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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Sunday, July 31, 2011

UFOTV Presents...: Out of the Blue - Military Disclosure Has Begun - National Press Club LIVE

This presentation provides LIVE coverage of that historic press conference. In attendance for this shocking, Earth shattering event includes former Governor of Arizona - Fife Symington; Belgian Airforce Major General, Ret. - Wilfried De Brouwer; Engineer, Astronomer and Astrophysicist - Dr. Claude Poher; Captain, Air France, Ret. - Jean-Charles Duboc; French Astrophysicist - Dr. Jean-Claude Ribes; General, Iranian Airforce, Ret. - Parviz Jafari; Captain, Army of Chile - Rodrigo Bravo Garrido; Commander, Peruvian Airforce, Ret. Oscar Santa Maria Huertas; Founding Member of the Peruvian Airforce Office of Investigation of Anomalous Ariel Phenomena (OIFAA) - Dr. Anthony Choy; Captain, Aurigny Airlines, UK - Ray Bowyer; Officer, British Ministry of Defense, Ret. - Nick Pope; Sgt. United States Airforce, Ret. - James Penniston; Col. United States Airforce, Ret. - Charles Halt; and Division Chief of the Accident Evaluations and Investigations Division of the FAA, Washington D.C., Ret. - John Callahan.

UFO Near Guernsey (UK) - Pilot Interview

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Crop circle - Cherhill White Horse, Nr Calne, Wiltshire.
Reported 27th July 2011.

This presentation provides LIVE coverage of that historic press conference. In attendance for this shocking, Earth shattering event includes former Governor of Arizona - Fife Symington; Belgian Airforce Major General, Ret. - Wilfried De Brouwer; Engineer, Astronomer and Astrophysicist - Dr. Claude Poher; Captain, Air France, Ret. - Jean-Charles Duboc; French Astrophysicist - Dr. Jean-Claude Ribes; General, Iranian Airforce, Ret. - Parviz Jafari; Captain, Army of Chile - Rodrigo Bravo Garrido; Commander, Peruvian Airforce, Ret. Oscar Santa Maria Huertas; Founding Member of the Peruvian Airforce Office of Investigation of Anomalous Ariel Phenomena (OIFAA) - Dr. Anthony Choy; Captain, Aurigny Airlines, UK - Ray Bowyer; Officer, British Ministry of Defense, Ret. - Nick Pope; Sgt. United States Airforce, Ret. - James Penniston; Col. United States Airforce, Ret. - Charles Halt; and Division Chief of the Accident Evaluations and Investigations Division of the FAA, Washington D.C., Ret. - John Callahan.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Richard Nixon Watergate testimony ordered released

BBC News, 29 July 2011

Related Stories 

The secret grand jury testimony given by former US President Richard Nixon over the Watergate scandal is set to be released after more than 36 years, following an order by a federal judge.

Richard Nixon resigned following the
Watergate political scandal
Judge Royce Lamberth granted a request by historian Stanley Kutler to release the transcript, citing of its historical significance.

But it will not be unsealed until the government has had a chance to appeal.

The political scandal prompted Nixon to resign in 1974.

Nixon, who died 17 years ago, was the only US president to resign.

He left office amid the fallout after a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington.

Nixon testified for two days in California in June 1975, 10 months after his resignation.

Judge Lamberth ruled that the historical interest in the 297-page transcript far outweighed the need to keep the records secret.

Watergate's "significance in American history cannot be overstated," Judge Lamberth wrote.

"The disclosure of President Nixon's grand jury testimony would likely enhance the existing historical record, foster scholarly discussion and improve the public's understanding of a significant historical event," he said.

Mr Kutler, a professor from the University of Wisconsin, has written several books about Nixon and Watergate and has previously successfully sued to force the release of audio recordings Nixon secretly made in the Oval Office.

"Nixon knew when you testified before a grand jury you exposed yourself to perjury, so I'm betting he told the truth," Mr Kutler said.

"Now, what did he tell the truth about? I don't know."

Related Article:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Credit rating execs to face congressional heat

Reuters, by Karey Wutkowski, WASHINGTON, Wed Jul 27, 2011

(Reuters) - Executives from U.S. credit rating agencies are expected to face sharp congressional scrutiny on Wednesday for their companies' roles in the financial crisis and the U.S. debt ceiling debate.

