United Nations Declaration (Articles 1 - 30):

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

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

Incoming UN chief names three women to top posts

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

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

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

The Declaration of Human Freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pope Francis arrives for historic first US visit

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

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

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

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

Same-sex marriage around the world

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

… The Shift in Human Nature

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

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

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

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

Merkel says Turkey media crackdown 'highly alarming'

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

Search This Blog

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Obama to lift HIV/AIDS travel ban

CNN International, October 30, 2009 -- Updated 1805 GMT (0205 HKT)

"If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it," President Obama said Friday.

Washington (CNN) -- President Obama announced Friday that he will lift a 22-year-old ban on entry into the United States for people infected with HIV/AIDS.

The administration intends to publish a new federal rule next week eliminating the ban by the start of 2010, he said.

"We talk about reducing the stigma of this disease, yet we've treated a visitor living with it as a threat," he said at the White House. "If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it."

Obama said that lifting the ban is a "step that will encourage people to get tested and get treatment. It's a step that will keep families together, and it's a step that will save lives."

The United States, he said, is one of only a dozen countries that still bar the entry of people with HIV.

Obama made the announcement shortly before signing legislation extending federally funded HIV/AIDS treatment for hundreds of thousands of underinsured, low-income Americans.

The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act authorizes a 5 percent annual increase in federal support over the next four years. Funding under the law is scheduled to rise from more than $2.5 billion in fiscal year 2010 to nearly $3 billion in fiscal year 2013.

Among other things, the law helps ensure continued funding for the Minority AIDS Initiative, designed to address "the disproportionate impact of the disease on racial and ethnic minorities," according to a White House statement.

The measure easily passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives last week. Similar legislation first passed almost 20 years ago and was reauthorized in 1996, 2000 and 2006.

An estimated 1 million people in the United States have HIV, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost one-quarter of them are not aware that they are infected, the CDC says.

Related Article:

Health care bill passes House in historic vote

Friday, October 30, 2009

Mysterious virus hits Ukraine

Radio Netherlands

A viral infection has killed 30 people in Ukraine.

The illness begins as an ordinary bout of flu, but after a week the symptoms get worse.

Almost 40,000 Ukrainians have contracted the disease. Around 100 are in hospital.

In the west of the country there has been a run on virus inhibitors and surgical masks. Schools and childcare centres in the city of Lvov are closed.

Test are being carried out to establish what kind of virus is causing the sickness.

The H1N1 virus which causes Mexican flu has been ruled out.

Related Articles:

Saudi minister gets H1N1 vaccine on TV to calm fears

Ukraine virus mystery deepens

Ukraine gripped by the A(H1N1) flu virus

Global jump in swine flu deaths

China faces "severe challenges" in combating A/H1N1 flu: State Council

Swine Flu Vaccine Scarcity Stirs Anger in U.S. Cities

U.S. government faces no-win fight with flu

Thursday, October 29, 2009

US economy is growing once again

The US economy grew at an annualised rate of 3.5% between July and September, its first expansion in more than a year, official data has shown.

Commentators say the growth was helped by President Obama's $787bn (£480bn) stimulus plan, and the fear is growth will now fall as this comes to an end.

The 'Cash for Clunkers' scheme gave the economy a boost

The US economy was also lifted by the "Cash for Clunkers" car scrappage scheme, which finished in August.

But with unemployment still high, the ongoing recovery is set to be slow.

The economic growth between July and September indicates that the US has likely exited a recession that first started in December 2007.

However, the official confirmation still has to come from the National Bureau of Economic Research, the agency which determines when the US enters and exits recession.

The US economy last expanded in the second quarter of 2008, when it grew 2.4%.

'Distorted by stimulus'

"It's good to have the economy growing again," said Brian Bethune, economist at IHS Global Insight.

"But we don't think that rate of growth is sustainable because it is distorted by all the government stimulus.

"The challenge here is to get organic growth - growth that isn't helped by fiscal steroids."

Analysts cautious about the slow nature of the US economic recovery point to the fact that the unemployment rate currently stands at 9.8%, and that the labour market traditionally lags behind any wider economic recovery.

They also highlight the fact that the big car firms have already reported a sharp fall in September sales following the conclusion of the popular $3bn cash for clunkers scheme at the end of September.

