Council of Europe (CoE) - European Human Rights Court - founding fathers (1949)

Council of Europe (CoE) - European Human Rights Court - founding fathers (1949)
French National Assembly head Edouard Herriot and British Foreign minister Ernest Bevin surrounded by Italian, Luxembourg and other delegates at the first meeting of Council of Europe's Consultative Assembly in Strasbourg, August 1949 (AFP Photo)

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

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)

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. …

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Serb nationalist regime turns a step closer to EU

Google - AFP, Katarina Subasic (AFP), 31 December 2012

Serbia's President Tomislav Nikolic listens during a press conference
on November 13, 2012 (AFP/File, Attila Kisbenedek)

BELGRADE — Serbia's new government, a deja-vu coalition of nationalists and socialists that led the country during the 1990s bloody Balkan wars, has surprised many with its pro-European moves, especially regarding breakaway Kosovo.

After winning a May general election, the once ultranationalists turned conservative populists of President Tomislav Nikolic's Serbian Progressive party joined ranks with the Socialists, the party of the late strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

The new government took over from the pro-European reformers who led Serbia for more than a decade through its uneasy transition from a once pariah nation towards a candidate country to join the European Union.

But as the new regime settled in some feared it would push Serbia back into the era when it incited conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia and triggered 1999 NATO air strikes over the Serb forces' brutal crackdown on the pro-independence ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo.

"The fear of a return to the 1990s was justified... but they have changed policies" after coming to power, said Antonela Riha, political editor of the influential NIN weekly.

What is motivating the government is the goal of joining the European club.

"They obviously intend to meet all EU-set conditions to start accession talks," Riha told AFP.
An improved relationship with Kosovo is a key condition for Serbia, an EU candidate since 2011, to obtain a date for launching accession talks.

In an effort to meet those conditions, Belgrade has removed all obstacles to Pristina's representation at regional meetings, which it had previously blocked after Kosovo unilaterally proclaimed independence in 2008, which Serbia still refuses to recognise.

There have also been higher-level meetings with Prime Minister Ivica Dacic holding EU-mediated talks with his Kosovo counterpart Hashim Thaci, a move unthinkable during the previous regime.

Belgrade's cooperation in managing the borders with Kosovo was praised by both Brussels and Washington, which have encouraged the new regime's attitude.

Even the government's political opponents acknowledge the signs of a pro-European path.
"I believe they will be granted the date for EU accession talks by next June if they continue this way," said Milica Delevic, head of the Serbian parliament's Committee for EU integration.

Delevic, a member of the opposition Democratic party, however warned that the authorities would have to "make more concrete steps in improving relations with Kosovo" to achieve that goal.

Besides Kosovo, still a sensitive issue for many Serbs, widespread corruption is another concern of EU diplomats, who have urged Serbia to root it out to get closer to Brussels the
Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic is heading a vast anti-graft initiative. Dozens have been arrested including the richest Serbian tycoon Miroslav Miskovic and two former ministers on suspicion of corruption and abuse of power.

If Serbia wants to move on, the new "government had to be much more responsible than anybody thought it would be," Vucic told AFP in an interview.

He said the government would introduce "key system reforms in 2013" to fight corruption and revive the ailing economy. In a country of seven million the unemployment rate has reached 25.5 percent and public debt has risen over 60 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

"If we manage all this... and obtain the date for EU accession talks, I believe that Serbia will really be on the right track," Vucic said.

However, analysts warn that the real anti-graft drive must not end with several "spectacular" arrests, but should include a systematic fight against corruption and a strengthening of institutions in accordance with EU standards.

"If he (Vucic) would make a step in that direction, not only should we applaud him, but congratulate him for what he has done," said Vladimir Pavicevic, a professor at Belgrade's Faculty of Political Sciences.

Riha said it was yet to be seen whether the authorities "have the capacity to reform (state) institutions.... This is a real challenge."

Western powers have openly supported the moves by Serbia's new regime despite the country's worrisome past. But they want to see results.

"As much as we welcome these moves, we hope they will result in successful outcomes," said a Western diplomat who requested anonymity.

