United Nations Declaration (Articles 1 - 30):

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

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

Incoming UN chief names three women to top posts

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

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


The Declaration of Human Freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Pope Francis arrives for historic first US visit

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


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

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

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

Same-sex marriage around the world

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

… The Shift in Human Nature

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

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

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

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

Merkel says Turkey media crackdown 'highly alarming'

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

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Israel's Yaalon praises US, Kerry's 'efforts' on peace

Yahoo – AFP, 30 March 2014

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (L) attends the weekly cabinet
meeting at his office in Jerusalem on March 23, 2014 (AFP Photo/Abir Sultan)

Jerusalem (AFP) - Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon praised Washington for its role in attempting to mediate a peace agreement with the Palestinians in a Sunday meeting with the US military's top officer.

"This is a critical week for the Israeli-Palestinian issue and we appreciate the efforts made by US Secretary of State John Kerry, as well as the commitment and contribution of President (Barack) Obama towards this endeavour," Yaalon was quoted by his office as telling General Martin Dempsey.

The three-day visit of the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff comes after Yaalon upset Washington with remarks criticising its foreign policy and prompting the State Department to demand an apology.

It also comes as the United States is struggling to find a formula that would enable Israel and the Palestinians to continue faltering peace talks beyond an April 29 deadline.

But those efforts have become tied up with the fate of 26 Palestinian prisoners who Israel was to have freed this weekend under terms of an agreement which brought about a resumption of talks.

Israel had on Friday informed the Palestinians that the prisoners, the last batch of detainees due to be released, would not walk free.

The Palestinians say they will not even consider extending the talks without the prisoners being freed, but Israel has refused to release them without a Palestinian commitment to continue the talks beyond their April 29 deadline.

A statement from Yaalon's office said his meeting with Dempsey was attended by Israel's army chief Lieutenant General Benny Gantz and focused on "the situation in the Middle East" and "cooperation between the two countries."

"We truly appreciate the close relations between the United States and Israel," Yaalon told Dempsey. "For us, the United States is a strategic ally and our greatest friend. Our relations with the United States are a cornerstone of Israel's national security."

“This is a time when we need to remain even closer, and you have our commitment to do that,” Dempsey said.

In January, Yaalon was quoted as saying Kerry acts "from an incomprehensible obsession and a sense of messianism".

And earlier this month, Yaalon enraged Kerry by saying Washington's foreign policy showed weakness in global hotspots.

Yaalon then phoned US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel to say there was "no criticism or intention to offend the United States."

But several days after Yaalon's remarks in a speech at Tel Aviv University, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington was still waiting for an apology.

Dempsey also met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who thanked him for the US aid to Israeli missile defence systems, according to a statement from the premier's office.

Related Articles:

Sunday, March 30, 2014

SBY Meets With Families of Migrant Workers Facing Death Sentences Overseas

Jakarta Globe, Mar 30, 2014

President Yudhoyono meets with the families of migrant workers on death
row in Central Java on March 30, 2014. (Photo courtesy of Twitter/@sbyudhoyono)

Jakarta. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Sunday met with families of Indonesian migrant workers facing the death penalty abroad, in the wake of recently announced negotiations to save the life of a worker who admitted to killing her Saudi employer — the latest in a string of high-profile cases involving Indonesian migrants.

“As you know, the government is making serious efforts to seek forgiveness from Saudi Arabia and the victim’s family,” Yudhoyono said at the meeting in Hotel Gumaya, in Semarang, Central Java, as quoted by news portal Detik.com.

Satinah Binti Jumadi Ahmad, 41, of Ungaran, Central Java, was sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia after admitting to slaying former employer Nura in 2007 and fleeing with 37,970 riyal ($10,125). She is scheduled for execution on April 4 if the Indonesian government cannot collect the proper sum of diyat, or blood money, by that date.

The al-Garib family initially requested 10 million riyal in 2011, but the Indonesian government managed to negotiate the amount to 7 million — with 5 million to be paid now and another two due in the next to years.

