Kryon Berlin Tour & Seminar - Berlin, Germany, Sept 17-22 2019 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll)

Kryon Berlin Tour & Seminar - Berlin, Germany, Sept 17-22 2019 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll)
30th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

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. …

Friday, May 31, 2013

Monsanto set to halt GM push in Europe

RT, May 31, 2013

The march against Monsanto, Germany. (Image from twitter user@@HarvestPM)

Monsanto plans to halt lobbying for its genetically modified plant varieties in Europe due to low demand from local farmers, a representative from the US agricultural giant told a German daily.

"We are no longer working on lobbying for more cultivation in Europe," Brandon Mitchner a representative for Monsanto’s European branch, Tageszeitung, said in an interview set to be published on Saturday.

"Currently we do not plan to apply for the approval of new genetically modified crops. The reason is, among other things, low demand of the farmers,” he continued.

A spokeswoman for Monsanto Germany, Ursula Luttmer-Ouazane, admitted that Monsanto recognizes that GMO crops were currently not embraced on the European market.

"We've understood that such plants don't have any broad acceptance in European societies," Luttmer-Ouazane said. “It is counterproductive to fight against windmills," she added.

A spokesperson for the German Ministry of Economy and Technologies described the move as an “entrepreneurial decision” which needed no further comment. The ministry added, however, it has long made its opposition to gene modification technologies known.

"The promises of the GM industry have not come true for European agriculture, nor have they for the agriculture in developing and emerging economies," the ministry said in a statement.

Eight national governments in the European Union have already banned Monsanto's MON810 maize and other forms of GMO cultivation in their countries under an environmental protection provision known as the 'Safeguard Clause'.

Particularly fierce protests in Germany prompted the government to introduce the measures in 2009 due to concerns that such cultivation could lead to ecological degradation.

Monsanto’s rivals, such as Bayer CropScience, BASF and Syngenta, had by and large pulled out of the German market because of large-scale public opposition, the German daily reported.

Austria, Bulgaria, France, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg and most recently Poland are among other EU member states enforcing the ban. In April, Italy joined the ranks of EU states looking to ban the cultivation of GM crops on its soil.

The march against Monsanto, Germany. (Image from twitter user@Julia_etc)

The announcement comes amidst a series of recent public relations battles that have brought the US firm considerable worldwide attention.

On Wednesday, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said it had conducted genetic tests on wheat from an 80-acre farm in Oregon this past April. The tests revealed the wheat was an experimental variety created by Monsanto that had never been approved for sale.

The discovery prompted Japanese authorities to cancel part of a tender offer to buy US western white wheat and have suspended imports of both that variety and feed wheat, while several other large importers of US-wheat throughout Asia said they were closely monitoring the situation.

The European Union for its part said it will test any incoming shipments, with plans to block those containing GMO wheat.

The USDA announcement followed a massive, global "March Against Monsanto" held on Saturday that saw demonstrations against the Missouri-based firm in 52 countries.  Organizers for the global protest said around 2 million protesters showed up at rallies being held in 436 cities to protest against the seed giant and the genetically modified food.

The march against Monsanto, Munich. (Image from twitter user@nasimjo)

Protesters make their point to Monsanto in Los Angeles, California,
May 25, 2013. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

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Millions march against GM crops

Washington County Bans Growing of GMOs

Europeans 'Blockupy' the ECB in Frankfurt

Deutsche Welle, 31 May 2013

Thousands have converged on Frankfurt to shut down the European Central Bank for a day. Their reasons may vary, including frustration with banks and the EU, but Europeans are uniting around the Blockupy movement.

Among the estimated 2,500 people taking part in Blockupy Frankfurt on May 31 was Elanora, who traveled there from her home in Naples, Italy. The young woman, who preferred to withhold her surname, is a member of an Italian social action group called Global Project. The group flew to Frankfurt to protest EU-wide austerity measures in front of the European Central Bank.

"You look at the statistics of unemployment and welfare in south Italy and you discover that we are poorer than the Greeks. So we're suffering under austerity very much," she told DW, explaining why she and her fellow Italians were joining the protests.

The Italians were flanked by representatives from other countries in southern Europe, all who came to voice frustration over EU economic policies, which they feel have resulted in deteriorating social conditions back home.

