United Nations Declaration (Articles 1 - 30):

Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2: Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Incoming UN chief names three women to top posts

Incoming UN chief names three women to top posts
Nigerian Minister of the Environment Amina Mohammed, seen in 2015, will be the UN's number two official (AFP Photo/Mireya ACIERTO)

Sustainable Development
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
"The Timing of the Great Shift" – Mar 21, 2009 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Text version)

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013. They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)

The Declaration of Human Freedom

Archangel Michael (Via Steve Beckow), Feb. 19, 2011

Every being is a divine and eternal soul living in a temporal body. Every being was alive before birth and will live after death.

Every soul enters into physical life for the purpose of experience and education, that it may, in the course of many lifetimes, learn its true identity as a fragment of the Divine.

Life itself is a constant process of spiritual evolution and unfoldment, based on free choice, that continues until such time as we realize our true nature and return to the Divine from which we came.

No soul enters life to serve another, except by choice, but to serve its own purpose and that of the Divine from which it came.

All life is governed by natural and universal laws which precede and outweigh the laws of humanity. These laws, such as the law of karma, the law of attraction, and the law of free will, are decreed by God to order existence and assist each person to achieve life’s purpose.

No government can or should survive that derives its existence from the enforced submission of its people or that denies its people their basic rights and freedoms.

Life is a movement from one existence to another, in varied venues throughout the universe and in other universes and dimensions of existence. We are not alone in the universe but share it with other civilizations, most of them peace-loving, many of whom are more advanced than we are, some of whom can be seen with our eyes and some of whom cannot.

The evidence of our five senses is not the final arbiter of existence. Humans are spiritual as well as physical entities and the spiritual side of life transcends the physical. God is a Spirit and the final touchstone of God’s Truth is not physical but spiritual. The Truth is to be found within.

God is one and, because of this, souls are one. They form a unity. They are meant to live in peace and harmony together in a “common unity” or community. The use of force to settle affairs runs contrary to natural law. Every person should have the right to conduct his or her own affairs without force, as long as his or her choices do not harm another.

No person shall be forced into marriage against his or her will. No woman shall be forced to bear or not bear children, against her will. No person shall be forced to hold or not hold views or worship in a manner contrary to his or her choice. Nothing vital to existence shall be withheld from another if it is within the community’s power to give.

Every person shall retain the ability to think, speak, and act as they choose, as long as they not harm another. Every person has the right to choose, study and practice the education and career of their choice without interference, provided they not harm another.

No one has the right to kill another. No one has the right to steal from another. No one has the right to force himself or herself upon another in any way.

Any government that harms its citizens, deprives them of their property or rights without their consent, or makes offensive war upon its neighbors, no matter how it misrepresents the situation, has lost its legitimacy. No government may govern without the consent of its people. All governments are tasked with seeing to the wellbeing of their citizens. Any government which forces its citizens to see to its own wellbeing without attending to theirs has lost its legitimacy.

Men and women are meant to live fulfilling lives, free of want, wherever they wish and under the conditions they desire, providing their choices do not harm another and are humanly attainable.

Children are meant to live lives under the beneficent protection of all, free of exploitation, with unhindered access to the necessities of life, education, and health care.

All forms of exploitation, oppression, and persecution run counter to universal and natural law. All disagreements are meant to be resolved amicably.

Any human law that runs counter to natural and universal law is invalid and should not survive. The enactment or enforcement of human law that runs counter to natural and universal law brings consequences that cannot be escaped, in this life or another. While one may escape temporal justice, one does not escape divine justice.

All outcomes are to the greater glory of God and to God do we look for the fulfillment of our needs and for love, peace, and wisdom. So let it be. Aum/Amen.