The families of Siti Zaenab, Tuti Tursilawati and Karni, all awaiting execution in Saudi prison, were also in attendance at the meeting, as were Cabinet Secretary Sudi Silalahi, Education and Culture Minister Muhammad Nuh, presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha and foreign affairs advisor Daniel Sparingga.

On Friday, Yudhoyono sent an envoy to Saudi Arabia to meet with the al-Garib family before the execution deadline: Head of the task force on migrant worker protection (Satgas TKI) Maftuh Basyuni, accompanied by a team of Foreign Ministry and Manpower Ministry staffers. They delivered the 5 million riyal, according to a report published on the Cabinet Secretary’s official website, setkab.go.id.

Yudhoyono said that 246 Indonesian migrant workers were facing the death penalty abroad, but that 176 had been freed during his time in office.

“We have freed 176 people from death sentences,” he said, according to news portal Detik.com. “That is not a small number considering how hard it is to ask forgiveness for even one person.”

He said that the central government sought clemency for Indonesians facing foreign death sentences as a matter of principle rather than as the result of political pressure.

Satinah’s brother, Paeri Al Fery, expressed gratitude for Yudhoyono’s actions.

“Thank you for your help, mister President,” Paeri said. “Thank you for coming to Semarang. Please pray for us.”


Indonesian migrant workers wait to exit a boat at North Jakarta’s Tanjung Priok
 port in this file photo. The workers were sent home from Saudi Arabia. (JG Photo/
Yudhi Sukma Wijaya)



Exclusive: 'locked-up' Saudi princesses' message for Obama

Channel 4, Fatima Manji, 28 March 2014

"He should be ashamed to meet a leader that has four grown women locked up" - the message from two Saudi princesses to President Obama as he meets with their father, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.


In an exclusive on-camera interview with Channel 4 News, we talk to Princesses Sahar and Jawaher, who say they have been held under effective house arrest, by their father, the king, for more than a decade.

Princesses Sahar and Jawaher are the daughters of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. They say they have been held in the royal compound in Jeddah for the last 13 years, and their sisters Maha and Hala are also being held in separate villas. They claim they are not allowed to travel or leave their home.
If he does that to his own children, how do you think the rest of the country is? - Princess Jawaher
Princesses Sahar and Jawaher claim they have little communication outside of their gates - "no-one is allowed in or out." They say the internet is their only window onto the world. Via Skype, they tell Channel 4 News they are "cut off, isolated... and alone" and that "our father, the king, is responsible."

Their mother Alanoud Al Fayez, who is divorced from the king, first went public with their story two weeks ago, giving her first broadcast interview to Channel 4 News. Since that interview was broadcast, the princesses say restrictions on them have been tightened and they are no longer even allowed to make trips with armed guards for food, as they were previously.

They say food is now becoming scarce in their home, that they are desperate for the world to listen to their story and for someone to help.

Their only hope is that our report will make a difference, and that is why they wanted to broadcast this interview. Princess Sahar says: "This is a risk we're taking, we're happy to do it, we understand full well the repercussions, but we don't know what's going to happen."

Princess Sahar said to reporter Fatima Manji "why are we, grown women, held against our will? I believe we are now hostages."

Her sister, Princess Jawaher, said: "If he does that to his own children, how do you think the rest of the country is?"

The Saudi embassy in London has so far only responded to these claims by saying "this is a private matter".


Related Articles:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Putin called Obama to discuss Ukraine proposal, US says

Yahoo – AFP, 28 March 2014

Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks at a Security Council meeting
 at the Kremlin in Moscow, on March 28, 2014 (AFP Photo/Alexei Nikolsky)

Riyadh (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin called his American counterpart Barack Obama on Friday to discuss a US proposal on resolving the crisis in Ukraine, the White House said.

"President Obama suggested that Russia put a concrete response in writing" to the proposal presented by US Secretary of State John Kerry to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in The Hague this week, White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement, adding the two diplomats would meet soon to discuss the next steps.

