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.

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.) -

“ … 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.

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)

US under fire in global press freedom report

"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. …

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Brazil passes online privacy law as Web governance conference starts in Sao Paulo

Deutsche Welle, 23 April 2014

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has ratified a bill guaranteeing Internet privacy and access to the Web. It comes as Sao Paulo hosts a global conference on Internet governance.


The legislation, which was passed by parliament late on Tuesday, puts limits on the metadata that can be collated from Internet users in Brazil. It also makes Internet service providers not liable for content published by their users and requires them to comply with court orders to remove offensive material.

Rousseff, who was in Sao Paulo for the opening of the NetMundial global conference on Internet governance, has been at the forefront of efforts to formally recognize Internet freedom and privacy.

Rousseff has been pushing for
measures on Internet governance
Last year, when it was revealed that she had been under surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA), Rousseff cancelled a state visit to the US and started to champion Internet freedom and privacy.

Speaking at the opening of NetMundial, she said that "the Internet we want will only be possible in a scenario of respect for human rights, in particular the right to privacy and freedom of expression."

Despite her differences with the US, Rousseff praised Washington for its decision to hand over the management of ICANN and IANA, which manage the Internet's global domain name system, next September.

"I salute the US government's recently announced plan to replace its links to IANA and ICANN with a global management of those institutions," she said on Wednesday.

During the two-day conference, government officials, industry executives and academics from around the world are expected to agree on a set of principles to enhance online privacy that does not overly restrict the Internet's self-regulated nature.

They will also debate how to govern the Internet after the US hands over the reins at ICANN. The meeting's resolutions are non-binding, but Brazil hopes they can serve as the foundation for further discussions on Internet governance.

The main challenge is to find common ground between different governments and corporate Internet giants like Facebook and Google, who are opposed to more regulation.

ng/rc (AP, Reuters)

Whistleblowers need better protection: helpline

DutchNews.nl, Tuesday 22 April 2014

Martin van Pernis, Chairman, Committee
 Whistleblowers advice center, speaking
at the launch of the advice center
Whistleblowers in 2012 (NRC/ANP)
A special helpline for whistleblowers has helped 61 people go public since it was founded in October 2012 and has dealt with 435 requests for advice, according to the Adviespunt Klokkenluiders’s first annual report.

Most whistleblowers – 30% - were concerned about problems in the health service, followed by local government (10%) and manufacturing (10%). Four out of 10 cases involved the semi-public sector. Fraud or theft were the most common complaints.

The report also shows that three out of four whistleblowers had problems at work after going public with their fears. These ranged from bullying to redundancy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hamas, Fatah reach deal on unity government, Israel reacts sharply

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that he has to choose between peace with Israel or Hamas. It comes after Hamas and Fatah agreed to a unity government.

Deutsche Welle, 23 April 2014


Militant group Hamas and the Fatah-led Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) have agreed to form a technocrat unity government, according to a joint statement by the two groups.

"An agreement has been reached on the formation within five weeks of an independent government headed by president Mahmud Abbas," the statement said.

The announcement came after Fatah and Hamas started their first reconciliation talks since 2007 when Hamas - an opponent to US-led peace talks with Israel - was voted into power in Gaza.

The agreement could pave the way for elections and a national strategy towards Israel. It could give Abbas some degree of sovereignty in Gaza but also help Hamas, which is hemmed in by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, to become less isolated.

It is unclear, however, whether the unity government will be established, as Hamas and Fatah have failed to implement a 2011 Egyptian-brokered unity deal aimed at ending the political divide between Gaza and the Palestinian Authority-ruled West Bank.

Sharp rebuke from Israel

Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu reacted sharply to the news, as the apparent unity deal coincides with meetings between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators to try to extend the US-sponsored peace talks beyond an April 29 deadline.

"Does he (Abbas) want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel?," Netanyahu said to reporters on Wednesday.

"You can have one but not the other. I hope he chooses peace. So far he hasn't done so," he said.

Israel's Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said in a statement that Abbas, who heads the Palestinian Authority that exercises limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank, "cannot make peace both with Israel and Hamas, a terrorist organization that calls for Israel's destruction".

Abbas's spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdeineh, however, said Palestinian unity was an internal matter.