Pope Francis arrives for historic first US visit

Pope Francis arrives for historic first US visit
Pope Francis laughs alongside US President Barack Obama upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, on September 22, 2015, on the start of a 3-day trip to Washington (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

Today's doodle in the U.S. celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech on its 50th anniversary (28 Aug 2013)

'Love is love': Obama lauds gay marriage activists in hailing 'a victory for America'

'Love is love': Obama lauds gay marriage activists in hailing 'a victory for America'
The White House released this image, of the building colored like the rainbow flag, on Facebook following the supreme court’s ruling. Photograph: Facebook

Same-sex marriage around the world

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Merkel says Turkey media crackdown 'highly alarming'

Merkel says Turkey media crackdown 'highly alarming'
Reporters Without Borders labels Erdogan as 'enemy of press freedom'

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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

In Hiroshima, pope assails 'crime' of nuclear weapons

Yahoo – AFP, Catherine MARCIANO, November 24, 2019

Pope Francis met a series of religious leaders and survivors of the nuclear
holocaust in Hiroshima (AFP Photo/Vincenzo PINTO)

Nagasaki (Japan) (AFP) - Pope Francis Sunday described the use of nuclear bombs as "a crime", as he took his appeal for an end to atomic weapons to Hiroshima in an emotional meeting with survivors.

The visit came hours after a highly symbolic stop in the city of Nagasaki, where Francis railed against all nuclear weapons, including their use as a deterrent.

At least 140,000 people died after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, with another 74,000 killed after a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later.

"In barely an instant, everything was devoured by a black hole of destruction and death. From that abyss of silence, we continue even today to hear the cries of those who are no longer," Francis said at the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima.

"With deep conviction, I wish once more to declare that the use of atomic energy for purposes of war is today, more than ever, a crime not only against the dignity of human beings but against any possible future for our common home," he added.

Hiroshima was the first city to suffer an atomic attack (AFP Photo)

He first signed the book of remembrance, saying he would "grieve in solidarity" with the victims, receiving warm applause from the assembled worshippers.

He then clasped hands with several elderly survivors, some of them overcome with emotion on meeting the 82-year-old pontiff and sharing their harrowing testimony.

Francis has made the call for a world without nuclear weapons a central theme of his four-day trip to Japan, starting his visit in two cities synonymous with the horrors of the atomic bomb.

He said he felt a "duty to come here as a pilgrim of peace" and paid tribute to the "strength and dignity" of those who survived the attack and the physical and emotional toll of the aftermath.

Like in Nagasaki earlier on Sunday, he laid a wreath of white flowers as a tribute and bowed his head in prayer before a moment of reflection with deep bells tolling in the background to remember those killed in the catastrophe.

Pope Francis spoke while standing next to a photo of a 
young boy carrying his dead baby brother on his back 
in the aftermath of the Nagasaki nuclear bomb 
attack (AFP Photo/Vincenzo PINTO)

True peace is 'unarmed': Francis

Survivors from Hiroshima described to the pope their personal experiences and backed his abolitionist message, including Yoshiko Kajimoto, who was 14 at the time of the attack.

She recalled "people walking side by side like ghosts," telling Francis: "No one in this world can imagine such a scene of hell."

The ageing survivors of the attacks have expressed fear that the memory of the bombings may disappear after their death, and some hope the pope will bring renewed attention to their stories.

"I believe that passing on the experience of Hiroshima to the next generation is the final mission assigned to us A-bomb survivors," survivor Koji Hosokawa told Francis in testimony read out as he was unable to attend.

In Hiroshima, the Argentine pontiff repeated his insistence that there was no place in the world for nuclear weapons, even as a deterrent.

Francis delivered communion to the faithful at a Mass 
in Nagasaki (AFP Photo/Ed JONES)

This marks a break with past pontiffs -- in a 1982 UN speech, Pope John Paul II described nuclear deterrence as a necessary evil.

"How can we propose peace if we constantly invoke the threat of nuclear war as a legitimate recourse for the resolution of conflicts?" Francis said.

"A true peace can only be an unarmed peace."

In Nagasaki earlier, he also took aim at the arms industry, describing money spent and made on weapons as an "affront crying out to Heaven".

