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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Friday, February 26, 2010

Blogger Auto Pagination Speeds Page Loads but Angers Bloggers

Susan's Blogging Blog, by Susan Gunelius, Thursday February 25, 2010

Last week, Blogger rolled out Auto Pagination, which automates the amount of content that is displayed on Blogger blog pages based on the amount of HTML and and images on each page. Google claimed that the purpose behind the change is to speed page load time. For example, with the new Auto Pagination feature, a Blogger blog might be limited to only display two posts per page if those posts include a lot of images. Visitors would need to click on the Next Post link to view additional posts from the blog.

While the change is unlikely to affect a lot of smaller bloggers, it has caused concern from larger bloggers, particularly those who use Blogger for photo blogs or blogs that are image-intensive, such as celebrity fan bloggers.

Many of the Blogger users who found their blogs suddenly altered to display only a couple of posts per page blogged about the new Blogger Auto Pagination feature in order to complain about the change. According to some of the more vocal bloggers, they were able to email Google and work with them to modify their blogs so the Auto Pagination feature doesn't affect their blogs. If you use Blogger and dislike the Auto Pagination feature, be sure to contact Blogger support and voice your concerns.

Has the new Blogger Auto Pagination function affected your blog or any of the blogs that you read? Leave a comment and share your experiences.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Saudi Man Funded Indonesian Militants, Trial Hears

The New York Times, by REUTERS, February 24, 2010, 3:23 a.m. ET

JAKARTA (Reuters) - A Saudi man gave funds to an Indonesian militant group which carried out suicide bomb attacks on two luxury hotels in Jakarta last year, prosecutors told an Indonesian court Wednesday.

The prosecutors accused Al Khelaiw Ali Abdullah, 55, of transferring 54 million rupiah (3,800 pounds) to a person who later passed on some of the money to a member of a regional militant group led by Noordin Mohammad Top.

They said Top and his group met and agreed to attack the JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels in Jakarta after receiving the money. Top was killed in a police shoot-out in September.

Abdullah says he is not guilty.

Top headed a violent wing of regional militant group Jemaah Islamiah. The group carried out simultaneous bomb attacks on the two luxury hotels in July 2009, killing 11 people and wounding 53, as well as several other bombings in Indonesia.

"The defendant has given assistance to perpetrators of terror attacks by giving or lending money or other assets," prosecutor Totok Bambang said in an indictment, which was translated into Arabic for Abdullah.

Abdullah faces between three and 15 years in jail.

"I am not a terrorist. I don't like violence," he told reporters before the trial.

Abdullah said he had never given any money to Syaifudin Zuhri, also known as Syaifudin Djaelani, one of the main organisers of the hotel attacks. He was killed in a raid in October.

"I am an old man and I am very sick. I came to Indonesia to find a cure for my sickness and to relax," Abdullah said in a written statement given to reporters before the trial.

Abdullah had made two trips to Indonesia since November 2008, prosecutors said. During those visits he met Dani Dwi Permana, the suicide bomber who detonated a bomb at the JW Marriott hotel, they said.

Jemaah Islamiah, which wants to create an Islamic state linking Muslim communities in Southeast Asia, was responsible for a string of attacks that killed hundreds of civilians, including the bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta in 2004, and of the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta in 2003.

Tuesday, prosecutors told the court that an Indonesian man, Muhammad Jibriel Abdul Rahman, had raised money in Saudi Arabia to finance the 2009 hotel attacks.

Tito Karnavian, head of Indonesia's elite anti-terror detachment 88, told Reuters recently the possible flow of money from the Middle East to Indonesia to finance those bombings showed the connection between Indonesia's radical network and al Qaeda had been revived.

Police have previously said al Qaeda helped fund the 2002 Bali bombings and the 2003 JW Marriott bombing in Jakarta, which killed scores of Indonesians and Westerners.

(Writing by Olivia Rondonuwu; Editing by Sara Webb and Paul Tait)

Related Articles:

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Saudi teacher on trial for funding Jakarta hotel bombs

Expat Hotel Blast Victim Comes Back to Indonesia With Message of Hope

Terror suspect stands trial for hotel bombings

Defiant: Alleged militant Mohammad Jibriel Abdul Rahman gestures as he speaks to reporters from inside a holding cell after a hearing at a district court in Jakarta on Tuesday. Rahman, who was accused of flying to Saudi Arabia to raise money to finance the suicide attacks on two Jakarta hotels last year, said Tuesday that the case against him had been fabricated. AP/Irwin Fedriansyah

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ex ministers urge NATO to scrap nuclear arms

The Jakarta Post, (AP), Brussels | Fri, 02/19/2010 5:07 PM

Illustration Dario

NATO's nuclear arms no longer serve a military purpose and encourage other nations to acquire atomic weapons, four former Belgian government ministers said in a joint statement Friday.