"Abbas chooses peace and the unity of the Palestinian people," Abu Rdeineh said. "The choice of unifying the Palestinian people enforces peace, and there is no contradiction whatsoever between reconciliation and negotiations."

US-led peace talks stalled

The US-led peace talks reached a stalemate when Israel refused to release a fourth and final group of Palestinian prisoners, in line with an earlier agreement. Since then, both sides have made demands the other deems unacceptable.

Over the weekend, Palestinian negotiators warned they may hand responsibility for governing the occupied territories back to Israel and dismantle he Palestinian Authority, if the Jewish state fails to release the prisoners and freeze settlement building.

But Israel says the demands are unacceptable. "He who makes such conditions does not want peace," an Israeli official told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.

ng/rc (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

US urges Russia to take 'concrete steps' over Ukraine

Deutsche Welle, 21 April 2014

The US has called on Russia to take "concrete steps" to implement the terms of a deal aimed at defusing unrest in Ukraine. It has said Kyiv has already done its bit to honor the deal, although Moscow disagrees.


The State Department said US Secretary of State John Kerry held a phone conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov where he urged him to meet Ukraine halfway on the deal.

"The secretary urged Russia to take concrete steps to help implement the Geneva agreement, including publicly calling on separatists to vacate illegal buildings and checkpoints, accept amnesty and address their grievances politically," department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at a news briefing.

The Geneva deal, agreed on by the US, EU, Russia and Ukraine, calls on armed groups in eastern Ukraine to surrender their weapons and end their occupation of government buildings in dozens of cities. It said that should be carried out under the surveillance of envoys from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

However, pro-Russian separatists have rejected the deal and refused to budge until the interim government in Kyiv - which ousted the Kremlin-allied President Viktor Yanukovych - steps aside.

Kerry said Russia must follow in the footsteps of Ukraine and appoint a senior diplomat to work with the OSCE mission "to make absolutely clear to the separatists that Russia supports the agreement and wants de-escalation."

The US secretary of state told Lavrov the Ukrainian government had also agreed a broad amnesty bill for separatists who give up buildings and weapons and had suspended its "anti-terrorist operation" against activists for the Easter period.

"He asked that Russia now demonstrate an equal level of commitment to the Geneva agreement in both its rhetoric and its actions," Psaki said.

Russia has publically disputed this version of events.

Trading blame

Lavrov said that "steps are being taken - above all by those who seized power in Kyiv - not only that do not fulfill, but that crudely violate the Geneva agreement."

He also criticized Ukraine's interim government for not clearing what he called "illegal" protesters from Maidan Square in Kyiv. Maidan was the hub of pro-Western protests earlier this year which pushed Yanukovych from power.

He told reporters the attack showed that Kyiv did not want to control who he labeled "extremists."

"The authorities are doing nothing, not even lifting a finger, to address the causes behind this deep internal crisis in Ukraine," he said.

Ukraine has blamed the shooting on pro-Russian separatists.

Biden in Kyiv

Kerry's comments came hours after US Vice President Joe Biden landed in Kyiv.

He is scheduled to hold talks with Ukraine's acting prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, among others.

Biden is also expected to announce a package of technical assistance for Ukraine while upholding the threat of further US sanctions against Russia.

"He will call for urgent implementation of the agreement reached in Geneva last week while also making clear ... that there will be mounting costs for Russia if they choose a destabilizing rather than constructive course in the days ahead," a senior administration official told reporters.

The US and EU have both imposed sanctions on a number of Russian and Ukrainian individuals accused of stoking the crisis, although they are yet to directly target Moscow's economy.

ccp/kms (AFP, Reuters)

Seven hours of negotations in Geneva ended in agreement on a
series of 'concrete steps'. Photograph: Eric Bridiers/EPA

Related Article:


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Pope Francis prays for abandoned in Good Friday service

BBC News, 18 April 2014

Pope Francis had led the Way of the Cross procession and urged
the crowd to "remember all the abandoned people

Pope Francis

Pope Francis has led Easter's Way of the Cross procession in Rome, with prayers for the poor and the abandoned.

