Shuttered: EU ditches summit 'family photo'

Shuttered: EU ditches summit 'family photo'
EU leaders pose for a family photo during the European Summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels on June 28, 2016 (AFP Photo/JOHN THYS)

EU founding fathers signed 'blank' Treaty of Rome (1957)

EU founding fathers signed 'blank' Treaty of Rome (1957)
The Treaty of Rome was signed in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, one of the Renaissance palaces that line the Michelangelo-designed Capitoline Square in the Italian capital

Merkel says fall of Wall proves 'dreams can come true'


“ … 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 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. …

Friday, December 8, 2017

Britain, EU in historic Brexit deal, but tough talks still ahead

Yahoo – AFP, Damon WAKE, December 8, 2017

British Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission President
Jean-Claude Juncker met as the UK and EU reached a breakthrough on
Brexit talks (AFP Photo/EMMANUEL DUNAND)

Brussels (AFP) - Britain and the European Union reached a historic deal on Brexit divorce terms on Friday, but Brussels swiftly warned that even harder talks lie ahead on a future relationship after the split.

British Prime Minister Theresa May rushed to Brussels for early morning talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to clinch the breakthrough.

The European Commission announced that it judged "sufficient progress" had been made after Britain agreed to keep the Irish border open, pay a 40-45 billion-euro divorce bill and protect expats' rights.

But EU President Donald Tusk -- who will recommend to leaders at a summit next week to open trade and transition talks -- warned that the toughest task was to come.

"Let us remember that the most difficult challenge is still ahead. We all know that breaking up is hard but breaking up and building a new relation is much harder," Tusk said.

Negotiators worked through the night to seal an agreement after the EU set a deadline of Sunday.

May said the key part of the agreement was to ensure there would be no return of checkpoints on the frontier between British-ruled Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland after March 29, 2019, the date Britain is to leave the bloc.

"In Northern Ireland we will guarantee there will be no hard border," she told a press conference with Juncker.

The rights of EU citizens in Britain will be "enshrined in UK law and enforced 
by British courts", May said (AFP Photo/Gillian HANDYSIDE)

Northern Ireland 'alignment'

Northern Irish unionists who prop up May's minority Conservative government scuppered a possible deal on Monday with their fierce opposition to wording they felt would divide the North from the rest of the UK.

The deal commits both sides to respect the 1998 Good Friday agreement, which ended decades of violence between nationalists who want a united Ireland and Northern Ireland unionists loyal to Britain.

Under the agreement, London will try to find a way to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland "through the overall EU-UK relationship" but if this cannot be achieved, Britain will keep "full alignment" with the EU single market and customs union rules that are crucial to the Good Friday Agreement.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar welcomed the deal, saying his government had "achieved all that we set out to achieve".

On its divorce bill, previously the most contentious issue, Downing Street said Britain had agreed to pay a settlement of between 35 billion and 39 billion pounds (40 billion to 45 billion euros).

The welfare and social rights of some 3.7 million European citizens living in the UK after Brexit are protected in the deal -- and for eight years after Brexit it gives them recourse to the EU's top court if they feel they are being treated unfairly.

However, the3million, an advocacy group for expats living in Britain, said the deal still leaves people in uncertainty.

The breakthrough was given a cautious welcome around Europe, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman calling it a "step forward" and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian saying "common sense" had prevailed.

UK business leaders breathed a sigh of relief, with Josh Hardie, deputy director general of the CBI business lobby saying it opened the door to an accord on trade, the "true prize".

There will be no hard border with Ireland, Britain and the EU have agreed 
(AFP Photo/Gillian HANDYSIDE)

European markets were up and the pound briefly topped $1.35 on the news, though analysts said with difficult trade talks still to come, it was too early to start popping corks.

Tusk warned that with October 2018 set as a deadline for settling a final withdrawal agreement, there was "de facto less than a year" for trade talks -- and it has taken a year and a half since Britain's June 2016 Brexit referendum just to reach Friday's accord.

