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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Monday, April 30, 2012

Former Greek bank chief jailed in anti-fraud drive

Reuters, Athens, Mon Apr 30, 2012

(Reuters) - A former bank chief was sentenced to eight years jail on Monday for fraud and forgery, court officials said, the first major conviction resulting from an anti-corruption drive ahead of a parliamentary election on Sunday.

Pavlos Psomiadis, former President &
CEO of the Aspis Group of Companies
(Photo: May 20, 2001)
An Athens court convicted Pavlos Psomiadis, former chief of small banking and insurance group Aspis, on charges of forging documents to keep his business afloat.

Corruption and cronyism are endemic in Greece. But no politician or senior businessman had been convicted in recent years, fuelling popular frustration with mainstream parties that pledge to uphold the debt-laden country's international bailout and remain in the euro zone.

"He was found guilty of fraud and forgery," a court official said. The conviction stemmed from a forged letter of credit for over 550 million euros ($729 million) that Psomiadis submitted to regulators in 2009.

Aspis was one of the first business groups to fall prey to the country's economic crisis. T-bank (AMBr.AT), a small lender that emerged from the wreckage of the group, was nationalized late last year under the terms of the country's EU/IMF bailout.

Monday's decision was the latest in a string of judicial moves as angry voters turn to smaller parties to punish the main conservatives and socialists whom they blame for the economic crisis and chronic corruption.

Earlier in April, a former defense minister was jailed pending trial on money laundering and bribery charges.

Last month, a Greek prosecutor filed felony charges against a prominent banker over a financial scandal that led to the EU/IMF-funded nationalization of small lender Proton Bank (PRBr.AT).

(Reporting by Harry Papachristou; editing by Stephen Nisbet)


Related Article:

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration LecturesGod / 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 (Based in Greece, Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to built Africa to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - New !

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Israeli ex-spy boss: no trust in leadership over Iran (+video)

guardian.co.uk, Saturday 28 April 2012

The former head of Israel's internal intelligence agency Shin Bet, Yuval Diskin, denounces Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak for their posturing and policies on Iran which he says are based on 'messianic feelings'. Diskin says he would not trust the Israeli leaders in the event of a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear sites






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The Large Families that rule the world

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Brooklyn DA refuses to release details of Orthodox sex abuse suspects

Charles Hynes's refusal comes as
 New York judges ruled for a mistrial
 in the case of Baruch Lebovits (above). 
Photograph: New York Daily
News/Getty Images


9. It can be no other way—simply, this is the physics that governs life in this universe. As Earth continues apace into successively higher planes, nothing with low vibrations in any form—physical bodies, subversive plans, theft, dishonesty, unjust laws and imprisonment, bigotry, cruel customs and deeds—can survive.

10. Moving on, no, it will not be quite like religions being “totally discarded and replaced by universal laws in the Golden Age.” When the truths come forth that science and spirit are one and the same and that religious dogmas were originated by early leaders of church and state to control the masses, people whose consciousness has risen beyond the constraints of third density will adhere to the spiritual aspects of their respective religions and the devised, controlling aspects will fall by the wayside.

11. One of the truths to come forth is that Zionism, which by dark intent has been made synonymous with Judaism, actually is a bellicose political movement within the Illuminati, and its aim for more than six decades has been to create conflict and instability in the entire Middle East. Zionists, who have wielded powerful influence within and behind major governments and their military forces, do NOT represent the Jewish peoples in Israel or anywhere else. And, like all other Illuminati factions, they have been committed to that cabal’s goal of global domination.

12. Although Semites are of diverse national origins and religions, the Zionists have been successful in convincing many that “anti-Semitic” is exclusively prejudice against the Jewish peoples and opposition to Israel’s right to defend itself from its “enemies.” By means of that blatant distortion, they obtained not only world sympathy, but also massive defense funding from Israel’s allies, most especially the United States, all of which served to increase the Illuminati’s vast profits from their industrial-military machine.

13. In addition to controlling the masses through dogmatic teachings, religions have served the dark purpose of divisiveness to such an extent that it resulted in centuries of trauma and bloodshed. Witness the Crusades, wars between Catholics and Protestants, pogroms against Jews, executions of “blasphemous” individuals who refused to “recant.”  (Read More …)


"Matthew preparing us for the Golden Age." -  Jan 19, 2012 (Channelled by Suzy Ward)


"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 (Based in Greece, Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to built Africa to develop), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - New !