The solemn ceremony marks Christians' commemoration of Christ's crucifixion on Good Friday. Tens of thousands of people lined the route near the 2,000-year-old Colosseum.

The Pope heard the Vatican's official preacher deliver a sermon denouncing greed and the love of money.

The procession is part of the Church's Easter triduum festival.

Pope Francis urged the crowd to "remember all the abandoned people" and spoke of the "monstrosity of man" when he lets evil guide him.

"Evil won't have the last word, but love, mercy and pardon will" he added at the end of the Way of the Cross.

The sermon, by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, spoke of the injustice of human trafficking and suffering caused by environmental damage.

"Money is behind every evil in our society" the preacher declared.

Meditations

The procession route included 14 stages, known as Stations of the Cross, at which specially written meditations were recited.

One meditation touched on the plight of child soldiers, while another recalled the deaths of migrants trying to reach more prosperous countries.

The Way of the Cross procession took place in front of the Colosseum in Rome

Part of the ceremony involved the Pope praying on the floor in St Peter's Basilica

Thousands of people lined the route in central Rome holding candles

Other meditations criticised overcrowding in prisons and the treatment of the elderly.

Immigrants, prisoners, former drug addicts and elderly people were among those who helped carry a large cross between the different stations.

Pope Francis has made caring for the poor a central theme of his pontificate so far, says the BBC's David Willey in Rome.

Break with tradition

On Saturday night, Pope Francis will celebrate an Easter vigil Mass in St Peter's Basilica.

Easter services will then conclude on Sunday with a Mass celebrating Jesus's resurrection.

The Pope will deliver his twice-yearly "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) message.

On Thursday, the Pope washed the feet of 12 disabled people in Rome as part of the Maundy Thursday service commemorating Christ's Last Supper.

He broke with tradition by washing the feet of several women and a Muslim man in a ceremony traditionally restricted to men only.


Friday, April 18, 2014

UN security council urged to target North Korean officials over atrocities

Inquiry head Michael Kirby says leaders should be hit with sanctions and referred to international criminal court

theguardian.com, AFP, Friday 18 April 2014

Michael Kirby and other commission members at a media conference
after the meeting. Photograph: Cia Pak/Demotix/Corbis

The United Nations security council should slap targeted sanctions on North Korean officials responsible for grave human rights abuses and refer them to the international criminal court (ICC), the head of a special UN inquiry said on Thursday.

The retired Australian judge Michael Kirby told an informal meeting of the security council convened by Australia, France and the United States he wanted leading members of the reclusive regime hauled before the ICC for prosecution.

"More monitoring and engagement alone cannot suffice in the face of crimes that shock the conscience of humanity," Kirby said. "Perpetrators must be held accountable, it is necessary to deter further crimes."

North Korea did not send a representative and the meeting was snubbed by China, Pyongyang's sole major ally, and Russia.

"A new generation of senior officials now surround the supreme leader Kim Jong-un," Kirby said.

"They must be made to understand that they will themselves face personal accountability if they join in the commission of crimes against humanity or fail to prevent them where they could.

"The commission of inquiry therefore recommends to the security council the adoption of targeted sanctions against those individuals most responsible for crimes against humanity."

Kirby said most countries present supported the proposal to refer North Koreans to the ICC, but UN diplomats said any move was likely to face fierce opposition from China, the North's economic lifeline.

Last month the UN's top rights body also called on the security council to act against officials responsible for a litany of crimes against humanity in North Korea.

Kirby's commission of inquiry on North Korea released a hard-hitting report in February documenting a range of gross human rights abuses, including extermination, enslavement and sexual violence.

North Korea refused to co-operate with the investigation and said the evidence was "fabricated" by "forces hostile" to the country.

After Thursday's meeting, the US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, praised council members for joining other countries for the first time to discuss the "tragic human rights situation in North Korea".

"We heard directly from the authors of a thorough, objective and credible UN report, and from victims of North Korean atrocities themselves," she added.

"These first-hand accounts –horrific stories of torture, rape, forced abortions and forced infanticide, extermination and murder –paint a chilling picture of the regime's systematic and remorseless repression of its citizens."

Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth echoed Power's sentiments.

"For the first time in its history, the security council has been confronted with the abhorrent crimes committed by the North Korean government against its people," he said.