'Fondness and affection'

The Argentine pontiff is fulfilling a long-held ambition to preach in Japan -- a country he wanted to visit as a young missionary.

Pope Francis kissed a baby in Nagasaki (AFP Photo/Ed JONES)

"Ever since I was young I have felt a fondness and affection for these lands," said Francis when he arrived in Japan.

As in Thailand, the first leg of his Asian tour, Catholicism is a minority religion in Japan.

Most people follow a mix of Shinto and Buddhism, with only an estimated 440,000 Catholics in the country.

Christians in Japan suffered centuries of repression, being tortured to recant their faith, and Francis paid tribute in Nagasaki to the martyrs who died for their religion, saying they had inspired him as a young Jesuit.

Francis returns to Tokyo on Sunday night where he will on Monday meet victims of Japan's "triple disaster" -- the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown.

He is also scheduled to deliver a mass at a Tokyo baseball stadium, meet Japan's new Emperor Naruhito and hold talks with Japanese government officials and local Catholic leaders.

Related Articles:

"Fast-Tracking" - Feb 8, 2014 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Reference to Fukushima / H-bomb nuclear pollution and a warning about nuclear  (> 20 Min)

"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channeled 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.) - (Text version)

“... Japan

Let us talk for a moment about Japan, and then I'll close the day of messages. There are thousands of souls on my side of the veil and they're just fine, more than fine. We have spoken so often of what happens at the Wind of Birth. I told you, before they even came in, they saw the potential. I looked in their eyes. "You may not last long. You know that, don't you? You're coming into this planet and you may not be here very long. And the passing that you will have with your family will not be pleasant, if any ever are. Why would you come in anyway?" I want to tell you what they said. When a soul has the mind of God, it understands fully what generates peace and what generates energy shift. You can clearly see what generates what the planet needs the most when you are about to arrive. So they said, "We're going to be part of one of the biggest compassion events the planet has ever seen." One earthquake, one tsunami. All of those who left that day will change the earth forever. And it already has. It was the same for the last tsunami as well.

Every single one of them on my side of the veil is getting ready to come back. Many old souls were involved, and just for a moment, if they could give you any information, if they could talk to you right now, if they could speak your language and look into your eyes, they would thank you for your compassion for them and those who are left. And they would say, "Be with those family members who are still alive. Enter their hearts every day and give them peace and keep them from crying, because we're OK."

Nuclear Power Revealed

So let me tell you what else they did. They just showed you what's wrong with nuclear power. "Safe to the maximum," they said. "Our devices are strong and cannot fail." But they did. They are no match for Gaia.

It seems that for more than 20 years, every single time we sit in the chair and speak of electric power, we tell you that hundreds of thousands of tons of push/pull energy on a regular schedule is available to you. It is moon-driven, forever. It can make all of the electricity for all of the cities on your planet, no matter how much you use. There's no environmental impact at all. Use the power of the tides, the oceans, the waves in clever ways. Use them in a bigger way than any designer has ever put together yet, to power your cities. The largest cities on your planet are on the coasts, and that's where the power source is. Hydro is the answer. It's not dangerous. You've ignored it because it seems harder to engineer and it's not in a controlled environment. Yet, you've chosen to build one of the most complex and dangerous steam engines on Earth - nuclear power.

We also have indicated that all you have to do is dig down deep enough and the planet will give you heat. It's right below the surface, not too far away all the time. You'll have a Gaia steam engine that way, too. There's no danger at all and you don't have to dig that far. All you have to do is heat fluid, and there are some fluids that boil far faster than water. So we say it again and again. Maybe this will show you what's wrong with what you've been doing, and this will turn the attitudes of your science to create something so beautiful and so powerful for your grandchildrenWhy do you think you were given the moon? Now you know.

This benevolent Universe gave you an astral body that allows the waters in your ocean to push and pull and push on the most regular schedule of anything you know of. Yet there you sit enjoying just looking at it instead of using it. It could be enormous, free energy forever, ready to be converted when you design the methods of capturing it. It's time.

