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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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Social Forum activists see opportunity in crisis

Bradley Brooks, The Jakarta Post,  Belem, Brazil | Thu, 01/29/2009 2:31 PM   

 Social forum: Indians gather during a meeting to discuss rights of indigenous peoples at the World Social Forum, in Belem, Brazil, on Wednesday. The World Social Forum, the annual countercultural gathering to protest the simultaneous World Economic Forum in Switzerland, is taking place until Feb. 1. AP/ Andre Penner

Activists at the World Social Forum said Wednesday the global financial crisis is opening a window for their calls for an alternative to capitalism to be heard, though their preferred alternative remains hazy. 

Under a brutal sun made even hotter by the humid Amazon air, Tran Dac Loi of Vietnam said the meltdown proves that rich nations and powerful corporations do not have all the answers. 

"The crisis shows the deadlock in this capitalist model of development, a purely profit-driven system that benefits only a few," said Tran, vice president of the Vietnam Peace and Development Foundation. "It is time to search for alternative ways of development that put human beings at the center." 

There seemed to be little outright gloating among the roughly 100,000 people at the Social Forum, held annually since 2001 to counter the World Economic Forum that opened this week in Davos, Switzerland. 

Yet activists said the crisis makes more people open to their criticism of pure global capitalism. 

"People are tired of listening to us, tired of listening to the left's complaints, but now they have to hear us," said Ellen Pereira Carvalho, an 18-year-old Brazilian handing out fliers at the kiosk for the Movement for Direct Democracy. 

"I'm just a young student," she added, as Indians played traditional music on a large stage at a local university. "I may not have the answers, but at least I am looking. I think the crisis, though, is making more people sensitive to our message." 

Thursday will see the presidents of Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador meet at the forum - the first time so many leaders will be in attendance - an indication, organizers said, of the forum's newfound importance. 

Some acknowledged, however, a frequent criticism of the Social Forum: that there is no cohesive message, that attendees complain about problems and allege conspiracies while offering few concrete fixes. 

"All of us who work on social justice are great at identifying problems, but at finding the solutions, we need to work a little harder," said Priiti Darooka of New Delhi, executive director of the India-based Program on Women's Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. 

The contrast of the jungle heat and hippie fashion at Belem with the cold wind, snowy peaks and business suits at Davos mirrored the ideological gulf between the two gatherings. 

"The systems formulated in Davos are collapsing, disintegrating and beginning to rot. So there has been this clearing away, this brush fire within the financial system that has been built over the last 100 years," said Tony Kenny, an artist from Dublin, Ireland.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Top companies join poverty fight

By Tim Weber, Business editor, BBC News website, in Davos 

A Queen, a president, a prime minister, a business leader, a rockstar unite

Some of the world largest firms will join a "public-private partnership" to help the United Nations achieve its Millennium Development Goals. 

They called on all companies to help the "bottom one billion people" living on less than one dollar a day. 

Companies can pledge their specific contribution at a London summit in May, said UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. 

However, campaigner and rockstar Bono warned that pledges would not be enough and that a binding contract was needed. 

"Then the world can get a good lawyer and haul us to court if we fail," he said.

Bono says society has to push governments and business to act

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr Brown said "we need to tell the truth, there is a development emergency". On current trends, the UN's health goals would not be hit in 2015, but in 2050, and the education goals in 2115. 

"We can't tell the world's children that they have to wait another century for our action," Mr Brown said. 

Delivering on benchmarks 

The forum's founder, Professor Klaus Schwab, said that so far the world had committed only 30% of the effort required to meet the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals. 

One of the drivers of the initiative, outgoing Microsoft boss Bill Gates, said it was important to get business on board, because companies knew about benchmarks and how to deliver them. 

Cisco chief executive John Chambers said that unlike previous initiatives, this time business would "make a difference, because through collaboration firms can achieve what we can not accomplish ourselves". 

