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.) -

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

… The Shift in Human Nature

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

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

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

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

Merkel says Turkey media crackdown 'highly alarming'

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

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

In blueprint for Haiti, U.S. takes new approach to aid

By Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post Staff Writer, Tuesday, March 30, 2010; 6:28 PM


Haiti’s damaged National Palace.

An internal Obama administration assessment concludes that the U.S. government has provided $4 billion in aid to Haiti since 1990 but "struggled to demonstrate lasting impact," according to a summary of the review, which has not been publicly released.

On Wednesday, at an international donor conference, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to outline U.S. plans to spend an additional $1 billion or so to rebuild the earthquake-devastated nation.

This time, U.S. officials say, they will do things differently.

The most dramatic change is an effort to build up Haiti's fragile government, instead of working around it. In an emergency spending request sent to Congress last week, the administration says it will help reconstruct the Haitian government, paying for new ministry offices. More broadly, the goal is to develop the framework of a modern state -- spending money to help Haiti create building codes, regulatory systems and anticorruption standards. U.S. funds would be used to train and pay Haitian officials.

"We are completely focused on how to build the capacity of the Haitian government effectively," said Cheryl Mills, Clinton's chief of staff. "That is something everyone has recognized as being one of the failures of aid in the past."

For the U.S. government, which has spent billions of dollars on nation-building efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Haiti presents a new and complex test. Even before the earthquake, the country's government was dysfunctional and notoriously corrupt. Now, all but one of its ministries are in ruins. Nearly 17 percent of Haiti's civil servants died in the disaster, including many senior managers, according to the aid request to Congress.

The Obama administration insists that its plan will help the Haitian government with its own priorities -- not impose a U.S. vision. The plan, however, allots $48 million to housing and offices for up to 300 short- and long-term U.S. personnel.

Meanwhile, former president Bill Clinton is expected to co-chair a commission of Haitian officials and donors that will oversee the spending of billions of dollars in foreign aid. Clinton is the U.N. special envoy to Haiti.

"The U.S. government is playing a leading role. It's not by accident Mr. Clinton is down there," said Ciro de Falco, head of the Haiti task force established by the Inter-American Development Bank. "They are committed to seeing this earthquake turn into an opportunity."

Under the emerging plans, U.S. aid would be part of a vast international effort to rebuild parts of the Haitian state. Canada and France, for example, would help reconstruct the school system, officials said.

Congressional aides briefed on the new plan praised the emphasis on good governance, but still worried about waste.

"It's an overwhelming sort of venture. This is a lot of money. And you've got to make sure it's used the right way," said one senior aide, who was not authorized to comment.

Foreign donors have tried to lift Haiti from poverty before, with paltry results. Even before the Jan. 12 earthquake, which shattered the economy, about three-quarters of the people in the Maryland-sized island country lived on less than $2 a day.

Haiti has remained in poverty partly because of a history of brutal rulers, foreign intervention and natural disasters. Equally important, the country's economic and political elite have monopolized the resources of the government.

"It becomes a large cookie jar for people to benefit themselves. It doesn't have this real sense of delivering public services," said Terry F. Buss, author of "Haiti in the Balance," a book about the failure of foreign assistance.

After large sums of aid money disappeared under dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier in the 1980s, foreign countries shifted their assistance to nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs. That approach has backfired, development experts say. Haiti has become known as the "Republic of NGOs," with an atrophied central government and up to 10,000 private groups doling out medicine, food and services.

U.S. aid has gone to large contractors that manage budgets bigger than those of Haitian ministries -- but they have produced "mixed results," according to a summary of the U.S. policy review, which was obtained by The Washington Post.

In an interview, Mills, who led the review, said that past U.S. assistance to Haiti was dispersed over too many areas to have impact, and that no strategy was in place to transition to Haitian control.

In contrast, the new U.S. plan focuses on four areas: health; agriculture; governance and security; and infrastructure, with a particular emphasis on energy. In each one, "we anticipate making investments that would strengthen the ministries," Mills said.