So in closing, do you understand what you're seeing? You're seeing intelligent design, quantum energy and high consciousness. You are seeing changes in Human nature. You're seeing countries putting things together instead of separating. You are seeing those who don't want war and instead want peace, good schools for their children, safety in their streets and a say in their government. We told you it was going to happen this way. I want my partner to teach these things that I have said in his 3D lectures for awhile. Many won't be able to know these things otherwise.  …”

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Chagos islands: The fight over Africa’s last British colony

DW, 22 November 2019

A piece of Britain lies between Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. To date the Chagos Islands are still under British control and their inhabitants live in exile. But the UK has missed a deadline to return them.

The anger in his voice is clearly audible. There is a lack of goodwill on the side of the British government, Olivier Bancoult says. The fight over the Chagos archipelago has been dragging on for too long. "We are continuing to put pressure [on the British government]," Bancoult told DW. As a young boy, Bancoult was one of the Chagos residents who were forced to resettle. Today he lives in Mauritius and as a lawyer has been fighting for the people of Chagos and their descendants to return to the islands. On Friday, November 22, the United Nations deadline for the return of the islands to its people. Bancoult is amongst the organizers of a demonstration outside the British High Commission in Mauritius.

Mauritius, which had once been part of the same colonial territory as the Chagos islands, gained its independence in 1968. Between 1968 and 1973, up to 2,000 residents of the Chagos archipelago were forced to move to Mauritius, the Seychelles and UK in order to establish a military base on the main island, Diego Garcia. In the meantime, the UK has leased it to the US until 2036. Chagos served as a military base for both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The largest island, Diego Garcis, serves as a US military base

Geostrategic importance

"We were poor people who are living in peace and harmony until they made the decision to giv one of the largest islands to America to make a military base. Since that time our nightmare started. Many of us were forcibly removed from our native land to live in Mauritius and the Seychelles," Bancoult told DW. In February the International Court of Justice in The Hague, ruled that the archipelago is legally a part of Mauritius. The court said that Britain had illegally separated the islands from Mauritius and should give them back.

The British government rejected the ruling. "The UK has no doubt as to our sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), which has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814," read a statement by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The statement, however, alleged that Britain had pledged  to hand over the islands to Mauritius when they are no longer needed for defense purposes.

In May, the UN General Assembly also called on the UK to handover the islands. The deadline for the handover expired on November 22, but the resolution is not binding and the UK seems to have no intention to make such a move in the near future.

The strategic location and the military role of the island, make the very calls for its independence very difficult.  Philippe Sands, a British lawyer who advises the Mauritian government on the Chagos matter, believes that talks between the UK, the US and Mauritius will continue to take place. "Mauritius has indicated that the military base could even remain on the island," Sands told DW.

Read more: The Commonwealth: Still relevant for Africa today?

The archipelago belings to the same island group as Mauritius which
gained independence from Britain in 1968

Clinging onto the last African colony

Sands believes that Britain's reluctance to bow to international pressure lies in the fact that it is still coming to terms with its new place in world politics. "[The UK] is a diminished power. It has lost its judge at the International Court of Justice, it has lost a series of resolutions at the UN General Assembly. I think its just taking time to come to the realization, that ist legal situation and is very different, but ultimately I think the UK will comply with the court," Sands said.

The UK, Sands explained, is paying a high price for its political losses. "They're in the process of leaving the European Union, and they have to negotiate new trade agreements and political agreements with several countries. The government is in real trouble and I think that is why it is clinging on to its last colony in Africa," Sands said.  For him, keeping the islands under British control amounts to a crime against the people of Chagos.

Chagossians celebrate the news of the UN resolution calling on the
UK give up control of the islands (February 2019)

Hopes set on upcoming UK elections

According to Sands, the UN is already preparing new maps which show the Chagos islands as part of Mauritius. Additionally Mauritius is the only country that can have legal rights to fishing and overflying rights of the area.

