United Nations Declaration (Articles 1 - 30):

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

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

Incoming UN chief names three women to top posts

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

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

The Declaration of Human Freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pope Francis arrives for historic first US visit

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

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

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

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

Same-sex marriage around the world

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

… The Shift in Human Nature

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

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

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

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

Merkel says Turkey media crackdown 'highly alarming'

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

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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Mayor of Canadian capital city Ottawa comes out as gay

Yahoo – AFP, August 17, 2019

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson (left) speaks to CNN journalist Anderson Cooper
in October 2014 (AFP Photo/Mike Carroccetto)

Montreal (AFP) - The mayor of Ottawa revealed Saturday that he is gay, an announcement that comes on the eve of gay pride week in the Canadian capital city.

"I'm gay. There -- I said it; or rather, wrote it. Those two words took me almost four decades to utter, but as they say, 'Better late than never,'" Jim Watson wrote in a letter published in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper.

The 58-year-old, who has served as mayor since 2010, recalled being a shy teen who moved and changed schools frequently, preventing him from making friends.

It was the 1970s, a time when "there were virtually no resources to seek for guidance or help, or just to talk."

After graduating from university, Watson said he threw himself into his work. A provincial MP from 2003 to 2010, he also served as city councillor and provincial cabinet minister.

"As I look back over my life, and in hindsight, not coming out sooner was a big mistake on my part," he wrote.

"My reluctance has not allowed me to live my life as full of love and adventure as my gay friends who were bolder and braver than I ever was."

He urged gay people who are in the closet not to feel rushed to come out -- "but don't wait 40 years either."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hailed Watson's "brave words," saying they would "inspire Ottawans -- and all Canadians -- to feel free to be themselves."

Ottawa's week-long Capital Pride event kicks off Sunday, celebrating the area's LGBTQ community.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Outcry as Jeffrey Epstein found dead in jail, FBI investigates

Yahoo – AFP, Peter HUTCHISON, August 10, 2019

In this undated handout photo obtained July 11, 2019 courtesy
of the New York State Sex Offender Registry shows Jeffrey
Epstein (AFP Photo/HO)

New York (AFP) - US financier Jeffrey Epstein, awaiting trial on charges he trafficked underage girls for sex, was found dead in his prison cell Saturday from an apparent suicide, officials said.

Political leaders and law enforcement officials quickly expressed shock that a high-profile detainee who had already apparently tried to end his life in late July and would presumably be under close watch could manage to commit suicide. The Justice Department and the FBI launched investigations of the jet-set hedge fund manager's death.

Epstein, a convicted pedophile who befriended numerous politicians and celebrities over the years, was found unresponsive at the Metropolitan Correctional Center from "an apparent suicide", the US Department of Justice (DoJ) said.

The disgraced financier was discovered around 6:30 am (1030 GMT) and rushed to hospital in New York where he was pronounced dead, it added in a statement.

Attorney General Bill Barr said he was "appalled" to learn of Epstein's death and had instructed the justice department's inspector general to probe how he could have died while in federal custody.

"Mr Epstein's death raises serious questions that must be answered," Barr said in a statement.

The FBI is also investigating the incident, said the DoJ.

The New York Times and other media quoted officials as saying Epstein hanged himself.

The city medical examiner's office confirmed Epstein's death but not what caused it.

It came a day after a tranche of sealed legal documents were released for the first time providing new details about what prosecutors allege was Epstein's sex-trafficking operation.

The death also comes just over two weeks after the 66-year-old was found unconscious in his cell with marks on his neck after an apparent suicide attempt.

Epstein did not appear to be showing any visible signs of injuries when he appeared in court on July 31 following that incident, to be told that his trial wouldn't begin before June of next year.

'We need answers'

The wealthy hedge fund manager had been charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.

He was denied bail last month in a New York court because he was deemed a flight risk.

Epstein denied the charges and had faced up to 45 years in prison -- effectively the rest of his life -- if convicted.

The Metropolitan Correctional Center, a federal facility in Manhattan that is often used to house suspects awaiting or during trial, is considered one of the most secure penal establishments in the US.