Energy company staff working at climate ministry

Employees from firms including British Gas and npower being paid to work at Department of Energy, documents reveal

The Guardian, Damian Carrington, Sunday 30 December 2012

Caroline Lucas wrote to the cabinet secretary in 2011 with a warning about
 secondments. She received no reply. Photograph: Christopher Thomond
for the Guardian

Almost two dozen employees from companies including the energy giants British Gas and npower are working at the Department of Energy and, in most cases, are being paid by the government to do so, documents released under freedom of information rules reveal. Oil companies such as Shell and ConocoPhillips also have staff inside the department, and civil servants have travelled in the opposite direction to work for the companies.

The Green party MP Caroline Lucas, who made some of the FOI requests, said: "Fossil fuel giants should have no place at the heart of government given that their current investment strategies run contrary to the need to build a low-carbon future that delivers both security and prosperity. It's even more outrageous that taxpayers are footing the bill for some of these secondments, including from British Gas-owner Centrica, at a time when British Gas customers are struggling in the face of a 6% rise in their energy bills, and the company is expected to make £1.4bn profits after tax this year.

"These corporations obviously don't lend out their employees without expecting something in return."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "Secondees bring with them knowledge and expertise which are vital to helping Decc do its job effectively. Likewise, seconding Decc staff into industry – be that oil, gas, renewables or other areas – provides insight into the challenges faced by those sectors. It is normal for secondees to be paid directly by Decc or for their company to be refunded for their time; this is standard practice across government."

The documents show 23 external people are working at Decc. Those being paid by the department include employees of Centrica, Barclays, ESB (Ireland's biggest energy firm), National Grid and Rolls-Royce. Staff from Shell and npower's owner, RWE, are seconded to Decc for free.

The contracts signed by secondees ask them to self-police any conflicts of interest. It states: "It is a condition of the secondment that the secondee ensures to the best of their ability that in the course of their duties for Decc there will be no conflict of interest or perception of such."

The Decc spokeswoman said: "We ensure any secondee is bound by relevant professional codes of practice. Contractual measures make sure that any secondee is not placed in a position where they could be a conflict of interest."

Joss Garman, political director of Greenpeace, said: "Centrica, Shell and RWE are corporations that make their huge profits from the fossil fuels that are warming our planet. Nobody will believe that these vested interests are lending staff to Decc out of charity. To the contrary, they have a clear financial interest in putting their people into key positions where they can exert a malign influence that runs counter to the public interest."

After revelations in 2011 in the Guardian about staff from companies working in Decc, Lucas wrote to the then cabinet secretary, Gus O'Donnell, stating: "The perception exists that [people and expertise] can be loaned out in return for access to ministers and valuable influence over the processes and decisions of government. I'm sure you will agree that such a perception is damaging." Lucas received no reply.

She said: "To avoid serious damage to public trust in government, secondments must at the very least be transparent and properly monitored, to ensure that such arrangement cannot be exploited by vested interests against the public good."

A Guardian analysis of declared meetings showed there were 195 meetings between Decc ministers and energy companies and their lobby groups between the 2010 general election and March 2011. There were 17 meetings with green campaign groups.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dutch ask Irish government for answers on safety standards at Ryanair

DutchNews.nl, Saturday 29 December 2012

Junior transport minister Wilma Mansveld has asked the Irish government to clarify reports that airline Ryanair is ordering pilots to fly with as little fuel as possible, Nos television reported on Saturday.

Ryanair flies to a wide range of destinations from Dutch airports Eindhoven, Maastricht and Eelde.

Current affairs show Reporter on Friday featured four pilots who claimed they had been forced to fly with as little fuel as possible in order to save on costs.

The Irish government is responsible for controlling safety standards at Ryanair, a spokesman for Mansveld is quoted as saying by Nos. The minister has also asked for a copy of an Irish report into Ryanair.

Own investigation

Depending on the outcome of these inquiries, Mansveld will decide whether or not to start her own probe into safety standards at the airline. The Dutch pilots’ association has called for such an investigation.

Reporter said that three Ryanair flights have been forced to make an emergency landing in Valencia because they did not have enough fuel.

In her reaction to the claims, Mansveld points out that the three incidents have already been investigated and no further action was considered necessary.

