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'

Search This Blog

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Who are the youthful vanguard of the US anti-gun campaign?

Yahoo – AFP, Leila MACOR,  February 22, 2018

Survivors of the mass shooting at Majory Stoneman High School in Florida are
leading what's considered an unprecedented youth mobilization against gun
violence in the US (AFP Photo/RHONA WISE)

Miami (AFP) - Young survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting have impressed the world with their eloquence as they grab the banner of the fight to end gun violence in America.

Cameron Kasky started the slogan #NeverAgain, David Hogg is now a target of an online smear campaign and Emma Gonzalez moved many in the country with her cry: "Shame on you!"

Who are the fresh-faced leaders of the #NeverAgain campaign to demand stricter gun laws, an issue that sharply divides American society?

In this file photo taken on February 17, 2018, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High 
School student Cameron Kasky speaks at a rally for gun control in Fort Lauderdale, 
Florida (AFP Photo/RHONA WISE)

Cameron Kasky

The 17-year-old has been described by the New Yorker as a "theater kid" and calls himself the "class clown."

On February 14, the day of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Kasky addressed pro-gun advocates with a scathing Facebook post: "I'm safe... Thank you to all the second amendment warriors who protected me."

Two days after the massacre that left 17 dead at his school, Kasky created the hashtag #NeverAgain, urging his supporters to make it go viral, which it did.

Perhaps his most high-profile moment came on Wednesday, when he confronted US Senator Marco Rubio of Florida at a CNN "town hall" event broadcast on prime time.

Appearing relaxed and confident, the teen confronted the one-time presidential candidate, who has received funding from the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) pro-gun lobby: "Senator Rubio, can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA in the future?"

Emma Gonzalez rallied the nascent movement with a fiery 
speech that captured widespread attention (AFP Photo/
RHONA WISE)

Emma Gonzalez

"Shame on you!" the 18-year-old declared at an anti-gun rally on February 16th, berating US President Donald Trump and other politicians who accept money from the NRA.

Her fiery speech captured national attention and spurred a nascent movement bringing together student survivors, parents, teachers and other activists.

Gonzalez, whose family has roots in Cuba and is easily recognizable with her shaved head, had written the speech just hours before and her only previous activism was participating in last year's "March for Science."

She and her cohorts called for a "March for Our Lives" in Washington on March 24, saying: "You're either with us, or against us at this point."

The march has since raised at least $2 million in funding from Hollywood A-listers including George Clooney and his human rights lawyer wife Amal, talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, director Steven Spielberg and his actress wife Kate Capshaw, and film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg.

David Hogg (right) gives his account of surviving the shooting at his high 
school, which left 17 people dead (AFP Photo/MARK WILSON)

David Hogg

The 17-year-old aspiring journalist took refuge in a closet during the school massacre. Despite the terrifying circumstances, his instinct led him to film interviews with his fellow students while in hiding. The video went viral.

Hogg was recruited by Kasky to help lead the #NeverAgain movement.

But his experience in recent days lays bare the politicization of the issue. Hogg's father is a retired FBI agent and right-wing conspiracy theorists believe the agency is behind a shadowy campaign to bring down Trump.

The teen has been attacked and harassed online, and even accused of being a "crisis actor" paid to travel to tragedies to propagate liberal viewpoints.

"I am not a crisis actor," Hogg said. "I'm someone who had to witness this and live through this and I continue to be having to do that. I'm not acting on anybody's behalf."

Delaney Tarr, 17, is among the generation of Americans for whom the threat 
of school shootings has always been a part of life (AFP Photo/RHONA WISE)

Delaney Tarr

The 17-year-old was among hundreds of Florida students who descended on the state legislature this week to demand gun control laws.

"We've had enough of thoughts and prayers," she said. "We are coming after every single one of you and demanding that you take action."

She is among a generation of young Americans who grew up in an era of school shootings, and always carries around her car keys, with the idea that she could hunker down inside the vehicle in such a situation.