Related Articles:

Friday, March 28, 2014

Contraception debate clouds Obama's Vatican visit

Google – AFP, Tangi Quemener (AFP), 27 March 2014

Pope Francis (R) and US President Barack Obama shake hands during
a private audience on March 27, 2014 at the Vatican (AFP, Saul Loeb)

Vatican City — US President Barack Obama spoke of his admiration for Pope Francis and invited him to the United States at their first talks on Thursday but got a reprimand for contraception clauses in his healthcare reform act.

Obama said he had been "extremely moved" by the Catholic leader's message of compassion for the needy and said their conversation had focussed on the need to address "growing inequality" and to show "empathy".

"His Holiness has the capacity to open people's eyes," Obama said at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi after his Vatican visit.

Pope Francis (R) and US President Barack
 Obama exchange gifts during a private
 audience on March 27, 2014 at the Vatican
(Pool/AFP, Gabriel Bouys)
The president also spoke of the "opportunity" for immigration reform in the US after Francis stressed the plight of families that are being divided by deportations and are forced to "live in the shadows".

The Vatican said in a terse statement that the two sides had discussed "the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection" -- a reference to Obama's Affordable Care Act (ACA).

It said these issues were "of particular relevance for the Church" in the United States, following a Supreme Court challenge against the law by Christian employers which is expected to lead to a ruling in June.

The issue of "Obamacare" and its clause forcing private employers to provide health coverage for contraception for their employees has incensed US Catholic leaders who say that it infringes on religious freedoms.

"I pledged to continue to dialogue with the US Conference of Bishops," Obama said, referring to a conversation with the Vatican's Secretary of State Pietro Parolin after his meeting with Pope Francis.

Obama said there was a need to "strike the right balance" between providing healthcare for women and ensuring "that religious freedom is still observed".

"I explained to (Parolin) that most religious organisations are entirely exempt," said Obama, who has also faced criticism from Catholic leaders for his support for gay marriage and abortion rights.

US President Barack Obama (L) is
welcomed by Vatican Secretary of State
Pietro Parolin before a private audience
with Pope Francis on March 27, 2014
at the Vatican (Pool/AFP, Gabriel Bouys)
Controversy over "Obamacare" and the president's drop in popularity could help Republicans in this year's mid-term congressional elections, which would weaken the US leader for his remaining two years in power.

'Great admirer'

Obama told Francis he was a "great admirer" at the start of their talks at the Vatican, which political observers said could have been a bid to boost the US president's support at home among Catholic voters.

"I invited and urged him to come and visit the United States," Obama said after Catholic groups spoke of a possible papal visit for the Church's World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September 2015.

The closed-door talks between the first African-American US president and the first pope from Latin America lasted around 50 minutes -- slightly longer than papal meetings with other world leaders.

The two exchanged gifts afterwards, with the pope offering Obama a copy of his "apostolic exhortation" from last year in which he excoriated global capitalism with an invective against the "cult of money".

US President Barack Obama (C) is
 welcomed by officials as he arrives for
 a private audience with Pope Francis
on March 27, 2014 at the Vatican 
(Pool/AFP, Vincenzo Pinto)
"I actually will probably read this in the Oval Office when I'm deeply frustrated. I'm sure it will give me strength and calm me down," a smiling Obama said.

The meeting comes as a welcome rest-stop for Obama during a six-day European tour dominated by the crisis over Crimea, and the US leader will doubtless be hoping some of the pope's stardust will rub off on him.

A recent survey by Saint-Leo University found Francis was popular with 63 percent of Americans, while a poll last month by CBS News and the New York Times put Obama's approval rating at just 41 percent.

During his visit, Obama met President Giorgio Napolitano and Renzi -- at 39, one of the European Union's youngest leaders and a web-savvy fan of Obama's.

He also got a private guided tour of the Colosseum.

In an interview with Italy's Corriere della Sera daily ahead of the meeting, Obama said Francis "has been an inspiration to people around the world, including me".

But he added: "It doesn't mean we agree on every issue".

Related Articles:

Barack Obama meets Pope Francis on visit to Vatican
'Great admirer' Obama meets Pope Francis for first time


"Recalibration of Free Choice"–  Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: (Old) SoulsMidpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth,  4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical)  8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) (Text version)

“…  3 - Longer Life is Going to Happen, But…

Here is one that is a review. We keep bringing it up because Humans don't believe it. If you're going to start living longer, there are those who are frightened that there will be overpopulation. You've seen the way it is so far, and the geometric progression of mathematics is absolute and you cannot change it. So if you look at the population of the earth and how much it has shifted in the last two decades, it's frightening to you. What would change that progression?