In the security area, for example, the U.S. government would help Haiti's justice ministry "develop and execute a post-earthquake justice strategy," according to the aid request. It would assist the Haitians in revising their criminal and civil codes. The United States would help fund ministry buildings, a national magistrate training school and a network of justice centers. U.S. funds would help pay salaries for regional judicial and police task forces, according to the plan.

The roughly $1 billion reconstruction blueprint is part of a $2.8 billion package that also would cover immediate post-earthquake needs such as food and tents. It would support the Haitian government's goal of decentralizing services and jobs away from the overcrowded capital.

The plan includes several measures to keep aid from being wasted. It requests $1.5 million for an inspector general. And the U.S. government would funnel some of the money through the proposed Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, made up of Haitian authorities and representatives of donor countries and international institutions. Its projects would be overseen by an international accounting firm.

Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank, said that the government of President René Préval had made enough progress fighting corruption in recent years that the bank had tripled its direct assistance to Haiti.

De Falco, of the bank's Haiti task force, said that officials could monitor foreign aid to prevent it from being stolen. But whether it produces real development depends on the Haitian government, he said.

"You can go into a country, build all the roads, electricity," de Falco said, but "if the institutional framework is not there, the rules of the game are not clear, you're not going to get the bang for the buck."

Related Articles:

Haiti earthquake: $10bn aid pledged

Haiti donor conference exceeds all hopes

Haiti hopes for $4 billion to rebuild after quake

Out of Aceh's experience, hope for rebuilding Haiti

Haiti donor conference kicks off

Participants at the conference (Photo:ANP/EPA)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

China appreciates Obama's "positive remarks" on ties

English.news.cn 2010-03-30 11:35:05

BEIJING, March 30 (Xinhua) -- China has expressed appreciation over the "positive remarks" made by U.S. President Barack Obama and other officials on Sino-U.S. relations.

China valued the reaffirmation by the U.S. side on its commitment to China on the Taiwan and Tibet-related issues, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a press release Tuesday.

U.S. President Obama said on Tuesday Beijing time that the United States was devoted to working with China to build a positive, cooperative and comprehensive U.S.-China relationship for the 21st century.

The U.S. would take concrete actions to steadily establish a partnership with China to deal with common challenges, said Obama when presented with the credentials from the new Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Zhang Yesui.

Also on Tuesday Beijing time, Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg told a news briefing in Washington that the U.S. position on the one-China policy remained unchanged.

"It (the one-China policy) serves us very well. We have consistently through Democratic and Republican administrations understood those agreements and principles be the foundation of building an ever stronger relationship (with China)," Steinberg said.

Steinberg also reaffirmed that the United States considered Tibet to be a part of China and did not support "Tibet independence."

In Tuesday's press release, Qin said that Sino-U.S. relations had developed positively since the Obama administration took office.

However, bilateral ties underwent undue stress caused by the announcement of new U.S. arms sales to Taiwan in January and President Barack Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama in February, which Qin said was not in the common interest of both countries.

"China and the United States are both countries with important influence in the world," he said. "A sound China-U.S. relationship is in the basic interests of the two peoples and is conducive to the peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and the world."

He reiterated that the Chinese government always attached great importance to relations with the U.S. and was committed to developing long-term, healthy and stable Sino-U.S. relations.

At the end of the press release, he again called on both sides to implement the consensus reached by leaders of the two countries and follow the principle and spirits of the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques and the Sino-U.S. joint declaration.

"China hopes to work with the U.S. to strengthen dialogue, communication and cooperation and handle sensitive issues appropriately, so as to make joint efforts to build a positive, cooperative and comprehensive Sino-U.S. relationship for the 21st century," he said.