Friday, April 27, 2012

Brooklyn DA refuses to release details of Orthodox sex abuse suspects

Refusal to grant FOI request marks admission by Charles Hynes that suspected Orthodox child abusers receive special treatment

guardian.co.uk, Zoë Blackler in New York, Thursday 26 April 2012

Charles Hynes's refusal comes as New York judges ruled for a mistrial
 in the case of Baruch Lebovits (above). Photograph: New York Daily
News/Getty Images

Brooklyn district attorney Charles Hynes has refused a freedom of information request for details of child sex abuse prosecutions in the Orthodox Jewish community, amid questions over the veracity of his arrest figures.

The refusal coincides with the collapse of his most vaunted prosecution after appellate court judges ruled on Thursday for a mistrial in the case of Baruch Lebovits, sentenced in 2010 to a maximum 32-year jail term.

Lebovits was convicted in March 2010 of abusing a 16-year-old boy. The DA's office said it is prepared to retry the case. But victims' advocates say his mistrial is a major setback in their efforts to encourage other child sex victims to risk community censure and come forward. Advocate Joel Engelman said the decision was "extremely demoralising".

The Guardian reported last month that the DA was facing accusations that he has failed to tackle up the cover-up of abuse in Brooklyn's Orthodox community – the largest Orthodox community in the world outside Israel. Rabbinic leaders are accused of hampering efforts to uncover abuse, and many victims face intimidation and threats to prevent them pressing charges.

The Guardian and the Jewish Forward paper had submitted freedom of information (FOI) requests for details of cases. But this week Hynes's office informed the Forward that it was denying its request, because the close-knit nature of the Orthodox community meant disclosing the names of defendants would reveal the identities of the victims. The DA's spokesman, Jerry Schmetterrer, confirmed that the Guardian's request would also be refused on the same grounds.

The statement refusing the FOI request marks the first admission by Hynes that suspected child abusers from the Orthodox Jewish community receive exceptional treatment.

Hynes's policy clarification follows recent claims to have radically increased prosecutions through his Kol Tzedek outreach effort. Kol Tzedek, which features a victims' hotline staffed by a culturally sensitive social worker, aims to encourage reporting of sexual assaults and to break the cover-up of child sex abuse by the Orthodox Jewish community.

The DA credits the initiative, which began in April 2009, with a surge in arrests. In January, the DA said the tally now stood at "over 90" arrests, a figure confirmed again this week by his spokesman.

Of the 38 cases closed by November last year, 23 had concluded in guilty pleas and six in trial convictions with nine dismissals and acquittals, Schmetterer said. Fourteen of the convictions resulted in jail time. But at least nine of the arrests ascribed to Kol Tzedek were in fact made before April 2009.

The Guardian has learned of five: Stefan Colmer, extradited from Israel in 2008, Yona Weinberg, indicted in 2008, Emanuel Yegutkin, arrested in January 2009, Moshe Spitzer, arrested in March 2009, and Baruch Lebovits, whose landmark conviction was overturned this week and who was indicted in 2008. The DA's spokesperson confirmed in writing last month that all five men were being counted as Kol Tzedek arrests.

The Jewish Week knows of a further four arrests inaccurately credited to Kol Tzedek: one convicted of attempting to kidnap an Hispanic girl, arrested in 2007; another in mental health facility and unfit to proceed, arrested 2008; a third who violated his probation and was reconvicted in 2009, first arrested 2002; and Yehuda Kolko, whose case in 2008 saw him plead guilty to misdemeanor child endangerment, not a sex crime. Kolko is currently being prosecuted for criminal contempt.

Schmetterer refused to answer questions from the Guardian. "I have nothing to say to you," he said. "You have the (FOI) letter. I have nothing to add."

The FOI response – set out in a letter signed by assistant district attorney Morgan Dennehy – appears to explain an apparent misinterpretation of a civil rights statute previously used by the DA to explain why case information was being withheld from public scrutiny.

Earlier responses from the DA's office have cited New York Civil Rights Law 50B, which protects the privacy of sex crime victims. 50B prohibits the release of documents that could identify a victim. It does not, however, restrict the release of case files in which the victims' names or other revealing information has been redacted, said Martin Guggenheim, professor of clinical law at NYU. "To my knowledge," Guggenheim said, "the law permits the disclosure of reports so long as the public official does so in a manner that ensures that the identity of the victim cannot be obtained from the report."