The answer is simple, but requires a change in thinking. The answer is a civilization on the planet who understands a new survival scenario. Instead of a basic population who has been told to have a lot of children to enhance the race [old survival], they begin to understand the logic of a new scenario. The Akashic wisdom of the ages will start to creep in with a basic survival scenario shift. Not every single woman will look at herself and say, "The clock is ticking," but instead can say, "I have been a mother 14 times in a row. I'm going to sit this one out." It's a woman who understands that there is no loss or guilt in this, and actually feels that the new survival attribute is to keep the family small or not at all! Also, as we have said before, even those who are currently ignorant of population control will figure out what is causing babies to be born [Kryon joke].

Part of the new Africa will be education and healing, and eventually a zero population growth, just like some of the first-world nations currently have. Those who are currently tied to a spiritual doctrine will actually have that doctrine changed (watch for it) regarding Human birth. Then they will be able to make free choice that is appropriate even within the establishment of organized religion. You see, things are going to change where common sense will say, "Perhaps it would help the planet if I didn't have children or perhaps just one child." Then the obvious, "Perhaps I can exist economically better and be wiser with just one. It will help the one!" Watch for these changes. For those of you who are steeped in the tradition of the doctrines and would say that sounds outrageously impossible, I give you the new coming pope [Kryon smile]. For those of you who feel that uncontrolled procreation is inevitable, I encourage you to see statistics you haven't seen or didn't care to look at yet about what first-world countries have already accomplished on their own, without any mandates. It's already happening. That was number three.….”

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lawmakers urge Obama to press Saudis on human rights

Google – AFP, 27 March 2014

Saudi women browse the annual International Book Exhibition in
the capital Riyadh on March 4, 2014 (AFP/File, Fayez Nureldine)

Washington — Dozens of US lawmakers have urged President Barack Obama to publicly address Saudi Arabia's "systematic human rights violations" when he visits the kingdom Friday.

With their decades-old alliance fraying amid tensions over Washington's efforts to reach a nuclear deal with Iran and its reluctance to engage more forcefully in Syria, regional issues are expected to take precedence when Obama meets with King Abdullah on the US leader's second visit to Riyadh since taking office in 2009.

Sixty-five members of Congress urged him to nevertheless bring up the prickly subject of human rights in Saudi Arabia, including efforts by women activists to challenge the country's ban on female drivers.

"We urge you to combine symbolic actions with direct advocacy for human rights reforms," the lawmakers, led by conservative Trent Franks and rights champion Frank Wolf, wrote to the president late Wednesday.

"Your meetings with King Abdullah and other officials will be an opportunity to publicly integrate human rights concerns... into the US-Saudi relationship," the bipartisan group wrote.

Highlighting what they called Riyadh's systematic discrimination of minorities, its ban on public gatherings, its imprisonment of leading human rights activists and its suppression of free speech, the lawmakers said the Saudi government must "stop the use of torture and reform the new so-called 'anti-terror' laws that practically criminalize all forms of peaceful dissent."

They also urged Obama to address the issue of religious freedom and the "oppressive treatment of women and religious minorities."

Earlier this month a Saudi court jailed a Twitter user for 10 years for insulting the kingdom's political and religious leaders, while the interior ministry published a list of "terror" groups which analysts have warned could further affect civil liberties in the absolute monarchy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Barack Obama: Russia is a regional power showing weakness over Ukraine

President rejects claims Russia is a principal foe, saying actions in Ukraine an expression of vulnerability rather than strength

theguardian.com, Julian Borger in The Hague,  Tuesday 25 March 2014

The US president, Barack Obama, in The Hague at the nuclear security
summit. Photograph: Robin Van Lonkhuijsen/AFP/Getty Images

President Barack Obama has described Russia as no more than a "regional power" whose actions in Ukraine are an expression of weakness rather than strength, as he restated the threat from the G7 western allies and Japan that they would inflict much broader sanctions if Vladimir Putin went beyond annexation of Crimea and moved troops into eastern Ukraine.

