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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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Monica Lewinsky: The price of shame

The price of shame

Apple CEO Tim Cook slams US 'dangerous discrimination' laws

Yahoo – AFP, 30 March 2015

Apple chief Tim Cook has slammed what he calls a wave of "dangerous" laws
in several US states that he says promote discrimination and erode equality
(AFP Photo/Josh Edelson)

Washington (AFP) - Apple chief Tim Cook slammed what he called a wave of "dangerous" laws in several US states that he said promote discrimination and erode equality, in an editorial published Sunday.

Cook -- one of the most prominent chief executives to publicly acknowledge his homosexuality -- wrote in the Washington Post that so-called "religious freedom" laws passed in several states threaten to undo progress toward greater equality.

"There's something very dangerous happening in states across the country," Cook wrote in the editorial.

"These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on."

Cook's comments follow the adoption of a controversial law in the state of Indiana last week that critics say would allow businesses to deny service to homosexuals on religious grounds.

The law, which takes effect July 1, makes no mention of gays or lesbians. But activists say it makes it legal for businesses whose owners reject homosexuality on religious grounds to turn away LGBT customers.

Eighteen other states have adopted similar laws, including Kentucky, Tennessee and Texas, all of which ban same-sex marriage.

Cook said such laws erode fundamental rights and make no sense for business owners.

"America's business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business," he wrote.

"On behalf of Apple, I'm standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation -- wherever it emerges."

Cook, who was baptized as a child, said he has "great reverence for religious freedom," but said faith should not be used as a tool to discriminate.

"The days of segregation and discrimination marked by 'Whites Only' signs on shop doors, water fountains and restrooms must remain deep in our past," he added.

"We must never return to any semblance of that time. America must be a land of opportunity for everyone."

Cook repeated his earlier statement that "Apple is open for everyone" and said he hopes more people will join his campaign against intolerance.

The Indiana bill sparked fury among activists, athletes and Hollywood stars who came out strongly against it.

Same-sex marriage is now recognized in 37 states after the US Supreme Court in 2013 ruled that federal law could not discriminate against wedded lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) couples.

The legislation adopted in Indiana, however, is styled on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 federal law that makes it illegal to "substantially burden" an individual's freedom of religion.

Related Article:

Monday, March 30, 2015

Arab leaders agree joint military force

Yahoo – AFP, Haitham El-Tabei, 29 March 2015

(Front from L-R) Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Kuwait Emir Sheikh 
Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Yemeni 
President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and Sudanese President Omar al Bashir 
(middle-C) (AFP Photo/Mohamed Samaaha)

Sharm el Sheikh (Egypt) (AFP) - Arab leaders agreed on Sunday to form a joint military force after a summit dominated by a Saudi-led offensive on Shiite rebels in Yemen and the threat from Islamist extremism.

Arab representatives will meet over the next month to study the creation of the force and present their findings to defence ministers within four months, according to the resolution adopted by the leaders.

"Assuming the great responsibility imposed by the great challenges facing our Arab nation and threatening its capabilities, the Arab leaders had decided to agree on the principle of a joint Arab military force," Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told the summit in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The decision was mostly aimed at fighting jihadists who have overrun swathes of Iraq and Syria and secured a foothold in Libya, Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said ahead of the summit.

On Sunday, Arabi told the meeting the region was threatened by a "destructive" force that threatened "ethnic and religious diversity", in an apparent reference to the Islamic State group.

"What is important is that today there is an important decision, in light of the tumult afflicting the Arab world," he said.

Egypt had pushed for the creation of the rapid response force to fight militants, and the matter gained urgency this week after Saudi Arabia and Arab allies launched air strikes on Huthi rebels in Yemen.

A handout picture made available by the Egyptian presidency shows Egyptian
 President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C) speaking during a closed session with Arab
 leaders during the Arab League summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm 
El-Sheikh on March 28, 2015 (AFP Photo)

Arabi, reading a statement at the conclusion of the summit, said on Sunday the offensive would continue until the Huthis withdraw from regions they have overrun and surrender their weapons.