Deven Sharma, president of McGraw-Hill Cos Inc unit Standard & Poor's, and Michael Rowan, global managing director for the commercial group at Moody's Corp's Moody's Investors Service, are due to appear before the House Financial Services subcommittee.

The hearing was originally scheduled to analyze whether the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial oversight law had succeeded in reducing investors' blind reliance on rating agencies.

Such companies have been blamed for helping to fuel the financial crisis by assigning top ratings to securities that were backed by subprime mortgages, which then plummeted in value as the housing market collapsed.

But, it is the companies' front-and-center role in the deficit debate that is now expected to draw the most heat.

The agencies have been criticized for issuing ratings and warnings that negatively reflect on countries in the throes of sensitive negotiations regarding sovereign debt, including Greece and the United States.

"The debt ceiling negotiations and the long-term fiscal health of the U.S. have brought a renewed focus on the credit rating agencies," Randy Neugebauer, chairman of the oversight subcommittee, said in a statement on Tuesday.

U.S. lawmakers are trying to reach a deal by August 2 to raise the $14.3 trillion U.S. debt limit and avoid a credit default.


Rating agencies have warned that the United States needs to come up with a credible deficit-reduction plan to keep its triple-A rating in the long term. S&P has threatened to downgrade the country in the next three months in the absence of such a plan.

In prepared testimony released on Tuesday and due to be delivered on Wednesday, Sharma and Rowan said their companies were embracing Dodd-Frank reforms, including dropping credit ratings from information used by government agencies when judging the riskiness of a company.

A Republican aide said lawmakers would press regulators and rating agency executives on whether Dodd-Frank perpetuates the market power of the Big Three rating agencies -- S&P, Moody's and Fimalac SA's Fitch Ratings.

Republicans will question whether the cost to rating agencies to comply with new regulations is so high that it stifles competition, the aide said.

In the testimony, Sharma warned against over-regulation by the government that would push the companies into using a common rating methodology rather than individual methods to arrive at ratings. He said such an approach would compromise their independence.

"In a global economy where we rate more than 120 sovereign governments, it is particularly important that rating methodologies not become subject to influence by one or more countries seeking to benefit its own rating, which would undermine the independence, comparability and value of ratings to all," Sharma said.

(Reporting by Karey Wutkowski and Sarah N. Lynch in Washington and Daniel Bases in New York; Editing by Andrea Ricci, Gary Crosse; Toni Reinhold)

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding
says rating agencies are too dominant

Gay couple asked to reverse shirt at Dollywood

Associated Press, By KRISTIN M. HALL

In a July 25, 2011 photo, lesbian couple Jennifer Tipton, left, and Olivier
Odom are seen at a coffee house in Knoxville, Tenn. The couple are calling
 for Dollywood Splash County to be more inclusive to its guests after they
 were asked to reverse the pro-gay marriage T-shirt worn by Odom, during
a recent visit.
(AP Photo/Knoxville News Sentinel, Saul Young)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- A lesbian couple is asking for changes at Dollywood after an employee asked one of the women to turn her T-shirt reading "marriage is so gay" inside-out to avoid offending others on a recent visit to the Tennessee theme park complex.

Olivier Odom and Jennifer Tipton told The Knoxville News Sentinel they want the park to be more inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families after Odom was asked to reverse her shirt when they visited Dollywood Splash Country next to the Pigeon Forge amusement park. The story was first reported by WBIR-TV in Knoxville.

Dollywood spokesman Pete Owens said on Tuesday that Dollywood is open to all families, but their dress code policy is to ask people with clothing or tattoos that could be considered offensive to change clothes or cover up.

Owens said the couple was not asked to leave and complied with the rules to reverse the shirt when asked.

"The park is open every day to everybody," Owens said. "We try to provide an environment for families of all shapes and sizes to enjoy themselves.

Owens said park officials are discussing the matter and will speak to the couple directly.

Odom said that they visited the water park July 9 with friends and their friends' children when she was asked by a person at the ticket booth to turn her shirt inside out because it was a family park.

Odom said she complied so as not to make a scene in front of the children, but felt offended.

"Our whole deal is about marriage equality and being treated equally," said Tipton. "It's not that we're trying to cause a big stir."