The four - including ex-foreign minister Willy Claes, who served as NATO secretary general in the 1990s - called on the Belgian government to press NATO to get rid of its nuclear weapons.

They noted in an opinion piece in the daily De Standaard that the Cold War is over but the nuclear club is growing - Pakistan, India and North Korea have recently joined the club and there is a good chance that Iran and other nations will follow suit, they said.

"We appeal to our government to take active steps in NATO to secure the quick removal of these nuclear arms," said the four - Claes, ex-premiers Jean-Luc Dehaene and Guy Verhofstadt and former foreign minister Louis Michel.

Getting rid of nuclear arms, they said, can send "an extremely positive signal" to nonnuclear nations ahead of a May review conference of the Nonproliferation Treaty. They suggested NATO negotiate the removal of nuclear arms with Russia "so it achieves an equivalent reduction in Russian armaments."

The four said the time seemed right, pointing to sentiments in the Obama administration that Washington will never get other countries to stop developing and testing nuclear arms if these weapons remain in NATO's arsenal.

The United States maintains nuclear bombs at air bases in several European nations, including Belgium.

It began deploying the arms in Europe after World War II to deter the Soviet army from invading all of Europe. But since the demise of communism, their usefulness is increasingly questioned.

NATO is developing a new "Strategic Concept" - to be unveiled this year - that will likely redefine the role of alliance nuclear arms in the future.

Related Articles:

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Minister warned against regulating multimedia content

Erwida Maulia, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Thu, 02/18/2010 8:29 PM

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has warned Communications and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring against regulating multimedia contents, a plan that sparked strong protests among Internet users this week.

While Yudhoyono did not mention the minister’s name when he issued the warning during a Cabinet meeting here Thursday, he made it clear the warning was meant for Tifatul, who is currently visiting Europe.

The Communications and Information Ministry, which Tifatul heads, has reportedly drafted a ministerial regulation on multimedia content, a move many fear will threaten press freedom and the freedom of speech, despite its aim to “fight cyber crime” including child prostitution.

“I want to remind you all, members of the Indonesian United Cabinet, that if you plan to draft a government regulation or bill, you must first report to the President. After I approve it then you can start drafting the regulation,” Yudhoyono said as he opened the Cabinet meeting at the Presidential Office.

“Maybe there is a belief at this ministry questioning the freedom in the use of technology and its negative impacts on the community and students … but this is a sensitive issue. You can’t just draft such regulations,” he said.

The President said the public should be involved in the drafting of the regulation, and said the ministry should seriously consider the “urgency” and the “aim” of the regulation, as well as working out how it would be implemented.

He also made clear his position on the issue, saying he was not involved in the plan to issue the regulation, adding that perhaps Tifatul was not either.

The draft of the ministerial regulation is said to have only been discussed at the directorate general level, and apparently had not been approved by Tifatul.

Related Articles:

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Asia-Pacific MDG progress under threat from global economic crisis

Asian Development Bank

ESCAP, ADB and UNDP joint Report calls for strengthening social protection

MANILA (UN ESCAP Information Services) – A joint report by the United Nations and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) warns that the global economic crisis could trap an additional 21 million people in the Asia-Pacific region in extreme poverty, living on less than $1.25 a day.

Achieving the Millennium Development Goals in an Era of Global Uncertainty: Asia-Pacific Regional Report 2009/10, launched today in Manila, examines the toll that the global economic crisis has taken on progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the Asia-Pacific region. Produced by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), ADB and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the report identifies opportunities for action – showing how countries of Asia and the Pacific can better protect themselves from this and future crises.

“This report shows that, while we are at a moment of crisis for the MDGs we also have an opportunity,” says Noeleen Heyzer, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP at the report launch. “As this crisis has exposed many vulnerabilities in the region – we can now address them and direct this recovery towards a stronger sustainable development path for the Asia-Pacific region.”