When it actually happened, she ended up hiding with her classmates in a closet.

Related Article:


Friday, February 23, 2018

Two thirds of Americans support stricter gun laws: poll

Yahoo – AFP, February 20, 2018

Americans love their guns, but in the wake of a deadly mass shooting at a Florida
 high school, a new poll shows two out of every three voters support stricter gun 
control laws (AFP Photo/Michele Eve Sandberg)

Washington (AFP) - Americans support stricter gun laws by a more-than two-to-one margin, one of the highest levels on record, a polling agency reported Tuesday one week after the latest US school shooting left 17 people dead.

The tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida has shocked many Americans, inspired students to launch campaigns to reduce gun violence, and put Congress and President Donald Trump's administration in the spotlight as they consider what changes, if any, should be made to the country's gun laws.

Voters support tightening gun laws by 66 to 31 percent, according to Quinnipiac University's national poll, which described the margin as "the highest level of support" since it began surveys on the question in 2008.

The poll also found that a majority of gun owners, 50 percent to 44 percent, backed stricter gun laws, and that their support specifically for universal background checks rose to an overwhelming 97 percent, against just three percent who opposed such checks or expressed no opinion.

"If you think Americans are largely unmoved by the mass shootings, you should think again," Quinnipiac poll assistant director Tim Malloy said in a statement.

"Support for stricter gun laws is up 19 points in little more than two years," he added, referring to December 2015 poll data that showed 47 percent of voters supported tightening such laws.

When broken down by political party, however, the latest results show that just 34 percent of Republicans support stricter gun laws, compared with 86 percent of Democrats.

Trump signaled support Monday for a bipartisan effort to expand and improve a national system of background checks for gun purchases in the wake of the Florida school shooting.

Several legislative proposals were introduced after a shooter killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012, including a ban on semi-automatic weapons like the one used last week in Florida, banning high-capacity magazines of over 10 bullets and a universal background check bill.

None has made it into law.
Related Article:


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Gates says billionaires should pay 'significantly' more taxes

Yahoo – AFP, February 19, 2018

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates says billionaires should pay
"significantly" more in taxes (AFP Photo/Etienne LAURENT)

Washington (AFP) - Bill Gates says he has paid more than $10 billion in taxes over a lifetime but billionaires like him should pay "significantly" more because they benefit more from the system.

The Microsoft co-founder, the world's second richest man after Amazon's Jeff Bezos, was critical of a recent US tax overhaul that slashed corporate taxes and lowered the top bracket for individual income.

"I've paid more taxes, over $10 billion, than anyone else, but the government should require the people in my position to pay significantly higher taxes," he said in an interview Sunday with CNN.

He said the tax overhaul passed in December favors the rich despite Republican claims it will help the middle and working classes.

"People who are wealthier tended to get dramatically more benefits than the middle class or those who are poor, and so it runs counter to the general trend you'd like to see, where the safety net is getting stronger and those at the top are paying higher taxes," he said.

With a sixth of the US population living in what he called "disappointing" conditions, he said US policymakers need to think about rising inequality and ask, "Why aren't we doing a better job for those people?"

Friday, February 16, 2018

Archbishop Tutu quits Oxfam role over charity's sex scandal

Digital Journal – AFP, 15 February 2018


Retired archbishop and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu announced Thursday that he had quit his role as an ambassador for Oxfam after the British charity was hit by sexual misconduct allegations.

"The Archbishop is deeply disappointed by allegations of immorality and possible criminality involving humanitarian workers linked to the charity," said a statement from his office in South Africa.

"He is also saddened by the impact of the allegations on the many thousands of good people who have supported Oxfam's righteous work."

The statement said that Tutu, 86, was retiring as an Oxfam global ambassador as he withdraws from many of his public commitments.

Senegalese singer Baaba Maal and British actress Minnie Driver have also quit as Oxfam ambassadors after the scandal erupted early this month.

