United Nations Declaration (Articles 1 - 30):

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

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

Incoming UN chief names three women to top posts

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

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

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

The Declaration of Human Freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pope Francis arrives for historic first US visit

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

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

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

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

Same-sex marriage around the world

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

… The Shift in Human Nature

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

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

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

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

Merkel says Turkey media crackdown 'highly alarming'

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

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Indonesia: Muslim leaders welcome Vatican cardinal to grand mosque

ICN, Sunday, November 29, 2009 10:22 pm

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has paid a visit to the national Istiqlal mosque, the largest in Southeast Asia, during his first official trip to the country.

Cardinal Tauran, walking barefoot, was accompanied by Jesuit Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja of Jakarta, Coadjutor Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta and Bandung Bishop Johannes Maria Trilaksyanta Pujasumarta, a member of the

Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Several officials of the Indonesian Bishops' Conference also took part in the 25 November visit.

The mosque's imam Kiai Hajj Syarifuddin Muhammad warmly welcomed the Catholics. "This mosque does not belong only to Muslims but all religious followers. They all are welcome here," he said.

The national mosque of Indonesia, which can hold more than 100,000 people, stands across the road from the Assumption Cathedral Church in Central Jakarta. The mosque's main rectangular prayer hall building is topped by a 45-meter-diametre spherical dome supported by 12 columns.

"This is the first time I feel a sincere atmosphere of neighborhood. It seems there is no gap between Muslims and Catholics," Cardinal Tauran said.

In an earlier visit to the cathedral, the cardinal said Muslims had lessons for Christians. "Muslims have a very strong spirituality. They wake up early in the morning to pray," he said. "Our young priests should follow this example ... waking up early in the morning to pray to start their daily activities."

He said it was vital for Catholics to take part in the lives of other communities.

"We, Catholics, must be witnesses to the surrounding communities. This is one of the meanings of interreligious dialogue. And to be witnesses, we need to have a deep spirituality," he said.

Nasaruddin Umar, director of the Religious Affairs Ministry's Directorate General for Muslim Community Guidance, told UCA News that he was impressed with Cardinal Tauran's visit to this mosque. "It means Christians can be at peace with Muslims," he said.

The mosque was designed by Protestant architect Frederich Silaban to celebrate independence. Istiqlal means "independence" in Arabic. The country's first president Soekarno broke ground on the site on 24 August 24, 1961. It took 17 years to build and was opened by the country's second president Soeharto on 22 February 1978.

Cardinal Tauran arrived in Indonesia on 24 Novemebr and is expected to depart on 1 December.

According to organizers, the trip aims to give the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue a better understanding of the religious situation in the country as well as help the Church forge better ties with other religious communities here.

On 26 November, the cardinal met with leaders of the Wahid Institute. The institute, founded by former president Abdurrahman Wahid, works to bring about a just and peaceful world by espousing a moderate and tolerant view of Islam.

On the same day, the cardinal met with leaders of Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, the two largest Islamic organizations in Indonesia. He is also expected to meet with Hindu leaders in Bali and Muslim leaders in Makassar and Yogyakarta.

Source: UCAN

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Dalai Lama says climate change needs global action

Reuters, Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:55am EST

The Dalai Lama has called on young people to work to make the world a better place during talks in Sydney. (Bigpond, Australia)

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Tibet's exiled Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama entered the climate change debate on Monday, urging governments to take serious action and put global interests ahead of domestic concerns.

Australia's government is struggling to have its key climate change policy, a carbon emissions trading scheme (ETS), passed by a hostile upper house Senate this week ahead of U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen from December 7-18.

In Sydney for a series of talks, the Dalai Lama called for individual and collective action to tackle climate change.

"In my own case I never use bathtub, only shower. Whenever I leave my room I always put off my light," the Dalai Lama told a news conference.

"Taking care of the environment ... (is now) part of my life. Taking care of the environment should be part of our daily life."

Some Australian politicians skeptical about the causes of climate change have dumped a deal to back the government's carbon trade scheme.

If defeated in parliament for a second time this week, the deal could allow Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to call an early election in 2010 on the issue of climate change.

The skeptical climate change views of some Australians are being echoed in other countries, like the United States, as they seek to reach agreement on climate policy ahead of Copenhagen.

The Dalai Lama urged governments to act in the global interest in dealing with climate change.

"The elected government, sometimes their number one ... priority is national interest, national economy interest, then global issues are sometimes secondary," said the Dalai Lama.