Hynes's argument – that the "unique" circumstances in the Orthodox community prohibits release of any and all information, since to name the defendant is to name the victim – apparently explains his over-stringent response to 50B.

Dennehy's letter goes on to say that sex crime victims from the Orthodox community, if identified, face unique challenges that will make them likely to withdraw co-operation "making the prosecution of the defendants extremely difficult". It would also prevent victims of unreported crimes coming forward in the future if they feared their names would become known. Under New York's FOI law, documents which could "interfere with law enforcement investigations or judicial proceedings" are exempt from disclosure.

Roger Canaff, a former sex crimes prosecutor in the Bronx, said he thought the reason for the DA's silence was justified.

"There are some situations where releasing suspect information could lead to unfairly revealing victim information," Canaff said. "I can imagine a situation where that could happen. So for the sake of the victims I think it's OK to make an exception.

"I haven't dealt with it myself, or seen it anywhere else, but I can understand an office being concerned with that. I can't say whether that's what is going on here, or something else, but I think it's a plausible explanation."

Community activist Isaac Schonfeld, an Orthodox Jew from Borough Park, said the DA's position was illogical because if the everybody in the community really did know everybody else's business, the victims' identities woul already be known. "I don't find the argument compelling," Schonfeld said.

"We have this wonderful compassion in our community. Rather than channelling that into covering up [child abuse], we should be using it to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the problem, and giving the victims tools to deal with it rather than just sweeping it under the rug."

"The DA should be challenging the community to bring these issues into the open and to bring the perpetrators into public view," he added.


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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

$1.6 billion in missing MF Global funds traced

CNN News, By James O'Toole @CNNMoney April 24, 2012

Terry Duffy, the head of exchange operator CME Group, testifies about
the collapse of MF Global on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

NEW YORK (CNN Money) -- Investigators probing the collapse of bankrupt brokerage MF Global said Tuesday that they have located the $1.6 billion in customer money that had gone missing from the firm.

But just how much of those funds can be returned to the firm's clients, and who will be held responsible for their misappropriation, remains to be seen.

James Giddens, the trustee overseeing the liquidation of MF Global Inc, told the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday that his team's analysis of how the money went missing "is substantially concluded."

"We can trace where the cash and securities in the firm went, and that we've done," Giddens said.

MF Global failed last year after its disclosure of billions of dollars worth of bets on risky European debt sparked a panic among investors. About $105 billion in cash left the firm in its last week, Giddens said, as clients withdrew their funds and trading partners called for increased margin payments, leaving the firm scrambling to make good on its obligations.
It has since emerged that MF Global tapped customer funds for its own use during this crisis and failed to replace them, in violation of industry rules.

Roughly $700 million of the missing money is now locked up with MF Global's subsidiary in the United Kingdom, where Giddens and his team are engaged in litigation to have it returned to U.S. customers. Giddens said he is "reasonably confident" that these funds will be recovered, though he added that it will be a lengthy process with no guarantee of success.

Another $220 million was transferred inadvertently from the accounts of securities customers to those of commodities customers. That money is now in limbo amid a dispute over which customers it belongs to, said Kent Jarrell, a spokesman for Giddens.

The final $680 million or so was transferred to other financial institutions with which MF Global did business, including a substantial portion that went to JPMorgan.

Giddens said his team has "a solid basis for seeking the recovery of some of the funds that were transferred to JPMorgan," and is engaged in ongoing talks on the issue. JPMorgan did not immediately return a request for comment.

Sorting through the MF Global debacle

Giddens' team is just one among a number of groups probing MF Global's collapse. There's also Louis Freeh, the trustee for MF Global's parent company, as well as the Department of Justice and federal regulators including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Jill Sommers, a commissioner with the CFTC, told the hearing Tuesday that she could not disclose details of the commission's investigation, but said the case could lead to enforcement actions against the company or the individuals involved.

The SEC and CFTC can only seek civil penalties and restitution for customers, but their findings could help form the basis of a criminal case brought by the Justice Department.

Giddens, for his part, has said he may file civil claims against MF Global executives alleging breach of fiduciary duties and violations of federal law governing commodities trading. A person familiar with the trustee's probe said Jon Corzine, a former U.S. senator and Democratic governor from New Jersey who was CEO of MF Global when it collapsed, is among those against whom Giddens is considering action.