The charity has admitted to a lack of transparency over an internal investigation about the use of prostitutes by staff in Haiti, who were there to assist the country's recovery after a 2010 earthquake.

The investigation led to the dismissal of four employees and three others being allowed to resign.

Tutu became a globally-celebrated moral leader during his role in opposing white-minority apartheid rule in South Africa. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

Related Article:


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Former Dutch Prime Minister Rudd Lubbers dies

Deutsche Welle, 14 February 2018

Ruud Lubbers, the Netherlands' longest serving prime minister, has died aged 78. Lubbers also headed the UN refugee agency on a symbolic $1 salary, and, in 1991, hosted the EU's formative Maastricht summit.

Former Dutch prime minister Ruud Lubbers in B/W (picture alliance/ANP/V. Kuypers)

Lubbers, a conservative who argued for "more markets, less government" and a closer European Union, passed away on Wednesday in his home city of Rotterdam, the Dutch government announced. No cause of death was given.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the Netherlands had "lost a statesman with huge stature" and went on to praise Lubbers for his commitment to Europe and as a "world citizen" who was "intelligent and wise."

"He knew how to find a solution to every problem," Rutte added.

Lubbers, a Christian Democrat from a Rotterdam engineering and machinery family, who studied economics and then headed an employers' federation, formed his first government in 1982 with the liberal VVD party, on a pledge to cut back the Dutch welfare state.

His slogan "more markets, less government" prompted conflict with trade unions but earned him a reputation for the "Dutch model" of spurring the economy to create more jobs.

Key role at Maastricht

In his third consecutive term, he formed a grand coalition with center-left Social Democrats in 1989, and played a key role in late 1991 when the Netherlands hosted an EU summit that formulated the bloc's Maastricht Treaty focused on political integration.

The accord, signed in early 1992, also laid the groundwork for the shared euro currency.

When he stepped down in the Dutch election year 1994, he had become the Netherland's longest-serving prime minister.

His 12 years in office had included his persuading parliament to accept the deployment of NATO European missiles in the Netherlands and ambitious conservation projects across the densely populated low-lying nation.

WWF and then UNHCR

After stints in academia, bids for top jobs at the European Commission and NATO, and criticism of Germany's then-chancellor, Helmut Kohl, Lubbers went on to serve as president of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in 2000, before becoming the head of the UNHCR refugee agency in 2001.

Bombing of Afghanistan wrong

A month after the 9/11 airline hijacker attacks on New York and Washington, Ludders rejected US bombardment of largely Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

He told Germany's Die Zeit newspaper in October 2001 that less US military action, not more, combined with aid agency assistance, would minimize the "danger of a conflagration."

As UNHCR commissioner he had urged the United States: "no revenge, no disproportionate reprisal attacks that will inevitably cause larger refugee flows and human suffering."

Resignation

His UNHCR post was extended in 2003 but in 2005 he was forced to step down over sexual harassment allegations, which he rejected as defamatory.

In latter years, when the Netherlands had difficulties forming coalition governments, Queen Beatrix reportedly called in Lubbers as adviser and intermediary.

Dutch broadcaster NOS said Lubbers had long suffered from an unspecified illness.

ipj/kms (AFP, AP, Reuters, Munzinger-Archive)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Zijlstra admits faking story about Putin’s ‘greater Russia’ ambitions

DutchNews, February 12, 2018

Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl

Foreign affairs minister Halbe Zijlstra has admitted lying about being at a meeting where Vladimir Putin supposedly set out his plans for a ‘Greater Russia’. 

Zijlstra claimed that he had overheard the Russian president talking about his expansionist ambitions during a gathering of businesspeople at Putin’s dacha in 2006. At the time Zijlstra was working for Shell. But in an interview in the Volkskrant at the weekend he admitted that he had not been at the meeting, but ‘borrowed’ the anecdote from someone whose identity he wanted to protect. 

