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'

Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Turkish football federation 'fined for sacking gay referee'

Yahoo – AFP, Stuart Williams, December 29, 2015

Hali Ibrahim Dincdag had been a referee in the Trabzon region in northern
Turkey but had his licence revoked in 2009 after publicly coming out as gay
(AFP Photo/Juan Mabromata)

Istanbul (AFP) - A Turkish court on Tuesday ordered the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) to pay thousands of dollars in compensation after it revoked the refereeing licence of a local referee on the grounds that he was gay.

The Istanbul court ordered the TFF to pay 23,000 Turkish Lira ($7,900) in material and moral compensation over its treatment of Halil Ibrahim Dincdag, the Dogan news agency reported.

However the sum was lower than the 110,000 Turkish Lira ($38,000) demanded by Dincdag's lawyers, in a case that had become a symbol of discrimination against gays and lesbians in largely conservative and overwhelmingly Muslim Turkish society.

The TFF had said that since he was exempt from military service due to his homosexuality, Dincdag fell into the army's classification of "unfit" and thus unable to do the job of refereeing.

Dincdag had been a referee in the Trabzon region on the Black Sea region but had his licence revoked in 2009 after publicly coming out as gay.

'Break the taboo'

"This lawsuit was a case in favour of all people who suffered injustice and discrimination," Dincdag told the Diken online news website.

"Winning this case was really something very important. The court has now confirmed that my fight was a right."

"I hope that this decision sets a precedent for similar cases. This is a victory."

However Dincdag and his lawyer Firat Soyle said that they would appeal the verdict to be awarded the full amount of compensation demanded in the lawsuit.

Turkish football referee Halil Ibrahim Dincdag, pictured in 2009 after he 
came out as a homosexual in a television broadcast (AFP Photo/Bulent Kilic)

"We are happy that justice has been done but we are going to appeal regarding the figure to be paid," the lawyer said, quoted by Turkish media. "Given the moral and material damages suffered, it is a small figure."

"December 29, 2015 is a victory in the fight against homophobia in football and also a victory for the LGBT movement in Turkey," he added. "We have to break the taboo on football over homophobia with this decision."

Turkish media said that Dincdag had been a football referee in Trabzon for 13 years when his license was revoked in 2009 and has been unable to officiate at any match since.

He also lost his job as radio presenter on a sports show on a local station.

The issue of homosexuality in football, by far the most popular sport in Turkey, remains a virtually untouched topic in the macho society.

The military's attitude to homosexuality has also been controversial, with gays needing to undergo nude examinations to prove they qualified for an exemption for military service due to their sexuality.

However Turkish media reports last month said that this requirement had now been dropped and only verbal declarations would now be taken into consideration.

Homosexuality has been legal in Turkey throughout the period of the modern republic and was also legalised in the Ottoman Empire from the mid-nineteenth century. But gays in Turkey regularly complain of harassment and abuse.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

AFP's person of the year: Angela Merkel

Yahoo – AFP, December 28, 2015

AFP journalists have chosen Angela Merkel as the most influential figure of
 2015 after the German chancellor stamped her mark on the European migrant
and Greek financial crises (AFP Photo/John MacDougall)

Paris (AFP) - AFP journalists have chosen Angela Merkel as the most influential figure of 2015 after the German chancellor stamped her mark on the European migrant and Greek financial crises.

The vote by editorial staff from all services and languages across the world put Russian President Vladimir Putin as number two on a list of people who most influenced world affairs over the year.

Putin had the top spot in the agency's 2014 vote.

Here are this year's top 10:

ANGELA MERKEL - The chancellor's open-door policy brought around a million refugees to Germany over 2015. The flood of migrants, a consequence of the devastating war in Syria, was the biggest in Europe since World War II and put the continent under huge strain, exposing its fault lines.

For hopeful Syrian and Afghan refugees she was "Mama Merkel"; some of her European counterparts and party colleagues were less welcoming, even openly critical.

Merkel's authority as the de facto leader of Europe was also on display during Greece's protracted financial saga, when she stood firm as the country's far-left government pushed back against austerity measures intended to save its economy and place in Europe.

Merkel was also voted Time magazine's Person of the Year.