Speaking at the end of a summit on nuclear security in The Hague, Obama rejected the suggestion made by Mitt Romney – his Republican challenger in the last president election – that Russia was the United States' principal geopolitical foe. The president said he was considerably more concerned about the threat of a terrorist nuclear bomb attack on New York.

He said that the US was committed to the defence of its Nato allies but that for non-member states along Russia's borders, Washington and the rest of the international community would use non-military pressure to counter Russian encroachment.

Obama said he would not guess at Putin's motivation, but his remarks appeared to confront one of the apparent aims behind the Russian leader's actions so far in Crimea – to restore the superpower status and prestige Moscow once enjoyed as the capital of the Soviet Union.

"Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbours, not out of strength but out of weakness," the president said. The US also has influence over its neighbours, he added, but: "We generally don't need to invade them in order to have a strong cooperative relationship with them.

"The fact that Russia felt it had to go in militarily and lay bare these violations of international law indicates less influence, not more," Obama said.

"Russian actions are a problem. They don't pose the number one security threat to the United States. I remain much more concerned about the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan," the president said, pointing out that was why he had begun a series of bi-annual summits aimed at improving the security of weapons-grade fissile material stocks around the world.

At this week's summit in The Hague, the third in the series, 35 countries agreed to abide by a set of international standards governing security at nuclear sites and accept international inspections of their security arrangements. However, Russia and China were among the 18 countries at the summit that did not sign the agreement, a reflection of how old Cold War era divisions remained, and have deepened with the Ukraine crisis. China has remained neutral over Russia's annexation of Crimea, abstaining in a UN Security Council vote and refusing to respond to western invitations to join international condemnation of the move.

In his remarks in The Hague, Obama said that he did not think that the Russian leadership, which has massed troops on Ukraine's eastern border, had made a decision yet over whether to invade that part of the country.

"If they stay on Russian soil, they pose what appears to be an effort of intimidation, but Russia has the right legally to have its troops on its own soil. I don't think it's a done deal," the president said. He added that he thought Moscow was "making a series of calculations" and that those calculations would be affected by how the US and the international community respond.

He adamantly rejected Russian justification for the invasion and annexation of Crimea on the grounds that Russian speakers were under threat, and rejected Moscow's comparisons to Kosovo, whose declaration of independence – a decade after the start of a Serbian campaign of ethnic cleansing of its ethnic-Albanian majority – was recognised by western capitals.

"There has been no evidence that Russian speakers have been in any way threatened," Obama said. "When I hear analogies to Kosovo, where you had thousands of people who were being slaughtered by their government, it's a comparison that makes absolutely no sense." "I think it is important for everybody to be clear and strip away some of the possible excuses for potential Russian action."

The president acknowledged that the broad sanctions on the energy, finance, and arms-export sectors of the Russian economy, threatened by the G7 in the event of further territorial expansion by Moscow, would also have an impact on the West, but he vowed that the impact on Russia would be far worst.

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Nuclear security summit comes to a close, with joint declaration

DutchNews.nl, Tuesday 25 March 2014

The official group portrait. Photo: NSS2014

The nuclear security summit in The Hague drew to a close on Tuesday afternoon with the publication of the final communiqué.

The communiqué states that the 58 world leaders who took part made concrete agreements to stop terrorists getting their hands on nuclear material which further reduces the threat of a nuclear attack.

Among the new agreements are measures to reduce the amount of dangerous nuclear material in the world, to improve the security of radioactive material which can be used to make a 'dirty' bomb and to improve the international exchange of information and international cooperation.

The outcome of this nuclear security summit is 'a major step towards a safer world', the communiqué says.

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Not all the delegates stayed until the end. By early afternoon, several world leaders were heading home, including German chancellor Angel Merkel, French president François Hollande and Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi.

They did, however, attend the informal lunch catered by Jonnie and Thérèse Boer, owners of the three-star De Librije restaurant. The meal included a starter of cod from the North Sea with Dutch asparagus and a main dish of Dutch lamb with organic vegetables.

