United Nations Declaration (Articles 1 - 30):

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

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

Incoming UN chief names three women to top posts

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

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

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

The Declaration of Human Freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pope Francis arrives for historic first US visit

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

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

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

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

Same-sex marriage around the world

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

… The Shift in Human Nature

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

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

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

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

Merkel says Turkey media crackdown 'highly alarming'

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

Search This Blog

Sunday, December 26, 2021

China mulls bill to tackle workplace discrimination against women

Yahoo – AFP, December 25, 2021

Assembly-line workers at a factory in Fuyang in eastern China (AFP/STR)

Chinese lawmakers are discussing new rules to prevent workplace discrimination and sexual harassment against women amid a string of high-profile cases in recent months. 

A draft bill published Friday includes a ban on employers stating gender preferences on job ads and quizzing female applicants about their marital or pregnancy status –- a common practice that has been criticised for decades. 

Rapid economic growth in the past four decades coupled with the one-child rule has opened up more educational and employment opportunities for Chinese women. 

But women's participation in the workforce has dropped, due to gender-based filtering when hiring and as more women care for families amid a severe shortage of affordable childcare options. 

A report by Human Rights Watch in June found that one in five civil service job postings in 2019 specified a preference for male applicants. 

The report also says that it was a common practice for employers including schools to force female staff to sign contracts promising not to get pregnant for several years as a pre-condition for being hired. 

The proposed new rules come amid concerns that China's new three-child rule could make employers even more reluctant to hire women and as officials crack down on the local #MeToo movement after a string of cases that led to a public outcry over sexual assault in the workplace. 

Earlier this month, e-commerce giant Alibaba group fired a female staffer who had accused a manager of sexual assault. 

The proposed amendments will make enforcement easier by clearly defining what sexual harassment is, state-run Xinhua news agency said. 

According to a draft text published Friday, it prohibits "vulgar speech", "inappropriate physical behaviour" or "the display or dissemination of sexual images, information, text, audio or video". 

It also requires employers to set up mechanisms to prevent, investigate and respond to such complaints "without delay", but there were no details on any penalties for failing to do so. 

The amendments are open for public comment until January 22, 2022.

Related Article:

US, UN demand proof of missing Chinese tennis star's well-being

Saturday, November 20, 2021

US, UN demand proof of missing Chinese tennis star's well-being

Yahoo – AFP, Robin MILLARD, November 19, 2021 

The WTA is threatening to pull out of China if tennis star Peng Shui's
whereabouts and safety are not confirmed (AFP/GREG BAKER)

The United States and UN on Friday demanded proof of Peng Shuai's whereabouts and well-being amid rising concern for the tennis star, missing since alleging she was sexually exploited by a former vice-premier of China. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden's administration wanted China to "provide independent, verifiable proof" of Peng's whereabouts and expressed "deep concern" about the former world top-ranked doubles player. 

The United Nations insisted on a fully transparent investigation into the claims made by Peng against Communist Party grandee Zhang Gaoli. 

Tennis stars, sports bodies, governments and human rights defenders also spoke up for Peng, 35, and demanded information. 

The head of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) said he was prepared to cut lucrative business ties with China if Peng remains unaccounted for and her sexual assault allegations are not probed. 

Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka have also voiced their concerns for one of China's greatest ever players. 

"It would be important to have proof of her whereabouts and well-being," Liz Throssell, a spokeswoman for the UN Human Rights Office, told reporters in Geneva. 

"According to available information, Peng, a former world doubles number one, hasn't been heard from publicly since she alleged on social media that she had been sexually assaulted. 

"We are calling for an investigation with full transparency into her allegation of sexual assault." 

WTA threatens China pull-out 

Peng alleged on the Chinese social media site Weibo earlier this month that Zhang, now in his 70s, had "forced" her into sex during a long-term on-off relationship. 

The claims were quickly scrubbed from the Twitter-like platform and she has not been seen since. 

The WTA, the top world body for women's tennis, has called for proof that Peng is safe. 