VLADIMIR PUTIN - He was shunned by world leaders and put under sanctions for Russia's role in the 2014 standoff in Ukraine. But Putin was still able to impose himself on this year's most pressing problems, returning to the diplomatic centre stage over the Syrian conflict.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad owes his political survival to Putin's military backing, and the two allies have made themselves indispensable to efforts to end the four-year war that only started taking shape late this year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was able to impose himself on 2015's most
 pressing problems, returning to the diplomatic centre stage over the Syrian 
conflict (AFP Photo/Maxim Shipenkov)

POPE FRANCIS - From the US-Cuba reconciliation to progress towards peace in Colombia, the Argentinian pope continues to influence the weighty issues of his home region. He also remained active more globally, for example with a courageous visit to volatile Central Africa, while pursuing his drive to modernise and open up the Catholic Church.

PARISIANS - They were 1.5 million to take to the streets of the French capital after the January attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and a kosher supermarket that left 17 people dead.

Paris was hit again before the year was out when jihadists linked to the Islamic State group mowed down 130 people in cafes and the Bataclan concert hall, venues emblematic of the city's way of life and now of resistance to terrorism.

ABU BAKR AL-BAGHDADI - While Baghdadi remained largely invisible over the year, the Islamic State group that he heads extended its murderous campaign beyond the territory it controls in Iraq and Syria, growing its presence in Libya and claiming the downing of a Russian airliner in Egypt.

AUNG SAN SUU KYI - After a near 30-year struggle with a stubborn junta for democracy, "The Lady" stands on the threshold of power in Myanmar following her party's landslide win in November's legislative elections.

DONALD TRUMP - Just a few weeks out from the primaries, the conservative and provocative businessman seems unshakeable from the top of the Republican polls and could well find himself opposite Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US presidential elections.

ALEXIS TSIPRAS and YANIS VAROUFAKIS - The Greek prime minister and his former finance minister symbolised resistance to the austerity policies prescribed for Greece as a cure for years of disastrous financial mismanagement. Even if Tsipras had to back down from key electoral pledges, his Syriza party became a model for Europe's far left, today represented by Spain's Podemos.

SEPP BLATTER - This year world football has been hitting headlines for all the wrong reasons, with the FIFA corruption scandal and its powerful president overshadowing any sporting fixture or achievement by far.

JOHN KERRY and MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF - Sometimes diplomacy, patience and perseverance can find a way out of the most complex of issues. This was the feat of the US and Iranian foreign ministers who, in marathon meetings in Geneva and Vienna, reached a historic compromise to defuse stubborn tensions over Iran's nuclear programme.

Related Article:

Saudi Arabia proposes economic reforms

Saudi Arabia has run a massive fiscal deficit in 2015, due to low oil prices. Now the Saudi Finance Ministry has announced plans to reduce subsidies on energy, and investments to try to diversify the economy.

Deutsche Welle, 28 December 2015

On Monday in Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Finance released a 10-page report summarizing the state of the Kingdom's finances and economy, with government budget figures and estimates for this fiscal year and next. The report shows a staggaring fiscal deficit of 367 Saudi riyals (SR) for FY 2015 (about $98 billion or 89 billion euros) - nearly 38 percent of the government's total expenditures.

"Oil revenues are expected to reach SR 444.5 billion, representing 73 percent of [the government's] total revenue" for FY 2015, the statement said, highlighting the petrostate's continued extreme dependence on oil exports.

A barrel of Brent crude was trading at $36.73 on Monday, down 3 percent on the day - an 11-year low. The last time the price of oil was anywhere near this low was for a brief time in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008, and before that, in 2004.

Saudi F15 bombers at Khamis Mushayt
airbase in November, whence targets
in Yemen have been attacked
Total Saudi government revenues were estimated at SR 608 billion, of which non-oil revenues such as customs duties, investment dividends, and documents fees totaled SR 163.5 billion. While non-soil revenues remain a small part of the budget, they've increased 29 percent compared to FY 2014, the report said.

Over budget

"Actual expenditure for the current fiscal year is expected to reach SR 975 billion," or 13 percent more than had been budgeted, according to the finance ministry. It attributed much of the overspending to increased expenditures for military and civil service salaries.

