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, October 31, 2014

Tim Cook: 'I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me'

Apple CEO Tim Cook has written about his sexuality for the first time, in the hope that he can ‘help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is’

theguardian.com, Rupert Neate and Alex Hern, Thursday 30 October 2014

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach,
California. Photograph: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, has officially come out as gay and described his sexuality as “among the greatest gifts God has given me.”

Cook, who had previously never denied being gay but neither had he publicly acknowledged his sexuality, wrote about being gay in an opinion article for Bloomberg.

“I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me,” the boss of the world’s largest company said on Thursday. “For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation. Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me,” he said. Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky.”

Cook, 53, who became the boss of Apple in August 2011 shortly before founder Steve Jobs died after a long battle against pancreatic cancer, said: “While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”

Out magazine listed him on its 2013 “power list”, while tech blog Valleywag castigated the New York Times for erasing Cook when it wrote in May that “there is not a single openly gay chief executive at the nation’s 1,000 biggest companies.” Until today, Cook had also never confirmed that he is a gay man, to the extent that a CNBC anchor caused a minor fracas in June when he described Cook as “fairly open
about the fact that he’s gay”.

Cook, who has worked at Apple since 1998, said he had not previously opened up about his sexuality in an effort to try and maintain a level of privacy while running one of the world’s most scrutinised companies.

“Throughout my professional life, I’ve tried to maintain a basic level of privacy. I come from humble roots, and I don’t seek to draw attention to myself,” he said. “Apple is already one of the most closely watched companies in the world, and I like keeping the focus on our products and the incredible things our customers achieve with them.

“At the same time, I believe deeply in the words of Dr Martin Luther King, who said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ ” I often challenge myself with that question, and I’ve come to realise that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important. That’s what has led me to today.”

Cook said being gay had been “tough and uncomfortable at times” but also made him “more empathetic, which has led to a richer life” and given him “the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry”.

“It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.”

While the essay is the first place Cook has publicly confirmed his sexuality, it’s not the first time he’s taken a stance against discrimination against LGBT people. In June, he tweeted his support for the White House’s decision to ban LGBT discrimination at federal contractors, calling it “a matter of basic human dignity”. And in February, he congratulated the football coach of the university he went to for saying he would be fine with a gay player on the team.

In the Bloomberg article, Cook said the world had changed considerably for gay people since he was a child, but more needs to be done to create a fair and more equal society. “There are laws on the books in a majority of states that allow employers to fire people based solely on their sexual orientation. There are many places where landlords can evict tenants for being gay, or where we can be barred from visiting sick partners and sharing in their legacies. Countless people, particularly kids, face fear and abuse every day because of their sexual orientation.”

Cook said he does not consider himself a gay rights activist, but he realised how much he has benefited from the sacrifices of equal rights activists in the past.

“I’ll admit that this wasn’t an easy choice. Privacy remains important to me, and I’d like to hold on to a small amount of it,” he said. “So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.”

Other high-profile business figures who have discussed their homosexuality more openly in recent years include the former BP boss Lord Browne, who has now written a book about homosexuality within the business world.

Suki Sandhu, chief executive of OUTstanding, a not-for-profit professional network for LGBT executives, said: “This is amazing news. There is no stronger diversity message to send than the CEO of the world’s most valuable company saying it makes sense to be open and authentic about who you are in the workplace. Coming hot on the heels of the appointment of Christopher Bailey as the first openly gay CEO of a FTSE 100 company, it shows that attitudes are changing.

“But the fact remains that Cook and Bailey are in a tiny minority. When conservative estimates put the percentage of UK adults who are lesbian,g ay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) at 6%, it seems crazy that so few business leaders are open about their sexuality.”