Mr Brown and Mr Gates explained that the May summit would allow companies to say in detail, how they and their expertise could help specific Millennium goals, for example food firms helping to fight global hunger. 

They would then be matched up with UN agencies and non-government organisations. One or two firms would take the lead in each sector, and would then present an action plan at a UN summit in September.. 

Mr Brown said the EU summit in June and the G8 summit in July would also discuss how they could contribute to make this initiative a success. 

'Preening rockstar' 

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described Bono as a "force of nature", but the poverty campaigner said it would take more than a "preening rockstar" to make a difference in the world. 

Praising the UK for its contribution to achieving the UN development goals, he said that this had been possible because of a "social movement" that had forced development issues high up on the political agenda. 

He said he put his faith into social movements achieving the same in other countries.

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FM entertains foreign diplomats with wayang puppet show

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda entertained 60 foreign ambassadors with a traditional Javanese puppet show and dance performances after delivering his Annual Foreign Statement here on Thursday. 

Wirajuda said stories in the puppet show, known as Wayang, represented the constant battle between good and evil in contemporary life. He encouraged the audience to understand and identify the issues and apply them within the context of their profession as diplomats. 

"The conflicts and uncertainty surrounding us only cause misery and suffering in the life of innocent civilians. It seems today that the strong can destroy anything when they think it is necessary without feeling the consequences," Wirajuda said. 

"The Gaza Strip has put a dark cloud over our world as more than a thousand innocent civilians have been killed and more than five thousand wounded in three weeks of war. Yet, the rest of the world has only remained spectators," he said during an interval of the Wayang show. 

The performance was part of the Penjambon Coffee Morning, the fourth event organised by the Foreign Minister and attended by a number of foreign ambassadors. 

In the Annual Foreign Statement, Wirajuda said Indonesia would continue to play a role in the world order based on independence and always strive for the creation of a peaceful but just world order. 

He said that while many countries, including Indonesia, were facing the multi-dimensional crisis of climate change, energy shortages, food and financial crises, Indonesia would work hard to cope with the crisis.

Related Article:

Peace through culture

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama takes historic spot as first black president

The Jakarta Post, Washington | Wed, 01/21/2009 10:37 AM 

Dancing queen: President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama dance at the Commander in Chief Inaugural Ball at the National Building Museum in Washington, Tuesday. AP/Charles Dharapak

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pope gives Obama his blessing

The Jakarta Post, The Associated Press, Vatican City | Tue, 01/20/2009 9:28 PM  

Pope Benedict XVI is giving Barack Obama his blessing and prayers as the American becomes president. 

The Vatican released the text of a telegram Benedict sent Obama a few hours before the presidential swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday. 

In the telegram, the pope told Obama he was praying that God would grant him "unfailing wisdom and strength" in carrying out his responsibilities. Benedict also urged Obama to stick to his resolve in promoting understanding and peace among peoples. 

The pontiff also expressed hope Obama's leadership would help Americans use ethical principles and spiritual values in building a just society. 

Benedict said attention must be paid to the poor, the outcast, the hungry and "those who have no voice."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Israel: Shelling of U.N. complex 'a grave mistake'

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday that the shelling of a U.N. relief agency's compound in Gaza City was "a grave mistake," the U.N. chief said. 

"I conveyed my strong protest and outrage to the defense minister and the foreign minister and demanded a full explanation," Ban said at a news conference in Tel Aviv, Israel. 

He added that Barak took the matter "very seriously." 

Ban said he called Barak, before meeting with him later in the day, to ask him to explain the shelling of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency compound. 

The UNRWA headquarters was hit repeatedly by shrapnel and artillery during clashes Thursday morning, UNRWA Director John Ging said. Three workers were hurt, and the compound's warehouse and workshop were burning out of control within an hour and a half, he said.  Watch as fire blazes at U.N. compound » 

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said it was "not clear whose shells, whose fire hit the U.N. facility." 