A large, unexpected spending contingency arose beginning in March 2015, when Saudi Arabia embroiled itself in an expensive military intervention in neighboring Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country, against members of a non-Sunni tribe, the Houthi, which had launched a successful rebellion against Yemen's contested government.

Running down savings

The Saudi central bank, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), has plenty of money set aside for a rainy day - or more accurately, for a few years of deficit spending. It owns a vast stock of foreign currencies, deposits with banks abroad, and investments in foreign securities, much of it dollar-denominated.

The oil refinery at Ras Tanura
is Saudi Arabia's biggest
SAMA reported the total value of its assets at the end of November as SR 2,441,282 million (about $651 billion). That's a lot of money, but the finance ministry knows it can't carry on spending it down at the current rate of fiscal deficits for many more years. That means it has to start thinking about increasing non-oil revenues and cutting wasteful spending, since oil prices are not expected to recover soon.

Reforms planned

That's why the finance ministry outlined an ambitious set of economic, fiscal and structural reforms in its new report. In addition to collecting more revenue from sources other than oil sales, it aims to become more systematic about controlling government costs - both by increasing the efficiency of major project expenditures and by reining in the growth of wages, salaries and allowances.

The government says it intends to introduce policies over the next five years to "achieve wide structural reforms in the national economy and reduce its dependence on oil," the statement said. This will include a range of privatizations, and efforts to reduce red tape and improve transparency and accountability.

The government also plans to focus spending on development projects and programs that "serve the citizen directly," listing education, health, security, social and municipal services, water and sanitation, electricity, roads, electronic transactions, and scientific research as planned investment categories.

Taxes and subsidies

Saudi Arabia does not collect income taxes, since it takes in so much money from oil sales through the government-owned oil company that it has not felt the need to do so. But Monday's statement suggests that the finance ministry realizes that this cannot go on forever.

Yemen's Houthi tribe follows a version
 of Shiite Islam that many of Saudi Arabia's
 Wahabi Sunni preachers consider apostasy
The statement says the ministry will review current levels of fees and fines, introduce new fees, and complete "the necessary arrangements for the application of the value added tax (VAT)... in addition to... additional fees on harmful goods such as tobacco, soft drinks and the like."

So it appears there are still no income taxes planned, but the general concept of collecting taxes is making headway in Riyadh. The finance ministry also plans to establish a unit responsible for public debt management, in order to improve the Kingdom's ability to borrow both domestically and internationally, "thus contributing to the market for sukuk and local bonds," Monday's statement said.

Another significant category of reforms mentioned in the document is a review of subsidies, including "revision of energy, water, and electricity prices gradually over the next five years, in order to achieve efficiency in energy use, conserve natural resources, stop waste and irrational use."

It's a long overdue acknowledgment of the pernicious effects of supplying petrol and electricity nearly for free to Saudi residents, leading to notoriously wasteful habits such as leaving cars idling for extended periods with air conditioners on while people shop at the mall. Petrol in Saudi Arabia costs around 15 cents per liter - far too little to motivate conservation.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Acehnese Pray Together to Mark Tsunami Anniversary

Jakarta Globe, December 26, 2015

Acehnese people pray at a mass grave for tsunami victims in Ulee Lheue,
Banda Aceh, on Saturday. (Antara Photo/Ampelsa)

Jakarta. People in Aceh on Saturday marked the 11th anniversary of the deadly tsunami that hit the province and other areas along the Indian Ocean by staging prayer meetings at mosques and public places.

The Dec. 26, 2004 tsunami killed hundreds of thousands of people in 14 countries. Aceh was hit hardest and suffered immense devastation, with waves of up to 30 meters high surging inland and destroying everything in their path, killing some 130,000 people.

Thousands of local people joined by officials attended a prayer meeting at At Taqwa Grand Mosque in Kutacane, in Southeast Aceh district, on Saturday, while journalists held a separate event in Banda Aceh on Friday night to commemorate 27 colleagues who lost their lives in the disaster.

Others visited graves to read verses from the Koran or attended dzikir meetings that revolve around Islamic devotional chants.