This scheme gave people trading in old cars $3,500 towards the cost of a new vehicle, pushing car sales up strongly in both July and August.

"You can say that the recession is over, but it sure won't feel like that," said Dean Baker, co-director of the Centre for Economic Policy Research.

"There is a lot of downward momentum that isn't going to go."

Related Articles:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

From Rwanda to Bosnia: Devastating impact of world's tragedies

By Anouk Lorie and Stephanie Busari, CNN, October 28, 2009

London, England (CNN) -- Over the last two decades humanitarian organization
International Medical Corps has cared for hundreds of thousands of victims of wars and natural disasters in more than 25 countries.

From the genocide in Rwanda to the the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan and Hurricane Katrina, the International Medical Corps (IMC), has witnessed first hand the devastating impact of each tragedy.

The IMC recently released a book titled: "A Thousand Words: Photos from the Field," which chronicles the organization's 25-year history.

IMC's CEO Nancy Aossey told CNN, in an exclusive interview, the stories behind some of the most powerful and dramatic images, spanning more than 20 years.

"I have witnessed some of our generation's worst human tragedies -- and the remarkable resilience of the human spirit," said Aossey.

"Each photograph in this book is a profound reminder of the incredible journey of International Medical Corps, and the exceptional efforts of our colleagues who have cared for hundreds of millions of people in these fragile, often dangerous environments."

Aossey was in Rwanda in 1994, when approximately 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered. "Rwanda was unlike anything I had ever seen," Aossey said.

"The scale, the swiftness and the brutality of the killing was staggering and bodies were piled up everywhere. Most of the organizations were providing services in the refugee camps on the border but we stayed inside Rwanda."

International Medical Corps is also present when natural disasters strike. After the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, the California-based agency was one of the first organizations on the ground.

One of the problems it dealt with was mental illness. "After the tsunami we were involved with children who had post-traumatic stress, but also mental illness. So often, in these natural disasters or conflicts, people with mental illness have an especially difficult time," Aossey said.

International Medical Corps was founded in 1984 by American Dr. Robert Simon, who wanted to take action after seeing the tragic situation of the Afghan people following the 1979 Soviet invasion. According to IMC, only 200 of the country's 1,500 doctors remained alive and all relief agencies had been forced to leave the country, meaning civilians in need of basic health care had nowhere to go.

Dr. Simon therefore set up an Afghan medical training center in neighboring Pakistan. At the end of their training, "our Afghan medics could diagnose and treat 75 to 80 per cent of the injuries and illnesses they encountered in the field," IMC said.

Over the next two decades, IMC provided medical help in over 45 countries and was present at some of the most devastating man-made and natural disasters, including the famine in Somalia, ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, atrocities against children in Sierra Leone.

It is also one of few humanitarian agencies still working in Darfur and Iraq today.

Clinton arrives on Pakistan visit

Mrs Clinton will stay in Pakistan for three days

The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived in Islamabad at the start of a three-day visit to Pakistan.

The trip is being described as an attempt to turn a new page in the US relationship with the country.

As she arrived, she said that several civilian investment deals would be signed during her visit.

The US has concerns about the increasing numbers of militant attacks on the Pakistan authorities, and the security of its nuclear weapons.

This is Mrs Clinton's fifth visit to the country, and the first as US secretary of State.

During her visit, Mrs Clinton will visit mosques and shrines, meet Pashtun elders and university students and hold a record number of media interviews with local journalists.

The BBC's Kim Ghattas who is travelling with her says the visit comes at a crucial time for Pakistan and for Washington's relations with Islamabad.

The country is a key ally and its help is crucial to US core interests.

The Obama administration is currently debating how best to implement its strategy to defeat al- Qaeda and Taleban in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

'Clear the air'

"We have a relationship that we want to strengthen," Mrs Clinton told reporters on arrival in Islamabad.

"It is unfortunate that there are those who question our motives, perhaps are sceptical that we're going to commit to a long-term relationship, and I want to try to clear the air on that."

Last week the US Senate passed a big defence spending bill which aims to ensure that military aid to Pakistan is used solely to fight America's "war on terror".