Several Arab states including Egypt are taking part in the military campaign, which Saudi King Salman said on Saturday would continue until the Yemeni people "enjoy security".

'Months to create'

Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi at the start of the summit called for the offensive to end only when the Huthis "surrender", calling the rebel leader an Iranian "puppet".

However, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the leaders to find a peaceful resolution in Yemen.

"It is my fervent hope that at this Arab League summit, leaders will lay down clear guidelines to peacefully resolve the crisis in Yemen," he said.

James Dorsey, a Middle East analyst with the Singapore-based S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said that despite support for a joint-Arab force, "it would still take months to create and then operate on an ad-hoc basis.

"I don't think we will get an integrated command anytime soon, as no Arab leader would cede control of any part of their army anytime soon," he said.

"Today we will have a formal declaration that would be negotiated every time during action."

Sisi said in a recent interview that the proposal for a joint force was welcomed especially by Jordan, which might take part alongside Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.

Saudi Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri, spokesman of the Saudi-led coalition
 forces, speaks to the media next to a replica of a Tornado fighter jet (AFP
Photo/Fayez Nureldine)

Aaron Reese, deputy research director at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, said "each of these countries would bring a different capability.

"The Jordanians are well known for their special forces capability... the Egyptians of course have the most manpower and bases close to Libya."

Before Egyptian air strikes in February targeting the IS in Libya, the United Arab Emirates, which shares Cairo's antipathy towards Islamists, had reportedly used Egyptian bases to launch its own air strikes there.

Cairo had sought UN backing for intervention in Libya, dismissing attempted peace talks between the rival governments in its violence-plagued North African neighbour as ineffective.

Asean peacekeeping force (JG Graphics/Josep Tri Ronggo)

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Chinese president calls for 'new regional order' at Asian forum

Chinese President Xi Jinping has opened a regional economic forum by calling for more cooperation among Asian nations. He urged Asia to build "a community of common destiny."

Deutsche Welle, 28 March 2015

 Chinese President Xi Jinping REUTERS/Kyodo News/Parker Song/Pool

In his keynote address at the Boao Forum on Hainan island in southern China, Xi stressed the need for Asian nations to join forces to increase regional and world prosperity.

"Facing the fast-changing regional and international landscapes, we must see the whole picture, follow the trends of our times and build a new regional order that is more favorable to Asia and the world," he told the hundreds of regional leaders at the China-hosted gathering, which has taken place annually since 2002.

He said that by improving trade and transport links in the region, "we can turn the seas of Asia into seas of peace and cooperation."

Xi also called on the world's nations to support Beijing's ideas for a new development bank that some see as a potential rival to the Western-dominated International Monetary Fund and World Bank and the Japanese-dominated Asian Development Bank.

Seeking to allay such fears, the Chinese president said his country would promote "coordinated development between the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and multilateral financial institutions such as the Asian Development Bank and World Bank."

The AIIB is due to be set up later this year, with March 31 the deadline for countries to apply to join as founding members.

Chinese economy 'healthy'

At the same time, Xi emphasized that the Chinese economy was running as planned despite annual economic growth having sunk to about 7 percent, the lowest in 20 years.

"This new normal of the Chinese economy will continue to bring more opportunities for trade growth and development for the countries of Asia and beyond," he said, adding that China was now aiming for increased quality and efficiency as opposed to rapid growth in its economy.

He also announced more than $500 billion (459 billion euros) in Chinese investment abroad, saying that China's size gave it "more responsibility for world peace and development."

'Silk Road'

A focus of discussions at the forum is likely to be China's proposed "Silk Road economic belt" initiatives aimed at facilitating regional trade through cooperation on railways, roads, energy and information technology, the state-run China Daily newspaper said.

China is currently seeking to extend its influence in the region in a bid seen as a challenge to the previous dominance of the United States.