Where the money is

For the 42-year-old professor Nicole, currently residing in Lieges, Belgium, the trip to Germany's banking capital served as a demonstration of solidarity for friends and family back in his home country Spain. "Fifty percent of youths are unemployed there," he told DW. "People are eating trash. They're self-immolating. Last week there was a police officer who stabbed a banker."

Previously, Nicole took part in a demonstration that blocked the European Commission in Brussels. But Frankfurt, he said, was an important location. "In Brussels you have the politicians. Here is where the money is."

Participants at Blockupy Frankfurt are proud to attend the event and speak up for those who couldn't afford to travel the distance. For 25-year-old Antonia from Thessaloniki, Greece, it was important to participate on behalf of her countrymen.

"For me it's important to speak up. Being Greek, I can understand how the people of my country feel."

Blockupy, not Occupy

Founded in 2012, Germany's Blockupy is not a movement in itself but an alliance of national European movements. Its primary annual event, Blockupy Frankfurt, brings those groups together for six days. The climax includes the attempted shuttering of the ECB.

"What's unique about Blockupy is that it's not organized from anyone above - that every possible group, with different topics that are related to the crisis somehow - that they come to Frankfurt and bring those protests with them," said Ani Dießelmann, a volunteer spokesperson for Blockupy, in an interview with DW.

Anti-capitalism slogans are common. But it is not always clear what kind of
reforms the activists want

As a result of its open mandate, Blockupy suffers the same criticisms as Occupy - namely, that it lacks a unified message or clear set of policy proposals. Anti-capitalism slogans are common. But while few appear to want a return to national currencies and abolition of the euro, it is not always clear what kinds of reforms they would like to see.

Dießelmann views things differently. Though she's quick to point out that her own involvement in Germany's Interventionistische Linke ["Interventionist Left"] means that she can't always speak objectively on behalf of all groups participating in Blockupy, she does see a common theme.

"Beyond questions of 'crisis' and fiscal policy, we're asking how political power can be organized so that it can be called democratic," she said.

Mobilizing protests across Europe

Yet beyond that desire for greater democratic accountability in the European Union, Blockupy Frankfurt plays a more important role for the groups involved. With more than 30 lectures, roundtables, workshops and a handful of concerts to boot, it provides an annual exchange of pan-European grassroots political ideas and tactics, something many national groups feel has been missing.

"You can block [the ECB] for a day and you create a precedent for other groups to direct action like that," said Avout, a Dutch member of the International Socialists group who traveled to Frankfurt for the event. "On the other hand, it's also important to have communication with each other and build networks. Because the crisis is coming from Europe, we should also organize Europe-wide all and Blockupy is a very good reason to do that," he told DW.

In addition to networking, Professor Nicole views the gathering as an effective show of solidarity. "If you go to the gatherings in the camps, that's where you'll see people from Italy, Belgium, from France. Of course there are a lot of Germans. But people have come from everywhere."

He also views June 1 protests that will take place in 70 European cities, as a kind of "Thank you" from countries in Southern Europe. "People have said, 'First we're going to take on Frankfurt.' And then the Portuguese and Spanish said, 'OK, on the 1st of June, since we don't have the money to travel, let's take to the streets in our own city."

Thursday, May 30, 2013

France and Germany agree on 'full time' eurozone boss

DeutscheWelle, 30 May 2013

France and Germany have agreed on the need for a full-time president for the Eurogroup of finance eurozone ministers. Both countries' leaders met in Paris in an effort to see eye-to-eye on economic policy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande agreed on Thursday to jointly push for the eurozone to have a full-time chief overseeing economic policy.

The Eurogroup of finance ministers from each of the 17 eurozone nations is currently headed by one of those ministers, currently Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem. The group meets informally every month to decide the bloc's economic policy.

"We agree that there be more eurozone summits with a full-time president of the Eurogroup," which oversees policy in the currency bloc, Hollande said at a joint press conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Hollande also added that the president should have "more powers."

Hollande added that the proposed president "could be mandated by eurozone ministers to support action for jobs, research and industry."

Merkel was supportive of the idea. "We need more economic policy coordination, especially in the Eurogroup," she said.

The two leaders have been seeking to put aside their differences on policy - with Merkel more focused on austerity and Hollande insistent that growth should be the priority - ahead of a European Union summit at the end of June. The meeting is the first time since Hollande came to power that the pair have worked so closely on policy, with Berlin and Paris keen to present a united front at the meeting.