The infamous Mexican drug trafficker Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman spent more than two years there before being convicted and transferred to a federal prison in Colorado.

Epstein's death quickly raised questions about whether Epstein was in fact on suicide watch.

"We need answers. Lots of them," tweeted New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Michael Bromwich, a former inspector general at the Justice Department, said an investigation must "determine who is responsible."

Republican Senator Ben Sasse, who heads the Senate's judiciary oversight committee, said the government had failed Epstein's alleged victims "yet again."

"These victims deserved to face their serial abuser in court," he said.

On Friday, two thousand pages of documents focusing on testimony by a victim who claimed she was a "sex slave" of Epstein were released by a New York court.

In them, Virginia Giuffre, now an adult, claims that she was forced to have sex with well-known American political and business personalities. They have all denied the allegations.

Sexual massages

Prosecutors said Epstein sexually exploited dozens of underage teenagers, some as young as 14, at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida, between 2002 and 2005.

They claim that Epstein was "well aware that many of the victims were minors."

The girls were paid hundreds of dollars in cash to massage him, perform sexual acts and to recruit other girls, prosecutors allege.

They say Epstein had an army of recruiters, often not much older than their targets, who would approach vulnerable teens.

Epstein is also accused of paying off possible co-conspirators to "influence" them, US media have reported.

Epstein, whose friends have included President Donald Trump, former president Bill Clinton and Britain's Prince Andrew, was convicted previously of paying young girls for sexual massages at his Palm Beach mansion.

They have all denied knowing anything about his alleged crimes.

Epstein avoided federal prosecution under a plea deal that required him to admit to a single Florida state charge of soliciting prostitution from a minor and register as a sex offender.

He served 13 months in a county jail before being released in 2009.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Trump says Republicans ready to impose gun background checks

Yahoo – AFP, Sebastian Smith, August 9, 2019

US President Donald Trump says he has spoken to leader of the National Rifle
Association and their views should be fully represented in the debate over gun
control (AFP Photo/MANDEL NGAN)

Washington (AFP) - President Donald Trump said Friday that fellow Republicans will set aside resistance to restricting access to firearms by supporting background checks for people buying weapons in the wake of mass shootings in Ohio and Texas.

The progress in efforts to curb the United States' freewheeling relationship with firearms came despite talks between Trump and the head of the fierce NRA gun lobby, Wayne LaPierre.

Republicans have long resisted imposing background checks on gun buyers, a measure that the powerful NRA argues would be the thin end of the wedge, leading to ever tighter restrictions on the constitutional right to carrying weapons.

But after 31 people were shot dead in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, last weekend -- just the latest in an ever growing list of bloodbaths carried out by men with powerful rifles -- political momentum has apparently shifted.

Trump said that Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was "totally onboard" with background checks.

Even "hardline" gun rights supporters in the Republican party "understand we don't want insane people, mentally ill people, bad people, dangerous people" buying firearms, Trump told reporters at the White House.

He said he'd spoken with LaPierre and had "a good talk."

But despite describing the NRA as "phenomenal people" and insisting that no other president has been more supportive of gun rights, Trump said "we need meaningful background checks so that sick people don't get guns."

LaPierre on Thursday had rejected calls for tougher restrictions on firearms, indicating he'd raised those concerns with Trump.

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says gun control legislation will be 
"front and center" in the next session but he will not recall senators from their 
summer break (AFP Photo/NICHOLAS KAMM)

"The inconvenient truth is this: the proposals being discussed by many would not have prevented the horrific tragedies in El Paso and Dayton," LaPierre said in a statement.

No recall of Congress

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Trump to bring the Senate into session to debate gun control legislation previously approved by House Democratic lawmakers, including a bill passed in February mandating federal criminal background checks.

"Commonsense background checks are supported by more than 90 percent of the American people and are proven to save lives," Pelosi wrote Thursday in a letter to the president.

Backed by than 200 US mayors who wrote to McConnell to demand that the Senate reconvene, Pelosi evoked "an extraordinary moment in our history (that) requires all of us to take extraordinary action."

But despite the apparent shift in White House and Republican positions on the issue, Trump and Senate leaders said there's no need to call legislators back from their summer break.