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U.S.-China relationship comprehensive, important: Obama

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China dismisses intent for hegemonic role in world affairs

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Appeal for Mongolian herders after cold kills livestock

Mongolia has been hit by unusually severe winter weather

The International Red Cross has appealed for help for thousands of Mongolian herders who have lost their livestock because of extreme cold.


The Red Cross said that millions of animals had perished during the country's hardest winter in years.

It says it needs over $900,000 (£603,000) to provide emergency assistance to the worst-hit families and restock herds.

A BBC correspondent says those animals who survived are running out of food.

In recent months temperatures in Mongolia have dropped below -40C.

Local residents call it a "dzud" - a severe winter following a very dry summer, which has left reserves of fodder low.

Almost half of the country's population are herders or farmers whose main assets are their livestock.

According to the Red Cross, nearly 10% of Mongolia's livestock have died since December.

The agency said it needed money to provide emergency food aid to more than 3,000 families who have lost the bulk of their herds and to help them restore or diversify their livelihoods.



"The needs are steadily growing as more and more herders face up to the reality that many of their animals are dying," Ravdan Samdandobji, secretary-general of the Mongolian Red Cross, said in the statement.

"More and more people are left distraught and increasingly destitute."

The BBC's Chris Hogg, who is in Mongolia, says the weather is not expected to improve until mid May and herders say they expect the next few weeks to be the toughest yet this winter.

Related Articles:

Mongolia Gets ADB Support for Herder Families Battling Natural Disaster

Is this the hungriest place on earth?


Monday, March 29, 2010

The Thinker: Catholic Church's Cover-Up

Jakarta Globe, Sinead O’Connor, March 29, 2010

When I was a child, Ireland was a Catholic theocracy. If a bishop came walking down the street, people would move to make a path for him. If a bishop attended a national sporting event, the team would kneel to kiss his ring. If someone made a mistake, instead of saying, “Nobody’s perfect,” we said, “Ah sure, it could happen to a bishop.”

The expression was more accurate than we knew. This month, Pope Benedict XVI wrote a pastoral letter of apology — of sorts — to Ireland to atone for decades of sexual abuse of minors by priests whom those children were supposed to trust. To many people in my homeland, the pope’s letter is an insult not only to our intelligence, but to our faith and to our country. To understand why, one must realize that we Irish endured a brutal brand of Catholicism that revolved around the humiliation of children.

I experienced this personally. When I was a young girl, my mother — an abusive, less-than-perfect parent — encouraged me to shoplift. After being caught once too often, I spent 18 months in An Grianan Training Center, an institution in Dublin for girls with behavioral problems.

An Grianan was a product of the Irish government’s relationship with the Vatican — the church had a “special position” codified in our Constitution until 1972. As recently as 2007, 98 percent of Irish schools were run by the Catholic Church. But schools for troubled youth have been rife with barbaric corporal punishments, psychological abuse and sexual abuse. In October 2005, a report sponsored by the Irish government identified more than 100 allegations of sexual abuse by priests in Ferns, a small town 100 kilometers south of Dublin, between 1962 and 2002. Accused priests weren’t investigated by police; they were deemed to be suffering a “moral” problem. In 2009, a similar report implicated Dublin archbishops in hiding sexual abuse scandals between 1975 and 2004.

Why was such criminal behavior tolerated? The “very prominent role which the Church has played in Irish life is the very reason why abuses by a minority of its members were allowed to go unchecked,” the 2009 report said.

Despite the church’s long entanglement with the Irish government, Pope Benedict’s so-called apology takes no responsibility for the transgressions of Irish priests. His letter states that “the Church in Ireland must first acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenseless children.” What about the Vatican’s complicity in those sins?

Benedict’s apology gives the impression that he heard about abuse only recently, and it presents him as a fellow victim. But his infamous 2001 letter to bishops around the world ordered them to keep sexual abuse allegations secret under threat of excommunication — updating a noxious church policy, expressed in a 1962 document, that both priests accused of sex crimes and their victims “observe the strictest secret” and be “restrained by a perpetual silence.”

