United Nations Declaration (Articles 1 - 30):

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

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

Incoming UN chief names three women to top posts

Incoming UN chief names three women to top posts
Nigerian Minister of the Environment Amina Mohammed, seen in 2015, will be the UN's number two official (AFP Photo/Mireya ACIERTO)

Sustainable Development
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
"The Timing of the Great Shift" – Mar 21, 2009 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Text version)

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

The Declaration of Human Freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pope Francis arrives for historic first US visit

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

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

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

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

Same-sex marriage around the world

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

… The Shift in Human Nature

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

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

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

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

Merkel says Turkey media crackdown 'highly alarming'

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

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Gaza under fire: President urges UN to step in

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Mon, 12/29/2008 6:17 PM 

GIVE IT UP: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono addresses a press conference on Indonesia's stance regarding Israel's air strikes in Gaza. The President announced Monday that the government would send Rp 1 billion (US$90,000) worth of aid, excluding medical aid, to help Palestinian victims. Courtesy of Presidential Office/Abror Rizki

Indonesia has urged the United Nations (UN) to hold a formal meeting for a resolution urging Israel to stop attacking Palestine's Gaza border, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono says. 

The President had sent letters to the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and the UN Security Council, demanding firmer actions to stop the attacks, Yudhoyono said as quoted by Antara state news wire on Monday. 

"We expect the council to hold an official gathering to force Israel to stop its offense," Yudhoyono said after a meeting at the Presidential Palace with Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono,

State Secretary Hatta Radjasa, National Police (TNI) chief Djoko Santosa and Foreign Ministry director general for multilateral affairs Rezlan A. Djanie. 

The council's move to hold an informal meeting and produce a written statement against the attacks was not enough to bring the violence to an end, Yudhoyono said.

"We will send Rp 1 billion (approximately US$ 90,000) worth of aid, excluding medical aid, to help the victims," he said, adding that Indonesia would continue to monitor developments in Israel. (ewd)

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Israel Rejects 48-Hour Cease-Fire Plan

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RI to send RP 2 b in medical aid to Palestine

QUEEN LENDS A HAND: In this photo released by the Jordan Royal Palace, Queen Rania of Jordan donates blood in Amman, Jordan,Tuesday, for Palestinians who were injured in attacks by Israeli air strikes on Gaza.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Eyewitness: Chaos in Gaza

BBC World, December 27, 2008.


The BBC's Rushdi Aboualouf in the Gaza Strip described the chaos as Israeli warplanes fired missiles at Hamas targets, killing at least 155 Palestinians. 

Israeli planes are still flying over Gaza and they have just targeted another Hamas [security]

 compound in the middle of the Gaza Strip, in a place called Khan Younis. 

We can see from our office here in Gaza, in the middle of Gaza City, ambulances are still evacuating the injured from buildings and school kids are trying to find secure places. 

People who were going to their work were turned back and went home, and most of the residents in Gaza have been ordered by the Ministry of Health to stay indoors. 

The mosques in Gaza are calling the people here to go to the hospitals and to donate blood. There is no room in the hospitals as far as we've heard from Hamas sources to treat the people. 

No safe places 

It's a very bad situation... There were Israeli aeroplanes everywhere, hitting everywhere. You could see smoke from north to south, from west to east. The people are really in a panic. The main object for the people now is to find a secure place to secure their family. 

It's hard to find a secure place in Gaza. Gaza has no shelters, it has no safe places. The Hamas security compounds are in the middle of the city - it's not the kind of place where you see compounds outside the cities. 

I have witnessed one of the compounds - which is 20m away from my house - I was standing on the balcony and I have seen the Israeli airplanes hitting the place. 

Some of my balcony was damaged and my kid was injured and it's a very, very serious situation here in Gaza, the people can't do anything except stay indoors.  