Apple’s Tim Cook isn’t the only gay person in the IT village

Related Articles:

China web users laud Apple boss for coming out

"The Akashic Circle" – Jul 17, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: Religion, The Humanization of GodBenevolent Design, DNA, Akashic Circle, (Old) Souls, Gaia, Indigenous People, Talents, Reincarnation, Genders, Gender Switches, In “between” Gender Change, Gender Confusion, Shift of Human Consciousness, Global Unity,..... etc.)  - (Text version)

“… Gender Switching

Old souls, let me tell you something. If you are old enough, and many of you are, you have been everything. Do you hear me? All of you. You have been both genders. All of you have been what I will call between genders, and that means that all of you have had gender switches. Do you know what happens when it's time for you to switch a gender? We have discussed it before. You'll have dozens of lifetimes as the same gender. You're used to it. It's comfortable. You cannot conceive of being anything else, yet now it's time to change. It takes approximately three lifetimes for you to get used to it, and in those three lifetimes, you will have what I call "gender confusion."

It isn't confusion at all. It's absolutely normal, yet society often will see it as abnormal. I'm sitting here telling you you've all been through it. All of you. That's what old souls do. It's part of the system. …”

Sweden recognises Palestinian state, Israel recalls envoy

Yahoo – AFP, October 31, 2014

Sweden recognises Palestinian state: foreign minister

Stockholm (AFP) - Sweden on Thursday officially recognised the state of Palestine, becoming the first EU member in western Europe to do so, prompting Israel to recall its ambassador to Stockholm.

"We are not picking sides. We're choosing the side of the peace process," Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem told reporters as she explained the controversial decision.

Just hours after the Swedish announcement, Israel said it was recalling its ambassador to Stockholm for "consultations".

"This indeed reflects our irritation and annoyance at this unhelpful decision, which does not contribute to a return to (peace) negotiations," Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon told AFP.

The Swedish foreign ministry was not immediately available for comment on the Israeli move.

Wallstroem wrote Thursday in the daily Dagens Nyheter that recognition "is an important step that confirms the Palestinians' right to self-determination."

"We hope that this will show the way for others."

Palestinians are seeking to achieve statehood in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank with east Jerusalem as the capital. With little progress on reaching a settlement, they have been lobbying foreign powers for international recognition.

Sweden's move comes as Israeli-Palestinian tensions soar in Jerusalem following months of almost daily clashes in the city's occupied eastern sector.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas immediately hailed Stockholm's decision as "brave and historic" and called for others to follow suit.

"All countries of the world that are still hesitant to recognise our right to an independent Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, with east Jerusalem as its capital, (should) follow Sweden's lead," Abbas's spokesman quoted him as saying.

-       More complex than IKEA

But Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman denounced the move, saying "relations in the Middle East are a lot more complex than the self-assembly furniture of IKEA".

"The decision of the Swedish government to recognise a Palestinian state is a deplorable decision which only strengthens extremist elements and Palestinian rejectionism," he said in a statement.

Sweden's new Prime Minister Stefan Loefven, a Social Democrat, announced in his inaugural address to parliament in early October that his country unlike most EU members would recognise a Palestinian state.

While the Palestinians cheered the move, Israel summoned Sweden's ambassador to protest and express disappointment.

The United States cautioned Sweden against recognition, calling it "premature" and saying the Palestinian state could only come through a negotiated solution between Israelis and Palestinians.

Israel has long insisted that the Palestinians can only receive their promised state through direct negotiations and not through other diplomatic channels.

The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the recognition of Palestine as a non-member observer state in 2012.

Sweden's announcement brings to 135 the number of countries that recognise the state of Palestine, including seven EU members in eastern Europe and the Mediterranean -- Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Romania. Non-EU member Iceland is the only other western European nation to have done so.

"The EU has in the past said it would recognise when appropriate, but this is in the competence of member states," Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson of the European external action service, said Thursday.

In a symbolic vote indicative of growing impatience with peace talks which have effectively been stalled for a year, Britain's parliament earlier this month also passed a non-binding resolution to give diplomatic recognition to a Palestinian state.

Wallstroem, in Thursday's opinion piece, said that there were some "who will maintain that today's decision comes too early."