Benedict, then known as Joseph Ratzinger, was a cardinal when he wrote that letter. Now that he sits in Saint Peter’s chair, are we to believe that his position has changed?

Benedict’s apology states that his concern is “above all, to bring healing to the victims.” Yet he denies them the one thing that might bring them healing — a full confession from the Vatican that it has covered up abuse and is now trying to cover up the cover-up. Astonishingly, he invites Catholics “to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland.” Even more astonishing, he suggests that Ireland’s victims can find healing by getting closer to the church — the same church that has demanded oaths of silence from molested children.

To Irish Catholics, Benedict’s implication — Irish sexual abuse is an Irish problem — is both arrogant and blasphemous. The Vatican is acting as though it doesn’t believe in a God who watches. The very people who say they are the keepers of the Holy Spirit are stamping all over everything the Holy Spirit truly is.

The pope must take responsibility for the actions of his subordinates. If Catholic priests are abusing children, it is Rome, not Dublin, that must answer for it with a full confession and in a criminal investigation. Until it does, all good Catholics — even little old ladies who go to church every Sunday, not just protest singers like me — should avoid Mass. In Ireland, it is time we separated our God from our religion, and our faith from its alleged leaders.

Sinead O’Connor, a musician and mother of four, lives in Dublin.

The Washington Post


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Medvedev says to fight terrorism without hesitation

English.news.cn 2010-03-29 18:30:31

Rescuers get information near a subway station in Moscow, March 29, 2010. Two explosions hit two subway stations in Moscow has killed 37 people and wounded 25 others, according to Russian Emergency Situations Ministry. (Xinhua/Lu Jinbo)

MOSCOW, March 29 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Monday that his country will fight terrorism without hesitation and to the end, local media reported.

Medvedev, who has ordered to beef up security on transport all over the country, said Russia will continue to fight terrorism.

"We will continue the operation against terrorists without hesitation and to the end," he told Russian media at an urgent meeting for the metro explosions.

"It is difficult to prevent such terrorist attacks and to provide security on transport," the president said. "It is necessary to tighten what we do, to look at the problem on a national scale, not only relating to a certain populated area but on a national scale. Obviously, what we have done before is not enough."

According to the latest official figure, the death toll of the blasts has reached 37, and the injured were 65.

Head of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) Alexander Bortnikov said the twin blasts were linked to groups related to North Caucasus.

He said the explosive device used in Lubyanka station was equivalent to 4 kg of TNT, while the Cultural Park station blast was equivalent to 1.5 to 2 kg of TNT.

A police source earlier told the RIA Novosti news agency that an inspection of the scene indicated that the bomb was detonated at a height of 100-200 centimeters, which would "apparently be attached to the waist of a female suicide bomber."

Closed circuit TV showed that 2 other women accompanied the suicide bombers onto the metro, reported Russia Today TV station.

Oleg Yelnikov, the spokesman of the Interior Ministry, said on TV that 700 interior troops were now patrolling the streets and massive police operation has been launched in Moscow.


This undated picture provided Friday, April 2, 2010 by the Russian news agency NewsTeam, is claimed by the Russian Kommersant newspaper to show Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova, left, and her husband Islamist rebel Umalat Magomedov. Russian newspaper Kommersant said Friday that one of the Moscow subway suicide bombers was Abdurakhmanova, the 17-year-old widow of Magomedov, an Islamist rebel from the North Caucasus killed by Russian government forces in December, 2009. The March 29 subway bombings in Moscow killed 39 people. (AP Photo/NewsTeam)


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Russia's Medvedev visits North Caucasus after bombings

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Missing Chinese dissident lawyer Gao Zhisheng 'alive'


Gao Zhisheng ran into trouble when he defended Falun Gong supporters


GAO ZHISHENG TIMELINE

  • 2005: Chinese authorities close down his law practice
  • 2006: given suspended prison sentence for "inciting subversion"
  • 2007: detained and allegedly tortured
  • 2009: disappears, apparently detained by the authorities
  • March 2010: speaks by phone to fellow human rights lawyer and reporters
  • Profile: Gao Zhisheng


Prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, missing for more than a year after being detained by police, has spoken to Western journalists.

