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.

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.) -

“ … 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.

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)

US under fire in global press freedom report

"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. …

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Friday, April 18, 2014

UN security council urged to target North Korean officials over atrocities

Inquiry head Michael Kirby says leaders should be hit with sanctions and referred to international criminal court

theguardian.com, AFP, Friday 18 April 2014

Michael Kirby and other commission members at a media conference
after the meeting. Photograph: Cia Pak/Demotix/Corbis

The United Nations security council should slap targeted sanctions on North Korean officials responsible for grave human rights abuses and refer them to the international criminal court (ICC), the head of a special UN inquiry said on Thursday.

The retired Australian judge Michael Kirby told an informal meeting of the security council convened by Australia, France and the United States he wanted leading members of the reclusive regime hauled before the ICC for prosecution.

"More monitoring and engagement alone cannot suffice in the face of crimes that shock the conscience of humanity," Kirby said. "Perpetrators must be held accountable, it is necessary to deter further crimes."

North Korea did not send a representative and the meeting was snubbed by China, Pyongyang's sole major ally, and Russia.

"A new generation of senior officials now surround the supreme leader Kim Jong-un," Kirby said.

"They must be made to understand that they will themselves face personal accountability if they join in the commission of crimes against humanity or fail to prevent them where they could.

"The commission of inquiry therefore recommends to the security council the adoption of targeted sanctions against those individuals most responsible for crimes against humanity."

Kirby said most countries present supported the proposal to refer North Koreans to the ICC, but UN diplomats said any move was likely to face fierce opposition from China, the North's economic lifeline.

Last month the UN's top rights body also called on the security council to act against officials responsible for a litany of crimes against humanity in North Korea.

Kirby's commission of inquiry on North Korea released a hard-hitting report in February documenting a range of gross human rights abuses, including extermination, enslavement and sexual violence.

North Korea refused to co-operate with the investigation and said the evidence was "fabricated" by "forces hostile" to the country.

After Thursday's meeting, the US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, praised council members for joining other countries for the first time to discuss the "tragic human rights situation in North Korea".

"We heard directly from the authors of a thorough, objective and credible UN report, and from victims of North Korean atrocities themselves," she added.

"These first-hand accounts –horrific stories of torture, rape, forced abortions and forced infanticide, extermination and murder –paint a chilling picture of the regime's systematic and remorseless repression of its citizens."

Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth echoed Power's sentiments.

"For the first time in its history, the security council has been confronted with the abhorrent crimes committed by the North Korean government against its people," he said.

"Given this extraordinarily severe repression, it would be unconscionable for the council to continue limiting its work on North Korea to the nuclear issue.

"The ICC was created to stand with the victims of such atrocities. The most appropriate response to the Kirby report is for the council to refer them to the ICC."

Related Article:


Ukraine crisis: Geneva talks produce agreement on defusing conflict

US, Russia, Ukraine and EU agree measures including end of violence, disarming of illegal groups and amnesty for protesters

The Guardian, Julian Borger in Geneva and Alec Luhn in Donetsk, Thursday 17 April 2014

Seven hours of negotations in Geneva ended in agreement on a
series of 'concrete steps'. Photograph: Eric Bridiers/EPA

The US, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union have reached agreement on a series of immediate steps aimed at pulling eastern Ukraine back from the brink of war.

The deal, clinched after a dramatic extended meeting in Geneva, calls for the disarming of all illegal groups. In the next few days they would have to vacate all the government buildings and public spaces they have occupied over the course of the crisis.

In return, the protesters in eastern Ukraine would be offered amnesty for all but capital crimes and the government in Kiev would immediately start a process of public consultation aimed at devolving constitutional powers to the provinces.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) will be given the job not only of making sure the agreement will be put into practice but of helping to implement it. The US, Russia and European countries would provide monitors to beef up the OSCE's manpower, which would be given access across Ukraine. Speaking after the deal was agreed, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, made it clear that the US would hold Russia accountable for the compliance of the pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine.

