United Nations Declaration (Articles 1 - 30):

Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2: Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Incoming UN chief names three women to top posts

Incoming UN chief names three women to top posts
Nigerian Minister of the Environment Amina Mohammed, seen in 2015, will be the UN's number two official (AFP Photo/Mireya ACIERTO)
Sustainable Development
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
"The Timing of the Great Shift" – Mar 21, 2009 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Text version)

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013. They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)


The Declaration of Human Freedom

Archangel Michael (Via Steve Beckow), Feb. 19, 2011

Every being is a divine and eternal soul living in a temporal body. Every being was alive before birth and will live after death.

Every soul enters into physical life for the purpose of experience and education, that it may, in the course of many lifetimes, learn its true identity as a fragment of the Divine.

Life itself is a constant process of spiritual evolution and unfoldment, based on free choice, that continues until such time as we realize our true nature and return to the Divine from which we came.

No soul enters life to serve another, except by choice, but to serve its own purpose and that of the Divine from which it came.

All life is governed by natural and universal laws which precede and outweigh the laws of humanity. These laws, such as the law of karma, the law of attraction, and the law of free will, are decreed by God to order existence and assist each person to achieve life’s purpose.

No government can or should survive that derives its existence from the enforced submission of its people or that denies its people their basic rights and freedoms.

Life is a movement from one existence to another, in varied venues throughout the universe and in other universes and dimensions of existence. We are not alone in the universe but share it with other civilizations, most of them peace-loving, many of whom are more advanced than we are, some of whom can be seen with our eyes and some of whom cannot.

The evidence of our five senses is not the final arbiter of existence. Humans are spiritual as well as physical entities and the spiritual side of life transcends the physical. God is a Spirit and the final touchstone of God’s Truth is not physical but spiritual. The Truth is to be found within.

God is one and, because of this, souls are one. They form a unity. They are meant to live in peace and harmony together in a “common unity” or community. The use of force to settle affairs runs contrary to natural law. Every person should have the right to conduct his or her own affairs without force, as long as his or her choices do not harm another.

No person shall be forced into marriage against his or her will. No woman shall be forced to bear or not bear children, against her will. No person shall be forced to hold or not hold views or worship in a manner contrary to his or her choice. Nothing vital to existence shall be withheld from another if it is within the community’s power to give.

Every person shall retain the ability to think, speak, and act as they choose, as long as they not harm another. Every person has the right to choose, study and practice the education and career of their choice without interference, provided they not harm another.

No one has the right to kill another. No one has the right to steal from another. No one has the right to force himself or herself upon another in any way.

Any government that harms its citizens, deprives them of their property or rights without their consent, or makes offensive war upon its neighbors, no matter how it misrepresents the situation, has lost its legitimacy. No government may govern without the consent of its people. All governments are tasked with seeing to the wellbeing of their citizens. Any government which forces its citizens to see to its own wellbeing without attending to theirs has lost its legitimacy.

Men and women are meant to live fulfilling lives, free of want, wherever they wish and under the conditions they desire, providing their choices do not harm another and are humanly attainable.

Children are meant to live lives under the beneficent protection of all, free of exploitation, with unhindered access to the necessities of life, education, and health care.

All forms of exploitation, oppression, and persecution run counter to universal and natural law. All disagreements are meant to be resolved amicably.

Any human law that runs counter to natural and universal law is invalid and should not survive. The enactment or enforcement of human law that runs counter to natural and universal law brings consequences that cannot be escaped, in this life or another. While one may escape temporal justice, one does not escape divine justice.

All outcomes are to the greater glory of God and to God do we look for the fulfillment of our needs and for love, peace, and wisdom. So let it be. Aum/Amen.



Pope Francis arrives for historic first US visit

Pope Francis arrives for historic first US visit
Pope Francis laughs alongside US President Barack Obama upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, on September 22, 2015, on the start of a 3-day trip to Washington (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)


Today's doodle in the U.S. celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech on its 50th anniversary (28 Aug 2013)

'Love is love': Obama lauds gay marriage activists in hailing 'a victory for America'

'Love is love': Obama lauds gay marriage activists in hailing 'a victory for America'
The White House released this image, of the building colored like the rainbow flag, on Facebook following the supreme court’s ruling. Photograph: Facebook

Same-sex marriage around the world

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Merkel says Turkey media crackdown 'highly alarming'

Merkel says Turkey media crackdown 'highly alarming'
Reporters Without Borders labels Erdogan as 'enemy of press freedom'

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Pope renews call for 'wisdom and prudence' over Jerusalem

Yahoo – AFP, December 10, 2017

Pope Francis says only a negotiated solution between Israelis and Palestinians can
bring a stable and lasting peace in the Middle East (AFP Photo/Andreas SOLARO)

Vatican City (AFP) - Pope Francis on Sunday renewed a call for "wisdom and prudence" over US President Donald Trump's controversial decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, which has sparked protests and clashes.

