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Thailand, China and Laos will sign a memorandum of cooperation on a new bridge for a railway across the Mekong River during Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha’s Beijing visit this week, a Thai foreign ministry official said Tuesday.
The bridge would link Thailand’s northeastern Nong Khai province with the Laotian capital Vientiane, Thai officials told BenarNews, in what analysts believe will reinforce China’s ambitions to build a high-speed railway network in Southeast Asia, stretching through Malaysia and feeding into Singapore.
Prayuth, who is scheduled to be in the Chinese capital on April 26-27, is expected to sign the trilateral pact on the sidelines of a conference of world leaders on China’s massive One Belt, One Road (OBOR) infrastructure initiative, Busadee Santipitaks, spokeswoman for the ministry of foreign affairs, told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.
“Thailand, Laos PDR and China will sign a three-nation memorandum of cooperation to build a bridge for a high-speed railway at Thai-Lao border,” Busadee said.
Thai officials did not respond to BenarNews emails requesting more details on the memorandum.
China, which aims to increase its footprint in Southeast Asia through OBOR, has managed to push ahead with its strategy to build a trans-Asian railway network.
Last month, Laotian officials announced that a 414-km (257-mile) high-speed railway linking Vientiane with Kunming city, capital of China’s southwestern province of Yunnan, was almost half-complete and on track to be in service by December 2021. Construction for that project began four years ago.
Under China’s planned 3,000-km (1,875-mile) pan-Asian railway network, Chinese rail lines will extend farther south – all the way to the tip of the Malay Peninsula, linking Beijing to Singapore, one of Washington’s closest allies in the region and a strategic gateway to the Strait of Malacca.
China’s OBOR initiative has drawn criticism, including from Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad, who told reporters last month that the Philippines should be wary of Beijing’s “debt-trap diplomacy” that includes extending excessive credit with the alleged intention of extracting economic or political concessions from the debtor country.
Economists contend that the initiative forces emerging economies to take on unsustainable levels of debt to fund Beijing-backed projects, highlighting such concerns after a Chinese state-owned company took over the majority stake in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port after Colombo struggled to repay its loans from China.
Thailand officially kicked off its high-speed railway project in December 2017 when Prayuth and Chinese officials led a ground-breaking ceremony for a 3.5-km (2-mile) segment of the rail in the northeast province of Nakhon Ratchasima.
The junta-led government under Prayuth has approved a 179-billion baht (U.S. $5.8 billion) budget for the first phase of the 253-km (158-mile) railway linking Nakhon Ratchasima with Bangkok.
The second phase linking Nakhon Ratchasima to Laos is awaiting approval, officials told BenarNews.
OBOR, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature policy, is an estimated U.S. $1 trillion-plus initiative that stretches across 70 countries. It aims to weave a network of railways, ports and bridges, linking China with Africa, Europe and Southeast Asia.
Prayuth’s Beijing visit would include a roundtable meeting with leaders of 38 countries during which he is expected to express the commitment of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to support China’s OBOR projects, Thai government spokesman Lt. Gen. Weerachon Sukhonthapatipak told BenarNews.
“First, we stress Thailand’s role as the ASEAN chair in supporting and committing to China’s attempt to link sub-regions and regions,” he said.
Prayuth, as current chairman of the 10-member ASEAN, will meet Xi and other Chinese officials, including Prime Minister Li Kequiang and Deputy Prime Minister Han Zheng to discuss ways to bolster bilateral relationship and economic cooperation, Weerachon said.
Prayuth will be accompanied by his deputy, Somkid Jatusripitak, the minister of transport and the minister of foreign affairs, he said.
China has ranked as Thailand’s largest trading partner since 2012, buying about U.S. $30 billion of Thai products last year, according to the Thai Ministry of Commerce.
Respect human rights, HRW tells Beijing
Meanwhile, in a statement issued on Sunday, New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Beijing to ensure that the OBOR initiative would be respectful of the human rights of people living in areas near the infrastructure projects.
Under OBOR, Beijing should set out requirements to enable consultation with groups of people potentially affected by proposed projects, ensuring that affected communities can openly express their views without fear of reprisal, HRW said in a statement.