Related Articles:

RI to send RP 2 b in medical aid to Palestine

Hamas 'bars injured leaving Gaza'

U.N. urges halt, as Israeli raids continue

RI warns of ‘new tensions’

Israel pounds Gaza for second day, 229 killed

Israeli assault on Hamas kills more than 200 

Ibrahim Barzak and Amy Teibel, The Associated Press, Gaza City, Gaza Strip | Sun, 12/28/2008 8:13 AM 


 VICTIMS OF ISRAEL: A Palestinian security force officer from Hamas reacts as he stands over others that were killed at the site of an Israeli missile strike at the security headquarters in Gaza City on Saturday. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of air strikes Saturday, killing more than 200 people and wounding nearly 400 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in years. (AP/Fadi Adwan)


Friday, December 26, 2008

Israel sends out "last-minute" warning to Hamas

By Adam Entous and Ari Rabinovitch, Fri Dec 26, 2008 2:09am EST  

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Thursday issued a "last-minute" appeal to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to reject their Hamas rulers and stop rocket fire at Israel, warning them he would not hesitate to use force. 

His comments were the clearest indication yet that Israel was preparing a possible Gaza offensive which could result in heavy casualties on both sides and fuel a humanitarian crisis. 

Israeli political sources said Olmert's security cabinet approved a "staged" military escalation, beginning with air strikes against a wider range of Hamas targets in the densely-populated enclave. 

A large-scale operation has yet to be authorized but could get a green light depending on Hamas's response, the sources said. 

In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Israel would "pay the price" for any attack.

Read whole article ...

Related Articles:

U.S. retailers' holiday sales plummet: Spending Pulse

By Ilaina Jonas, Thu Dec 25, 2008 6:36pm EST  

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. retailers' sales fell as much as 4 percent during the holiday season, as the weak economy and bad weather created one of the worst holiday shopping climates in modern times, according to data released on Thursday by SpendingPulse. 

The figures, from the retail data service of MasterCard Advisors, show the 2008 holiday shopping season was the weakest in decades, as U.S. consumers cut spending as they confront a yearlong recession, mounting job losses and tighter credit. 

"It's probably one of the most challenging holiday seasons we've ever had in modern times," said Michael McNamara, vice president of Research and Analysis at MasterCard Advisors. 

"We had a very difficult economic environment. Weather patterns were not favorable toward the end of season, and that resulted in one of the most challenging economic seasons we've seen in decades." 

The figures exclude auto and gas sales but include grocery, restaurant and specialty food sales. Although SpendingPulse did not exempt the food prices, McNamara said the decline would have been steeper without them. 

"There's a lot of food that provide a buffer for the total retail sales numbers," he said. 

SpendingPulse tracks sales activity in the MasterCard Inc payments network and couples that with estimates for all other payment forms, including cash and checks. It has been tracking holiday spending figures since 2002. Exact comparisons beyond that year are difficult because of changes in measurements. 

The holiday shopping season typically runs from the day after U.S. Thanksgiving, which occurs on the fourth Thursday of November, until Christmas Eve. But this year Thanksgiving was a week later than last year. 

To benchmark a comparison, SpendingPulse measured the season from November 1 through December 24. Sales fell 2 percent in November and 4 percent from December 1 through December 24, according to SpendingPulse. 

The holiday sales season can account for up to 40 percent of a retailer's annual revenue. 

Sales at specialty apparel retailers like Gap Inc and Abercrombie & Fitch Co fell 19.7 percent this year, SpendingPulse said. When factoring in department store results, sales fell about 20 percent, McNamara said. 

Women's apparel sales fell 22.7 percent; men's clothing sales were off 14.3 percent, and footwear sales fell 13.5 percent, SpendingPulse said. 

This year, the higher the price, the more consumers did without, SpendingPulse said. Sales at specialty electronics and appliance chains such as Best Buy Co Inc fell 26.7 percent, it said. 

Luxury sales, which include sales at high-end department stores, leather goods boutiques, pricier jewelry stores and restaurants, fell 34.5 percent, SpendingPulse said. Excluding jewelry, sales fell 21.2 percent. 

"There's a much different bonus environment, especially in New York and the financial services industry," McNamara said, of the traditional luxury good customer base. 

"But also, the deteriorating employment figures across multiple industries across the country look like they're having a more significant impact at the higher end," he said. 

Online sales benefited from the bad weather seen in the northern United States within the last two weeks of the season. E-commerce sales ended down 2.3 percent, but rose 1.8 percent in the final two weeks of the holiday season. 

Nearly all retailers -- from department stores such as Macy's Inc and J.C. Penney Co Inc to specialty apparel chains like Aeropostale Inc and AnnTaylor Stores Corp -- offered aggressive discounts this holiday season to lure reticent shoppers. 