"It could have been ours , it could have been Hamas'," Regev said. "This is being investigated." 

"It's a very big fire, and we're not able to get it under control at the moment," Ging said. With gunbattles going on around the facility, "the emergency services are not able to get to us." 

He said staffers identified the source of the fires as white phosphorous shells, whose use is restricted under international law. 

The U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of using white phosphorous shells in Gaza during its campaign against Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that has ruled Gaza since 2007. 

The Israel Defense Forces initially denied using the ordnance. But by Monday, Israeli officials said only that any shells fired in Gaza "are in accordance with international law."

The private relief agency CARE announced Thursday it was canceling its distribution of food and medical aid to the territory while the fighting continues. Read an aid worker's diary 

The Foreign Press Association said international news agency offices in Gaza City were hit by Israeli fire Thursday and demanded Israel stop shooting at the building that houses them. 

UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness urged both Israel and Hamas, which has been firing rockets into southern Israel, to heed the "conscience of the world" and comply with a U.N. resolution calling for a cease-fire. 

But he added: "I'm standing looking over the town of Beit Hanoun, and with every dull thud and every plume of smoke that comes out of there, it's sad to say that the parties on the ground are not listening." 

Ban's presence appeared to do little to advance diplomatic efforts to end the conflict, and Arab nations remain divided on their stances toward Hamas. 

Israeli aircraft struck 70 targets in Gaza overnight, the Israel Defense Forces reported Thursday, while fighting on the ground left 11 Israeli troops wounded. The military said about 35 armed Palestinian fighters were wounded or killed in those clashes, mostly by airstrikes.  Watch as civilians suffer most » 

At least 10 rockets or mortar shells struck Israeli territory Thursday, the IDF reported. 

More than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 5,000 wounded since the conflict began, Palestinian officials said Wednesday. Israel said 10 of its soldiers and three civilians have been killed and more than 100 soldiers have been wounded. 

The Israeli military said it planned to let 170 trucks through the border Thursday to deliver food and medical supplies, and announced the appointment of an army officer, Brig. Gen. Shimi Daniel, to coordinate humanitarian efforts.

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Indonesia upgraded to 'free' country by US agency

Ary Hermawan, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Wed, 01/14/2009 3:40 PM  

Indonesia, which became Southeast Asia's largest democracy when President Soeharto was ousted in 1998, maintained its status as a free country in 2008, according to a report released by a US-based international rights agency. 

Freedom House, which measures civil and political freedom in each country to determine whether the world has become more democratic, painted Indonesia green on its 2009 edition of the Map of Freedom, released Tuesday. The color indicates that Indonesia is listed among "free" countries. 

The agency upgraded the status of the world' most populous Muslim majority nation fromto "free" in its 2006 report, due in large part to the previous elections, which were generally considered successful. Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines are still listed as only "partly-free," making Indonesia the only free country in Southeast Asia. 

The agency has published the overview of the report on its website but has not yet added details to each country and thus the explanation for why Indonesia successfully maintained its position is not yet available. As of now it is unknown whether Indonesia's press freedom, which was marked yellow or "partly free" last year, has improved. 

Indonesian rights activist Poengky Indarti, from Imparsial, questioned the Fredom House's conclusion, saying that the country suffered significant setbacks last year.did not see freedom in 2008," she said, citing a number of cases where journalists, authors and anti-graft activists were arrested for defamation. 

She added that in addition to the controversial pornography bill passed last year, the government was still deliberating on a number of bills, such as the state secrecy bill and the public information bill, which are considered inimical to freedom. 

Meanwhile, Reuters reported from Taipei, where the report was released, that political freedoms in general declined around the world for a third straight year in 2008. Russia and Greece were marked down because of political incidents and Iraq and Malaysia went up because of increased pluralism. The increased momentum of Malaysia's opposition in national elections was also cited. 