So far, most of MF Global's thousands of former customers have recovered about 70% of their money, while those that traded on foreign exchanges are missing nearly all of it.

On Tuesday, a bankruptcy judge in Manhattan authorized an additional distribution of $685 million that will bring most customers up to around 80% of what they're owed. Six months after the firm's failure, however, they're still waiting for someone to be held accountable.

"Crimes have been committed here without a doubt," said James Koutoulas, an attorney and trader who has been advocating on behalf of MF Global customers.

"We think there are enough facts out here to start arresting people and start filing charges."  


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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

German companies accuse S&P of profiteering

Deutsche Welle, 23 April 2012



A number of German companies have expressed their indignation at alleged plans by the US Standard and Poor's rating agency to drastically increase fees for assessing the firms' economic performance.

Twelve of Germany's largest companies have sent a joint letter of protest to the Germany head of Standard and Poor's, Torsten Hinrichs, expressing their outrage over alleged plans by the US rating agency to force up prices, the Financial Times Deutschland newspaper reported on Monday.

S & P was expected to double some of its fees for the standard assessment of companies' economic performance; the firms concerned say this would be profiteering.

"Even if S & P has offered to stretch the price hike over three years for exactly the same services, the result would remain unacceptable," said the protest note which was signed by managers from Volkswagen, Daimler, Siemens, Bayer, Eon, RWE, Continental, Lufthansa, Deutsche Post, Henkel, Linde and Bertelsmann.

German companies already paid the US rating agencies about half a million euros annually, the letter said. The three main rating agencies, Standard and Poor's, Moody's and Fitch, have been making most of their profits from the rating of individual companies, and not so much from assessing the performance of whole nations - which for them is more a question of image building.

A case for market watchdogs?

Analysts insist the protest letter is also meant as a signal for German and European anti-trust authorities to step into action. German legal expert Torsten Köber told the Financial Times Deutschland that it's not a problem in itself, if a given provider of services - or a group of providers - dominates the market.

"But things are different, if there's any proof of acquired market domination being misused to the detriment of customers, for instance in a bid to force up prices," Köber said.

The dominant position of the three US rating agencies has long been a thorn in the side of European governments, which have sought to set up an independent agency on their own continent. But the attempts made so far have failed to secure enough financial support from banks across the continent.

Even if a European rating agency were to become a reality, it would take many years to build up the solid reputation it would need before it could become a player among equals.

Author: Hardy Graupner
Editor: Michael Lawton
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Danske Bank A/S’s mortgage unit  Realkredit Danmark A/S,
 the country’s second-largest home-loan provider,  dropped
Moody’s in June. Photographer:  Ulrik Jantzen/Bloomberg

Monday, April 23, 2012

UN to investigate plight of US Native Americans for first time

The UN human rights inquiry will focus on the living conditions of the 2.7 million Native Americans living in the US

guardian.co.uk, Ewen MacAskill in Washington, Sunday 22 April 2012

Many US Native Americans live in federally recognised tribal areas
 plagued with poverty, alcoholism other social problems. Photograph:
Jennifer Brown/Corbis

The UN is to conduct an investigation into the plight of US Native Americans, the first such mission in its history.

The human rights inquiry led by James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on indigenous peoples, is scheduled to begin on Monday.

Many of the country's estimated 2.7 million Native Americans live in federally recognised tribal areas which are plagued with unemployment, alcoholism, high suicide rates, incest and other social problems.

The UN mission is potentially contentious, with some US conservatives likely to object to international interference in domestic matters. Since being appointed as rapporteur in 2008, Anaya has focused on natives of Central and South America.

A UN statement said: "This will be the first mission to the US by an independent expert designated by the UN human rights council to report on the rights of the indigenous peoples."

Anaya, a University of Arizona professor of human rights, said: "I will examine the situation of the American Indian/Native American, Alaska Native and Hawaiian peoples against the background of the United States' endorsement of the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples."

The US signed up in 2010 to the declaration, which establishes minimum basic rights for indigenous people globally.

Anaya said: "My visit aims at assessing how the standards of the declaration are reflected in US law and policy, and identifying needed reforms and good practices."

Apart from social issues, US Native Americans are involved in near continuous disputes over sovereignty and land rights. Although they were given power over large areas, most of it in the west, their rights are repeatedly challenged by state governments.