"We will never stop praying for them,” coordinator Salman Madira of the event for journalists said on Friday, as quoted by Tempo.co. "They had such big spirits and high dedication to journalism."

Related Articles:

“… Mass Human Death

The final one, dear Human, is the hardest one for my partner and the one we wish to leave you with in this channeling tonight. This is the one that my partner doesn't want to even have me talk about. It's the appropriateness of mass death. For you, built in to your very essence is the honor for life, and the sorrow when it passes. It's correct and appropriate that this is there, and never let it be tempered. But the wisdom of understanding is also needed to help you get past some challenges of the Human heart.

"Dear Kryon, was the tsunami really necessary?" Yes it was. Almost 200,000 Human Beings passed over. It's an event that for you is filled with horror, sorrow, emotion, and challenge. Back in 1989, we told you of those that might have to leave the earth en masse, and here it is. Yet even my partner [Lee] asks the questions, "Why the children? Why the poorest parts of the earth? Why the seeming inappropriateness of all this death?"

And I say to you the same thing I said with respect to Terri: Do you understand yet that death is often as precious as life on this planet of many energies and lessons? They are not gone! They're all here [speaking from Kryon's perspective]. They're having a great time! They're joyful! It seems like a moment ago they leaned into the wind of birth with us beside them. We said, "How would you like to participate in an event that will change the compassion factor of the planet so that energies can move forward and provide faster acceleration of vibratory shift? How would you like to help create peace on earth through a consciousness shift within Gaia itself? And they said, "Show us the way!"

Do you understand why we are in love with humanity... that you would love the earth and the Universe so much that you would go through these things? So much of what you see is horrible tragedy, yet you're looking at the heroes of humanity as they deliver a gift that will change the very fabric of Gaia through the compassion created as a wave of humanity responds to their plight.

They knew the potentials and they went through with it. Even the children knew, for they're old souls within their divinity. There was so much compassion created at that time, in that one week, the earth has never seen anything like it in your lifetime. Billions of Humans were involved with a compassion that instantly went to the core of the planet. It went into the earth and it's still there. It changed the actual energy of where you walk and it planted a seeds that will grow that will indeed emerge later in Israel, and those surrounding Israel.

And that's what it's about. Yet some of you didn't want to hear that, did you? But they're here, with me now... and with you as well. How could you fit them all in this room, you might ask? They can fit on the head of a pin! That's interdimensional talk. They can go home in your purse or your pocket! That's interdimensional talk, too. And they've got a message for you that we've given before, but you can't hear it enough: "We did our part - now you do yours, Lighthouse! For the ones who remain are the only ones who can manipulate the tools we have helped create."

When you go home tonight, you're not going to be in a survival situation - in a tent in a tribe with no lights or clean water, with no food. You're not going to be in sorrow or despair. Instead, you go home to a warm place with plenty of food and friendship and the love of family. That's why you're the Lighthouses, because you have time for it. You've got the intellect for it. You're not in survival mode, as is so much of humanity on the earth. You have the education for it and the intuition for it. Now, do you understand why there are so many Lighthworkers in the western world? It's because your culture has created a situation where there's abundance of these things, and it allows you to lead the way in changing the energy of earth, instead of having all your time spent just trying to survive. Does this help you understand the responsibility of what you have before you?

Strike the light and send it to the Sudanese. Strike light and send it to those dark places with governments where there's corruption. Strike the light and send it to the scientists and researchers who already have the cures for the more virulent diseases on the planet, but can't begin their work due to the barriers of certain leadership and their old ways. Strike the light and send it to Israel and Palestine and get on with this solution! This is why you're here, and this is the agreement you made when you arrived and selected the culture you live in.

Achievable in your lifetime, it is. Peace and compassion will prevail. You shall see. You shall see.

And so it is.