Its boss Steve Simon said he is willing to lose hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Chinese business in one of the WTA's biggest markets to ensure Peng's safety. 

"We're definitely willing to pull our business and deal with all the complications that come with it," Simon told CNN. 

"Women need to be respected and not censored," he added. 

Tennis legend Serena Williams also demanded an investigation. 

"I am devastated and shocked to hear about the news of my peer, Peng Shuai," the former singles world number one wrote on Twitter. 

"This must be investigated and we must not stay silent." 

Peng represented China in the Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro Olympics and won gold for China at the 2010 Asian Games. 

She is a former Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion. 

France said the international community and sports bodies were worried for Peng's situation. 

"We are concerned about the lack of information," the French foreign ministry said. 

"We call on the Chinese authorities to implement their commitments in the fight against violence against women." 

The Lawn Tennis Association, the sport's governing body in Britain, offered its assistance to the WTA in its efforts to establish Peng's safety. 

Email doubts 

Peng's claims brought the #MeToo movement into the highest echelons of China's ruling Communist Party for the first time. 

"The Chinese government has systematically silenced the country's #MeToo movement," said Amnesty International's China researcher Doriane Lau. 

"Given that it also has a zero-tolerance approach to criticism, it is deeply concerning that Peng Shuai appears to be missing," she said. 

China has repeatedly refused to comment on her fate or the case. 

But Hu Xijin, the outspoken editor of the Communist Party-owned Global Times, tweeted on Friday that he didn't believe that "Peng Shuai has received retaliation and repression speculated by foreign media for the thing people talked about". 

Earlier this week, state-run CGTN published a screenshot on Twitter of what it said was an email written by Peng to Simon and other WTA officials. 

In the email, Peng claims that her earlier accusations are "not true" and says she is "resting at home and everything is fine". 

But doubts were quickly flagged about the awkward language used in the purported email and the cursor visible in the screenshot. 

Simon said that he was struggling to believe the email was authentic. 

"I don't think there's any validity in it and we won't be comfortable until we have a chance to speak with her," he said. 

Amnesty's Lau said: "China's state media has a track record of forcing statements out of individuals under duress, or else simply fabricating them."

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Canada remembers horrors inflicted on indigenous peoples

Yahoo – AFP, Michel COMTE, September 30, 2021

A crowd gathers outside parlament in Ottawa around shoes that honour missing and
deceased indigenous children during Canada's first National Day for Truth and
Reconciliation. (AFP/Lars Hagberg)

Canada on Thursday commemorated a century of injustices against its indigenous populations in the first ever National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, following shocking discoveries of hundreds of unmarked graves at former indigenous residential schools. 

"It is a day to reflect. It is a day to honour. It is a day to grieve. It is a day to mourn. It is a day to shed tears," Algonquin elder Claudette Commanda told a ceremony in front of parliament attended by thousands. 

Gatherings and marches were also held in communities across Canada. 

The occasion had been observed unofficially as Orange Shirt Day since 2013 to promote awareness of what a truth and reconciliation commission branded "cultural genocide" of Canada's indigenous peoples. 

It was inspired by a former student, Phyllis Webstad, who recounted how at six years old she was stripped of her clothes, including a new orange shirt bought by her grandmother, on her first day of residential schooling. 

The government elevated the day to a statutory holiday this year following the announcement of discoveries of more than 1,200 unmarked graves at several former indigenous residential schools since May. 

"The tragic locating of unmarked graves at former residential school sites across the country has reminded us of not only the impacts of colonialism and the harsh realities of our collective past, but also the work that is paramount to advancing reconciliation in Canada," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement. 

An indigenous child holds a flaf during the first National Day for Truth and
Reconciliation in Ottawa (AFP/Larsc Hagberg)

On the eve of this day, he said Canadians must acknowledge the "terrible injustices" committed against the country's indigenous people. 

"Until we understand as a country that each one of our stories is all of our story there cannot be truth, there cannot be reconciliation," he said in front of parliament illuminated at night in orange.