Russia, docked for elections that were described as, "neither free nor fair," and neighboring Russian-influenced countries that stifled dissent following peaceful anti-authoritarian revolutions, led the downward trend, Freedom House said. 

Greece's position sank because of nation-wide riots in December and the government's "inability" to control them, the group said. 

But Iraq, despite years of turmoil following a US-led war, moved up the chart because of security improvements and the increased participation of Sunni Muslims in national politics. 

Freedom House presented the report in Taipei because it sees Taiwan as a free area in Asia where it wants to make an impact, its local organizer said. 

The world's 89 "free" countries or regions outnumbered the 42 listed aslast year, but political rights and civil liberties declined overall largely because governments worldwide mimicked European anti-authoritarian "color revolutions" that reversed course and squelched democracy, Freedom House said. 

"Although setbacks in 2008 did not represent substantial declines for most countries, they were numerous and affected most regions," the group's statement said, citing 34 declines and 14 improvements. 

The financial crisis threatens political rights and liberties this year in places without "democratic institutions" and "safety valves" to ease any ensuing conflicts, said Freedom House's Christopher Walker.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


The Jakarta Post, Wed, 01/07/2009 8:58 PM 

A Palestinian woman from the El Deeb family, who had ten relatives killed near a United Nations school Tuesday, weeps during their funeral in the Jebaliya refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip, Wednesday. 

Israel's military paused its Gaza offensive for three hours Wednesday to allow food and fuel to reach besieged Palestinians, and the country's leaders debated whether to accept an international cease-fire plan or expand the assault against Hamas. 

With criticism rising of the operation's spiraling civilian death toll and Gazans increasingly suffering the effects of nonstop airstrikes and shelling, Israel's military said it opened "humanitarian corridors" to allow aid supplies to reach Palestinians.(AP/Hatem Moussa)

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President Yudhoyono says Indonesian press among freest in Asia

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - In President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono`s view, the press in Indonesia is one of the freest in Asia, presidential spokesman Andi Malarangeng said here on Tuesday. 

"According to the president, the press is one of the pillars of democracy, and Indonesia can pride itself in the fact that its press is among the freest in Asia," Mallarangeng said after accompanying the president at a meeting with top executives of the Globe Media Group at the presidential office here on Tuesday. 

Quoting the president, Mallarangeng said unlike other Asian countries, Indonesia now no longer had any rules restricting freedom of the press. 

Therefore the president expressed hope that the Indonesian press would be a benchmark in the Asian region. 

President Yudhoyono had also said that news reports in Indonesia were no longer censored and therefore the press had become freer and fairer in providing information to develop the nation`s mentality. 

The president, according to Mallarangeng, supported the existence of independent media that enlightened the people. 

He said the president also welcomed the new emerging media in Indonesia as an industry that created job opportunities for the people. 

"It is not correct to categorize the press in Indonesia as a `sunset industry`. Indonesia is an `emerging country`, a developing country with a developing media industry," Mallarangeng said citing the president. 

Meanwhile, Jakarta Globe manager Sigit Pramono said that at his meeting with President Yudhoyono, he had reported about the Globe Media Group`s activities, including the recent launching of an English-language daily called The Jakarta Globe. 

Sigit said it was the Globe Media Group`s hope that the The Jakarta Globe would be a medium to make Indonesia better known to English-speaking readers.

Related Article:

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Spurt of Quake Activity Raises Fears in Yellowstone

By PAT DAWSON / BILLINGS, Time/CNN,  Thursday, Jan. 01, 2009 

The Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park flows past other geysers, including Old Faithful, part of the Yellowstone Caldera (Jose Azel/Aurora/Getty

We who live along Montana's Yellowstone River are downstream from a simmering caldera, a geologic hot spot that has become especially active recently. Indeed, Yellowstone National Park contains the floor of a gigantic volcanic cauldron, one that rises and sinks with the forces that lie beneath — hence the picturesque geysers and steam holes. But a wave of recent earthquake activity is raising fears that have their origins 642,000 years ago, when a Yellowstone "supervolcano" exploded so violently that it created the caldera itself. Today, such an explosion — 1,000 times more powerful than the explosion of Mount St. Helens in 1980 — would not only cover most of the U.S. with ash but also throw so much dust into the atmosphere that the world's climate could change. 

