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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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cayman Islands and Costa Rica agree to share bank account details with US

The alleged tax havens have signed agreements with the United States to tell the IRS about funds held offshore by Americans

theguardian.com, Reuters in Washington, Friday 29 November 2013

The Cayman Islands will turn over details of Americans' offshore accounts to US
tax authorities. Photograph: David Doubilet/National Geographic/Getty Images

The United States has signed agreements with the Cayman Islands and Costa Rica to help those countries' banks comply with an anti-tax evasion law starting next year, the Treasury Department said on Friday.

The deals are part of the US effort to enforce the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which was enacted in 2010 and is set to take effect in July 2014. FATCA requires foreign financial institutions to tell the US Internal Revenue Service about Americans' offshore accounts worth more than $50,000. It was enacted after a Swiss banking scandal showed that 17,000 US taxpayers had hidden substantial fortunes overseas. On Thursday a former UBS banker, Raoul Weil, agreed to be extradited to the US to face charges arising from that scandal.

With these two deals, both signed this week, the Treasury has now finished 12 FATCA "intergovernmental agreements" (IGAs), which help countries' financial institutions comply with the law.

The FATCA agreement with the Cayman Islands was initially agreed to in August. The island territory of 53,000 people has no income tax and is frequently labelled as a tax haven by critics. It is one of the world's most popular destinations for investment funds to organise for tax purposes.

Costa Rica was one of three Central American countries the Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation (OECD) has tagged as a tax haven. Panama and Belize were the other two. Significantly, the Costa Rica deal is reciprocal, meaning the Costa Rican government can get tax information about its citizens with assets in the United States.

The trading of financial information, though not part of the Cayman Islands deal but included in many of the other 11 FATCA agreements, has rankled US banks. In April, the Texas Bankers Association and the Florida Bankers Association, both industry groups, filed a lawsuit attempting to block a Treasury Department rule that would allow the IRS to send certain bank account information to foreign governments.

The case, filed in the US district court for the District of Columbia, is awaiting a judge's ruling on whether the bankers' associations have standing.

Related Articles:

Offshore Secrets

Friday, November 29, 2013

Iran, US to open joint chamber of commerce

Google – AFP, 28 November 2013

Iranians look at newspapers displayed on the ground outside a kiosk in
Tehran on November 25, 2013 (AFP/File, Atta Kenare)

Tehran — Iran and the United States are to establish a joint chamber of commerce within a month, with direct flights also planned, an Iranian official said Wednesday in a newspaper report.

"Iran-US chamber of commerce will be launched in less than one month," Abolfazl Hejazi, a member of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, told the English-language Iran Daily.

In the wake of a historic accord on Sunday between Tehran and major powers on Iran's controversial nuclear programme, Hejazi also said his country was ready to start direct flights to the United States.

After the 1979 revolution in Iran, Washington severed diplomatic relations with Tehran following the seizure of its embassy in Tehran, during which Islamist students held 52 US diplomats hostage for 444 days.

According to Hejazi, the project which he said had already been registered in the United States would allow the two countries to work towards restoring ties.

Hejazi also said the government has authorised the private sector to launch joint activities and that Iran was ready to establish direct flights to the United States.

Flights would connect Kish Island in southwest Iran with New York, he said.

"This is because Kish Island is a free trade zone and Iranian passengers who have US citizenship will not need to obtain visas to enter it," he said.

Hejazi said direct flights would "enable us to export domestic products to the US and import high-tech products and raw materials from the country."

On the sidelines of his visit to the UN General Assembly in late September, President Hassan Rouhani pledged to ease travel to Iran for the hundreds of thousands of Iranians living in the United States.

Related Articles:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

EU lays down steps US must take to protect data

Google – AFP, 27 November 2013

A pictures shows binary code reflected from a computer screen in a
woman's eye on October 22, 2012 (AFP/File, Leon Neal)

Brussels — The EU on Wednesday laid down steps Washington must take to restore trust after a huge spy scandal, including giving EU citizens the right to US legal redress to protect personal data.

"Massive spying on our citizens, companies and leaders is unacceptable," EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said, adding there was "now a window of opportunity to rebuild trust which we expect our American partners to use".