"Responsibility will lie with those who have organised their presence, provided them with the weapons, put the uniforms on them, supported them, and have been engaged in the process of guiding them over the course of this operation," Kerry said, adding that the US had "made very clear that Russia has a huge impact on all those forces. And we have made clear what the evidence is."

A planned escalation of US sanctions on Russia would be suspended pending Russian compliance "over the weekend".

The Geneva meeting, which brought together Kerry, the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, Ukrainian counterpart Andrii Deshchytsia and the EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, began with low expectations as clashes across eastern Ukraine between government forces and armed protesters were escalating. At least one demonstrator was killed when pro-Russian protesters tried to storm a military base in the town of Mariupol. It was expected that the talks would only last a couple of hours, and a room was prepared for Lavrov to talk to the press at midday, raising concerns he might walk out of the negotiations.

In the end, however, intense talks went on for seven hours, leading to the agreement, intended "to de-escalate tensions and restore security for all citizens".

The deal has five main points:

• All sides refrain from violence, and reject expressions "of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including antisemitism".

• All illegal armed groups must be disarmed; all illegally seized buildings must be returned; all illegally occupied streets and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated.

• Amnesty will be granted to protesters and to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrendered weapons, with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes.

• The OSCE would play a leading role in helping the authorities implement the agreement.

• Constitutional reform would be inclusive, transparent and accountable.

The agreement does not address the build-up of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, nor the beefing up of the Nato presence on Russia's western border, announced on Wednesday by the alliance's secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Kerry said that Russia had withdrawn one battalion from the border region and had made clear it would make further, bigger withdrawals as the Geneva agreement was implemented.

Kerry drew special attention to reports that antisemitic leaflets had been handed out to Jews in Donetsk, calling on them to register with the separatist authorities. The separatists denied responsibility.

Without specifically assigning blame, Kerry said: "In the year 2014, after all the violence and the journey of history, this is not just intolerable, it's grotesque. It's beyond unacceptable. Whoever is involved in these activities, wherever they crawled out of, there is no place for that."

Tensions continued to rise in the east between residents supporting and opposing the new Kiev government. Protesters gathered outside police headquarters in Stakhanov to demand the local police chief's resignation. They attempted to storm the building, but were reportedly repelled by residents who formed a human shield in front of the station.

On Thursday, hundreds gathered in Donetsk to demonstrate for Ukrainian territorial integrity. The rally ended peacefully, unlike similar demonstrations in previous weeks where pro-Russian protesters beat participants. Student Dima Balakai said he was there to oppose the Russian-backed "bandits" occupying the regional administration building.

"There are no violations against the Russian language here," he said, referring to pro-Russian protesters' tendency to blame Kiev for oppressing Russian speakers. "If I speak Ukrainian at the institute, they could soon kick me out."

He said he was beaten by a crowd of young men at a similar rally on 4 March.

Activists from the "people's republic" occupying the administration building went to Donetsk airport to demand negotiations with officials. They told the Guardian they wanted to prevent any military flights from landing, as well as ensure that Russian citizens could arrive freely. The Russian airline Aeroflot said the Ukrainian border service had placed an entry ban on Russian men aged 16 to 60. The Russian foreign ministry said it had requested more information from its Ukrainian counterpart, but journalists at Kiev's Borispol airport reported seeing Russian male passengers turned back.

Donetsk activists said such an entry ban has already been in place de facto in eastern Ukraine. Dima Prokopshuk said two friends from Russia whom he had invited to his recent wedding were turned back at the Ukrainian border three times even though they tried to enter from Crimea, Belgorod and Rostov-on-Don.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Putin says Ukraine risks abyss, dialogue only solution

Yahoo – AFP, 17 April 2014

Russia's President Vladimir Putin gives his annual televised question-and-answer
session in Moscow (AFP Photo/Alexei Nikolosky)

Armed men gather beside armoured personnel carriers (APC) as they stand guard outside the regional state building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk, on April 16, 2014

Moscow (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday accused Ukraine's new authorities of driving the country towards the abyss but said that dialogue was the only way out of the intensifying crisis.