"I'm afraid it comes too late," she wrote. "The government will now have to work with the other EU countries as well as the United States and other regional and international actors for the support of new negotiations."

In the announcement, Sweden's foreign minister also said that "the government considers that international law criteria for recognition of a Palestinian state have been fulfilled."

Observers said it was too early to tell if the Swedish step would prompt other countries to take similar action.

"It's really hard to say how many countries will actually take the plunge and follow Sweden," said Michael Schulz, an expert on the Middle East and conflict issues at the University of Gothenburg.

"For the EU to recognise Palestine, that would require all member states to agree, so it's unlikely," he said, estimating that Stockholm's decision "shouldn't change much" over the short term.

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Crime-fighting London Jews claim model for Muslim cooperation

The work of the 25-strong "Shomrim" patrol in London has caught the eye of US
Secretary of State John Kerry, who praised the neighbourhood patrol group's
"remarkable courage" (Photo by leon Neal, AFP file)

"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

" ....Abraham, Father of the Jews

I want to honor Abraham [Abram], born in Ur, which is now part of modern Iraq, and I want to honor his sons, not all born of Sara. The one I wish to speak of is Ishmael. Abraham is Jewish... the great Jewish prophet. Ishmael is his son. There's no way that you could say Ishmael was not Jewish, and he is even to this day. Ishmael was born in Hebron. So in addition, he is very Israeli. Ishmael is a Jew.

Now some would argue, due to how the Jewish lineage is computed by men [mother's side]. But Spirit looks at the DNA and the Akashic lineage, so spiritually, Ishmael is a Jew. He came in to be part of the lineage of the Jews.

He fell from favor even with the Jewish people early on for political reasons. Then Ishmael went on to become that which is the ancestor of all Arabs... the father of Arabia. Therefore, you could say that the Arabs are with Jewish blood, that of Abraham flowing through them. But early on, the Jews cast Ishmael out. So although you have the one God and monotheism, and you have the principle of the love of God and the unity of God, there was a split. The truth was mixed with untruths and, even to this day, there would be a billion Human Beings who would say it was Ishmael and not Isaac who was almost sacrificed at the Temple Mount. They would also say that he is not a Jew.

So what is the truth here? Human Beings were not built to unify. In an older energy on the planet from those days, and even the days that you were born in, the energy laid upon you is for you to separate, not unify. And that is why we call it the old energy. Oh, they were wise men and women who knew better, but it is the old energy that separates and divides, and it is the old energy that has created the divisions of hatred within millions of those who are actually "all Jews."

Muhammad's Beautiful Message of Unity

Let me tell you about Muhammad, the prophet. Muhammad is of the lineage of Ishmael, who is of the lineage of Abraham. Therefore, Muhammad had Jewish blood, so that was his lineage but not necessarily his culture. But his Akashic lineage was from Abraham. [Abraham is the founder of Islam, according to the Quran.]

Muhammad had a beautiful meeting, more than one, with an angelic presence. The angels talked to humanity back then in basic 3D ways. But how many of you have put together that most of the angels in that time who spoke to Human Beings talked to those of Jewish lineage? Like Muhammad, like Moses, like Jesus, like Abraham. For this was part of a set-up of history, part of what makes the Jewish lineage important to the core Akash of humanity, and we have spoken before, "As go the Jews, go Earth." Indeed, there is something there to look at which is important, and it is going to change soon. For in our eyes, the "Jews" are all those in the Middle East.

Muhammad's information from the angel was this: "Unify the Arabs and give them the God of Israel." And he did! The information he had was beautiful and was written down later for his followers. It was all about the incredible love of God and the unity of man. Muhammad the prophet was a unifier, not a separatist.

Long before Muhammad, there came Jesus - Jesus the Jew. He became responsible for what you would call Christianity today. All of his disciples were Jewish. The Rock, Peter the fisherman, who started the Christian church, was Jewish. And we tell you these things to remind you that there's a unity here. Perhaps there is a reason, dear ones, why the 12 layers of DNA have Hebrew names? Indeed, it's in honor of the masters and the lineage, including that of Muhammad, of Ishmael, of Isaac, of Abraham and of Jesus. All of them, part of the original spiritual language [Hebrew].