Saturday, December 26, 2015

India's Modi on surprise 'goodwill' Pakistan visit

Yahoo – AFP, 25 December 2015

Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi (R) shakes hands with Pakistan
 Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif upon his arrival in Lahore on December 25, 
2015 (AFP Photo)

Lahore (Pakistan) (AFP) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise "goodwill" visit to arch-rival Pakistan on Friday, with the first such trip in a decade seen as a step towards normalising ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

Modi, who announced the trip via Twitter while in Kabul, met in Lahore with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, who was celebrating his birthday and the wedding of a grand-daughter, for a two-and-a-half hour visit seen by analysts as a positive step.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) 
and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
 meet in Lahore on December 25, 2015
(AFP Photo)
A meeting of their top diplomats is now set for January in Islamabad, indicating a potential thaw in ties between two countries that have fought three wars, along with countless close calls, since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.

Television footage showed an Indian Air Force jumbo jet land at Lahore's Allama Iqbal International Airport in the late afternoon on Friday, moments after Sharif himself arrived by helicopter.

The Pakistani premier, flanked by his cabinet ministers, received Modi on the tarmac where military officers lined up along a red carpet.

Both leaders wore their national dress and made their way to Sharif's helicopter, which flew them to the Pakistani leader's palatial residence south of the city.

They were seen smiling as they walked alongside each other and chatted in Sharif's living room.

Shortly thereafter, Modi was seen off by Sharif at the airport.

'Purely goodwill'

Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry later told a news conference that it was a "purely goodwill visit".

"Both leaders agreed that it was extremely important that the leaders of both countries should understand each other's point of view so that the doors of prosperity could open for their people," Chaudhry said.

He said Modi gave Sharif birthday greetings and the meeting took place in a "cordial atmosphere", and added that the two countries' foreign secretaries will meet in Islamabad next month.

Senior Indian officials and politicians also spoke positively of the meeting, with foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeting that the meeting had set a "positive spirit in the neighbourhood".

Activists of the Indian Youth Congress in New Delhi burn a poster of Indian 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi to protest his visit to Pakistan on December 25,
 2015 (AFP Photo/Chandan Khanna)

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, meanwhile, tweeted: "Neighbours' relations should be like this."

The last visit to Pakistan by an Indian prime minister was in 2004 by then leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who is credited with bringing about a thaw in relations with Islamabad.

Modi and Sharif have had a stop-start diplomatic relationship since the Indian premier's surprise invitation to Sharif to his inauguration in May 2014.

Initial optimism about a revival of ties was short-lived as the two countries traded heavy fire across their disputed border in the Himalayan territory of Kashmir which claimed dozens of lives on both sides.

But this month, they agreed to resume high-level talks that would cover peace and security as well as territorial disputes, including over Kashmir.

'Extremely welcome move'

A brief meeting on November 30 between the two leaders on the sidelines of the UN climate summit in Paris, followed by talks between the two countries' national security advisers in Bangkok, appeared to have broken the ice.

It was unclear, however, when Modi's visit itself was planned.

And though officials have remained tight-lipped about the agenda, the meeting was hailed by regional observers.

"It's an extremely welcome move and it shows that the baby steps promised at the Paris summit between the two prime ministers have transformed into a much bigger step, which holds big promise for both countries," said Imtiaz Gul, head of the Islamabad-based Center for Research and Security Studies.

Pakistani security personnel stand guard during the arrival of Indian Prime
 Minister Narendra Modi at the Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore on 
December 25, 2015 (AFP Photo/Arif Ali)

Earlier Friday, in a speech to the Afghan parliament, Modi urged closer cooperation between India, Pakistan and other neighbours over Afghanistan.

He also made a veiled reference to Pakistan on the issue of cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan.

"Afghanistan will succeed only when terrorism no longer flows across the border, when nurseries and sanctuaries of terrorism are shut, and their patrons are no longer in business," Modi said.

India's main opposition Congress party, however, was quick to criticise Modi's "irresponsible" decision.

In Pakistan, opposition senator Sherry Rehman said that while most Pakistanis backed better ties, parliament had not been consulted and it was unclear what concessions Islamabad was ready to make.