"Only through dialogue, through democratic procedures and not with the use of armed forces, tanks and planes can order be imposed in the country," Putin said at the start of a major nationwide phone-in broadcast on Russian television.

"It is very important today to think about how to get out of this situation and offer people a genuine dialogue and not one just for show," added Putin, saying he believed the talks opening Thursday in Geneva between top diplomats on the crisis were "extremely important".

Armed men gather beside armoured
 personnel carriers (APC) as they stand
 guard outside the regional state building
 in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk,
 on April 16, 2014 (AFP Photo/Genya
Savilov)
He accused the Ukrainian authorities who took over after the fall of president Viktor Yanukovych of driving the country to the abyss.

"I hope that they manage to understand towards what abyss the Kiev authorities are going, dragging with them the whole country," said Putin.

Putin slammed the Kiev government for launching a military operation against separatist activists who have seized official buildings across southeast Ukraine.

"This is one more serious crime by the current Kiev authorities," he said.

He also said it was "nonsense" to claim Russian forces were operating in the east of Ukraine, saying those involved in protest actions were "all local citizens".

"That is all nonsense," he said.

"In the east of Ukraine there are no Russian units. There are no special forces, no instructors. These are are local citizens," he said, adding this was proved by the fact the activists had "taken off their masks".

"I have told our Western partners that they (the activists) are going nowhere. They are the masters of this land. And they must be spoken to."

But Putin also explicitly acknowledged that Russian troops had operated in Crimea during and before the referendum that led to its annexation by Moscow from Ukraine. Previously he denied the soldiers were Russian, saying anyone could have bought military uniforms in a store.

"Our goal was to ensure the conditions for a free vote," Putin said, explaining who were the soldiers in uniforms without insignia who appeared in Crimea in late February.

"Behind the local defence forces were our soldiers. They acted correctly, but decisively and professionally," he said. "We had to protect people from possible use of weapons" on Ukrainian military bases.


Edward Snowden appears via video for Putin press conference. Screengrab
from Russia Today/YouTube

Related Article:


End of an era as Prince Bandar departs Saudi intelligence post

Prince's exit could signal shift in kingdom's policy towards Syria, with looming leadership transition complicating picture

The Guardian, Ian Black, Middle East editor, Wednesday 16 April 2014

Prince Bandar bin Sultan in 2008. Photograph: Hassan Ammar/AP

Prince Bandar bin Sultan's departure as head of Saudi intelligence, confirmed this week, marks the end of an era for a flamboyant and powerful character on the Middle Eastern stage. The big question is whether it signals a meaningful shift in the kingdom's policy towards Syria and its commitment to the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad.

Bandar – known as "Bandar Bush" from his 22 years as Saudi ambassador to the US – is a legendary networker and hawk. The Saudi press agency said he stepped down at his own request. (It did not say whether he would continue as head of the national security council, a less important position.) He will be replaced by his deputy at the Saudi equivalent of the CIA, Youssef bin Ali al-Idrisi, who is not a royal and therefore far less powerful.

For the past 18 months Bandar had led Saudi efforts to better co-ordinate the supply of weapons to Syrian rebels fighting Assad. But he faced criticism for backing extreme Islamist groups and thus risking a repeat of the "blowback" that brought Osama bin Laden's Saudi fighters home after the officially sanctioned jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Bandar's departure is not a complete surprise. Amid unprecedented tensions in relations between Riyadh and Washington, there had been signs he had fallen from favour and had in effect already been sidelined on Syria.

"Bandar's approach was very black and white," said one well placed observer. "And he seems to have over-promised to the king in terms of confidently predicting Assad's departure."

He was often abroad, reportedly being treated for health problems, or "unavailable" at home due to illness. He is also known to suffer badly from depression. Several months ago he failed to turn up for an urgently-scheduled meeting on Syria with David Cameron at Chequers.