"Oh," you might say, "there was Sumerian and before that there was Lemurian. There was Sanskrit and Tamil, and many other older languages." Correct, but we're speaking of a language of today - one that you can relate to, that has power, and that is spoken today by the pure lineage of the masters who walked the planet.

So what did humanity do with all this? What did they do with all this sacred information from these Jewish masters? They went to war, because Humans separate things. They don't put them together. So here we are with one beautiful God, creator of all there is, and millions who believe that very thing, yet they are going to war with each other over ideology about what God said, which prophet was best, and which group is in God's favor. That's ancient history, thousands of years old. But it shows exactly what the old energy is all about. ..."

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fed ends bond buying, keeps rates low

The US Federal Reserve has ended its bond-buying program known as quantitative easing. The purchases were meant to stimulate a flagging economy that has since picked up.

Deutsche Welle, 29 Oct 2014

The US Federal Reserve on Wednesday ended its monthly campaign of purchasing asset-backed debt, a show of confidence that the American economy would continue to recover despite bleak forecasts for much of the rest of the world.

But the central bank said it would keep its benchmark short-term interest rates at record lows "for a considerable time" while the job market picks up. Experts do not expect it to raise that rate until mid-2015.

"The Committee continues to see sufficient underlying strength in the broader economy," the Fed's policy committee said in a statement after a regular two-day meeting.

A decision to raise rates again would depend on incoming economic data, the Fed said.

The stopping of the long-running monetary stimulus program, known as quantitative easing, was largely expected. The central bank had already tapered its monthly bond purchases from $85 billion (66.5 billion euros) to $15 billion as the economy gradually recovered from the 2007-2009 recession.

The committee's statement also no longer referred to slack in the labor market as "significant," but instead said that it was "gradually diminishing," underscoring faith that the unemployment rate would continue to fall. In September, that rate fell to a six-year low of 5.9 percent.

But the Fed did acknowledge that some factors, such as lower energy prices, were weighing down inflation and keeping it below the central bank's 2 percent target.

"The Committee judges that the likelihood of inflation running persistently below 2 percent has diminished somewhat since early this year," the statement said.

cjc/uhe (Reuters, AP)
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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Top China official admits to taking massive bribes

Former senior military officer Xu Caihou has confessed he took bribes to help others get promoted, according to Chinese state media. He is the most senior official to be caught in China's crackdown on corruption.

Deutsche Welle, 28 Oct 2014

Xu Caihou admitted to "the crime of taking bribes," the Communist Party said in a statement following a key meeting last week.

China's state-run Xinhua news agency, which published the above statement, also added that "the probe by the military prosecutors ascertained that Xu Caihou (pictured) took advantage of his position to assist the promotion of other people, accepting massive bribes personally and through his family."

Military prosecutors had meanwhile completed their investigation and Xu would most likely be court martialled, Xinhua added.

Xu, a senior military officer, was the former deputy chairman of the Communist Party's Central Military Commission and a member of the politburo until 2012. He ranked second to Hu Jintao, who was China's president at the time.

The probe against the top military officer began in March this year and Xu was stripped of his title and expelled from the military in June. He was since kept under house arrest and assisted authorities in a corruption probe into another officer of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

His expulsion from the Communist Party was also finalized, marking another step in President Xi Jinping's campaign to end corruption in one of the world's largest economies.

The Communist Party, of which Xi is the head, said in a separate statement that it would speed up its anti-corruption drive so that government officials would "dare not" give into bribery.

mg/se (AP, Reuters)
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Monday, October 27, 2014

China plans to scrap death penalty for 9 crimes: Xinhua

Yahoo – AFP, 27 Oct 2014

Police patrol past the gate of Kunming's Intermediate Court in southwest
China's Yunnan province on September 12, 2014 (AFP Photo)

China's legislature is considering cutting nine crimes from the list of 55 punishable by death, state media said Monday, including illegal fundraising which has been at the centre of several controversial cases.