On Thursday, messages of support poured in, including from Queen Elizabeth II who said she joins Canadians in reflecting "on the painful history that Indigenous peoples endured in residential schools in Canada, and on the work that remains to heal and to continue to build an inclusive society." 

Losing family and community 

From the late 19th century to the 1990s, some 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were forcibly enrolled at the schools across Canada. 

Students spent months or years isolated from their families, and were physically and sexually abused by headmasters and teachers who stripped them of their culture and language. 

Thousands are believed to have died of disease, malnutrition or neglect. Many more became detached or alienated. 

Today, while searches continue for more grave sites, those experiences are blamed for a high incidence of poverty, alcoholism and domestic violence, as well as high suicide rates, in indigenous communities. 

"We can all understand what it might feel like to lose a child. We can all understand what it might feel like to lose our parents, families (and) communities," said Jenny Sutherland, whose grandmother went to a residential school. 

An indigenous leader in traditional head dress addresses a crowd in front of a wall
of posted message and children's drawing outside Canada's parlement during the
first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (AFP/Lars Hagberg)

"This is the space we need to step into today," she urged a crowd dressed in orange and traditional indigenous garments in Ottawa and those watching on television nationwide. 

The residential schools set up by Ottawa and run by the Catholic Church were "more than an aggressive assimilation tactic by our government, but an act of war," she commented. 

"We as indigenous people are not supposed to be here." 

In Montreal, Michelle Martel said she joined a march to commemorate her grandparents and other relatives who attended residential schools, but also "for my children and my grandchildren for reconciliation, so that we can live together in peace one day." 

Paul Bode, who is non-native, said he attended the march to show solidarity with indigenous people because "I continue to benefit from what has been produced by this injustice" -- in reference to lands taken from tribes for settlement by colonisers. 

Last week, the Catholic Church apologized "unequivocally" for abuses at the schools and acknowledged "the historical and ongoing trauma" inflicted on indigenous peoples. 

Indigenous leaders, however, are still awaiting a mea culpa from Pope Francis himself, as well as the release of school records. 

Marie-Pierre Bousquet, an indigenous studies professor at the University of Montreal, told AFP: "It's important that this story not just be an indigenous story, but one that is shared by all." 

"This is a time of coming together for the entire Canadian population" to reflect on the past and "show solidarity in moving towards reconciliation," she said.

US, EU call for 'full commitment' from WHO to prevent sexual violence

Yahoo – AFP, Tedros Adhanom, October 1, 2021 

The abuses were committed by local and international WHO personnel in the
country to fight the 2018-20 Ebola outbreak (AFP/Fabrice COFFRINI)

Washington and Brussels joined with other Western capitals on Friday to call for "full commitment" from the World Health Organization to reform, after a damning report detailed rape and sexual abuse by its workers sent to fight Ebola in DR Congo. 

"The governments of Australia, Canada, the European Union and its member states, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States of America... expect full commitment from the WHO to prevent and address such acts, including through fundamental reforms to the WHO," the governments said in a joint statement. 

Calling it a "dark day for WHO", the UN body's chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had on Tuesday told victims he was "sorry" and that it was "top priority that the perpetrators are not excused but held to account". 

On Friday, the member state governments said that "we will ensure that the WHO leadership’s commitments lead to accountability, increased capability, action, and swift change", calling for an "immediate, thorough and detailed assessment" of what went wrong. 

The report centred on accusations against local and international personnel deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo to fight an Ebola outbreak from 2018 to 2020. 

It cited "individual negligence that may amount to professional misconduct". 

The authors also said they found "clear structural failures and unpreparedness to manage the risks of incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse" in the poor central African country. 

Among the 83 suspects identified, 21 were employed by the WHO. 

Four have had their contracts terminated and are banned from future employment at the WHO, while two senior staff have been placed on administrative leave. 

The agency will also refer rape allegations to the Congolese authorities and those of other concerned states, Tedros said.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Canada to take in 20,000 Afghan refugees targeted by Taliban

MSN – AFP, 14 August 2021 

Internally displaced Afghan families, who fled from the country's north due to fighting
between Taliban and Afghan security forces, take shelter in the courtyard of the
mosquw in Karbul on August 13, 2021.