According to sources in Riyadh, Bandar faced strong opposition from the powerful interior minister (and possible future king), Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who led the crackdown on al-Qaida following a wave of attacks between 2003 and 2006. Bin Nayef became increasingly concerned about battle-hardened young Saudis returning home radicalised after fighting in Syria. Bandar's removal probably reflects that policy divergence, western diplomats and Saudis say.

Bandar has irritated the Americans with outspoken criticism of Barack Obama's failure to punish Syria following the chemical weapons attack near Damascus last August. After that he talked of limiting interaction with the US in protest at its policies on Syria, Israel and especially the beginning of rapprochement with Iran – the latter an unchanging bogeyman and regional and sectarian rival for the Saudi prince. Bandar was also said by a senior Arab figure to have angrily threatened the emir of Qatar, which upstaged its larger neighbour in backing anti-Assad forces. His departure may help heal the rift between the US and the kingdom following last month's meeting between Obama and Abdullah. That, in turn, could impact on Saudi policy towards Syria.

Bandar, a former fighter pilot, is King Abdullah's nephew. He was close to presidents Reagan and both Bushes. He negotiated huge arms deals for the kingdom – including the infamous £43bn al-Yamamah agreement with the UK. The Guardian reported allegations that he had received £1bn in secret payments from BAE.

Known for his showy lifestyle – he has a penchant for cigars and flies in a private Airbus – he has kept a low profile since returning from the US to Riyadh in 2005. He became head of intelligence in July 2012. Apart from the Syria file, he was also closely involved in Saudi support for Egypt's military rulers after they ousted the Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi.

Saudi-watchers say decision-making in Riyadh is in poor shape. King Abdullah is 90 and frail, Crown Prince Salman is 78. Last month the appointment of a new deputy crown prince, Muqrin, a relative youngster at 68, again focused attention on the succession.

"The looming transition in Saudi leadership … may contribute to the uncertainty and opacity of the kingdom's foreign policy-making," said Yezid Sayigh, of the Carnegie Foundation. "Already highly personalised, decision-making may become further dispersed as multiple centres of princely power prepare to compete over the succession from King Abdullah."

Related Article:


Iranian killer's execution halted at last minute by victim's parents

Convict had noose around his neck when victim's mother approached, slapped him in the face and spared his life

The Guardian, Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Wednesday 16 April 2014

The noose is removed from around the neck of Balal. Photograph:
Arash Khamooshi /Isna

When he felt the noose around his neck, Balal must have thought he was about to take his last breath. Minutes earlier, crowds had watched as guards pushed him towards the gallows for what was meant to be yet another public execution in the Islamic republic of Iran.

Seven years ago Balal, who is in his 20s, stabbed 18-year-old Abdollah Hosseinzadeh during a street brawl in the small town of Royan, in the northern province of Mazandaran. In a literal application of qisas, the sharia law of retribution, the victim's family were to participate in Balal's punishment by pushing the chair on which he stood.

But what happened next marked a rarity in public executions in Iran, which puts more people to death than any other country apart from China. The victim's mother approached, slapped the convict in the face and then decided to forgive her son's killer. The victim's father removed the noose and Balal's life was spared.

Hosseinzadeh's mother slaps Balal. Photograph: Arash Khamooshi /Isna

Photographs taken by Arash Khamooshi, of the semi-official Isna news agency, show what followed. Balal's mother hugged the grieving mother of the man her son had killed. The two women sobbed in each other's arms – one because she had lost her son, the other because hers had been saved.

The action by Hosseinzadeh's mother was all the more extraordinary as it emerged that this was not the first son she had lost. Her younger child Amirhossein was killed in a motorbike accident at the age of 11.

"My 18-year-old son Abdollah was taking a stroll in the bazaar with his friends when Balal shoved him," said the victim's father, Abdolghani Hosseinzadeh, according to Isna. "Abdollah was offended and kicked him but at this time the murderer took an ordinary kitchen knife out of his socks."

