top Hong Kong business people.

Without mentioning the NPC decision on universal suffrage or the White Paper, Xi said: “The basic policy that the central government takes to Hong Kong hasn’t changed and won’t change. [The central government] will firmly hold onto one country, two systems and the Basic Law, supporting Hong Kong promoting the development of democracy and maintaining prosperity and stability.”

Xi’s statements on the Hong Kong issue were “sharp warnings to Zhang,” Frontline said.

via Xi Jinping Averts Tiananmen-style Massacre in Hong Kong

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The Last Hieroglyphic Language on Earth and an Ancient Culture Fighting to Survive

28 October, 2014 at 07:26 | Posted in archaeology, China, Culture, Science, Society | 2 Comments
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By April Holloway
http://www.ancient-origins.net

The Dongba symbols are an ancient system of pictographic glyphs created by the founder of the Bön religious tradition of Tibet and used by the Naxi people in southern China. Historical records show that this unique script was used as early as the 7th century, during the early Tang Dynasty, however, research conducted last year showed that its origins may date back as far as 7,000 years ago. Incredibly, the Dongba symbols continue to be used by the elders of the Naxi people, making it the only hieroglyphic language still used in the world today.

The Naxi people lived in the beautiful mountain province of Yunnan (“south of the clouds”) for thousands of years, where they developed their own rich and enduring culture. Today, most of the 270,000 Naxi people live in the county of Lijiang where they retain many of their ancient traditions.

Read more: The Last Hieroglyphic Language on Earth and an Ancient Culture Fighting to Survive – The Epoch Times

U.N. Human Rights Panel Urges China to Allow Free Elections in Hong Kong

26 October, 2014 at 10:42 | Posted in China, human rights, Society | Leave a comment
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HONG KONG — The United Nations Human Rights Committee urged China on Thursday to allow elections in Hong Kong without restrictions on who can run as a candidate. The move appeared likely to draw strong criticism from Beijing, where officials decided in August to set strict guidelines for the 2017 election of the city’s next leader, prompting mass sit-in protests.

The 18-member panel in Geneva said that Hong Kong needed to do more to ensure that its people had not only the right to vote, but also the right to run for office.

“Hong Kong China should take all necessary measures to implement universal and equal suffrage in conformity with the covenant, as a matter of priority for all future elections,” Cornelis Flinterman, a member of the rights panel from the Netherlands, said on Thursday, referring to an international agreement on political rights.

Read more: U.N. Human Rights Panel Urges China to Allow Free Elections in Hong Kong – NYTimes.com


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United Nations Calls on China to Allow Free Elections in Hong Kong

By Matthew Robertson
Epoch Times

HONG KONG—A panel of United Nations experts on Thursday called on China to allow real universal suffrage in Hong Kong, the latest sign of international pressure and attention on the People’s Republic of China over its restrictions on Hong Kong’s political system, after tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters have occupied major roads in the financial center for nearly a month.

Chinese communist authorities say they have already provided Hong Kong with universal suffrage. But the definition provided by the panel of 18 UN experts, differs from China’s.

Konstantine Vardzelashvili, the chair of the UN review session, said that “universal suffrage … means both the right to be elected as well as the right to vote.”

“The main concerns of Committee members were focused on the right to stand for elections without unreasonable restrictions,” she said, in statements made at the conclusion of the panel.

The panel, part of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, monitors Hong Kong’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a bedrock standard of human rights around the world.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, has since 1997 been a special administrative region of the PRC under a “one country, two systems” model. For decades Hong Kong activists have fought for the right to vote and stand in elections freely. Most recently they have been thwarted by decisions in Beijing which force candidates for the chief executive, the top position in the city, through a political sieve. Chinese authorities say that the Hong Kong public will be presented with two or three candidates that have effectively been vetted for their loyalty to the regime. Hong Kong citizens worry that such individuals will have little incentive to represent the interests of Hong Kong citizens.

