United Nations Declaration (Articles 1 - 30):

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

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

Incoming UN chief names three women to top posts

Incoming UN chief names three women to top posts
Nigerian Minister of the Environment Amina Mohammed, seen in 2015, will be the UN's number two official (AFP Photo/Mireya ACIERTO)
Sustainable Development
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
"The Timing of the Great Shift" – Mar 21, 2009 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Text version)

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


The Declaration of Human Freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Pope Francis arrives for historic first US visit

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

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

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

'Love is love': Obama lauds gay marriage activists in hailing 'a victory for America'
The White House released this image, of the building colored like the rainbow flag, on Facebook following the supreme court’s ruling. Photograph: Facebook
"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

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

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

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

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

Merkel says Turkey media crackdown 'highly alarming'

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

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Senate clears way for vote on insider-trading ban

Associated Press, By LARRY MARGASAK, January 30, 2012 

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Congress is rushing to make it absolutely clear to everyone that its members are banned from insider stock trading, hoping to improve their sagging image that has approval ratings at historic lows.

Senators made the first move Monday. Their 93-2 procedural vote cleared the way for Senate passage - possibly later this week - of a bill that would require disclosure of stock transactions within 30 days and explicitly prohibit members of Congress from initiating trades based on non-public information they acquired in their official capacity. The legislation, at least partly symbolic in nature, is aimed at answering critics who say lawmakers profit from businesses where they have special knowledge.

U.S. lawmakers already are subject to the same penalties as other investors who use non-public information to enrich themselves, though no member of Congress in recent memory has been charged with insider trading. In 2005, the Securities and Exchange Commission and Justice Department investigated then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's sale of stock in his family's hospital company, but no charges were ever brought against the Tennessee Republican.

Voters may believe lawmakers paid an annual salary of $174,000 are enriching themselves by making investments based on what they learn in Congress. A recent segment of CBS' "60 Minutes" in November questioned trades by a House committee chairman, the current speaker and his predecessor's husband. Speaker John Boehner, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., all denied wrongdoing. Bachus chairs the Financial Services Committee.

"Members of Congress are not above the law," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said before Monday's test vote. "We must play by the same rules every other American plays by." He said the bill "will clear up any perception that it's acceptable for members of Congress to profit from insider trading."

A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll of registered voters found 56 percent favored replacing the entire 535-member Congress. Other polls this year have given Congress an approval rating between 11 percent and 13 percent, while disapproval percentages have ranged from 79 percent to 86 percent.

Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn. said, "The numbers of people who have a favorable impression of this body are so low that we're down to close relatives and paid staff. And I'm not so sure about the paid staff."

Said Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., one of the bill's authors: "Beginning today, the Senate is embarking on a mission to help address the deficit of trust with the American people."

The bill is entitled the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act. President Barack Obama endorsed it in his State of the Union speech last week and also raised the issue in his radio and Internet address Saturday.

The White House said Monday in a statement, "The administration believes this bipartisan legislation is an important first step to prevent members of Congress from profiting from their positions and calls for swift passage."

The Senate bill would prohibit lawmakers from tipping off family members or others about non-public information that could influence a stock's price, in addition to the explicit ban itself, and would require members to disclose stock transactions within 30 days. And it would direct the House and Senate ethics committees to write rules that would make insider trading violators subject to congressional punishment.

Other legislative branch employees also would be subject to the ban, but only those who are required to file annual financial disclosure statements would be subject to the reporting requirement. For 2012, employees making $119,554 or more are required to file disclosure statements..

House leaders hope to pass their version of the bill by the end of February, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said he wants to expand the legislation to include land deals and other transactions.


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Monday, January 30, 2012

UN chief Ban tells African Union summit to uphold gay rights

Deutsche Welle, 29 January 2012 

African Union leaders gathered
at their new headquarters
Widespread legal bans on homosexuality in most African countries have been challenged by UN chief Ban ki-moon at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa. Ban said gay and gender rights must be respected.

UN Secretary General Ban accused many nations of the 54-member African Union of ignoring or "even sanctioning" discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity for "too long."

Outgoing African Union chairman Tedoro Obiang Nguema, who is president of Equatorial Guinea, speaking just before Ban delivered his speech, had accused "external powers" of perpetuating their influence.