Leaders of Austria, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Armenia and Zambia were all expected to attend the forum, which its founders hope will become an Asian version of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

tj/sms (AP, dpa)

Xi Jinping, right, meets President Joko Widodo of Indonesia at the
Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 26. (Photo/Xinhua)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Reasons behind Russia's reluctance to join AIIB: Duowei

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2015-03-27

Chinese president Xi Jinping greets his Russian counterpart Vladimir
Putin at the APEC summit in Beijing, November 2014. (Photo/CNS)

Russia may have good reasons behind its reluctance to join the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) proposed by China, says Duowei News, a US-based Chinese political news outlet.

With the March 31 deadline for applications to be a founding member of the AIIB looming, Russia has still not decided whether it wants to be a part of the multilateral development bank aiming to finance infrastructure projects in the Asia region. A March 23 report in a Russian newspaper cited comments by the country's deputy finance minister Sergei Storchak to the effect that Russia has not yet decided if it will apply for membership.

While Russia sits on the fence, several other countries have already caught the "late train," with Australia, South Korea and Austria each indicating a desire to apply over the past week. International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde and Asian Development Bank president Takehiko Nakao also both recently declared a willingness to cooperate with the AIIB, which has been viewed as a key sign of support for China.

While it is natural for the United States and Japan to be skeptical of the AIIB, Duowei said, Russia's reluctance to join has been considered a head-scratcher by many analysts because it appears to have more reasons than countries like the UK, France and Germany to want to be a part of the system.

Back in 2007, Russian president Vladimir Putin publicly stated that the world needs to establish a new international financial system to replace the outdated, undemocratic and awkward systems of the present. With the United States still in charge of global financial order, it is inevitable that the financial reforms Russia is pushing for will involve building a new platform, Duowei said.

The scope of the AIIB has already far exceeded that of a regional investment bank and has the potential to influence financial markets on a global scale, Duowei said. Even though the Ukraine crisis, which has isolated Russia from the West, has been devastating for the national economy and its future prospects, Russia is still undergoing structural changes to its economy and holds strong potential in its infrastructure development sector.

Based on information released by Oxford Economics, Russia has attracted more foreign direct investment over the last decade than both Brazil and India, though this does not necessarily mean that investment funding in the infrastructure development sphere meets demand. The Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014, published by the World Economic Forum, said that the quality of Russia's infrastructure, due to a lack of investment, has slid to be ranked 93rd in the world.

The Road to 2030: A Survey of Infrastructure Development in Russia, a report from global professional services organization EY, notes that in the past five years, Russia has announced at least 325 infrastructure projects. These, as well as other projects such as the upgrading of the Trans-Siberian Railway and the competion of 14 operational airfields in the arctic by the end of the year, will all require significant sums of investment funding, Duowei said.

Despite the above backdrop, Russia still has three main reasons for refusing to join the AIIB, Duowei said. The first is that Putin still wants to build Russia into the leader of Eurasia's economic community, something membership in the AIIB cannot help him achieve. Even if Russia joins, it will not have the power to dictate terms and will arguably not even have significant authority, Duowei added, adding that this is perhaps why Russia is pursuing alternatives such as strengthening bilateral ties with China and actively boosting its position in the BRICS community among the other emerging nations of Brazil, India, China and South Africa.

Secondly, Russia does not want membership in the AIIB to rob it of its economic independence. While Russia can compete with the US and China in terms of its military might, its economy its undoubtedly a fatal shortcoming. According, the Kremlin may have concerns over whether, with China leading the way, the AIIB can genuinely improve infrastructure development in Asia and operate in a fair and open manner that adheres to financial discipline. The better option might therefore to wait and observe to see how the AIIB functions first before deciding whether it is prudent to join, Duowei said.