"Given this extraordinarily severe repression, it would be unconscionable for the council to continue limiting its work on North Korea to the nuclear issue.

"The ICC was created to stand with the victims of such atrocities. The most appropriate response to the Kirby report is for the council to refer them to the ICC."

Related Article:


Ukraine crisis: Geneva talks produce agreement on defusing conflict

US, Russia, Ukraine and EU agree measures including end of violence, disarming of illegal groups and amnesty for protesters

The Guardian, Julian Borger in Geneva and Alec Luhn in Donetsk, Thursday 17 April 2014

Seven hours of negotations in Geneva ended in agreement on a
series of 'concrete steps'. Photograph: Eric Bridiers/EPA

The US, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union have reached agreement on a series of immediate steps aimed at pulling eastern Ukraine back from the brink of war.

The deal, clinched after a dramatic extended meeting in Geneva, calls for the disarming of all illegal groups. In the next few days they would have to vacate all the government buildings and public spaces they have occupied over the course of the crisis.

In return, the protesters in eastern Ukraine would be offered amnesty for all but capital crimes and the government in Kiev would immediately start a process of public consultation aimed at devolving constitutional powers to the provinces.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) will be given the job not only of making sure the agreement will be put into practice but of helping to implement it. The US, Russia and European countries would provide monitors to beef up the OSCE's manpower, which would be given access across Ukraine. Speaking after the deal was agreed, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, made it clear that the US would hold Russia accountable for the compliance of the pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine.

"Responsibility will lie with those who have organised their presence, provided them with the weapons, put the uniforms on them, supported them, and have been engaged in the process of guiding them over the course of this operation," Kerry said, adding that the US had "made very clear that Russia has a huge impact on all those forces. And we have made clear what the evidence is."

A planned escalation of US sanctions on Russia would be suspended pending Russian compliance "over the weekend".

The Geneva meeting, which brought together Kerry, the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, Ukrainian counterpart Andrii Deshchytsia and the EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, began with low expectations as clashes across eastern Ukraine between government forces and armed protesters were escalating. At least one demonstrator was killed when pro-Russian protesters tried to storm a military base in the town of Mariupol. It was expected that the talks would only last a couple of hours, and a room was prepared for Lavrov to talk to the press at midday, raising concerns he might walk out of the negotiations.

In the end, however, intense talks went on for seven hours, leading to the agreement, intended "to de-escalate tensions and restore security for all citizens".

The deal has five main points:

• All sides refrain from violence, and reject expressions "of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including antisemitism".

• All illegal armed groups must be disarmed; all illegally seized buildings must be returned; all illegally occupied streets and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated.

• Amnesty will be granted to protesters and to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrendered weapons, with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes.

• The OSCE would play a leading role in helping the authorities implement the agreement.

• Constitutional reform would be inclusive, transparent and accountable.

The agreement does not address the build-up of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, nor the beefing up of the Nato presence on Russia's western border, announced on Wednesday by the alliance's secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Kerry said that Russia had withdrawn one battalion from the border region and had made clear it would make further, bigger withdrawals as the Geneva agreement was implemented.

Kerry drew special attention to reports that antisemitic leaflets had been handed out to Jews in Donetsk, calling on them to register with the separatist authorities. The separatists denied responsibility.

Without specifically assigning blame, Kerry said: "In the year 2014, after all the violence and the journey of history, this is not just intolerable, it's grotesque. It's beyond unacceptable. Whoever is involved in these activities, wherever they crawled out of, there is no place for that."

Tensions continued to rise in the east between residents supporting and opposing the new Kiev government. Protesters gathered outside police headquarters in Stakhanov to demand the local police chief's resignation. They attempted to storm the building, but were reportedly repelled by residents who formed a human shield in front of the station.

On Thursday, hundreds gathered in Donetsk to demonstrate for Ukrainian territorial integrity. The rally ended peacefully, unlike similar demonstrations in previous weeks where pro-Russian protesters beat participants. Student Dima Balakai said he was there to oppose the Russian-backed "bandits" occupying the regional administration building.

"There are no violations against the Russian language here," he said, referring to pro-Russian protesters' tendency to blame Kiev for oppressing Russian speakers. "If I speak Ukrainian at the institute, they could soon kick me out."