Could the current activity be the warning signs of another such apocalypse? Or just a large but not world-ending earthquake, like the 7.5-magnitude temblor that happened on a summer night in 1959 and caused a mountain to slide down into a campground, killing 28 people and damming the Madison River? 

Last week, geologists at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) announced they had recorded a "notable swarm of earthquakes under way since Dec. 26 beneath Yellowstone Lake." The strongest tremor among the hundreds in the past week measured 3.9 on Dec. 27; most of the readings above 2.8 were felt by park employees and visitors around the lake area. The activity relaxed in magnitude early this week but then flexed upward again to top 3.0 by early New Year's Eve. "This December 2008 earthquake sequence is the most intense in this area for some years," YVO reported, "and is centered on the east side of the Yellowstone Caldera," the ancient collapsed volcano beneath Yellowstone Lake. The scientists said they cannot immediately "identify any causative fault or other feature without further analysis." (See a gallery of recent volcanic eruptions.

This activity could have a whole range of consequences. In a study released last year, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said possible hazards could include hydrothermal explosions, when steam breaks through the surface and forms a crater. That has happened 26 times in the park's 127 years of record-keeping. The USGS discounted chances for cataclysmic eruption of the caldera, noting that the hot, active magma chamber below Yellowstone has turned into "largely crystallized mush." But the same study also said: "Depending on the nature and magnitude of a particular hazardous event and the particular time and season when it might occur, 70,000 to more than 100,000 persons could be affected; the most violent events could affect a broader region or even continent-wide areas." 

Jake Lowenstern, Ph.D., YVO's chief scientist, who also is part of the USGS Volcano Hazards Team, told TIME that a supervolcano event does not appear to be imminent. "We don't think the amount of magma exists that would create one of these large eruptions of the past," he said. "It is still possible to have a volcanic eruption comparable to other volcanoes. But we would expect to see more and larger quakes, deformation and precursory explosions out of the lake. We don't believe that anything strange is happening right now." Last summer YVO installed new instrumentation in boreholes 500 to 600 ft. deep to better detect ground deformation. Says Lowenstern: "We have a lot more ability to look at all the data now." (See an interactive graphic depicting how scientists monitor volcanoes.

The Yellowstone Caldera — formed by the massive upheaval 642,000 years ago that spread airborne debris all the way to the Gulf of Mexico — is nowhere close to being extinct. Areas of the park's topography inflate like a bellows because of magma infusing into volcanic chambers about 6 miles below the surface. About 1,000 to 2,000 tremors a year (mostly small) have been recorded since 2004, when interpretation of satellite imagery with GPS readings indicated the caldera had been rising as much as 3 in. a year. The past week's number of tremors — about 400 — is considered unusual. 

The 1991 explosion of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines was the largest eruption in recent memory, and its effects on the atmosphere are still being measured. The 1883 eruption of Indonesia's Krakatoa led to a global cooling and the deadly winter of 1886-87 that wiped out the short-lived open-range cattle bonanza of Montana Territory. In 2000, Ken Wohletz, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, postulated that an even bigger Krakatoa eruption in 6th century A.D. may have sent a tall plume of vaporized seawater into the atmosphere, causing the formation of stratospheric ice clouds with superfine hydrovolcanic ash, which literally cast a pall over much of the world at the beginning of what became known as the Dark Ages. 

YVO's alert code for the Yellowstone Caldera stands at green, but if it ever elevates to yellow or red based on seismic readings, Lowenstern says, "Ultimately it's my responsibility to put out alerts. The National Park Service and local officials would be responsible for civil defense measures and evacuation plans. For now, life goes on. The system is generally automated, and a seismologist at the University of Utah is on call to make sure it's a real event should it be anything unusual." 