"Most stimulus measures have focused on areas other than social expenditures," says Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, ADB Vice President. "If we are to address the human impacts of the economic slowdown and achieve the MDGs, then social spending needs to be stepped up substantially."

"Asia has much weaker social protection compared to other regions such as Latin America and Eastern Europe,” says Ajay Chhibber, UNDP Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific and UN Assistant Secretary-General. “Without better protection people fall back into poverty with economic crisis, health pandemics and natural disasters and cannot recover easily, making the achievement of MDGs more difficult."

The report notes that long-term social protection can actually strengthen Asia’s resilience against future shocks. Yet the report finds that across the region, only 20 per cent of the unemployed and underemployed have access to labour market programmes such as unemployment benefits, and only 30 per cent of older people receive pensions.

If fiscal stimulus packages have a strong component of social expenditures, notes the report, this is likely to produce a double dividend – not only boosting growth more rapidly but also accelerating progress towards the MDGs.

Prior to the economic crisis, the region as a whole had been making notable gains, including being on track to achieve three important targets: gender parity in secondary education, ensuring universal access of children to primary school, and halving the proportion of people living below the $1.25-a-day poverty line. However, the economic crisis undermined the momentum.

Asia and the Pacific is still the home to the largest number – more than 50 per cent – of people, both rural and urban, without basic sanitation, of under-5 children who are underweight, of people infected with TB, of people living on less than $1.25 a day, and of rural people without access to clean water, according to the report.

It notes that in 2009 the crisis trapped up to an additional 17 million people in extreme poverty, and in 2010, another 4 million, giving a total of 21 million or roughly the equivalent to the population of Australia.

The most adversely affected segment of the population is women, who constitute the majority of Asia’s low-skilled, low-salaried, and temporary workforce that can easily be laid off during economic downturns. Moreover the crisis has reduced the demand for migrant labour – and women form nearly two-thirds of the total Asian migrant population.

The report points to opportunities for the region to protect itself and the MDG progress from future crisis though regional cooperation. Regional cooperation would also be particularly valuable for the trade in food, and could include grain banks that are maintained in each country but readily accessible to others, notes the report.

Expanding Asian monetary and financial coordination would be particularly useful to reduce external shocks such as with the global financial crisis. While fiscal stimulus is the most practical way of filling the gap left by declining exports, in the medium and long term, countries will need to generate domestic demand in a more sustainable way.

Countries can consider diversifying their export markets to become less dependent on demand in the West, suggests the report. They can boost trade within the region by liberalizing trade regimes and improving transport links, simplifying customs and inspection procedures.

By lowering trade barriers and creating more opportunity for the Asia-Pacific region to invest within itself, there can be a greater insulation against such crisis in the future.

Achieving the Millennium Development Goals in an Era of Global Uncertainty: Asia-Pacific Regional Report 2009/10 is the fourth regional MDG report for Asia and the Pacific produced by the three agencies.

For more information please go to: http://www.mdgasiapacific.org/.

Related Article:

917m Asians Now Live in Extreme Poverty: Report

A woman cleaning her child in a North Jakarta slum. According to the city’s Public Works Office data, 70 percent of the country is forced to wash in contaminated water. (Photo: Afriadi Hikmal, JG)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Indonesia out of extreme terror risk list

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Tue, 02/16/2010 9:24 PM

A global ranking, revealing the countries most at risk from terrorist attacks, has rated Indonesia outside the extreme risk category despite last year’s twin bomb attacks targeting international hotel chains.

The latest Terrorism Risk Index (TRI), developed by London-based Maplecroft for companies to assess terrorism risks to their international assets, saw Southeast Asian neighbor Thailand join the rank of most dangerous countries for the first time. Thailand ranked 11th last year.

Iraq (1), Afghanistan (2), Pakistan (3) and Somalia (4) top the ranking of 162 countries and are rated, along with Lebanon (5), India (6), Algeria (7), Colombia (8) and Thailand (9), as the only extreme risk nations.

The index measures not only the risks of an attack, but also the chances of mass casualties occurring.

To provide a comprehensive picture of worldwide terrorism risk Maplecroft analyses terrorist incidents every six months for their frequency, intensity and number of victims, plus the proportion of attacks that were 'mass-casualty' in each nation. A country's historical experience of terrorism was also factored in along with threats made against it by groups such as al-Qaeda.