"That, I think, should change. The global issue should be number one. In some cases in order to protect global issues, some sacrifice of national interest (is needed)."

(Reporting by Michael Perry; Editing by Paul Tait)

Related Article:

Dali Lama calls on young people

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Afghanistan summit to plan for withdrawal

Gordon Brown sets out benchmarks for Kabul government to take control of disputed territory


Nicholas Watt and Mark Townsend, The Observer, Sunday 29 November 2009

Article history

A British Gurkha in Helmand. Photograph: Steve Lewis/Reuters

A lengthy withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan will start unfolding towards the end of next year under plans to be agreed by allied powers at a conference in London in January.

Days before President Barack Obama outlines his new military and political strategy for the country, Gordon Brown set out detailed benchmarks that would ensure Afghan forces can eventually assume control.

This week, Obama is expected to endorse the central thrust – although not necessarily the exact findings – of General Stanley McChrystal's landmark report. The US commander in Afghanistan is calling for a more sophisticated strategy, involving a surge of around 35,000 extra troops, designed to pave the way for a future withdrawal of American forces.

Brown, who was speaking at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Trinidad and Tobago, was more cautious than the White House, which said last week that Obama's announcement would herald the eventual withdrawal of troops.

But the prime minister set out five benchmarks – the last of which would pave the way for a lengthy process of withdrawal to begin – that the Afghan government will be asked to meet at the conference in London on 28 January:

  • Within three months Kabul must identify additional troops to send to Helmand province for training. So far this year, 98 British soldiers have been killed in the province, the heaviest annual death toll since the conflict began eight years ago. Brown said: "This is part of our idea that we will build up the Afghan army by nearly 50,000 [from 90,000] over the course of the next year."

  • Within six months there must be clear plans for police training.

  • Within nine months President Hamid Karzai must have appointed almost 400 provincial and district governors.

  • Within 12 months 5,000 additional Afghan troops will be trained by Britain in Helmand and thousands more in other parts of the country.

  • By the end of 2010 Afghan security forces must be taking the lead in five out of the country's 34 provinces. Control in one or two districts in Helmand will also be handed over.

Brown stressed that the conference, which is expected to be attended by Karzai, the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and foreign ministers of the other 42 countries involved in Afghanistan, would not set a timetable for withdrawal. But he indicated that the process of "Afghanisation", whereby local troops and police assume control, would allow international troops to begin to leave.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that British officials are pushing for peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban leadership, including Mullah Omar, founder of the Afghan Taliban, as part of an eventual exit strategy.

Major General Richard Barrons said negotiations with the senior echelons of the Afghan Taliban leadership council – the Quetta shura – were being looked at, alongside the reintegration of insurgency fighters into civilian life.

In his first interview since arriving in Afghanistan to begin talks with "moderate" Taliban fighters, Barrons said British officials were backing extensive talks between Karzai's government and the Quetta shura, which is led by Mullah Omar and is responsible for directing much of the fighting against British forces in Helmand province.

The disclosure is the first admission that the government is prepared to accept deals with the enemy. Until now, officials and the military have resisted talking about support for a strategic reconciliation between the Quetta shura and Afghan authorities for fear of accusations that they have made deals with Taliban commanders.

Barrons, considered one of the most authoritative voices on the coalition's counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan, said a new line was being pursued after the start of Karzai's second term.

"There will be political reconciliation, with senior levels of the Afghan government reaching out to the senior levels of the insurgency in all its many forms, and below that a more technocratic level, where we need ways – at a provincial, district, local and tribal level – to get insurgents to reintegrate," he said.

According to Barrons, signs were emerging that Taliban leaders from the Quetta shura were increasingly partial to reconciliation talks. He said: "We sense that there is a widespread discussion across Afghanistan and across the border [Pakistan] concerning what are the prospects for reconciliation and reintegration, and we are tracking those signs and assessing with the Afghan government how these things can be taken forward. We sense there are real opportunities to be grasped."

Barrons believes that if the plans were implemented alongside McChrystal's recommendations, Afghanistan would seem a "much happier place" in as little as three years.

U.S. President Barack Obama has briefed top officials including his senior military commander on details of his new strategy for Afghanistan, expected to include extra troops. (CNN)

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Greenpeace ends dramatic direct action in Riau

Antara News, Saturday, November 28, 2009 18:18 WIB

Chained protest: Employees from Indah Kiat Pupl and Paper try to force two Greenpeace activists to end their protest against deforestation. The activists chained themselves to cranes at the paper company's port in Siak, Riau, on Wednesday. The police broke up the protest on Thursday. Antara/FB Anggoro

Kampar Peninsula, Riau, (ANTARA News) - Greenpeace Thursday ended a 26-hour dramatic non-violent direct action at the loading facility of Sinar Mas subsidiary of the Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) mill in Riau.