This time of year, Yellowstone is a land of dramatic fire-and-ice contrasts, with hissing, boiling water heated in chambers far below shooting out clouds of steam over a subzero, snowy alpine landscape, where bison and elk find warm patches of open ground to browse. We who live here, it has been said, do so at the mercy of geology. In much of the West, with its long seismic faults and Yellowstone-centered hot spots, it is for humans a sublimely tenuous coexistence with the earth's fickle tectonic temperaments.

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Global Warming Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

By James R. Lee, The Washington Post, Sunday, January 4, 2009 

The Cold War shaped world politics for half a century. But global warming may shape the patterns of global conflict for much longer than that -- and help spark clashes that will be, in every sense of the word, hot wars. 

We're used to thinking of climate change as an environmental problem, not a military one, but it's long past time to alter that mindset. Climate change may mean changes in Western lifestyles, but in some parts of the world, it will mean far more. Living in Washington, I may respond to global warming by buying a Prius, planting a tree or lowering my thermostat. But elsewhere, people will respond to climate change by building bomb shelters and buying guns. 

"There is every reason to believe that as the 21st century unfolds, the security story will be bound together with climate change," warns John Ashton, a veteran diplomat who is now the United Kingdom's first special envoy on climate change. "The last time the world faced a challenge this complex was during the Cold War. Yet the stakes this time are even higher because the enemy now is ourselves, the choices we make." 

Defense experts have also started to see the link between climate change and conflict. A 2007 CNA Corp. report, supervised by a dozen retired admirals and generals, warned that climate change could lead to political unrest in numerous badly hit countries, then perhaps to outright bloodshed and battle. One key factor that could stoke these tensions is massive migration as people flee increasingly uninhabitable areas, which would lead to border tensions, greater demands for rescue and evacuation services and disputes over essential resources. With these threats looming, the U.N. Security Council held a precedent-setting debate on climate change in April 2007 -- explicitly casting global warming as a national security issue. 

Global warming could lead to warfare in three different ways.

Read the whole article ...

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Friday, January 2, 2009

Asia’s Economic Slump Deepens as Manufacturing, Exports Shrink

By Shamim Adam, Bloomberg 

Jan. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Singapore said its economy may shrink more than previously forecast in 2009, foreshadowing a deepening slump throughout the region as exports and manufacturing contracted further in China, South Korea and Australia. 

China’s manufacturing declined for a fifth month in December, South Korea’s exports fell by more than 15 percent for a second month, and Australian manufacturing shrank, reports today showed. Singapore’s economy may contract as much as 2 percent this year, worse than a November prediction, the government said today. 

“Asia is facing a growth shock with indicators suggesting the contraction will be as sharp as during the depth of the Asian financial crisis,” said Frederic Neumann, an economist at HSBC Holdings Plc in Hong Kong. “There will be more fiscal pump-priming and monetary-policy loosening forthcoming over the next three to four months.” 

Public spending packages and interest-rate cuts by governments and central banks around the world have failed to reverse a worldwide economic slump and the worst credit crunch in seven decades. Asia’s export-driven economies are slowing as demand for their products diminishes amid recessions in the U.S., Japan and Europe. 

Overseas shipments by India are also falling, and Vietnam this week said its 2008 economic expansion was the weakest in nine years. Among Southeast Asia’s three biggest economies, Thailand says it’s at risk of falling into a recession this quarter, while Indonesia and Malaysia expect growth this year to be the slowest since 2001. 

‘Tough Time’ 

The World Bank last month predicted international trade will shrink in 2009 for the first time in more than 25 years. Exports account for about 32 percent of Asia’s gross domestic product, according to the World Bank. Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand are already in recession. 