The four pilots told the show there is a ‘deeply rooted culture of fear’ at Ryanair. Other former officials described the company as a dictatorship.


Related Article:


Friday, December 28, 2012

“Time to Say Goodbye” - Sarah Brightman & Andrea Bocelli


"TIME TO SAY GOOD-BYE" - The Last 18 years – Dec 8, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll)New

(Subjects: Who is Kryon, God, Love, Great Central Sun, (Old) Soul, Benevolent Design, 1987 - Harmonic Convergence (11:11), 36 years galactic window (Precession), 26.000 years cycle, Mayan Calendar, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, TIME TO SAY GOOD-BYE song – Composer, Human Consciousness, Conceptional Thinking, Old and New energy, Middle East, Protest against the new leader in Egypt because he is of an old energy, Syria is a Nightmare, Libya, People of Iran, Israel, Higher Self, You did it !, Change of Paradigm, 2012,  US/Russia, Global Unity, ... etc.)

"THE NEXT 18 YEARS"–  Dec 2, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) - New

(Subjects: You are looking  at a Quantum event, clearing a filter - Portal pineal , Higher self to step forward and communicate to You, Still remains in 3D but exposure to multi dimensions, Evolution of humanity, Intent, Mayan Calendar, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, 26.000 Years, Milky Way, Nostradamus, 1987, Beginning to a New Time, Channellers/Teachers, Center of Galaxy – Black hole, Bridge of Swords, Pleiadians, Children, Inventions – The discoveries (e.g. : Airplanes - Medicines – Radio .. ): These new Discoveries were given all over the planet when Human consciousness was ready for it. New Inventions are coming, the timing depends on how the middle East problems are solved, Biology reaction of quantum energy; new radio of the future, seeing quantum energy, when it is revealed all science books will have to be rewritten, This will be an AHA moment – be possible to communicate with the rest of Galaxy, NASA, Church/Religion will be effected the most by these discoveries, The quantum discovery will see the grid, life, gardens and will redefine life, DNA (3 billion pieces) evolving piece DNA are chancing, Gaia/Humanity are linked, new instruments will start to reveal the DNA variance, Evolution revealed: Autistic children have born with the removal of their 3D structure in the brain, Gaia/Spirit are testing these quantum beings  (Evolved DNA), Universe central clock = Rifs,  Globally there will be only 5 currencies, Wars on earth will be declared barbaric, Middle East, Global Unity, .. etc.) 

"Recalibration of Free Choice"–  Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) 

(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)

Pharma firms tested drugs on East Germans: report

The Daily Star, AFP, December 28, 2012

FILE photo inside a pharmacy in Beirut. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
                              
BERLIN: Major Western pharmaceutical companies carried out tests of medications in the 1980s on patients in communist East Germany, in some cases without the subjects' knowledge, a media report said Friday.

"We have documents showing there were contracts between Western drug companies and East German institutions for medical tests," a staff member at the German national archive told AFP, partially confirming a report in the daily Der Tagesspiegel.

The newspaper, which examined the documents, reported that more than 50 Western firms had contracts with East Germany's Health Ministry to carry out a total of 165 medical tests between 1983 and 1989.

In exchange, the communist authorities were paid up to 860,000 deutschmarks (around 430,000 euros today or $567,000), according to the report, at a time when East Germany was desperate for hard currency.

Der Tagesspiegel said the companies involved included Bayer, Schering, Hoechst (now Sanofi), Boehringer Ingelheim and Goedecke (today owned by Pfizer).

It said the test subjects often were not informed, citing seven specific cases in which patients said later they had been unaware they were involved in testing. The national archive said it could not confirm this.

Regional public broadcaster MDR, which also reported on the issue, cited the case of a 60-year-old patient, Gerhard Lehrer, who was recovering from a heart attack in a Dresden hospital in 1989.

After receiving "special" medications "that were not on the market" prescribed by a doctor at the clinic, his condition deteriorated further.

Lehrer's wife secretly pocketed some of the pills. When MDR had them tested at her request, it learned they were placebos that it said were part of a study commissioned by Hoechst.