The country executes more people than the rest of the world combined, rights groups say. But a draft amendment to reduce the scope of capital punishment was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's rubber-stamp legislature, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

China has proposed a series of changes to the legal system. Last week a major Communist party meeting pledged to ensure the "rule of law", although analysts say the ruling party will remain firmly in charge of the courts.

The nine non-violent crimes include smuggling weapons, ammunition or nuclear materials, counterfeiting currency and raising funds by means of fraud, Xinhua said.

Executions for financial offences have been particularly controversial in China, where much bank lending is controlled by the state and private businesses sometimes struggle to obtain funding.

Last year Zeng Chengjie, a self-made businessman, was executed by firing squad -- with his family not notified beforehand -- after he was convicted of illegal fundraising and defrauding investors of about US$460 million.

His lawyers argued his assets would have been enough to cover his debts had the state not confiscated them.

A court sentenced a 39-year-old businesswoman to death last year after she was convicted of defrauding her clients of around US$70 million.

China cut the number of capital crimes from 68 to 55 in 2011. According to a report by the Dui Hua Foundation it executed 2,400 people last year, down from 10,000 a decade ago.

China has occasionally exonerated wrongfully executed convicts after others came forward to confess their crimes, or in some cases because the supposed murder victim was later found alive.

Its top court examines all death sentences and sent back 39 percent of them last year to lower courts for additional evidence, the Dui Hua report said, citing a report by the Southern Weekly newspaper.

In one landmark case in June the Supreme Court overturned the death sentence on Li Yan, a woman who killed her abusive husband.

'Terrorism and extremism'

Proposals put before the party-controlled National People's Congress are almost certain to be approved.

The ruling party also maintains a firm grip on the legal system, where courts have a near-100 percent conviction rate in criminal cases.

But authorities are looking to address widespread dissatisfaction at corruption. They have publicised promises by the Communist Party's Fourth Plenum last week to centralise control over courts while granting judges increased independence in some cases.

The legislative committee is also mulling amendments to encourage courts to "order authorities to follow contracts or give compensation" if government officials break land use contracts, Xinhua said.

All Chinese land is owned by the state, and officials commonly give local residents compensation well below market value when forcing farmers off their land, which is then sold to developers for a profit.

It is considering changes to "crack down on terrorism," Xinhua reported, after a series of deadly attacks in the far-western region of Xinjiang, home to the mostly-Muslim Uighur minority.

China blames clashes in the area which have killed more than 200 in the past year on separatist militant groups, and Xinhua said that under the new proposals those "refusing to provide evidence about terrorism and extremism" can face up to three years in jail.

Anyone who produces or distributes material "promoting terrorism and extremism" would face five year in jail.

Legislators are also likely to approve a new counterespionage law, amid tensions between Beijing and Western countries including the US over cyberspying.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Montreal Muslim says Ottawa, St-Jean-sur-Richelieu attacks "not in my name"

Ali Chebli's response to this week's attacks has been seen almost 800,000 times on Facebook

CBC News, Oct 25, 2014

Ali Chebli, 17, posted this on his Facebook page in reaction to hateful comments
about Islam (Ali Chebli)

One Quebec Muslim teenager’s message has gone viral after he posted a photo of himself holding a sign that reads “pas en mon nom” — “not in my name” — in response to this week’s killing of two soldiers in separate attacks in Ottawa and St-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, 53, was killed in a targeted hit and run on Monday. Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, was gunned down while standing watch at Parliament Hill's National War Memorial. Both attacks were carried out by Canadian citizens reported to be recent converts to Islam.

The week's events prompted Ali Chebli, 17, a Muslim of Lebanese descent, to take to social media.

"I'm a Muslim and I'm against ISIS. My mission is to fight against hate speech and the actions of jihadists," the business student at Collège Maisonneuve wrote underneath the photo.