Following the Jakarta twin hotel bomb blasts that killed nine people in July last year, Indonesian counterterror squad conducted endless crackdown on terror suspects, killing long-time top fugitive Noordin M. Top and his close accomplices in the process. The court is trying two suspects in the terror attacks.

Speculation on the demise of the euro

NRC International, 15 February 2010 12:33, by Egbert Kalse

Photo AFP

With the euro under siege, some economists are arguing radical solutions, like splitting the currency in two.

Could the euro fall after all? Until recently, the scenario seemed unthinkable, but now that the European monetary union is decomposing at the seams, it suddenly seems realistic. Only 11 years after it was introduced to the financial markets, the currency has become the plaything of currency traders.

The Greek debt crisis has triggered traders to gamble on the euro, and economists to speculate with them.

“What’s happening now is exactly what we have been warning people of for years,” says Alfred Kleinknecht, a professor of economics at Delft University. Self-proclaimed eurosceptic Arjo Klamer, a professor of cultural economy at Rotterdam’s Erasmus University agrees. “Unless the rules of the game are changed the euro will be done for quickly,” he says.

European Cassandras

The two were part of a group of 70 Dutch economists who published an open letter opposing the Economic and Monetary Union, the predecessor of the eurozone, in 1997. They then argued a monetary union like the euro could only be successful if it was backed up by a strong political union. Without it, the euro would be doomed. The economists were heckled as Cassandras at the time, but now that the euro is in hot water, their dire warnings ring more true.

In the absence of clear political leadership, confidence in the euro has begun to waiver. Even though the current exchange rate of approximately 1.36 dollars is not dramatic, historically speaking, the sentiment in the market is. British and American press seem to have declared war on the euro and opportunistic hedge funds are trading against the beleaguered currency.

Right now, Greece is the staging ground for an all-out attack on the euro. But next month, it could be Spain, Portugal or Italy’s turn.

Some, like Age Bakker, a Dutch executive director with the International Monetary Fund, feel the current unrest and pressures emanating from financial markets provide the perfect opportunity for the currency to prove itself in tough times.

Kleinknecht, however, argues the euro needs some strong medicine. He suggests breaking the eurozone into two parts, a northern one and a southern one. The former can then adopt the Nordic, or Northern currency, the latter the Medic, or Mediterranean currency.

Klamer has an even more radical solution. “We should get rid of the entire euro. It would lead to unrest in the financial market, but it would allow the smaller member states to adopt their own social policies again.”

Kleinknecht offers that after a break-up of the eurozone, countries like Hungary and Rumania, that are now excluded, could join the proposed southern currency. “This is the only way we can bring balance back to the eurozone,” he says.

Who will join the southern euro?

Casper de Vries, a professor of monetary economics at Erasmus University begs to differ however. “Who would want to be a member of the southern currency union? No one, that’s who,” he says.

Bakker of the IMF also thinks little of radical solutions. “The current attack on the euro has had a disciplinary effect. But it is a pity that the eurozone’s member states needed such a stern warning before they realised the euro needs tending to. That goes for Greece as well as it does for all the other European countries that need to get their budgets in order,” Bakker says. The IMF did not fear an imminent collapse of the currency, he adds. “We look at currency exchanges regularly and the euro is fundamentally in a good place.”

According to Kleinknecht, the problems the 16 eurozone member states are currently experiencing can be chalked up to imbalances within it. “The eurozone is having the same problems China and the US are on a larger scale. Countries like the Netherlands and Germany have gargantuan trade surpluses, while countries like Spain, Portugal and Greece have trade deficits amounting to some ten percent of their domestic product. Those deficits are mostly paid for with borrowed money. Rising employment in the Netherlands is effectively stolen from southern member states. This can only last for so long,” Kleinknecht says.

Klamer agrees. “A strong political union backing the monetary one has repeatedly proven to be a bridge too far. One of the two will have to go: national budgetary sovereignty or the unified currency,” he says.