"The Holy Father renews his appeal for the wisdom and prudence of everyone, and raises fervent prayers so that the leaders of nations, in this time of special gravity, commit themselves to avert a new spiral of violence," a statement from the Vatican said.

There were fresh protests in the Middle East and elsewhere Sunday over Trump's declaration, a move that drew global condemnation and sparked days of unrest in the Palestinian territories.

Noting that Jerusalem was sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims, the pope reiterated the church's "well-known position concerning the singular character of the Holy City and the essential need for respecting the status quo".

"At the same time the Holy See reiterates its own conviction that only a negotiated solution between Israelis and Palestinians can bring a stable and lasting peace, and guarantee the peaceful co-existence of two states within internationally recognised borders," the statement added.

Egypt's Coptic Church head Pope Tawadros II cancelled a meeting with US
Vice President Mike Pence in Cairo later this month in protest at Washington's
decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the church said (AFP Photo/
KHALED DESOUKI)

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Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, and Pope Francis embrace
 during his visit to the prestigious Sunni Muslim institution in Cairo on April 28,
2017 (AFP Photo/STRINGER)

Friday, December 8, 2017

Gay marriage around the world

Yahoo – AFP, December 7, 2017

Gay marriages are now recognised in more than 25 countries (AFP
Photo/SEAN DAVEY)

Paris (AFP) - Gay marriage, legalised on Thursday in Australia in a parliamentary vote, is now recognised in more than 25 countries, of which 16 are in Europe.

Here is a breakdown.

European pioneers

In April 2001 the Netherlands became the first country in the world to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in a civil ceremony.

Fifteen European countries have followed: Austria, Belgium, Britain (but not Northern Ireland, which only accepts civil partnerships), Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

Some European countries only allow same-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships including Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy and Switzerland.

In October 2014, Estonia became the first former Soviet republic to authorise this type of civil union.

Many eastern European countries -- including Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia -- deny homosexuals the right to marry or enter into unions.

In December 2015, Slovenians rejected in a referendum a proposal by their parliament to legalise gay marriage.

About 15 western European countries allow same-sex couples to adopt children, whether within marriage or civil partnerships. They include Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.

Finland and Slovenia allow gay people to adopt their partner's children.

Graphic showing places where gay marriage is legal, or an agreement has 
been made to make it legal. Australians have voted in favour of changing the 
law to legalize same-sex marriages. (AFP Photo/Laurence CHU)

Progress in the Americas

Canada led the way in North America, authorising same-sex marriage and adoptions in June 2005.

In the United States, a Supreme Court decision in June 2015 legalised gay marriage nationwide, at a time when it was illegal in 14 states.

Mexico's federal capital was the pioneer in Latin America, authorising civil unions in 2007 and marriages in 2009 as well as adoption.

Same-sex marriages and adoptions are also legal in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay.

Chile's socialist President Michelle Bachelet in August sent to congress a bill to authorise gay marriages and adoptions, after having legalised same-sex civil unions in 2015.

In Haiti, the Senate voted that same month to ban gay marriage.

Rare in Africa, Asia, Middle East

On the African continent, where around 30 countries ban homosexuality, gays can only legally marry and adopt children in South Africa.

In the Middle East, Israel leads in terms of respect for homosexual rights, recognising gay marriages performed elsewhere although such unions are not allowed in the country itself. Gay couples can adopt children.

In the Asia-Pacific region Taiwan is set to legalise same-sex unions after its highest court in May ordered parliament to amend relevant laws within two years.

New Zealand passed a law in April 2013 legalising gay marriage and adoptions.