"I think we'll have a very good package by the time they come back," Trump said.

Trump and the Republicans also seem certain to oppose Democrats' call for banning assault weapons -- the military style rifles commonly used in mass killings.

Gun lobbyists argue that rifles like the AR-15 are hugely popular, legitimate weapons for hunting and self-defense.

McConnell has previously stifled congressional efforts to expand gun controls amid Republicans' fears that they could suffer at ballot box in next year's elections.

The El Paso and Dayton shooters used semi-automatic weapons, which can be legally bought in most US states, to mow down large numbers of people in minutes or even seconds.

Related Article:

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Japan urged to sign UN nuke ban on Hiroshima anniversary

Yahoo – AFP, August 6, 2019

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui (R) used the 74th anniversary of the atomic bombing 
of the city to urge the administration to sign the UN treaty on the prohibition of 
nuclear weapons (AFP Photo/JIJI PRESS)

The mayor of Hiroshima urged Japan to sign a landmark UN treaty banning nuclear weapons as the city Tuesday marked 74 years since being targeted in the world's first atomic attack.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe led commemorations at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima as residents offered silent prayers, lit candles and placed wreathes to remember those killed in the August 6, 1945 bombing.

And mayor Kazumi Matsui used the occasion to push the Abe administration to sign the UN treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons (TPNW), approved by more than 120 nations, but rejected by the US and other nuclear armed countries.

"I call on the government of the only country to experience a nuclear weapon in war to accede to the hibakusha's (atomic bomb victims) request that the TPNW be signed and ratified," said Matsui.

"I urge Japan's leaders to manifest the pacifism of the Japanese constitution by displaying leadership in taking the next step towards a world free from nuclear weapons."

The mayor urged world leaders to come to the city to see the memorial for themselves, amid expectations that Pope Francis will visit later this year.

Graphic on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in Japan on August 6, 1945 
(AFP Photo/AFP)

The ongoing threat from atomic weapons in the region was demonstrated as nuclear-armed North Korea fired off two "unidentified projectiles" off its eastern coast -- the latest in a series of tests.

Meanwhile, the US and Russia failed to renew a Cold War-era nuclear pact last week, triggering renewed fears of an arms race.

Japan remains the only country to have experienced atomic attack -- against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, days ahead of the country's surrender on August 15, 1945 to end World War II.

For his part, Abe reiterated a pledge to serve as a "bridge" between nations with and without nuclear weapons to rid the world of them.

"With help from both sides, I will patiently encourage them to engage in dialogue and I am resolved to lead international efforts towards this end," he said.

141 countries joined in drafting the treaty that they hope will increase pressure
on nuclear states to take disarmament more seriously  (AFP Photo/Amanda VOISARD)

Related Articles:

A huge dome is shown in 1980 covering a crater left by one of the 43
nuclear blasts on Runit Island, in the Marshall Islands, the fallout from
which is expected to last 25,000 years (US Defence Nuclear Agency/AFP)

“.. Westerwelle told journalists that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the international Nuclear Test Ban Treaty should be adopted by all countries, adding that the production and mining of all fissile material for nuclear weapons should be banned internationally. He called for resuscitating the Geneva Disarmament Convention.

Attending the talks with Germany were Japan, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Chile, Poland, Mexico, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

"Recalibration of Free Choice"–  Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) - (Subjects: (Old) SoulsMidpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth,  4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical)  8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) (Text version)

“…  8 - The End of War

The last one is the best. For thousands of years on this planet, Human Beings have warred with each other. If you take a look at the reasons they warred with each other, you will quickly see there aren't any good ones - land, resources, greed. Those are not reasons. That is a description of old energy. Those are not reasons. Reasons would be perhaps defense against an aggressor. But what if there is no longer the consciousness of the aggressor?

When I appeared in my partner's life more than 20 years ago, I said to him privately that the first messages we're going to give will be unbelievable. There would be laughter. We told him that Human nature and consciousness itself would change, and that the seeds of peace would be planted and there would come a time where there is no more war. Indeed, the laughter was great because humans look at history and they see patterns based on an absolute energy called Human Nature. "Impossible! There always has to be war. There always has been. Therefore, there always will be." This is you, in a box, in a black and white potential, where you can only see the black and white of what is and the black and white of what has been. You have no idea the shades of color that are there in your consciousness and the beauty of the love of God.