Swedish furniture giant Ikea admitted in November that some of its suppliers used forced labour in communist East Germany and expressed "deep regret" that its controls were less strict at the time.

According to media reports, mail-order companies Neckermann and Quelle also employed East German prisoners against their will.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Portugal to hold fire-sale of state assets

State broadcaster could be privatised in move seen as attempt by Lisbon government to impress lenders

The Guardian, Giles Tremlett, Tuesday 25 December 2012

A girl receives a Christmas present during a charity toy distribution
 in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Lisbon. Photograph: Rafael
Marchante/Reuters

Portugal is to embark on a sweeping fire-sale of state companies over the coming months, possibly even privatising state broadcaster RTP, as it bends to the will of the troika of lenders that bailed it out 20 months ago.

With the government of prime minister Pedro Passos Coelho hoping to persuade the troika of the European commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund to treat it more leniently in 2013 by lowering interest rates on loans, the sell-off of national companies is seen as one way of winning support.

Airports operator ANA is expected to be sold this week, with French construction group Vinci reported to have bid €3bn (£2.4bn). A consortium led by the Zurich airport operator Flughafen Zurich and Germany's Fraport is thought to be the other leading bidder.

But finding suitable buyers for Portuguese state companies is not always easy. Brazilian businessman Germán Efromovich tried to buy ailing national airline TAP for €36m last week, but his offer, which reportedly included a further €315m in capital for the airline, was turned down after the government said his financing was not solid enough.

The opposition socialist party, which had accused Passos Coelho's centre-right government of organising a secret, semi-private sale, welcomed the decision to postpone the sell-off.

But Efromovich was expected to bid again for the airline, which is saddled with €1.2bn of debt.

The troika has told Portugal to sell €5bn of state companies as part of the deal which saw it receive a €78bn bailout in May 2011. But it looks set to beat that target thanks mainly to sell-offs in the electricity sector and in airports.

Successful sales completed so far include the 21% of utility company Energias de Portugal taken by China Three Gorges for €2.7bn, and a quarter share in electricity grid operator REN bought by China State Grid for €387m.

Oil-rich former colony Angola is one of the countries that Portugal has tried to tap for investors as it aims to sell off everything from public broadcaster RTP to parts of the postal service, water utilities, state banks, the rail service and oil firm Galp.

Angola's Newshold, owner of Portugal's Sol weekly newspaper, has said it is interested in bidding for RTP in what would be the most controversial privatisation of all.

Under the bailout plans, Portugal is due to return to bond markets in 2013. Its borrowing costs have tumbled in recent months, with 10-year bond yields finally falling back to pre-bailout levels of below 7% shortly before Christmas. A successful return to the markets would be seen as a sign that the euro crisis was finally being solved.

Passos Coelho's government hopes that the troika, which recently eased lending conditions to Greece, might do the same with Portugal – lowering interest payments and making it easier to cut the budget deficit. Portugal's debt is expected to reach 120% of GDP this year and it currently pays 3.6% interest on troika loans.

Germany has already said it opposes a softening of the bailout loan terms, with its finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, saying that would look as though Portugal was unable to meet targets. "It would be a devastating signal and I would really advise them not to pursue this point any further," he said.

Portugal's economy shrank by 3% this year and the country has lost almost 6% of GDP since the credit crunch of 2007.

Large demonstrations in September forced the government into a U-turn over plans to raise social security contributions. The government withdrew the measures, but instead introduced huge income tax hikes, adding 3% to average tax rates.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Dutch anger over pope's gay marriage condemnation

Dutch News, Saturday 22 December 2012

Dutch foreign affairs minister Frans Timmermans has criticised the pope for his recent statements on homosexuality, RTL news reported on Saturday.

Thank you for the flowers !
‘If every person is unique, as the pope’s representative said in Dublin last week, then why should that unique person not have the right to stand up for their own sexual orientation?’ Timmermans is quoted as saying.

'Why can Romeo marry Julia but not Julius?' the minister told RTL. ‘Marriage between two people of the same sex is having respect for the uniqueness of the individual.’

The pope used his traditional Christmas speech this year to denounce gay marriange which he said is destroying the very ‘essence of the human creature’.