And on Thursday Australia's lower house of parliament overwhelmingly voted in favour of gay marriage, which can take place early next year. Gay adoption is allowed.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital

Yahoo – AFP, Andrew BEATTY, with Mike Smith in Jerusalem, December 6, 2017

Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital

Washington (AFP) - President Donald Trump on Wednesday recognized the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital -- a historic decision that overturns decades of US policy and risks triggering a fresh spasm of violence in the Middle East.

"I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," Trump said from the White House.

"It's the right thing to do."

The declaration calls into question seven decades of deliberate diplomatic ambiguity about the final status of a holy city vociferously claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians.

Trump also kicked off the process of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, making good on a campaign promise dear to evangelical Christian and right wing Jewish voters -- as well as donors.

He said his decision marked the start of a "new approach" to solving the thorny conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Trump's predecessors -- from Bill Clinton to George Bush -- made similar promises on the campaign trail, but quickly reneged upon taking office, and the burden of war and peace.

This most unlikely of presidents, who came to office with no foreign policy experience and denouncing experts, was determined to show his arrival in Washington spells the end of business as usual.

"Many presidents have said they want to do something and they didn't do it," Trump said in the hours leading up to his historic address.

"Whether it's courage or they changed their mind, I can't tell you," he said. "I think it's long overdue."

Outrage

The announcement leaves many angry US allies and leaders across the Middle East trying to find a measured response and hoping that the tinderbox region is not destined for yet another round of bloodletting.

Pope Francis joined a list of leaders warning of an historic misstep that could trigger a surge of violence.

"I cannot silence my deep concern over the situation that has emerged in recent days," the pontiff said Wednesday, one day after speaking by phone with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

The pontiff added that maintaining Jerusalem's status quo was important "in order to avoid adding new elements of tension to an already volatile world that is wracked by so many cruel conflicts."

In a frantic series of calls, the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the European Union, France, Germany and Turkey also warned Trump against the move.

Three 'days of rage'

Moving the US embassy will probably take years to implement, but the repercussions of Trump's decision are likely to be swift.

Hundreds of Palestinians burned US and Israeli flags as well as pictures of Trump in the Gaza Strip, while relatively small clashes erupted near the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron.

The Palestinian armed Islamist movement Hamas has threatened to launch a new "intifada," or uprising.

Palestinians called for three days of protests -- or "days of rage" -- starting Wednesday.

Anticipating protests, US government officials and their families were ordered to avoid Jerusalem's Old City and the West Bank, though the situation remained largely calm Wednesday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the main pan-Islamic body, in Istanbul on December 13 "to display joint action among Islamic countries" over Jerusalem.

"Such a step will only play into the hands of terror groups," Erdogan said at a joint news conference in Ankara after talks with Jordan's King Abdullah II.

Jordan and the Palestinians also called for an emergency meeting of the Arab League in Cairo.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refrained from commenting on the issue on Wednesday in his first speech since Trump's plan was confirmed.

Peace still possible, US says

Most of the international community does not formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, insisting the issue can only be resolved in negotiations.

The White House argues the move would not prejudge final talks and would represent the reality that west Jerusalem is and will continue to be part of Israel under any settlement.

Critics say Trump's approach could extinguish his own efforts to broker Middle East peace while igniting the flames of conflict in a region already reeling from crises in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Qatar.

Israel seized the largely Arab eastern sector of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it, claiming both sides of the city as its capital.

The Palestinians want the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.

Trump was pushed to act on the embassy as a result of the a 1995 law, which stated that the city "should be recognized as the capital of the state of Israel" and the US embassy be moved there.

A waiver has been invoked by successive US presidents, postponing the move on grounds of "national security" once every six months, meaning the law has never taken effect.

Several peace plans have unravelled in the past decades over the issue of how to divide sovereignty or oversee holy sites in Jerusalem.

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"Peace in Israel"

The Final 2015 Kryon Tour - Oct 11, 2015 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll)




"THE BRIDGE OF SWORDS"– Sep  29, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) (Text version)

“… What have we told you about the bridge? Actually, not much except that in crossing the bridge, the old energy ones were not going to like it. Old energy does not want you to escape! Old energy doesn't want you to cross the bridge because it can't cross. Did you know that? It can't cross. The old paradigms of Human nature that you've known all of these millenniums have to stay on the old side of the bridge. It cannot cross, for the bridge rejects all that is not in love, compassion and light. Those things that are dark, including Human nature of the past, will not be able to go. But the ones I speak to right now are already on the bridge. That was your design, old soul, and those are the words that are ringing in your ears to this day and the ones given at the wind of birth, that this might happen in your lifetime. So what's going to happen next?