"Ten days ahead of the critical climate summit in Copenhagen, President Yudhoyono has a unique chance to make history by declaring an immediate moratorium on all deforestation and exhibiting the kind of leadership that even the Nobel Prize winning Obama has so far failed to show," said Von Hernandez, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, as reported on the official website of Greenpeace Southeast.

Sinar Mas has been tagged by the group as a leading forest and climate destroyer in Indonesia.

The activity, undertaken by activists from 11 different nationalities, including Indonesia and the USA successfully focused international attention on the critical role that President Yudhoyono and other world Heads of State can play in ending tropical deforestation to avert climate chaos.

Vowing to keep taking their message directly to President Yudhoyono and other world leaders, the group said that thousands of people worldwide have sent petitions and letters to the Indonesian leader urging him to take immediate steps to halt deforestation and peatland destruction in the country, which accounts for the vast majority of Indonesia`s emissions.

"Our non-violent activities in Sumatra over last five weeks have shown world leaders that forest protection is an important piece of the solution if the world is to avert climate chaos. The world cannot afford to lose any more forests and world leaders cannot afford to lose any more time to deliver a fair, ambitious and legally binding climate deal in December," he said.

Such a deal must include a commitment to set up a global fund to end deforestation in countries like Indonesia.

"We will continue to press our demands until our leaders are roused from their denial and inertia on this issue," he added.

On November 12, Greenpeace took action against Sinar Mas owned APP`s rival company APRIL to expose the continued destruction of fragile peatlands of Kampar peninsula on the Island of Sumatra.

Last week, the Indonesia`s Forest Minister Zulkifli Hasan, suspended APRIL from destroying about 56,000 hectares of concession area pending a review of the company`s permits.

Following the non-violent action, eighteen international and Indonesian Greenpeace activists have now been detained by the police. Twelve activists blocked cranes at the company`s port Wednesday (Nov. 25) to stop pulp exports, and displayed banners reading: "Forest Destruction: You can stop this".

Four climbers remained locked onto one of the loading cranes for 26 hours, until removed by the police. Activists were from Indonesia, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, the Philippines and the Netherlands.

"Once again, we have to say to President Obama, `Right city, wrong date.`

Greenpeace is calling on President Obama to attend on December 18th, commit the US to climate policy the world needs, and earn the Nobel Peace Prize that he is on his way to accept. So far, President Obama has given the world nothing but rhetoric on this issue. We urge him to seize the opportunity to lead his peers towards an urgently needed breakthrough in Copenhagen beginning with a commitment to provide international financing for adaptation, mitigation and forest protection - all necessary components to get agreement from developing nations," said Stephanie Hillman, an American activist detained in Riau.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

