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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Monday, July 30, 2018

Palestinian teenager jailed for slapping soldiers leaves prison

Yahoo – AFP, July 29, 2018

Ahed Tamimi, seen here in a file picture, was arrested in the early hours of
December 19 (AFP Photo/THOMAS COEX)

Jerusalem (AFP) - Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi left prison Sunday after an eight-month sentence for slapping two Israeli soldiers, an episode captured on video that made her a symbol of resistance for Palestinians, a prison service spokesman said.

Assaf Librati told AFP Tamimi, 17, and her mother, who was also jailed over the incident, were being driven by Israeli authorities from a prison inside Israel to a checkpoint leading to the occupied West Bank, where they live.

"They just left the prison," Librati said.

Israeli authorities provided conflicting information on which checkpoint they were being taken to.

They were first expected to arrive at a checkpoint near the Palestinian city of Tulkarm in the occupied West Bank, but there were later indications they would be taken to a crossing at Rantis.

Both Tamimi and her mother were sentenced to eight months in an Israeli military court following a plea deal over the December incident which the family said took place in their yard in Nabi Saleh in the West Bank.

Video of it went viral, leading Palestinians to view her as a hero standing up to Israel's occupation.

Her now-familiar image has been painted on Israel's separation wall cutting off the West Bank. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has praised her and social media has been flooded with support.

But for Israelis, Tamimi is being used by her activist family as a pawn in staged provocations.

They point to a series of previous such incidents involving her, with older pictures of her confronting soldiers widely shared online.

Many Israelis also praised the restraint of the soldiers, who remained calm throughout, though others said her actions merited a tougher response.

Embassy protests

Tamimi was arrested in the early hours of December 19, four days after the incident. She was 16 at the time.

Her mother Nariman was also arrested, as was her cousin Nour, who was freed in March.

Israel's military said the soldiers were in the area on the day of the incident to prevent Palestinians from throwing stones at Israeli motorists.

The video shows the cousins approaching two soldiers and telling them to leave before shoving, kicking and slapping them.

Ahed Tamimi is the most aggressive of the two in the video.

The heavily armed soldiers do not respond in the face of what appears to be an attempt to provoke rather than seriously harm them.

They then move backwards after Nariman Tamimi becomes involved.

The scuffle took place amid clashes and protests against US President Donald Trump's controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Relatives say that a member of the Tamimi family was wounded in the head by a rubber bullet fired during those protests.



Saturday, July 28, 2018

Trump praises Kim over return of war dead amid summit skepticism

Yahoo – AFP, Francesco FONTEMAGGI, 27 July 2018

US President Donald Trump praised North Korea's Kim Jong Un for returning
the remains of more than 50 US servicemen killed during the Korean War

Amid skepticism over his rapprochement with Kim Jong Un, US President Donald Trump praised the North Korean leader on Friday for returning remains believed to be those of more than 50 US servicemen.

Trump pointed to the handover of 55 boxes said to hold the remains of US troops killed during the Korean War as evidence that his overtures to the North Korean strongman were bearing fruit.

"I want to thank Chairman Kim for keeping his word," Trump said during an appearance at the White House after tweeting that it was a "great moment for so many families."

Trump has hailed his June summit with Kim in Singapore as effectively ending the North Korean nuclear threat.

But it contained only a vague commitment on Pyongyang's part to work towards the "denuclearization of the Korean peninsula" -- a long way from the complete, verifiable and irreversible disarmament demanded by Washington.

With Trump facing criticism that concrete post-summit progress was scant, he welcomed the repatriation of the remains -- which came on the 65th anniversary of the end of the war -- as evidence that the talks were a success.

"I want to thank Chairman Kim in front of the media for fulfilling a promise that he made to me," he said.

The White House said it was 'encouraged' by the return of the remains and 
the 'momentum for positive change'

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the administration was "encouraged by North Korea's actions and the momentum for positive change."