North Korea is on the edge of change, as we told you it might be. What did this require? The death of the old energy, and I want you to watch this take place. The advisors of the young leader are going to do their best to pull him back into an old energy. This free choice of his will be far different than his father, for he sees some color. Watch for these things. They'll take longer than you want, but it is the beginning of the beginning.

You'll see a fresh unification of South America sooner than not, for what is going to take place potentially this year in Venezuela. You'll see Iran changing. We have no clock. These are the potentials. These can change with free choice. These are not prophecies. This is a reality shift, dear ones, so number eight becomes the propensity not to war again. This is what Humans are going to want. This is what governments are going to want. There is a wisdom factor that will begin to happen on the planet that is grander than what you think is possible. For when you look at government, what do you think about? You see dysfunction, and there is an axiom that says the more people that try to do something together, the worse it gets. It all settles to the lowest common denominator. I'm telling you even those things are going to become old energy concepts. Instead, you're going to watch wisdom become the top potential.

I have no clock. I cannot tell you when. I can just tell you it is in the works, and there will be the seeds of it for you to observe soon - right now, in every single of the eight categories I showed you.

There are those who will say, "Well, Kryon, you're doing a lot more predictions than you used to." I want to tell you what's going on, dear one. I am not predicting anything. I am just telling you what's already there in the potential soup of your reality. That's what Humans are doing on this planet, and for those who believe this communication, you should breathe a sigh of relief and say, "It's about time." ….”

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Putin urges new arms talks with US to avoid 'chaos'

Yahoo – AFP, Maria ANTONOVA, August 5, 2019

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that without new talks, there was a risk
of an 'uncontrolled arms race' (AFP Photo/Yuri KADOBNOV)

Moscow (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday urged the United States to begin new arms talks after the collapse of a Cold War nuclear pact between the two world powers.

Moscow and Washington tore up the Intermediate Range Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty on Friday, triggering fears of a new arms race.

"In order to avoid chaos that has no rules, limits and laws, one needs to once again weigh all possible dangerous consequences and start serious dialogue without any ambiguities," Putin said in a statement.

"We are ready for it."

Moscow has blamed Washington for unilaterally ending the 1987 treaty which was signed by US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

The agreement limited the use of conventional and nuclear missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometres (310 to 3,420 miles).

Washington and NATO accused Russia of developing the new 9M729 missile which they say violates the treaty, but Russia says its range falls short of 500 kilometres

'Risk of uncontrolled arms race'

Putin said Monday that if Russia receives information about US development of new missiles, it "will be forced to begin the full-scale development of similar missiles".

Russia "will not deploy them in relevant regions until American-made missiles are deployed there," Putin said.

Unless there are new talks about strategic security, "this scenario means restarting an uncontrolled arms race," he added.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at the weekend that he would like to deploy the new intermediate-range missiles in Asia, but denied that this would spark an arms race as the weapons are not nuclear.

"Right now, we don't have plans to build nuclear-tipped INF range weapons," he said. "So I don't see an arms race happening."

The INF treaty was considered a cornerstone of global arms control architecture, but Washington has long called it obsolete due to non-signatories like China being free to develop their own weapons.

Putin on Monday accused the US of "seriously complicating the situation in the world and creating fundamental risks for all" by pulling out of the treaty.

Washington launched a six-month withdrawal procedure for leaving the treaty in February, and Moscow followed soon after.

Any new treaty to counter the build-up of nuclear missiles would have to include China, US President Donald Trump said last week.

The other key arms deal between Russia and the US is the New START treaty which keeps the nuclear arsenals of both countries well below their Cold War peak.

The deal expires in 2021 and it is likely not to be renewed amid the current chill in US-Russian relations, experts say.