Most Americans have little contact with those living in the 500-plus tribal areas, except as tourists on trips to casinos allowed on land outside federal jurisdiction or to view spectacular landscapes.

Anaya is originally from New Mexico and is well versed in Native American issues.

He will visit Washington DC, Arizona, Alaska, Oregon, Oklahoma and South Dakota, and will conclude his trip with a press conference on 4 May. He will present his findings to the next session of the UN human rights council.

Anaya's past record shows a deep sympathy with Native Americans' plight. In one development dispute, he told the council that the desecration of sacred sites was an urgent human rights issue.

The Tucson Sentinel reported in 2011 that he had testified to Congress on the need for the US to pass legislation that abides by the declaration.

Also in 2011, he wrote to the Canadian government requesting information about the poor living conditions of aboriginal groups in the country.


Related Article:


Four Russian warships leave Vladivostok for joint exercise with China

English.news.cn   15 April 2012


Starting ceremony of Russia-China joint naval exercise

VLADIVOSTOK, April 15 (Xinhua) -- Four warships from Russia's Pacific Fleet, as well as its support vessels, warplanes, helicopters and naval infantry, left Vladivostok Sunday for a joint exercise with Chinese navy.

The Russian warships -- the guided missile cruiser Varyag and three large antisubmarine, Marshal Shaposhnikov, Admiral Panteleyev and Admiral Vinogradov -- are expected to arrive in China next Sunday for the exercise slated for April 22-27 in the Yellow Sea.

More than 20 Russian and Chinese warships and support vessels will be involved in the war game.

Since 2005, China and Russia have conducted several joint military exercises within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Israel cabinet OKs break-up of big conglomerates

Reuters, JERUSALEM, Sun Apr 22, 2012

(Reuters) - Israel's cabinet on Sunday approved a plan to break up some of the country's largest conglomerates, aiming to increase competition and bring down prices after protests over the cost of living last year.

Israel has one of the highest concentrations of corporate power in the developed world with the government estimating that the country's 10 largest business groups control 41 percent of the market value of public companies.

"The government's decision today is another step in lowering the cost of living," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. He told the cabinet that getting rid of cartels and monopolies would increase competition.

Conglomerates will have to choose between owning major financial or non-financial companies. Holding companies structured like pyramids will have to limit how many tiers of subsidiaries they have.

Existing groups, which currently hold listed subsidiaries that in turn have their own subsidiaries, will be allowed no more than three tiers of subsidiaries. New conglomerates can have two.

Companies will have four years to comply.

Protesters say Israel's conglomerates are partly to blame for driving up prices of basic goods. Protests are expected to resume in coming weeks.

According to the recommendations, companies cannot hold a financial firm with assets above 40 billion shekels ($11 billion) at the same time as a non-financial company of more than 6 billion shekels of revenue.

As a result, the IDB Group would have to divest Clal Insurance or other key holdings such as Cellcom, Israel's largest mobile phone operator.

Delek Group would have to decide between keeping insurance company Phoenix and brokerage Excellence Nessuah or its fuel business -- which includes a number of offshore natural gas fields.

Private equity firm Apax Partners would need to choose between food maker Tnuva or the Psagot brokerage.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Wal-Mart silenced Mexico bribe inquiry: NY Times

Reuters, Sat Apr 21, 2012

A worker walks through the ''Action Alley'' at a new Wal-Mart store in
Chicago,  January 24, 2012. The store will open on January 25, and it will be
Wal-Mart's largest outlet in Chicago.  (Credit: Reuters/John Gress)

(Reuters) - Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc squelched its own internal investigation of allegations made by a former executive of its subsidiary in Mexico that the Mexican division had orchestrated a campaign of bribery to grab market dominance, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

The paper said in September 2005 a senior Wal-Mart lawyer received an e-mail from a former executive at the company's largest foreign unit, Wal-Mart de Mexico, describing how the subsidiary had paid bribes to obtain permits to build stores in the country.

Wal-Mart sent investigators to Mexico City and found evidence of widespread bribery, but Wal-Mart's leaders then shut down the investigation and notified neither American nor Mexican law enforcement officials, the Times reported.

"We take compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) very seriously and are committed to having a strong and effective global anti-corruption program in every country in which we operate," Wal-Mart said in a statement.