He said he was beaten by a crowd of young men at a similar rally on 4 March.

Activists from the "people's republic" occupying the administration building went to Donetsk airport to demand negotiations with officials. They told the Guardian they wanted to prevent any military flights from landing, as well as ensure that Russian citizens could arrive freely. The Russian airline Aeroflot said the Ukrainian border service had placed an entry ban on Russian men aged 16 to 60. The Russian foreign ministry said it had requested more information from its Ukrainian counterpart, but journalists at Kiev's Borispol airport reported seeing Russian male passengers turned back.

Donetsk activists said such an entry ban has already been in place de facto in eastern Ukraine. Dima Prokopshuk said two friends from Russia whom he had invited to his recent wedding were turned back at the Ukrainian border three times even though they tried to enter from Crimea, Belgorod and Rostov-on-Don.

Related Articles:


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Putin says Ukraine risks abyss, dialogue only solution

Yahoo – AFP, 17 April 2014

Russia's President Vladimir Putin gives his annual televised question-and-answer
session in Moscow (AFP Photo/Alexei Nikolosky)

Armed men gather beside armoured personnel carriers (APC) as they stand guard outside the regional state building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk, on April 16, 2014

Moscow (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday accused Ukraine's new authorities of driving the country towards the abyss but said that dialogue was the only way out of the intensifying crisis.

"Only through dialogue, through democratic procedures and not with the use of armed forces, tanks and planes can order be imposed in the country," Putin said at the start of a major nationwide phone-in broadcast on Russian television.

"It is very important today to think about how to get out of this situation and offer people a genuine dialogue and not one just for show," added Putin, saying he believed the talks opening Thursday in Geneva between top diplomats on the crisis were "extremely important".

Armed men gather beside armoured
 personnel carriers (APC) as they stand
 guard outside the regional state building
 in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk,
 on April 16, 2014 (AFP Photo/Genya
Savilov)
He accused the Ukrainian authorities who took over after the fall of president Viktor Yanukovych of driving the country to the abyss.

"I hope that they manage to understand towards what abyss the Kiev authorities are going, dragging with them the whole country," said Putin.

Putin slammed the Kiev government for launching a military operation against separatist activists who have seized official buildings across southeast Ukraine.

"This is one more serious crime by the current Kiev authorities," he said.

He also said it was "nonsense" to claim Russian forces were operating in the east of Ukraine, saying those involved in protest actions were "all local citizens".

"That is all nonsense," he said.

"In the east of Ukraine there are no Russian units. There are no special forces, no instructors. These are are local citizens," he said, adding this was proved by the fact the activists had "taken off their masks".

"I have told our Western partners that they (the activists) are going nowhere. They are the masters of this land. And they must be spoken to."

But Putin also explicitly acknowledged that Russian troops had operated in Crimea during and before the referendum that led to its annexation by Moscow from Ukraine. Previously he denied the soldiers were Russian, saying anyone could have bought military uniforms in a store.

"Our goal was to ensure the conditions for a free vote," Putin said, explaining who were the soldiers in uniforms without insignia who appeared in Crimea in late February.

"Behind the local defence forces were our soldiers. They acted correctly, but decisively and professionally," he said. "We had to protect people from possible use of weapons" on Ukrainian military bases.


Edward Snowden appears via video for Putin press conference. Screengrab
from Russia Today/YouTube

Related Article:


End of an era as Prince Bandar departs Saudi intelligence post

Prince's exit could signal shift in kingdom's policy towards Syria, with looming leadership transition complicating picture

The Guardian, Ian Black, Middle East editor, Wednesday 16 April 2014

Prince Bandar bin Sultan in 2008. Photograph: Hassan Ammar/AP

Prince Bandar bin Sultan's departure as head of Saudi intelligence, confirmed this week, marks the end of an era for a flamboyant and powerful character on the Middle Eastern stage. The big question is whether it signals a meaningful shift in the kingdom's policy towards Syria and its commitment to the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad.