Senior members of the European Parliament -- which will have to give its approval of the final agreement -- said they were happy with Friday's accord and would vote on it on Wednesday.

Former Polish premier Tusk, who deals with EU leaders, released nine draft guidelines on future relations so member states could approve them for next week's summit.

He said he would propose the "immediate" opening of talks on a transition period, which Britain has estimated at around two years, but warned Britain would have to "respect the whole of EU law, including new law" during that period -- and would have no say in its drafting.

That -- and the continued influence of the European Court of Justice -- is set to infuriate ardent Brexit supporters, including some in May's Conservative party, who have argued for Britain to walk away from the talks with no deal rather than compromise on sovereignty and the financial bill.

Canada model for trade

Tusk called for more clarity from Britain on what kind of trade relationship it wants, but the bloc's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said London had left little room for manoeuvre.

He said Britain's insistence on leaving the single market and customs union gave the EU no choice but to work on a post-Brexit free trade agreement modelled on the bloc's deal with Canada.

"It's not us, it's our British friends who are giving these red lines which close certain doors," Barnier said.

New ‘Basel 4’ capital requirements for banks will impact Dutch mortgages

DutchNews, December 8, 2017


New capital requirements for banks, known as Basel 4, will have a major impact on the Dutch financial services sector, Dutch media said on Friday. 

The European central bank declared on Thursday that agreement had been reached reviewing the post crisis Basel 3 regulations. Basel 3 required the banks to add equity to their balance sheets and Basel 4, as the revisions are know, will further add to the requirements. 

According to the Dutch central bank in the Financieele Dagblad, the Dutch banks are a combined  €14bn short of meeting the new capital requirements. That means banks will be more restricted in what they can do and what risks they are prepared to take. 

‘It will have a major impact,’ central bank official Paul Hilbers, one of the two Dutch negotiators, told the FD ‘You have to compare it with the average combined annual profits of €6bn posted by all the large banks in the last few years.’ 

Rabobank chief financial officer Bas Brouwers is quoted as describing the new rules as ‘absurd and irrational’ by the Volkskrant

Mortgages

In particular, Basel 4 is likely to have an impact on the Dutch mortgage system by reducing the amount people can borrow – the loan to value ratio – because banks will have to further minimise their risks. The ltv Dutch rate, now 100%, is one of the most generous in Europe.

However, as the new rules won’t come into effect until 2020, and will be phased in over five years, the impact is likely to be muted, the Volkskrant said. 

Nevertheless, from January, home buyers will only be able to borrow up to 100% of the value of their home, but the Dutch market regulators – the central bank and AFM – want this to be reduced to 90%, further reducing the risk to banks. 

Such a change, which is politically highly sensitive, would require first time buyers to bring in some €25,000 in cash to buy a home, the paper said.

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 (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. …”

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

EU blacklists 17 tax havens

Yahoo – AFP, Alex PIGMAN, December 5, 2017

European Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said officials from 
member states were negotiating from an initial list of 29 countries (AFP Photo/
EMMANUEL DUNAND)

Brussels (AFP) - European Union ministers adopted on Tuesday a blacklist of 17 non-EU tax havens including Panama, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates after a year of tough negotiations.

The Paradise Papers leak last month gave a new impetus to the plan, making public some of the intricate ways the world's rich evade tax using offshore havens.

"We have adopted at EU level a list of states which are not doing enough to fight tax evasion. This blacklist includes 17 states," French finance minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters in Brussels.

The EU has struggled for over a year to finalise the blacklist, with smaller, low-tax EU nations such as Ireland, Malta and Luxembourg worried about scaring off multinationals.

The countries on the list are: American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Grenada, Guam, Macau, the Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, Saint Lucia, Samoa, South Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.

A further 47 countries are on a "grey list", sources said.

Other jurisdictions are understood to have been given leeway after suffering severe damage during hurricanes in the Caribbean earlier this year.