Sands and Bancoult have the hope that the upcoming UK elections set for December 12 could make a difference. "The Labour party has promised to respect the ruling of the International Court of Justice," Sands said. "If the next government is under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn that would be very good,” Bancoult said. "He already supports us."

According to Bancoult, 596 Chagossians who were forced to leave the islands are still alive today. All in all, he said, they have 9.800 descendants who identify as Chagossians. Bancoult himself finds the thought of growing old away from his homeland difficult. "Most old people want to die where they were born," he said.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Pope urges respect for prostitutes at crowded Bangkok mass

Yahoo – AFP, Catherine MARCIANO, Jenny VAUGHAN, November 21, 2019

Pope Francis arrived at the stadium in a golden robe woven for him from Thai silk

Bangkok (AFP) - Pope Francis led an impassioned mass for tens of thousands of emotional worshippers at a packed Bangkok stadium Thursday, urging respect for prostitutes and trafficking victims in a part of the world where sex work is rampant.

The remarks came at the end of a whirlwind day of meetings for Pope Francis, who is on his first trip to Buddhist-majority Thailand where he is carrying a message of religious harmony and peace.

He heads to Japan next, visiting the twin atomic bombs sites of Nagasaki and Hiroshima where he will seek a ban on "immoral" nuclear weapons.

The 82-year-old arrived at the stadium in a golden robe woven for him from Thai silk, greeting crowds of flag-waving faithful, some wiping tears from their faces at the sight of the leader of the world's 1.3 billion Catholics.

An estimated 60,000 worshippers gathered for the mass (AFP Photo/Mohd RASFAN)

An estimated 60,000 worshippers gathered for the mass, some pouring into a nearby stadium to watch the hymn-filled service on large screens.

Known for his down-to-earth style, the Pope did not shy away from difficult topics.

He focused on the importance of helping vulnerable children and women "who are victims of prostitution and human trafficking, humiliated in their essential human dignity".

He also referred to drug addicts, migrants and "exploited sinners and bypassed beggars".

"All of them are part of our family. They are our mothers, our brothers and sisters. Let us not deprive our communities of seeing their faces, their wounds, their smiles and their lives," said the Pope, after leading prayers.

Performers dance after a Holy Mass led by Pope Francis (AFP Photo/Lillian

The remarks were delivered in a region beloved by tourists but infamous for a thriving sex trade and unchecked human trafficking.

Prostitution is illegal in Thailand, home to at least 300,000 sex workers -- some four percent of whom are believed to be trafficked, according to official estimates.

Many women are drawn to the work because they can earn up to 10 times more than the minimum wage, and critics say some corrupt Thai authorities turn a blind eye to the thriving trade.

Earlier, the Pope praised Thailand's efforts to stamp out the "scourge" of exploitation and enslavement of women and children, urging a "dignified" future for vulnerable youth.

The Catholic Church has been shaken by child sex abuse scandals itself in recent years, with many high-profile cases brought against clergy.

Known for his down-to-earth style, the Pope did not shy away from difficult topics 
at the mass (AFP Photo/Lillian SUWANRUMPHA)

'Gift from God'

Thailand has not had a visit from a pontiff since John Paul II in 1984, and the small but spirited Catholic community was thrilled ahead of the mass.

Just over 0.5 percent of the population is Catholic but the community has been here for centuries.

For Pimrapat Panyawattanatikul, the service was her second shot at seeing a pope after John Paul II touched her head some 35 years ago.

Now she's hoping her mother will get a similar honour, with the pair sitting right on the track Francis was set to drive past in his Popemobile.

Francis paid a visit to the supreme Buddhist patriarch Somdej Phra Maha 
Muneewong at one of Bangkok's famed gilded temples (AFP Photo/Handout)

"It's a miracle we got these seats. It's my mom's dream to see the pope and to go to Italy. This is a gift from God," Pimrapat told AFP, her mother next to her clutching a rosary.