An umbrella agreement being negotiated on EU-US data protection "has to give European citizens concrete and enforceable rights, notably the right to judicial redress in the US whenever their personal data are being processed in the US," Reding said in a statement.

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding
 speaks during a press conference in
 Brussels, on September 17, 2013 (AFP/File,
John Thys)
At the same time, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malstroem said she was satisfied that separate EU-US accords on the transfer of airline passenger and financial transaction data were working properly.

A key concern in Europe -- where memories of surveillance by fascist and communist dictatorships remain alive -- is the pressure Washington exerts on giant US companies to hand over personal data, including those of EU citizens, on national security grounds.

Up to now, Brussels and Washington have reconciled their differences in a 2001 'Safe Harbour' agreement meant to ensure US companies respect EU norms on commercial use of personal data.

In the EU, personal data protection is considered to be a basic right whose commercial use must be carefully controlled.

Safe Harbour now needs to be tightened up, Redding said, setting a deadline of mid-2014 to agree the changes with Washington.

Among 13 suggested changes, she included a provision requiring US companies to make clear the extent to which US authorities have the right to collect and process personal data they may have gathered.

The "national security" justification often cited for such government access must also be used only if strictly necessary.

Reding said the EU should conclude reform of its own data protection laws and be actively involved to ensure that US reforms promised by President Barack Obama "also benefit EU citizens".

Highlighted by the reported US tapping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone, data protection has become a hugely sensitive topic since intelligence leaker Edward Snowden released evidence of a massive network of US spy operations on friend and foe alike earlier this year.

The uproar prompted the European Parliament to call for talks on a massive free trade deal with the United States to be scrapped, along with the Safe Harbour system.

Data protection has become a hugely
sensitive topic since intelligence leaker
Edward Snowden described a massive
network of US spy operations on friend
and foe alike earlier this year (AFP/File,
Prakash Singh)
But the European Commission stressed again Wednesday that data protection standards would not be part of the negotiations on the planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Malstroem meanwhile said the Commission, the EU's executive arm, would not suspend data protection accords "just because of press articles" -- an apparent reference to reports based on Snowden's leaks.

The Passenger Name Record (PNR) system for airline passengers and the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) "provide effective safeguards to protect the fundamental rights of European citizens," Malstroem said.

The "clear and effective guarantees in place" allow the Commission to "make sure that the US authorities stick to agreed rules," she said.

The EU will continue alert and monitor "the lawful implementationof EU-US agreements on data transfers," she added.

US Senator Christopher Murphy (r) congressman Gregory Meeks speak
in Berlin over the NSA scandal. Photo: dpa

UN passes anti-spying resolution

Google – AFP, 26 November 2013

Picture taken on November 9, 2012 shows German Chancellor Angela Merkel
using her mobile phone in Berlin (DPA/AFP/File, Kay Nietfeld)

UNITED NATIONS (United States) — A UN rights committee on Tuesday passed a "right to privacy" resolution pressed by Germany and Brazil, which have led international outrage over reports of US spying on their leaders.

The resolution says that surveillance and data interception by governments and companies "may violate or abuse human rights."

Fifty-five countries, including France, Russia and North Korea, co-sponsored the text which did not name any target but made lightly veiled references to spying which has put the US National Security Agency at the center of global controversy.

Brazil and Germany launched the initiative after reports leaked by former US intelligence operative Edward Snowden that the NSA had listened in to the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the office communications of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff.

Germany's UN ambassador Peter Wittig said it was the first time a UN body has taken a stand on "online" human rights and the resolution sent an important "political message."

The resolution "emphasizes that unlawful and arbitrary surveillance and the interception of communications are highly intrusive acts that violate the right to privacy and may also violate the freedom of expression," Wittig told the UN General Assembly's human rights committee.

"Human rights should prevail irrespective of the medium and therefore need to be protected both offline and online," added Brazil's UN envoy Antonio Patriota.

"States should refrain from and be held accountable for any act that violate these rights, including the right to privacy," he added.

The United States and key allies Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand -- who together make up the so-called "Five-Eyes" intelligence group -- joined a consensus vote passing the resolution after language suggesting that foreign spying would be a rights violation was weakened.