He said he was living near Wutai mountain, a Buddhist landmark in northern Shanxi province.

"I want to live a quiet life for a while," Mr Gao said by phone.

The BBC's Michael Bristow in Beijing says there are still many questions about Mr Gao's situation and the latest news only serves to deepen the mystery.

The lawyer told Reuters news agency he had been released six months ago. He was abducted by police from a relative's house in February 2009.

It is not clear if he has been able to call his family, including his wife and two children who sought political asylum in the US last year, or whether he made the calls under any form of supervision.

Reuters said it had taken steps to verify Mr Gao's identity.

Another human rights lawyer, Li Heping, said he had also spoken briefly to Mr Gao on Sunday.

His disappearance has sparked international concern, with calls from the US, the UK and the European Union for China to investigate his disappearance.

"Most people belong with family, I have not been with mine for a long time. This is a mistake and I want to correct this mistake," Mr Gao told the Associated Press news agency.

Mr Gao told AP he was not allowed to accept media interviews.

Friend and fellow lawyer Mr Li told the BBC that Mr Gao had not seemed at ease to explain himself, say where he was exactly or when he would be able to contact family and friends in the future.

'Torture'

Mr Gao, a self-taught lawyer, was once a member of the Chinese Communist Party. In 2001 he was acclaimed as one of the 10 best lawyers in the country by a publication run by the Ministry of Justice.

But he ran into trouble when he started to defend some of China's most disadvantaged groups, such as supporters of the banned spiritual movement, Falun Gong.

Mr Gao's law practice was closed down in 2005. The government said one problem was that the lawyer had failed to tell officials of a change of address.

The following year he was given a suspended prison sentence for "inciting subversion".

He has previously said he had been tortured while in detention.

Related Articles:

Dissident Chinese lawyer 'gives up'

The Thinker: A Call to Action Over China’s Rights Abuses

Indonesia's Broadcast Freedom Must Be Safe From China’s Meddling

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Philosopher: Why we should ditch religion

CNN, by John D. Sutter, March 25, 2010 -- Updated 2013 GMT (0413 HKT)


STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Philosopher Sam Harris: Religion distracts us from important issues
  • Harris, the author of "The End of Faith," says religious difference can't be reconciled
  • Science can be used to prove the best way to live a moral life, he says


(CNN) -- For the world to tackle truly important problems, people have to stop looking to religion to guide their moral compasses, the philosopher Sam Harris told CNN.

"We should be talking about real problems, like nuclear proliferation and genocide and poverty and the crisis in education," Harris said in a recent interview at the TED Conference in Long Beach, California. TED is a nonprofit group dedicated to "ideas worth spreading."

"These are issues which tremendous swings in human well-being depend on. And it's not at the center of our moral concern."

Religion causes people to fixate on issues of less moral importance, said Harris, a well-known secularist, philosopher and neuroscientist who is the author of the books "The End of Faith" and "Letter to a Christian Nation."

"Religion has convinced us that there's something else entirely other than concerns about suffering. There's concerns about what God wants, there's concerns about what's going to happen in the afterlife," he said.

"And, therefore, we talk about things like gay marriage as if it's the greatest problem of the 21st century. We even have a liberal president who ostensibly is against gay marriage because his faith tells him it's an abomination.

"It's completely insane."

Watch Harris' talk at the TED Conference

Harris also said people should not be afraid to declare that certain acts are right and others are wrong. A person who would spill battery acid on a girl for trying to learn to read, for instance, he said, is objectively wrong by scientific standards.

"It's not our job to not judge it and say, 'Well, to each his own. Everyone has to work out their own strategy for human fulfillment.' That's just not true," he said.