The Times reported that the former executive gave names, dates and bribe amounts, adding that he knew so much because for years he had been the lawyer in charge of obtaining construction permits for Wal-Mart de Mexico, or Walmex as the company is known locally.

The Times said the company found a paper trail of hundreds of suspect payments totaling more than $24 million.

Wal-Mart also found documents showing that Wal-Mart de Mexico's top executives not only knew about the payments, but had taken steps to conceal them from Wal-Mart's headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, the newspaper reported.

The Times said that the company's lead investigator said there was reasonable suspicion to believe Mexican and U.S. laws had been violated and had recommended an expanded investigation, but that instead Wal-Mart's leaders shut it down.

None of Wal-Mart de Mexico's leaders were disciplined, the report said.

Eduardo Castro-Wright, whom the former executive identified as the driving force behind years of bribery, was promoted to vice chairman of Wal-Mart in 2008, the paper said.

Wal-Mart declined to make him available for an interview.

"Many of the alleged activities in The New York Times article are more than six years old," the company said in a statement.

"We are deeply concerned by these allegations and are working aggressively to determine what happened."

(Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Chicago and Will Dunham)





Meet the US media companies lobbying against transparency

Corporate owners or sister companies of some of the biggest names in journalism against FCC order to post political ad data

guardian.co.uk, Justin Elliott for ProPublica, Friday 20 April 2012

Several major media companies have dispatched top executives or outside
 lobbyists to the FCC to oppose the proposed rule. Photograph: Chip
Somodevilla/Getty Images


News organizations cultivate a reputation for demanding transparency, whether by suing for access to government documents, dispatching camera crews to the doorsteps of recalcitrant politicians, or editorializing in favor of open government.

But now many of the country's biggest media companies — which own dozens of newspapers and TV news operations — are flexing their muscle in Washington in a fight against a government initiative to increase transparency of political spending.

The corporate owners or sister companies of some of the biggest names in journalism — NBC News, ABC News, Fox News, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Politico, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and dozens of local TV news outlets — are lobbying are against a Federal Communications Commission measure to require broadcasters to post political ad data on the internet.

As we have recently detailed, political ad data is public by law but is not widely accessible because it is currently kept only in paper files at individual stations. The FCC has proposed fixing that by requiring broadcasters to post on the internet details of political ad purchases including the identity of the buyer and the price.

(ProPublica has been inviting readers and other journalists to send in the files to be posted as part of our Free the Files project.)

Over the past few months, several major media companies have dispatched top executives or outside lobbyists to the FCC to oppose the proposed rule or to push a watered down version, disclosure filings show. (The FCC is voting on the issue April 27.)

Among them are:

News Corporation, which owns the Wall Street Journal and Fox News

Walt Disney, which owns ABC News and ESPN

NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast and includes NBC News

Allbritton, which owns several TV stations and Politico

Gannett Broadcasting, a division of Gannett, which owns USA Today

Post-Newsweek Stations, the broadcast division of the Washington Post Company

Belo Corp, which owns 20 TV stations

Cox Media Group, which owns the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Austin American-Statesman, and other newspapers and TV stations

Dispatch Broadcast Group, which owns Ohio and Indiana TV stations

Barrington Broadcasting, which owns several TV stations around the country

The EW Scripps Company, which owns TV stations and newspapers including the Commercial Appeal in Memphis

Hearst Television Inc, which owns 29 TV stations

Raycom Media, which owns TV stations

Schurz Communications, which owns TV Stations and newspapers around the country

In a speech this week at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski excoriated the broadcasters as working "against transparency and against journalism."

The industry's opposition to the transparency proposal has sometimes been heated. In filings submitted to the FCC in January and March, Allbritton senior vice-president Jerald Fritz raised the specter of "'Soviet-style' standardization" of ad sales if political ad files are required to be put online in a single format.

In a February meeting with the FCC, Walt Disney executives complained about the "logistics and burden" of putting the political ad information online.

That same month, executives from Disney along with NBC and News Corp argued in a meeting with FCC officials that posting the political ad file would allow "competitors in the market and commercial advertisers [to] anonymously glean highly sensitive pricing data."

Television stations must by law must offer political candidates the lowest rates on ads. Broadcasters have argued that by making this information available online and not just at stations, it would hurt their ability to negotiate with other advertisers.