Swords

Let us talk about the swords: When you hear the word sword, the first thing that occurs to you is battle. The Bridge of Swords is a battle and we told you that as well. Swords are metaphoric and they mean many things, so let us describe the things we mean them to say to you.

Number one: They are indeed a weapon in a battle. There is a battle coming. "Kryon, does that mean there's going to be a war?" Potentially, yes. Right now we will tell you that the Middle East cooks itself. You've noticed, haven't you? What do you know about the Middle East, dear one? Let's start examining things for a moment. What energy did you grow up in? What was the energy of the Middle East? In the '40s, what was the energy? With the establishment of the state of Israel, you built a wall of hate, both sides. The wall was so thick that the children of both sides were taught to hate one another as soon as they were able to understand the language. They were told who their enemies were. Now, where were you then?

Some of you weren't here yet. By the time you arrived, in your youth, were you aware of the Middle East? Not particularly. "What's the hatred about?" you might ask. What if I told you it's about a family feud? Two sons of a Jewish master are involved. One founded the Arabs and one remained a Jew. They don't want to hear this, but they are all Jews. (Don't tell them this.)

If you look at the lineage, it's pretty obvious and yet it's a complete and total set-up for either solution or war. The set-up would have this world ending in a conflagration that would have been brought about by this hatred. That's in the prophecy of Nostradamus and your scripture, but it is no longer the prophecy of the planet. Yet the hatred still exists. The hatred is as great today as it was then, but where was all the terrorism 40 years ago? It was isolated.

Those in Israel and Palestine and surrounding areas took the brunt of it, but now it's seemingly everywhere - and you're worried. Why would this be? The answer is that the old energy was happy to have this hatred contained, for it would keep it going and never involve outsiders. Outsiders tend to bring unwanted light to the party. Suddenly, the whole earth is involved and can see the entire scenario before them. The old guard wants war, just like all the eons before them. The ones on the bridge are holding the light and showing the earth how to cross. Even many younger ones in Israel and Palestine and Iran are holding light! It's all around the old guard and they are furious, for they are losing the "battle of hatred." …

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Obama calls for more women in power as 'men seem to be having problems'

Yahoo – AFP, December 2, 2017

Former US President Barack Obama, addressing 'Les Napoleons' in Paris,
spoke in favour of having more women in power (AFP Photo/Martin BUREAU)

Paris (AFP) - Former US President Barack Obama on Saturday called for more women to be put in positions of power "because men seem to be having some problems these days".

"Not to generalise but women seem to have a better capacity than men do, partly because of their socialisation," Obama said at an invitation-only event during a visit to Paris.

He didn't mention any particular male leaders who are currently having problems but spoke of "the importance of more focus on putting women in power, because men seem to be having some problems these days.

Obama was responding to a question about leadership qualities for the future, at the event organised by a network of communications professionals known as "Les Napoleons".

The two-term Democrat president said he appreciated people who question themselves and those around them.


Related Article:


“… With free choice, the percentage of DNA efficiently started to go down as humanity grew. As soon as the DNA started to lose percentage, the gender balance was dysfunctional. If you want to have a test of any society, anywhere on the planet, and you want to know the DNA percentage number [consciousness quota] as a society, there's an easy test: How do they perceive and treat their women? The higher the DNA functionality, the more the feminine divine is honored. This is the test! Different cultures create different DNA consciousness, even at the same time on the planet. So you can have a culture on Earth at 25 percent and one at 37 - and if you did, they would indeed clash. …”

“… You're at 35. There's an equality here, you're starting to see the dark and light, and it's changing everything. You take a look at history and you've come a long way, but it took a long time to get here. Dear ones, we've seen this process before and the snowball is rolling. There isn't anything in the way that's going to stop it. In the path of this snowball of higher consciousness are all kinds of things that will be run over and perish. Part of this is what you call "the establishment". Watch for some very big established things to fall over! The snowball will simply knock them down. …”

Friday, December 1, 2017

Obama to work for better US-China ties: state media

Yahoo – AFP, November 30, 2017

Former US President Barack Obama told Xi he was willing to continue to play
 a positive role in enhancing mutual understanding and cooperative exchange
between the US and China (AFP Photo/Jim Young)

Beijing (AFP) - Barack Obama has met President Xi Jinping, with the former US president hoping to improve ties between their two countries, China's state media said, as relations between Beijing and Washington are tested over North Korea.