"There's people who are wrong about human fulfillment."

Harris placed no faith in the idea that Muslims and Christians will be able to put their differences aside and cooperate on global issues.

"There's no way to reconcile Islam with Christianity," he said. "This difference of opinion admits of compromise as much as a coin toss does."

Related Article:

State religion (Wikipedia)



Binyamin Netanyahu suffers worst week of his second premiership

Guardian.co.uk, Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Observer, Sunday 28 March 2010

Israel prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu ran into a storm of criticism over his dispute with the White House. Photograph: Cliff Owen/AP

Israeli PM under fire from press at home after dispute with US over new settlements in East Jerusalem

The last week must rank as the worst of Binyamin "Bibi" Netanyahu's second term as Israeli prime minister. It produced headlines no leader would want to read, even allowing for the sometimes excitable tone of the Israeli press: "Ambush in the White House", "A hazing in stages" and "With his back to the wall."

Netanyahu flew to Washington a week ago hoping to mend fences after an extraordinary rupture in relations but found only a frosty reception. Then Britain expelled an Israeli diplomat from London in anger at the "intolerable" forging of British passports for the hit squad who assassinated a Hamas man in Dubai. Hours later Netanyahu had a low-key meeting with Barack Obama that ended in serious disagreement and without the usual courtesy of a photographed handshake.

Perhaps it was inevitable that an American president who gave such a firm commitment to tackling the Middle East conflict so early in his term would eventually run up against one of the most rightwing coalition governments in Israel's history.

Some in Israel are encouraged by the Obama administration's strong words and its continued pressure for a halt to Jewish settlement-building in East Jerusalem. In its weekly newspaper advert on Friday, the peace group Gush Shalom pleaded with Obama: "Now heal us please from the malignant occupation. Many in Israel will be grateful."

But this is not a majority view. More common is the sense that the world does not understand or sympathise with Israel, a feeling summed up by one Israeli newspaper columnist who wrote: "The US is abandoning us and effectively turning into Europe. From now on, we are completely alone." Two opinion polls suggest many Israelis want their government to continue building settlements in East Jerusalem, even if it brings a rift with the Americans.

For years US governments have called on Israel to stop expanding its Jewish settlements in occupied territory – a settlement freeze is even a key plank of the roadmap introduced during the Bush presidency. But it is the Obama administration that has pushed hardest on it, so far without success. Netanyahu has introduced a partial, temporary curb on building in the West Bank, but insists building will continue in Jerusalem. "Jerusalem is not a settlement. It's our capital," he said. It is not the view of the international community, which does not recognise Israel's occupation and annexation of East Jerusalem in the wake of the 1967 war.

Netanyahu's position, together with his heavily circumscribed vision of a future Palestine, has meant no return to peace talks. But the more settlements are built and serious negotiations avoided, the less possible any conflict-ending, two-state peace deal becomes. And the fate of Jerusalem in particular is crucial to a broader agreement.

For now Netanyahu's coalition is in robust form, unusually so for an Israeli government, and is backing its prime minister. But soon, like others before him, he may find himself forced to choose between maintaining the relationship with Israel's greatest ally, the Americans, or maintaining the loyalty of his coalition, without whom he would be lost.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

U.S., Russia seal landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty

National Post, Reuters, Matt Spetalnick, Friday, March 26, 2010

Reuters/Jim YoungU.S. President Barack Obama comments on the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty at the White House with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) and Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Washington, ...

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sealed an agreement on Friday on a landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty and will meet to sign it on April 8 in Prague.

After months of deadlock, a breakthrough deal on a replacement for the Cold War-era START pact marked Obama's most significant foreign policy achievement since taking office and also boosts his effort to "reset" ties with Moscow.

Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev put the finishing touches on the historic accord during a phone call, committing the world's biggest nuclear weapons powers to big cuts in their arsenals.