Prime minister Mark Rutte said Zijlstra’s decision was ‘not sensible’, but he would not be seeking Zijlstra’s resignation. Zijlstra and Rutte are colleagues in the right-wing Liberal (VVD) party. 

‘I made the decision that this is an important geopolitical story with serious implications,’ Zijlstra said. ‘I attributed the story to myself to make sure that the revelations weren’t about the person who was actually there. Because that could have had implications for him or his company.’ 

Rutte said it was ‘not a case of fake news, because he wanted to protect a source. I think he is credible because there is no dispute about the content of the story.’ 

In his original version of the story, Zijlstra claimed he had been a back room in the dacha when he heard Putin define ‘Greater Russia’ as ‘Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic states,’ adding that ‘Kazakhstan was nice to have’. 

Doubts about the veracity of the foreign minister’s claims came to light when former senior Shell executive Jeroen van der Veer told the Volkskrant that Zijlstra had not been at the meeting in 2006. Zijlstra admitted he was not present but insisted that the substance of the story was true.

‘Was it sensible to protect my source in the manner that I did? No, it wasn’t. But the information is correct,’ he said. He did not confirm whether Van der Veer was the source.

 The revelation comes at an awkward moment for Zijlstra, who is due to fly out to Moscow on Tuesday for his first official meeting with his Russian opposite number Sergey Lavrov. Geert Wilders’s PVV party has called for a debate so the minister can explain his actions to parliament before he leaves. 

The VVD’s spin doctors used the anecdote in October to counter claims that Zijlstra lacked experience of international affairs when he took office.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Canada makes national anthem gender neutral

Yahoo – AFP, February 2, 2018

Two words were amended in Canada's national anthem, "O Canada," making the 
song gender neutral and incurring the wrath of conservatives and traditionalists
 (AFP Photo/DON EMMERT)

Ottawa (AFP) - Canadians will soon be singing a new tune after parliament passed a bill to change the lyrics of the national anthem to make it gender neutral.

Only one line in O Canada was amended, from "True patriot love in all thy sons command" to "True patriot love in all of us command."

But it has caused quite a stir.

"It's about two words," Senator Frances Lankin told reporters. "But it's huge in terms of one of our major national symbols, the anthem we sing with pride about our country."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the move "another positive step towards gender equality," while feminist author Margaret Atwood, who has been pressing for this since the 1980s, tweeted her thanks to lawmakers.

Others decried the new lyrics and vowed to continue to sing the older version.

"Disappointed to hear the Liberals changed our national anthem. Somethings (sic) shouldn't change," said MP Bob Saroya in a Twitter message.

The late MP Mauril Belanger had proposed the change to the English language version of the anthem.

Belanger was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, shortly after his party, under Trudeau, took power in 2015.

The proposal passed the House two months before Belanger's death in 2016, and late Wednesday the Senate added its support for the bill.

Now it needs only the governor general's signature to become law, which is a formality, but a date for that has not yet been set.

"It will receive royal ascent in due course," Sabrina Atwal, spokeswoman for government House leader Bardish Chagger, told AFP.

The French version of O Canada, which has not been revised, was originally commissioned by Quebec's lieutenant governor in 1880. The English version followed in 1906.

In 1914 the phrase "thou dost in us command" was changed to "in all thy sons command." A verse was added a decade later.

There have been several attempts in recent decades to further amend the lyrics of the song -- which only officially became Canada's anthem in 1980 -- but they all failed largely due to the entrenched opposition of Conservative lawmakers.

Today the anthem is sung at the beginning of sporting events and in schools across Canada at the start of classes, often mixing both French and English versions.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Jolie urges UN Security Council to solve Syria war

Yahoo – AFP, January 28, 2018

United Nations refugee agency special envoy Angelina Jolie holds a press conference
during a visit to Jordan's Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees on January 28, 2018
(AFP Photo/Khalil MAZRAAWI)

Zaatari refugee camp (Jordan) (AFP) - UN goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie urged the UN Security Council to "find a way" to solve Syria's nearly eight-year war during a tour Sunday of a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan.