Bandar – known as "Bandar Bush" from his 22 years as Saudi ambassador to the US – is a legendary networker and hawk. The Saudi press agency said he stepped down at his own request. (It did not say whether he would continue as head of the national security council, a less important position.) He will be replaced by his deputy at the Saudi equivalent of the CIA, Youssef bin Ali al-Idrisi, who is not a royal and therefore far less powerful.

For the past 18 months Bandar had led Saudi efforts to better co-ordinate the supply of weapons to Syrian rebels fighting Assad. But he faced criticism for backing extreme Islamist groups and thus risking a repeat of the "blowback" that brought Osama bin Laden's Saudi fighters home after the officially sanctioned jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Bandar's departure is not a complete surprise. Amid unprecedented tensions in relations between Riyadh and Washington, there had been signs he had fallen from favour and had in effect already been sidelined on Syria.

"Bandar's approach was very black and white," said one well placed observer. "And he seems to have over-promised to the king in terms of confidently predicting Assad's departure."

He was often abroad, reportedly being treated for health problems, or "unavailable" at home due to illness. He is also known to suffer badly from depression. Several months ago he failed to turn up for an urgently-scheduled meeting on Syria with David Cameron at Chequers.

According to sources in Riyadh, Bandar faced strong opposition from the powerful interior minister (and possible future king), Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who led the crackdown on al-Qaida following a wave of attacks between 2003 and 2006. Bin Nayef became increasingly concerned about battle-hardened young Saudis returning home radicalised after fighting in Syria. Bandar's removal probably reflects that policy divergence, western diplomats and Saudis say.

Bandar has irritated the Americans with outspoken criticism of Barack Obama's failure to punish Syria following the chemical weapons attack near Damascus last August. After that he talked of limiting interaction with the US in protest at its policies on Syria, Israel and especially the beginning of rapprochement with Iran – the latter an unchanging bogeyman and regional and sectarian rival for the Saudi prince. Bandar was also said by a senior Arab figure to have angrily threatened the emir of Qatar, which upstaged its larger neighbour in backing anti-Assad forces. His departure may help heal the rift between the US and the kingdom following last month's meeting between Obama and Abdullah. That, in turn, could impact on Saudi policy towards Syria.

Bandar, a former fighter pilot, is King Abdullah's nephew. He was close to presidents Reagan and both Bushes. He negotiated huge arms deals for the kingdom – including the infamous £43bn al-Yamamah agreement with the UK. The Guardian reported allegations that he had received £1bn in secret payments from BAE.

Known for his showy lifestyle – he has a penchant for cigars and flies in a private Airbus – he has kept a low profile since returning from the US to Riyadh in 2005. He became head of intelligence in July 2012. Apart from the Syria file, he was also closely involved in Saudi support for Egypt's military rulers after they ousted the Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi.

Saudi-watchers say decision-making in Riyadh is in poor shape. King Abdullah is 90 and frail, Crown Prince Salman is 78. Last month the appointment of a new deputy crown prince, Muqrin, a relative youngster at 68, again focused attention on the succession.

"The looming transition in Saudi leadership … may contribute to the uncertainty and opacity of the kingdom's foreign policy-making," said Yezid Sayigh, of the Carnegie Foundation. "Already highly personalised, decision-making may become further dispersed as multiple centres of princely power prepare to compete over the succession from King Abdullah."

Related Article:


Iranian killer's execution halted at last minute by victim's parents

Convict had noose around his neck when victim's mother approached, slapped him in the face and spared his life

The Guardian, Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Wednesday 16 April 2014

The noose is removed from around the neck of Balal. Photograph:
Arash Khamooshi /Isna

When he felt the noose around his neck, Balal must have thought he was about to take his last breath. Minutes earlier, crowds had watched as guards pushed him towards the gallows for what was meant to be yet another public execution in the Islamic republic of Iran.

Seven years ago Balal, who is in his 20s, stabbed 18-year-old Abdollah Hosseinzadeh during a street brawl in the small town of Royan, in the northern province of Mazandaran. In a literal application of qisas, the sharia law of retribution, the victim's family were to participate in Balal's punishment by pushing the chair on which he stood.

But what happened next marked a rarity in public executions in Iran, which puts more people to death than any other country apart from China. The victim's mother approached, slapped the convict in the face and then decided to forgive her son's killer. The victim's father removed the noose and Balal's life was spared.