It sets tough new conditions which say that no resources given by the US to Pakistan may be used against India.

The bill also stipulates that US military hardware sent to Pakistan must be tracked to see where it ends up.

Correspondents say the bill is likely to fuel tensions over what Islamabad sees as US interference in its domestic affairs.

Earlier this month, US President Barack Obama signed into law a $7.5bn aid package for Pakistan tripling non-military US aid to an annual outlay of $1.5bn for five years.

The aid money will not be directly handed over to Pakistan but will be spent on different development projects through the US embassy in Islamabad, Washington says.

Related Articles:

Hillary Clinton urges openness between U.S., Pakistan

Six U.N. foreign staff killed in attack in Kabul

Many dead in Peshawar explosion

Multiple roadside bombings kill 8 U.S. soldiers in S Afghanistan

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Koran Verses Appear Mysteriously on Infant's Body

Birthmark-Like Script Appears Every Few Days on Ali Yakubov's Body


Thousands of Muslim pilgrims are flocking to the home of a 9-month-old boy in Russia's southern republic of Dagestan to see the verses from the Koran that seem to appear and fade on his body every few days.

A pilgrim shows off the leg of baby Ali Yakubov at his house in Kizlyar in Russia's Dagestan Region, October 19, 2009. A "miracle" baby has brought a kind of mystical hope to people in Russia's mostly Muslim southern fringe who are increasingly desperate in the face of Islamist violence. From hunchbacked grandmas to schoolboys, hundreds of pilgrims lined up this week in blazing sunshine to get a glimpse of 9-month-old baby Ali Yakubov, on whose body they say verses from the Koran appear and fade every few days. Picture taken October 19, 2009. (Amir Amirov/Reuters)

Religious leaders in Dagestan say the verse "Be thankful or grateful to God" appeared on Ali Yakubov's right leg in Arabic script earlier this week, according to Reuters. By the time foreign journalists had arrived, the verse had faded to a single letter.

In photos, the words look like pink birthmarks a few inches high. Ali's parents told reporters at first they thought it was in fact a birthmark or a skin irritation but doctors couldn't explain it. The lettering appears on different parts of his body and shortly before a new set is about to appear, his parents say, the boy's temperature spikes to about 105 degrees.

"It's impossible to hold him, he cries, lifts that part of the body [where the verse appears], his temperature goes up to 40 degrees [Celsius], and he doesn't sleep all night," his mother told reporters.

"From a medical point of view, I can't explain it in any way," said local nurse Saida Rasulova.

To add to the mystery, Rasulova says baby Ali was born with cerebral palsy and an ischaemic heart condition (reduced blood supply to the heart muscle) but says he's now healthy.

About 2,000 pilgrims are showing up every day at the family's modest home in the town of Kizlyar where green flags line the pathway (green being the color of Islam). Local police keep order while pilgrims and Muslim leaders pray and pass around photos of the verses that previously appeared on the child.

Dagestan is a majority Muslim republic located in Russia's North Caucasus region on the border of Chechnya. The area has seen a spate of violence in recent months with security forces regularly clashing with separatist Islamist militants.

"The fact that this miracle happened here is a signal to us to take the lead and help our brothers and sisters find peace," the head of the Kizlyar region, Sagid Murtazaliyev, told reporters. "We must not forget there is a war going on here."

Miracle Baby: Sign of the Apocalypse?

A Muslim imam who visited Madina and her boy had a more apocalyptic take on situation, saying, "It is written that the closer to the end of the world, such signs will appear on a person's body."

The baby's markings have caused such a stir that the Russian Council of Muftis put out a statement calling them a warning to Muslims to "turn to the wisdom of the religion of Allah."

"[They should] repent of their sins, and abandon their discord, conflicts, and the fratricidal confrontation that today shakes the blessed land of Dagestan and the entire Caucasus," the statement read, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

Madina, who is married to a local policeman, has no doubt that her son's condition is linked to the region's troubles.

"Allah is great and he sent me my miracle child to keep our people safe," she said.

Related Articles:

Qur'anic verses appear on Dagestani baby's body

Koranverzen verschijnen op lichaam baby

Saturday, October 24, 2009

US-backed uranium plan rejected by Iran


WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's push to curtail Iran's nuclear program was set back Friday when Iranian leaders failed to accept a proposal to ship most of their uranium abroad for enrichment.