Canada said Friday it will take in up to 20,000 Afghan refugees, including women leaders, government workers and others facing threats from the Taliban, as insurgents advanced across the country seizing major cities.

"The situation in Afghanistan is heartbreaking and Canada will not stand idly by," Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino told a news conference. 

The refugees will include "particularly vulnerable" Afghans still in the country or who've already fled to neighboring states, which in addition to female leaders and government employees also comprises human rights defenders, persecuted minorities and journalists. 

Several plane-loads of asylum seekers have already departed with the first one landing Friday in Toronto, Mendicino said. 

As the Taliban advances on the capital Kabul, officials said Canadian special forces form part of a contingency plans to airlift Canadian embassy staff, but details were not provided due to the sensitive nature of the security operation. 

Earlier Friday, many countries including Spain, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands announced the withdrawal of staff from their respective embassies. 

Canada has said it is monitoring the situation in Afghanistan "very closely" and working with its allies on the ground. 

"Protecting the Canadian Embassy and our staff is our top priority," said Foreign Minister Marc Garneau. 

On Twitter, he said that Canada "owes Afghans a debt of gratitude and we will continue our efforts to bring them to safety."

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

New US policy won't compel journalists to reveal sources

Yahoo = AFP, Bob Lever, July 19, 2021 

Attorney General Merrick Garland said the US administration would no longer go
to court to force journalists to reveal their sources a move hailed by advocates
 for a free press

The US government pledged Monday to steer clear of legal orders that force journalists to reveal their sources, with only rare exceptions, reversing course after revelations of secret efforts to obtain information from the media. 

The Justice Department said it would no longer use the "compulsory legal process" including subpoenas or warrants to obtain records or identify sources from journalists involved in newsgathering activities. 

The new policy comes following revelations that under former president Donald Trump the department secretly obtained phone records of journalists investigating his administration, including from CNN, the Washington Post and New York Times. 

The statement said the policy shift was made "because a free and independent press is vital to the functioning of our democracy." 

It said the new policy applies to reporters, publishers, third-party service providers and others involved in newsgathering, and to physical or digital documents as well as phone records. 

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the new policy in a memo and called for "a review process to further explain, develop and codify the policy." 

Monday's announcement comes after news that the Trump administration sought records of journalists investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, while obtaining "gag orders" to keep that effort secret. 

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last month that the use of such orders in leak investigations "is not consistent with the president's policy direction." 

The Garland memo said exceptions to the policy would be made if the journalist were the subject of an investigation, or was suspected of being a foreign agent or member of a terrorist group, or in cases of "imminent" risk of death or bodily harm. 

The policy would not apply if the reporter were suspected of a criminal act such as insider trading, or if a criminal act -- such as breaking and entering -- were part of the reporter's activities. 

Former New York Times journalist Judith Miller, who was jailed in 2005 for
 refusing to reveal her sources for her reporting on Iraq, is seen in a 2008 picture

Longstanding concerns 

While the cases involving the Trump administration have drawn scrutiny, the policy change addresses a longstanding concern on press freedom and follows several cases where journalists have been threatened with jail for refusing to reveal sources. 

"The attorney general has taken a necessary and momentous step to protect press freedom at a critical time," said Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. 

"This historic new policy will ensure that journalists can do their job of informing the public without fear of federal government intrusion into their relationships with confidential sources." 

The American Civil Liberties Union also welcomed the move. 

"This policy is a major step forward in protecting journalists against government spying and safeguarding a free press," said Patrick Toomey, senior staff attorney of the ACLU’s National Security Project. 

New York Times reporter Judith Miller was jailed in 2005 for refusing to reveal the source of her reporting on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. 

Another New York Times reporter, James Risen, was threatened with jail for refusing to testify in a case seeking to confirm his sources for reporting on a US operation in Iran that was intended to disrupt that country's nuclear program. 