Britain fought particularly hard against the list, afraid that its crown dependencies, including Jersey and the Virgin Islands, would be singled out.

Senior officials from member states had whittled down an initial draft of 29 countries, with divisions still strong in recent days on who would make the final version.

EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said ahead of the official announcement that this was fewer than the 20 countries he had hoped for but would be a "initial victory".

The list is the latest international effort to clamp down on tax avoidance, 
increasingly seen as a moral issue (AFP Photo/Thomas SAINT-CRICQ)

Enforcement problem

Enforcement is the biggest problem, with EU countries split over whether blacklisted countries should be subjected to financial sanctions or if the list itself is shaming enough.

Several states, including France, support tough measures against the listed tax havens such as exclusion from EU and World Bank funding, though the debate is still open.

Other countries are reluctant to draw up common sanctions, believing that responsibility is better left to member states.

"To be on a blacklist is in itself bad enough and of course there will be consequences for these countries," Luxembourg Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna said.

An existing list of tax havens compiled by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) currently includes only Trinidad and Tobago.

The EU originally screened a total of 92 jurisdictions and once the list is compiled it is expected to be continuously updated.

In a blow to activists, states that charge no corporate tax are not automatically considered at risk of breaching EU tax criteria.

However, the criteria do single out countries that facilitate the creation of shell companies and other structures that could aid tax avoidance.

Countries in the EU's firing line have been given an opportunity to stay off the list if they provide a political commitment and a detailed plan to comply.

All countries, which initially included the US, were given until Tuesday's meeting of the EU's 28 finance ministers to provide feedback and possible measures to satisfy EU demands.

The list is the latest international effort to clamp down on tax avoidance -- increasingly seen as a moral issue -- following the OECD's move to compile a list of "uncooperative tax havens".


Monday, December 4, 2017

Mario Centeno, the 'Ronaldo' of the Eurozone

Yahoo – AFP, Levi FERNANDES, December 4, 2017

Not just the 'Ronaldo' of finance: Centeno loves rugby, cooking, his family
and Benfica (AFP Photo/Francisco LEONG)

Lisbon (AFP) - Mario Centeno, who was Monday picked as Eurogroup chief, has pulled off a rare balancing act between growth and budgetary discipline as Portuguese finance minister, earning him a comparison with football star Ronaldo.

The 50-year-old economics professor who is often called a liberal but sees himself "culturally of the left" accedes to the top post among eurozone finance ministers after only two years in politics.

Former German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, not excessively prone to handing out flattery and a staunch defender of budgetary rigour, last May called him "the Cristiano Ronaldo of the Ecofin", the meeting place of EU's finance and economy ministers.

The remark, lapped up by Portuguese media, helped make Centeno the face of economic recovery in Portugal, that was once one of the eurozone's weakest economies depending on international aid to survive the area's debt crisis.

Rugby and cooking

But now, two years after the arrival in power of Portugal's Socialist government backed by the radical left, the statistics look much brighter.

Portugal's public deficit is the lowest it has ever been in 43 years of democracy, growth is humming along at levels not seen since the start of the century, and the unemployment rate is back to pre-crisis levels.

"Portugal's recent experience shows that it is possible in Europe to reconcile the objectives of budgetary recovery and growth," Centeno said last week as he announced his candidacy to succeed Dutchman Jeroen Dijsselbloem at the Eurogroup.

His target, he said, was to "contribute to obtaining the necessary consensuses needed to complete the economic and monetary union" and make the euro into an instrument "to promote economic and social convergence".

Centeno, who loves rugby and cooking, is the son of a bank employee and a postal civil servant who grew up in the southern Algarve region and moved to Lisbon at the age of 15 to take up his studies.

He is a graduate of the prestigious Harvard University which left a lasting impression on Centeno partly because the American experience got him interested in micro-economic questions.

Who said you can't have both growth and budgetary discipline? (AFP Photo/
EMMANUEL DUNAND)

Quiet man

"I became much more receptive to the link between the economy and people," he says. "Sometimes macro-economics forgets that there are people on the receiving end."