The remarks by the ICCPR review panel were a follow up to recommendations put forward in March 2013 for Hong Kong to allow genuine universal suffrage. Chinese authorities responded last week that it was already trying to “forge consensus within the community so as to realize the implementation of universal suffrage.” The version of “universal suffrage” proposed by the regime, however, was found unsatisfactory to the United Nations panel.

via United Nations Calls on China to Allow Free Elections in Hong Kong

Can Confucius Institutes Follow Both Chinese and Canadian Law?

26 October, 2014 at 07:21 | Posted in Children, China, Falun Dafa/Falun Gong, human rights, Society | Leave a comment
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By Omid Ghoreishi
Epoch Times

Is it possible for Confucius Institutes, a Beijing-controlled educational program cited by Chinese officials as a tool to extend the regime’s “soft power,” to follow both Chinese law and the law of the hosting nation?

A clause in the agreement between the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and the headquarters of Confucius Institute (CI) obtained by Epoch Times through a request under Ontario’s Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act says that CI activities must be in accordance with the laws and regulations of both Canada and China. The school board, Canada’s largest, will vote on whether to terminate its partnership with the CI on Oct. 29.

Experience in at least one Canadian institution shows that this is impractical since in many cases the laws of the one-party totalitarian state contradict those of Canada’s parliamentary democracy, and so it may be that the Canadian law gets dispensed with.

“Canadian law is equality, non-discrimination,” explains David Matas, a Winnipeg-based human rights lawyer. China’s laws, on the other hand, institute “repression, discrimination, hostility,” toward any group the Chinese Communist Party chooses to target, including Falun Gong, Tibetans, Uyghurs, and democracy activists, among many others, Matas says.

In 2012/13, Matas took on a case involving a Confucius Institute instructor at McMaster University who, like other instructors hired in China to come to the university’s CI, had to sign a contract promising not to practice Falun Gong, a spiritual meditation system severely persecuted in China.

Sonia Zhao signed the contract out of fear that her refusal might reveal to Chinese officials that she in fact practices Falun Gong and as a result could face imprisonment like her mother, also a Falun Gong adherent.

“Initially [McMaster’s] defence was that it is not their jurisdiction and they didn’t know about it,” Matas says.

“I argued to the contrary that it was their jurisdiction because it was happening in Ontario and they must have known about it because the Hanban (CI headquarters in China) hiring policy was published on its website in English.”

Epoch Times reported in 2011 that Hanban has a stipulation in English on its main website stating that teachers at CIs must have “no record of participation in Falun Gong.”

Epoch Times also reported earlier this year that the website of Hunan University, which has an agreement to supply instructors for the TDSB’s CI, states that teaching candidates “will be assessed to ensure they meet political ideology requirements.”

‘No Alignment’

For its part, McMaster held discussions with CI headquarters to eliminate the discriminatory requirement for the instructors coming to Canada. However, Hanban wouldn’t back down.

Eventually, the university decided to end its CI program since the Beijing-run organization didn’t follow human rights values and principles that the university follows and “holds dear.”

“There wasn’t alignment between what was happening in the two countries,” says Andrea Farquhar, assistant vice president of public and government relations at McMaster.

“Although we tried to see if there could possibly be a solution, it turned out that there wasn’t, so we did give them notice in December of 2012 that we would be closing [the CI], and it closed in 2013.”

‘Political Arms’ of Beijing

McMaster isn’t the only institution to close its CI. The Canadian Association of University Teachers issued a statement late last year calling on all Canadian universities and colleges to cut ties with CIs, calling them “political arms of the Chinese government.” Shortly after, the University of Sherbrooke ended its CI program.

South of the Border, the American Association of University Professors echoed the statement of its Canadian counterpart and asked all American universities not to partner with CIs, saying hosting one enables CIs to “advance a state agenda in the recruitment and control of academic staff, in the choice of curriculum, and in the restriction of debate.”

Two prominent U.S. universities, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Chicago, decided to end their relationships with CIs in the last couple of months.