The resolution said the UN committee is "deeply concerned at the negative impact" that surveillance and interception of communications "including extraterritorial surveillance" can have on human rights.

Germany and Brazil had wanted the text to say the assembly was "deeply concerned at human rights violations and abuses that may result from the conduct of any surveillance of communications, including extraterritorial surveillance of communications."

Under the resolution, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay will prepare a report on domestic and "extra-territorial" privacy. Wittig also promised a "thorough" debate on the issue at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

US deputy ambassador Elizabeth Cousens gave backing to the initiative.

She did not mention the NSA controversy, but told the committee: "In some cases, conduct that violates privacy rights may also seriously impede or even prevent the exercise of freedom of expression, but conduct that violates privacy rights does not violate the right to freedom of expression in every case."

Indonesia, which is involved in a battle with Australia over allegations of spying on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, spoke out strongly for the resolution.

North Korea, one of the world's most tightly controlled countries and an unlikely ally backing the resolution, used the meeting to slam US spying.

North Korean ambassador Sin Son-Ho accused the United States of "hypocrisy and deception" in condemning other countries' human rights records.

Human Rights Watch specialist Philippe Bolopion said it was unfortunate that the resolution had been watered down.

But he said it was "a vital first step toward stigmatizing indiscriminate global surveillance."

The non-binding resolution will now go to the full 193-member UN General Assembly for a vote.

US Senator Christopher Murphy (r) congressman Gregory Meeks speak
in Berlin over the NSA scandal. Photo: dpa

Rohani's 'Yes We Can' Moment

Radio Free Europe, November 26, 2013

Iranian President Hassan Rohani's charm offensive continues at home with a musical clip that seems to have been inspired by U.S. President Barack Obama's "Yes We Can" music video.

The beautifully made black-and-white clip,  which includes segments of the Iranian president's August 3 inauguration speech mixed with music, singing, and sign language, has been released to mark the first 100 days of his presidency.

Obama's 2008 "Yes We Can" clip was created with the participation of some 30 Hollywood actors and singers.

Rohani's video was posted on his website and shared on Twitter by the unverified account of the Iranian president, which is said to be maintained by his media team.

WATCH: Rohani's 100 Days

The clip, which features a well-known singer and actor, Amir Hossein Modaress, was produced by Iranian documentary-maker Hossein Dehbashi, who also worked on Rohani's election campaign videos. Dehbashi has been quoted by Iranian media as saying that the video was created "spontaneously."

In the clip, unprecedented for an Iranian president, people of all ages play musical instruments and sing to Rohani's words in Persian, but also in the languages of Iran's minorities, including Kurdish and Arabic.

The clip also includes sound bites from prominent figures in Iran's modern history including Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and the founder of the Islamic Republic Ruhollah Khomeini.

The main takeaway of the clip seems to be unity:

Let space and opportunity be given to all Iranians who are devoted to this land. Let those who are competent serve the nation. Let their hearts be cleansed from hatred. Let reconciliation replace anger and friendship replace enmity.

Rohani said his government wants happiness to return to the Iranian people's lives and calls on God to guide him.

Dehbashi lived in the United States for several years. He was arrested in 2010, allegedly for forging a United Nations letter that accompanied his immigration application. Upon returning to Tehran, Dehbashi claimed he had been held in solitary confinement by the FBI.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Putin, Pope back negotiated solution to Syria conflict

Google – AFP, 25 November 2013

Pope Francis meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a private
audience at the Vatican, on November 25, 2013 (POOL/AFP, Claudio Peri)

Vatican City — The Vatican said Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pope Francis on Monday discussed the need for talks to resolve the Syria conflict, as international officials met in Geneva to discuss a date for a peace conference.

The two leaders talked about the urgent need "to promote concrete initiatives for a peaceful solution to the conflict, favouring negotiation," the Vatican said, following a 35-minute audience in the Apostolic Palace.

It said in a statement that they agreed any solution should involve "the various ethnic and religious groups, recognising their essential role in society."

The Kremlin chief and the head of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics also discussed "the urgency of the need to bring an end to the violence and to ensure necessary humanitarian assistance for the population".