Hosseinzadeh's mother slaps Balal. Photograph: Arash Khamooshi /Isna

Photographs taken by Arash Khamooshi, of the semi-official Isna news agency, show what followed. Balal's mother hugged the grieving mother of the man her son had killed. The two women sobbed in each other's arms – one because she had lost her son, the other because hers had been saved.

The action by Hosseinzadeh's mother was all the more extraordinary as it emerged that this was not the first son she had lost. Her younger child Amirhossein was killed in a motorbike accident at the age of 11.

"My 18-year-old son Abdollah was taking a stroll in the bazaar with his friends when Balal shoved him," said the victim's father, Abdolghani Hosseinzadeh, according to Isna. "Abdollah was offended and kicked him but at this time the murderer took an ordinary kitchen knife out of his socks."

Balal's mother, left and Hosseinzadeh's mother embrace after the execution
was halted. Photograph: Arash Khamooshi/Isna

Hosseinzadeh Sr has come to the conclusion that Balal did not kill his son deliberately. "Balal was inexperienced and didn't know how to handle a knife. He was naive."

According to the father, Balal escaped the scene of the stabbing but was later arrested by the police. It took six years for a court to hand down a death sentence, and the victim's family deferred the execution a number of times. An date for execution was set just before the Persian new year, Nowruz, but the victim's family did not approve of the timing.

Hosseinzadeh said a dream prompted the change of heart. "Three days ago my wife saw my elder son in a dream telling her that they are in a good place, and for her not to retaliate … This calmed my wife and we decided to think more until the day of the execution."

Many Iranian public figures, including the popular TV sport presenter Adel Ferdosipour, had called on the couple, who have a daughter, to forgive the killer. Although they did so, Balal will not necessarily be freed. Under Iranian law the victim's family have a say only in the act of execution, not any jail sentence.

The chair on the gallows. Photograph: Arash Khamooshi /Isna

In recent years Iran has faced criticism from human rights activists for its high rate of executions. The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, accused Hassan Rouhani of doing too little to improve Iran's human rights, especially reining in its staggering use of capital punishment.

As of last week, 199 executions are believed to have been carried out in Iran this year, according to Amnesty, a rate of almost two a day. Last year Iran and Iraq were responsible for two-thirds of the world's executions, excluding China.

At least 369 executions were officially acknowledged by the Iranian authorities in 2013, but Amnesty said hundreds more people were put to death in secret, taking the actual number close to 700.

Iran is particularly criticised for its public executions, which have attracted children among the crowds in the past. Iranian photographers are often allowed to document them.

Bahareh Davis, of Amnesty International, welcomed the news that Balal had been spared death. "It is of course welcome news that the family of the victim have spared this young man's life," she said. "However, qisas regulations in Iran mean that people who are sentenced to death under this system of punishment are effectively prevented from seeking a pardon or commutation of their sentences from the authorities – contrary to Iran's international obligations."

She added: "It's deeply disturbing that the death penalty continues to be seen as a solution to crime in Iran. Not only is the death penalty the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment with no special deterrent impact, but public displays of killing also perpetuate a culture of acceptance of violence.

"Public executions are degrading and incompatible with human dignity of those executed. In addition, all those who watch public executions – which regrettably often includes children – are brutalised by the experience."

In October last year an Iranian prisoner who survived an attempted execution and was revived in the morgue was spared another attempt, though his family said he had lost mental stability and remained in jail.

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Capital punishment 2013

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Guardian and Washington Post win Pulitzer prize for NSA revelations

Pair awarded highest accolade in US journalism, winning Pulitzer prize for public service for stories on NSA surveillance 

theguardian.com, Ed Pilkington in New York, Monday 14 April 2014

The Guardian revealed the NSA's bulk collection of phone records 10 months
ago based on Edward Snowden's leaks. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

The Guardian and the Washington Post have been awarded the highest accolade in US journalism, winning the Pulitzer prize for public service for their groundbreaking articles on the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities based on the leaks of Edward Snowden.

The award, announced in New York on Monday, comes 10 months after the Guardian published the first report based on the leaks from Snowden, revealing the agency’s bulk collection of US citizens’ phone records.