The U.S., along with Russia and France, officially endorsed the plan Friday. But Iranian state television reported that Tehran wants to buy the nuclear fuel it needs for a reactor, rather than comply with the proposal to ship uranium to Russia to be enriched for fuel.

The White House said Obama is waiting to hear from Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of United Nations nuclear watchdog, before responding.

The draft proposal to ship Iran's uranium was put forth earlier in the week after three days of talks between Iran and world powers. The plan was seen as a way to curb Iran's ability to build a nuclear weapon, but there was concern that Iran's leaders would resist the proposal because it would weaken their control over stockpiles of nuclear fuel.

Iranian state TV said that Tehran was waiting for a response to its own proposal to buy nuclear fuel rather than ship low-enriched uranium to Russia for further enrichment. Iran has often used counterproposals as a way to draw out nuclear negotiations with the West.

Related Articles:

Head of UN nuclear watchdog urges Iran to respond soon to proposed enrichment deal

Senior Iran MPs reject U.N. atom fuel plan

Iran's conditions push nuclear deal close to collapse

Iran 'to accept UN nuclear deal'

UN inspectors finish inspecting Iran's 2nd nuclear plant: official

Pakistan 'holds elite Iran force'

Iran would need 18 months for atom bomb: diplomats

UN inspectors visit once-secret Iranian site

Obama calls Sarkozy, Medvedev on Iran nuclear plan

Taliban leader's stronghold falls to Pakistani army

Iran hardline lawmakers carp nuclear fuel deal

Nuclear inspectors head to Iran

Iran to decide on nuke deal 'next week'

Pakistan Air Force Site Is Bombed

Iranian commanders assassinated

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Scientists Build First Worldwide Earthquake Alert System

Fox News, John R. Quain, Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Motorists ride past by road damaged by earthquake in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009

Earlier this month, South Pacific islanders experienced four major earthquakes within 11 hours. Though there were few injuries and little damage, the quakes came without warning, a terrifying reminder of the 2004 Sumatra earthquake and tsunami that claimed more than a quarter of a million lives.

With little coordinated information about the deadly forces underlying these natural disasters — and few resources mustered to prevent damage or respond to the inevitable catastrophes — we're in no better position today than we were then to see them coming.

Now a group is hoping to change all that.

Called the Global Earthquake Model or GEM, the non-profit organization of scientists and researchers is well into a five-year project to gather existing knowledge about earthquake-prone areas and the risks involved. GEM will then take those volumes of information and — using a complex software program — create a worldwide picture of the planet's stress-prone areas, the risks to life and structures in vulnerable areas, and the ways to reduce that risk, including better building techniques and emergency preparedness.

In other words, a very comprehensive database of historical information, as well as data on faults and geology, should help predict the likelihood of future earthquakes.

More importantly, the entire model and all the data collected will be freely available to private organizations, individuals, researchers, and state and local governments looking for objective information on which to base their plans. Worried about your community? Check with GEM. Considering buying a new house? Check with GEM.

Ultimately, it's hoped this will save lives, particularly in developing nations where scientific earthquake information is scant or inaccessible or simply too expensive.

Currently, there is no single source for such data, and what is available is limited to particular areas, according to Ross Stein, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey and a co-founder of GEM. "Ninety percent of the research and mitigation efforts are conducted in and for the developed countries of the world, but 90 percent of the deaths and damage are suffered by the developing countries of the world," Stein says. The GEM team believes that won't change unless information about the risks of quakes is widely disseminated: "Unless someone is convinced of a risk, they won't do anything about it."

Experts in the field are troubled that some of the world's most densely populated and earthquake-prone areas — the Ganges Plain of northern India and western China, for example — have little information to go on. "Both countries are aggressively building hydroelectric plants and dams to supply power and water to their growing populations and to fuel their economic engines," warns Stein. "Of course, the reservoir water itself becomes a flood danger should an earthquake destroy a dam," he says, noting that a 7.9-magnitude quake last year in western China claimed approximately 70,000 lives. Consequently, GEM is trying to create regional centers in India and China and to garner the support of the local governments and scientists.