Advocates for the online disclosure rule have countered that the political ad information is already public by law and the measure would simply make the existing disclosure rules relevant for the internet age. They have also pointed out that keeping paper files in electronic form should actually be more efficient for stations.

Albritton, NBC, and Walt Disney did not respond to requests for comment on the FCC chairman's charge that they have positioned themselves "against transparency and against journalism." News Corp declined to comment.

Some media companies have also pushed a watered down proposal to post only some of the public political ad data, and to put it up on individual station websites instead of on a central FCC website.

Washington lawyers representing the other companies fighting the rule — Barrington Broadcasting, Belo, Cox, Dispatch, EW Scripps, Gannett, Hearst, Meredith Broadcasting, Post-Newsweek Stations, Raycom Media, and Schurz Communications — lobbied FCC officials in February, March, and again this week.

The group suggested that instead of putting the full, itemized political ad data online, stations would post aggregate data once a week.

"What we were saying is, if you want the public to be informed about what's being bought at what price, maybe there's a simpler way to do it,"Mary Jo Manning, an attorney representing the group, told ProPublica. "Transparency is giving people information that is useful."

But when the FCC pressed the group for details on its plan, the stations said they opposed posting even the aggregate data in a single format prescribed by the FCC. They also opposed posting the data on a central FCC website, saying they wanted to post the limited data only on the stations' own websites. If enacted, both of those stances would make it more difficult to get and analyze the data.

Since there is a one-week sunshine period ahead of FCC votes, today is the last day that interested parties will be able to lobby the commission before its public meeting April 27.

• This article was originially published on ProPublica and has been cross-posted by permission.

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Danish protester: 'No one would care if a Palestinian was hit with a rifle'

Andreas Ias says his treatment by Israeli soldier is nothing compared to the systematic violence carried out on Palestinians

guardian.co.uk, Harriet Sherwood in Ramallah, Friday 20 April 2012

Israeli soldier Shalom Eisner strikes Danish protester Andreas Ias with his rifle 

Without the video, all Andreas Ias would have to show for his weekend bicycle ride in the Jordan valley would be two stitches and a slightly swollen lower lip – plus a hardening anger about the treatment by Israeli soldiers of Palestinians.

But a few seconds of footage uploaded to YouTube catapulted the 20-year-old Danish activist into the media spotlight, drew statements from the Israeli prime minister, president and chief of staff, led to the disciplining of an Israeli army officer, and prompted debate over the use of video cameras as a weapon of modern warfare.

Nevertheless, Ias – not his real name – is dismayed that in the aftermath of him being struck in the face with a soldier's rifle, so little attention has focused on what he describes as the routine aggression, harassment and displacement suffered by Palestinian villagers in the area.

"It has been framed in the media as the 'Danish incident', as though this is not how the IDF normally act," he said, swathed in a red keffiyeh in a Ramallah cafe. "But what happened to me is nothing compared to the systematic violence carried out on Palestinians. This is not a single incident, it's what we see every day. But it's very difficult to move the focus from me to the issues of the Palestinian struggle in the West Bank."

While volunteering for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in the West Bank over the past six weeks, Ias says he has witnessed "a process of ethnic cleansing that has been going on since the start of the occupation".

"I've seen people whose homes have been demolished in the middle of the night by dozens of soldiers, people who are left with nothing. I've seen Bedouin villages without running water or electricity next to Israeli settlements with total control over water resources. I've seen people denied their basic human rights and any hope for the future. You can't experience that without it changing you."

Last Saturday, a group of 150-200 Palestinians and international activists set off on a bicycle ride through the Jordan valley to visit villages in an act of solidarity. As they reached route 90, the main road running north to south through the valley, they found their way blocked by the Israel Defence Forces.

According to Ias, the soldiers said the cyclists could not proceed "for security reasons". There was a standoff. "We were very peaceful, singing songs, clapping hands. It was a good, empowering experience, people were happy," he said.

But as one of the organisers moved forward, Lieutenant Colonel Shalom Eisner, the deputy commander of the Jordan Valley Brigade who was in charge of the operation, removed his rifle. "He obviously wanted us to move back, but he didn't say anything."

According to Ias's account, a Dutch activist was pushed to the ground and a Palestinian man was struck from behind. Then Eisner slammed the base of his rifle into Ias's face. "I fell to the ground. I was surprised and disoriented. I didn't feel any pain until later."