De Vries acknowledges the eurozone suffers from these inequalities. “Theoretically, labour migration is the way to even out these disparities, but in practice language barriers and pension problems pose roadblocks,” he says. Free trade, a possible substitute for the open exchange of labour, can also do little good in this respect, since it only applies to products and not to services, which make up 70 percent of the European economy. “The Greeks will do whatever it takes to remain part of the euro. The only option left is lowering wages,” De Vries says

The three economists agree on one thing: the monetary union’s continued existence can only be guaranteed if Europe will provide for political and budgetary leadership

Something rotten in Greece

  • The current euro crisis was set off by the Greek budget deficit, which the Greek government announced late last year, would top 12 percent in 2009. The European Union has been slow to respond to the problem so far, causing uncertainty in financial markets. The finance ministers of the Eurozone are set to meet today to discuss how to handle the problem.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Saudi call for boycott against men selling lingerie

Reem Asaad recommends women go to women-only lingerie shops

Campaigners in Saudi Arabia have urged women there to begin a two-week boycott of lingerie shops with male staff.

They say it is a contradiction that in such a conservative, Islamic country, women have to give their underwear sizes to men they do not know.

Reem Asaad, an economics professor from Jeddah, organised the boycott through her Facebook page, as public protests are illegal in Saudi Arabia.

Islamic scholars have given their backing to the campaign.

"I am calling for salesmen to be replaced with saleswomen", Ms Asaad was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

"I just hope that many respond and boycott," she said.

Ms Asaad has been calling on officials to allow saleswomen in shops open to both male and female clients since 2008.

Religious police in the country have said they are not against women working in shops as long as they are in women-only malls.

Saudi Arabia's Labour Ministry has previously said it would require that women were employed in lingerie shops, but the law has not been enforced.

Ms Asaad says the law is deliberately ambiguous and allows religious clerics to effectively uphold a ban on saleswomen.

The Wahhabi strain of Islam, which dominates the country, requires absolute separation of unrelated members of the opposite sex.

Parts of Saudi society are still very traditional and do not like the idea of women working - even if they are just selling underwear to each other.

Because of the strict segregation laws barring physical contact between the sexes, women also cannot be properly measured for their underwear.

The boycott campaign comes days before a visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will hold a town hall meeting at Ms Asaad's Dar al-Hekma College.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Burma frees NLD leader Tin Oo

Tin Oo, (Photo: NRC/AFP)

Burma has freed the vice-chairman of Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition National League for Democracy (NLD).

Tin Oo, 82, has been in prison or under house arrest for more than a decade.

The release comes as Burma's ruling military junta prepares to hold national elections in 2010, though no date has yet been set.

Rumours inside Burma say Ms Suu Kyi could also be freed, probably after the elections, and once her period of house arrest expires in November.

Related Article:

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

China dismisses intent for hegemonic role in world affairs

Xinhua, English.news.cn 2010-02-09

BEIJING, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- China on Tuesday rejected speculation that its increased power would prompt the country to seek a leadership or hegemonic role in the world, stressing its path for peaceful development.

"I think neither of your arguments hold water as China has always pursued an independent foreign policy of peace," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told a regular press briefing.

Ma made the comments in response to a reporter's assertion that China's increasingly tougher line in the international arena signified the country's attempt to seek a leadership role in the world.

"We always maintain that nations, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal members of the international community," Ma said. "We neither bully other countries nor interfere in their domestic issues."

"We never allow any other country to meddle in China's internal affairs or undermine China's sovereignty or security," Ma said.

Ma said the Chinese people understood the country was still a developing country and had a long way to go before accomplishing modernization.

With its increasing power, China would continue to play a constructive role in international affairs and assume its due responsibilities and duties, Ma said.

"China will stick to the path of peaceful development. Both at present and in the future, China will never seek hegemony," Ma said.

Editor: Wang Guanqun

A lion dance troupe performs during a temple fair to celebrate
upcoming Chinese New Year in Beijing February 12, 2010. The
Chinese New Year begins on February 14th and according to the
Lunar calendar will be the Year of the Tiger. (Credit: Reuters/
Christina Hu)

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ebadi: Iran abusing rights on many fronts

CNN, By Shirin Ebadi, Special to CNN, February 9, 2010 -- Updated 0235 GMT (1035 HKT)

Shirin Ebadi speaks in Belgium after the disputed 2009 Iranian elections.


  • Shirin Ebadi cites abuses in Iran against religious minorities, women, unions, rights campaigners
  • She pleads for action from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • She accuses Iran of putting psychological pressure on political, social activists

Editor's note: Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Human Rights Advocate and 2003 Nobel Laureate, writes an Open Letter to Honorable Madam Navanethem Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and members of the United Nations Human Rights Council

(CNN) -- Although I have already highlighted the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran on several occasions in writing and in person, I deem it necessary to once again draw the attention of Your Honor and the distinguished members of the UNHRC to the following issues as you prepare to review the Islamic Republic of Iran's human rights record, on February 15, 2010.