"It is heartbreaking to return to Jordan and witness the levels of hardship and trauma among the Syrian refugees as this war enters its eighth year," the Hollywood star said at the Zaatari camp.

Jolie, a special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said Syria's neighbours Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq now host around 5.5 million refugees from the conflict.

"They really are an example to the world at a time that solidarity with the refugees is in short supply," she told reporters after meeting with families living in the camp which is home to about 80,000 people.

"Humanitarian aid is not a long term solution," she said, urging Security Council members to take action and solve the war which broke out in March 2011.

"This is a crisis that has been out of control for years. UNHCR does not have the funds to provide in full even the most basic necessities," she said.

The UNHCR response for the Syria conflict was "only 50 percent funded" last year and only seven percent since the start of 2018, she said.

Jolie, who was on her fifth trip to Jordan, said "it is soul-destroying" for Syrian refugees "to be made this dependent".

"So I would urge the Security Council members to come to the region, to visit the camps and the urban refugees, and find a way to finally bring the full weight of the UN and international community to bear to solve this conflict," she told reporters.

"My message to the international community today... please do more to help meet the needs of desperate Syrian families, and the countries hosting them.

"But above all please provide the leadership and strength needed to negotiate a principled end to this senseless war, without sacrificing the dignity and human rights of Syrian families. That is non-negotiable," she said.

The UN refugee agency says it has registered more than 650,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan since the conflict in Syria began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

However, Amman says it is hosting 1.3 million Syrian refugees, and has repeatedly called for more assistance to do so

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Richest one percent made 82% of wealth created last year: Oxfam

Yahoo – AFP, 22 January 2018

Residents walk on a wooden plank to cross a garbage-filled waterway in Manila
on January 17, 2018

The world's richest one percent raked in 82 percent of the wealth created last year while the poorest half of the population received none, Oxfam said Monday, as the world's elite prepared to mingle at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

A new report from the charity also found that the wealth of billionaires has grown six times faster than that of ordinary workers since 2010, with another billionaire minted every two days between March 2016 and March 2017.

Oxfam used its findings to paint a picture of a global economy in which the wealthy few amass ever-greater fortunes while hundreds of millions of people are "struggling to survive on poverty pay".

"The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system," Oxfam executive director Winnie Byanyima said in a statement.

Oxfam also emphasised the plight of women workers, who "consistently earn less than men" and often have the lowest paid, least secure jobs. Nine out of 10 billionaires are men, it added.

The report, titled "Reward Work, not Wealth", used data from Credit Suisse to compare the returns of top executives and shareholders to that of ordinary workers.

It found that chief executives of the top five global fashion brands made in just four days what garment workers in Bangladesh earn over a lifetime.

"The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing
economic system," Oxfam executive director Winnie Byanyima said in a statement

"The people who make our clothes, assemble our phones and grow our food are being exploited to ensure a steady supply of cheap goods, and swell the profits of corporations and billionaire investors,"said Byanyima.

To fight rising inequality, Oxfam called on governments to limit the returns of shareholders and top executives, close the gender pay gap, crackdown on tax avoidance and increase spending on healthcare and education.

The study was released on the eve of top political and business figures meeting at a luxury Swiss ski resort for the annual World Economic Forum, which this year says it will focus on how to create "a shared future in a fractured world".

"It's hard to find a political or business leader who doesn't say they are worried about inequality," said Byanyima.

"It's even harder to find one who is doing something about it. Many are actively making things worse by slashing taxes and scrapping labour rights."