The US and Russia own more than 90 percent of global nuclear stockpiles, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, a US think tank.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Democratic candidate attacks on Obama legacy rankle party

Yahoo – AFP, Michael Mathes, August 3, 2019

Democratic 2020 frontrunner Joe Biden (L) has made his political partnership with
ex-president Barack Obama a centerpiece of his White House campaign, but even
the former vice president has retreated from some Obama-era policies including
deportations (AFP Photo/SAUL LOEB)

Washington (AFP) - Barack Obama slashed US unemployment, protected child migrants and delivered health care to millions. But several 2020 candidates scorched the popular ex-president at their Democratic debate, a strategy that risks alienating voters as the party seeks to regain the White House.

With party divisions over ideology laid bare, progressive rivals to centrist frontrunner Joe Biden challenged the former vice president's record -- and by extension several Obama-era policies on deportation, coal, Afghanistan and health care.

Calling into question the legacy of perhaps the most revered living Democratic leader made for startling viewing at this week's presidential debates, when 20 Democrats took the stage over two nights.

Despite the strategy being a clear play by rivals to undercut Biden, who has made his eight-year partnership with America's first black president a centerpiece of his candidacy, it alarmed Obama loyalists concerned about repelling the very voters who Democrats need to motivate to the ballot box next year.

"To my fellow Democrats: Be wary of attacking the Obama record," Eric Holder, Obama's first attorney general, tweeted Thursday.

"Build on it. Expand it. But there is little to be gained -- for you or the party -- by attacking a very successful and still popular Democratic President."

As the nation's first black leader, Obama was and remains hugely popular among African Americans.

But he was also deeply concerned about unnerving white middle-class voters, and so faced resentment for not pursuing policies bold enough to close the racial wealth gap.

David Axelrod, a chief Obama campaign strategist, nevertheless argued Thursday that it was a "perilous path" for Democrats to slam Biden's Obama-era policies because that would require attacking Obama, who would win the nomination "in a walk" if he ran today.

Neera Tanden, who directed domestic policy for the Obama campaign and now heads the Center for American Progress think tank, was blunter, likening the approach to "political suicide."

"The GOP didn't attack (president Ronald) Reagan, they built him up for decades," tweeted Tanden, referring to the devotion with which Republicans treat their political hero.

"Dem Candidates who attack Obama are wrong and terrible," she added.

'Lessons of the past' 

The Obama ambush signaled what has become increasingly clear in the era of Trump: the party that seeks to oust him from power has shifted decidedly leftward.

While Obama remains a favorite among Democratic progressives, many are keen not to merely expand the Affordable Care Act -- popularly known as Obamacare -- as Biden is, but replace it with a universal, government-run health care system.

Candidates like liberal senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and even Obama's own housing secretary Julian Castro, suggested Biden was stuck in the past for embracing some Obama policies rather than seeking bold new initiatives.

"It looks like one of us has learned the lessons of the past, and one of us hasn't," Castro memorably snapped at Biden, castigating the frontrunner for not splitting more forcefully from Obama's deportation policy.

Warren expressed frustration with the current health system and touted a shift to a government-led "Medicare for All" plan, and blasted "a corrupt, rigged system" that began before Trump and "that has helped the wealthy and the well-connected, and kicked dirt in the faces of everyone else."

The fusillade against Obama caught the attention of Trump, who gleefully told supporters at a rally Thursday that Democrats "spent more time attacking Barack Obama than they did attacking me, practically."

Biden acknowledged on Thursday in Detroit: "I was a little surprised at how much the incoming was about Barack."

But even Biden himself said he would not raise the deportation rate back to Obama-era levels. And he added that he had opposed Obama's surge of troops in Afghanistan.

Biden could have rallied the party faithful with a more spirited defense of the Obama presidency from the debate stage.

But the lack of such full-throated acclamation suggests the balancing act that many candidates are navigating, especially those further to the left of the former president.

Candidates like Senator Kamala Harris, who clashed with Biden on health care during the debate, was quick to cheer Obama afterwards, perhaps to smooth over concerns that she was attacking the ex-president's legacy.

"I have nothing but praise for president Obama," Harris, who is black, told reporters, noting he was the only recent president to achieve major health reforms.