The Netherlands legalised same sex marriages, in April 2001, the first country in the world to do so.

United Nations

The COC gay rights lobby group has called on Timmermans to summon the pope’s representative in the Netherlands and to campaign to have the Vatican lose its special position within the United Nations.

‘Wars are raging and people are dying of hunger, and the Vatican choses to condemn people who love each other,’ RTL news quoted a spokesman as saying. ‘And when it comes to Uganda, where the most terrible anti-gay legislation is being introduced in the name of religion, the Vatican says not a word.’

In the meantime, a new Facebook page ‘No flowers for the pope’ – a reference to the fact the Netherlands sends flowers to the pope every Easter – had gathered 7,000 likes by late Saturday afternoon.



"Recalibration of Free Choice"–  Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) - (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)

“ … Spirituality (Religions)

Number one: Spirituality. The systems of spiritual design on your planet are starting to change. This is not telling you that certain ones are going to go away. They're simply going to change. Some of the largest spiritual systems, which you would call organized religion on the planet, are shifting. They're going to shift away from that which is authority on the outside to authority on the inside. It will eventually be a different way of worship, slowly changing the rules while keeping the basic doctrine the same.

The doctrine of the Christ has always been to find the God inside. The teachings were clear. The examples of the miracles were given as an example of what humans could do, not to set a man up for worship as a God. So when that has been absorbed, the teaching of the Christ can remain the teaching of the Christ. It simply changes the interpretation. …”

Tajikistan orders Twitter ban

Yahoo – AFP,  22 December 2012

Tajikistan has ordered local Internet providers to block Twitter, one
 of more than 100 sites including popular Russian-language social
 networks starting next week, an industry representative told
 AFP Saturday.

"The (government) communications service has sent Internet companies a huge list of 131 sites that must be blocked in the country from Monday," said Asomiddin Atoyev, the head of the Tajik association of Internet providers.

"The list includes social networking sites that are actively used by Tajik Internet users including government officials," Atoyev said.

Among the blocked sites are Vkontakte, or In Touch, and Odnoklassniki, or Classmates, the most popular social networking sites in Russia with many users in the ex-Soviet Union, and Mail.ru, an email service.

"We don't understand the criteria for drawing up the list and what they are pursuing. The communications service does not give reasons in its letter for blocking the sites," Atoyev said.

No official at the communications service was available for comment on Saturday.

The Central Asian country bordering Afghanistan lifted only this month a ban on Facebook, which was blocked from late November for almost two weeks on the order of the same state-run communications service.

The service said it blocked Facebook because of a "deluge of lies" and "insults to the head of state and government members."

But after urging from the United States, the authorities unblocked Facebook in December, saying they had been carrying out "preventative technical" work.

Several news sites, including regional portals Fergana.ru and Centrasia.ru and Russia's state-owned news agency RIA Novosti, have been blocked in Tajikistan for months.

Local media in Tajikistan avoids criticising President Emomali Rahmon, who has led the country since 1992, fearing government checks and closure of their publications.

Tajikistan, the poorest ex-Soviet country, has a population of around eight million people, of whom around one million work in Russia, often as labourers. The money they send back home accounts for 40 percent of the country's GDP.

The country will hold presidential elections next year and many fear the authorities will tighten control on the Internet.

"The next presidential elections will be held in Tajikistan in November 2013, and this will bring even more harsh control of Internet resources and independent media," predicted the head of the National Association of Independent Media of Tajikistan, Nuriddin Karshiboyev.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

MoD pays out millions to Iraqi torture victims

Lawyers and human rights groups say 400 settlements show 'systemic' abuse

The Guardian, Ian Cobain, Thursday 20 December 2012


British soldiers take Iraqi prisoners: human rights groups and lawyers
are calling for a public inquiry into the UK's detention and interrogation
practices in Iraq following the 2003 invasion. Photograph: Reuters

The Ministry of Defence has paid out £14m in compensation and costs to hundreds of Iraqis who complained that they were illegally detained and tortured by British forces during the five-year occupation of the south-east of the country.

Hundreds more claims are in the pipeline as Iraqis become aware that they are able to bring proceedings against the UK authorities in the London courts.