The Pope's colourful mass capped a packed schedule on the first full day of Thailand where he was welcomed Wednesday by cheering worshippers in Bangkok eager for a glimpse of his motorcade.

On Thursday Francis followed in the footsteps of John Paul II, paying a visit to the supreme Buddhist patriarch Somdej Phra Maha Muneewong at one of Bangkok's famed gilded temples.

The pair sat before a brilliant gold Buddha statue inside the ornate temple, built 150 years ago by the former Thai King -- the supreme patriarch barefoot and draped in orange robes as they spoke.

Thailand has not had a visit from a pontiff since John Paul II in 1984 (AFP Photo/
Vincenzo PINTO)

The Pope reciprocated the gesture, removing his shoes for part of the tete-a-tete.

In an earlier speech, the Pope said the meeting was "a sign of the importance and urgency of promoting friendship and inter-religious dialogue".

Nuclear ban

This visit coincides with the 350th anniversary of the founding of the "Mission de Siam", marking the first papal mission from Europe in the 17th century.

Though Christianity's first visitors were initially met with scepticism, today Thailand's nearly 400,000 Catholics face little discrimination.

Pope Francis heads to Japan next (AFP Photo/Vincenzo PINTO)

The Pope also paid a visit to Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha and King Maha Vajiralongkorn, gifting the top royal a colourful mosaic of a papal blessing in Vatican City's Saint Peter's Square.

On Friday the pontiff will host another mass, this one for young people, and meet with religious leaders in the city.

He jets to Japan Saturday, where he will visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, both devastated when the US dropped atomic bombs at the end of World War II in 1945.

The pope, who years ago had hoped to be a missionary in Japan, has made strong calls for a ban on nuclear weapons.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Pope lands in Thailand to kick off two-country Asian tour

Yahoo – AFP, Catherine MARCIANO, November 20, 2019

The pontiff landed at Bangkok's Don Mueang International Airport, on
his third trip to Asia (AFP Photo/Vincenzo PINTO)

Pope Francis arrived in Thailand on Wednesday greeted by cheering faithful, on the first leg of an Asian tour that will sweep in Japan and carry a message of interreligious dialogue and nuclear disarmament.

The pontiff landed just after midday (0500 GMT) at Bangkok's Don Mueang International Airport, where he stepped off the plane and was met by his missionary cousin Sister Ana Rosa, who has lived in Thailand for decades.

"I am happy to see you and that you are able to be my translator," he told her, as dozens waved Thai and Vatican flags.

The welcome party included Thailand's deputy prime minister Somkid Jatusripitak and children in traditional ethnic minority dress, one of whom Francis stopped to hug.

This will be the pope's third trip to Asia -- and his 32nd abroad -- taking him to two Buddhist-majority countries with minority Catholic populations both evangelised by Jesuit missionaries in the 16th century.

Map showing the route and dates of Pope Francis' Asia visit, 
Nov 19-26 (AFP Photo/Laurence CHU)

Francis is the first pontiff in nearly four decades to visit Thailand where the nearly 400,000-strong Catholic community makes up a little more than 0.5 percent of the population.

The last visit from a pontiff came in 1984 by Pope John Paul II.

Before his departure, Francis praised the Southeast Asian country as a "multi-ethnic nation", and hoped his trip would strengthen the Catholic community's bonds of friendship with "many Buddhist brothers and sisters".

"I trust that my visit will help to highlight the importance of inter-religious dialogue, mutual understanding and fraternal cooperation," the Pope said in the video marking his November 20-23 visit.


Francis' visit has stirred excitement among Thailand's Catholic community, who made a strong show of force on Wednesday waiting for his motorcade near the Vatican City embassy in Bangkok.