US Democrats accept compromise to end government shutdown

Yahoo – AFP, Michael Mathes, January 22, 2018

Republicans and Democrats sealed a deal on Capitol Hill to reopen the
federal government (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

Washington (AFP) - The US Senate on Monday reached a deal to reopen the federal government, with Democrats accepting a compromise spending bill to end days of partisan bickering that forced hundreds of thousands of government employees to stay home without pay.

The impasse, the first of its kind since 2013, cast a huge shadow over the first anniversary on Saturday of President Donald Trump's inauguration.

As the Senate convened, the chamber's top Democrat Chuck Schumer announced that members of his party would vote with ruling Republicans to end the shutdown on day three, after a weekend of frustrating talks on Capitol Hill.

The compromise bill passed a key procedural hurdle in the Senate by an overwhelming majority of 81-18, with final approval in the chamber expected by day's end.

The shutdown will end formally once the House of Representatives approves the measure keeping the government funded until February 8 -- which it is expected to do.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Schumer said he had reached an arrangement with Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell "after several discussions, offers, counteroffers."

"We will vote today to reopen the government," he said.

But Schumer warned McConnell that he expected Republicans to make good on a pledge to address Democrat concerns over the Deferred Action on Child Arrivals (DACA) program that shields immigrants brought to the country as children from deportation, but expires on March 5.

US budgets and government shutdowns since 1989 (AFP Photo/Gillian HANDYSIDE)

There are an estimated 700,000 "Dreamers" whose fates are up in the air.

"If he does not, of course, and I expect he will, he will have breached the trust of not only the Democratic senators but members of his own party as well," Schumer said.

Dealmaker on sidelines

Hopes that the shutdown, which began at midnight Friday, could be limited to the weekend were raised when a bipartisan group huddled for hours on Sunday trying to end the standoff, but they ultimately failed to reach a deal.

Then as Monday began, Trump goaded Democrats from the sidelines, accusing them of shutting down the government to win concessions on immigration, in service of "their far left base."

"They don't want to do it but are powerless," he tweeted, referring to Schumer and other Democratic leaders.

But Schumer said on the Senate floor it was time to get back to work, and lashed out at Trump.

"The great deal-making president sat on the sidelines," he said.

The bill needed 60 votes to pass the procedural hurdle in the 100-member Senate, meaning Republicans -- who have a one-seat majority -- could not maneuver on their own.

Over the weekend, Trump encouraged the Senate's Republican leaders to invoke the "nuclear option" -- a procedural maneuver to change the chamber's rules to allow passage of a budget by a simple majority of 51 votes to end the shutdown.

But Senate leaders have been wary of such a move in the past, as it could come back to haunt them the next time Democrats hold a majority.

There have been four government shutdowns since 1990. In the last one, more than 800,000 government workers were put on temporary leave.

Essential federal services and the military were operational Monday, but even active-duty troops will not be paid until a deal is formally sealed.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Trump inauguration anniversary marred by shutdown, protests

Yahoo – AFP, Jerome Cartillier and Michael Mathes, January 20, 2018

US President Donald Trump expressed frustration that the one-year anniversary
of his inauguration has been marred by the federal government shutdown
(AFP Photo/MANDEL NGAN)

Washington (AFP) - Donald Trump's first anniversary as US president was marred by chaos Saturday as Congress struggled to reverse a government shutdown and mass demonstrations erupted in cities across the country.

Essential federal services and military activity are continuing, but hundreds of thousands of public sector workers will be sent home without wages and even active duty troops will not be paid until a deal is reached to reopen the US government.

Highlighting the deep political polarization, crowds estimated to number in the hundreds of thousands took to the streets of major US cities to march against the president and his policies.

"This is the One Year Anniversary of my Presidency and the Democrats wanted to give me a nice present," Trump, who is in Washington instead of celebrating the anniversary at his Mar-a-Lago resort, wrote on Twitter in reference to the shutdown.

"Democrats are far more concerned with Illegal Immigrants than they are with our great Military or Safety at our dangerous Southern Border," he tweeted, later accusing the opposition party of "holding our Military hostage."