More than 35,000 Americans were killed during the 1950-53 war and 7,700 are still listed as missing in action -- most of them in North Korea.

A US military C-17 cargo plane carrying the purported remains of the more than 50 US servicemen landed at a US air base in South Korea on Thursday.

A formal repatriation ceremony is to be held in Hawaii on August 1, attended by Vice President Mike Pence. The remains will then be analyzed there.

North Korea has previously been accused -- most notably by Japan -- of faking the remains of foreign citizens and using them as a bargaining chip.

'Step in the right direction'

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Friday described the repatriation as setting a "positive tone for other things, more important things in terms of international diplomacy.

"This humanitarian act, obviously, is a step in the right direction," Mattis said.

A chaplain performs a blessing aboard a US military aircraft over the 55 
cases of remains returned by North Korea to the United States

He added that the remains of French and Australian soldiers who fought alongside the Americans could be found in the boxes handed over by Pyongyang.

"You noticed that there was a UN blue flag on each of the boxes," Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.

"We don't know who's in those boxes."

Michael Fuchs, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said "the return of remains is important, and can be viewed as a potential confidence building measure."

But Fuchs, a former US deputy assistant secretary for East Asia, added on Twitter that North Korea may be "picking off low hanging fruit to make it seem like they are making concessions in the overall negotiations."

Fuchs noted reports that Pyongyang has started dismantling a facility seen as a testing ground for intercontinental ballistic missiles -- a move welcomed earlier this week by Trump.

"The destruction of the nuke test site was not observed by inspectors, so the details can't be verified -- same goes for the dismantling of the engine test site," Fuchs said. "And these steps are reversible. And none touch on the core issue - NK nukes."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was grilled about North Korea's sincerity by members of the US Senate during testimony this week.

More than 35,000 Americans were killed on the Korean Peninsula during the war

He acknowledged North Korea was continuing to produce nuclear fissile material but insisted that "progress is happening" and said Trump remains "upbeat about the prospects of North Korean denuclearization."

Asked if the goal was for this to be achieved by the end of Trump's first term in office, Pompeo replied "yes," and added: "More quickly if possible."

Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, was among those who remained skeptical.

"I am afraid that at this point the United States -- the Trump administration -- is being taken for a ride," Markey said.

US President Donald Trump praised North Korea's Kim Jong Un for returning the remains of more than 50 US servicemen killed during the Korean War

The White House said it was 'encouraged' by the return of the remains and the 'momentum for positive change'

A chaplain performs a blessing aboard a US military aircraft over the 55 cases of remains returned by North Korea to the United States

More than 35,000 Americans were killed on the Korean Peninsula during the war.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Obama warns of 'strange and uncertain times' in Mandela tribute

Yahoo – AFP, Michelle GUMEDE, July 17, 2018

Changing times: Obama warned of the "politics of fear and resentment" in the annual
Nelson Mandela lecture in Johannesburg (AFP Photo/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA)

Johannesburg (AFP) - Former US president Barack Obama on Tuesday used a tribute to Nelson Mandela to warn that the world had plunged into "strange and uncertain times", in what is likely to be seen as a veiled attack on Donald Trump.

Obama made no direct reference to his successor but warned that "politics of fear and resentment" were spreading, driven by leaders who scorned facts and told lies with an "utter loss of shame."

He also blasted climate-change denial, race-based migration policies, unbridled capitalism and "strongman politics" -- stances often cited as the hallmarks of Trump's controversial presidency.

"Given the strange and uncertain times we are in, each day's news cycles brings more head-spinning and disturbing headlines, I thought maybe it would be useful to step back for a moment and get some perspective," Obama said at the start of his speech.

Obama spoke to a crowd of more than 10,000 people at a cricket stadium in Johannesburg in the centrepiece event of celebrations 100 years since Nelson Mandela's birth.

"It is in part because of the failures of governments and powerful elites… that we now see much of the world threatening to return to an older, more dangerous, more brutal way of doing business," Obama said.

On migration, he appeared to take a sharp jab at Trump saying "it is not wrong to insist that national borders matter... but that can't be an excuse for immigration policies based on race or ethnicity or religion."

Banners depicting former US president Barack Obama, right, and other speakers 
who have given the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture (AFP Photo/MARCO LONGARI)

On climate change, he attacked the entrenched scepticism shown by Trump and others American conservatives in the face of scientific evidence.

"You have to believe in facts, without facts there is no basis for cooperation," he said.

"I can't find common ground if someone says climate change is just not happening when almost all the world's scientists tell us it is.

"If you start (by) saying it is an elaborate hoax... where do we start?

And he drew laughter from the crowd with the line: "Politics today seems to reject the very concept of objective truth -- people just make stuff up.

"We see the utter loss of shame among political leaders who are caught in a lie and they just double down and lie some more," he added.

Mandela's birthday

Tuesday's speech came on the eve of "Mandela Day" -- his birthday, which is marked around the world every year on July 18.

Obama has made relatively few public appearances since leaving the White House in 2017, but he has often credited Mandela for being one of the great inspirations in his life.

Mandela, who died in 2013, remains a global icon for his long struggle against white-minority apartheid rule and for his message of peace and reconciliation after being freed following 27 years in prison.

Obama met Mandela only briefly in 2005 but gave a eulogy at his funeral saying Mandela "makes me want to be a better man" and hailing him as "the last great liberator of the 20th century".

Key dates in the life of Nelson Mandela (AFP Photo/Gal ROMA)

Both men were the first black presidents of their countries.

African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Mandela's widow Graca Machel were among the guests from Obama's speech -- his highest-profile address since leaving office.

"We need more hope because we are living in difficult times," Nomsa Nkosi, 45, a blind woman in the audience, told AFP.

"Mandela was one of a kind and we need the youngsters to come and see what is meant by motivation."

Before arriving in South Africa, Obama paid a brief visit to Kenya, his father's home country.

Obama will also host a town hall event in Johannesburg on Wednesday for 200 young leaders selected from across Africa to attend a five-day training programme.

Mandela was imprisoned under apartheid rule in 1962 and only freed in 1990, when he went on to lead the African National Congress party to victory in the first multi-race elections in 1994.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

'Shameful': US lawmakers blast Trump over Putin summit

Yahoo – AFP, Paul HANDLEY, July 16, 2018

US President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin held a joint press
conference after meeting in Helsinki on July 16, 2018 (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

Washington (AFP) - US lawmakers blasted President Donald Trump Monday over his uncritical comments towards Russia during a landmark summit with Vladimir Putin, calling it "shameful", "dangerous" and "verging on treason."

Senior Republican Senator Lindsey Graham described Trump's Helsinki summit and joint press conference with Putin as a "missed opportunity" to hold Russia accountable for meddling in the 2016 election.

Trump's answer to a question on election interference, in which he attacked US Democrats rather than Moscow's spies, "will be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves," Graham charged.

Senator Jeff Flake, a fellow Republican and staunch critic of the president, labelled his performance "shameful."

"I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression. This is shameful," he said in a tweet.

Representative Frank LoBiondo, a Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian election meddling, noted that just on Friday US prosecutors indicted 12 Russian spies for hacking Democratic computers during the election.

"It is clear Russia's intentions," he said. "President Trump missed opportunity to hold Putin publicly accountable."

Democrats had much harsher language for the president.

Chuck Schumer, the senior Democrat in the Senate called Trump's appearance of siding with Putin over the allegations of election interference "dangerous and weak".

"In the entire history of our country, Americans have never seen a president of the United States support an American adversary the way @realDonaldTrump has supported President Putin," Schumer said.

'Green light to interfere'

"For the president of the United States to side with President Putin against American law enforcement, American defense officials, and American intelligence agencies is thoughtless, dangerous, and weak. The president is putting himself over our country," Schumer charged.

Democratic California Representative Jimmy Gomez accused Trump of continuing to "sell out" his own country to Russia.

"To side with Putin over U.S. intelligence is disgusting; to fail to defend the U.S. is on the verge of treason. All Americans should be worried."

Congressman Adam Schiff, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Trump had given Putin "a green light to interfere in 2018."

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy was even more direct in his criticism.

"This entire trip has just been one giant middle finger from President Trump to his own country. Just jaw dropping," he wrote on Twitter.

Two former US intelligence chiefs expressed shock over Trump's appearance of "capitulating" to Putin.

"Donald Trump's press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of 'high crimes & misdemeanors.' It was nothing short of treasonous," said John Brennan, director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2013 to 2017.

James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence from 2010 to 2017, called Trump's performance "an incredible capitulation."

"It is truly unbelievable. On the world stage... the president of the United States essentially capitulated and seemed intimidated by Vladimir Putin," Clapper told CNN.



Monday, July 16, 2018

Obama to lead celebrations 100 years after Mandela's birth

Yahoo – AFP, by Ben Sheppard, 15 July 2018

A youth has his haircut as part of the centenary celebrations of the birth of
South Africa's first black president Nelson Mandela

South Africa celebrates the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's birth this week with a flagship speech by former US president Barack Obama and an outpouring of memories and tributes to the late anti-apartheid leader.

Mandela, who died in 2013, remains a global icon for his long fight against white-minority rule and for his message of peace and reconciliation when he was released after 27 years in prison.

His birthday on July 18 is marked annually around the world, and the Nelson Mandela Foundation called this year for people to "take action and inspire change" in Mandela's name.

Obama will set the tone for the celebrations with a speech in Johannesburg on July 17 that aides say will be his most important public address since leaving the White House in 2017.

"It gives him an opportunity to lift up a message of tolerance, inclusivity and democracy at a time when there are obviously challenges to Mandela's legacy around the world," his aide Benjamin Rhodes told the New York Times.

Obama will also host a town hall event on July 18 for 200 young leaders selected from across Africa to attend a five-day training programme.

The former US president met Mandela only briefly in 2005 but gave a eulogy at his funeral saying Mandela "makes me want to be a better man" and hailing him as "the last great liberator of the 20th century".

Obama at Mandela's memorial service

A legacy under threat?

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has said he would mark "Mandela 100" by donating half his salary to charity to honour "the great sacrifices he made and his tireless commitment to improving the lives of the most vulnerable."

F.W. de Klerk, the former president who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela in 1993, told AFP that the 100th anniversary was a chance to reflect on South Africa's current troubles.

"I'm convinced that President Mandela would be deeply concerned, as I am, about the present state of affairs," he said.

"His vision of a reconciled South Africa has become almost non-existent within the ANC (ruling party) at the moment."

De Klerk, who said he treasured his "deep friendship" with Mandela, added that he found hope in good race relations among many ordinary people.

A World Bank report this year said South Africa was the most unequal society on the globe, and many South Africans feel that Mandela's hopes for the country have been dashed by his successors.

Others accuse him of "selling out" by allowing white people to retain control of much of the economy.

"He fought to make us politically free, but we are not economically free," 19-year-old Soweto resident Mtate Phakela told AFP.

Mandela's cell at the prison at Robben Island off Cape Town

"We can't access education or wealth. I have mixed feelings. He did his best, but people who came after could have done better."

Year of commemoration

Among the many events marking the anniversary are a walk in Johannesburg led by Mandela's widow Graca Machel, the release of letters that Mandela wrote from his prison cell and the printing of a commemorative banknote.

Climbers are heading up Mount Kilimanjaro, motorcyclists are undertaking a charity ride and a programme to build 100 school libraries will be launched, alongside a series of exhibitions, music festivals and sports events.

The year commemorating Mandela's birth will finish with a concert in Johannesburg in December starring Beyonce, Jay-Z, Ed Sheeran, Pharrell Williams and Cassper Nyovest.

Mandela was imprisoned under white-minority apartheid rule from 1962 and 1990 before he led the African National Congress party to victory in the first multi-race elections in 1994.

He served one term as president before stepping down in 1999.

The title of Obama's Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture is "Renewing the Mandela Legacy and Promoting Active Citizenship in a Changing World."

Former speakers include Bill Clinton, Thabo Mbeki, Kofi Annan, Bill Gates and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

Before arriving in South Africa, Obama will make a brief private visit in Kenya, his father's homeland, on Sunday and Monday.

A youth has his haircut as part of the centenary celebrations of the birth of South Africa's first black president Nelson Mandela

Obama at Mandela's memorial service

Mandela's cell at the prison at Robben Island off Cape Town

Friday, July 6, 2018

Sudden shift in Iran as hardliners back Rouhani

Yahoo – AFP, Marc Jourdier, July 5, 2018

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a joint press conference with Austria's
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on July 4, 2018 in Vienna (AFP Photo/ALEX HALADA)

Tehran (AFP) - Frequently a target of attack by hardliners, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani is benefiting from a sudden surge in support from his former critics, a week after he called for national unity.

The apparent sea-change in conservative rhetoric follows hawkish comments by the president himself following Washington's unilateral May withdrawal from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

Visiting Europe to seek economic guarantees, Rouhani lashed out at Israel in the Swiss capital Bern on Tuesday, saying Iran "sees the Zionist regime as an illegitimate regime".

And he has questioned the American government's ability to make good on threats to prevent other countries buying Tehran's oil.

The latest evidence of the domestic shift came on Wednesday, in a letter by prominent General Qassem Soleimani to the moderately conservative president.

Soleimani -- head of the elite Revolutionary Guards' foreign operations -- thanks the president for his "wise and appropriate" words on Israel and the US, in the letter published by Fars news agency.

Rouhani's remarks were "a source of pride", wrote the general.

'Meeting in the Strait'

Rouhani is the main Iranian architect of the July 2015 nuclear accord with world powers, under which his country agreed to rein in its nuclear programme in exchange for easing multilateral sanctions which had strangled the economy.

Some Iranians have interpreted Rouhani's recent hawkish comments as meaning he could be open to blocking the Strait of Hormuz -- a threat Tehran has brandished during past bouts of regional tension.

Some 30 percent of all the world's sea-borne oil exports pass through the strait, which runs from the Gulf into the Indian Ocean.

Conservative Iranian media outlets have thrown their weight behind Rouhani.

"Meeting in the Strait" read a headline in Javan -- a daily close to the Revolutionary Guards -- along with a picture of the president and General Soleimani shaking hands in front of a map of the Strait of Hormuz.

A photo of Soleimani was splashed across the front page of Sazandegi newspaper with the headline "Unity Sepah-Government" (Sepah is the Farsi acronym for the Revolutionary Guards).

Rouhani, who has sought to open up various economic sectors to private enterprise, has repeatedly criticised the Revolutionary Guards for exerting too tight a grip on Iran's economy.

Since he first took office in 2013, Rouhani has regularly been attacked by ultra-conservatives.

He was elected for a second four-year term in May 2017, with the support of reformers.

After protests around the New Year in many Iranian cities against economic hardship, they accused Rouhani of abandoning the country's weakest citizens.

Some have held up America's withdrawal from the nuclear agreement as proof of the president's naivety in trusting the West.

'Survival of the nation'

As Iran's rial plunged in value and protests re-ignited, some legislators called in late June for Rouhani to be impeached.

But things changed abruptly after June 27 when he appealed to his opponents for help.

Kayhan is another ultra-conservative newspaper now backing the president.

"We must put to one side our differences because, at present, the national interest and the survival of the nation are at stake," said an editorial.

But Javan signalled the truce may only be temporary.

"Resisting the enemy and preserving the nation's independence require us to be together and put our differences to one side until a later date", wrote editor-in-chief Abdollah Ganji.