South Africa is the only country on the continent that legally recognizes gay rights and same-sex marriage. Late last year, Uganda's parliament re-introduced a controversial bill that calls for the death penalty for certain homosexual acts.

Blunt talking by UN's Ban in Addis
Ababa
Ban told summit leaders, whose two-day agenda is supposed to be focused on intra-Africa trade, that confronting homophobic discrimination was a "challenge."

"But, we must not give up on the ideas of the universal declaration of human rights," Ban said.

Tunisia returns to AU fold

Making an active return to the African Union is post-revolution Tunisia whose new president Moncef Marzouki said Tunis was looking to attract investors one year after its mass protests that triggered the so-called Arab Spring, also in Egypt and Libya.

Marzouki said ousted former ruler Ben Ali had not considered Tunisia as part of the continent. "Tunisia had no diplomatic role, especially in Africa. It (had) completely disappeared from the scene."

Tussle for AU leadership

AU leaders on Sunday elected Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi as their new president, to replace Equatorial Guinea's President Obiang.

Obiang, in his departing remarks, appeared to accuse former colonial powers of interfering. "Africa should not be questioned with regards to democracy, human rights, governance and transparency in public administration," he said.

Yayi, an economist who has led Benin for six years, acknowledged that he had a "high responsibility" in the one-year rotating job.

"We shall continue to work hand in glove to ensure that we consolidate all that we have achieved so far," he said.

Jean Ping (left) is counting on
Francophone support
The AU faces a string of issues, including war and hunger in Somalia,  violence in Nigeria, riots in Senegal and oil disputes between Sudan and the newly formed South Sudan.

Ban highlights Sudanese oil dispute

UN chief Ban, in his speech, urged African leaders to play "a more important role [in] solving regional issues." He highlighted the Sudanese oil dispute and urged South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to negotiate.

South Sudan, which was born last July out of a peace deal, recently shut down oil production after it accused al-Bashir's Sudan of stealing oil along pipelines used for export.

Ban said he was also "deeply concerned" about a humanitarian crisis along Sudan's volatile border with the south. He also accused Khartoum of blocking access to aid workers.

Tussle for AU's top executive post

Monday's AU deliberations in the AU's new headquarter complex provided by China will center on a secret ballot for the top executive job. The current AU commission head Jean Ping of Gabon is being challenged by South Africa's Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Ping was first elected in 2008.

South Africa's foreign ministry said it was "optimistic" that Dlamini-Zuma, 62, and former wife of President Jacob Zuma, would receive the "necessary" two-third of the votes.

Dlamini-Zuma has the backing of the 15-member Southern African Development Community. Sources say Ping is counting on support of French-speaking AU member nations.

Ping told the opening ceremony that prospects for peace were "real" in war-torn Somalia. The AU has a 10,000-strong force protecting Somalia's fragile Western-backed government from the al Qaeda-linked Shebab militia.

Author: Ian P. Johnson (AFP, AP, dpa)
Editor: Nicole Goebel


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About the Challenges of Being a Gay Man – Oct 23, 2010 (Saint Germain channelled by Alexandra Mahlimay and Dan Bennack) - “You see, your Soul and Creator are not concerned with any perspective you have that contradicts the reality of your Divinity – whether this be your gender, your sexual preference, your nationality – or your race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, or anything else.”

"The Akashic System" – Jul 17, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: Religion, The Humanization of GodBenevolent Design, DNA, Akashic Circle, (Old) Souls, Gaia, Indigenous People, Talents, Reincarnation, Genders, Gender Switches, In “between” Gender Change, Gender Confusion, Shift of Human Consciousness, Global Unity,..... etc.)  - (Text version)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dutch pension fund ABP sues Goldman Sachs

RNW, 28 January 2012

(Photo:ANP)
Dutch pension fund ABP is suing US investment bank Goldman Sachs for knowingly selling it junk mortgages and providing misleading information.

The ABP pension fund for government and education employees is the largest pension fund in the Netherlands and among the three largest in the world. Prior to the 2008 US mortgage and bank crisis, ABP invested large sums in bonds linked to US mortgages.