"I'm pleased to announce that after a year of intense negotiations, the United States and Russia have agreed to the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades," Mr. Obama told reporters.

In Moscow, Mr. Medvedev hailed the agreement as reflecting the "balance of the interests of both countries," the Kremlin said.

Under the 10-year agreement, each side must reduce its deployed strategic warheads to 1,550 from the 2,200 now allowed and also make significant cuts in its stockpile of launchers, the White House said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the agreement would send a message to Iran and North Korea, countries locked in nuclear standoffs with the West, of a commitment to prevent nuclear proliferation.

"With this agreement, the United States and Russia -- the two largest nuclear powers in the world -- also send a clear signal that we intend to lead," Mr. Obama said.

"By upholding our own commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, we strengthen our global efforts to stop the spread of these weapons, and to ensure that other nations meet their own responsibilities," Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev plan to sign the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which would replace a 1991 pact that expired in December, on April 8 in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, a former Soviet satellite now in NATO.

That date is near the anniversary of Mr. Obama's speech in Prague last year offering his vision for eventually ridding the world of nuclear weapons, and will help build momentum for a nuclear security summit he will host in Washington on April 12-14.

The White House said the new treaty will not place constraints on U.S. missile defense programs, which had been a sticking point in negotiations because of Russia's opposition to such plans.

"It cuts, by about a third, the nuclear weapons that the United States and Russia will deploy. It significantly reduces missiles and launchers. It puts in place a strong and effective verification regime," Mr. Obama said.

"And it maintains the flexibility that we need to protect and advance our national security, and to guarantee our unwavering commitment to the security of our allies."

WASHINGTON -- Mr. Obama still faces a fight for U.S. Senate ratification of the treaty at a time of bipartisan rancor in the wake of a bitter fight that ended in congressional approval of his healthcare overhaul.

He said he looked forward to working closely with fellow Democrats and opposition Republicans for Senate approval of the treaty, which would require a two-thirds majority.

The new pact could strengthen Mr. Obama politically, giving him a major foreign policy success and building on the domestic political victory he scored this week when he signed sweeping healthcare reform into law.

For almost a year, Russian and U.S. negotiators have tried to reach a follow-on START pact. They missed a Dec. 5 deadline when START I expired.

Friday, March 26, 2010

South Korean navy ship 'sinking near North'




A South Korean navy ship with about 100 personnel on board is sinking off the west coast near North Korea, possibly due to a torpedo attack, reports say.

The ship was sinking near Baengnyeong island, Yonhap news agency quoted navy officials as saying.

It also said the South Korean ship had fired shots toward an unidentified ship from the North.

There were no immediate reports of casualties, but a rescue operation was said to be under way, Yonhap reported.

The incident happened late on Friday night local time.

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'


Paul Krugman: Extremism Eroding US Democracy

Paul Krugman, The New York Times, March 26, 2010

I admit it. I had fun watching right-wingers go wild as health reform finally became law. But a few days later, it doesn’t seem quite as entertaining — and not just because of the wave of vandalism and threats aimed at Democratic lawmakers. For if you care about America’s future, you can’t be happy as extremists take full control of one of our two great political parties.

To be sure, it was enjoyable watching Representative Devin Nunes, a Republican of California, warn that by passing health reform, Democrats “will finally lay the cornerstone of their socialist utopia on the backs of the American people.” And it’s been a hoot watching Mitt Romney squirm as he tries to distance himself from a plan that, as he knows full well, is nearly identical to the reform he himself pushed through as governor of Massachusetts. His best shot was declaring that enacting reform was an “unconscionable abuse of power,” a “historic usurpation of the legislative process.”

A side observation — one Republican talking point has been that Democrats had no right to pass a bill facing overwhelming public disapproval. As it happens, the Constitution says nothing about opinion polls trumping the right and duty of elected officials to make decisions. But in any case, the message from the polls is much more ambiguous than opponents of reform claim. While many Americans disapprove of Obamacare, a significant number do so because they feel that it doesn’t go far enough. And a Gallup poll taken after health reform’s enactment showed the public, by a modest but significant margin, seeming pleased that it passed.