Pope Francis has been a powerful voice against an armed international intervention in the Syria conflict and has voiced concern about the plight of Christian minorities there and in other parts of the Middle East.

United Nations and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on Monday huddled with US and Russian officials in Geneva in a bid to set a date for a peace conference on the conflict in Syria, which is widely expected for January.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said that Putin had also brought greetings for Pope Francis from Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill but had not invited the pope to Moscow -- an elusive diplomatic breakthrough.

Francis has put particular emphasis on improving relations with the Orthodox world ever since being elected in March and Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox, was present at his inauguration.

This was Putin's fourth meeting with a pope after audiences with late pope John Paul II in 2000 and 2003 and in 2007 with now pope emeritus Benedict XVI, who stepped down earlier this year in a momentous move.

Pope Francis meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a private
 audience at the Vatican, on November 25, 2013 (POOL/AFP, Claudio Peri)

Once strained ties between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches have improved greatly in recent years and the head of the Russian church's external relations department said an historic meeting between the pope and the patriarch was now "more and more realistic".

Speaking in an interview with French daily Le Figaro published on Monday, Metropolitan Hilarion said Russia supported the pope's drive for collegiality in governing the Roman Catholic Church and his appeals for Christians in the Middle East.

"All this makes the possibility of a future meeting between the pope and the patriarch more and more realistic... As for the possible place and date, there has been no bilateral discussion on this," he said.

Putin later on Tuesday will have dinner with Berlusconi, who has denied reports that the Kremlin leader could offer him diplomatic papers that would allow him to flee a growing number of legal woes.

Putin will then head to the city of Trieste in northeast Italy on Tuesday for talks with Letta, where several business deals between the two are due to be signed and a 1.0-billion-euro ($1.4 billion) joint investment fund is to be announced, the Kremlin said.

Related Article:

US lawmakers in Berlin for NSA talks

Deutsche Welle, 25 November 2013

German officials have urged the US to restore trust between the countries following allegations of spying by intelligence services. Berlin and Washington are currently working on a new agreement regarding espionage.

US Senator Christopher Murphy (r) congressman Gregory Meeks speak
in Berlin over the NSA scandal. Photo: dpa

The United States should make a "special effort" to restore trust, German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said Monday following a meeting in Berlin with US Senator Chris Murphy and Ambassador John Emerson. Outgoing German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the US still must explain spying allegations, including claims that the National Security Agency (NSA) had targeted Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"Confidence has been lost," said Westerwelle, who also met US Representative Gregory Meeks. "We have to work to ensure that it can be restored." Westerwelle added that "we want a good balance between security and privacy" and "clear rules are needed for the future."

German concerns about the NSA's operations culminated in claims last month that US intelligence services had targeted Merkel's mobile phone since 2002. Many of the allegations originated from information provided by Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower. Several German opposition lawmakers have called for Snowden to testify to a potential parliamentary inquiry in Berlin.

'Action is needed'

Media reports of US intelligence agencies' surveillance activities within Germany and elsewhere in Europe have burdened the country's relationship with the United States, Friedrich said. Murphy, the chair of the Senate foreign relations subcommittee on European affairs, seemed to agree with Friedrich, and emphasized the importance of the transatlantic partnership.

"It's not just about words," Murphy said. "Action is needed now."

After Monday's talks, Meeks, a Democrat from New York state, said that Germany and the United States would need to strengthen their relationship again for further mutual benefit. The US congressmen plan to head to Brussels on Tuesday.

Dark history

The allegations of US spying come particularly sensitive issue in the country because of its Nazi past, as well as the extensive surveillance operations of the East German secret service until the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Friedrich said he hoped that the US Congress would seize the initiative to prevent such occurrences in the future.

Friedrich called spying among friends "totally unacceptable."

After meeting the US delegation Monday, Thomas Oppermann, the Social Democrats' parliamentary group leader and chairman of the secret service oversight committee, called the US espionage affair "not over."