Intelligence agencies and experts, including former Canadian Security Intelligence Service senior manager Michel Juneau-Katsuya, have also indicated that CIs are involved in espionage activities for Beijing.

The TDSB’s CI partnership was originally championed by former chair Chris Bolton while the rest of the board was kept in the dark about the details of the agreement. Bolton resigned in June a few months before the end of his term amidst concerns raised by parents and many of the trustees about the partnership.

Earlier this month, a TDSB committee voted to terminate the board’s CI partnership. That decision will be voted on by the entire board during a general meeting on Oct. 29.

via Can Confucius Institutes Follow Both Chinese and Canadian Law? – The Epoch Times

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Having a Bad Day? A Positive Mindset Starts With These 4 Simple Steps

24 October, 2014 at 13:54 | Posted in Body & Mind | Leave a comment
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by Tatiana Tobar-Darzi

There have been times when I was unhappy with my life for no certain reason. I looked to external factors to fill the void, only to realize that no other person or thing could fill that gap. So I started thinking, ‘What can I do to maintain happiness throughout my daily living?’ I came up with a practical solution: positive thinking.

But it’s easier said than done, because positive thinking requires practice and a balance of emotions.

Negative thoughts will affect our actions and perspective.

For example: at work, your colleague gets noticed and praised, meanwhile you get overlooked. As a result, you feel resentment and anger toward your colleague, thinking he or she isn’t worthy and you deserve to be rewarded for your work as well. You try to make yourself feel better by focusing on the other person’s weaknesses. But how does this really help you improve your mood? It doesn’t. So what can you do to change the way you feel about a situation that is bothering you and attain a positive state of mind?

Here are some steps you can take to improve your outlook and emotions:

1. EMOTIONAL THINKING

Let’s say you’re driving, and someone cuts you off, you come home angry, slam the door, scoff at your spouse or pet, because you’re now in a bad mood. Think about it, you’re basically letting this negative state of mind control the outcome of the rest of your day.

Don’t do it! Don’t dwell on it. Take a step back, breathe, forgive, and let that moment go. Negative things happen to us all the time.

2. INJURED PRIDE

If at work someone gives you constructive criticism but you are too stubborn to see past your pride, then you will never allow your mind to be open to the suggestions of others. Especially when you view the other person in a lesser light. Maybe they’re your subordinate, maybe they haven’t performed that well, but try to push your pride aside and re-analyze things. Is there indeed something you can improve on and therefore benefit the greater cause? By setting aside your pride, you will allow yourself to see things more clearly. Pride is a negative emotion and it won’t get you far in life.

Read more: Having a Bad Day? A Positive Mindset Starts With These 4 Simple Steps

10 Ways to Understand Hong Kong’s Occupy Central

23 October, 2014 at 10:53 | Posted in China, human rights, Society | Leave a comment
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By Chen Pokong

1. Teens, Youth, and Middle-Aged People

Scholarism, the Hong Kong Federation of Students ,and the Troika of Occupy Central are the three major groups that uphold the Hong Kong Occupy Central Movement. They are composed of high school students, college students, and middle-aged intellectuals respectively.

The perfect combination of teens, youth, and the middle-aged represents the mainstream and future of Hong Kong. This combination disseminates an explicit message: Communism is unpopular in Hong Kong and the Communist Party has no future in Hong Kong.

Given these, there are two propositions that follow: Will Hong Kong’s youth live longer, or Beijing’s political patriarchs live longer? Will the universal values that Hong Kong people insist on live longer, or the one-party dictatorship that the Party leadership compound of Zhongnanhai adheres to live longer?

2. Illegality Against Illegality

Beijing accused the Hong Kong Occupy Central movement of being illegal. Nonetheless, civil disobedience is an illegal defiance meant to restore legality by means of illegality.

But one thing which is for sure is that the central government of the Beijing regime was illegal in the first place—it violated the “Basic law,” breached the “one country, two systems” formula, and broke the promises stipulated in the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

So, Hong Kong people simply followed suit. It is a kind of illegality against illegality, which is similar to the old Chinese saying, “to subdue the enemies by learning from their strong points.”