ABP accuses Goldman Sachs of misinforming the pension fund as to the credit worthiness of the bonds, which proved to be far riskier than the bank had suggested. This eventually caused ABP to suffer significant losses. ABP will not disclose the exact amount of the losses it suffered, a spokesperson announced on Saturday.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Actress' claim to be gay by choice riles activists

Associated Press, by Lisa Leff, January 27, 2012 

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Cynthia Nixon learned the hard way this week that when it comes to gay civil rights, the personal is always political. Very political.

FILE - This is a Tuesday, May 25, 2010 file photo
 of actress Cynthia Nixon attending the
 Designing Women Awards in New York.
 Gay rights activists say actress Cynthia Nixon's
 insistence she chose to be a lesbian gives fodder
 to those who argue gays don't deserve
 marriage rights. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer, file)
The actress best known for portraying fiery lawyer Miranda Hobbes on "Sex and the City" is up to her perfectly arched eyebrows in controversy since The New York Times Magazine published a profile in which she was quoted as saying that for her, being gay was a conscious choice. Nixon is engaged to a woman with whom she has been in a relationship for eight years. Before that, she spent 15 years and had two children with a man.

"I understand that for many people it's not, but for me it's a choice, and you don't get to define my gayness for me," Nixon said while recounting some of the flak gay rights activists previously had given her for treading in similar territory. "A certain section of our community is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice, because if it's a choice, then we could opt out. I say it doesn't matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here and we are one group and let us stop trying to make a litmus test for who is considered gay and who is not."

To say that a certain segment of the gay community "is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice" is an understatement. Gay rights activists have worked hard to combat the idea that people decide to be physically attracted to same-sex partners any more than they choose to be attracted to opposite-sex ones because the question, so far unanswered by science, is often used by religious conservatives to argue that homosexuality is immoral behavior, not an inherent trait.

Among the activists most horrified by Nixon's comments was Truth Wins Out founder Wayne Besen, whose organization monitors and tries to debunk programs that claim to cure people of same-sex attractions with therapy. Besen said he found the actress' analysis irresponsible and flippant, despite her ample caveats.

"Cynthia did not put adequate thought into the ramifications of her words, and it is going to be used when some kid comes out and their parents force them into some ex-gay camp while she's off drinking cocktails at fancy parties," Besen said. "When people say it's a choice, they are green-lighting an enormous amount of abuse because if it's a choice, people will try to influence and guide young people to what they perceive as the right choice."

Nixon's publicist did not respond to an e-mail asking if the actress wished to comment on the criticism.

While the broader gay rights movement recognizes that human sexuality exists on a spectrum, and has found common cause with transgender and bisexual people, Nixon may have unwittingly given aid and comfort to those who want to deny same-sex couples the right to marry, adopt children and secure equal spousal benefits, said Jennifer Pizer, legal director of the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and the Law, a pro-gay think tank based at the University of California, Los Angeles.

One of the factors courts consider in determining if a law is unconstitutional is whether members of the minority group it targets share an unchangeable or "immutable" trait, Pizer noted. Although the definition of how fixed a characteristic has to be to qualify as immutable still is evolving - religious affiliation, for example, is recognized as grounds for equal protection - the U.S. Supreme Court still has not included sexual orientation among the traits "so integral to personhood it's not something the government should require people to change," she said.

"If gay people in this country had more confidence that their individual freedom was going to be respected, then the temperature would lower a bit on the immutability question because the idea of it being a choice wouldn't seem to stack the deck against their rights," Pizer said.

Nixon stirred the identity politics pot further when she explained in a follow-up interview with The Daily Beast this week that she purposefully rejected identifying herself as bisexual even though her history suggested it was an accurate term.

"I don't pull out the "bisexual" word because nobody likes the bisexuals. Everybody likes to dump on the bisexuals," she said. "But I do completely feel that when I was in relationships with men, I was in love and in lust with those men. And then I met (her fiance) Christine and I fell in love and lust with her. I am completely the same person and I was not walking around in some kind of fog. I just responded to the people in front of me the way I truly felt."

Although science has not identified either a purely biological or sociological basis for sexual orientation, University of California, Davis psychologist Gregory Herek, an expert on anti-gay prejudice, said Nixon's experience is consistent with research showing that women have an easier time moving between opposite and same-sex partners.