Balal's mother, left and Hosseinzadeh's mother embrace after the execution
was halted. Photograph: Arash Khamooshi/Isna

Hosseinzadeh Sr has come to the conclusion that Balal did not kill his son deliberately. "Balal was inexperienced and didn't know how to handle a knife. He was naive."

According to the father, Balal escaped the scene of the stabbing but was later arrested by the police. It took six years for a court to hand down a death sentence, and the victim's family deferred the execution a number of times. An date for execution was set just before the Persian new year, Nowruz, but the victim's family did not approve of the timing.

Hosseinzadeh said a dream prompted the change of heart. "Three days ago my wife saw my elder son in a dream telling her that they are in a good place, and for her not to retaliate … This calmed my wife and we decided to think more until the day of the execution."

Many Iranian public figures, including the popular TV sport presenter Adel Ferdosipour, had called on the couple, who have a daughter, to forgive the killer. Although they did so, Balal will not necessarily be freed. Under Iranian law the victim's family have a say only in the act of execution, not any jail sentence.

The chair on the gallows. Photograph: Arash Khamooshi /Isna

In recent years Iran has faced criticism from human rights activists for its high rate of executions. The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, accused Hassan Rouhani of doing too little to improve Iran's human rights, especially reining in its staggering use of capital punishment.

As of last week, 199 executions are believed to have been carried out in Iran this year, according to Amnesty, a rate of almost two a day. Last year Iran and Iraq were responsible for two-thirds of the world's executions, excluding China.

At least 369 executions were officially acknowledged by the Iranian authorities in 2013, but Amnesty said hundreds more people were put to death in secret, taking the actual number close to 700.

Iran is particularly criticised for its public executions, which have attracted children among the crowds in the past. Iranian photographers are often allowed to document them.

Bahareh Davis, of Amnesty International, welcomed the news that Balal had been spared death. "It is of course welcome news that the family of the victim have spared this young man's life," she said. "However, qisas regulations in Iran mean that people who are sentenced to death under this system of punishment are effectively prevented from seeking a pardon or commutation of their sentences from the authorities – contrary to Iran's international obligations."

She added: "It's deeply disturbing that the death penalty continues to be seen as a solution to crime in Iran. Not only is the death penalty the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment with no special deterrent impact, but public displays of killing also perpetuate a culture of acceptance of violence.

"Public executions are degrading and incompatible with human dignity of those executed. In addition, all those who watch public executions – which regrettably often includes children – are brutalised by the experience."

In October last year an Iranian prisoner who survived an attempted execution and was revived in the morgue was spared another attempt, though his family said he had lost mental stability and remained in jail.

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Capital punishment 2013

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Guardian and Washington Post win Pulitzer prize for NSA revelations

Pair awarded highest accolade in US journalism, winning Pulitzer prize for public service for stories on NSA surveillance 

theguardian.com, Ed Pilkington in New York, Monday 14 April 2014

The Guardian revealed the NSA's bulk collection of phone records 10 months
ago based on Edward Snowden's leaks. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

The Guardian and the Washington Post have been awarded the highest accolade in US journalism, winning the Pulitzer prize for public service for their groundbreaking articles on the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities based on the leaks of Edward Snowden.

The award, announced in New York on Monday, comes 10 months after the Guardian published the first report based on the leaks from Snowden, revealing the agency’s bulk collection of US citizens’ phone records.

In the series of articles that ensued, teams of journalists at the Guardian and the Washington Post published the most substantial disclosures of US government secrets since the Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam war in 1971.

The Pulitzer committee praised the Guardian for its "revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, helping through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy".

Snowden, in a statement, said: "Today's decision is a vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government. We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their colleagues who kept working in the face of extraordinary intimidation, including the forced destruction of journalistic materials, the inappropriate use of terrorism laws, and so many other means of pressure to get them to stop what the world now recognises was work of vital public importance."

He said that his actions in leaking the documents that formed the basis of the reporting "would have been meaningless without the dedication, passion, and skill of these newspapers".

At the Guardian, the reporting was led by Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and film-maker Laura Poitras, and at the Washington Post by Barton Gellman, who also co-operated with Poitras. All four journalists were honoured with a George Polk journalism award last week for their work on the NSA story.