"We expect further light to be shed," he said, adding that German political parties had agreed that "the completely out-of-hand practice of bugging by the NSA must finally have limits."

mkg/ph (AFP, dpa, AP)
Related Articles:

Monday, November 25, 2013

UN chief Ban Ki-moon announces January 22 date for Syria peace conference

Deutsche Welle, 25 November 2013

A date has finally been set for long-hoped-for talks aimed at ending the conflict in Syria. The announcement comes after many months of laborious effort to bring the warring parties to the negotiating table.

Announcing the landmark conference, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Monday it would be "a mission of hope."

"The conflict in Syria has raged for too long. It would be unforgivable not to seize this opportunity to bring an end to the suffering and destruction it has caused," he said in a statement.

The talks on January 22 will see parties involved in Syria's bloody 32-month war meet for the first time since the conflict began in March 2011. The so-called Geneva II conference is meant as a follow-up to one held in June 2012, at which world powers issued a call for a transitional Syrian government.

Intense diplomatic efforts

Plans for the conference have repeatedly been put on hold as Syria's warring sides failed to agree whether President Bashar al-Assad or his inner circle could play a role in the peace process.

Monday's announcement was made after a closed-door meeting in Geneva with the UN and Arab League envoy on the conflict, Lakhdar Brahimi. Also at the meeting were Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov and Gennady Gatilov, as well as Wendy Sherman, US undersecretary of state for political affairs.

Monday's meeting was preceded by a string of other talks with Washington and Moscow. Russia, a key ally of Assad, has been urging the Syrian government to cooperate in the conference, while the US, Britain and France have worked to persuade the fractured Syrian opposition.

Syria's increasingly sectarian war has claimed more than 120,000 lives, caused more than 2 million people to flee the country and created a humanitarian aid crisis within the country itself.

Obama, Netanyahu discuss Iran nuclear deal: White House

Google – AFP, 24 November 2013

US President Barack Obama boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in
Maryland on November 24, 2013 en route to Seattle, Washington (AFP, Jewel Samad)

Washington — President Barack Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday to discuss an international nuclear deal with Iran that has threatened to raise tensions between the close allies, the White House said.

Just hours after the six world powers clinched the historic agreement with the Islamic republic, Netanyahu lashed out at what he called a "historic mistake" that left open Iran's ability to develop a nuclear arsenal.

But the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany -- known as the P5+1 -- involved in the talks hailed it as a key first step that for now warded off the prospect of military escalation.

"The two leaders reaffirmed their shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," deputy White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One As Obama headed to the US West Coast.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
 looks on during the weekly cabinet meeting
 on November 24, 2013 at his office in
 Jerusalem (Pool/AFP, Abir Sultan)
"Consistent with our commitment to consult closely with our Israeli friends, the president told the prime minister that he wants the United States and Israel to begin consultations immediately regarding our efforts to negotiate a comprehensive solution."

Obama stressed that the P5+1 will seek to obtain a "lasting, peaceful and comprehensive solution that would resolve the international community's concerns regarding Iran?s nuclear program," according to Earnest.

Israel and much of the West worry that Iran's nuclear program serves as a guise for a weapons drive, while Tehran denies the claim and insists it is only for civilian purposes.

Tehran has a long history of belligerent statements towards the Jewish state, notably under former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Israel has repeatedly warned that a nuclear Iran would pose an existential threat, refusing to rule out a preventative military strike on Iran's atomic infrastructure.

Earnest said Obama and Netanyahu agreed to keep in "close contact" over the deal.

"The president underscored that the United States will remain firm in our commitment to Israel, which has good reason to be skeptical about Iran?s intentions," he added.

Secretary of State John Kerry has also defended the accord, saying the agreement would blunt the threat and ultimately make the Jewish state more secure.

"You can't always start where you want to wind up," he said.

Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program for the next six months in exchange for limited sanctions relief, in a preliminary accord meant to lay the foundations for a comprehensive agreement later this year.

The deal was reached in marathon talks in Geneva that ended Sunday before dawn after protracted negotiations between Iran and the P5+1.

Iranian FM Mohammad Javad Zarif (2nd L) shakes hands with US Secretary of
 State John Kerry, next to Chinese FM Wang Yi (far L) and French FM Laurent Fabius
after a statement on early November 24, 2013, in Geneva (AFP, Fabrice Coffrini)

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