3. The Consequences of Violence

Throughout the Occupy Central With Love and Peace movement, the occupiers have always upheld pacifism and love for Hong Kong. They have never thrown a bottle or a paper ball. They even picked up the garbage on the ground and sorted it out.

Being unarmed, they held up their empty hands during their demonstrations. These kind of peaceful demonstrators are indeed few and far between. However, taking orders from the Beijing regime, the Hong Kong Government turned out to resort to a large amount of tear gas and pepper spray, trying to forcibly disperse the protesters as soon as possible.

This action in turn triggered another large-scale protest participated in by over 200,000 Hong Kong residents. The Occupy Central movement thus became occupying Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, which has long been a civilized territory, the chaos is in fact the consequence of the government’s violence.

4. Red Versus Black

To deal with the massive Occupy Central movement, it is reported that Beijing authorities finally came up with an alternative idea under the bottom line of “no compromise and no bloodshed.” That is, mobilizing the underworld to carry out sinister tricks by thugs to intimidate, harass, and attack Occupy Central protesters with violence.

The appearance of those masked men who forcibly demolished the barricades is no different from the terrorists in the Middle East, and their nature is equally evil. Under the evil forces’ incessant intimidation and vocal abuse, Chow Ting, a member of Scholarism quit the movement.

The (communist) red and the (triad) black have long belonged to the same family. No wonder the former Politburo member Bo Xilai failed after he advocated “singing red and fighting black”—his attempt in the megacity of Chongqing to revive a Maoist fervor for communism while pretending to fight organized crime. If something is self-contradictory, how can it not be doomed to collapse?

5. Black and White

Not only did those who are against Occupy Central movement lay siege to Occupy Central protesters, but they also participated in the forcible demolition of the barricades. We do not rule out the possibility that among those who are against the Occupy Central movement, there are some gangsters and some pro-communist residents.

In fact, the CCP’s special skill is to instigate struggles between groups. But people didn’t expect that it would still be applicable 65 years after it took power.

However, black and white are two distinct things. The anti-Occupy Central members’ joining the underworld side inadvertently proved the fact that those who associated with the underworld are in fact no different in nature from those in the underworld.

6. Hong Kong People Versus Chinese People

Some people from mainland China don’t understand the Hong Kong people’s fight for freedom, and even disdain or condemn them. They said, “Hong Kong people have been enjoying so much democracy and freedom, but they are still not satisfied. Hong Kong people are spoiled.”

This kind of mindset suggests that not only should people in mainland China not enjoy democracy and freedom, neither should the people in Hong Kong.

This situation is similar to the Chinese saying that caged birds ridicule the birds in the sky, while domesticated animals mock wildlife. The Zhongnanhai leadership should be secretly delighted that its birdcage policy and raising-pig philosophy have been so successful.

Growing up in different environments, the Hong Kong people’s concepts of democracy, universal values, and an independent personality differ tremendously from the Chinese mainlanders’ nationalism and slave personality—as much as if they were water versus fire.

7. The Scandal About the Chief Executive

Amid the heated Hong Kong democracy protests, a scandal about the Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying happened to come to light. He was accused of accepting approximately US$6.5 million in secret funds, without declaring them.

Who made this news public? The public doubted that it was the Beijing regime that leaked the news. In fact, between compromise and recourse to force, dismissing Leung Chun-ying might be a perfect intermediate solution, as it may be a step that avoids embarrassment for both sides.

Beijing can ask Leung to step down under the pretext of a corruption investigation and calm down the Hong Kong people’s anger. After winning the first-stage victory, Hong Kong people may calm down temporarily.

8. Color Revolution

Beijing refers to the Occupy Central movement as a “color revolution.” However, color revolution is not a negative term, but something positive.