Thirdly, Russia's reluctance to join the AIIB may reflect China's wishes to some extent. In recent weeks of negotiations, China has been insisting to European countries that Beijing will not have veto power in the AIIB, a declaration that has prompted the likes of the UK, France, Germany and Italy to decide becoming a founding member. The absence of the maligned Russia from this picture therefore actually assists China in gaining support in Europe, Duowei said, noting that this theory makes sense given that China and Russia are now viewed as being in a "quasi-alliance" by the international community. Considering its strong ties with China, Russia will not have too many difficulties if it decides to join the AIIB once the bank is up and running and moving towards success, Duowei added.

Sri Mulyani Indrawati, managing director at the World Bank. 
(File photo/Xinhua)

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Apple CEO Tim Cook plans to donate $800m fortune to charity before he dies

  • Cook says money will go to many social causes, as well as nephew’s education
  • Apple co-workers found Cook’s sexuality to be a ‘yawner’, he says in interview

The Guardian, Rupert Neate in New York, 26 March 2015

Tim Cook is one of many high-profile business people in the US, including
 Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Warren Buffet, in giving at least 50% of their
wealth to charity. Photograph: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Yim Cook is planning to give away all of his near $800m fortune before he dies, the Apple boss said in a surprisingly frank interview, in which he also described his sexuality as a “yawner”.

Cook, 54, who took over as Apple chief executive from Steve Jobs in 2011, told Fortune magazine that he planned to donate all of his wealth to charity after providing for his 10-year-old nephew’s education.

Cook, who has spoken publicly about the importance of stopping HIV/Aids and climate change, as well as championing human rights and equality, did not specify which causes he would support but said he had already begun donating money quietly. He said he would develop a systematic approach to philanthropy, rather than just writing cheques.

Fortune estimated that Cook holds $120m worth of Apple shares and a further $665m of restricted stocks.

Cook follows other high-profile executives in giving their money away. In 2010, Warren Buffett and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates launched the Giving Pledge, an appeal to billionaires to give at least 50% of their wealth to charity. Tesla chief executive Elon Musk, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar have all signed up.

Cook has previously spoken of his affection for his nephew. In a speech last year, he said: “I have a nephew that I dearly love that’s 10, and when I look at him, and when I think of leaving a world that’s not as good as when I entered it, there’s no bigger sin than that.”

In 2012, Cook donated $50m to Stanford hospitals, near Apple’s Silicon Valley headquarters, including $25m for a new children’s hospital. He also gave $50m to Product Red, a charity working to combat Aids, tuberculosis and malaria, according to Silicon Valley website the Verge.

Cook also spoke about his decision to come out as gay last year – making him by far the most influential gay business executive as head of the world’s most valuable company.

He said he made the decision to come out “quite some time ago” and that his announcement was viewed internally at Apple – where most people already knew he was gay – as a “yawner”.

However, Cook said making his sexuality public knowledge was difficult because he is a very private and guarded about his personal life. “To be honest, if I would not have come to the conclusion that it would likely help other people, I would have never done it,” he said. “There’s no joy in me putting my life in view.”

In the interview, Cook also took a strong line on investors trying to make a quick buck out of Apple’s rising share price. “The kind of investors we seek are long term because that’s how we make our decisions,” he said. “If you’re a short-term investor, obviously you’ve got the right to buy the stock and trade it the way you want. It’s your decision. But I want everybody to know that’s not how we run the company.”

Earlier this week, a financial analyst predicted that Apple could soon become the world’s first trillion dollar company. Analysts at Cantor Fitzgerald on Monday said they thought Apple’s shares – which are currently trading at about $127, valuing the company at $733bn – could soon be worth $180 each, which would value the iPhone maker at $1.05tn.

It would be the first time any company had ever been valued at more than $1tn, and would make Apple more valuable than the gross domestic product (GDP) of Indonesia,the Netherlands or Saudi Arabia, according to World Bank statistics. It would also mean Apple would be worth 2.6 times as much as Google, the second most valuable company in the US, with a market valuation of $383bn.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Li Keqiang reaffirms AIIB cooperative stance

Want China Times, Xinhua 2015-03-25

Li Keqiang, right, meets Takehiko Nakao in Beijing, March 23. (Photo/CNS)

The Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, on Monday reaffirmed cooperation between the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and existing financial institutions.