On his return to Lisbon with his wife and three children he joined the Bank of Portugal as an economist and went on to become deputy director at the central bank's economic research department.

"He was a quiet young man, affable, intelligent, and well-versed technically," said Luis Campos et Cunha, the bank's former vice president.

Nothing pointed to a political career for Centeno until Prime Minister Antonio Costa asked him to pen the Socialist party's economic platform and to stand in the general election of 2015. Centeno complied, but ran as an independent candidate.

Completely unknown to the public at the time he entered government, Centeno had a reputation for economic liberalism in academic circles because of his positions in favour of greater labour market flexibility.

But he himself tries to sidestep traditional ideological schisms, promoting instead what he calls a "fusion" approach to economics.

Family and Benfica

"The only things that define me are my family and Benfica", Portugal's most popular football club, he says.

Always the pragmatist, Centeno quickly dropped the idea to introduce a single labour contract -- a measure many economists support to bridge the gap between temporary and permanent contracts -- because of opposition from the anti-liberal left on which the current government depends for its survival.

Despite his relative lack of political experience, Centeno has proved to be a quick learner in the ways of government, making him a heavyweight in Portugal's cabinet.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Dublin holds key to Brexit talks breakthrough: EU's Tusk

Yahoo – AFP, Julien LAGACHE with James PHEBY in London, December 1, 2017

Traffic crossing the border into Northern Ireland from the Irish Republic
(AFP Photo/Paul FAITH)

Dublin (AFP) - The European Union will not accept Britain's Brexit offer if Ireland is not satisfied with proposals for future border arrangements, EU President Donald Tusk said in Dublin on Friday.

Tusk spoke after meeting Ireland Prime Minister Leo Varadkar ahead of a Monday deadline by which the EU wants to hear British proposals on sticking points if Brexit talks are to advance.

The EU chief backed Ireland's demands for British guarantees that there will be no hard border between Ireland and British-controlled Northern Ireland after Brexit, which might upset the fragile peace in the region.

"If the UK offer is unacceptable for Ireland, it will also be unacceptable for the EU," Tusk said at a joint press conference with Varadkar.

"I realise that for some British politicians, this may be hard to understand but such is the logic behind the fact that Ireland is the EU member while the UK is leaving.

"This is why the key to the UK's future lies -- in some ways -- in Dublin," he added.

All sides agree there should be no return to physical border checks after Brexit, but Dublin's demand for written guarantees from Britain has proved an obstacle to an early agreement, threatening to delay the wider negotiations and causing tensions with London.

Varadkar said there had been "some progress" on border talks, but warned Britain: "I'm prepared to stand firm with our partners if needs be if the UK offer falls short."

Dublin wants "reassurance" that regulations on issues such as food safety and animal welfare would be maintained in Northern Ireland, to avoid damaging cross-border trade once Britain leaves the EU's single market and customs union.

"We can't be asked here to leap into the dark by opening up a phase two discussion in the hope that these issues might be resolved," Coveney told BBC radio.

Britain insists the issue of the Irish border can only be resolved as part of negotiations on its future partnership with the EU.

Tusk appeared to acknowledge the point, saying: "It is clear that we cannot reach a full agreement on every single detail at this stage, especially that the final outcome will be linked to the future relations between the EU and the UK."

Demonstators set up a mock customs checkpoint at the Ireland-Northern Ireland 
frontier to protest against the potential introduction of border checks after Brexit 
(AFP Photo/Paul FAITH)

Ireland should 'wind its neck in'

A British newspaper reported on Thursday that the two sides were close to a deal that would avoid regulatory divergence between Ireland and Northern Ireland, even if the rest of Britain moved away from EU rules.

The Times said this would involve devolving powers to the assembly in Belfast to allow them to keep similar customs arrangements to Ireland on agriculture and energy.

But the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the largest in Northern Ireland, reacted angrily to any suggestion of creating separate rules for the province.