G20 switch shaping more local, unpredictable world

Reuters, by Mike Dolan - Analysis, Fri Nov 27, 2009 3:13pm EST

The leaders of the Pittsburgh G20 Summit sit around the summit meeting table in the midst of the second plenary session of the summit in the Pittsburgh Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 25, 2009. (REUTERS/Jim Bourg)
LONDON (Reuters) -- Capital taxes, currency controls and curbs and home-tailored bank regulation: after decades of spectacular financial globalization, the world economy and investment horizon may be turning more local and unpredictable.
As 2009 draws to a close, one of the many legacies of the credit bust has been the expansion of global economic governance from a Group of Seven club of rich nations to a Group of 20 that recognizes emerging economic powers.
Many experts say this change -- formalized this year during the G20 summit in Pittsburgh in September -- may well have far-reaching implications for assumptions about global economic policymaking and financial volatility in the years ahead.
At the very least, they argue, it is probably wise not to assume continued adherence to principles such as freely-moving cross-border capital, the primacy of market disciplines and floating currencies and world standards on financial regulation.
With the credibility of the old "Washington consensus" -- advocated mainly by the United States and Britain -- hobbled by the recent credit meltdown, the emerging economic giants appear emboldened in pursuit of alternative policy strategies.
China continues to face down western pressure for greater exchange rate flexibility and Brazil last month felt confident enough to impose taxes on foreign investment.
Other G20 members such as Russia, Indonesia, South Korea are also studying measures to stymie speculative hot money streaming from zero interest rate zones of America, Europe and Japan -- tidal flows that risk destabilizing emerging economies with new asset bubbles, inflation and economic distortions.
Whatever the "correctness" of these moves, there is clearly a growing diversity of views on how the world should be managed.
Even top policymakers acknowledge the need for a switch away from "one size fits all" prescriptions given the glaring contradictions apparent right now.
"Perhaps the primary lesson from history is for countries to cooperate in making assessments that distinguish their situations," said World Bank President Robert Zoellick, writing in the Financial Times this week.
"The G20 had better put asset price bubbles and new growth strategies on its agenda," he added. "Otherwise, the solutions of 2008-09 could plant the seeds of trouble in 2010 and beyond."
For investors attempting to navigate the shifting sands, there is good reason to assume a more volatile and idiosyncratic investment climate over the coming years.
Avinash Persaud, chairman of Intelligence Capital and of the UK-based Warwick Commission of economists and lawyers on financial reform, said there is already a retreat from global to more local approaches.
"We're no longer in a flat world -- walls are being built up and countries are running strategies that rely less on the international world," he said, adding this was made possible after many emerging powers rejected dependence on international capital after the 1990s Asia crisis and built up their surpluses and reserve buffers instead.
"The important thing is not to view this as crazies overseas doing something odd. This is part of a general change and, for developing countries, it's not without reason," said Persaud.
A full gamut of regulatory reform has been accelerated by this credit crisis -- host country banking regulation, selective capital controls, so-called living wills for global banks.
But the elevation of the G20 has also elevated the diverse arguments of the emerging powers into these debates.
A question for many economists is whether a retreat of global finance can happen without a big retreat in global trade.
Jim O'Neill, chief global economist at Goldman Sachs, said he remains bullish on the global growth outlook but feels 2010 will be a "highly unpredictable" year and tricky to manage.
"The center of gravity is changing," he said.
"Coming back from China recently, I find myself wondering for the first time in my career whether in 10-15 years we will even have a floating exchange rate system. It's just not obvious to a lot of big developing countries that floating exchange rates are as useful as we in the West assume," O'Neill added.
And after more than two years of turbulence, financial markets are bracing for structurally higher volatility than was the norm leading up to the credit crunch in 2007.
As an example, Wall Street's Vix .VIX index, a measure of stock market volatility used widely in global risk models, remains at almost twice the average levels of the four years prior to the crisis despite the powerful stock market rally this year.
There may be many reasons for that elevated risk level but the consensus on global policymaking may well be a big factor.
"The bigger countries at the top table -- India, China, Russia, Brazil -- are not big fans of free international capital flows," said Persaud. "Neither are the French and Germans for that matter. Three or four countries formed the dominant thinking in G7 -- but not necessarily within in G20."
(Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

Manohara's Views on Indonesian Corruption: How Do We Change?

"We bribe as easily as we breathe; we are so used to paying our way out of any little inconvenience in life that we almost make it seem OK to be corrupt."

The Jakarta Globe, Manohara Odelia Pinot

Actress and model Manohara lifts a crocodile at an anti-corruption protest in Jakarta on Monday. (Photo: Jurnasyanto Sukarno, JG)

Corruption. I first became familiar with the concept when I was in the third grade at an international school in France. One of my classmates talked about his mom getting pulled over for speeding while driving him to school. He was worried because they took her license away because of previous traffic violations. Our teacher tried to comfort the poor kid, who looked like he thought his mom was going to be sentenced to life in prison.

As the teacher explained that his mother probably just had to fill out a few forms, I interrupted her and announced proudly to the class that in my beautiful homeland of Indonesia you can just give a policeman the equivalent of a euro or so and get away with speeding!

All the other kids thought this was cool and asked me what else people in Indonesia pay for that they couldn’t in France. I didn’t need much time to think and very casually said, “Well you can pay for your identity card, getting a drivers license, passing airport security, getting into the police force — almost everything really.” The teacher chuckled and then looked me in the eye and said, “That is called bribing, and that’s what makes your country a corrupt one.”

She explained to the class the horrible effect that corruption has on a country. One thing that was extremely close to my heart was poverty, another byproduct of corruption according to the teacher. At that moment my feelings changed. From being overly confident and bragging about my country, I developed an embarrassing, sick, disappointed feeling in my gut. I felt somewhat betrayed by my motherland.

By the time the lunch bell rang, all the kids had probably forgotten about the incident but I didn’t. It was all I could think about through my math, geography and science classes. Instead of rushing to the cafeteria, I rushed to the school’s deserted library and with the help of a computer I learned as much as I possibly could in 45 minutes about corruption. From that day forward my views on the “convenience” of corruption changed.

Is corruption convenient? Yes. Most people I ask say that corruption is a despicable act mostly performed by the government and the “elite.” I then ask them if they’ve ever bribed a cop when being stopped for a traffic violation. No one has said no.

I have come to realize that bribery has become such an ordinary part of our daily lives here that millions of people contribute to it on a daily basis without even realizing it. We bribe as easily as we breathe; we are so used to paying our way out of any little inconvenience in life that we almost make it seem OK to be corrupt.

Is this why corruption is such a big, seemingly unsolvable problem here in Indonesia? Is this why we can’t seem to find a solution to this matter? Is it because corruption is the one problem we can’t pay our way out of?

In my mind, the solution has to start with changing our mind-set toward the convenient aspects of being corrupt. We have to make changes in our mental attitudes toward corruption before just blaming the government. I see this as almost like going green; people can’t keep blaming the large polluting factories while driving a fuel-guzzling SUV.

Sadly, money is power. The one thing that disturbs me the most about corruption is the effect it has on the poor and powerless. The powerless are almost half of Indonesia’s population, and they live on less than Rp 20,000 ($2.10) a day.

So then let’s look at government officials in Indonesia. For example, ministers. Today they earn about Rp 19 million per month. When I see someone earning that amount spend far more than that in just one day, for example, without having another job on the side, I can’t help but be puzzled. I can’t help but ask whether the money they are spending on their fourth car (which most probably won’t even use) is money that is supposed be used to help the less fortunate, build new schools or help victims of natural disasters.

I was speaking with a very respectable man the other day. He works in a very high position in one of the biggest banks in Indonesia. I brought up the subject of the Padang earthquake and was telling him how I was happy that TV stations were raising a substantial amount of money for the victims. As I said that, he smiled at my naivete and he then told me that one local station raised Rp 17 billion. How much went to Padang? Rp 3 billion. What happened to the Rp 14 billion? Who knows.

The latest corruption case to blow up is, of course, the whole issue with Bank Century, top government officials, the police force and the KPK etc. etc. etc. Do you honestly think anyone involved in this mess is innocent of corruption? I don’t.

The more I dig into this issue, the more I realize that the whole system is corrupt. We can’t fix anything by just firing a bunch of people because, literally, everything is corrupt. Corruption is and will be a part of our culture unless we make real changes in ourselves.

In my opinion the only way to make any progress is by tackling the problem at the roots, starting from zero. How do we do that? We have to change our way of thinking. There should be serious lectures in schools, kids should be encouraged to have a real voice and an opinion about their nation’s future — make them develop their minds rather than just sticking to textbooks and assuming everything they read is the truth. In the public schools, we should educate children more about current affairs and corruption, make them debate the issue and broaden their minds. They basically need a view of their own rather than following the way things have always been done. Come on, right now the “grown-ups” aren’t setting what I would call a good example. They need to be challenged by young people.

I know this kind of change will take a long time and I’ll probably be an old granny before it’ll start to have any real effect but we just HAVE to change someday. I’m really tired of watching people complain but then do nothing about the problem of corruption; it makes everyone look like a hypocrite. If no one is willing to stop this culture of sleaze with genuinely good intentions and no dirty money involved, it can’t get better. I guess I would be a hypocrite too if I didn’t try to do something. It might sound a little too ambitious for a 17-year-old girl like me, but I am determined to do something about it. I am positive that we can change.

I’m going to end this with one of my favorite quotes by Margaret Mead, the American cultural anthropologist: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Manohara Odelia Pinot is a fashion model and television actress.

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Muslim initiative donates meat to Dutch poor

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 27 November 2009 - 4:37pm | By Michel Hoebink

During the Islamic Festival of Sacrifice (also known as Eid al-Adha), that is celebrated by millions of believers worldwide from today, Muslims are supposed to donate meat to the poor and needy. As they were led to believe that poverty in the Netherlands was non-existent, until recently many Dutch Muslims did not know how to fulfil this requirement. But in the last few years, a Dutch Muslim organisation has started to collect meat for poor people in the Netherlands.

"It is taking Dutch Muslims a long time to wake up to the fact that there are poor people in the Netherlands", says Veyiz Gungor of the Joint Muslim Aid Organizations (SMHO). "But it is a fact that more and more people in this country live below the poverty line. The increasing number of food banks bears witness to this."