The AIIB will take an open and inclusive attitude and be complementary to existing development banks, said Li at a meeting with the president of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Takehiko Nakao .

The AIIB will strengthen the region's communication, social and economic development, Li said.

Nakao said the ADB was ready to cooperate with the AIIB.

Speaking of the support of the ADB for China's social and economic development, poverty reduction and regional economic cooperation, the premier pledged further partnership with ADB and called on it to play a bigger role in poverty reduction and development.

Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and Switzerland recently applied to join the AIIB as founding members, which already had 27 prospective founding members.

Nakao is in Beijing for the annual meeting of the China Development Forum, a platform for business and academic leaders to interact with China's top decision makers and economic planners.

This year's meeting has attracted more than a hundred CEOs from international corporations, experts and scholar, and leaders of international organizations.

Sri Mulyani Indrawati, managing director at the World Bank. 
(File photo/Xinhua)

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China’s Influence Set to Climb as US Thwarted on New Bank

Jakarta Globe, Bloomberg, Mar 25, 2015

US President Barack Obama, left, poses with Chinese President Xi Jinping as
 he arrives for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders meeting at Yanqi
Lake, north of Beijing on Nov. 11, 2014. (AFP Photo/Greg Baker)

Seven decades after the end of World War II, the international economic architecture crafted by the US faces its biggest shakeup yet, with China establishing new channels for influence to match its ambitions.

Three lending institutions with at least $190 billion are taking shape under China’s leadership, one of them informally referred to as a Marshall Plan — evoking the postwar US program to rebuild an impoverished Europe. Also this year, China’s yuan may win the IMF’s blessing as an official reserve currency, a recognition of its rising use in trade and finance.

China’s clout has been expanding for decades, as its rapid growth allowed it to snap up a rising share of the world’s resources, its exports penetrated global markets, and its bulging financial assets gave it power to make big individual loans and purchases. Now, the creation of international lending institutions is leveraging that economic influence closer to the political and diplomatic arenas, as US allies defy America to back China’s initiative.

“This is the beginning of a bigger role for China in global affairs,” said Jim O’Neill, UK-based former chief economist at Goldman Sachs Group, who coined the term BRICs in 2001 to highlight the rising economic power of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Power vision

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s vision of achieving the same great-power status enjoyed by the US received a major boost this month when the UK, Germany, France and Italy signed on to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The AIIB will have authorized capital of $100 billion and starting funds of about $50 billion.

Canada is considering joining, which would leave the US and Japan as the only Group of Seven holdouts as they question the institution’s governance and environmental standards.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s cabinet approved negotiations to join too, according to a government official who asked not to be identified as the decision hasn’t been made public.

“China’s economic rise is acting as a huge pull factor forcing the existing architecture to adapt,” said James Laurenceson, deputy director of the Australia-China Relations Institute in Sydney. “The AIIB has shown the US that a majority in international community support China’s aspirations for taking on greater leadership and responsibility, at least on economic initiatives.”

Development bank

The new China-backed institutions — the infrastructure bank, a $50 billion development bank in conjunction with fellow BRICS nations and a $40 billion fund to revive the ancient Silk Road trade route — are being set up after years of frustrated attempts by China and other emerging nations to revamp the existing international financial institutions to better reflect the shape of the global economy.

A key sticking point is the US’s failure for more than four years to approve shifts in the International Monetary Fund’s ownership structure, which would give emerging markets more influence and install China as the third-largest member nation, up from sixth. The changes have been held up by the refusal of the US Congress to ratify them, even though the White House and governments around the world support them.

The US still has veto power on major decisions made by both the IMF and the World Bank, and a lock on selecting the president of the World Bank. Both institutions are increasingly unrepresentative and undersized compared with demands they face.