Even in areas well informed of the danger, earthquake preparedness is a constant concern. Just last week, 6 million Californians participated in "The Great California Shakeout" earthquake drill, for example. The Shakeout involved not only running for cover but also feigning injuries so that first responders could practice safety procedures. Not coincidentally, last Saturday was the 20th anniversary of San Francisco's 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta quake that killed dozens, brought a section of the Bay Bridge down on commuters and damaged thousands of homes.

To improve the chances of surviving an earthquake, Stein says, "we must engage scientists and engineers in the quake-prone countries of the world, give them state-of-the-art tools and data, and help them build their national models" in order to make it more difficult for governments to dismiss the danger.

GEM currently has dozens of partners and supporters ranging from academic institutions to global insurance companies. Officially, seven countries and five companies are sponsoring the project to the tune of $30 million. Stein estimates the group will need another $5 million to complete the project. Right now, the major work being done by an international group stretching from Berlin to Zürich is focused on creating the software tools to build the seismic hazard model.

"Fundamentally, it's about what kind of damage one can expect," says Charles Scawthorn, of SPA Risk LLC, one of the many contributors of data to GEM. "It's input that then goes into building design, urban planning, what kind of insurance is needed. So first you quantify the problem and then you can quantify what the alternatives are."The ultimate goal is not earthquake prediction — knowing where and when a quake will hit is many years away, say the researchers — but rather to reduce the damage earthquakes cause to homes and business and, more important, to save lives.

"To prevent a Katrina-like disaster we have to have this risk information out there," underscores Scawthorn. "the authorities can then make the right decisions, and if they don't, grassroots pressure can be brought to bear to get them to do the right thing."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Iranian commanders assassinated

Several top commanders in Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards have been killed in a suicide bombing in the volatile south-east of the country.

Iranian interior ministry said 29 people died in the attack, in the Pishin region of Sistan-Baluchistan, and at least 28 were injured.

Gen Shooshtari was deputy commander of the ground force

Shia and Sunni tribal leaders, who gathered for a meeting with the guards, were among the dead.

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said "US action" contributed to the attack.

Iran has previously accused a Sunni resistance group, Jundallah, of terrorist activities in the province.

Sistan-Baluchistan is mainly made up of the Baluchi ethnic group, who belong to the Sunni Muslim minority of Shia-ruled Iran.

"Very soon we will catch the perpetrators of this terrorist action and punish them," a statement on the interior ministry's website said, according to AFP news agency.

One report said there were two bombs - one inside the meeting and one aimed at a convoy of guards just arriving.

'Terrorist' attack

The deputy commander of the Guards' ground force, General Noor Ali Shooshtari, and the Guards' chief provincial commander, Rajab Ali Mohammadzadeh, were among at least six officers killed, state news agency reported.

Mr Larijani, speaking at an open session of parliament which was broadcast live on state radio, said: "We express our condolences for their martyrdom.

"The intention of the terrorists was definitely to disrupt security in Sistan-Baluchistan Province."

"We consider the recent terrorist attack to be the result of US action. This is a sign of America's animosity against our country," Mr Larijani said, quoted by AFP.

"Mr Obama has said he will extend his hand towards Iran, but with this terrorist action he has burned his hand," he said, referring to US President Barack Obama.

Earlier reports on Iranian TV quoted what it called "informed sources" as saying that Britain was directly involved.

The Iranian government has previously accused both countries of supporting the militants.

Sistan-Baluchistan province, which borders both Pakistan and Afghanistan, has long been affected by smuggling, drug trafficking, banditry and kidnapping.

Jundallah, also known as the Popular Resistance Movement of Iran, says it is fighting against the political and religious oppression of the country's Sunni minority.

In May, three men were executed for their role in a bombing of a mosque during evening prayers which killed at least 19 people in the south-east city of Zahedan in Sistan-Baluchistan.

The hangings came two days after the attack and the men were in custody on other charges at the time of the bombing.

Revolutionary Guards were among 11 people killed in an attack in 2007 in Zahedan.