"It's a small step because we don't know what kind of sustainable progress is based around it. We don't know if this is more than a grand gesture," she told AFP.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades (L) and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa
 Akinci, pictured on July 28, 2015, expressed hopes for reunification in a Christmas Eve
televised message which was also posted on YouTube (AFP Photo/Stavros Ioannides)

Related Article:

Thursday, December 24, 2015

UN Security Council backs Libya unity accord

Yahoo – AFP, 23 December 2015

Libya's General National Congress deputy president Saleh al-Makhzoum (C-R),
new national government head Fayez al-Sarraj (C) and head of Tobruk-based
 House of Representatives Mohammed Ali Shoeb (C-L) celebrate after signing
deal on December 17, 2015 (AFP Photo/Fadel Senna)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - The United Nations Security Council voted Wednesday to endorse an agreement between rival Libyan political factions to form a government of national unity.

The 15-nation body gave its support to the deal signed last week in the Moroccan town of Skhirat between representatives of strife-torn Libya's two competing regimes.

Britain's ambassador to the United Nations, Matthew Rycroft, presented the motion and dubbed it "a strong collective sign of our commitment to Libya's sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity."

"But it is only the start of a process," he warned.

Libya has been in chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with armed factions battling for territory and control of its oil wealth.

The internationally recognized government was expelled from Tripoli in August 2014 and is based in the east of the country, while another Islamist-backed body holds the capital.

On December 17, under UN guidance, envoys from both sides and a number of independent political figures signed a deal to unify the government.

Around 80 of 188 lawmakers from Libya's internationally recognized parliament and 50 of 136 members of the rival Tripoli-based General National Congress signed the deal.

It calls for a 17-member government, headed by businessman Fayez el-Sarraj as premier, based in the Libyan capital.

A presidential council would also serve for a transitional period of two years until legislative elections.

The United Nations envoy to Libya, Martin Kobler, is now working on arrangements to allow the unity government to safely set up shop in Tripoli, which is under the control of militia fighters.

The unity deal does not include the extremist Islamic State group, which is gaining strength in Libya and has seized a pocket of territory around Kadhafi's hometown of Sirte.

International officials expect the new government, once it is installed, to have the authority to request international assistance -- perhaps even military intervention -- to subdue the threat.

Germany's integration commissioner proposes multilingual subtitles for Merkel, Gauck speeches

Arabic subtitles should be added to Christmas and New Year's speeches by Germany's president and chancellor, according to integration commissioner Aydan Özoguz. She has suggested six language subtitles to help refugees.

Deutsche Welle, 23 December 2015

Özoguz suggested Wednesday that multilingual subtitles be added to video downloads of the speech to be televised at Christmas from President Joachim Gauck and then Chancellor Angela Merkel's New Year's address.

The Social Democrat (SPD) Özoguz, who is states' secretary for integration in Merkel's grand coalition cabinet told the German news agency DPA that Germany's large intake of refugees was "THE topic of the year 2015.

Ozoguz visiting a refugee camp in
Jordan with German Vice-Chancellor
Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) in September
"Therefore it would be good, if the refugees could also comprehend how we in this country [traditionally] experience the situation - for example, the addresses given by the federal chancellor and president at Christmas and New Year's," Özoguz said.

"Perhaps a few other EU heads of state will listen more closely," Özoguz quipped, referring to leaders of other EU nations.

Appeals from German leaders

Gauck, the ceremonial head of state, told Germany in September as migrant inflows reached 10,000 per day, that "hearts" in Germany were open to building extra accommodation and schools, teaching the German language and law, and providing vocational training, even if "our capabilities are finite."

Addressing issues, Gauck in
Frankfurt in October
Merkel survived a backlash from conservative ranks by telling voters "we will somehow manage this" and then winning over her Christian Democratic (CDU) party's main conference by pledging a decline in migrant numbers through a multi-pronged approach, including providing funds for refugee camps in the Middle East.

Video database

Özuguz said online video databases provided by Germany's regional and federal broadcasters should also offer subtitled translations of the speeches to be given by Merkel and Gauck.

Referring to key languages used by new arrivals from crisis and war regions, Özugun suggested Arabic [for Syrians], Farsi [for Iranians], Pashtu [for Afghans], Tigrinya [for Eritreans], "or also English and French."

Multilingual online advice for migrant newcomers on living in Germany has been boosted by Deutsche Welle, which operates in 30 languages - alongside offerings by other media outlets and institutions.