Singapore’s recession this year may be the worst in its 43- year history, Citigroup Inc. economist Kit Wei Zheng wrote in a note today. 

“It’s going to be a tough time across Asia,” said Alvin Liew, an economist at Standard Chartered Plc in Singapore. “We don’t see any bright spots in the Singapore economy, especially in the first half.” 

Singapore’s Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd. and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., two of the world’s three largest custom-chipmakers, last month lowered their earnings projections amid delayed orders and a slump in demand. 

In South Korea, President Lee Myung Bak today pledged to help bring down interest rates amid concern the economy may enter its first recession since 1998 by June as exports slow and consumer spending weakens. Overseas shipments fell 17.4 percent in December, after a 19 percent decline the month before. 

Worst to Come 

“We won’t waste a minute or a second in examining economic conditions every day and coming up with measures,” Lee said. “Most of all, we have to ensure money flow in the markets.” 

The worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression in the 1930s will deteriorate further, New York University Professor Nouriel Roubini wrote in a commentary published on Bloomberg News yesterday. 

“The entire global economy will contract in a severe and protracted U-shaped global recession that started a year ago,” Roubini said. “A hard landing for emerging-market economies may also be at hand.” 

In China, where manufacturers in industries from metals to toys are reducing production or closing down, Roubini predicted growth will slow to 5 percent or less this year, and said India will face a “sharp slowdown.” 

Government Help 

Still, HSBC’s Neumann forecasts a rebound in Asian growth in the second half of 2009 as government spending boosts domestic consumption. 

China in November unveiled a 4 trillion-yuan ($586 billion) economic stimulus plan, while South Korea revealed a 14 trillion-won ($11 billion) package of extra spending and corporate tax breaks, adding to almost $20 billion in income-tax reductions announced in September. Malaysia’s government on Nov. 4 unveiled public projects valued at 7 billion ringgit ($2 billion) to spur growth. 

“Governments across the region have promised a very significant fiscal stimulus,” Neumann said. “We believe that Asia will be able to generate enough domestic demand to lead a recovery in growth.” 

To contact the reporter on this story: Shamim Adam in Singapore at sadam2@bloomberg.net

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Global new year festivities begin

Celebrations are beginning around the world to mark the end of 2008 and usher in the new year.

BBC News, January 1, 2009. 


In Australia, huge crowds turned out to watch multi-million dollar fireworks displays in Sydney and Melbourne. 

Not to be outdone, New Zealand staged a dramatic pyrotechnics show from Auckland's Sky Tower. 

Kiritimati, or Christmas Island, in the Pacific Ocean became the first inhabited place on Earth to celebrate the new year at 1000 GMT. 

In Sydney, a record crowd of up to 1.5 million people watched fireworks explode over the iconic Harbour Bridge. 

The display, featuring thunder, rain and lightning effects, was the largest ever staged in the city. About 5,000kg of fireworks were used. 

Further south, thousands of people lined the banks of Melbourne's Yarra river for a colourful show.

Muted festivities 

Organisers of the Sydney festivities said they were hoping it would offer revellers a brief respite from the economic gloom of 2008. 

"There's so much misery around," fireworks director Fortunato Foti told reporters. "If we can get people to forget all that and think just about the fireworks for 15 to 20 minutes, we will have done our job." 

In the Philippines, President Gloria Arroyo described 2008 as a "tumultuous" year. 

"I hope that we can all work together as a global community to weather these storms," she said in a message. 

In Malaysia, the government is not sponsoring any new year events because of the economic downturn.

Celebrations were also expected to be muted in the Indian city of Mumbai, following November's deadly attacks. 

Tight security was planned, with special measures in place along the city's waterfront - where the militants involved in the attacks slipped ashore. 

But some cities were set to end 2008 in style. More than 250,000 people were expected at a fireworks display in Singapore's Marina Bay. 

And in Hong Kong, half a million people were set to watch a colourful show over the historic harbour.

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