It warned that agreement on those terms would threaten its support for British Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservatives, which keeps her minority government in power.

"If there is any hint that in order to placate Dublin and the EU, they're prepared to have Northern Ireland treated differently than the rest of the UK, then they can't rely on our vote," DUP lawmaker Sammy Wilson told the BBC.

Former Northern Ireland first minister Peter Robinson, a former leader of the DUP, called on Dublin late Thursday to stop interfering, saying: "In layman's terms, the South needs to wind its neck in."

Brexit cannot destroy peace

The British government says negotiations are continuing with Ireland, but its proposals for a solution were savaged on Friday by a committee of MPs, who warned that a "hard border" in Ireland seemed inevitable.

This has raised fears that the Good Friday Agreement, the peace deal that erased the border and ended generations of conflict in Northern Ireland that killed 3,500 people, could be under threat.

"We cannot allow Brexit to destroy this achievement," Tusk warned Friday.

EU leaders meeting in Brussels on December 14 and 15 will decide if there has been "sufficient progress" on the Irish border, Britain's financial settlement and EU citizens' rights to move on to trade talks.

A deal is close on the latter issues, but failure to make headway on Ireland would deal a major blow to Britain's hopes of agreeing a new trade deal with Brussels before it leaves the EU in March 2019.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Dutch police launch investigation after tribunal suspect takes poison and dies

DutchNews, November 29, 2017

Photo: UNtv screen shot

Dutch police have begun an investigation into how a defendant on trial at the Yugoslavia war crimes tribunal in The Hague managed to take poison and kill himself after hearing the verdict. 

Slobodan Praljak, 72, died in hospital, after swallowing liquid from a small bottle after hearing his 20-year jail term for war crimes had been upheld. 

The ex-commander of Bosnian Croat forces, who took the poison in full view of the cameras, said he was not a criminal before drinking from the bottle. As the judge continued reading, he then said: ‘I have taken poison.’ 


In 2013, Praljak had been sentenced for crimes in the city of Mostar during the Bosnian war from 1992-95. 

How Praljak obtained the poison is so far a mystery.  Praljak has been held at a special unit in Scheveningen for tribunal suspects and is allowed free access to visitors and his legal team, broadcaster NOS said. 

Visitors have to go through security checks similar to those at an airport. Visitors to the court itself have to go through a similar security procedure. 

Smuggling

A Serbian lawyer who has represented suspects at the tribunal told news agency AP that it would be easy to smuggle in a liquid. ‘They check you for metal objects. Pills or small amounts of liquid would not be discovered,’ he said. 

Wednesday’s session was the final one to be held at the court since it was established by the United Nations in 1993, two years after the end of the war. 

Dutch justice minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus told reporters later that he did not think the Netherlands’ reputation as host of the tribunal had been damaged by Wednesday’s shock death. ‘The Netherlands has always had a very good reputation and has acquitted itself well,’ he said. 

The court room has now been declared a crime scene. Dutch lawyer Erik Kok, who worked at the tribunal from 2006 to 2011, told RTL Nieuws it is strange that Praljak took his own life now. 

Although he had been sentenced to 20 years in jail, most people are released after serving two-third of their sentence. Given that he had already been in jail for 13 years ahead of the trial, he would have been released in the very near future, Kok said.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Meghan Markle: A feminist among Britain's royals

Yahoo – AFP, Remi BANET, November 27, 2017

US actress Meghan Markle shows off her engagement ring in the Sunken
Garden at Kensington Palace

American, mixed-race and "fiercely independent": Meghan Markle, Prince Harry's actor girlfriend, will breathe fresh air into the British royal family when she marries Queen Elizabeth II's grandson next spring.

Playing a lawyer in the hit television show "Suits", the 36-year-old actress with long flowing black hair was barely known in Britain when her name appeared on newspaper front pages last October.

The tabloids based their report of a relationship between Harry and Meghan, who lived in Toronto, Canada, on pictures showing them wearing the same tricoloured wristband.