Prior to the lunch, the leaders also gathered for a group photo with host and Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte and US president Barack Obama front and centre.

Agreements

One agreement made earlier in the day by 32 of the participating countries was to allow experts from other countries to inspect their storage of nuclear waste.

Among them are the US and most of the EU countries. Russia and China are among those who refused to take part.

Also earlier in the day, Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans said that countries should do more to make the world nuclear weapons free. Timmermans said that the security of nuclear waste cannot be seen as separate from stock piles of nuclear weapons.

Obama remains in the Netherlands until later in the day. He has a series of meetings in The Hague before flying out to Belgium where he will visit various EU organisations on Wednesday.




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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

G7 snubs Russia summit over Ukraine crisis

Google – AFPJan Hennop in The Hague and Dmitry Zaks in Kiev (AFP), 24 March 2014

G7 leaders meet at the official residence of the Dutch prime minister in
The Hague on March 24, 2014 (AFP, Saul Loeb)

The Hague — The G7 group of top economic powers on Monday scrapped a planned meeting to be hosted by Russia as they sought to deepen Moscow's isolation over the Ukraine crisis.

After emergency talks on the Ukraine crisis called by US President Barack Obama, the G7 said they would hold a meeting in Brussels without Russia instead of the wider G8 summit that was to have taken place in Sochi.

The G7 also threatened tougher sanctions against Russia for its annexation of Crimea that has plunged relations between the West and Moscow to their lowest level since the end of the Cold War.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
 holds a press conference in The Hague
 on March 24, 2014 on the sidelines of
 the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) (Pool/
AFP, Evert-Jan Daniels)
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov defiantly dismissed such a move as "no great tragedy" after separate talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Ukraine's interim Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya.

"If our Western partners think that this format has outlived itself, then so be it," Lavrov told reporters.

"We are not trying to hold on to this format, and we see no great tragedy if it (the G8) does not meet," Lavrov said, insisting that Crimea has "a right to self determination."

Russia's takeover of the region was not "malicious intent," said Lavrov but was to "protect the Russians who have been living there for hundreds of years."

Concern over missing troops

Kerry met with Lavrov for over an hour earlier in the day, his spokeswoman Marie Harf said, welcoming the Russia-Ukraine talks, the highest level contact between Russia and Ukraine since the start of the crisis.

He reiterated to Lavrov US concern about the massing of Russian troops on Ukraine's border and the treatment of Ukrainian troops, "including many Ukrainian service members who are missing," Harf said.

Kerry reminded Lavrov that Obama has signed an executive order "that provides the flexibility to sanction specific industries if Russia continues to take escalatory steps," Harf said, urging Russia to de-escalate the situation and pursue a dialogue with the Ukrainian government.

Ahead of the talks, Obama stressed that Europe and the United States were "united in our support of the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people" and "united in imposing a cost on Russia for its actions so far".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for a G7 meeting at the official residence
 of the Dutch premier in The Hague on March 24, 2014 on the sidelines of the
Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) (Pool/AFP, Jerry Lampen)

In Crimea, Russian forces stormed a Ukrainian navy ship, with an AFP correspondent reporting plumes of smoke as a Ukrainian defence spokesman said the crew had fired smoke grenades in self-defence.

Ukraine's interim Foreign Minister Deshchytsya stressed that Kiev sought to resolve the crisis through diplomacy.

"The position of the Ukrainian government is to use all peaceful means, all diplomatic and economic means to resolve this conflict peacefully," Deshchytsya told reporters.

"However, we don't know what are the Russian plans. What the plans of President (Vladimir) Putin (are). That's why we ask for meetings with the Russians," he said, before holding talks with Lavrov.

'Enormous loss'

The diplomatic efforts came as Ukrainian authorities pulled out all servicemen and their families to the mainland.

In a televised address to the nation, Ukraine's acting president Oleksandr Turchynov said a decision had been taken "to conduct a redeployment of military units stationed in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea".

Turchynov's announcement came less than a month after Putin won authorisation to use force in response to the February 22 ouster of pro-Kremlin president Viktor Yanukovych's regime by more nationalist leaders who are seeking a closer alliance with Europe.

Russian military ships, including former
 the Ukrainian corvette Khmelnitsky (2nd R),
 which was seized by pro-Russian forces
 last week, are moored in the bay of the
 Crimean city of Sevastopol on March 24,
 2014 (AFP, Viktor Drachev)
Ukraine's increasingly demoralised forces had been steadily losing ground on the Black Sea peninsula and saw their main airbase outside the regional capital Simferopol stormed on Saturday.

Earlier Monday, the White House said it was "very concerned" about the risk of escalation as Russia massed its troops on Ukraine's eastern border.

A top NATO commander had warned that the Western military alliance was carefully watching massive Russian troop formations that could theoretically make a push across the vast ex-Soviet country at any point.

Moscow has denied any such plans despite Putin's open ambition to resurrect vestiges of the Soviet empire and stamp his authority over eastern European nations that sought protection from the West following the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall.

But the Kremlin has made clear it intends to "protect" compatriots in the Russified southeastern swaths of Ukraine that it says have been victimised by violent nationalists since last month's rise to power of a pro-European team.

The Kremlin stamped its claim on Crimea on Monday with a symbolic visit by Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu -- the first top Moscow official to visit the mostly Russian-speaking region of two million people since its March 16 independence referendum.

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Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers talk again, for the
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Monday, March 24, 2014

World leaders gather in The Hague for nuclear security summit

DutchNews.nl, Monday 24 March 2014

Prime Minister Rutte opens the NSS
in The Hague. (NOS/ReutersTV)
World leaders from 53 countries, including US president Barack Obama and UN secretary Ban Ki-Moon, are in the Netherlands on Monday for the nuclear security summit in The Hague.

The event has taken months of preparations and is the biggest security operation ever mounted in the Netherlands.

Large parts of central The Hague have been sealed off and motorways from Schiphol airport closed to all but conference traffic.

However, motoring organisations said people appeared to have taken the advice to work at home on Monday and Tuesday and jams are no longer than normal. Extra trains have also been laid on.

Amsterdam

Obama will make a short visit to Amsterdam on Monday morning and the Museumplein has largely been sealed off by containers as part of the security operation. People living around the square have been warned not to use their roof terraces and balconies during the visit.

In a written interview in the Volkskrant, Obama praised the Dutch preparations for the summit. ‘The Netherlands is one of our most powerful allies and I am impressed at the way prime minister Mark Rutte is working for nuclear security,’ he said.

Nuclear power

In Amsterdam, anti-nuclear power demonstrators have gathered in front of the Beurs van Berlage conference centre in protest at a nuclear power industry meeting which is taking place there.

The ‘Nuclear Industry Summit’ coincides with the NSS in The Hague and the demonstrators say it is hypocritical.

‘In The Hague they are talking about reducing the spread of and better security for nuclear materials while in Amsterdam the sector is meeting to discuss spreading the technology,’ one protestor told RTL news.

Trade

Dutch foreign trade minister Lilianne Ploumen told website nu.nl hosting the summit will be good for the Netherlands.

‘Although nuclear safety will be central in the coming days, there is also a large economic programme,’ she said. ‘This summit will highlight the Netherlands as an open economy and trading nation.’

But shopkeepers and restaurant owners are angry they are not being compensated for loss of trade. Many have been ordered to close during the two-day period.

Experts have put the cost of the security operation at between €150m and €250m.

Dutch design

The Volkskrant has a list of 11 things everyone should know about the summit and points out that delegates will sit on chairs designed by Dutch furniture maker Atelier Van Lieshout. Even the wine that will be served during the event is Dutch, the NSS project leader Marc Gerritsen told the paper.

The lunch menu will be be both organic and halal. Spinach has been banned because of the risk it could get stuck between people’s teeth and spoil the photo, the Volkskrant said.

However, the AD reports that only men over the age of 25 will be allowed to serve the guests. The inclusion of ‘three blonde women’ would distort the unified image, Hans van der Linde of catering company Van der Linde Catering told the AD.