"My proposal is about taking it to the next step," she said, adding that Obama put Americans "on the path where actually this next step is even possible."

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Princess Haya: champion for women's rights

Yahoo – AFP, July 30, 2019

Jordanian royal Princess Haya has long championed causes close to her heart
including youth and education (AFP Photo/Tolga AKMEN)

London (AFP) - An Olympic horse rider and a trailblazer for women's rights, Jordanian royal Princess Haya has long championed causes close to her heart including youth and education.

In a highly unusual move, the half-sister of Jordan's King Abdullah II attended a London court Tuesday where she is locked in a legal battle with her husband the ruler of Dubai.

She applied for a UK forced marriage protection order relating to their children as well as requesting their wardship, in addition to calling for a non-molestation order relating to herself.

The court also heard that her husband Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, has applied to the High Court for the summary return of the children to Dubai.

Haya was reportedly his sixth wife, and the 70-year-old prince is believed to have more than 20 children.

Now aged 45, Haya, the daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan, married her husband in 2004 and told AFP a year later that she believed Emirati women were "an example of a modern Muslim woman".

"In my work and in our family gatherings I have closely been watching women in the Emirates, and I am in great admiration of them... and I never fail to be amazed at the way in which they combine modernity with Arab and Muslim traditions," she said.

"They are proof to me that an Arab woman can be modern without feeling the need to be Westernised."

The princess was appointed a United Nations messenger of peace in 2007, and was the first Arab and first woman to serve as a Goodwill Ambassador for the World Food Programme (2005-2007).

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum married Princess 
Haya bint al-Hussein in 2004 (AFP Photo/KARIM SAHIB)

She has long championed women's rights, telling Emirates Woman magazine in 2016 that: "Women need to realise their strength."

"So many great women before us and among us have suffered greatly to carve a place for us in modern society that is today better than yesterday and will be better yet tomorrow if women are allowed to achieve their potential," she added.

Passion for horses

Speaking of her husband, she professed: "Every day I am amazed by the things he does. Every single day I thank God that I am lucky enough to be close to him."

She told the magazine that she also enjoyed falconry, shooting and fast cars.

But it was her passion for horses and equestrianism, along with poetry, that united Princess Haya with the Dubai prince.

She headed Jordan's equestrian team before her marriage and remains a keen rider -- something which she has in common with the British royal family, with whom she is reportedly close friends.

Haya became one of the first women athletes to represent her country at an international level, winning a bronze medal at the Pan-Arab Equestrian Games in 1992.

"We share a great passion for horses and equestrian affairs, and that was actually one of the main issues we shared in common when we first met," Haya told AFP in 2005.

A file photo taken on September 5, 2018 shows Jordan's Princess Haya 
bint al-Hussein (AFP Photo/Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS)

"As time passed, we soon realised that we also share a passion for poetry and writing as well, for Muslim and Arab history and culture, and for preserving and enhancing our traditions. Much of both of our work is dedicated to this end," she said.

Late last year, Haya also hit the headlines when she invited former UN human rights chief Mary Robinson to meet with Sheikh Mohammed's daughter Latifa, who was captured at sea in March 2018 after trying to flee the UAE.

In a video uploaded to YouTube in March 2018, Latifa, who was then 32, said she was fleeing mistreatment and restrictions imposed by her father's family.

Oxford graduate

Issues relating to youth, as well as health and education, are dear to Haya.

"My work in these sectors is another way to ensure that I am in touch with people at the grassroots level, and this is of utmost importance to me," she said.

Her mother, Queen Alia, was killed in a helicopter crash in February 1977 as she was returning from a visit to a health centre in southern Jordan.

In her mother's memory, Princess Haya set up Tkiyet Um Ali in 2003, the first food aid NGO in the Arab world.

Born and raised in Jordan, Haya was educated in elite British private schools and graduated from St Hilda's College at the University of Oxford with a degree in politics, philosophy and economics.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Report alleges ethical abuses at UN agency for Palestinians

Yahoo – AFP, Joe Dyke, July 29, 2019

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said it is cooperating fully
with the investigation into allegations of mismanagement and abuses of authority
at the highest level of the agency (AFP Photo/MOHAMMED ABED)

Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - An internal ethics report has alleged mismanagement and abuses of authority at the highest levels of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees even as the organisation faced an unprecedented crisis after US funding cuts.