SpendingPulse results do not include the post-Christmas spending activity, which has been growing with the popularity of gift cards that are typically redeemed after Christmas and post-holiday sales. 

(Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)  (Reporting by Ilaina Jonas)

Related Article:

Amazon Says '08 Holiday Season Is 'Best Ever'

Japan's industrial output plunges

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Pope Decries Selfishness in Economic Crisis

Pope's Christmas Message Says World Needs Solidarity, Not Selfishness, Amid Economic Meltdown 

ABC News

By FRANCES D'EMILIO AP WriterVATICAN CITY December 25, 2008 

Pope Benedict XVI walks past a statue of Baby Jesus as he celebrates the Christmas Midnight Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican early Thursday, Dec. 25, 2008. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Pope Benedict XVI warned in his Christmas message Thursday that the world was headed toward ruin if selfishness prevails over solidarity during tough economic times for rich and poor nations. 

Speaking from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, Benedict declared that the "heart of the Christian message is meant for all men and women." 

The traditional papal Christmas Day message "Urbi et Orbi" — Latin for "to the City and to the World" — usually covers the globe's hot spots, but this year Benedict also addressed the economic conditions worrying many across the planet amid near-daily news of layoffs, failing companies and people losing homes. 

Benedict said his Christmas message applied to "wherever an increasingly uncertain future is regarded with apprehension, even in affluent nations." 

"In each of these places may the light of Christmas shine forth and encourage all people to do their part in a spirit of authentic solidarity," Benedict said. "If people look only to their own interests, our world will certainly fall apart." 

Wearing a crimson mantle against a damp chill, Benedict told tens of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square that God's saving grace could "alone transform evil into good" and "change human hearts, making them oases of peace." 

Benedict dedicated part of his message to Africa, singling out Zimbabwe, where hunger is spreading and deepening. He said that people there were "trapped for too long in a political and social crisis which, sadly, keeps worsening." 

International pressure has been mounting for longtime Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe to step down, following disputed elections in March. Millions of Zimbabwe's people need food aid, and a cholera epidemic has sharpened problems in a country once considered African's breadbasket. 

Suffering also continues in the war-ravaged region of Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in Darfur, Sudan, the pope added. In Somalia, people are weighed down with "interminable sufferings" as "the tragic consequences of the lack of stability and peace," he said. 

Suffering also continues in the war-ravaged region of Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in Darfur, Sudan, the pope added. In Somalia, people are weighed down with "interminable sufferings" as "the tragic consequences of the lack of stability and peace," he said. 

Benedict spoke of violence and tensions in the Middle East, lamenting that "the horizon seems once again bleak for Israelis and Palestinians." 

He denounced what he called the "twisted logic of conflict and violence" and said he hoped dialogue and negotiation would prevail to find "just and lasting solutions to the conflicts troubling the region."

Iran leader's Christmas message decries bullies

The Jakarta Post

David Stringer, Associated Press, London | Thu, 12/25/2008 2:12 PM  

Iran's president is offering season's greetings to Christians in a British TV address and suggests that if Jesus were alive, he would oppose "bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers" - an apparent reference to the U.S. and its allies. 

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Christmas Day broadcast will be delivered on Britain's Channel 4 television, occupying a slot that provides an often controversial counterpoint to Queen Elizabeth II's traditional annual message, the station said Wednesday. A leading British Jewish group said it was appalled. 

According to a transcript released in advance, Ahmadinejad says most of the world's problems stem from leaders who have turned against religion. The Muslim president doesn't refer to rival nations or leaders by name or mention Israel, despite his past calls to wipe it out. 

"If Christ were on Earth today, undoubtedly he would hoist the banner of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over," Ahmadinejad said, according to the English translation of the Farsi-language speech. The broadcast will air with subtitles. 

The U.S., Britain and others suspect Iran of developing nuclear weapons, while Tehran insists its uranium enrichment program is intended solely for a civilian energy program. 

Ties with Britain were further strained in 2007 when Iran held 15 British sailors and marines prisoner for 13 days. 

The Board of Deputies of British Jews - which represents the Jewish community in the United Kingdom - said the broadcast was offensive. "To invite him to deliver a Christmas message, even a so-called alternative one, fills me with disgust," said the group's president, Henry Grunwald. 