The impact of the shutdown will be felt more strongly if it lasts into the coming work week.

But signs that the government was not open for business were already appearing on Saturday.

Democratic US Senator Chuck Schumer is seen as holding the key to a deal on a
measure to fund the federal government (AFP Photo/Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS)

"The Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island are closed due to a lapse in appropriations," a notice on the National Park Service's website said, while a sign at US military cemetery in France where 4,409 Americans are buried read: "Due to the US Government shutdown, this site is closed to the public."

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wrote in a memo that "daily operations around the world" will continue, but "training for reservists must be curtailed" and that "active forces will stay at their posts adapting their training to achieve the least negative impact on our readiness to fight."

'Holding pattern'

There have been four government shutdowns since 1990. In the last one in 2013, more than 800,000 government workers were put on temporary leave.

"We're just in a holding pattern. We just have to wait and see. It's scary," Noelle Joll, a 50-year-old furloughed US government employee, told AFP in Washington.

Joll was also affected by the 2013 shutdown, but "this one feels a lot more ominous," she said.

US budgets and government shutdowns since 1989 (AFP Photo/Gillian HANDYSIDE)

"I think our members are frustrated, they're disappointed in the president and members of Congress that they're not funding the government -- doing their job -- as we do our jobs every day," J. David Cox, the president of one of the largest unions representing government workers, said on CNN.

A deal had appeared likely on Friday afternoon, when Trump -- who has touted himself as a master negotiator -- seemed to be close to an agreement with Democratic Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer on a measure to prevent the expulsion of undocumented migrants who arrived in the country as children.

But no such compromise was in the language that reached Congress for a stop-gap motion to keep the government open for four more weeks while a final arrangement is discussed -- and Republicans failed to win enough Democratic support to bring it to a vote.

Congress reconvened for a rare Saturday session, where leaders of both sides traded accusations of responsibility for the shutdown.

Schumer said trying to negotiate with Trump "was like negotiating with Jell-O."

Protesters took to the streets of New York, Washington, Los Angeles and other
US cities to express opposition to President Donald Trump and support for
women's rights (AFP Photo/SPENCER PLATT)

"It's impossible to negotiate with a constantly moving target," he said. "President Trump is so mercurial it's been impossible to get him to agree to anything. The Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said Schumer "took the extraordinary step" of preventing the legislation from passing and thus "plunging the country into this totally avoidable mess."

Anti-Trump protests

Democrats have accused Republicans of poisoning chances of a deal and pandering to Trump's populist base by refusing to fund a program that protects 700,000 "Dreamers" -- undocumented immigrants who arrived in the US as children -- from deportation.

Republicans have a tenuous one-seat majority in the Senate but would have needed to lure some Democrats to their side to get a 60 vote supermajority to bring the motion forward. They fell ten votes short.

The measure brought to Congress would have extended federal funding until February 16 and reauthorized for six years a health insurance program for poor children -- a long-time Democratic objective.

But it would have cut the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, that affects Dreamers.

White House officials insisted there was no urgency to fix DACA, which expires March 5.

As US lawmakers wrangled over government funding, protesters turned out in cities including Washington, New York and Los Angeles to express their opposition to Trump and their support for women's rights.

Protestors hoisted placards with messages including "Fight like a girl" and "A woman's place is in the White House" and "Elect a clown, expect a circus."

The president meanwhile posted a deadpan tweet referencing the rallies protesting his policies, urging people to "get out there and celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months."

Hollywood celebrities were among those who turned out to protest on Saturday.

"We have a racist in the White House, we have a sexist in the White House and we have a pathological liar in the White House who is tearing away at the fabric in our democracy," actor and producer Rob Reiner said at a rally in California.


Related Article:

Mass crowds rally for anti-Trump Women's Marches across US

People rally at the Lincoln Memorial for the second edition of the anti-Donald Trump
Women's March on Washington (AFP Photo/Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS)