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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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Pope Francis says Church hasn't known 'how to listen'

Yahoo – AFP, Kelly VELASQUEZ,  January 26, 2019

Pope Francis officiates at a mass at the centuries-old Cathedral Basilica of Santa
Maria la Antigua in Panama City on January 26, 2019 during a global youth
gathering (AFP Photo/Alberto PIZZOLI)

Panama City (AFP) - Pope Francis acknowledged Saturday that the Catholic Church was "wounded by sin" in a message addressed to priests and seminarians reeling from sexual abuse scandals and coverups.

In a mass that he officiated at the centuries-old Cathedral of Santa Maria La Antigua in Panama City, Francis warned of the "weariness of hope that comes from seeing a Church wounded by sin, which has so often failed to hear all those cries."

It was the Argentine pontiff's first reference to the sex abuse scandals rocking the Church since he arrived in Panama on Wednesday for a global gathering of young Catholics.

It comes as he prepares to meet senior bishops from around the world in Rome next month to deal with widespread clergy sex abuse of children and young people.

Addressing white robed young seminarians and priests during the mass, the pope said "a subtle weariness" had entered Church communities that "calls into question the energy resources and viability of our mission in this changing and challenging world."

Those changes, he said, "call into doubt the very viability of religious life in today's world."

But he said that the notion that religious communities had nothing to contribute -- that the world "has no room for our message" -- would be "one of the worst heresies possible in our time."

Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said Friday that next month's meeting in Rome would be a unique chance to provide bishops with "concrete measures" to tackle the "terrible plague" of sex abuse by the clergy.

Pilgrims pray on January 26, 2019 in front of the centuries-old Cathedral Basilica of 
Santa Maria la Antigua, in Panama City, as Pope Francis celebrates mass inside
(AFP Photo/Raul ARBOLEDA)

Lunch with the pope

After the mass in the basilica -- home of the first diocese on the American mainland -- the pope and the archbishop of Panama, Cardinal Jose Domingo Ulloa, hosted a lunch for 10 young people of different nationalities attending World Youth Day, a tradition at the global gatherings, held every three years.

The pope's homily to seminarians about the challenges of the priesthood raised the problem of dwindling vocations around the world.

Around the globe, there were 414,969 Catholic priests at the end of 2016, more than 800 less than in 2014, according to the Vatican. There were nearly 700 less people joining the priesthood over the same period.

Francis himself acknowledged at a general audience in August that the scandals of abuse and cover-up by Church leaders has caused a decline in vocations to the priesthood in Ireland.

Later Saturday, the pope was set to preside over an evening vigil with an expected crowd of 200,000 pilgrims at the three-kilometer (two-mile) Metro Park on the outskirts of Panama.

Francis, 82, drew the largest crowd of his five-day visit on Friday evening at a solemn ceremony commemorating Christ's crucifixion in another Panama park.

In a swipe at US President Donald Trump's plans to build a border wall against Central American migrants, the pope told hundreds of thousands of young pilgrims that it was "senseless" to condemn every immigrant "as a threat to society."

He has used his encounter with young people in Central America this week to speak out strongly in defense of migrants, and address other problems affecting the region such as poverty, drug trafficking, violence and what he said was a regional "plague" of murders of women.


Related Article:


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Davos elites warned on populist rage, economic uncertainty

Yahoo – AFP, Nina Larson with Heather Scott in Washington, January 21, 2019

Global elites arriving in Davos for the World Economic Forum were met with
 urgent warnings about popular anger and economic uncertainty (AFP Photo/
Fabrice COFFRINI)

Davos (Switzerland) (AFP) - Global elites descending on Davos for the World Economic Forum faced urgent warnings from Oxfam and the IMF on Monday that the international economy is at risk, as swelling inequality stokes public anger.

Even before the official kick-off of the annual week of networking and socialising by the world's rich and influential, it was clear that this year's event would be shadowed by increasing instability and an upsurge in populism.

Leaders from the United States, France, Britain and Zimbabwe have stayed away from the Swiss ski resort in order to put out political fires back home, largely stoked by popular anger against the elite.

The International Monetary Fund warned in an update to its global economic forecasts that US-China trade confrontations, Brexit and other sources of uncertainty were threatening to drag down global growth even further than its already pessimistic outlook published three months ago.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde warned
 that the world economy is growing more slowly than expected (AFP Photo/
Fabrice COFFRINI)

The IMF cut the global GDP forecast for this year to 3.5 percent from the 3.7 percent projected in October. For 2020, the estimate was trimmed to 3.6 percent.

"The bottom line is that after two years of solid expansion, the world economy is growing more slowly than expected, and risks are rising," IMF chief Christine Lagarde told reporters in Davos.

"Does that mean that a global recession is around the corner?" she asked. "No. But the risk of a sharper decline in global growth has certainly increased."

Brexit worries

IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath pointed to the uncertainty surrounding Britain's divorce from the European Union, with no deal in sight just weeks before Brexit is meant to take effect on March 29.

"It is imperative for leaders to resolve this uncertainty immediately," Gopinath said.

Oxfam executive director Winnie Byanyima says that "extreme inequality is 
out of control" (AFP Photo/Fabrice COFFRINI)

And while growth is slowing, Oxfam warned in a report timed for the start of the Davos forum that inequality is not.

The UK charity found that the world's 26 richest people -- three of them set to come t to Davos this week -- now own the same wealth as the poorest half of humanity.

"Extreme inequality is out of control," Oxfam executive director Winnie Byanyima told AFP in an interview.

While billionaires saw their combined fortunes grow by $2.5 billion each day last year, the world's 3.8 billion poorest saw their relative wealth decline by 11 percent.

Oxfam warned that the growing gap between rich and poor was undermining the fight against poverty, damaging economies and fuelling public anger.

It also urged countries to slap more taxes on the wealthy.

Findings of Oxfam report on inequality (AFP Photo/Kun TIAN)

The IMF released its report at the annual gathering of economic and financial leaders and once again urged action to defuse the risks.

Several major economies saw sharp downgrades to the GDP estimates, including Germany, Italy and Mexico, along with a smaller cut for France amid the "yellow vest" demonstrations that have riven the country.

However, the US and China, the world's two largest economies and the source of much of the global risk because of a trade war, did not see revisions.

The US is expected to grow by 2.5 percent this year and by 1.5 percent in 2020. China's GDP is forecast to expand by 6.2 percent in both years, as the Asian giant endures an unaccustomed slowdown.

Weakened global economy

An "escalation of trade tensions ... remains a key source of risk to the outlook," the IMF warned, pointing to the sharp decline in stock markets in the final weeks of 2018.

Business delagates and officials flocked to Davos for the economic forum, but
 leaders from the US, France, Britain and Zimbabawe stayed away to tackle
problems back home (AFP Photo/Fabrice COFFRINI)

Washington and Beijing declared a 90-day truce on December 1, but the risk remains that tensions will flare up again in the spring and "casts a shadow over global economic prospects."

Another major concern is the potential for a more severe slowdown in China, which would have repercussions throughout Asia.

So far, a fiscal stimulus in China has cushioned the impact of the trade disputes, but the IMF insisted the two sides "resolve cooperatively and quickly" their trade disagreement.

Beyond the trade risks, the month-long US government shutdown and the possibility of a no-deal Brexit alarmed the IMF.

It forecast 1.5 percent growth for Britain in 2019, the same as in October, but warned the estimate is fraught given the unknowns of Brexit.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

US senator says Saudi crown prince must be 'dealt with' over Khashoggi murder

Yahoo – AFP, January 19, 2019

Graham said the US will issue a 'definitive' statement that the Saudi crown
prince knew about the murder (AFP Photo/Adem ALTAN)

Ankara (AFP) - A key US senator on Saturday said the Saudi crown prince was responsible for Jamal Khashoggi's murder and must be "dealt with", as he threatened new sanctions.

Republican Lindsey Graham, an influential ally of President Donald Trump, has previously said that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was complicit in the grisly killing of Washington Post contributor Khashoggi in October.

"I have concluded that the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States cannot move forward until MBS has been dealt with," Graham said, using the initials for the crown prince.

Graham also threatened new sanctions against those suspected of involvement in the murder during a press conference in Ankara.

Western countries including the US, France and Canada have placed sanctions on nearly 20 Saudi nationals as the case has tarnished Riyadh's international reputation.

"We will start sanctioning those involved in the killing of Mr Khashoggi. We'll make a definitive statement that MBS knew about it and is responsible for it and come up with a series of sanctions," the South Carolina lawmaker said.

Turkey says Khashoggi was killed by a team of 15 Saudis who strangled him during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain paperwork ahead of his upcoming marriage.

The remains of the insider turned critic of the kingdom have yet to be found, three months after this murder.

Riyadh has denied any claims of the crown prince's involvement but the case has caused strains with Washington.

Earlier this month the trial of 11 accused opened in Saudi Arabia with the attorney general seeking the death penalty for five defendants.

Graham acknowledged that he had been "enthusiastic" in his support of Prince Mohammed but accepted he had been "wrong".

"What has transpired in the last couple of years is unnerving to say the least," he said.

Graham said the sanctions were intended to send the message that the murder was "not what you do if you're an ally of the United States".


Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was excluded from a list of 17 people
hit with US sanctions over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but two
top aides were on it (AFP Photo/FAYEZ NURELDINE)

Related Article:



Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun (R) is seen here arriving at Pearson 
International airport in Toronto on January 12, 2019 -- to her left is Saba Abbas
from COSTI immigrant services (AFP Photo/Lars Hagberg)

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Saudi teen refugee, now in Canada, wants to fight for other women

Yahoo – AFP, Cole BURSTON, January 15, 2019

Saudi teen refugee Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun says she is "one of the lucky
ones" and hopes to help fight for women's freedoms from her new home in
Canada (AFP Photo/Cole BURSTON)

Toronto (Canada) (AFP) - A Saudi teen who caused an international sensation by defying her family and seeking asylum abroad on Tuesday vowed to fight for women's freedoms in her first public address since she was taken in by Canada.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun captured the world's attention with a trail of tweets from her hotel room at Bangkok's airport, where she holed up after Thai authorities initially barred her from travelling on to Australia.

Her emotional social media posts ignited a #SaveRahaf movement as she fled what she said was physical and psychological abuse from her family in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia -- and prompted quick action.

She was granted refugee status and was welcomed by Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland after landing in Toronto on Saturday.

"Today and for years to come, I will work in support of freedom for women around the world, the same freedom that I experienced on the first day I arrived in Canada," she told a press conference, reading from a prepared statement in Arabic.

Standing in front of a large Canadian flag at the Toronto offices of refugee resettling agency Costi, Qunun denounced Saudi Arabia's strict male guardianship rules, saying: "I am one of the lucky ones."

"I know there are unlucky women that disappeared after escaping and could not do anything to change their reality," she said through a translator.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun has denounced the strict male guardianship rules of her 
homeland, saying she was not respected by her family (AFP Photo/Cole BURSTON)

Her family has denied the abuse allegations.

Reflecting on her own experience, she said: "I was not treated respectfully by my family and not allowed to be myself and who I want to be."

"In Saudi Arabia, this is the case for all Saudi women except for those that have understanding parents. They can't be independent and need approval of their male guardian for everything."

Rights groups have said she has renounced Islam, risking prosecution in her home country.

Making 'own decisions'

Upon learning of Canada's asylum offer, Qunun said her stress "melted away."

Now, she said, she can make her "own decisions," including about travel and marriage.

"I would like to start living a normal life, like any young woman living in Canada," she said.

Shortly after her arrival in Toronto, Qunun went shopping for some warm clothes and connected with local acquaintances.

Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun (R) is seen here arriving at Pearson 
International airport in Toronto on January 12, 2019 -- to her left is Saba Abbas
from COSTI immigrant services (AFP Photo/Lars Hagberg)

Costi executive director Mario Calla said the agency is helping her find long-term accommodations, open a bank account, obtain Canadian documents, and enroll in English classes, as well as showing her how to get around and teaching her "about life in Canada."

He noted concerns about her safety, citing online threats and saying guards have been posted at her temporary home.

"She feels safe because she knows she is in a safe country. The people (here) have her best interest at heart and are trying to help her. She has seen the outpouring of support," Calla said.

Qunun has admitted that threats posted on social media "scare her," he added.

When she reads those posts, "her emotions go back and forth."

On Monday, Qunun told public broadcaster CBC of her family: "My greatest fear is if they find me, I would disappear and I wouldn't know what would happen to me after that."

She said that at home, she was "exposed to physical violence, persecution, oppression, threats to be killed. I was locked in for six months."

"I felt that I could not achieve my dreams that I wanted as long as I was still living in Saudi Arabia," she said.

But in Canada, Qunun said, she has felt "reborn, especially when I felt the love and the welcome."

"Tell Canadians that I love them," she said.

Related Article:



Saturday, January 12, 2019

Saudi asylum seeker flying from Bangkok to Canada: Thai official

Yahoo – AFP, January 11, 2019

Saudi teen Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun was stopped by authorities at the
Thai capital's main airport (AFP Photo/Handout)

Bangkok (AFP) - An 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled her family seeking asylum in Australia will fly to Canada late Friday, the head of Thai immigration police said, in a surprise twist to a saga partly played out over Twitter.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun was granted refugee status by the UN days ago after arriving in Bangkok over the weekend and amassing a large Twitter following as she made desperate pleas for help from the airport.

Australia was assessing a request to resettle her but hours after the young woman tweeted that she had "some good news and some bad news" earlier Friday Thai authorities said she was set to board a flight to Canada instead.

"She will fly at 11:15 pm tonight (1615 GMT)," Thai immigration chief Surachate Hakparn told AFP.

The woman's social media-driven fight for freedom was watched closely around the world after she arrived in Bangkok via Kuwait and barricaded herself in a hotel room posting live updates about her status.

Saudi teen Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun was stopped by authorities at the Thai 
capital's main airport (AFP Photo/Handout)

She quickly amassed tens of thousands of followers with a #SaveRahaf hashtag that went viral and saw her delivered into the hands of the UN refugee agency in lightning speed compared to other asylum cases.

Rahaf said she was subjected to physical and psychological abuse at the hands of her family in Saudi Arabia and was once locked in her room for six months for cutting her hair.

Rights groups also say she was at risk for renouncing Islam.

Her father travelled to Thailand and denied mistreating her but she refused to see him during his trip.

Rahaf's quest also prompted online vitriol and death threats that made her deactivate her Twitter account after posting her last update.



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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

US teen sex trafficking victim granted clemency over murder

Yahoo – AFP, Nova SAFO, January 7, 2019

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, pictured in Nashville in 2014, said Cyntoia
Brown had been given "too harsh" a sentence (AFP Photo/Jason Davis)

Chicago (AFP) - A US trafficking victim serving a life sentence for killing a man who bought her for sex when she was a teenager was granted clemency Monday following a celebrity-backed viral campaign for her freedom.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said Cyntoia Brown, now 30, had been given "too harsh" a sentence for the 2004 murder of a real estate agent in the city of Nashville.

Johnny Allen had picked up Brown, who was 16 at the time and a runaway under the influence of a dangerous pimp, and taken her to his home for sex.

The ex-Army sharpshooter allegedly showed off his firearms and "grabbed" Brown forcefully between her legs. She said she shot him in fear for her life.

A jury convicted Brown of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery, and she was given life with the possibility of parole after serving at least 51 years in prison.

Calling the case "tragic and complex," Haslam granted clemency under the condition of a 10-year parole. Brown will be released on August 7 after undergoing training on returning to society.

"Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16," Haslam said in a statement.

"Yet, imposing a life sentence on a juvenile that would require her to serve at least 51 years before even being eligible for parole consideration is too harsh, especially in light of the extraordinary steps Ms. Brown has taken to rebuild her life."

Without the governor's intervention, Brown would have remained in prison at least until 2055.

Kim Kardashian West, seen in New York in December 2018, has lauded Brown's
"courage" (AFP Photo/Roy Rochlin)

In a statement released by her attorneys, Brown thanked her supporters and the governor and promised to "do everything I can to justify your faith in me."

"My hope is to help other young girls avoid ending up where I have been," she added.

Prison transformation

Brown earned a high school degree while incarcerated and was on track to complete her college education this year. The governor's office said numerous prison employees and volunteers attested to her personal growth.

"Her transformation, when given the opportunity, is nothing short of miraculous," her attorneys Charles Bone and J Houston Gordon said in a joint statement.

"She is truly a remarkable young woman with so much to offer this world and will now have that chance."

Brown's case was featured in a 2011 documentary, and was the subject of a social media campaign involving multiple celebrities who advocated for clemency, saying she should have been treated as a traumatized child victim of sex trafficking.

"Cyntoia never should have been sentenced so harshly to begin with, and we can't lose sight of the fact that she is still receiving an excessive 10 years' probation," the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted in response to the clemency news.

"The fight against harsh sentencing laws goes on."

Last month, actress Ashley Judd implored her home state's governor to grant clemency by saying Brown "deserves our empathy and your mercy."

In response to the governor's action, reality star Kim Kardashian, who has previously described Brown as a victim with "the courage to fight back," tweeted simply: "Thank you Governor Haslam."


US President Barack Obama speaks as he tours the El Reno Federal  Correctional
Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, July 16, 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

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Woman who spent 23 years on US death
row cleared (Photo: dpa)



Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Iran says Afghan Taliban were in Tehran for peace talks

Yahoo – AFP, December 31, 2018

The scene of a car bomb attack in Kabul on January 27, 2018, which was
claimed by the Taliban (AFP Photo/WAKIL KOHSAR)

Tehran (AFP) - Iran said Monday that the Afghan Taliban have visited Tehran for a second round of peace talks in just a few days aimed at bringing an end to 17 years of conflict.

Iran has made a more concerted and open push for peace in neighbouring Afghanistan since US President Donald Trump indicated there would be a significant withdrawal of American troops.

"Yesterday (Sunday), a delegation of Taliban were in Tehran and lengthy negotiations were held with Iran's deputy foreign minister... (Abbas) Araghchi," said spokesman Bahram Ghasemi at a televised news conference.

That came just days after Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, visited Kabul and told reporters that talks had been held with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"The Islamic Republic has always been one of the primary pillars of stability in the region and cooperation between the two countries will certainly help in fixing Afghanistan's security issues of today," Shamkhani told the conservative Tasnim news agency.

There have been reports in the past of talks between Iran and the Taliban, but they have typically been denied by Tehran.

Ghasemi said Iran's priority was "to help facilitate negotiations between Afghan groups and the country's government".

The current peace push will be viewed with concern by hawks in Washington, who fear that Trump's planned withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan will cede regional influence to Iran.

An American official told AFP on December 21 that Trump had decided to pull out "roughly half" of the 14,000 US forces from Afghanistan, but the White House has yet to confirm the widely-publicised move.

Senior Republican senator Lindsey Graham met with Trump on Sunday and urged him to delay any withdrawal from Syria to make sure "Iran doesn't become the big winner of our leaving".

Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of US and international forces in Afghanistan, told ABC: "Iran has increased influence across the region now. If you pull American influence out, you're likely to have greater instability."

'Peace development'

The Taliban also met with the United States, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in the United Arab Emirates earlier in December, but refused to meet a delegation from Afghanistan.

Araghchi will travel to Afghanistan in the next two weeks, Iran's foreign ministry said, without giving further details.

"Considering our long border with Afghanistan and the cultural and historical ties, and our important role in the region's stability, the Islamic republic was interested... to enter and play a more important role in peace development in Afghanistan," Ghasemi added.

Iran and Afghanistan share a nearly 600-mile border, and have had a complex relationship in recent years.

Tehran has long supported its co-religionists in Afghanistan, the Shia Hazara minority, who were violently persecuted by the Taliban during its rule in the 1990s.

Iran worked alongside the United States and Western powers to help drive out the Taliban after the US-led invasion in 2001.

But there have been allegations, from Western and Afghan sources, that Iran's Revolutionary Guards have in recent years established ties with the Taliban aimed at driving out US forces from Afghanistan.

The Taliban, meanwhile, has made significant territorial gains this year as its fighters inflict record casualties on government forces.

Tehran welcomed Trump's announcement that he was withdrawing all US forces from Syria, but has not commented on the reduction in Afghanistan.

"The presence of American forces was from the very start, in principle, a wrong and illogical move and a primary cause of instability and insecurity in the region," foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on Saturday.