The Israeli ambassador to London condemned the speech as a "bogus message of good will." 

"That (Channel 4) should give an unchallenged platform to the president of a regime which denies the Holocaust, advocates the destruction of the sovereign state of Israel, funds and encourages terrorism, executes children and hangs gay people is a disgrace," Ron Prosor said. "Outrage doesn't begin to explain it." 

British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell echoed the comments, saying the broadcaster was "aiding and abetting a tyrant." 

"This is the equivalent of giving (Zimbabwean ruler) Robert Mugabe a prime-time television slot to promote his propaganda," he said. 

Previous guests of Channel 4's Christmas slot have included the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sharon Osborne and the animated TV character Marge Simpson of "The Simpsons." Last year's message was delivered by Sgt. Maj. Andrew Stockton, a British soldier badly wounded in Afghanistan. 

Dorothy Byrne, Channel 4's head of news and current affairs, said Ahmadinejad was picked because Iran's relations with the West would likely remain a big global issue in 2009. 

"As the leader of one of the most powerful states in the Middle East, President Ahmadinejad's views are enormously influential. As we approach a critical time in international relations, we are offering our viewers an insight into an alternative world view," Byrne said. 

The channel broadcast an interview with Ahmadinejad in September 2007, when he insisted Iran wasn't seeking to develop a nuclear weapon.

Related Article:

Ahmadinejad show 'causes offence'

Did an angel save girl from dying in hospital?

Disabled teen recovered after glowing image appeared on monitor     

By Mike Celizic, TODAYShow.com contributor, updated 10:02 a.m. ET Dec. 23, 2008


Dec. 23: NBC’s Ron Mott tells the story of one mother who believes an angel saved her daughter’s life; the Rev. Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook and Rabbi Irwin Kula discuss their thoughts on whether angels exist. (MSNBC)

A 14-year-old girl with a history of serious health issues lay dying of pneumonia in a hospital room. But as her mother waited for the girl to take her last breath, an image of bright light appeared on a security monitor. Within an hour, the dying girl began a recovery that doctors are at a loss to explain. 

But Colleen Banton, the girl's mother, has an explanation. “This was an image of an angel,” she told NBC News in a story reported Tuesday on TODAY. She credited the apparition with saving the life of her daughter Chelsea. 

No hope

The incident happened in Charlotte, N.C., in September. Chelsea had been born five weeks prematurely with developmental disabilities and had battled serious health problems all her life. She is particularly susceptible to the types of pneumonia infections that had taken her to death’s door. 

Told that there was no hope for Chelsea, Colleen Banton had just instructed doctors to take her daughter off life support and allow nature to take its course when the apparition was seen. 

It would be another two months before Chelsea finally left the hospital to return home, where she is about to celebrate her 15th birthday as well as Christmas. Her mother is convinced that Chelsea was saved by divine intervention. 

“It’s a blessing,” she told NBC News. “It’s a miracle.” 

Banton took a picture of the television monitor on which the image appeared. Some who look at it would describe it as a flare of reflected light. Others — including nurses who were on duty as well as Banton — say the three vertical shafts of light are indisputably an angel. 

‘They walk amongst us’

Banton is hardly alone in her belief in angels. 

“I think angels really do exist,” the Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook told TODAY’s Ann Curry after watching the report on the Bantons’ experience. “They protect us. They walk amongst us.” 

Cook was joined by Rabbi Irwin Kula, who looked at angels as more of a metaphor for the unexplained wonders that life brings. 

The Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook and Rabbi Irwin Kula discuss the existence of angels with TODAY's Ann Curry.

“Albert Einstein said there are two ways to look at the world: as if everything is a miracle or nothing is a miracle,” he said. 

Angels do not play a large role in the Jewish faith, but they have a prominent place in Christianity, which teaches that an angel told Mary that she was to be the mother of Jesus. 

Cook said she believes that angels are messengers from God. “They bring the message of hope,” she told Curry. 

According to some polls, 75 percent of all Americans believe in angels. That level of belief varies with geography and political affiliation, with more Republicans than Democrats and more Southerners than Northeasterners believing in the existence of the heavenly messengers. 

The high level of belief is unique in the developed world. In Canada, Great Britain and Australia, the same polls say, belief in angels does not exceed 40 percent. 