Obama met Xi on Wednesday in Beijng at Diaoyutai Guest House, a sprawling complex frequently used to house visiting leaders. Obama was in China as part of a world speaking tour.

Obama told Xi he was willing to continue to play a positive role in enhancing mutual understanding and cooperative exchange between the US and China, according to state broadcaster China Central Television, which featured the meeting in its prime-time news show.

Obama said it was in the interest of both countries to develop a constructive relationship, according to CCTV.

Xi said that China and the US share a common interest and responsiblity in safeguarding world peace and stability.

The meeting came not long after North Korea conducted its latest ballistic missile test.

In response the United States warned North Korea's leadership that it will be "utterly destroyed" if war breaks out, but its call for nations to cut ties with Pyongyang was rejected by Moscow while Beijing sidestepped talk of an oil embargo.

Chinese state media did not say if the topic was discussed by Xi and Obama.

The state broadcaster said Xi told Obama about the achievements of China's recently concluded 19th Communist Party Congress when he was installed for another five year term.

Obama began his trip to China on Tuesday with a speech to the Global Alliance of SMEs Summit in Shanghai, a non-government organisation promoting small business interests.

He also met Liu Cixin, a prolific Chinese science fiction writer and author of the award-winning "The Three Body Problem" series.

Obama was set to leave China on Thursday for India where he is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Saudi vows new Islamic alliance 'will wipe terrorists from the earth'

Yahoo – AFP, Anuj Chopra, November 26, 2017

A member of the Saudi Royal Guard stands on duty inside the hall where the
first meeting of the defence ministers of the 41-member Saudi-led Muslim
counter-terrorism alliance is taking place in the capital Riyadh on
November 26, 2017 (AFP Photo/Fayez Nureldine)

Riyadh (AFP) - Saudi Arabia's crown prince vowed to "pursue terrorists until they are wiped from the face of the earth" as officials from 40 Muslim countries gathered Sunday in the first meeting of an Islamic counter-terrorism alliance.

"In past years, terrorism has been functioning in all of our countries... with no coordination" among national authorities, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also Saudi defence minister, said in his keynote address to the gathering in Riyadh.

"This ends today, with this alliance."

The summit is the first meeting of defence ministers and other senior officials from the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, which officially counts 41 countries and identifies as a "pan-Islamic unified front" against violent extremism.

The alliance was announced in 2015 under the auspices of Prince Mohammed, whose rapid ascent since his appointment as heir to the throne in June has shaken the political scene across the region.

Sunday's meeting comes as several military coalitions, including key Saudi ally the United States, battle to push the Islamic State group from its last remaining bastions in Iraq and Syria.

The alliance groups largely, although not exclusively, Sunni-majority or Sunni-ruled countries.

It excludes Saudi Arabia's arch-rival, Shiite-dominated Iran, as well as Syria and Iraq, ose leaders have close ties to Tehran.

Sunday's meeting coincides with an escalation in tensions between Riyadh and Tehran, particularly over wars in Syria and Yemen and the political structure of multi-confessional Lebanon.

Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of supporting armed groups across the Middle East, including Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah and Yemen's Huthi rebels.

"The pillar of this coalition is inclusion," said Saudi General Abdulelah al-Saleh, the alliance's acting secretary general, playing down the exclusion of the three countries.

"Our common enemy is terrorism, not any religion, sect or race."

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (C) poses for a group picture with 
officials of the 41-member Saudi-led Muslim counter-terrorism alliance in the
capital Riyadh on November 26, 2017 (AFP Photo/Fayez Nureldine)

The alliance meeting in Riyadh brings together Muslim or Muslim-majority nations including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Uganda, Somalia, Mauritania, Lebanon, Libya, Yemen and Turkey.

'Distorted image of Islam'

Retired Pakistani general Raheel Sharif, who has been appointed commander-in-chief, also insisted that the coalition was not against any religion or state.

The alliance aims to "mobilise and coordinate the use of resources, facilitate the exchange of information and help member countries build their own counter-terrorism capacity," Sharif said.