Two San Francisco Chronicle reporters waged a legal battle to avoid incarceration in 2007 for protecting a source for an investigation in a steroid scandal in major league sports.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Global tax deal backed by 130 nations

Yahoo – AFP, Jürgen HECKER, July 1, 2021 

US digital giants are the main targets of the new tax

A total of 130 countries have agreed a global tax reform ensuring that multinationals pay their fair share wherever they operate, the OECD said on Thursday, but some EU states refused to sign up. 

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said in a statement that global companies, including US behemoths Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple would be taxed at a rate of at least 15 percent once the deal is implemented. 

The new tax regime will add some $150 billion to government coffers globally once it comes into force, which the OECD said it hoped would be in 2023. 

"The framework updates key elements of the century-old international tax system, which is no longer fit for purpose in a globalised and digitalised 21st century economy," the OECD said. 

The formal agreement follows an endorsement by the G7 group of wealthy nations last month, and negotiations now move to a meeting of the G20 group of developed and emerging economies on July 9-10 in Venice, Italy. 

US President Joe Biden said the latest deal "puts us in striking distance of full global agreement to halt the race to the bottom for corporate taxes." 

Germany, another backer of the tax reform, hailed it as a "colossal step towards tax justice", and France said it was "the most important tax agreement in a century". 

British finance minister Rishi Sunak, whose country holds the G7 presidency, said "the fact that 130 countries across the world, including all of the G20, are now on board, marks a further step in our mission to reform global tax". 

'In everyone's interest'

But EU low-tax countries Ireland and Hungary declined to sign up to the agreement reached in the OECD framework, the organisation said, highlighting lingering divisions on global taxation. 

Both countries are part of a group of EU nations also including Luxembourg and Poland that have relied on low tax rates to attract multinationals and build their economies. 

Ireland, the EU home to tech giants Facebook, Google and Apple, has a corporate tax rate of just 12.5 percent. 

Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has warned that the new rules could see Ireland lose 20 percent of its corporate revenue. 

On Thursday, Donohoe said Ireland still "broadly supports" the deal, but not the 15-percent tax floor. 

The tax plan got a much-needed boost from Joe Bidens's administration

"There is much to finalise before a comprehensive agreement is reached", he said, adding that Ireland would "constructively engage" in further discussions. 

Also expressing concerns is Switzerland -- known for its banking secrecy laws -- which said it would support the measures despite "major reservations" and that it hoped the interests of "small, innovative countries" be taken into account. 

An agreement for the implementation of the plan is planned for October. 

Nine of the 139 participants in the talks have so far not signed on to the agreement. 

But China, whose position was being closely watched as it offers tax incentives to key sectors, endorsed the agreement. 

"It is in everyone's interest that we reach a final agreement among all Inclusive Framework Members as scheduled later this year," said OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann. 

"This package does not eliminate tax competition, as it should not, but it does set multilaterally agreed limitations on it," Cormann said, adding that "it also accommodates the various interests across the negotiating table, including those of small economies and developing jurisdictions". 

'More equitable' global economy 

Finance chiefs have characterised a minimum tax as necessary to stem competition between countries over who can offer multinationals the lowest rate. 

For Biden, a global tax agreement will help maintain US competitiveness since he has proposed hiking domestic corporate taxes to pay for an infrastructure and jobs programme with a price tag of around $2 trillion. 

Biden -- whose tax plans face a potentially uphill battle in Congress -- hailed an "important step in moving the global economy forward to be more equitable for workers and middle class families in the United States and around the world." 

He noted that those nations who signed up make up more than 90 percent of the world's economy. 

The OECD's statement said the package "will provide much-needed support to governments needing to raise necessary revenues" to fix their budgets and invest in measures to back the post-Covid recovery. 

Oxfam, a charity, meanwhile said that the deal fell short of a tax level needed to give poorer countries a sufficient share of additional tax revenue. 

Calling the deal "skewed-to-the-rich and completely unfair", Oxfam said that signatories had missed a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a profoundly more equal world".