But what has been really striking has been the eliminationist rhetoric of the GOP, coming not from some radical fringe but from the party’s leaders. John Boehner, the House minority leader, declared that the passage of health reform was “Armageddon.” The Republican National Committee put out a fund-raising appeal that included a picture of Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, surrounded by flames, while the committee’s chairman declared that it was time to put Pelosi on “the firing line.” All of this goes far beyond politics as usual. Democrats had a lot of harsh things to say about former President George W. Bush — but you’ll search in vain for anything that even hinted at an appeal to violence, from members of Congress, let alone senior party officials.

No, to find anything like what we’re seeing now you have to go back to the last time a Democrat was president. Like President Obama, Bill Clinton faced a GOP that denied his legitimacy. Threats were common — President Clinton, declared Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, “better watch out if he comes down here. He’d better have a bodyguard.” And once they controlled Congress, Republicans tried to govern as if they held the White House, too, eventually shutting down the federal government in an attempt to bully Clinton into submission.

Obama seems to have sincerely believed that he would face a different reception. And he made a real try at bipartisanship, nearly losing his chance at health reform by frittering away months trying to get a few Republicans on board. At this point, however, it’s clear that any Democratic president will face total opposition from a Republican Party that is completely dominated by right-wing extremists.

For today’s GOP is, fully and finally, the party of Ronald Reagan — not Reagan the pragmatic politician, who could and did strike deals with Democrats, but Reagan the antigovernment fanatic, who warned that Medicare would destroy American freedom. It’s a party that sees modest efforts to improve Americans’ economic and health security not merely as unwise, but as monstrous. It’s a party in which paranoid fantasies about the other side — Obama is a socialist, Democrats have totalitarian ambitions — are mainstream. And, as a result, it’s a party that fundamentally doesn’t accept anyone else’s right to govern.

In the short run, Republican extremism may be good for Democrats, to the extent that it prompts a voter backlash. But in the long run, it’s a very bad thing for America. We need to have two reasonable, rational parties in this country. And right now we don’t.

Paul Krugman is a New York Times columnist.


South African white far-right leader Eugene Terre'blanche is seen in this April 23, 1994 file photo. Terre'blanche, who fought to prevent the end of apartheid in the early 1990s, was beaten and hacked to death at his farm on April 3, his party said. Reuters

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pope accused of sex abuse cover-up

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 25 March 2010 - 8:23am

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI is being accused by the New York Times of covering up a sex abuse scandal when he was a cardinal in the 1990s. The affair involved a priest in the United States who is alleged to have abused as many as 200 deaf boys.

Despite US bishops repeatedly warning that the case could seriously embarrass the church, the priest was not dismissed from his job. The New York Times bases its report on correspondence between US bishops and the then Cardinal Ratzinger, who went on to become pope.

One of his jobs in the Vatican at the time was to decide the fate of priests accused of abuse. The newspaper reports that the letters show there was a heated discussion in the Vatican about the American priest. However, it was finally decided that the church had to be protected from the scandal becoming public.

Last month Radio Netherlands Worldwide working together with the NRC Handelsblad newspaper revealed the first cases of child sex abuse within the Dutch Catholic Church. Since then the church authorities here have received over 1,000 claims of abuse in Catholic institutions throughout the Netherlands. The claims go back to the fifties, sixties and seventies.

On Dutch TV earlier this week the former head of the Catholic church in the Netherlands, Cardinal Ad Simonis, said the top of the church was not aware of the abuse.

Controversially he used a German phrase, "wir haben es nicht gewusst" and added "I know that is a very dangerous remark and heavily loaded, but it's true."

The remark in question, meaning "we didn't know about it" was used in the wake of World War II to deny knowledge of the Holocaust.

Dutch abuse scandal latest details.

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