A costumed mascot and children yelling 'Sawadee Pa! (Hello Father)' 
greeted Pope Francis in Bangkok (AFP Photo/Lillian SUWANRUMPHA)

They included a costumed mascot made to resemble Francis and children yelling "Sawadee Pa! (Hello Father)".

Sister Ana Rosa told AFP she did not have time to catch up with her cousin after his arrival as the 82-year-old pontiff was resting following the long overnight flight from Rome.

"I am happy for all the Thai people" to witness his visit, she said.

On Thursday, he will meet with the 20th Supreme Patriarch Somdej Phra Maha Muneewong -- the head of Thailand's Buddhist clergy.

He will also have meetings with Thailand's prime minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha and King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

His day will end with a holy mass at the national stadium, where tens of thousands are expected to attend from many walks of life, including ethnic Karen Christians from northern Thailand, Vietnamese Catholic refugees living in Bangkok, and faithful from all over Southeast Asia.

Pope Francis is the first pontiff in nearly four decades 
to visit Thailand (AFP Photo/Vincenzo PINTO)

On Friday, the pope's day will be filled meeting with priests and bishops of Thailand, and it will end with a youth-oriented mass at a cathedral.

On Saturday, the pontiff will fly to Japan where he will visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two cities devastated when the US dropped atomic bombs at the end of World War II in 1945.

More than 140,000 people were killed in Hiroshima, while the port city of Nagasaki suffered a death toll of 74,000.

The pope, who years ago had hoped to be a missionary in Japan, has made strong calls for the ban of the "immoral" use of nuclear weapons.

Since Francis' election six years ago, he has made two trips to Asia, visiting the Philippines and Sri Lanka in 2014, followed by Myanmar and Bangladesh in 2017.

Related Article:

Pope Francis had hoped years ago to be a missionary in Japan, a country
the pontiff is to visit this week as he seeks a ban on nuclear weapons
(AFP Photo/Vincenzo PINTO)

Monday, November 18, 2019

Pope hosts meal for 1,500 poor and homeless

Yahoo – AFP, November 17, 2019

"How many elderly, unborn, disabled and poor persons are considered useless?
The greed of a few is adding to the poverty of many others," the pontiff said (AFP
Photo/Vincenzo PINTO)

Vatican City (AFP) - Pope Francis on Sunday hosted around 1,500 poor and homeless people for lunch at the Vatican, decrying indifference to poverty as the Catholic Church marked its World Day of the Poor.

"My thoughts go to those who... have promoted solidarity initiatives to give concrete hope to the most disadvantaged," Pope Francis told a mass in Saint Peter's Square ahead of the lunch.

"Recently I saw some statistics on poverty. They make you suffer -- the indifference of society towards the poor," the pope said, thanking medical staff who were providing free health care to the poor at the Vatican.

He also criticised what he called "the frenzy of running, of achieving everything right now, anyone left behind is viewed as a nuisance. And considered disposable."

"How many elderly, unborn, disabled and poor persons are considered useless. We go our way in haste, without worrying that gaps are increasing, that the greed of a few is adding to the poverty of many others."

The pope then joined his 1,500 guests for lunch in the Vatican's vast Paul VI Hall.

The menu consisted of lasagna, chicken nuggets with cream of mushrooms and potatoes, dessert, fruit and coffee.

"Thank you to the pope and thank you to the Vatican, because the Vatican helps so many poor people, and it also helps by providing medicine, this lunch of course, clothes, so many things," said Oscar, a Lithuanian who has lived in Italy for 13 years.

"We don't have good money because we work seven hours, eight hours, some people sometimes 10 hours for just 30 euros, so this is hard," said Gambian migrant worker Lamin Jarra.

Dozens of volunteers helped bring the poor to the Vatican and serve the food, including Lorenzo Ferraro, who stressed the importance of openness towards "the most deprived, the weakest."

"In a climate of general selfishness, the pope also remembers these people," he said.

In White House race, who is Obama's political heir?