All the color revolutions that occurred around the world were movements in which people overthrew authoritarian tyrants by taking to the streets or launching a great revolution, such as the “Velvet Revolution,” the “Tulip Revolution,” the “Orange Revolution,” “Jasmine Revolution,” and so on.

The Chinese regime’s defining the Hong Kong Occupy Central movement as a color revolution is tantamount to agreeing that Beijing is a dictator and a tyrant. In fact, Hong Kong Occupy Central movement is dubbed by the public as the “Umbrella Revolution.” Since the umbrella revolution is an anti-dictatorship revolution aiming to fight for freedom, it turns out to be one of the great color revolutions.

9. Foreign Forces

Beijing has said there are foreign forces behind Hong Kong people’s Occupy Central movement, and explicitly specified the U.S. government.

This accusation suggests that all the Chinese people, including the Hong Kong people, are all obedient subjects or citizens who are not supposed to criticize or protest against the Chinese regime. As long as there are Chinese people, Hong Kong people included, who criticize or protest against the regime, they must have been ordered by foreigners, or received money from foreigners to carry out the conspiracy plotted by foreigners.

In actuality, the Chinese regime has in this humiliated all the Chinese people: You are all slaves who were born a slave, and your IQ is lower than that of foreigners; if you were not ordered by foreigners to do so, how could you come up with the ideas of criticism, protest, and rebellion?

10. Ripple Effects

Hong Kong Occupy Central movement has attracted global attention. People around the world are aware that Hong Kong people do not agree with or accept the CCP’s rule.

Taiwan’s pro-independence campaign thus came up with campaign slogans reading “If you vote for the KMT, Taiwan would become Hong Kong,” “Taiwan people are worried “Today’s Hong Kong may be tomorrow’s Taiwan.”

Even Taiwan’s pro-China president Ma Ying-jeou had to stand up to make it clear that Taiwan will never accept the one country, two systems policy; and that he firmly supports the Hong Kong people’s fighting for genuine universal suffrage.

In addition, Ma also imitated Deng Xiaoping’s saying of “letting some people get rich first,” by calling on Beijing to “let some people get democracy first!”

Obviously, the Hong Kong Occupy Central movement is expanding its ripple effect.

Chen Pokong was a member of the 1989 student movement in China. After twice serving time in prison, Chen was exiled to the United States. He writes regularly on, and is the author of several books about, China and its politics.

Translation by Billy Shiyu

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Epoch Times.

via 10 Ways to Understand Hong Kong’s Occupy Central – The Epoch Times

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Did Ancient People Really Have Lifespans Longer Than 200 Years?

15 October, 2014 at 07:33 | Posted in beyond science, Culture, Funny things :-), Science | 1 Comment
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By Tara MacIsaac
Epoch Times

The universe is full of mysteries that challenge our current knowledge. In “Beyond Science” Epoch Times collects stories about these strange phenomena to stimulate the imagination and open up previously undreamed of possibilities. Are they true? You decide.

It isn’t only biblical figures who lived to well-seasoned ages of 900 years or more. Ancient texts from many cultures have listed life spans most modern people find simply and literally unbelievable. Some say it’s due to misunderstandings in the translation process, or that the numbers have symbolic meaning—but against the many explanations are also counterarguments that leave the historian wondering whether the human lifespan has actually decreased so significantly over thousands of years.

For example, one explanation is that the ancient Near East understanding of a year could be different than our concept of a year today. Perhaps a year meant an orbit of the moon (a month) instead of an orbit of the sun (12 months).

But if we make the changes accordingly, while it brings the age of the biblical figure Adam down from 930 to a more reasonable 77 at the time of his death, it also means he would have fathered his son Enoch at the age of 11. And Enoch would have only been 5 years old when he fathered Methuselah.

Similar inconsistencies arise when we adjust the year figures to represent seasons instead of solar orbits, noted Carol A. Hill in her article “Making Sense of the Numbers of Genesis,” published in the journal “Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith” in December 2003.

Read more: Did Ancient People Really Have Lifespans Longer Than 200 Years? – The Epoch Times

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