Related Articles:

A second Iranian enrichment plant was revealed last month

World awaits Iran nuclear answer

UN puts Iran deal on the table

Fifteen Iran Guards among killed in Sunday attack

Iran threatens U.S. and Britain after Guard bombing

Clinton says agrees with Russia on Iran steps

Iran 'retreats' from nuclear deal

Pakistan army says 60 Taliban militants killed in first day of fighting near Afghan border

Iran replaces Dollar with Euro in FX

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Corporate America worried about sinking dollar

Reuters, by Chelsea Emery, Fri Oct 16, 2009 1:58pm EDT

CARY, North Carolina (Reuters) - Chief executives from the biggest U.S. corporations worry that the slumping dollar could sap U.S. credibility around the global, spur inflation and ultimately undermine the economy.

The dollar has fallen to a 14-month low; and while a weaker dollar makes U.S. products cheaper overseas, chief executives gathered for the Business Council meeting in Cary, North Carolina, expressed deep concern that the anemic dollar signals serious jitters.

"The issue is currency devaluation, and the worry is that it essentially lowers our credibility in the world," said Office Depot Inc (ODP.N) CEO Steve Odland in an interview with Reuters on the sidelines of the conference.

CEOs say that a slew of government spending programs on health care and other priorities could undercut economic recovery.

As the Federal Reserve works is effectively "printing money" through various programs to restart stalled financial markets, inflation is a risk.

"I have very significant concerns that unless we modify the current (spending) strategy, we will see inflation and a further reduction of the dollar," said PG&E Corp (PCG.N) CEO Peter Darbee.

"The current move in the dollar is an early indication that others in the world expect the same thing. That's why there's a beginning of the movement away from the dollar as a store of value."

"We need to return to fiscal responsibility," added Office Depot's Odland.

The greenback has been under broad selling pressure on expectations that U.S. interest rates will stay at very low levels for some time. Low rates reduce the attractiveness of U.S. investments and ease demand for the dollars to buy them.

Still, some corporate chieftains don't deny that a weaker dollar can be quite beneficial.

"The biggest benefit to our business is the weaker dollar," said James Goodnight, chief executive officer of the business analytics software maker SAS.

Because SAS reaps about 65 percent of its revenue outside the United States, the dollar's drop against the euro has helped boost profit, he said.

"For every 100 euros (of product) we sell in Europe, we get back $150 dollars," said Goodnight."

But overall, many CEOs said they were worried about the long-term impact of a weak dollar.

"Long term, the economic welfare of the country relies a stronger dollar," said Norfolk Southern Corp (NSC.N) CEO Wick Moorman. "While shorter-term weakness may accomplish certain things, it's not a good long term monetary policy."

(With additional reporting by Chris Sanders in New York, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

Related Articles:

ALBA members are Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominica, Saint Vincent and Antigua and Barbuda (AFP)

Asian leaders ponder common currency

LatAm leftists tackle dollar with new currency

U.S. bank failure tally hits 99 for 2009

U.S. charges billionaire Rajaratnam with record insider trading

U.S. Budget Deficit Widened to Record $1.42 Trillion in 2009

Dollar falls to 14-month low vs currency basket

Bank failures stack up: Now 106 for 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

More than 1 billion going hungry, U.N. says

(CNN) -- The global economic crisis has caused a spike in world hunger that has left more than a billion undernourished, United Nations agencies said in a new report.

The report says the stabilization of financial markets has meant less investment in agriculture, food distribution.

"It is unacceptable in the 21st century that almost one in six of the world's population is now going hungry," said Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Programme.

"At a time when there are more hungry people in the world than ever before, there is less food aid than we have seen in living memory."

The report by the WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization was released Wednesday, ahead of World Food Day on Friday.

Nearly all the world's undernourished live in developing countries, according to the report.

An estimated 642 million people are suffering from chronic hunger in Asia and the Pacific. An additional 265 million live in sub-Saharan Africa while 95 million come from Latin America, the Caribbean, the Near East and North Africa. The final 15 million live in developed nations. Should developed economies be doing more to eradicate hunger, poverty?

The number of hungry spiked as the global economic crisis took hold and governments pumped resources into stabilizing financial markets. The move meant smaller investments in agriculture and food distribution.

"World leaders have reacted forcefully to the financial and economic crisis, and succeeded in mobilizing billions of dollars in a short time period. The same strong action is needed now to combat hunger and poverty," said Jacques Diouf, director-general of the FAO.