The message has been seen almost 800,000 times since it was posted on Wednesday. Now Chebli is hoping to hit one million views.

Popularity 'a surprise'

The business student at Collège Maisonneuve did not think his Facebook page would ever go viral.

“I’m happy people liked it,” he told CBC's French-language network, Radio-Canada. “But what’s more important is that people agree with the message.”

Chebli says his message was in response to hateful remarks on the internet. He insists people shouldn’t make a connection between terrorism and Islam.

“I’m just a regular person. Like I said on my page, I wake up every morning, I go to school, I come home, I have dinner, I do my homework. I’m not on the street saying, ‘I am a Muslim, I read the Quran.'”

Since sharing his message, Chebli has received a lot of support from other Muslims in Montreal.

“His approach is very brave,” said Soumayya, a fellow student at Collège Maisonneuve. “I think it’s great that so many voices come together in a single project.”

Following the social media success, Chebli is now considering other campaigns to change attitudes around Islam.

“Everyone should create small movements, because it’s small things that create great results.”

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Elton John lends star power to US war on AIDS

Yahoo – AFP, 24 Oct 2014

US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) meets with Sir Elton John to discuss
 PEPFAR and the work of the Elton John AIDS Foundation October 24, 2014
at the State Department in Washington, DC (AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards)

Washington (AFP) - Rock star Elton John teamed up with the Obama administration Friday to launch a new $7 million fund to provide access to HIV services in South Africa.

The fund will be established for men who have sex with men and transgender people in the nation, the only African country where same-sex marriage is legal.

The British pop music icon lent star power to the State Department when he met with US Secretary of State John Kerry in his private offices to discuss the roll out of the project, part of efforts to create a world free of AIDS.

"We all work together to ensure that in this day and age, nobody gets left behind no matter what their sexuality, their color, or whatever. It's important," John told reporters.

"If people get left behind, the disease will get left behind, and we will face an enormous uphill battle."

The singer and his partner David Furnish were in the US capital ahead of being guests of honor at the Human Rights Campaign annual gala on Saturday.

The Elton John AIDS Foundation is teaming up with the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to expand HIV-related services as part of a new South African program called Health4Men.

Kerry said the project would "help bring additional assistance to people and help us meet this goal of an AIDS-free generation."

"We're going to continue to work together to bring this help to all those folks, particularly in the LGBT community, who need this particular assistance," Kerry added, using an acronym for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

John's foundation has raised more than $300 million to support AIDS programs in more than 50 countries.

"We should be living in an AIDS-free world, and people, no matter who they love, who they are, should have a right to be AIDS-free," John added.

Related Article:

Obama hugs Dallas nurse hours after she is declared free of Ebola

White House spokesman says president is seeking to reassure public about medical protocols in place to combat disease

theguardian.com, Dan Roberts in Washington, Friday 24 October 2014

Obama gives a hug to Dallas nurse Nina Pham in the Oval Office of the
White House on Friday. Photograph: Pool/Getty Images

Barack Obama sought to reassure Americans over the risks of Ebola transmission on Friday by way of a hug in the Oval Office with Nina Pham, the Dallas nurse who had been declared free of the virus only hours earlier.

White House officials said their invitation to Pham had been made to celebrate her full recovery from the illness at a National Institutes of Health facility in nearby Bethesda.

“This an opportunity for the president to thank her for her service,” said spokesman Josh Earnest. “This is someone who displayed the kind of selfless service to her fellow man that is worthy of some praise.”

But he acknowledged the photo opportunity – just hours after fourth US case was confirmed in New York – was also a way to demonstrate the president’s confidence in medical protocols amid growing political criticism of the administration’s handling of the crisis.

“I think this also should be a pretty apt reminder that we do have the best medical infrastructure in the world, and certainly a medical infrastructure that’s in place to protect the American public and the track record of treating Ebola patients in this country is very strong, particularly for those who are quickly diagnosed,” said Earnest.