‘Chump change’

“The real tragedy is, compared to the billions we spend on defense to support US global leadership, Congress undermined it by refusing to provide the chump change needed to reform the IMF,” said David Loevinger, former US Treasury Department senior coordinator for China affairs and now an analyst at TCW Group in Los Angeles. “Congress can abdicate its international responsibilities. What it can’t do is stop China from playing a bigger role in managing the global economy.”

Regarding the new infrastructure bank, US Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew told lawmakers last week the administration is concerned that the institution may not adhere to the same standards as other international financial institutions.

Worker protection

“Will it protect the rights of workers, the environment, deal with corruption issues appropriately?” Lew said at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington. “Anyone joining needs to ask those questions at the outset. And I hope before the final commitments are made, anyone who lends their name to this organization will make sure that the governance is appropriate.”

Part of China’s international-development push stems from economic self-interest. With much of the nation’s almost $4 trillion in foreign-currency reserves earning little, “they see this as an opportunity to improve their rate of return over Treasuries,” said Nicholas Lardy, who’s studied China for more than three decades and is a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.

Andrew Polk, Beijing-based economist at the Conference Board, said China’s push to set up these new institutions is driven by its desire to “stoke markets” to which it can export industrial overcapacity.

China plans to spend $40 billion to revive the centuries- old Silk Road trade route between Asia and Europe, an idea raised by Xi in a 2013 speech in neighboring Kazakhstan.

Silk road

Some analysts have likened the plan to the postwar effort to help Europe that helped establish the US as a regional economic power. A detailed plan may be unveiled at China’s Boao Forum conference starting Thursday, where Xi is scheduled to speak, according to Australia & New Zealand Banking Group.

Announced in July, the BRICS’ New Development Bank, to be based in Shanghai with initial capital of $50 billion, is the third building block of a China-centered international economic architecture. In addition to the original four BRIC nations, the fifth country is South Africa.

The increasing influence of the world’s second-largest economy has extended to the existing institutions. The IMF in late 2015 will conduct its next twice-a-decade review of the basket of currencies its members can count toward their official reserves. IMF chief Christine Lagarde said in Beijing this week that the yuan “clearly belongs” in the basket and the fund would work with China to that end.

Higher contribution

China in recent years has gained several high-ranking jobs for Chinese nationals at the World Bank and IMF. At the World Bank, China last year almost doubled its contribution to a fund for the poorest nations to help support a low-interest, $1 billion loan to the unit.

To lure countries to join, China has offered to forgo veto power at the new development bank, the Wall Street Journal reported this week.

The German government and its European partners are insisting on transparency standards in the talks, and a Chinese veto wouldn’t be compatible with the transparency the Europeans want, according to a German government official who asked not to be named because the negotiations are private.

Making the institutions run successfully will be tougher than starting them, said George Magnus, a senior independent economic adviser to UBS Group in London. Recent audits of many Chinese overseas ventures have “left a catalog of misallocation, waste, poor administration and weak commercial standards and returns,” he said.

Peterson’s Lardy said those concerns are overblown, and China is likely to stick with high standards. “They want this to be a success,” he said. “They don’t want to take $50 billion out of their reserves and flush it down the toilet by funding projects with a high degree of corruption.”

Yu Yongding, a former adviser to China’s central bank, said that “Americans must learn to behave in a humbler way” to maintain their leadership in global economic circles.
“The world has changed,” Yu said.


"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. Remember where you heard it... in a strange, esoteric meeting with a guy in a chair pretending to channel. [Kryon being factious... Kryon humor] Then when you hear it, you'll know better, won't you? "Maybe there was something really there," you'll say. "Maybe it was real," you'll say. Perhaps you can skip all the drama of the years to come and consider that now? [Kryon humor again]

These leaders are going to fall over. You'll have a slow developing leadership coming to you all over the earth where there is a new energy of caring about the public. "That's just too much to ask for in politics, Kryon." Watch for it. That's just the beginning of this last phase. So many things are coming. The next one is related to this, for a country in survival with sickness cannot sustain a leadership of high consciousness. There is just too much opportunity for power and greed. But when a continent is healed, everything changes. .."