A survey Herek conducted of gay men, lesbians and bisexuals of both genders bore this out. Sixteen percent of the lesbians surveyed reported they felt they had had a fair amount of choice in their sexual orientations, while only five percent of the gay men did. Among bisexuals, the figures were 40 percent for men and 45 percent for women.

What remains to be teased out, Herek said, is how a representative national sample of heterosexuals would answer the same question, and what people mean when their sexual orientation was a choice or not. Are they talking about their sexual desires? Acting on those desires? Or simply the identity they choose to show to the world?

"The nature vs. nurture debate really is passe," he said. "The debate is not really an either/or debate in the vast majority of cases, but how much of each. We don't know how big a role biology plays and how big a role culture plays. A possibility not often discussed is it's not the same for everybody."

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President Barack Obama gestures as he talks about cutting the U.S. deficit
 by raising taxes, from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington
September 19, 2011. (
Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing)

About the Challenges of Being a Gay Man – Oct 23, 2010 (Saint Germain channelled by Alexandra Mahlimay and Dan Bennack) - “You see, your Soul and Creator are not concerned with any perspective you have that contradicts the reality of your Divinity – whether this be your gender, your sexual preference, your nationality – or your race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, or anything else.”

"The Akashic System" – Jul 17, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: Religion, God, Benevolent Design, DNA, Akashic Circle, (Old) Souls, Gaia, Indigenous People, Talents, Reincarnation, Genders, Gender Switches, In “between” Gender Change, Gender Confusion, Shift of Human Consciousness, Global Unity,..... etc.)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Press freedom under pressure in spite of Arab spring

RNW, 26 January 2012, by RNW News Desk      

(Photo: ANP)

Press freedom in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen has dropped drastically in the past year. The annual index for press freedom by NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) show that press freedom in Eritrea, North Korea and Turkmenistan continues to be poor - just like in other years. RSF describes these countries as “absolute dictatorships without civil rights”.

The revolutions in the Arab World have led to significant shifts in the index. Syria fell to de 176th place out of a total of 179 countries. According to RSF, large-scale censorship, violence and manipulation by the regime is making working as a journalist in Syria impossible. Bahrain and Yemen, where the opposition parties have been forced into silence, have also dropped in the index.

Tunisia, the country where the Arab spring began, is going in the right direction. Nevertheless, the new democracy cannot be said to have a free and independent press according to the RSF report. The report is also pessimistic about the situation in Egypt, where “the military leaders are continuing the dictatorial practices of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.”

Africa

In Africa, press freedom has increasingly come under pressure in the past year. Eritrea is still at the bottom of the list, and in Uganda in particular oppression by the regime has increased considerably. RSF is, however, positive about South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan last year. The new country has risen to what the RSF calls a respectable 111th place.

Latin America

In Latin America, press freedom in Chile has dropped to number 80. According to the RSF, security troops in particular have prevented the freedom of information of student protests. Press freedom in Cuba in 167th place still scores lowest in the region, Jamaica and Costa Rica are in the highest places in the region.

World powers

There is also criticism this year of press freedom in the largest world powers. China has dropped into the fifth before last place; the Chinese government has increased its control over the press and information and increased censorship of the internet. The United States fell to 47th place, mostly because of numerous arrests of journalists who reported on the Occupy Wall Street protests. Likewise Russia fell to 142nd place on the list.

The Press Freedom Index is traditionally led by European countries. Finland and Norway are both at number one, with a Estonia and the Netherlands sharing third place.

The 10 top countries in the Press Freedom Index:

1. Finland and Norway
3. Estonia and the Netherlands
5. Austria
6. Iceland and Luxembourg
8. Switzerland
9. Cape Verde
10. Canada and Denmark

The 10 countries with the least press freedom:

1. Eritrea
2. North Korea
3. Turkmenistan
4. Syria
5. Iran
6. China
7. Bahrain
8. Vietnam
9. Yemen
10. Sudan

Congressman Frank to wed same-sex partner in Massachusetts

Reuters, BOSTON, Thu Jan 26, 2012

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) gestures while speaking at a news conference 
announcing that he would not seek a 17th term in congress next year in 
Newton, Massachusetts November 28, 2011. (Credit: Reuters/Adam Hunger)


(Reuters) - Barney Frank, a gay 16-term congressman from Massachusetts, plans to marry his partner, his office said on Thursday.