While the alliance officially includes Qatar, which is the target of a six-month boycott led by Saudi Arabia, organisers in Riyadh said no Qatari officials were present at the meeting.

Qatar's flag was also absent.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain abruptly cut diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar in June, accusing the emirate of being too close to Iran and supporting Islamist extremism.

Doha denies the allegations.

Egypt, which sent a military official and not its defence minister to Sunday's meeting, is reeling from a Friday attack on a mosque that killed more than 300 people during prayer time.

While IS has not claimed responsibility, Egyptian authorities say the organisation is the main suspect as the mosque is associated with followers of the mystical Sufi branch of Sunni Islam, whom IS has branded heretics.

Prince Mohammed said Friday's "painful event" was a reminder of the "danger of terrorism and extremism".

"Beyond the killing of innocent people and the spread of hatred, terrorism and extremism distort the image of our religion," he said.

Since his sudden appointment as crown prince, Prince Mohammed has moved to consolidate power, announcing crackdowns on both terrorism and corruption.

A corruption purge saw around 200 members of the Saudi elite including princes, ministers and business tycoons arrested or sacked earlier this month.


Sunday, November 26, 2017

France's Macron vows to combat 'shameful' violence against women

Yahoo – AFP, November 25, 2017

French Junior Minister for Gender Equality Marlene Schiappa (L) applauds
President Emmanuel Macron after his speech on combating violence against women.
(AFP Photo/LUDOVIC MARIN)

Paris (AFP) - French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday proposed a raft of measures to combat "horrific and shameful" violence against women, as he pledged to make gender equality a major theme of his administration.

"Our entire society is sick with sexism," Macron said in a speech in Paris to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

The 39-year-old leader began with a minute of silence to remember the 123 women killed in 2016 in France by their partner or ex-partner.

"France must no longer be one of those countries where women are afraid," he said.

Public awareness of sexual assault and harassment has been heightened following the allegations levelled by women against Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Weeks later, the #metoo hashtag burst into the social media spotlight in mid-October and snowballed into an online movement as women across the world reveal their own similar experiences.

Macron outlined three priorities over the five year term of his presidency from fostering gender equality to giving better assistance to victims of sexual abuse and enforcing harsh measures against aggressors.

Nearly 225,000 women were victims of physical or sexual violence by their partner in France last year, according to official figures. But fewer than one in five of them have filed a complaint with authorities.

Macron proposed new measures against this scourge including making a sexual insult an offence in order to combat harassment in the street.

He also called for making 15 the minimum age of consent for sex -- there is currently no such law in France.

To make it easier for women to file a complaint, they will be able to go online and speak directly with police 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

An anti-sexism module will be made available to schools. First lady Brigitte Macron will be personally involved with an effort to raise awareness of harassment in schools.

To help fight against inequality in the workplace, Macron also said he would like to look into the matter of hiring discrimination against women.

The French president said he wants "to fight for the non-negotiable equality of both sexes" making it a "major cause" during his term in office.

France's Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa said the world was at a turning point.

"People can no longer ignore the extent of the violence women are subjected to. They have spoken up and we are responding," Schiappa said.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Rouhani tells Macron Iran 'not seeking to dominate' Mideast

Yahoo – AFP, November 21, 2017

France's President Emmanuel Macron (left) meets with his Iranian counterpart 
Hassan Rouhani in New York on September 18, 2017 (AFP Photo/LUDOVIC MARIN)

Tehran (AFP) - Iran is not seeking to "dominate" the Middle East, President Hassan Rouhani told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, according to the Iranian presidency.

"Our presence in Iraq and Syria is at the invitation of the governments of those countries to fight terrorism," Rouhani was quoted as saying in a telephone call with Macron.

Rouhani said "Iran does not seek to dominate" the region, but was instead working "for peace and security and to avoid the dismembering of countries".

The comments come days after France's foreign minister sparked Tehran's ire by accusing it of "hegemonic" ambitions in the Middle East.

Macron -- who has pledged to visit Iran in 2018 -- on Friday insisted that France wants a "dialogue" with Tehran.

Macron has been heavily involved in trying to defuse a crisis in Lebanon over the resignation of premier Saad Hariri that ramped up tensions between Iran and regional rival Saudi Arabia.

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