The MoD says it is investigating every allegation of abuse that has been made, adding that the majority of British servicemen and women deployed to Iraq conducted themselves "with the highest standards of integrity".

However, human rights groups and lawyers representing former prisoners say that the abuse was systemic, with military interrogators and guards responsible for the mistreatment acting in accordance with both their training in the UK and orders issued in Iraq.

The campaigners are calling for a public inquiry into the UK's detention and interrogation practices following the 2003 invasion. An inquiry would be a development the MoD would be eager to avoid.

Payments totalling £8.3m have been made to 162 Iraqis this year. There were payments to 17 individuals last year and 26 in the three years before that.

The average payment to the 205 people who have made successful claims has been almost £70,000, including costs. The MoD says it is negotiating payments concerning a further 196 individuals.

Lawyers representing former prisoners of the British military say that more than 700 further individuals are likely to make claims next year.

Most of those compensated were male civilians who said they had been beaten, deprived of sleep and threatened before being interrogated by British servicemen and women who had detained them on suspicion of involvement in the violent insurgency against the occupation. Others said that they suffered sexual humiliation and were forced into stress positions for prolonged periods.

Many of the complaints arise out of the actions of a shadowy military intelligence unit called the Joint Forward Interrogation Team (Jfit) which operated an interrogation centre throughout the five-year occupation. Officials of the International Committee of the Red Cross complained about the mistreatment of detainees at Jfit not long after it was first established.

Despite this, the interrogators shot hundreds of video films in which they captured themselves threatening and abusing men who can be seen to be bruised, disoriented, complaining of starvation and sleep deprivation and, in some cases, too exhausted to stand unaided.

A former soldier who served as a guard at Jfit told the Guardian that he and others were ordered to take hold of blindfolded prisoners by their thumbs in between interrogation sessions then drag them around assault courses where they could not be filmed.

He also confirmed that the prisoners were often beaten during these runs, and that they would then be returned for interrogation in front of a video camera.

The interrogators were drawn from all three branches of the forces and included a large number of reservists.

During proceedings brought before the high court in London, lawyers representing the former Jfit prisoners suggested the interrogation centre could be regarded as "Britain's Abu Ghraib".

Questioned about the compensation payments, an MoD spokesperson said: "Over 120,000 British troops have served in Iraq and the vast majority have conducted themselves with the highest standards of integrity and professionalism. All allegations of abuse will always be investigated thoroughly. We will compensate victims of abuse where it is right to do so and seek to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice."

Lutz Oette, legal counsel at Redress, a London-based NGO which helps torture survivors get justice, said: "The payments provide a long overdue measure of redress. However, for the victims compensation without truth and accountability is a heavy price to pay. For justice to be done there is a need for a full independent inquiry to establish what happened and who is responsible.

"Looking at the number of claimants and scale of payments, there clearly seems to be a systemic problem. It is high time for this to be fully accounted for, first and foremost for the victims but also the British public, which has an obvious interest to know the truth behind the figures."

Next month the high court will hear a judicial review of the MoD's refusal to hold a public inquiry into the abuses. Human rights groups and lawyers for the former prisoners say the UK government is obliged to hold an inquiry to meet its obligations under the European convention on human rights – and particularly under article three of the convention, which protects individuals from torture.

After a hearing the high court highlighted matters supporting the allegations of systemic abuse. These included:

• The same techniques being used at the same places for the same purpose: to assist interrogation.

• The facilities being under the command of an officer.

• Military doctors examining each prisoner at various stages in their detention.

• Investigations by the Royal Military police that were concluded without anyone being held to account.

If the court does order a public inquiry, responsibility for any systemic abuse is likely to be traced up the military chain of command and beyond.

The MoD claims no public inquiry is necessary as it has instituted an investigation body, the Iraq Historical Allegations Team (Ihat), which is examining the abuse allegations as well as a number of prisoner deaths in British military custody.

After Ihat investigators examined the videos shot at Jfit, three interrogators were referred to the Service Prosecuting Authority with a recommendation that war crimes charges be considered.