Frank, 71, who announced his decision to retirement from the House of Representatives late last year, will marry partner Jim Ready in a ceremony in Massachusetts, spokesman Harry Gural said. Frank is a Democrat.

Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004.

No other details on the date or location were being released at this time.

Elected to the House of Representatives in 1980, Frank was one of the first openly gay politicians to serve in office at a national level in the United States.

(Reporting By Lauren Keiper; Editing by Paul Thomsach and Will Dunham)

.

President Barack Obama gestures as he talks about cutting the U.S. deficit
 by raising taxes, from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington
September 19, 2011. (
Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing)


About the Challenges of Being a Gay Man – Oct 23, 2010 (Saint Germain channelled by Alexandra Mahlimay and Dan Bennack) - “You see, your Soul and Creator are not concerned with any perspective you have that contradicts the reality of your Divinity – whether this be your gender, your sexual preference, your nationality – or your race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, or anything else.”

"The Akashic System" – Jul 17, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: Religion, God, Benevolent Design, DNA, Akashic Circle, (Old) Souls, Gaia, Indigenous People, Talents, Reincarnation, Genders, Gender Switches, In “between” Gender Change, Gender Confusion, Shift of Human Consciousness, Global Unity,..... etc.)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Warren Buffett and His Secretary Talk Taxes

ABC News, by Seniboye Tienabeso Jan 25, 2012 


(Image credit: ABC)

ABC News’ Seniboye Tienabeso reports:

In a week when taxes and tax returns have dominated the headlines, billionaire investor Warren Buffett jumped back into the political debate and showed his returns exclusively to ABC News’ Bianna Golodryga, adding, “I have never had it so good. … What has happened in recent years, we were told a rising tide would lift all boats, but the rising tide has lifted all yachts.”

Buffett’s secretary since 1993, Debbie Bosanek, sat next to her boss just hours after being invited by the president to the State of the Union address, where the president made her the face of tax inequality in America.

Bosanek pays a tax rate of 35.8 percent of income, while Buffett pays a rate at 17.4 percent.
“I just feel like an average citizen. I represent the average citizen who needs a voice,” said Bosanek. “Everybody in our office is paying a higher tax rate than Warren.”

During Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, President Obama, for the first time, put a minimum percentage figure on the amount of taxes the ultra-rich should pay – 30 percent – an idea that has been referred to as the “Buffett rule.”

“The question is what is fair when you have to raise multi-trillions to fund the United States of America,” said Buffett.  ”[Raising taxes] will not change my behavior. I have paid all different kinds of rates and I’ve always been interested in making money. I believe this should be a defining issue. Debbie works just as hard as I do and she pays twice the rate I do.”

Buffett, a Democrat and Obama-supporter, had one question for Mitt Romney: “Do you think the tax system should be perpetuated?”

He doesn’t blame the former Massachusetts governor or any of the ultra-rich for paying lower tax rates than most Americans and challenged Congress to make a change.

“I don’t pay hardly any payroll taxes,” Buffett said. “Gov. Romney hardly pays any payroll taxes, Newt Gingrich hardly pays any payroll taxes. Debbie pays lots of payroll taxes.”

He lashed out at assertions from many Republican leaders that the “Buffett rule” is class warfare.

“If this is a war, my side has the nuclear bomb,” Buffett said. “We have K Street. … We have Wall Street. Debbie doesn’t have anybody. I want a government that is responsive to the people who got the short straw in life.”


Romney had Swiss bank account, but now closed

Associated Press, Jan 24, 2012

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Advisers to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney are acknowledging that he once had a Swiss bank account but that it was closed in 2010 as prepared to enter the race for the White House.

The Swiss account is listed on Romney's newly released 2010 federal income tax return. It had been opened by a Boston lawyer who oversees the Romney family investments and a blind trust containing millions of dollars in assets.

Romney's net worth is estimated at as much as $250 million.

R. Bradlford Malt, the trustee, said Tuesday that he closed the account in early 2010 because "it just wasn't worth it." He acknowledged that the account might be inconsistent with Romney's political views. Malt has dropped other investments that conflict with Republican Party views.