“Beijing claims it is committed to working with other countries to foster environment-friendly and sound development, but the practice so far has raised some serious concerns,” said Yaqui Wang, HRW’s China researcher.
“Criticisms of some Belt and Road projects – such as lack of transparency, disregard of community concerns, and threats of environmental degradation – suggest a superficial commitment,” Wang said. (RFA)
OṀ KALMASHARAHITABHŨMYAI NAMAH:
OṀ (AUM) -KAL-MA-SHA-RA-HI-TA-BHOO-MYAI— NA-MA-HA
ॐ कल्मषरहितभूम्यै नमः
(Kalmasham: Tainted, blemish, dirty, sinful, wicked, foul, dosha, opprobrium, stigma; Rahita: Absent, devoid of)
Kalmasham is the opposite of purity; it means impure, contaminated and defective. The word is used in several senses such as: defective, fault, sin, dosham, tainted, vice, crime, disrespect, abuse, evil and contamination. However, it is also used in a technical sense in certain fields of knowledge. In Vedic literature we see words like pavitram, and pavitrata in the opposite sense of kalmasham. We, as Hindus, see everything as pure and equitable with God in an implied meaning that every atom at the microscopic level is part of the Supreme Power (Bhagavān). Having this knowledge and understanding, Hindus see the presence of God in living as well as non-living objects and have a pavitra meaning- kalmasharahita bandham.
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In Vedas and Purāṇās, Lord Shri Ramachandra Murty is portrayed without any defects and His marriage with Sīta was described as kalmasharahitam. He was glorified as the one who strictly observed the 'ekapatnī vratam' meaning-'one wife as a life partner'. Even when Sīta was abducted by the demon- Rāvaṇa and he kept her in his palace for a year, Rama did not look at another woman. The same credit goes to His consort and wife Sīta, who came out of Agni (pyre of fire) as a shining diamond proving her chastity and kalmasharahitam to the world. Our sacred literature is full of these incidents. Our dharmaśhāstrās explain that what is kalmasham is that which brings defection to one's purity. They advise purity in our thought, speech and actions.
God Ram and Goddess SitaGetty Pictures
There are many relationships we have as an individual. Some are pure and kalmasharahitam, as opposed to other relationships, like extramarital affairs. The relationship between husband and wife; brother and sister; father and daughter; parents and children; between siblings; teacher and student; among friends; and last but not least, between a devotee and his desired, beloved and personal god are considered kalmasharahitam.
ALSO READ: Celebrate Holi In The Land Of Krishna
As a country, we have never waged war against another country with the intention of occupancy and robbing their wealth, or to convert them to our religion. We do not have that kalmasham on our hands or in our hearts.
Our land is 'Kalmasharahita Bhūmi'.
Xander Schauffele held off the late challenges from the chasing pack, none more so than Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia — who got without a single stroke of the American — to win a gold medal in the men's individual golf tournament at the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.
It was a huge victory for the 27-year-old at this point of his career. Despite often being amongst the favorites in the latest golf odds, the San Diego-native is yet to win one of golf's four majors — The Open, The Masters, The USPGA and The US Open — and he will certainly be hoping that he can use this triumph in Tokyo to push on next season.
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With nine top-10 finishes in 18 appearances at the majors, six of which have been inside the top five (including finishing second at the 2018 Open and 2019 Masters), Schauffele is making a bit of name for himself as a nearly man in the sport's biggest tournaments, and that it is a duck he will certainly be hoping to break sooner rather than later.
Whilst not a major, winning an Olympic gold medal in golf is not to be sniffed at, and it is the kind of victory that the 27-year-old might just have needed to give him that boost to kick on and finally get his hands on one of the major trophies — even though he will need to wait until next year as the recent Open at Royal St. George's in Kent marked the end of this year's major schedule.
Some golfer's may have played down winning the men's tournament at the Olympics, but for Schauffele, whose grandparents live in Tokyo, taking the gold medal back to the United States with him was at the very top of his priority list.