“The real question is: Can we be open to wonder?” the rabbi told Curry. “Even at the very last moment, the very darkest moment, can we actually be open to the new possibilities that are always there?” 

Angels, Kula said, “can be anything.” In that sense, he said, one could say that someone who just shows up when you most need a hand can be seen as a very real angel. 

“You’re having a bad day, and a child comes up to you and smiles and right away you feel better. Is that an angel or is that a child smiling?” Kula said. 

Cook had to wipe away a tear of joy after watching Banton’s story. It is particularly appropriate, she said, coming at the Christmas season during a year in which many people are experiencing economic hardship. 

“People are looking for a miracle right now,” Cook said. 

Some, like Colleen Banton, feel they’ve found one.

Related Articles:

Mom Captures Daughter's Life-Saving Angel in Photograph

Photo Captures Image of 'Angel' in Hospital


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

L’Oreal Heiress Bettencourt Invested With Madoff

By Saijel Kishan and Katherine Burton 

Dec. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Liliane Bettencourt, the world’s wealthiest woman, entrusted part of her $22.9 billion fortune with Bernard Madoff through the fund manager found dead in New York yesterday, two people familiar with the matter said. 

The 86-year-old daughter of L’Oreal SA founder Eugene Schueller was the first investor in a fund managed by Access International Advisors, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because her investment isn’t public. The body of Access co-founder Thierry Magon de La Villehuchet, 65, was found in his Madison Avenue office yesterday. Police said he probably killed himself. 

Bettencourt, a Parisian, joins wealthy individuals from around the world, including Spanish billionaire Alicia Koplowitz, U.S. moviemaker Steven Spielberg and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, among victims of what Madoff, 70, told investigators was a $50 billion Ponzi scheme. 

“More high-profile names who have been victimized by Madoff will start to become known now,” said Ron Geffner, who represents hedge funds at the New York-based law firm Sadis & Goldberg LLP. “There’s a strong sense of anguish, fear and distrust.” 

Hedwige Sautereau, in charge of cultural patronage at the Fondation Bettencourt Schueller, the foundation Bettencourt started in the Parisian suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, wasn’t available to comment, according to an assistant. Bettencourt ranked 17th on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people in 2008, the highest-ranking woman. Access, which oversaw $3 billion, raised money mainly from wealthy European investors. 

‘Extensive’ Due Diligence 

Access said in a Dec. 12 letter to clients that funds including its LUXALPHA SICAV-American Selection invested solely with Madoff’s eponymous investment firm. The fund had $1.4 billion in assets as of Nov. 17, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. 

Access says it carries out “extensive” due diligence on the funds to which it allocates money, a process that can take as long as six months and cost $100,000. It also hires private investigators to run “extensive background checks” on fund managers, including searches on professional credentials, regulatory filings and bankruptcy, according to marketing documents dated September. 

New York police are working on the assumption that de La Villehuchet’s death was a suicide, Commissioner Raymond Kelly said yesterday. The fund manager was found “with his feet propped up on his desk, a trash pail nearby to collect blood,” and no sign of a second person, Kelly said in the interview. 

Body at Desk 

He had cuts made by a box-cutter in the area of his biceps and his wrist, and pills were found nearby, Kelly said at a news conference. No suicide note was found. His body was found at his desk early yesterday morning by a security guard who had been called by an employee unable to enter the office, Kelly said. 

Villehuchet founded Access in 1994 with Patrick Littaye. One of the firm’s partners was Philippe Junot, according to the marketing documents. Junot is the former husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco. Prince Michel of Yugoslavia is an investor relations executive, according to the documents. 

Prior to Access, De La Villehuchet was chairman and CEO of Credit Lyonnais Securities USA, the U.S. investment banking arm of the French bank. He had joined Credit Lyonnais in 1987, and before that ran Interfinance, an international broker firm specializing in French, Belgian and Italian stock markets that he founded in 1983. He worked at Banque Paribas from 1970 to 1983. 

Access, which had 26 employees, said in a statement on Dec. 12 it was working with lawyers to assess its exposure to Madoff. UBS AG, LUXALPHA’s administrator until this year, is no longer involved with it, said Karina Byrne, a UBS spokeswoman. 