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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Davos Forum’s Global Elite Damaged by Year of Scandals

Jakarta Globe, Simon Kennedy, January 24, 2012


Employees install a sign for the World Economic Forum on the Congress
 Center in Davos, Switzerland, on Monday. Some 1,600 economic and political
 leaders, including 40 heads of states and governments, will converge at the chic
ski town for the 42nd edition of the five-day forum that opens today. (AFP Photo)
              
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Davos Man is approaching his annual Alpine get-together with humility after spending the past year getting fired, arrested, belittled and occupied.

When the World Economic Forum’s conference gets under way in the Swiss ski resort today, several past stars will be missing from the swirl of policy debates and cocktail parties.

News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch is embroiled in a phone hacking scandal. Oswald Gruebel quit as chief executive officer of UBS after a $2.3 billion loss from unauthorized trading. Philipp Hildebrand left the Swiss National Bank in a furor over his wife’s currency transactions. Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned as International Monetary Fund managing director after sexual-assault charges, later dropped, were filed against him.

As “OccupyWEF” protesters build igloos under the eye of Swiss security forces, the leaders of this year’s Davos may try to profit from the mistakes of their predecessors by embracing transparency and ethics.

Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit, a co-chairman of the meeting, is calling for the financial industry to be more open amid panel discussions with such titles as “Is 20th-century capitalism failing 21st-century society?”

“Davos Man has taken on the lessons of recent years and is asking how to do things differently,” said Richard Edelman, president and chief executive of public relations agency Edelman, who is attending the conference. Businesses and policy makers are having to “process accurately the vox populi.”

The need for them to do so is demonstrated by Edelman’s annual poll on trust, released on Monday in conjunction with the Davos meeting. Trust in government fell a record 9 percentage points to 43 percent, while faith in business slid to 53 percent from 56 percent.

The credibility of CEOs slid 12 points to 38 percent, the largest drop in nine years, and banks and financial services remained the two least trusted industries. The online survey questioned a total of 30,600 people in at least 25 countries from Oct. 10 to Nov. 30 last year.

“Davos Man is not this caricature of the rich and powerful person,” Klaus Schwab, founder of the forum, said on Monday.

“Davos Man is a person who, as I define it, should be concerned with the present state of the world and who should be ready to engage and contribute so that the state of the world is improved.”

The term “Davos Man” was created by the late Samuel Huntington, a professor at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to describe those with international visions who view governments’ only use as easing “the elite’s global operations.”

The 42nd annual meeting of the World Economic Forum embodies the “1 percent,” to use the phrase popularized by the young protesters who spent more than eight weeks occupying New York’s Zuccotti Park last year.

Among scheduled attendees are bank CEOs such as Pandit and Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase and corporate chiefs Peter Voser of Royal Dutch Shell and Cisco Systems’ John Chambers. At least 70 billionaires are to be present, including investor George Soros and Microsoft founder Bill Gates. They will join about 2,600 other delegates discussing the world outlook.

The image of financial, corporate and governmental powers have taken a hit as the “occupy” protests, the Arab Spring uprisings and recent marches in Moscow highlighted rising unemployment and income inequality, said Tina Fordham, senior global political analyst at Citigroup and a member of the forum’s Global Agenda Council. It helps shape the forum’s work.

There is “a reduced willingness to tolerate the perceived excess of elites and the old social order, and heightened potential for protests to cause disruption, violence and pressure to alter the legislative agenda,” she said.

Not everyone has gotten the message. Three years after he used the Davos stage to pledge Russia wouldn’t turn toward “isolationism and unbridled economic egoism” and as he seeks to return to the presidency, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is facing the biggest protests against his rule in 12 years. They were sparked by alleged fraud in the Dec. 4 parliamentary election, in which his United Russia party retained power.

In the financial world, Davos Man took a pay cut. Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman, who is scheduled to attend the forum, had his 2011 pay reduced by 25 percent from a year earlier. Goldman Sachs cut average compensation and benefits expenses 21 percent in the same period.

Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia, a New York-based investment consultancy, detects a generational transition. While Murdoch, 80, began posting on Twitter last month, it’s executives less than half his age who will be more alert to the demands of consumers and to accepting less privacy given the rise of social media, he said.

As younger leaders “start taking a role and grow in influence and importance, then you’ll see a different sensibility in terms of how they interact with the global public,” Bremmer said.