The relationship was formalised by Kensington Palace, which handles communication for Prince Harry, in November in a most unexpected way.

Exasperated by the media frenzy, the palace released a statement attacking the "sexism" and "racism" Meghan Markle faced on social media.

It also blasted the press for "harassing" the actress.

Four days earlier, The Sun, Britain's top-selling newspaper, ran a piece on its front page titled "Harry's girl on Pornhub," the adult video website.

The couple made their first official public appearance together in September, 
attending the opening ceremony of the third Invictus Games

But the actress's only crime had been to take off her shirt while filming what the newspaper described as a "steamy scene" for her show "Suits," which then made it onto the pornographic website.

The couple made their first official public appearance together in September, attending the opening ceremony of the third Invictus Games -- created by Harry for disabled or wounded soldiers and veterans.

"We're two people who are really happy and in love," Markle told Vanity Fair shortly before the event.

'A woman who works'

The daughter of an African-American mother and white American father of Dutch and Irish descent, Markle's parents divorced when she was aged six.

She has half-siblings on her father's side, from whom she is estranged, and grew up in Los Angeles.

With a degree in communication, Markle appears to have navigated her career without a hitch.

The 36-year-old actress found success with
the hit television show "Suits"

Like Harry, she does humanitarian work.

She is also telegenic, practises yoga and drinks detox drinks including "green juices," according to her Instagram account.

Tabloids were quick to point out that the actress, three years Harry's senior, is divorced, unearthing pictures of her first marriage (2010-2013) with an American producer.

However, none of this was enough to derail a royal wedding, which will take place early next year, according to Monday's announcement.

Quite the contrary, says Penny Junor, Prince Harry's biographer: "I think that would be no problem at all, and the fact that she is of mixed race might even be a bonus," she told AFP.

"It would show Harry, a senior member of the Royal Family, to be a thoroughly modern man -- not a precious, strange creature from another planet, which is how the royals are sometimes seen".

Some believed, however, that her proud independence -- the actress had maintained a long-distance relationship with the prince for much of their courtship -- could be a source of contention for the Windsor family.

"I've never wanted to be a lady who lunches -- I've always wanted to be a woman who works," Markle once wrote on her blog "Tig".

The actress had maintained a long-distance relationship
with Prince Harry for much of their courtship

'Fiercely independent'

Popular tabloid the Daily Mail wrote that it was "easy to see what happy-go-lucky Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have in common."

"What's less clear is...what some female members of the Royal Family will make of a fiercely independent young woman".

Beyond her role as an ambassador for the charity "World Vision Canada," which works to improve children's lives in developing countries, Markle regularly asserts the feminist beliefs she forged during her childhood in California.

"Aged 11, she forced a soap manufacturer to alter an advert after she wrote a letter to then First Lady Hillary Clinton and other high-profile figures complaining that it implied women belonged in the kitchen," wrote the BBC.

Nowadays, the actress also campaigns for women's rights alongside the United Nations.

In a speech she made on the 2015 International Women's Day, she urged women to make their voices heard, saying: "Women need a seat at the table, they need an invitation to be seated there, and in some cases, where this is not available, they need to create their own table". 


Related Article:


Britain's Prince Harry and his fiance Meghan Markle pose for a photograph 
in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace (AFP Photo/Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS)


Saturday, November 25, 2017

France's Macron vows to combat 'shameful' violence against women

Yahoo – AFP, November 25, 2017

French Junior Minister for Gender Equality Marlene Schiappa (L) applauds
President Emmanuel Macron after his speech on combating violence against women.
(AFP Photo/LUDOVIC MARIN)

Paris (AFP) - French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday proposed a raft of measures to combat "horrific and shameful" violence against women, as he pledged to make gender equality a major theme of his administration.

"Our entire society is sick with sexism," Macron said in a speech in Paris to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

The 39-year-old leader began with a minute of silence to remember the 123 women killed in 2016 in France by their partner or ex-partner.