Prosecutors eventually decided that the matters were insufficiently serious for war crimes charges, and that disciplinary charges were unlikely to lead to convictions. They concluded that one soldier had committed offences, but that this was "in accordance with the training that they had been given"; it would be inappropriate to charge him.

Other inquiries have led Ihat to recommend that the MoD makes compensation payments to former prisoners.

But lawyers for the former prisoners believe Ihat is insufficiently independent as it answers to MoD officials. One investigator quit Ihat alleging that the organisation's inquiry is not genuine, but more a face-saving exercise.

The European court of human rights has ruled German citizen Khaled el-Masri
was tortured by CIA agents, the first time the court has described treatment
meted out by the CIA as torture. Photograph: Christian Hartmann/AP


Serbian mystic mountain attracts 'doomsday' believers

Google –AFP, Suzana Markovic (AFP), 20 December 2012 

The pyramid-shaped Rtanj mountain in southeastern Serbia, pictured
on December 20, 2012 (AFP, Sasa Djordjevic)

RTANJ, Serbia — A pyramid-shaped mountain in Serbia, believed by some to be a source of unusual electromagnetic waves that could shield it from catastrophe, was attracting record numbers of visitors ahead of the predicted Mayan apocalypse on Friday.

All the hotels around the Rtanj mountain in southeastern Serbia have been booked up ahead of "doomsday", many of them for a New Age conference that is due to run beyond the forecast end of the world on December 21.

"I do not really believe that the end of the world is coming, but it is nice to be here in case something unusual happens," said Darko, a 28-year-old designer visiting from Belgrade.

His friend Zaga Jovancic said she had brought some canned food and bottled water, "just in case."

"I don't expect 'doomsday,' but it will be nice to tell our children that we were here at a time when the whole world went mad," Jovancic said.

The main reason for the influx of visitors -- some from as far away as Australia -- is a four-day conference opening Thursday hosted by the Spirit of Rtanj Association to look into the alleged properties of the snow-covered mountain.

Rtanj is normally a quiet winter resort visited mainly by hikers and climbers from Serbia and was once home to a number of now defunct coal mines. It is known for its wild countryside and fields of medicinal herbs, a main source of income for its hundred inhabitants.

"We have already registered interesting electromagnetic activities in previous years and we hope that we can gather more evidence to prove this mountain is different from the rest of the world," said Milovan Radisic, one of the conference participants.

The conference -- which runs until December 23 -- will also look into reports that calendars from several ancient civilisations including the Aztecs, the Hopi Indians and the Egyptians predicted a new era beginning on Friday -- at the 11th minute of the 11th hour.

But physicist Stjepan Kulenovic scoffed at claims that Rtanj -- which legend has it was once a sorcerer's castle -- had magical properties.

"Such assumptions are scientifically so groundless that one can only laugh at them," he told AFP. "There are still unknown fields in the physics, but this one could be denied even by a fifth-grader."

Local hoteliers and tourist officials weren't complaining however.

"We have never had foreigners here at this time of the year," said Marina Zikic of the tourist office in Boljevac, the main town in the area.

Nebojsa Gajic of the hotel "Rtanj" said the area's modest quota of rooms -- just 250 -- had all been booked, with visitors from France, Germany and Australia due to arrive.

"We have some 30 percent more tourists this year compared to previous ones, maybe due to the 'doomsday' rumours, but also because (of the conference)," Gajic told AFP. "We have no more rooms available."

And Serbia's Tourist Office was also delighted with the influx.

"Our official stance is not to support such mythology, but if it is good for business, so much the better," said tourist office representative Sandra Vlatkovic.


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"Recalibration of Free Choice"–  Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) - (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)

US indicts Swiss bankers in offshore tax case

Three men who worked for unnamed bank accused of conspiring with US clients to hide more than $420m, says attorney's office

guardian.co.uk, Reuters, Thursday 20 December 2012

The IRS has indicted three Swiss bankers accused of conspiring with clients
 in the US to hide more than $420m in offshore accounts, according to the
US attorney's office. Photograph: Royalty-Free/Corbis

Three Swiss bankers accused of conspiring with US clients to hide more than $420m (£258.4m) from the tax-collecting US internal revenue service have been indicted, according to the US attorney's office in Manhattan.