Investigative reporter Laura Poitras accepts the George Polk Award alongside
 Barton Gellman, far left, and Ewen MacAskill. Photograph: Andrew Burton/
Getty Images

The NSA revelations have reverberated around the world and sparked a debate in the US over the balance between national security and personal privacy. On the back of the disclosures, President Obama ordered a White House review into data surveillance, a number of congressional reform bills have been introduced, and protections have begun to be put in place to safeguard privacy for foreign leaders and to increase scrutiny over the NSA’s mass data collection.

"We are truly honoured that our journalism has been recognised with the Pulitzer Prize," said Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of the Guardian. "This was a complex story, written, edited and produced by a team of wonderful journalists. We are particularly grateful for our colleagues across the world who supported the Guardian in circumstances which threatened to stifle our reporting. And we share this honour, not only with our colleagues at the Washington Post, but also with Edward Snowden, who risked so much in the cause of the public service which has today been acknowledged by the award of this prestigious prize."

Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief of Guardian US, said: "We're extremely proud and gratified to have been honoured by the Pulitzer board. It's been an intense, exhaustive and sometimes chilling year working on this story and we're grateful for the acknowledgement by our peers that the revelations made by Edward Snowden and the work by the journalists involved represent a high achievement in public service."

Among the disclosures were:


• the program codenamed Prism used by the NSA and its UK counterpart GCHQ to gain back-door entry into the data of nine giant internet companies including Google and Facebook

• the cracking of internet encryption by the NSA and GCHQ that undermined personal security for web users ;


The coverage of the Snowden leaks presented a particularly thorny issue for the 19-strong panel of journalists, academics and writers who recommend the winners. The stream of disclosures invoked strong and polarised reactions in the US and around the world.

In January, Obama said that the debate on the acceptable limits of government surveillance prompted by the articles “will make us stronger”. But other prominent US politicians such as Mike Rogers, Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, have suggested journalism based on Snowden’s leaks was tantamount to dealing in stolen property.

Snowden has been charged with three offences in the US. He is the eighth person to be charged with breaking the 1917 Espionage Act by the Obama administration – more than all the prosecutions brought under previous presidents combined.

The Guardian's US operation, headquartered in New York, was incorporated as an American company in 2011 and recognised last year by the Pulitzer board as a US news outlet eligible to be considered for its prizes.

Last month editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger was given a special award at the European press awards; earlier this month the Guardian was named newspaper of the year in the UK; and there it has been awarded other prizes for online and investigative journalism in Germany, Spain and the US.

The Snowden stories were edited from New York by Guardian US editor-in-chief Janine Gibson and deputy editor Stuart Millar. The UK end of the reporting was led by deputy editor Paul Johnson and investigations editor Nick Hopkins.

Others on the team of journalists included Spencer Ackerman, James Ball, David Blishen, Gabriel Dance, Julian Borger, Nick Davies, David Leigh and Dominic Rushe. In Australia the editor was Katharine Viner and the reporter Lenore Taylor.

The Pulitzers have been bestowed since 1917, at the bequest of the legendary newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer who established the honour in his will as a means of encouraging publicly-spirited journalism. The awards have shifted and grown over the years to reflect the modern publishing landscape and today stands at 22 categories, including 14 journalism awards and seven gongs for books, drama and music. All the awards are administered by Columbia University.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Tunisia's Ben Ali's organized plunder

Deutsche Welle, 13 April 2014

The laws of Tunisia were tailored to suit the Ben Ali family, which siphoned off profits from the economy. A World Bank study shows how the ruler and his family enriched themselves.


More than one-fifth of the Tunisian private sector's profits went to the family of former dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. That is the result of a study entitled "All in the Family," published recently by the World Bank.

How can a dictator seize so much money? Similar structures exist all around the world, said World Bank economist Antonio Nucifora, one of the authors of the study.