"France must no longer be one of those countries where women are afraid," he said.

Public awareness of sexual assault and harassment has been heightened following the allegations levelled by women against Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Weeks later, the #metoo hashtag burst into the social media spotlight in mid-October and snowballed into an online movement as women across the world reveal their own similar experiences.

Macron outlined three priorities over the five year term of his presidency from fostering gender equality to giving better assistance to victims of sexual abuse and enforcing harsh measures against aggressors.

Nearly 225,000 women were victims of physical or sexual violence by their partner in France last year, according to official figures. But fewer than one in five of them have filed a complaint with authorities.

Macron proposed new measures against this scourge including making a sexual insult an offence in order to combat harassment in the street.

He also called for making 15 the minimum age of consent for sex -- there is currently no such law in France.

To make it easier for women to file a complaint, they will be able to go online and speak directly with police 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

An anti-sexism module will be made available to schools. First lady Brigitte Macron will be personally involved with an effort to raise awareness of harassment in schools.

To help fight against inequality in the workplace, Macron also said he would like to look into the matter of hiring discrimination against women.

The French president said he wants "to fight for the non-negotiable equality of both sexes" making it a "major cause" during his term in office.

France's Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa said the world was at a turning point.

"People can no longer ignore the extent of the violence women are subjected to. They have spoken up and we are responding," Schiappa said.

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Friday, November 24, 2017

Nobel literature academy shaken by #MeToo sex scandal wave

Geotv - AFP, 24 November 2017


STOCKHOLM: The Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Literature Prize, has been rattled by a sex scandal as several members, their wives and daughters accused an influential person with close ties to the prestigious institution of assault.

The #MeToo wave exposing sexual misconduct which began in Hollywood has shaken artistic, media and political circles in Sweden, one of the most gender equal countries in the world, as thousands of women have spoken up and campaigned against harassment.

Sweden´s prestigious literary scene was drawn into the fray on Tuesday when newspaper of reference Dagens Nyheter published the testimony of 18 women claiming to have been assaulted or raped by one of the most influential figures in Stockholm´s cultural scene.

The accused man´s name has not been published in the media due to Swedish laws on the presumption of innocence. But his identity is generally known by the public as he is a high-profile person in cultural circles and his name has appeared in online chat forums discussing the issue.

The man did not respond to AFP´s request for a comment, though he told Dagens Nyheter he was innocent.

Married to a writer with "close links to the Swedish Academy", the man runs a cultural club showcasing exhibitions, readings and performances by both the cultural elite and hopefuls -- including Nobel literature laureates -- and dubbed by some as "the Academy´s living room".

The club was partly funded by the Academy.

'Everyone has always known'

The alleged sexual assaults occurred between 1996 and 2017, some of them in the club´s premises, according to Dagens Nyheter.

Several women spoke openly, allowing the newspaper to reveal their identities, and their stories were corroborated by eyewitnesses, the paper said.

One of them claims to have been raped in an apartment in a posh Stockholm neighbourhood.

"Everyone knows and everyone has always known," that he was attacking young women, she says.

The women said they remained silent out of fear of jeopardising their careers because of the man´s connections and close relations with leading publishers, producers, directors and composers.

After a "crisis meeting" on Thursday evening, the Swedish Academy announced that it was cutting all ties with the accused, whom it had funded and allowed to manage an apartment it owns in an upscale Paris neighbourhood.

The Academy said in a statement that during the meeting, "it emerged that members of the Academy, daughters of Academy members, wives of Academy members and staff of the Academy have experienced unwanted intimacy or inappropriate behaviour" by the man.

The prominent institution said it would launch an internal inquiry to find out if the man "has had any direct or indirect influence on the Academy´s prizes, scholarships, and fundings of any kind".

Culture Minister Alice Bah Kuhnke said she regretted honouring him with the 2015 Order of The Polar Star, awarded to members of the Swedish royal family and foreigners for services to Sweden.