".. Many years ago, the prevailing thought was that nobody should consider China as a viable player on the economic stage. They were backward, filled with a system that would never be westernized, and had no wish to become joined with the rest of the world's economic systems. Look what has happened in only 30 years. Now, look at Africa differently …”

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

US state of Utah legalizes firing squad executions

Utah has become the only US state to restore firing squad executions. The move comes after a series of botched executions in several states appeared to cause condemned inmates prolonged pain and suffering.

Deutsche Welle, 24 March 2015

 The US state of Utah allowed the return of the firing squad as a means of execution Monday, becoming the only state in the country to allow the practice.

Governor Gary Herbert signed the legislation into law Monday after it was approved by the Utah state senate earlier this month. The law provides for a the use of a firing squad to carry out an execution if lethal drugs are not available.

The law reverses a 2004 measure that removed a condemned inmate's choice for a firing squad execution. Utah last executed a man by firing squad in 2010, honoring the request from a condemned man who was sentenced before the 2004 law took effect.

"We regret anyone ever commits the heinous crime of aggravated murder to merit the death penalty and we prefer to use our primary method of lethal injection when such a sentence is issued," Herbert's spokesman Marty Carpenter said.

"However, when a jury makes the decision and a judge signs a death warrant, enforcing that lawful decision is the obligation of the executive branch."

Opponents of the bill call the punishment barbaric, with the Utah American Civil Liberties Union saying the law makes the state "look backwards and backwoods."

Lethal injection is the primary method of
 execution in the 34 US states that permit
the death penalty
Several US states have found it difficult to keep up their inventories of lethal drugs as European manufacturers opposed to the death penalty are refusing to supply the lethal medications to US prisons. The shortage prompted state officials to utilize other lethal medication cocktails, resulting in a series of bungled executions that appeared to cause inmates prolonged pain and suffering.

The bill's sponsor, Republican state representative Paul Ray, argued that a firing squad is more humane than the slow and painful deaths that can occur during botched lethal injections.

The US Supreme Court announced in January it would review execution procedures to make sure they complied with constitutional protections against "cruel and unusual punishment."

Thirty-four US states currently permit the death penalty in capital cases, and all use lethal injection as the primary method to execute convicts.

Woman who spent 23 years on US death row cleared

Yahoo – AFP, 24 March 2015

A woman who spent 23 years on death row in the United States over the
killing of her young son saw her murder charge dismissed and the case
against her closed (AFP Photo/Chantal Valery)

Washington (AFP) - A woman who spent 23 years on death row in the United States over the killing of her young son saw her murder charge dismissed and the case against her closed.

Debra Milke, 51 and of German origin, had always maintained her innocence in the fatal shooting of her son in 1990 in Arizona. The boy was aged just four and was shot in the back of the head.

Milke had been sentenced to death based on the uncorroborated testimony of a senior investigator who claimed to have a confession from Milke, but who had a long history of misconduct.

Debra Milke (Photo: dpa)
Milke, who has been on bail since 2013, becomes the 151st person -- but just the second woman -- to be exonerated of the death penalty in four decades in the United States.

After spending more than two decades languishing on death row, Milke's conviction was overturned two years ago by a court of appeal because of the "egregious" conduct of the lead investigator.

On March 17, the Supreme Court of Arizona refused to hear the final appeal of the prosecution and Judge Rosa Mroz dropped all the charges Monday.

According to the detective, Armando Saldate, the divorced mother had confessed to hiring two killers to murder her son because she no longer wanted him around, but there were no independent witnesses.

The detective had a long history of accusations against him of corruption and lying under oath, but that was never revealed to the court by prosecutors, according to the non-profit Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC).

"Arizona's prosecutors have been accused of misconduct in more than half of all cases in which the state has imposed death sentences." the DPIC said.

Separately, the two men, Roger Scott and Jim Styers, pleaded guilty and were sentenced to death for the murder of the boy.