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Biden names special envoy for LGBTQ rights

Yahoo – AFP, Jessica Stern, June 25, 2021

As Americans celebrated pride month in June 2021, President Joe Biden named
Jessica Stern as his special envoy for LGBTQ rights

US President Joe Biden on Friday named advocate Jessica Stern as special envoy for LGBTQ rights, in a move aimed at increasing global awareness and acceptance of the diversity of sexual orientations and gender identities. 

Currently the executive director of OutRight Action International -- a group which advocates for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex people around the world -- Stern in her new role will be attached to the State Department. 

At a time when LGBTQ persons "are increasingly threatened in all regions of the world," Stern will work with like-minded governments and civil society organizations to uphold dignity and equality for everyone, the White House said in a statement. 

The special envoy will play a "vital" role in leading the implementation of Biden's push to advance the rights of LGBTQ persons worldwide. 

The appointment comes in the middle of pride month, a celebration of gay life in America that Biden will honor in remarks later Friday at the White House. 

The president will also sign into law a bill that designates Orlando's Pulse gay nightclub, scene of a horrific deadly attack, as a national memorial. 

The June 12, 2016 rampage by a gunman who swore allegiance to the Islamic State shocked the nation and the LGBTQ community, in the middle of pride month. 

The Senate unanimously passed the Pulse memorial bill earlier this month, in a rare moment of bipartisanship in Washington.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Canada shaken by new discovery of 751 unmarked graves at indigenous school

Yahoo – AFP, Eric THOMAS, June 24, 2021 

A new discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves near a former school fir indigenous
 children in Western Canada follows the earlier unearthing of children's remains at
another school in Kamloops, British Columbia

More than 750 unmarked graves have been found near a former Catholic boarding school for indigenous children in western Canada, a tribal leader said Thursday -- the second such shock discovery in less than a month. 

The revelation once again cast a spotlight on a dark chapter in Canada's history, and revived calls on the Pope and the Church to apologize for the abuse and violence suffered at the schools, where students were forcibly assimilated into the country's dominant culture. 

"As of yesterday, we have hit 751 unmarked graves" at the site of the former Marieval boarding school in Saskatchewan province, Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme told reporters. 

"This is not a mass grave site. These are unmarked graves," he said, adding that each grave would be assessed in the coming weeks to determine the final number of victims whose remains are at the site. 

Delorme said the graves -- found through ground-penetrating radar mapping -- may at one time have been marked, but "Catholic Church representatives removed these headstones," adding that doing so is a crime in Canada and they were treating the site "as a crime scene." 

Excavations at the Marieval school, about 150 kilometers (90 miles) east of the provincial capital Regina, began at the end of May, after the discovery of the remains of 215 schoolchildren at another such former school in British Columbia. 

That first find at the Kamloops school triggered excavation work near several former institutions for indigenous children across Canada, with the assistance of government authorities. 

Some 150,000 Native American, Metis and Inuit children were forcibly recruited until the 1990s in 139 of these residential schools across Canada, where they were isolated from their families, their language and their culture. 

Many were subjected to ill-treatment and sexual abuse, and more than 4,000 died in the schools, according to a commission of inquiry that concluded Canada had committed "cultural genocide" against the indigenous communities. 

Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron described the finding as "a crime against humanity." 

"The only crime we ever committed as children was being born indigenous," he said. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the findings at both Kamloops and Marieval "a shameful reminder of the systemic racism, discrimination, and injustice that indigenous peoples have faced -- and continue to face -- in this country." 

The discovery of unmarked graves at a former residential for indigenous vhildren in
Canada's Saskatchewan province follows a similar relevation in British Columbia

"Together, we must acknowledge this truth, learn from our past, and walk the shared path of reconciliation, so we can build a better future," he said. 

'We will find more bodies' 

The Marieval residential school in eastern Saskatchewan hosted indigenous children until the mid-1990s before being demolished and replaced by a day school. 

One former student, Barry Kennedy, told the broadcaster CBC he was shocked by the news but not surprised. 

"During my time at Marieval Indian Residential School, I had a young friend that was dragged off one night screaming," he said, adding that he never saw the child again. 