Pham received five tests to make sure she was clear of the illness before an earlier press conference with doctors at the NIH, but no additional screening procedures were in place at the White House.

Earnest also said reports of normal subway traffic in New York this morning were an indication that “people of New York, as they should, feel confident about their safety”.

But earlier Republicans called for tighter protocols to prevent at-risk healthcare workers from travelling to public places during the disease’s incubation period and claimed public confidence had been dented.

“What you have got in place failed,” Florida congressman John Mica told health officials at a hearing of the House oversight committee. “You need a quarantine in place for people coming out of these countries.”

Representative Michael Turner of Ohio, where hundreds of people are being monitored for possible exposure to Ebola from another Dallas nurse, said: “The American public are concerned that people who have been exposed are having too much contact with the public.”

People involved in treating Ebola in Africa warned that excessive travel restrictions would backfire if they deterred medical volunteers.

“We can’t recruit staff if there is a risk they won’t be able to come back home,” said Rabih Torbay of the charity International Medical Corps.

Related Articles:

Friday, October 24, 2014

US Treasury official: 'Islamic State' a petrostate

The "Islamic State" has amassed wealth at an unprecedented pace, according to a US Treasury official. IS earns about $1 million a day from black market oil sales alone.

Deutsche Welle, 23 Oct 2014

David Cohen, US treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said the "Islamic State" (IS) pulls in 790,000 euros daily, selling up to 50,000 barrels produced in captured refineries.

Speaking to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC, Thursday, Cohen said the group took in at least $20 million in ransom payments this year from kidnappings. He said IS gets several million dollars a month from wealthy donors, extortion rackets and other criminal activities, such as robbing banks.

"With the important exception of some state-sponsored terrorist organizations, ISIL is probably the best-funded terrorist organization we have confronted," Cohen said, using the acronym for IS's former name.

IS had initially tried to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while fighting alongside secular rebels and Islamists, but other groups, including al Qaeda central command, turned against the faction because of its brutality. On its own, the group enjoyed a series of successes when it launched attacks in Syria and Iraq during the summer. Since then, the United States and several other nations have launched airstrikes, targeting the group's oil assets and killing more than 500 members.

'Looting and selling'

IS gets only a small share of funding from deep-pocket donors and therefore does not depend primarily on moving money across international borders. The IS obtains most of its revenue through criminal and terrorist activities, Cohen said. For example, in Mosul, Iraq, IS reportedly goes door-to-door, business-to-business, demanding cash at gunpoint, he said.

"They rob banks," Cohen said. "They lay waste to thousands of years of civilization in Iraq and Syria by looting and selling antiquities. They steal livestock and crops from farmers. And, despicably, they sell abducted girls and women as sex slaves."

When the group went on its march in
June, it headed straight for northern Iraq's
main oil refinieries
Most of the group's money, however, comes from the old-fashioned petroeconomics of extracting oil and selling it to smugglers, who, in turn, transport it outside of IS territory for quick sales. Some estimates have put IS's oil income at three times that of the US Treasury Department, which has found that the group sells oil at substantially discounted prices to a variety of middlemen, including some from Turkey, who then transport the oil for resale.

"It also appears that some of the oil emanating from territory where ISIL operates has been sold to Kurds in Iraq, and then resold into Turkey," Cohen said, adding that the Syrian government has also allegedly arranged to buy oil from IS, proving that the thirst for petroleum and the money it brings in can bridge the more philosophical gaps between sworn enemies in the multifront, multinational war.

mkg/sb (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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(Subjects: Dark/Light Consciousness Balance, ISIS forces in Syria, Ebola epidemic ....)