The allegations included in the confidential report by the agency's ethics department are now being scrutinised by UN investigators.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said it is cooperating fully with the investigation and that it cannot comment in detail because the probe is ongoing.

AFP has obtained a copy of the report which describes "credible and corroborated" allegations of serious ethical abuses, including involving UNRWA's top official, Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl.

It says the allegations include senior management engaging in "sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority, for personal gain, to suppress legitimate dissent, and to otherwise achieve their personal objectives."

One senior official named in the report has left the organisation due to "inappropriate behaviour" linked to the investigation, UNRWA said, while another has resigned for what the agency called "personal reasons."

UNRWA said in response to AFP questions that it "is probably among the most scrutinised UN agencies in view of the nature of the conflict and complex and politicised environment it is working in."

"Over the past 18 months, UNRWA has faced immense financial and political pressure, but its entire staff body has steered it, serving 5.4 million Palestine refugees through the most unprecedented financial crisis in its near 70 years of history," it said.

The report was sent to the United Nations secretary general in December and UN investigators have since visited UNRWA's offices in Jerusalem and Amman, collecting information related to the allegations, sources familiar with the matter said.

Krahenbuhl said in a statement to AFP that "if the current investigation... were to present findings that require corrective measures or other management actions, we will not hesitate to take them."


UNRWA was set up in the years after more than 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled their lands during the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel.

It provides vital schooling and medical services to millions of impoverished refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and the Palestinian territories.

It employs around 30,000 people, mostly Palestinians, and its UN mandate is set to be debated later this year.

The report paints a picture of a small number of mostly foreign senior leaders centralising power and influence while disregarding UN checks and balances.

Pierre Krahenbuhl, Commissioner General for the United Nations Relief and 
Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (AFP Photo/THOMAS COEX)

Krahenbuhl himself is alleged to have been romantically involved with a colleague who was appointed in 2015 to a newly created role of senior advisor to the commissioner-general after an "extreme fast-track" process, the report says.

This enabled her to join him on business class flights across the globe, the report claims.

In 2018 the United States suspended and later cut all funding for UNRWA, causing a financial crisis that threatened to see its schools and hospitals closed.

US President Donald Trump's administration, along with Israel, accuses UNRWA of perpetuating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The agency disputes that and says the services it provides would otherwise not be available to Palestinians.

Trump's Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt said Monday that he was "extremely concerned" about allegations against UNRWA and demanded a full UN probe.

"UNRWA's model is broken/unsustainable & based on an endless expanding # of beneficiaries," he wrote on Twitter.

After the crisis began, Krahenbuhl established a fund-raising unit outside of the traditional mechanisms but it "reportedly raised only modest amounts," the report says.

At the same time, it enabled him to continue travelling with his partner, it says.

Separately, a Krahenbuhl deputy is accused of manipulating the system to find a well-paid job for her husband during the 2018 financial crisis.

Her management style is alleged to have included bullying, cutting those she disliked out of decision-making and avoiding checks and balances, it says.

The deputy left UNRWA last Thursday for what the agency said was "personal reasons".

She could not be reached for comment.

Another senior official is described in the report as bullying staff and acting like a "gangster" and a "thug".

UNRWA said the official was recently "separated from the agency as a result of inappropriate behaviour" linked to the investigation.

He could not be reached for comment.

'Warnings ignored'

A senior UNRWA staffer was fired in early July after what she said was several years of trying to raise ethical concerns.

UNRWA said she was "separated" following a different investigation unrelated to the internal report, calling it a "stand-alone case of misconduct".

She claimed she was fired for retaliation and is appealing.

Documents seen by AFP show multiple times she raised concerns over potential mismanagement, including employees allegedly being promoted beyond their qualifications and supposed nepotism.

She told AFP she met directly with Krahenbuhl, but nothing was done.

"Most of the time it felt like working for a private company not the United Nations where we are supposed to comply with strict rules and regulations", she said.