There will be plenty of room for them.

Murdoch is absent again. A year ago, he canceled his participation in a panel discussion at the forum as British police stepped up an investigation into phone-hacking allegations by News Corp. newspapers.

News Corp. spokesman Jack Horner said Murdoch was busy this year.

Gruebel, who two years ago was privately huddling in Davos with counterparts to discuss how to reassert their influence with regulators and governments, quit in September after UBS fell victim to a rogue trader.

High-profile locals are also missing from Davos this year. Hildebrand, who as a student worked in the resort as a bell boy and limousine driver, is a no-show after he resigned as SNB president this month. His credibility was questioned following the disclosure his wife bought $504,000 in the days before the SNB imposed a currency cap on the franc.

Two former Davos stars have been incarcerated in the past year. Strauss-Kahn, who as IMF chief used a Davos debate four years ago to push governments to ease fiscal policy, is back in Paris after being arrested in New York and charged with attempted rape and sexual assault.

Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, the son of the former Libyan dictator, was named a Young Global Leader at the forum in 2006. He was captured by rebels in November while trying to flee to Niger a month after his father was killed in Libya’s overthrow.

Some of the falls from grace reflect the aftershocks of the recent credit crisis and the resulting pushes for greater income and democratic equality, said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at Englewood, Colorado-based IHS and a Davos delegate.

“Severe income disparity” was cited as one of the greatest threats to global prosperity over the next decade in the forum’s annual review of risks published on Jan. 11.

Organizers have made some nods to the emerging theme. The opening panel on capitalism in modern times will involve Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation. Later in the week, the role of business in society will be discussed, as will whether banks are a cure or curse for the world economy.

“The focus on ethics and responsibility and social justice will be much greater this time around,” said Behravesh.

Bloomberg
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Iraqis condemn U.S. Haditha sentence as insult

Reuters, by Fadhel al-Badrani, FALLUJA, Iraq | Tue Jan 24, 2012

(Reuters) - A three-month jail sentence for a U.S. Marine sergeant accused of leading a massacre of 24 civilians in Haditha is "an insult to all Iraqis," a relative of one of the victims said Tuesday.

Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich

(Reuters)

Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, 31, pleaded guilty Monday at a military base in California to dereliction of duty and faces a maximum sentence of three months' confinement, forfeiture of two-thirds of his pay for three months and a reduction in rank.

"This sentence gives us the proof, the solid proof that the Americans don't respect human rights," Ali Badr, a Haditha resident and relative of one of those killed, said. "This is an insult to the victims and an insult to all Iraqis."

The last American troops pulled out of Iraq in December more than eight years after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The Haditha killings, along with the abuse of inmates at Abu Ghraib prison and a 2007 shooting spree by security contractors in Baghdad, sullied America's image around the world.

Khalid Salman, a lawyer for the Haditha victims' relatives, said he could not believe the sentence and had to check that it was true.

"This is not a traffic felony," said Salman, who had a cousin killed in the massacre.

He criticized the length of time it took to bring the case to justice and vowed to appeal on behalf of the relatives to a U.S. court. He said the verdict "undervalues Muslim blood."

Wuterich was accused of being the ringleader in a series of November 19, 2005, shooting and grenade attacks that left two dozen civilians dead in Haditha, a city west of Baghdad that was a hotbed of insurgent activity.

His guilty plea was part of a deal with U.S. military prosecutors in which more serious charges of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault were dismissed.

Saleem al-Jubouri, the head of the human rights committee in the Iraqi parliament, said: "It (the three-month sentence) is a violation of Iraqis' dignity and does not match the size of the crime committed and underestimates the value of human life."

He said the committee would convene Wednesday to discuss the sentence and called on the Iraqi government to issue a strong condemnation.

In the 2004 Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal U.S. troops photographed themselves humiliating and intimidating detainees.

In September 2007, Blackwater workers shot dead at least 14 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad's Nisour Square, an incident that provoked protests in Iraq and prompted the government to deny the company a licence.

"This is a disgraceful sentence for an inhuman crime that lines up with the Abu Ghraib scandal and Nisour Square massacre," said Hussein Ali, a 40-year-old Baghdad engineer.

"History will mention this sentence and will show how the Americans have a black history that disrespects human blood."