Odom and Tipton are not legally married, but held a ceremony last year in North Carolina. They wrote an email to the park asking the park "to implement policies that are inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; conduct staff sensitivity training; and issue a public statement indicating that the park is inclusive of all families."

Owens said the couple's complaints have sparked discussion at the park about the dress code, a policy that park employees deal with frequently because of the thousands of visitors every year.---

Information from: The Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com

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Phyllis Siegel, 76, kisses her wife Connie Kopelov, 84,
 after exchanging vows in front of New York City Council
 speaker Christine C. Quinn. 
The couple have been
 together for 23 years

New York says 'I do' to gay marriage - in pictures

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

NJ gov sued over communication with Fox News head

Associated Press, By BETH DeFALCO, 25 July 2011

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was sued Monday over his administration's refusal to release correspondence between the president of Fox News and the governor or his staff after a report that the head of the network tried to persuade the first-term GOP governor to run for president in 2012 last summer.

Fox News President Roger Ailes has denied urging Christie to run for president. But speculation continues over whether Christie would jump into the race, even though he has repeatedly said he will not.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey filed suit Monday on behalf of John Cook, a reporter for Gawker Entertainment LLC, who sought the information under state's Open Public Records Law.

The governor's office initially refused to confirm any records existed and said that, if they did, they would be exempt from state's open records law based on "executive privilege" as a reason to withhold records from the public. Executive privilege is intended to protect the governor and other elected officials from disclosing records that contain advice to them about their official public duties.

After the lawsuit was filed Monday, the governor's office denied that there were any other records besides a calendar entry.

"Please be advised that this office is in possession of no other records responsive to your request," Raymond Brandes, an attorney for the governor, said in a letter sent to the ACLU and Cook on Monday

In the letter, Christie's office confirmed that he and his wife, Mary Pat, attended a private dinner on Sept. 11, 2010, in New York but declined to comment beyond the letter.

A New York Magazine story in May reported that Ailes, like many others, tried to persuade Christie to run against President Barack Obama in 2012. Following that article, Gawker's Cook filed the public records request.

Ailes, who created Fox, the network of choice for many Republican viewers, in 1996, is a former media consultant for Presidents Nixon, Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

"The public has a right to know whether the head of America's most-watched cable news channel is advising a sitting governor on state matters," Gawker's Cook said in a statement. "If the emails on the state system between the governor and Ailes don't relate to Christie's functions as governor, then they can't be hidden from the public."

In its filings, the ACLU-NJ argues that for executive privilege to be invoked the governor must include an index of potential records and explanation of why executive privilege applies to a judge to privately examine.

"New Jersey needs a system in place to separate executive privilege from carte blanche," ACLU president Frank Corrado, who is representing Cook, said in a statement. "Executive privilege exists to help a governor carry out constitutional obligations, not to diminish the constitutional right to a free press."

Emails sent to Fox News seeking comment not returned on Monday.

Christie was due in Iowa on Monday to speak at an education conference and headline a political fundraiser for a congressman. The trip did little to quell the presidential talk.

News Corp's New York headquarters. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
 forbids US-based companies from profiting from bribery in other
countries. Photograph: Mary Altaffer/AP

Related Articles:

Phone hacking: US authorities preparing to subpoena News Corp

Sen. Frank Lautenberg is calling for an investigation
into whether News Corp. violated U.S. laws.

Meetings: Rupert Murdoch (left) was met twice by
Chancellor George Osborne (right), who also had a further
14 meetings with News Corp executives

Monday, July 25, 2011

Vatican recalls Irish papal envoy after Cloyne report

BBC News, 25 July 2011

Related Stories 

The Vatican has recalled its special envoy in Ireland after a damning report on the Catholic Church's handling of child abuse by priests.

Enda Kenny accused the Church of putting its
reputation ahead of child rape victims
Vatican radio has reported that Papal Nuncio Giuseppe Leanza is being called back to Rome to discuss the impact of the recent Cloyne Report.

It showed how allegations of sex abuse by priests in Cork had been covered up.

The report led to angry condemnation of the Vatican by Prime Minister Enda Kenny in the Irish Parliament.

In a blistering attack, Mr Kenny accused the Church of putting its reputation ahead of child rape victims.