De La Villehuchet’s death comes as lawsuits mount in connection with investors victimized by Madoff. Fairfield Greenwich Group, a hedge-fund firm that had $7.5 billion invested with Madoff, has been sued for allegedly failing to protect its clients’ assets. Madoff was arrested on Dec. 11 and is now under house arrest at his apartment in New York. 

To contact the reporters on this story: Saijel Kishan in New York at skishan@bloomberg.net; Katherine Burton in New York at kburton@bloomberg.net

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Monday, December 22, 2008


The Jakarta Post   |  Thu, 12/25/2008 6:16 PM

Hati Kudus congregation members in Banda Aceh, Nangroe Aceh Darussalam, hold candles and sing Christmas carols Thursday. Christians in Aceh live peacefully in the only province in the country to develop province-wide regulations that align with sharia guidelines. (JP/Hotli Simanjuntak)


The Jakarta Post     |  Mon, 12/22/2008 7:44 PM  

VEILED SOLDIERS: Women soldiers line up during the 52nd anniversary of the Iskandar Muda military battalion in Banda Aceh on Monday. Under Aceh's local sharia-based ordinance, all women including soldiers, are required to wear veils in public. JP/Hotli Simanjuntak

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Milan poor to get seized caviar

BBC World

Beluga caviar seized by Italian customs officers is to be distributed to poor people in Milan as a Christmas gift. 

About 40kg (88lb) of caviar was confiscated in November after two couriers travelling from Poland were stopped with the hidden cargo. 

The 40kg of caviar was seized from two couriers

Newspaper Corriere Della Sera says the caviar had an estimated value of $550,000 (£370,000). 

Tests showed the caviar to be edible, so it is to be given to canteens, hospices and shelters for the poor. 

Beluga caviar is the most expensive variety of the delicacy. 

Countries have tried to crack down on illegal trading of caviar after more than 600 tonnes of it were traded in the EU between 1998 and 2004. 

However, last year the United Nations lifted a ban imposed in 2006 on beluga caviar exports after Caspian Sea states agreed to limit catches of the fish from which it is taken. 

The ban was implemented because the sturgeon was fast disappearing from the Caspian, the source of about 90% of world caviar.

Athens sees more violent clashes

BBC World

Greek police have again clashed with demonstrators in Athens, two weeks after the fatal shooting of a teenager by police sparked nationwide unrest. 

The violence followed a memorial gathering at the site where Alexandros Grigoropoulos died on 6 December.

Groups of demonstrators threw rocks and petrol bombs at police, who responded with volleys of tear gas.

Protests in Athens and other cities in the past fortnight over the police killing have often turned violent. 

Greece's worst unrest in decades is fuelled by anger at high youth unemployment and unpopular government reforms. 

The protests have caused hundreds of millions of euros in damage, rocking a conservative government that has a one-seat majority and trails the opposition in polls. 

Tree attacked 

The protesters in Athens are using the National Technical University of Athens - known as the Polytechnic - as a base. 

It is located near the central Athens neighbourhood of Exarchia where 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropolous was killed. 

Security forces are not allowed on the grounds of the Polytechnic without permission from the university's administrators. No such authorisation has been given. 

A group of youths attacked the Christmas tree in Syntagma Square in central Athens, tossing rubbish at it and attempting to set it on fire. 

Riot police ringed the tree, which itself was a replacement for one burnt down at the height of the rioting, on 8 December. 

The policeman accused of shooting Alexandros Grigoropoulos has been charged with murder. 

Conservative Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has rejected calls to step down, despite growing public pressure. 

But he has acknowledged that "long-unresolved problems, such as the lack of meritocracy, corruption in everyday life and a sense of social injustice" are fuelling the anger of young people.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


The Jakarta Post, Fri, 12/19/2008 4:33 PM  


Soldiers of Indonesian Special Forces Commandos take part in a show of force ahead of a major anti-terror in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday. Thousands of personnel will be involved in the drill which will be held on Sunday ahead of Christmas holiday in the wake of Mumbai attacks. (AP/Irwin Fedriansyah)

Military, police stage massive anti-terrorism drill 

The Associated Press, Jakarta | Sun, 12/21/2008 2:48 PM  

Indonesian security forces stormed airports, glitzy hotels, passenger ships and the Jakarta Stock Exchange building Sunday in a massive anti-terrorism drill in the world's most populous Muslim nation. 