The authors of the study analyzed 220 companies that were placed under state guardianship in January 2011. By focusing on the most profitable sectors, the members of the dictator's family managed to obtain 21 percent of private sector profits with only a 1 percent share of the investment.

Telecommunications, transport and real estate were in the hands of the family. They were able to set the prices at their own discretion, according to the study.

Decrees at

Antonio Nucifora says old
structures could return
"They created monopolies, which were highly profitable," Nucifoa said. The World Bank estimates the wealth of the Ben Ali family at the end of his rule at 13 billion dollars - more than a quarter of Tunisia's gross domestic product.

That happened to the expense of the population, who in their daily live often had no choice but to buy goods from "the family." "You can't really talk about illegal measures," Nucifora said. "Ben Ali and his family took advantage of the regulations that were in place."

For example, the 1993 investment law was tailored to the interests of the family, he said. Twenty-five decrees that made it difficult for other companies to enter the market were issued to benefit the ruler. The public was told that these measures would protect consumers.

A driving force for political change

The division of the society into two groups, a small elite able to enrich itself and the powerless masses, was ultimately a main reason for Ben Ali's overthrow in 2011, Nucifora said.

But the measures that enabled Ben Ali to enrich himself still exist in the country. Nucifora said it was therefore posssible for history to repeat.

The Tunisians revolted against the
Ben Ali regime in January 2011
But Wided Bouchamaoui, director of the Tunisian business association, said all successful companies should be suspect.

"Ben Ali is part of our history, and we have to accept this," she said, adding that it was now necessary to learn from the mistakes in the past.

'A general problem in the Arab world'

But these structures are not unique to Tunisia, Nucifora said. They also exist in other countries in the region, even though the population may have revolted against its rulers.

"That's a general problem in the Arab world," he said. "Nepotism and the elites who benefit from it exist in many countries around the globe. It's similar in Russia and Ukraine."

Nucifora said that the World Bank will publish - probably in June - another study about economic structures in the Arab world.

Related Article:


France's top diplomat visits Cuba, first time in 30 years

Yahoo – AFP, 12 April 2014

France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (L) participates in a wreath-laying
 ceremony at the Jose Marti monument at Revolution Square, Havana, on April 12,
2014 (AFP Photo/Yamil Lage)

Havana (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius arrived Saturday in Havana for a brief visit aimed at strengthening ties, as Cuba begins talks with the European Union on normalizing relations.

"This is the first time in 31 years that the head of French diplomacy is on an official trip to Cuba," Fabius told reporters as he spoke of revitalizing ties with the Americas' only communist nation.

"France wants to strengthen its ties with all of South America and, in this context, we wanted relations to be strengthened in particular with Cuba," Fabius added as he was received by his counterpart at the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

"Today we note a favorable development -- and great potential -- in our bilateral relations," said Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, as he pledged his "willingness to continue to work on common goals" with France.

Coming from Mexico, where he accompanied President Francois Hollande for a state visit, Fabius was set next to meet the head of Cuba's Catholic church, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, as well as representatives of French businesses in Cuba and a number of civil society leaders.

He returns to Paris this evening.

Cuba in early March agreed to a proposal by the European Union for talks paving the way to normalizing diplomatic relations, which turned frosty a decade ago over Havana's human rights record.

Trade between France and Cuba is modest, worth around $388 million (280 million euros) a year, with the balance solidly in France's favor.

Related Articles:

Frans Timmermans (left) and Bruno Rodriguez signed
 an agreement to engage in political consultations. Photograph:
Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty Images



Question (2005): Dear Kryon: I read in a spiritual article that Fidel Castro's mission is to show how to do things without money, that this is the reason why he and the tropical revolution have been kept alive. Is that true? If not, then why didn’t Cuba change when Eastern Europe changed? Has Fidel Castro been working for the light or is he a part of the old energy?

Answer: This leader is of the old energy, but was needed for the time. The real reason was to bring the Soviet Union close to your shores in order to help with the year 2000 Armageddon scenario that didn’t happen. His earthly masters would have played a very important part in Cuba with the nuclear war you didn’t have.