In the series of articles that ensued, teams of journalists at the Guardian and the Washington Post published the most substantial disclosures of US government secrets since the Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam war in 1971.

The Pulitzer committee praised the Guardian for its "revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, helping through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy".

Snowden, in a statement, said: "Today's decision is a vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government. We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their colleagues who kept working in the face of extraordinary intimidation, including the forced destruction of journalistic materials, the inappropriate use of terrorism laws, and so many other means of pressure to get them to stop what the world now recognises was work of vital public importance."

He said that his actions in leaking the documents that formed the basis of the reporting "would have been meaningless without the dedication, passion, and skill of these newspapers".

At the Guardian, the reporting was led by Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and film-maker Laura Poitras, and at the Washington Post by Barton Gellman, who also co-operated with Poitras. All four journalists were honoured with a George Polk journalism award last week for their work on the NSA story.

Investigative reporter Laura Poitras accepts the George Polk Award alongside
 Barton Gellman, far left, and Ewen MacAskill. Photograph: Andrew Burton/
Getty Images

The NSA revelations have reverberated around the world and sparked a debate in the US over the balance between national security and personal privacy. On the back of the disclosures, President Obama ordered a White House review into data surveillance, a number of congressional reform bills have been introduced, and protections have begun to be put in place to safeguard privacy for foreign leaders and to increase scrutiny over the NSA’s mass data collection.

"We are truly honoured that our journalism has been recognised with the Pulitzer Prize," said Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of the Guardian. "This was a complex story, written, edited and produced by a team of wonderful journalists. We are particularly grateful for our colleagues across the world who supported the Guardian in circumstances which threatened to stifle our reporting. And we share this honour, not only with our colleagues at the Washington Post, but also with Edward Snowden, who risked so much in the cause of the public service which has today been acknowledged by the award of this prestigious prize."

Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief of Guardian US, said: "We're extremely proud and gratified to have been honoured by the Pulitzer board. It's been an intense, exhaustive and sometimes chilling year working on this story and we're grateful for the acknowledgement by our peers that the revelations made by Edward Snowden and the work by the journalists involved represent a high achievement in public service."

Among the disclosures were:


• the program codenamed Prism used by the NSA and its UK counterpart GCHQ to gain back-door entry into the data of nine giant internet companies including Google and Facebook

• the cracking of internet encryption by the NSA and GCHQ that undermined personal security for web users ;


The coverage of the Snowden leaks presented a particularly thorny issue for the 19-strong panel of journalists, academics and writers who recommend the winners. The stream of disclosures invoked strong and polarised reactions in the US and around the world.

In January, Obama said that the debate on the acceptable limits of government surveillance prompted by the articles “will make us stronger”. But other prominent US politicians such as Mike Rogers, Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, have suggested journalism based on Snowden’s leaks was tantamount to dealing in stolen property.

Snowden has been charged with three offences in the US. He is the eighth person to be charged with breaking the 1917 Espionage Act by the Obama administration – more than all the prosecutions brought under previous presidents combined.

The Guardian's US operation, headquartered in New York, was incorporated as an American company in 2011 and recognised last year by the Pulitzer board as a US news outlet eligible to be considered for its prizes.

Last month editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger was given a special award at the European press awards; earlier this month the Guardian was named newspaper of the year in the UK; and there it has been awarded other prizes for online and investigative journalism in Germany, Spain and the US.

The Snowden stories were edited from New York by Guardian US editor-in-chief Janine Gibson and deputy editor Stuart Millar. The UK end of the reporting was led by deputy editor Paul Johnson and investigations editor Nick Hopkins.

Others on the team of journalists included Spencer Ackerman, James Ball, David Blishen, Gabriel Dance, Julian Borger, Nick Davies, David Leigh and Dominic Rushe. In Australia the editor was Katharine Viner and the reporter Lenore Taylor.

The Pulitzers have been bestowed since 1917, at the bequest of the legendary newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer who established the honour in his will as a means of encouraging publicly-spirited journalism. The awards have shifted and grown over the years to reflect the modern publishing landscape and today stands at 22 categories, including 14 journalism awards and seven gongs for books, drama and music. All the awards are administered by Columbia University.