Eisner, who was forbidden to speak directly to the media, gave a different version of events to colleagues and friends. He said the activists were armed with sticks and were violent, and that one had hit him, breaking a finger. But, he added, "these stories do not interest the chief of staff or my commander. We know the history of these anarchists. They came with sticks and broke my hand – but no one will tell and film that."

He said his actions were necessary. "It was a two-minute confrontation so, yes, it's true that some pictures look bad, but I used a weapon in a [non-lethal] manner and I did not put anyone's life in danger."

Eisner – who was seen in the video wearing a type of kippah associated with the national-religious settler movement – and his colleagues claimed that the clip uploaded to YouTube was edited to distort the incident and cut out violence by the activists. Ias rejects this, saying the organisers have offered to hand over the unedited footage to the Israeli media to prove there was "no aggression, no attempt to violence, not a single stone picked up".

The military, which routinely films such incidents, mainly for intelligence-gathering, has not produced any footage.

Ias was taken to hospital in Jericho for treatment, later rejoined the activists, and "went home feeling it was just another incident in a lot of incidents I have seen in the past few weeks. I didn't expect it to have any consequences at all."

But the video was picked up and broadcast by Israeli television on Sunday – the same day the Israeli authorities launched a big security operation to prevent hundreds of international activists landing at Ben Gurion airport to attend a week of solidarity actions in the West Bank.

By Monday, the video had appeared on countless news websites and the story was running in papers round the world. The prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, the president, Shimon Peres, and the military's chief of staff, Benny Gantz, all made statements saying Eisner's actions were unacceptable and in breach of Israeli military standards of conduct.

On Wednesday, Eisner was dismissed from his post for two years although he has been allowed to remain in the army.

"The incident that took place in the Jordan river valley is extremely serious and in absolute contradiction with [IDF] ethics," an army spokesman said. "There are different bodies, some of them anarchists and belligerent war instigators, disparaging our soldiers to create a buzz in the media, but we must maintain IDF ethics and avoid getting dragged into a provocation."

Eisner told colleagues: "I did not expect this to be the decision. I thought they accepted my version of events and understood it. They showed me the door out. I need to digest the decision and then plan my future."

He said he did not "accept this as a moral failure in any way [but] it could have been a professional mistake to use a weapon in front of the cameras".

Ias is taking legal advice on the possibility of a civil suit against the officer.

After finishing high school in Aarhus, the young Dane worked in factories and hotels to save money for his trip to the West Bank. He arrived in mid-February, and will leave in three weeks when his tourist visa expires. He attended a two-day workshop in Ramallah to learn about his legal rights as an international activist, non-violent protest and Palestinian culture. He did not plan to spend any time in Israel.

"The ISM differs from other international solidarity groups in that we are willing to try to actively oppose the occupation, rather than just monitor it," Ias said. "We will use our bodies to intervene, to challenge. So if we see soldiers trying to grab Palestinians at a demo, we will hold on to them to make the arrest difficult."

But, he added: "I've not been presented with one single incident of ISM members being violent. I've not seen any statements espousing terrorism. The ISM is founded on principles of non-violence."

He said the international community had a duty to intervene when wrong was being done. "The colour of my skin and my nationality gives me great privileges. We have to use that to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians."

The Israeli government rejects the image of the ISM as peace activists. "They parade themselves as a non-violent movement but they refuse to condemn suicide bombings or attacks by Palestinians on innocent civilians," said the government spokesman Mark Regev. "They educate their members in an aggressively anti-Israel position. They never criticise human rights abuses on the Palestinian side."

This, Regev stressed, did not justify the actions of the Israeli soldier.

The incident triggered wide debate in Israel about activism and the power of the camera. B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights organisation, has been giving cameras to Palestinians for several years, encouraging them to document the behaviour of Israeli soldiers. The IDF has trained around 100 combat soldiers to use video cameras, partly to identify protesters, partly to counter what they see as activist propaganda, and sometimes to use in internal investigations.

Many commentators have pointed out that the IDF would not have taken action over the incident had it not been filmed and broadcast round the world. But, Ias said, his nationality and skin colour contributed to the attention. "The global media wouldn't care at all if a Palestinian had been hit in the face with a rifle."


Israeli army Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner hits an unidentified
 activist with an M-16 rifle, April 14, 2012. (Photo by: AP / ISM)


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