Arabic already available

Reacting to Özugoz' remarks, Deutsche Welle management on Wednesday said Merkel's New Year's speech would be translated into Arabic for DW's Arabic satellite service to the Middle East. Since last week, this Arabic-language satellite signal could also be easily received in Germany and other parts of western Europe via Astra 1M.

Gauck's televised Christmas address would be translated into Englisch, DW added.

Silent majority urged to speak up

Reacting to a number of arson attacks across Germany on hostels intended for - or already used by - asylum seekers, Federal Justice Minister Heiko Maas on Wednesday urged the "silent majority" to show more civil courage.

Maas (R) and prominent German TV
 presenter Dunja Hayali highlighted
asylum rights in August
People who spoke out "resolutely so that our societal debate is not poisoned by incitement and hate," were needed, Maas told the "Saarbrücker Zeitung newspaper, referring to xenophobic sentiment emerging at far-right rallies and in social media.

Counteracting this rhetoric was a task for everyone "in our everyday lives, whether in the commuter train, at work or at the sports club," Maas said.

A radical minority should not be allowed to destroy free and open society, he added.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Fact file: same-sex marriage around the world

Yahoo – AFP, December 21, 2015

Marchers brandish a pro-marriage banner during a pride parade on June 13, 2015,
in Rome, with Italian public opinion shifting decisively in favour of legally recognising
same-sex couples after Ireland's historic "Yes" referendum in May 2015 (AFP Photo/
Filippo Monteforte)

PARIS (France) (AFP) - Slovenians on Sunday shut down efforts by their national parliament to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples -- the second time they have voted in a referendum against changing the law.

The "no" vote in largely Catholic Slovenia comes after Ireland -- also traditionally Catholic -- in May became the first country in the world to approve same-sex marriage in a referendum.

Gay marriage is currently legal in 18 countries, 13 of them in Europe.


THE NETHERLANDS: In April 2001, the Netherlands became the first country to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in a civil ceremony and adopt children.

BELGIUM: Same-sex marriage was made legal in June 2003, but some restrictions apply. Gay couples were allowed to adopt children in 2006.

SPAIN: The country's socialist government made same-sex marriage legal in July 2005. Gay couples were also allowed to adopt, regardless of their marital status.

NORWAY: All couples were put on the same legal footing in January 2009 and allowed to marry, adopt and use assisted reproductive technologies.

SWEDEN: Same-sex couples were allowed to marry in civil or Lutheran Church ceremonies in May 2009. Adoptions for all have been legal since 2003.

PORTUGAL: Same-sex marriage has been legal since June 2010 but adoptions by gay people are not.

ICELAND: Same-sex marriages were legalised in June 2010, adoptions by gay people in 2006.

DENMARK: Since June 2012, gays and lesbians have been allowed to marry in Lutheran Church ceremonies. Denmark was the first country in the world to legalise civil unions for gay and lesbian couples in 1989.

FRANCE: Same-sex marriage and adoptions by gay people were legalised in May 2013.

ENGLAND AND WALES: A law authorising same-sex marriage was adopted in July 2013, followed by SCOTLAND in February 2014. British-controlled NORTHERN IRELAND remains deeply divided on the issue, and is the only part of the United Kingdom not to make the change.

LUXEMBOURG: Same-sex marriage was legalised in January 2015, and Prime Minister Xavier Bettel married his male partner in May 2015.

IRELAND: Marriage equality was authorised by referendum in May this year, becoming law in October.

FINLAND: Voted to equalize marriage laws in 2014, with the law set to come into effect in 2017.

SLOVENIA: Voters rejected same-sex marriages in a referendum on December 20, 2015, reversing a decision by their parliament in March to legalise it. A previous referendum on the issue in 2012 had also delivered a "no" vote.

North America

CANADA: A law authorising same-sex marriage and adoptions entered into force in July 2005.

UNITED STATES: A historic Supreme Court decision in June 2015 created marriage equality nationwide.

MEXICO: Same-sex marriage is legal in five states, with the federal capital making the change first in 2009.

South America

ARGENTINA: In July 2010, Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalise same-sex marriage. Gay couples can also adopt.

URUGUAY: In April 2013, Uruguay became the second Latin American country to approve same-sex marriage. It had legalised adoptions by same-sex couples in 2009.