He told the Irish parliament that the report into how allegations of sex abuse by priests in Cork had been covered up showed change was urgently needed.

"The rape and torture of children were downplayed or 'managed' to uphold instead the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and 'reputation'," the taoiseach said last Wednesday.

At the weekend, the prime minster said he had received thousands of messages of support from around the world - many were from the clergy, he said.

He said this reflected the way people felt about the Catholic Church's role on clerical child abuse.

He told an audience at an annual cultural event in County Donegal at the weekend that the messages showed how people felt.

Mr Kenny said he was "astounded" at the number of clergy who contacted him after his speech on the Cloyne Report.

"The fact that I have had thousands of messages from around the world speaks for itself about the impact and the way people feel," he said.

"The numbers of members of the clergy who have been in touch in the last few days to say it is about time somebody spoke out about these matters in a situation like you are, has astounded me."

Mr Kenny received a standing ovation after he finished delivering the annual lecture at the opening session of the summer school.

A statement is expected on the Vatican website at midday.

Enda Kenny on "dysfunction, disconnection and
elitism" of Catholic Church

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

'Paranoid Israel sees Gaza flotilla as another attack'

Israel's military have taken control of the last ship from Freedom Flotilla 2 and are convoying it to Israel. Activist Itamar Shapiro, who took part in the last year's deadly flotilla attempt, told RT why Israel feels so threatened by such missions.

RT on Twitter: http://twitter.com/RT_com

Phone hacking: US authorities preparing to subpoena News Corp

Investigation launced into whether News Corp broke anti-bribery and hacking laws in US

guardian.co.uk, Ed Pilkington in New York, Friday 22 July 2011

News Corp's New York headquarters. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
 forbids US-based companies from profiting from bribery in other
countries. Photograph: Mary Altaffer/AP

The judicial screws are tightening on Rupert Murdoch's empire in America as the US justice department prepares to subpoena News Corporation in its investigation into whether the company broke anti-bribery and hacking laws on both sides of the Atlantic.

The news that subpoenas are being drawn up, reported by News Corp's flagship newspaper the Wall Street Journal, comes a week after attorney general Eric Holder said he was launching a preliminary investigation into the media group as a result of the UK phone-hacking scandal.

According to the Journal, the subpoenas will be broadly cast to draw information from the company relevant to the investigation, though final approval has yet to be granted by top justice department officials. In addition, it has emerged that federal prosecutors have begun probing allegations that News Corp's advertising arm in the US hacked into a computer of a competitor as part of a campaign to crush its rival.

A lawyer for the smaller company, Floorgraphics, told NBC he was visited by two federal prosecutors and an FBI agent. News Corp declined to comment on the legal moves.

Mary Mulligan, a former federal prosecutor in the southern district of New York that handles many of the big corporate cases of this sort, said there were numerous directions in which the probe of News Corp could go. "This is a complicated investigation, and a very important matter that's being looked into." She said the FBI and other federal agents would be guided by what they found.

"The facts are going to drive any charges that arise – what was accessed, how it was accessed and where."

One specific allegation that the FBI is investigating is whether News of the World journalists tried to access the phone records of 9/11 victims. The claim was raised in the UK's Daily Mirror, though, so far, no solid evidence has emerged to support it. If the accusations are confirmed, News Corp could be susceptible to prosecution under Title 18 USC 2701, involving unlawful access to stored communications, or 2703 and 2704 if the mobile phone messages are found to have been stored on a separate server.

News Corp also faces a possibly lengthy and costly federal probe into whether it broke anti-bribery laws as part of the illegal News of the World phone hacking in the UK.

The company is potentially liable under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which bans US-based companies from profiting from bribery and corruption in other countries.

News Corp is a US-based firm, its headquarters on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan.

FCPA experts have suggested that it could be brought under the auspices of the act because News of the World journalists bribed police officers in the UK in search of exclusive stories that in turn increased sales and generated profits.

It is not a defence for News Corp executives to argue that they were unaware of the bribery. Under the FCPA, a company can still be penalised if it should have known – what is called "willful blindness".

News Corp could also come under the scrutiny of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which is jointly responsible with the justice department for policing the FCPA.

The SEC will want to know whether News Corp properly declared all its activities in its accounts or whether it tried to hide any bribes made within the UK under false accounting returns.