"His name was Bryan... I want to know where Bryan is," Kennedy said. 

He described a history of violence at the school. 

"We were introduced to rape. We were introduced to violent beatings. We were introduced to things that weren't normal with our families," he added. 

And he said he imagined that the graves found so far were just the tip of the iceberg: "By the stories that... were told by our friends and fellow students, there are multiple locations, you know, per school." 

Many indigenous community leaders expect more grisly discoveries in the coming months. Searches have already turned up possible unmarked burial sites in Ontario and Manitoba provinces. 

"We will find more bodies and we will not stop till we find all of our children," Cameron said at the press conference. 

"We all must put down our ignorance and accidental racism at not addressing the truth that this country has with indigenous people," said Delorme. 

"This country must stand by us." 

In early June, a few days after the discovery of the bones in Kamloops, UN human rights experts urged Ottawa and the Vatican to conduct a full and prompt investigation into the discovery.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Canada mourns 215 children after remains found at indigenous school

Yahoo – AFP, 30 May 2021 

Members of the community of the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, Quebec march
through the town on May 30, 2021, to commemorate the news that a mass grave
of 215 Indigenous children were found at the Kamloops Residential School in
Britisch Columbia, Canada.

Canada flew its flags at half-mast Sunday in mourning for 215 children whose remains were discovered on the grounds of a former boarding school set up more than a century ago to assimilate indigenous peoples. 

"To honour the 215 children whose lives were taken at the former Kamloops residential school and all Indigenous children who never made it home, the survivors, and their families, I have asked that the Peace Tower flag (in Ottawa) and flags on all federal buildings be flown at half-mast," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter. 

Several municipalities, including the economic metropolis Toronto, announced they would also lower their flags. 

The discovery of the children's remains, some as young as three, sparked strong emotions throughout Canada, particularly in the indigenous communities. 

A specialist used ground-penetrating radar to confirm the remains of the students who attended the school near Kamloops, British Columbia, the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc tribe said in a statement late Thursday. 

Local children of Kahnawake, Quebec step to view the hundreds of children's
shoes placed in front of the St. Francis Xavier Church, in tribute to a mass grave
of 215 Indigenous children found at the residential school in British Colombia, Canada.

The Kamloops Indian Residential School was the largest of 139 boarding schools set up in the late 19th century, with up to 500 students registered and attending at any one time. 

It was operated by the Catholic church on behalf of the Canadian government from 1890 to 1969. 

Some 150,000 Indian, Inuit and Metis youngsters in total were forcibly enrolled in these schools, where students were physically and sexually abused by headmasters and teachers who stripped them of their culture and language. 

Today those experiences are blamed for a high incidence of poverty, alcoholism and domestic violence, as well as high suicide rates, in their communities. 

Ottawa formally apologized in 2008 for what the commission later termed a "cultural genocide" as part of a Can$1.9 billion (US$1.6 billion) settlement with former students. 

Members of the community of the Kahmawake Mohawk Territory, Quebec march
through the town on May 30, 2021 to commemorate the news that a grave of
215 Indigenous children were found at the Kamloops Residential School in Britisch
Columbia, Canada.

"I've said before that the residential schools was a genocide of our people. Here's just another glowing example of that genocide in practice: undocumented deaths of children," the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Perry Bellegarde, said Sunday on the news channel CTV. 

Bellegarde noted there was still much work to be done to identify the remains, find their families and examine the sites of other residential schools. 

He said the federal government "does have a responsibility to make sure that these resources are in place to get the answers." 

Ceremonies to honor the young victims took place or were to take place throughout the country. About 100 people gathered Sunday in the Mohawk community of Kahnawake, near Montreal. 

Participants placed children's shoes and toys on the steps of the Saint Francis Xavier church as a tribute to the victims.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lays flowers at a makeshift memorial in
front of parliament for 215 indigenous students whose remains were discovered
last week at a former boarding school

Related Article:

Trudeau lays flowers at makeshift memorial for indigenous students