Olympic GameGetty Pictures
"I really wanted to win for my dad. I am sure he is crying somewhere right now. I kind of wanted this one more than any other," Schauffele said after his one-stroke victory.
"You are trying to represent your country to the best of your ability and then you add family stuff on top of that. I'm probably going to have a nice call with my grandparents tonight.
"Everyone is back home watching. I was feeling the love from San Diego and Las Vegas this whole time. I'm a little speechless right now, quite honestly."
Form and momentum are key in the game of golf, and whilst this is a victory that has come somewhat late in the season, when there are no majors left to vie for, if Schauffele can just carry on playing at the top of his game for the remaining month or so, perhaps even landing a second TOUR Championship in the last tournament of 2021, which he will now likely be tipped to win on the best golf predictions sites, then there is no reason why he can't bring his current form with him into next season.
The Masters is up first, taking place in mid-April, and the prestigious Augusta National hasn't been too bad to the American over the last couple of years, as he finished second in 2019 before scuppering the same position late on to finish tied for third this year. If he can keep up the form that resulted in him winning gold at the Olympics, then he may just find himself being fitting into that sought-after Green Jacket.
It's fair to say that it's only a matter of time before Schauffele lands his maiden major triumph, and there's no doubt that scooping a gold medal at the Olympics will have only helped his cause!
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Today, e-learning is one of the best alternatives for studying despite quarantine restrictions. Still, it has its own flaws, which are noticeable during the long-term experience. From one point, students learn to be independent and prepare their homework without extra help. Usually, everyone can buy essays for sale online and prepare for classes efficiently. And from the other point, online learning demands the highest responsibility. Let's find out why the face-to-face educational process is still more productive.
1. Too many distractions.
Needless to say that staying at home and learning are the biggest incompatibilities. When you get ready for your class, you often forget about how clean your house is or whether you have enough food for the day. In e-learning, the reality is that students should take care not only of the studying process but housekeeping as well.
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2. Not enough help from teachers.
The teacher's work during e-learning is to present the material and make it easy to understand. Still, this might be challenging for both sides. When the teacher sees that most students can get along with it, it is easier to pay attention to one or two from class who hasn't progressed much. Otherwise, while the subject is difficult for most of the class, it is almost impossible to dedicate attention to each while explaining the material better.
3. Less communication.
That feeling that you are far away from your friends can't leave you. Even if you don't have enough time to build strong friendships, studying in class helps students gain better results. Healthy competition plays a significant role in education, and everyone who stands for e-learning only should consider this aspect.
4. Access to online materials only.
When students write their texts or work on other assignments, they need to have more than Wikipedia. Studying in campus libraries is much more fun than sitting in one place to look for necessary information. Beside the traditional references, you can get feedback on your drafts.
Less movement with e-learning brings both positives and negatives in students' lifestyles.Getty pictures
5. Lack of individual approach.
E-learning is all about individual learning. Indeed, you can connect to your teacher or classmates online, but still, the schedule makes strict boundaries that you can't text or call them in late at night. When students are in class, a teacher can spread their attention to the whole audience and see how every student perceives material simultaneously.
6. Staying mostly at home.
Less movement with e-learning brings both positives and negatives in students' lifestyles. On the one hand, you don't need to spend hours driving on public transport or being stuck in traffic. And also, you don't have that vital time to prepare your mind for studying. On the road, we listen to audiobooks or read traditional ones, observe life, and think about further studies. This is the way our brain gets ready for classes, so it is less stressful for students to learn when they arrive at class.
7. Higher electricity bill.
Yeah, paying more for internet and electricity consumption is one more disadvantage of e-learning. When you study in class, you can use a public school Wi-Fi connection and charge your laptop in there as well. And while staying at home, you need to think about how much time you spend studying not to increase your electricity bill. Even if you pay for an Internet connection even when you don't study at home, electricity use significantly increases while you start e-learning.
Due to current epidemic measurement restrictions, many schools consider e-learning as one of the best variants to make education available for everyone. Still, e-learning can be a challenging affair for most students and teachers. To cope with it, they need to achieve new skills and apply them to the new reality.
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