BRAZIL: It has de facto authorised same-sex marriage since May 14, 2013, after the National Council of Justice ordered clerks to register all marriages pending the adoption of a law by parliament.


SOUTH AFRICA: In November 2006, it became the first African country to legalise same-sex civil partnerships or marriage, also allowing gay couples to adopt.


NEW ZEALAND: Marriage for same-sex couples was legalised in April 2013, around 27 years after homosexuality was decriminalised in the first such decision in the Asia-Pacific region.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Emerging powers rise in IMF as US unblocks reforms

Yahoo – AFP, Jeremy Tordjman, December 19, 2015

The US Congress approved long-stalled reforms of the International Monetary Fund
that will give greater voice to emerging-market powers (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

China, India and Russia will soon speak with a louder voice at the International Monetary Fund.

After years of opposition, the US Congress has dismantled the final barrier to reforms that will give the emerging-market powers more say in the affairs of the 188-nation global crisis lender.

The IMF reforms are part of a $1.1 trillion spending package approved by Congress on Friday, and signed into law by President Barack Obama.

Adopted in 2010 by the international community, the reforms were expected to take effect in 2012.

MF Managing Director Christine Lagarde 
has been pushing hard for changes in the
 voting rights of members to preserve the
 credibility of the Fund (AFP Photo/Mandel 
But with the United States holding by far the largest share of voting rights at the IMF, Congress's refusal to approve the reforms had held up their implementation, to the consternation of IMF management and members.

The blockage has been a sore point between President Barack Obama's Democratic administration and the opposition Republicans who control Congress.

Republicans had rejected the slightest favorable gesture toward the multinational organization, the object of some criticism in Washington for its largesse toward Greece.

In recent years, international summits have unfailingly included a pointed reminder about the stalled reform process -- seen as all the more frustrating since the United States was among the first countries to call for an IMF overhaul in 2010 amid the global financial crisis.

At the end of their last summit in mid-November in Turkey, the Group of 20 economic powers said in a statement that they "remain deeply disappointed" with the delay in reforms and "we urge the United States to ratify these reforms as soon as possible."

The long stall also led the so-called BRICS -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- to set up an economic alternative, launching in July 2014 their own monetary fund and development bank.

The US approval will likely ease their frustrations with the 70-year-old IMF, dominated by the US, Europe and Japan, as well as remove a major headache for the Obama administration.

"The IMF reforms reinforce the central leadership role of the United States in the global economic system and demonstrate our commitment to maintaining that position," US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said in a statement.

IMF credibility on line

The reforms, however, are crucial for the IMF itself. They double the crisis lender's permanent financial resources, known as quotas, to some $660 billion.

The green light by Congress thus paves the way for the IMF to abandon some makeshift mechanisms it had adopted to keep its finances afloat and finance rescues of members in crisis.

But above all it allows the Washington-based institution, founded in 1945, to better reflect the current interconnectedness of the world economy, exposed in stark relief during the 2008-2009 global crisis.

The measures slightly reshuffle the IMF executive board by reducing the representation of advanced economies, particularly in Europe, to give a greater voice to dynamic emerging powers.

Currently China, the world's second-largest economy, has less than 4.0 percent of voting rights at the IMF, only slightly less than Italy whose economy is five times smaller.

After the reforms are implemented, China will see its voting rights nearly double to over 6.0 percent, the largest gain. For example, India's weight will rise from 2.3 percent to 2.6 percent.

The US action also hands a personal victory to the managing director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, who has been pushing hard for the changes to preserve the credibility of the Fund.

Lagarde once joked she would "do belly-dancing" if needed to get US ratification.

"The United States Congress approval of these reforms is a welcome and crucial step forward that will strengthen the IMF in its role of supporting global financial stability," Lagarde said.

Still, the reforms will not resolve all the representation problems at the IMF. With 16.5 percent of voting rights, the United States remains the largest stakeholder and continues to hold veto power.

"The IMF reforms remove a stain on the institution's legitimacy," Eswar Prasad, a former IMF official, told AFP.

"However, the scars caused by the protracted delay in having these reforms ratified and put into operation will not be easily erased."