It is not known precisely what information investigators are seeking from News Corp under the subpoenas, but it could include News of the World accounts which would then be examined by forensic accountants.

News Corp itself seems to be most anxious about the FCPA side of the federal investigations, judging from the legal team it has assembled – some of the heaviest hitters in American legal affairs.

They include Brendan Sullivan, a formidable trial lawyer once described as "the legal equivalent of nuclear war", and Mark Mendelsohn, who used to head the justice department section that decides which FCPA cases to prosecute. He is joined by Michael Mukasey, a former US attorney general, and his legal partner Mary Jo White, who represented Siemens in one of the largest FCPA cases ever.

The Siemens case underlined how serious an FCPA prosecution could be for News Corp. In 2008, the engineering company admitted bribing foreign officials around the world and paid a record $800m (£490m) in settlement. That included $350m in disgorgement – a repayment for the profits it was estimated to have made as a result of the bribery.

No figure exists for how much money News of the World made out of its phone hacking activities. Under the FCPA, a rough calculation would be made which News Corp could be forced to disgorge.

Related Article:

Barack Obama warns Americans will suffer without debt crisis deal

President engaged in talks with Republican leader to negotiate deal, which would mean $3tn cuts in federal spending

guardian.co.uk, Ewen MacAskill in Washington, Friday 22 July 2011

Barack Obama addresses the University of Maryland meeting on Friday,
 warning of an urgent need for a deal on US debt.
Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Barack Obama has warned of drastic consequences if America does not reach a deal on the debt crisis facing the country, saying: "If we do not solve it, every American will suffer."

With only 10 days left until the deadline, Obama and the Republican leader in the House, John Boehner, have been engaged in behind-the-scenes talks trying to negotiate a compromise. But a deal is still in doubt, facing fierce resistance from diehard Republicans in Congress – elected last year with the help of the Tea Party movement – and from left-leaning Democrats.

Speaking at a public meeting in Maryland on Friday, Obama said defaulting on its debt was not an option. "We have never defaulted on our debt and we are not going to do it now," he said. A default would be a major embarrassment to the US, with some economists warning it could trigger a new worldwide recession.

The US chamber of commerce expressed nervousness over the prospect of America's credit rating being downgraded.

A deal would see more than $3 trillion slashed from federal spending over the next decade, including farm subsidies, military spending, social security and basic medical insurance.

Federal payments to state governments could also be hit. State governors are laying down emergency plans, with California, among others, looking for alternative sources of borrowing to tide it over. Banks and businesses are also working feverishly preparing for worst-case scenarios.

The crisis is the biggest test of wills yet between Obama and hardline Republicans endorsed by the Tea Party movement. It dwarfs the stand-off earlier this year when the federal government faced shutdown.

Republicans want huge spending cuts to reduce the country's massive national debt but oppose any tax rises. Democrats have agreed to spending cuts but want to protect the poorest and to ensure that any package includes tax rises.

The US is closer to the brink than the 2 August deadline suggests. Congress would have to begin pushing through legislation by about Monday to meet that deadline.

According to the Treasury, America reached its borrowing limit of $14.3tn on 16 May but is able to keep servicing its debts until 2 August.

Mark Blyth, professor of politics at Brown University and author of the forthcoming book Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea, said no one knew what the impact of defaulting would be because the situation was unprecedented.

He said the US had a long-term, serious problem, given its enormous fiscal gap and dependence on China, which has been bailing the US out and which has twice expressed concern about the impact of the default crisis on its investments.

The US economy "is like Wile E Coyote who runs off the cliff and it takes him a while to realise it. What has been keeping him up is Chinese blowing air up," Blyth said.

Obama, up for re-election in November next year, has seen a sharp decline in his popularity because of the sluggishness of the US recovery from recession, with unemployment frustratingly failing to budge from just over 9%.

In spite of the negative ratings on his handling of the economy, he is doing better on the deficit issue, according to polls, with many independents, the voters who usually decide elections, blaming the Republicans and preferring a mix of spending cuts and tax increases rather than spending cuts alone.

The Democratic leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, reflecting his party's unhappiness with the tentative deal, said: "This can't be all cuts, there has to be a balance."