The indictment named Stephan Fellmann, Otto Huppi and Christof Reist, all former client advisers with an unnamed Swiss bank. None of the bankers have been arrested, authorities said. Their attorneys were not immediately known. The indictment said the unnamed bank did not have offices in the United States.

Banking secrecy is enshrined in Swiss law and tradition, but it has recently come under pressure as the United States and other nations have moved aggressively to tighten tax law enforcement and have demanded more openness and cooperation.

In April, two Swiss financial advisers were indicted in the US on charges of conspiring to help Americans hide $267m in secret bank accounts.

In January, prosecutors charged three Swiss bankers with conspiring with wealthy taxpayers to hide more than $1.2bn in assets from tax authorities.

UBS, the largest Swiss bank, in 2009 paid a $780mn fine as part of a settlement with US authorities who charged the bank with helping thousands of wealthy Americans to hide billions of dollars in assets in secret Swiss accounts.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

UBS corrupt payments exposed as bank pays £940m to settle Libor claims

Swiss bank admits wrongdoing in settlement with multiple regulators over manipulation of inter-bank lending rates

guardian.co.uk, Jill Treanor, Wednesday 19 December 2012

UBS will hand over $1.5bn and admit wrongdoing at its Japanese arm to
settle Libor fixing claims. Photograph: Michael Buholzer/Reuters

The Swiss bank UBS has been fined £940m (1.4bn Swiss francs, US$1.53bn) by global regulators for "extensive and widespread" attempts to manipulate key benchmark interest rates known as Libor for five years.

This is the latest and most serious escalation of the rate-rigging scandal and exposes corrupt payments for the first time.

The £160m portion of the fine levied by the Financial Services Authority is the largest ever imposed by the City regulator and surpasses the previous record of £59.5m imposed on Barclays in June for attempted manipulation of the Libor and Euribor rates. The total Barclays fine was £290m and led to the resignation of chief executive Bob Diamond days later.

At UBS at least 2,000 requests for "inappropriate submissions" to the key rates were documented and at least 45 individuals "including traders, managers and senior managers were involved in, or aware of, the practice of attempting to influence submissions", the FSA said. It added that every one of those submissions was potentially suspicious.

The City regulator said UBS had colluded with interdealer brokers to influence submissions to the yen Libor rate and that corrupt brokerage payments of £15,000 a quarter were made to reward brokers for their efforts to manipulate the Libor submissions of other banks on the panel submitting rates.

The UBS fine exposes the full scale of the attempts to manipulate the two rates – London interbank offered rate (Libor) and the Euro interbank offered rate (Euribor).

In its report, the FSA said it had found a UBS trader agreeing with a counterpart that he would attempt to manipulate UBS's submissions in "small drops" to avoid arousing suspicion. The trader made it clear that he hoped to profit from the manipulation and referred explicitly to his UBS trading positions and the impact of the Japanese Libor rate on those positions. He offered to "return the favour" and entered into illicit transactions in order to incentivise and reward his counterparts.

For example, on 18 September 2008 a trader explained to a broker: "If you keep 6s [ie, the six-month Japanese yen Libor rate] unchanged today ... I will fucking do one humongous deal with you ... Like a 50,000 buck deal, whatever ... I need you to keep it as low as possible ... if you do that .... I'll pay you, you know, 50,000 dollars, 100,000 dollars... whatever you want ... I'm a man of my word."

Illicit fees of more than £170,000 were generated for the broker.

Tracey McDermott, the FSA director of enforcement and financial crime, said: "The findings we have set out in our notice today do not make for pretty reading. The integrity of benchmarks such as Libor and Euribor are of fundamental importance to both UK and international financial markets. UBS traders and managers ignored this.

"UBS's misconduct was all the more serious because of the orchestrated attempts to manipulate the Japanese yen Libor submissions of other banks, as well as its own, and the collusion with interdealer brokers and other panel banks in co-ordinated efforts to manipulate the fix."

The Swiss regulator Finma said most of the requests were made by one trader who worked in Tokyo from 2006 to 2009. "The same trader also contacted employees at third-party banks and independent brokers, thereby seeking to influence the Libor submissions of third-party banks," Finma said.