My compatriots have endured a difficult period. Their peaceful protests were responded with bullets and imprisonment. Many photographs and witnesses corroborate the government's violence, not to mention instances when sufficient facts and evidence were presented to the authorities and public that revealed the identity of the killers.

Sadly, however, the Judiciary and other state officials have not taken any steps to arrest the killers or even reduce the level of violence.

A large number of political, civil, and even cultural, activists have been arrested on unfounded charges. Some of them were sentenced to death after summary trials behind closed doors.

So far, based on official figures released by the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, four of them have been executed and more than 25 others are awaiting their impending fate.

Political prisoners are treated so badly that some have died in jail and under torture. These prisoners are even deprived of the rights afforded by law to ordinary and dangerous inmates.

There are some whose conditions are very serious because of old age and illness. They include Dr Ebrahim Yazdi, Dr Mohammad Maleki, and engineer Behzad Nabavi. The first two are almost 80 years of age and are suffering from cancer, while the third is suffering from heart problems.

They receive no medical care and, because of the unsanitary prison conditions, there are fears that they could die at any moment.

Tragically, the number of political prisoners who are ill and in need of medical treatment is not limited to these three; there are more than 60 political prisoners who need to be hospitalized.

Iran has turned into a big prison for journalists whose only crime is to disseminate information. There are currently 63 reporters and photojournalists in Iran's prisons. Iranian students are imprisoned or barred from education for making the slightest political criticism.

Iranian women who seek equal rights are charged with conspiring to overthrow the Islamic Republic; criminal proceedings have been instituted against more than 100 of these women.

Workers and teachers have been accused of causing riots and disorder because they were trade union members and had protested against their low wages. Some of them have been imprisoned, and many have lost their jobs.

Not only non-Muslims are persecuted -- such as members of the Baha'i faith who, since the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, have not even been allowed to study at university -- but even the followers of Iran's official religion, Shi'ite Islam, have not been immune from government repression; as an example, one could cite the persecution and detention of the Gonabad Dervishes [who practice the Sufi tradition of Islam].

Even more appallingly, they have recently embarked on yet another means of exerting pressure on political and social activists, which is to take one or a few of their relatives hostage.

In so doing, they aim to attain their illegitimate objectives through putting psychological pressure on the activists. In that regard, one could point to the arrest of two daughters of a human rights activist Mr. Tavassoli. Sadly, so far eight families have been victims of the same phenomenon.

Meanwhile, the plight of human rights defenders is the worst because the authorities do not want any reports whatsoever on the human rights violations in Iran to leave the country.

As a result, most of the known activists in Iran are either in prison or barred from traveling abroad; or they have been forced underground and into hiding. More distressingly, indictments have been issued against some of them for Moharebeh (waging war against God), which is punishable by death.

Under such circumstances, the defenseless people of Iran are continuing to resist and insist on the realization of their just demands for democracy and human rights by demonstrating their political maturity through peaceful protests.

My question to you in your capacity as representatives of UNHRC member states is this: For how much longer do you believe that you could urge young people to remain calm? The patience and tolerance of Iranian people, however high, is not infinite.

A recurrence of the recent months' events, the continuation of the repressive policies, and the killing of defenseless people, could bring about a catastrophe that may undermine peace and security in Iran, if not in the entire region.

So, I urge you, yet again, to use whatever means possible to convince the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to abide by the resolutions adopted by the U.N. General Assembly, in particular the resolution of December 2009; to allow human rights rapporteurs, especially those who deal with arbitrary arrests, freedom of expression, religion and women's rights, to enter Iran, and to cooperate with them.

I also urge you to appoint a special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, who would be able to continuously monitor the government's conduct and, by offering prompt advice and suggestions, help end the political crisis and mounting repression.

My honorable friends! Please bear in mind that we are all responsible and accountable to history. God forbid, lest we stand ashamed before a defenseless nation because of our political complicities.