Credit ratings agencies such as Moody's and Standard & Poor's have put the US on notice that its triple-A rating could be downgraded, which would be a national humiliation.

A glimpse into what might happen was provided by Minnesota earlier this month when the state had to close down, with disruption reaching down even to minor elements of daily life, from beer supplies to adoption papers.

Ross Baker, professor of politics at Rutgers University, compared the US economy, with its huge debt, to a patient who needs both first aid and long-term care.

"The Democrats are the first-aid squad with their concern over the lack of money to stimulate the economy and produce jobs. The Republicans are in charge of the long-term care facility with their preoccupation with multi-generational debt levels," Baker said.

As part of this partisan battle, the House, in which the Republicans have a majority, earlier this week passed a bill to cut $5.8tn from the budget over the next 10 years. It was a symbolic move, with legislation having no chance of passing the Senate, where the Democrats have a majority.

In another symbolic move, the Senate yesterday scheduled a vote on the House bill in order to demonstrate it did not have support.

Explainer: the debt ceiling

In the past, lifting the federal debt ceiling would have passed largely unnoticed in Washington. But what makes a difference this year is that Republicans, elected with the support of the Tea Party movement, are refusing to agree unless the Obama administration makes deep cuts in spending.

The deadline for raising the $14.3tn debt limit is 2 August, according to the US Treasury. Failure to increase the limit could mean the US defaults, unable to pay its bills.

Economists are divided on what would happen next, as the situation is unprecedented, but many warn that default would have disastrous consequences not only for the US but the world economy, possibly starting a new recession.

One possibility is a short-term deal that would allow government borrowing for another eight months, in return for a more modest $1tn in cuts.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

US set to end ban on openly gay troops

US defence secretary to certify that repealing prohibition will not hurt military's ability to fight

guardian.co.uk, Associated Press in Washington, Friday 22 July 2011

Two women, both active duty sailors in the navy, kiss during a gay pride
parade in San Diego. Photograph: Gregory Bull/AP

The US defence secretary, Leon Panetta, is set to end the ban on gay people serving openly in the armed forces, certifying that repealing the 17-year-old prohibition would not hurt the US military's ability to fight.

His decision comes two weeks after US military chiefs told Panetta that ending the ban would not affect military readiness. Dismantling the ban fulfils a 2008 campaign promise by Barack Obama, who helped usher the repeal through Congress and signed it into law late last December.

The move triggered vehement opposition from some in Congress and initial reluctance from military leaders, who worried that it could trigger a backlash and erode troop cohesion on the battlefield.

Defence officials said the announcement would be made later on Friday.

Obama is also expected to certify the change. Repeal of the ban would become effective 60 days after certification, which could open the military to gay servicemen and women by the end of September.

The "don't ask, don't tell" policy, adopted under Bill Clinton, has come under an onslaught of legal challenges, including a federal court ruling early in July that ordered the US government to immediately stop enforcing the gay ban.

Days later, however, the Obama administration appealed the ruling, saying that abruptly ending the ban would complicate the orderly process for repeal that had already been set in motion.

A San Francisco appeals court agreed, but added a caveat: the government could not investigate, penalise or discharge anyone for being openly gay.

The military services have conducted extensive internal studies and about five months of training to gauge how troops would react to the change.

A survey last year found that some two-thirds would not care if the ban was lifted. Opposition to the repeal was strongest among combat troops, particularly marines.

The bulk of the military has been trained on the new law, including a complex swath of details about how the change will or will not affect housing, transfers or other health and social benefits. In most cases, the guidelines demand that gay men and lesbians are treated just as any other soldier, sailor, air crew or marine is treated.

As training went on this year, senior military leaders said they had seen no real problems.

Panetta's predecessor as US defence secretary, Robert Gates, told the Associated Press that people had been "mildly and pleasantly surprised at the lack of pushback in the training".

There will still be differences, however, since same sex partners will not be given the same housing and other benefits as married couples. Instead, they will be treated like unmarried couples.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defence Network, a national organisation representing gay troops, said Panetta's action was welcomed by gay and lesbian troops "who have had to serve their country in silence for far too long".

Phyllis Siegel, 76, kisses her wife Connie Kopelov, 84,
 after exchanging vows in front of New York City Council
 speaker Christine C. Quinn.
The couple have been
 together for 23 years

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