"The Physics of Consciousness - The Future Revealed" - June 29, 2014 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) (Text version)

Pope Francis blasts life sentences as ‘hidden death penalty’

Pontiff slates countries facilitating torture and says using prisons to fix social problems is like treating all diseases with one drug

The Guardian, Agence France-Presse in Vatican City, Thursday 23 October 2014

Pope Francis criticises capital punishment and life sentences in speech at
penal law association. Photograph: Vatican pool/Getty Images

Pope Francis has branded life-long prison terms “a hidden death sentence” in an attack on “penal populism” that included severe criticism of countries that facilitate torture.

In a wide-ranging speech to a delegation from the International Association of Penal Law, the pontiff said believers should oppose life-long incarceration as strongly as the use of capital punishment.

“All Christians and men of good faith are therefore called upon today to fight, not only for the abolition of the death penalty – whether it is legal or illegal and in all its forms – but also to improve the conditions of incarceration to ensure that the human dignity of those deprived of their freedom is respected.

“And this, for me, is linked to life sentences. For a short time now, these no longer exist in the Vatican penal code. A sentence of life (without parole) is a hidden death penalty.”

In comments likely to enhance his reputation as one of the most liberal of popes, Francis went on to slam the risk of sentencing becoming disproportionately severe.

“In recent decades a belief has spread that through public punishment the most diverse social problems can be resolved, as if different diseases could all be cured by the same medicine.”

Reiterating Catholic teaching that capital punishment is a sin, the pope also made what appeared to be a thinly veiled attack on the European countries which have facilitated US demands for extraordinary rendition of terror suspects to detention centres in parts of the world where they can be tortured with impunity.

“These abuses will only stop if the international community firmly commits to recognising … the principle of placing human dignity above all else.”

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Blackwater guards found guilty of 2007 Baghdad massacre

A US jury has found Blackwater guards guilty in the 2007 shootings of 31 Iraqis, which left at least 14 dead. The massacre caused an international uproar over the role of private defense contractors in urban warfare.

Deutsche Welle, 22 Oct 2014

On Wednesday, the jury in Washington, DC, found Nicholas Slatten guilty of first-degree murder, and Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard guilty of at least three counts of voluntary manslaughter for the massacre on September 16, 2007. The men faced charges on 33 counts in the shootings, which left at least 14 dead and 17 wounded.

The jury reached verdicts on part of the charges after nearly a month of deliberations. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth allowed the jurors to announce the verdicts agreed upon, with the expectation that they would continue deliberating on the other counts.

The State Department hired Blackwater to protect US diplomats in Iraq. Convoys of heavily armored Blackwater vehicles had operated in risky environments, with car bombs and other attacks common.

The US continued to contract with
Blackwater after the massacre
Prosecutors charged Slatten, who fired the shot that killed the first civilian, with first-degree murder and the others with voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and gun infractions. Though sentencing will come later, Slatten faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The gun charges carry mandatory minimum prison terms of 30 years. Involuntary manslaughter has a maximum sentence of eight years; for attempted manslaughter, seven years.

Before the killings, Slatten had allegedly told acquaintances that he wanted to "kill as many Iraqis as he could as 'payback for 9/11'," according to court documents.

'Bloodied, bullet-riddled corpses'

The defendants' attorneys had cited apparent evidence that militants and even Iraqi police had targeted the guards with gunfire, leading the private contractors to shoot back in self-defense. However, federal prosecutors said that no one had shot at the guards, who merely opened fire on the crowd unprovoked.

"People who could laugh, who could love, were turned into bloodied, bullet-riddled corpses, people who were not legitimate targets … who were no real threat," federal prosecutor Anthony Asuncion said. The crowd faced "gunfire coming from the left, gunfire coming from the right," Asuncion added.

Blackwater officials renamed the private contractor Xe Services in 2009 and then Academi in 2011. When US President Barack Obama took office in 2009, the State Department finally canceled its contract with the firm.

In 2008, a German weapons manufacturer stopped selling weapons to Blackwater after media reported on the dealings. Disclosures by WikiLeaks in 2010 showed that Blackwater had killed civilians in other incidents. Later that year, then-President Hamid Karzai banned such firms from operating in Afghanistan.

mkg/sb (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)