"The rising number of hungry people is intolerable."

The report calls for greater investment in agriculture to tackle long and short-term hunger by making farmers productive and more resilient to crises.

"We know what is needed to meet urgent hunger needs -- we just need the resources and the international commitment to do the job," Sheeran said.

Related Articles:

Desperate farmers sell wives to pay debts in rural India

Eradicating World Hunger Key For Global Security: Hillary Clinton

UN urges donors to fund feeding schemes for one billion hungry

Food Day praise for Brazil, China

Half of India's children malnourished, says NGO report

Bill Gates pushes for more attention on Africa

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Foreclosures: 'Worst three months of all time'

Despite the Dow hitting 10,000 and hopes for an economic recovery, the third quarter shows that the foreclosure plague is still spreading.

By Les Christie, CNNMoney.com staff writer, October 15, 2009: 3:39 AM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Despite concerted government-led and lender-supported efforts to prevent foreclosures, the number of filings hit a record high in the third quarter.

"They were the worst three months of all time," said RealtyTrac spokesman Rick Sharga.

During that time, 937,840 homes received a foreclosure letter -- whether a default notice, auction notice or bank repossession -- according to RealtyTrac, the online marketer of foreclosed homes. That means one in every 136 U.S. homes were in foreclosure, which is a 5% increase from the second quarter and a 23% jump over the third quarter of 2008.

Nevada continued to be the worst-hit state with one filing for every 23 households. But even tranquil Vermont, where the foreclosure crisis has barely brushed the housing market, saw foreclosure filings jump nearly 170% compared with the third quarter of 2008. Still, that resulted in just one filing for every 5,023 households in the state -- the best record in the country.

The RealtyTrac report also unveiled the results for September, and it found that there was slight relief from foreclosure filings. Last month notices totaled 343,638, down 4% compared with August. Unfortunately, that total accounts for 87,821 homes that were repossessed by lenders.

That deluge contributed significantly to the quarter's record 237,052 repossessions, a 21% jump from the previous three months. So far this year lenders have taken back 623,852 homes.

"REO activity increased from the previous quarter in all but two states and the District of Columbia, indicating that lenders may be starting to work through some of the pent-up foreclosure inventory caused by legislative delays, loan-modification efforts and high volumes of distressed properties," said James Saccacio, RealtyTrac's CEO in a prepared statement."

Most disturbing is that all foreclosures -- not just repossessions -- are rampant despite efforts to corral them. Not only has the Obama administration's Making Home Affordable foreclosure prevention program taken a bite out of REOs but lenders themselves have scaled back repossessions over the past few months to give the program time to work.

And in some low-price markets, lenders simply aren't following through on foreclosures, according to Jim Rokakis, treasurer for Cuyahoga County, Ohio, which includes Cleveland.

"They'll even set the date for the sheriff's sale, but they don't file the final papers," he said. "They hold it in abeyance and let the residents stay in the house."

In ever more frequent cases, delinquent borrowers want out of the mortgage worse than the lenders. There are no firm statistics for it, but many industry watchers claim the percentage of REOs caused by borrowers voluntarily walking away from their homes is skyrocketing.

A study of the trend by Chicago Booth School of Business and Kellogg School of Management determined that when home price declines drop home values 10% below the mortgage balances, people start to give up their homes. When "negative equity" approaches 50%, 17% of households default, even when they can still afford their mortgage payments.

No end in sight

The foreclosure crisis may not diminish anytime soon. "The fastest growing area is in the 180 days late-plus category, the most seriously delinquent borrowers," Sharga said. "It's going to be a lingering problem."

Plus, the RealtyTrac statistics may understate the depth of the foreclosure mess because lender and government actions have delayed many filings. As a result, some delinquencies have not been counted on the foreclosure tallies. That means the crisis may not end quickly.

And because there are so many delinquent borrowers, Sharga predicts the banks will be slow to take back their properties and put the repossessed homes back on the market.

"It's hard to envision [the banks] putting millions on properties up for sale and cratering prices," he said. "Recovery will be slow and gradual. I don't see home prices getting much better until 2013."

Related Articles:

U.S. launches aid for state, local housing agencies

Broken dreams on the auction block