Yahoo – AFP, Jerome CARTILLIER, November 17, 2019

Former US president Barack Obama -- seen here in Munich in September 2019 --
is quietly watching to see who will win the Democratic presidential primary (AFP
Photo/Christof STACHE)

Washington (AFP) - Some vying for the Democratic presidential nomination are loud and proud about their friendship with him. Others claim ideological kinship. And still others are taking distance from his record to stand out.

But one thing is for sure: Barack Obama is not saying anything -- well, much of anything.

The 58-year-old former president, who left power nearly three years ago with his popularity soaring, is quietly watching to see who in his party will duke it out with Donald Trump on November 3, 2020.

Beyond his positions on health care or immigration or education, numerous White House hopefuls have made reference to Obama's style -- a certain class in the way he exercised his power that is in stark contrast to the attitude of the billionaire Republican who succeeded him.

With less than three months to go before the first Democrats make their choice in the Iowa caucuses, the race is still entirely up in the air.

The next Democratic primary debate is set for Wednesday in Atlanta with 10 candidates on the stage and eager to score points -- Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Tulsi Gabbard, Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer.

Barack Obama is seen here (L-R) campaigning in August 2008, in the White House 
in March 2012 and at a press conference in September 2016 (AFP Photo/SAUL LOEB)

At this point, it's impossible to predict who will ultimately claim the party's nomination.

And the list of those who dream of wresting the Oval Office from Trump just keeps getting longer.

Billionaire former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is once again flirting with a run, and former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick threw his hat in the ring this week.

The late entrance by Patrick, one of the first black governors in US history who is close to Obama, fueled speculation about the doubts that the ex-president may have about the ability of the candidates already in the race, including his vice president Biden, to take out Trump.

'My friend Barack'

Many of the questions indeed focus on Biden, who has been saddled with the moniker "Sleepy Joe" by Trump. While he remains one of the favorites, observers fear the 76-year-old from Delaware cannot go the distance.

On the campaign trail, Biden never misses a chance to highlight his close relationship with his "friend Barack," and their eight years in power.

Biden is no stranger to campaign politics, and when he launched his latest White House bid, he underscored the fact that he had specifically asked Obama not to back him from the outset... even though the former president had never indicated he would do so.

The next Democratic presidential primary debate will take place on November 20, 
2019 in Atlanta (AFP Photo/SAUL LOEB)

"President Obama has no plans to weigh in on the primary at this point -- preferring instead to let the candidates make their cases directly to voters," a source close to the former president told AFP.

But the 44th president of the United States has, unsurprisingly, ideas about how his party should approach the election to ensure that Trump is limited to just one term in office.

Little by little, he is positioning himself. In remarks Friday night to donors at the Democracy Alliance in Washington, he offered a few hints about how he sees the upcoming battle for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

'Tested' candidate

While he insisted on the need for new ideas from the party about reducing income inequality and other key issues, he issued a very clear warning about the temptation to take a sharp turn to the political left.

"Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision, we also have to be rooted in reality," he said.

Barack Obama -- seen here taking the oath of office in January 2009 with his wife 
Michelle at his side -- served two terms as US president (AFP Photo/PAUL J. RICHARDS)

"The average American doesn't think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it," he added, noting that the United States was "a country that is less revolutionary than it is interested in improvement."

He called on the party faithful -- and by extension, its presidential candidates -- to be mindful that Democrats, independents and even moderate Republicans "are not driven by the same views that are reflected on certain, you know, left-leaning Twitter feeds, or the activist wing of our party."

He did not name names, but Warren and Sanders -- who have called for nothing short of a "political revolution -- certainly come to mind.

Obama appeared to want to reassure the many Democrats who fear that the crowded primary will end up being counterproductive, given that the incumbent Trump is all ready to run with a massive campaign war chest.

"For those who get stressed about robust primaries, I just have to remind you that I had a very robust primary," he said, recalling his at times acrimonious 2008 battle with Hillary Clinton.

"I'm confident that at the end of the process, we will have a candidate that has been tested."