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Twitter helped get photos and information out of Iran during anti-government protests last year. (AFP Photo/Twitter)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Euro zone seeks to calm Greek crisis fears at G7

Reuters, Gernot Heller and Glenn Somerville, IQALUIT, Canada, Sat Feb 6, 2010 4:51pm EST

France's Finance Minister Christine Lagarde speaks with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke during the G7 finance ministers' meeting in Iqaluit, Nunavut, February 5, 2010. (Credit: Reuters/Chris Wattie)

IQALUIT, Canada (Reuters) - The euro zone's top finance officials sought on Saturday to calm concerns about a deep budget crisis that has roiled financial markets and raised questions about the future of the single currency group.

After a two-day meeting of finance ministers and central bankers from the G7 industrialized nations, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet issued a statement to address fears that Greece's debts are out of control.

Trichet said he believed Greece would meet tough new belt-tightening targets.

"We expect and we are confident that the Greek government will take all the decisions that will permit it to reach that goal that I reiterated," Trichet said in the statement.

But markets have been stumbling for weeks on concerns about Greece, and not everyone was convinced.

"Trichet's comments are unlikely to have any significant impact on the market on Monday," said Michael Woolfolk, Senior Currency Strategist at Bank of New York Mellon in New York.

"What I think is needed is an agreement on behalf of the EU to provide further support for Greece to further ensure that it doesn't default."

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the Europeans gave the G7 a "very comprehensive review" of the Greek austerity program. "They made clear to us they will manage this with great care," Geithner told reporters.

Finance chiefs from the world's rich powers met in the town of Iqaluit, in Canada's remote Arctic north, on Friday and Saturday to renew a pledge to keep their stimulus plans in place while a global economic recovery builds, and to discuss efforts to reform global banking.

Geithner said the G7 had underscored its commitment to reinforcing and strengthening the economic recovery. Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said the global economy was improving but still needed nurturing by governments.

"We do not have a firmly established recovery yet, but there are signs," he told reporters.

"We need to continue to deliver the stimulus to which we are committed and begin to look ahead to exit strategies and to move to a more sustainable fiscal track."

After last week's nervousness in financial markets around the world, the European debt crisis quickly rose to the top of the agenda at the meeting.

Euro zone countries like Greece, Spain and Portugal are under increasing pressure to bring spending under control.

The euro currency fell on Friday to its lowest level against the dollar in 8-1/2 months and stock markets touched three-month lows as fears rose about a huge bailout and the possible destabilization of the 16-country euro zone.

International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who attended the G7 meeting, said last week his institution was ready to help Greece if asked.

Jean-Claude Juncker, chairman of the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers, told Reuters IMF help would not be needed.

"We, the representatives of the euro area, have made it clear that the situation in Greece is serious, and that the problem will be resolved," Juncker later told reporters.

Guenther Oettinger, a German Conservative leader, warned in a Saturday newspaper interview the euro currency was "in danger of becoming unstable," although his comments contradicted those of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

"The euro will stay stable," Schaeuble told reporters on Friday. "Markets always tend to overreact."

Greece, with a budget deficit of nearly 13 percent of gross domestic product, is due to announce next week how it plans to raise taxes and control public pay. It is aiming to slash the deficit to under 3 percent of GDP by 2012.

European officials hope the austerity plan will fend off any need for a bailout of the country.

The United States and other big economies are also saddled with debts, having spent heavily to stave off a depression in the wake of the 2008 credit crisis.

Ratings agency Moody's Investors Service this week said the United States must do more to keep its AAA rating after the Obama administration said it expected a deficit equivalent to 10.6 percent of gross domestic product in 2010, more than three times the level considered sustainable by economists

On bank rules, the G7 on Saturday renewed a call for stronger and internationally agreed capital standards, to provide a cushion for banks against future crises, and an agreement that banks should help pay for rescuing the financial system themselves.

The G7 group would consider a British idea of a levy on banks to help pay for the cost of dealing with financial crises, a G7 official said on Saturday, adding countries would seek to avoid any such measures hurting the economic recovery.

The G7 meeting was seen as possibly the last standalone gathering of a group that has dominated international finance for decades.

The rise of China and other emerging market heavyweights has left the G7 less able to manage the global economy and last year world leaders endorsed the wider G20 group as the main forum for discussing the global economy.

Canada said the discussions in the Arctic underscored how the G7 was still important.

"Our meeting has reaffirmed the proven role of the G7 as a first responder and as a sounding board for common challenges," Flaherty said. "We look forward to our next meeting on the margins of the usual spring meeting of the IMF."

(Additional reporting by members of the Reuters reporting team in Iqaluit, Writing by William Schomberg and Janet Guttsman, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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