An artistic tour

The meeting began in the Louvre Museum, with the two leaders touring an exhibition on German art between 1800 and 1939.

Speaking at the press conference that followed, Merkel said France had an obligation to press ahead with structural reforms after Paris was given more time to reduce its deficit.

"We agreed to give France two more years to cut its deficit to 3.0 percent (of gross domestic product)... and coupled with that is the expectation that reforms will be implemented. These go hand in hand," Merkel said.

Hollande also reaffirmed his determination to tackle unemployment, despite a 1.2 percent increase on the number of unemployed in France between March and April being announced on Thursday. The new data puts the number of registered job seekers at 3,264,400.

"Despite this data, despite what it means for many French people individually or for their family, I maintain the goal of reversing the unemployment trend by year-end," Hollande said.

Young people have been worst affected by the rise in unemployment, the monthly increase between March and April for under-25s being 2 percent.

rc/msh (AP, dpa, Reuters)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Germany to pay Holocaust victims new compensation

BBC News, 29 May 2013

Related Stories

Berlin's Memorial to the Murdered Jews
of Europe was opened in 2005
Germany has agreed to pay an extra 800 million euros (£685 million) to help care for Jewish survivors of the Nazi Holocaust.

It is thought about 56,000 people worldwide will benefit, one third of them in Israel.

The aim is to help ensure elderly Holocaust survivors can live their final years in dignity.

Germany has also agreed to widen the scope of those eligible, to include people who lived in open ghettos.

The Jewish Claims Conference, which represents Jews caught up in the Holocaust and their descendents, welcomed the announcement.

"We are seeing Germany's continued commitment to fulfil its historic obligation to Nazi victims," said Stuart Eizenstat, the Claims Conference's special negotiator, in a statement on the organisation's website.

He said the main beneficiaries would be people whose "early life was filled with indescribable tragedy and trauma".

Stuart Eizenstat, of the Jewish Claims Conference, 
called the announcement "impressive"
Stuart Eizenstat, of the Jewish Claims Conference, called the announcement "impressive"
A German finance ministry spokesman confirmed the details of the compensation.

Mr Eizenstat, who is a former US ambassador to the European Union, added that the move was "all the more impressive since it comes at a time of budget austerity in Germany".

The open ghettos referred to were those without walls but where residents "lived in constant fear of deportation by the Nazis", according to the Claims Conference.

The former West German government acknowledged the murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and began, in 1952, to pay compensation to Israel.

Last year, the German finance ministry said it would make one-off payments worth 2,556 euros (£2188) each to Jewish victims of the Holocaust who had still not received any compensation.

Many of them live in the former Soviet Union.

Binyamin and Sara Netanyahu in China this week. It was pointed
out that the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, who will be 90 next
month, spent an 11-hour flight to South Korea seated. Photograph:
Avi Ohayon/AFP/Getty Images

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Matthew’s Message - May 12, 2013 - (Matthew Channelled by Suzanne Ward)

“… Israel's persistent belligerence is the work of the Zionists—another of the Illuminati's disparate groups—who serve only their own interests of conquest. Contrary to what they want you to believe, the Zionist movement does not represent the will of the Israelis or Jews anywhere else in the world. In time, this movement, which is losing favor even with its former staunch allies, will completely lose its credibility and influence. …”

GW: I’m reading between the lines here, and what you’re saying, Michael, is that the young people and even many of the elders within Israel are searching for peace.

The fact that Netanyahu has even maintained a position of power or leadership within the country might suggest that something that was not particularly life-honoring had taken place in the leadership.

Is Netanyahu in containment at the moment?

AAM: He is in some form of mild containment. He is not in full containment, let us put it that way. Now, we also say that he has a following in the middle range of those who wish to maintain the status quo. And part of that maintenance of the status quo is not just the belief in lack and limitation. It is also the desire to maintain power, and to maintain wealth, and to maintain positions of freedom.

And that is not the fundamental basis upon which Israel, or any other nation, for that matter, has been founded. So his position and his power you will see diminishing.

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

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

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

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

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

Kabul demands surrender of detainees in British custody in Afghanistan

UK defence secretary has confirmed that 80-90 people are being held at Camp Bastion after claims emerge of detention facility

Philip Hammond said it was 'absurd' to call Camp Bastion a secret facility and
 many of those held posed a danger to troops. Photograph: Mark Thomas/Rex

Afghanistan has demanded the handover of nearly 100 people who have been detained by British forces in Afghanistan, in some cases for more than a year.