Successful initiative

The Islamic Festival of Sacrifice commemorates the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Isaac to God. Tradition prescribes that each family slaughters a sheep. Part of the meat is for the family, part for the neighbours and part is to be given to the poor. The SMHO has begun collecting meat during the Festival in order to distribute it to the poor and needy in the Netherlands.

The initiative, which started four years ago, has become a success. "More and more Dutch Muslims know where to find us", says Gungor. "In the first year, we collected a thousand kilos of meat, last year 3000 kilos and this year we expect 4000 kilos."

There are special gathering points, usually Islamic butcheries, where Muslims can bring their meat. After the three day Festival, the meat is collected and brought to a factory in Zoeterwoude, where it is processed into Turkish sausages. The sausages are then distributed to the food banks.

Religious duty

The initiative is originally Turkish, but increasing numbers of non-Turkish Muslims are participating. "The larger part of our target group is of Turkish origin,” Gungor says. “That is because it is easy to communicate with them through the Turkish mosques. But in the past years, more and more Surinamese, Moroccan and Indonesian Muslims call us to ask where they can bring their meat."

There are also Muslims in the Netherlands who replace the sacrificial animal with a financial offering. They send money to poor people in their country of origin. This practice is very common among Indonesian Muslims in the Netherlands, says chairman Firdaus of the Indonesian mosque in The Hague. "The 'kurban' - the money that is used to buy a sheep - is collected in the mosque and sent to Indonesia, where it is channelled to the poor people." Veyiz Gungor is aware of this practice but says it is theologically controversial. "The majority of Muslims believe that the slaughtering of an animal is a religious duty."

How do Dutch Muslims slaughter animals? Most Dutch people have heard the story about the Muslim neighbour who slaughters a sheep on his balcony. But on closer examination, this story is not borne out by experience. In Muslim countries, it is indeed often the case that the father of the family slaughters a sheep at home on the first day of the Islamic Festival of Sacrifice, but in the Netherlands it is forbidden to slaughter at home.

Dutch Muslims usually go to the slaughterhouse on the first day of the Festival, where a sheep is slaughtered for them. The meat and sometimes the head are taken home; the intestines and the skin remain there. In recent years, many Dutch Moroccans have stopped going to the slaughterhouse altogether. They order a sheep from their Islamic butcher, who has it killed in the slaughterhouse on the day of the Festival.

"In the afternoon you collect your sheep from the butcher's shop", says Mohamed Amezian of the Radio Netherlands Arabic Department. "I personally do not feel the need or desire to be present when the animal is slaughtered. But Muslims who are more strict in their beliefs may think that one has to be present at the slaughtering."

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Indonesia: Muslims commemorate the Idul Adha holiday by sacrificing goats and sharing the meat to feed the needy. (JG Photo)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Saudi troops 'captured' by Houthi rebels in Yemen

Nine Saudi soldiers have been seized by Houthi rebels in northern Yemen during fighting, the insurgents have said.

A rebel spokesman based in Germany told BBC News that the incident took place inside Yemeni territory and urged Saudi Arabia to stay out of the conflict.

The Saudi defence ministry confirmed nine soldiers were missing and may have been taken prisoner.

The rebels, known as Houthis, accuse Saudi Arabia of supporting the Yemeni government in offensives against them.

The spokesman, Yahya al-Houthi, stressed that the rebels' grievance was with the Yemeni government and not with Saudi Arabia.

Border guard

The rebels first took up arms against the Yemeni government in 2004, saying they are trying to reverse the political, economic and religious marginalisation of the Zaydi Shia community.

The Yemeni government accuses the Houthis of wanting to re-establish Zaydi clerical rule, which ended in 1962, and of receiving support from Iran.

The rebels had long held that Saudi Arabia allowed Yemeni armed forces to launch attacks from its territory.

The Saudis were overtly drawn into the fighting in November 2009 when the rebels killed a Saudi border guard and took over Saudi villages.

Saudi armed forces say they have since driven the rebels out of the kingdom, but frequently deny attacking targets within Yemeni territory.

The Zaydi community are a minority in Yemen, but make up the majority in the north of the country.

The government launched a fresh offensive in August 2009, which has precipitated a new wave of intense fighting.

Aid agencies say tens of thousands of people have been displaced.

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Saudi forces have been carrying out air and artillery strikes on Yemen