That’s the whole reason, and now he exists as a relic of what didn’t happen. His society is poor, and the culture is not elevated or pleased with itself. This energy will change soon… sooner than you think. Then you will see a Cuba that has been “hiding” for a very long time, and also realize the unbalance and cultural richness that has been there all along.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Pope Francis asks for forgiveness from those sexually abused by priests

Pontiff vows there will be no going back in Catholic church's fight to protect children

theguardian.com, Associated Press in Vatican City, Friday 11 April 2014

Pope Francis has come under criticism from victims' advocacy groups for
not meeting with survivors of sexual abuse Photograph: ZUMA/REX

Pope Francis asked for forgiveness on Friday from people who were sexually abused by priests, and vowed that there will be no going back in the church's fight to protect children.

The pope made the off-the-cuff remarks after coming under criticism from victims' groups for a perceived lack of attention to the problem and ongoing demands that he sanction bishops who covered up for paedophiles.

In his remarks to members of the International Catholic Child Bureau, a French Catholic network of organisations that protects children's rights, the pope said he felt "called to take it upon myself" and "ask forgiveness" for the evil that some priests had committed against children.

"The church is aware of this damage," he was quoted as saying by Vatican Radio. "We don't want to take a step back in dealing with this problem and the sanctions that must be imposed. On the contrary, I think we must be even stronger. You don't play around with the lives of children."

Last month, the pope named the initial members of a commission to advise him on best practices to combat sexual abuse in the church. Half of them are women and one was assaulted by a priest as a child.

The Vatican has said the members will draft the statutes of the commission and would look into the legal "duties and responsibilities" of church personnel, a suggestion that they may take up the critical question of disciplining complicit bishops. Church law provides for sanctions if a bishop is negligent in carrying out his duties, but to date no bishop has been disciplined for protecting an abuser.

The pope named the commission members after coming under fire for taking no action since the commission itself was announced in December. Victims' groups have also been irked that he hasn't met with survivors and recently told a newspaper that the church had been unfairly attacked for its abuse record.




G20 expresses concern about Ukraine fallout, pushes US on IMF reforms

The Group of 20 leading economic powers has said that it is closely monitoring the situation in crisis-stricken Ukraine. At the same time, it has called on the US to ratify reforms to the International Monetary Fund.

Deutsche Welle, 11 April 2014


The final communique released following a meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bankers in Washington on Friday, said the International Monetary Fund and World Bank were best-placed to assist the new authorities in Ukraine.

"We are monitoring the economic situation in Ukraine, mindful of any risk to economic and financial stability, and welcome the IMF's recent engagement with Ukraine as the authorities work to undertake meaningful reforms," the statement said.

"The situation in Ukraine highlights the important role of the IMF as the world's first responder to financial crises," it added.

Ukraine has been in political and economic turmoil since February, when pro-Russian former President Viktor Yanukovich fled the country in the face of mass protests against his rule. Russia later took control of Ukraine's Crimea region and there are fears about possible further moves by Moscow.

The communique, though, did not specifically mention Russia and earlier in the day, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble stressed need to work with the Kremlin to resolve the crisis in Ukraine.

"We were all agreed that we must solve this problem together," Schäuble said, adding that "we don't want to make this difficult for Russia."

An unnamed source cited by the Reuters news agency expressed a similar sentiment, saying the finance ministers and central bankers had not discussed imposing fresh economic sanctions on Russia. The US and European Union have already imposed sanctions on Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis.

Pressure on the US over reforms

The G20 also called on the United States to ratify reforms to the IMF, which were agreed four years ago.

"We are deeply disappointed with the continued delay in progressing the IMF quota and governance reforms" agreed in 2010, the statement said. "The implementation of the 2010 reforms remains our highest priority and we urge the US to ratify these reforms at the earliest opportunity," it added.

The reforms, agreed in 2010, include an increase in funding of the IMF and stronger roles for emerging economies in the organization.

pfd/dr (Reuters, AFP)