About 7,000 police, soldiers and emergency-response workers were taking part in the exercise held in six major cities, including the capital, Jakarta, and on the popular resort island of Bali. 

Indonesia has been hit by a string of deadly suicide bombings targeting Westerners in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. However, experts say the risk of more large-scale attacks has diminished with the arrest of hundreds of suspects. 

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said, however, last month's militant rampage in the Indian city of Mumbai that left 164 dead highlighted the need to remain alert. 

Indonesian television broadcast live footage of black-clad counterterrorism forces dropping by helicopter onto the roof of the 5-star Borobudur Hotel before blasting through windows to release screaming hostages, leaving a trail of shattered glass. 

In another scenario at a local airport, mock-terrorists seized an airplane carrying the president, killing the pilot and dumping the body onto the tarmac. After a 90-minute standoff, security forces overpowered the ransom-demanding militants. 

Similar drills were held on Bali, which has suffered suicide bombings in 2002 and 2005 that killed more than 220 people, many of them foreign tourists. 

Security forces also stormed a ship in the Strait of Malacca, among the world's busiest shipping lanes, in a bid to free hundreds of passengers seized in another mock-raid. 

"The important thing we have to underline is the coordination and cooperation between the police and armed forces," said Widodo Adisucipto, coordinating minister for security. "We will evaluate to see what has to be improved more." 

Members and associates of regional militant group Jemaah Islamiyah have been blamed for all of the recent suicide bombings in Indonesia, as well as a number of failed terrorism plots in Southeast Asia. 

The group had ties with al-Qaida and other foreign extremists before 2002, but most experts believe the links have since been broken. 

The last major attack in Indonesia occurred three years ago.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Shocking study finds most will torture if ordered

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor, Fri Dec 19, 2008 2:26am EST  

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some things never change. Scientists said on Friday they had replicated an experiment in which people obediently delivered painful shocks to others if encouraged to do so by authority figures. 

Seventy percent of volunteers continued to administer electrical shocks -- or at least they believed they were doing so -- even after an actor claimed they were painful, Jerry Burger of Santa Clara University in California found. 

"What we found is validation of the same argument -- if you put people into certain situations, they will act in surprising, and maybe often even disturbing, ways," Burger said in a telephone interview. "This research is still relevant." 

Burger was replicating an experiment published in 1961 by Yale University professor Stanley Milgram, in which volunteers were asked to deliver electric "shocks" to other people if they answered certain questions incorrectly. 

Milgram found that, after hearing an actor cry out in pain at 150 volts, 82.5 percent of participants continued administering shocks, most to the maximum 450 volts. 

The experiment surprised psychologists and no one has tried to replicate it because of the distress suffered by many of the volunteers who believed they were shocking another person. 

"When you hear the man scream and say, 'let me out, I can't stand it,' that is the point when the real stress that people criticized Milgram for kicked in," Burger said. 

"It was a very, very, very stressful experience for many of the participants. That is the reason no one can ethically replicate the experiment today." 


Burger modified the experiment, by stopping at the 150 volt point for the 29 men and 41 women in his experiment. He measured how many of his volunteers began to deliver another shock when prompted by the experiment's leader -- but instead of letting them do so, stopped them. 

In Milgram's original experiment, 150 volts seemed to be the turning point. 

In Burger's modified experiment, 70 percent of the volunteers were willing to give shocks greater than 150 volts. 

At one point, researchers brought in a volunteer who knew what was going on and refused to administer shocks beyond 150 volts. Despite the example, 63 percent of the participants continued administering shocks past 150 volts. 

"That was surprising and disappointing," Burger said. 

Burger found no differences among his volunteers, aged 20 to 81, and carefully screened them to be average representatives of the U.S. public. 

Burger said the experiment, published in the American Psychologist, can only partly explain the widely reported prisoner abuse at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq or events during World War Two. 

"Although one must be cautious when making the leap from laboratory studies to complex social behaviors such as genocide, understanding the social psychological factors that contribute to people acting in unexpected and unsettling ways is important," he wrote. 

"It is not that there is something wrong with the people," Burger said. "The idea has been somehow there was this characteristic that people had back in the early 1960s that they were somehow more prone to obedience." 

(Editing by Stacey Joyce)

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