Mohammad Daud Yaar, the Afghan ambassador to the UK, told BBC Radio 4's World at One on Wednesday that "the principle of national sovereignty" meant that they should be surrendered to Afghan custody. He added that he could promise that they would not be mistreated.

He was speaking a few hours after Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, confirmed that 80 or 90 people were being held at the site but rejected claims that it amounted to a secret detention facility.

Hammond said many of them posed a danger to British troops, and reiterated that they could not yet be handed over to Afghan authorities because of concerns that they would be mistreated.

UK lawyers acting for eight of the men, some of whom they say have been held for up to 14 months without charge, have launched habeas corpus applications in the UK high court in a bid to free them, raising comparisons with the outrage over the Guantánamo Bay prison camp.

Many of the prisoners have not been able to see a lawyer after months in prison, a basic right offered to anyone arrested in the UK. Access to a lawyer was among the first rights that Guantánamo detainees won off the US government. The Afghan detainees have also not been given any kind of trial date, or prospect of one.

"Our client has been held at Camp Bastion since August 2012. He has not been charged with any crime and has had no access to a lawyer so he can receive legal advice about his ongoing detention," said Rosa Curling, a lawyer with the firm Leigh Day, which is representing a 20-year-old prisoner with a young daughter.

International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) rules dictate that British forces are only allowed to hold suspects for 96 hours. But in November last year, Hammond halted plans to hand suspected insurgents captured by British troops to Afghan security forces on the grounds that they risked being abused and tortured.

Phil Shiner, lawyer for eight of the men, said the government had chosen not to train the Afghan authorities to treat people lawfully and humanely.

"This is a secret facility that has been used to unlawfully detain or intern up to 85 Afghans that they have kept secret, that parliament doesn't know about, that courts previously, when they have interrogated issues like detention and internment in Afghanistan, have never been told about – completely off the radar," he told the BBC.

"It is reminiscent of the public's awakening that there was a Guantánamo Bay. And people will be wondering if these detainees are being treated humanely and in accordance with international law."

Shiner said the prisoners had not been told what they were accused of or granted access to legal representation, except for two men who had been allowed a one-hour phone call each with a lawyer on Wednesday.

In response, Hammond said that many of the detainees were suspected killers of British troops or known to be involved in the preparation, facilitation or laying of improvised explosive devices and it would be wrong to put them "back on the battlefield".

"We would like nothing more than to hand these people over to the Afghan authorities so they can be handed over to the Afghan judicial system," he told the Today programme, dismissing the description of Camp Bastion as a secret facility as "absurd".

The defence secretary said the government was working "very intensively" with the Afghan authorities to create the safe conditions that would enable the detainees to be transferred to the Afghan system and expressed his hope that this would be achieved "within a matter of days". Defending the prisoners' lack of access to lawyers, he said they would be granted representation when they were transferred to the Afghan judicial system.

Speaking a few hours after Hammond's Today programme interview, Yaar said the prisoners should be handed over to the Afghans immediately.

"We believe that those detainees who are Afghans, based on the principle of national sovereignty, should be placed under Afghan authority," he said.

"Believe me, the world should take us at our world. We promise that we will not mistreat these people."

Yaar said he hoped that the prisoners would be transferred to the Parwan detention facility near Bagram airfield, a US-built prison that was placed under Afghan control last year.

Asked about claims that prisoners in Afghan detention were mistreated, Yaar said the issue had been investigated by experts appointed by the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai.

"What they found was that there were some occasions of torture, but the torture was not systematic. It's a war environment and people get emotional. In the process of detaining people, usually, some degree of violence does occur," he said.

Yaar said he did not accept that there were "countless" examples of mistreatment in Afghan jails.

"These are people who have supposedly committed some kind of a crime," he said. "Of course they will bring all sorts of reasons and all sorts of complaints to derail the investigation and attract sympathy."

Lawyers argue that while they try to find a solution, the British government is violating two of the fundamental principles of British justice – that no one should be detained indefinitely without trial, and that any suspect should have access to a lawyer.

"We have been asking for access to our client since March this year and to date, it has not been provided. The right of access to a lawyer is a fundamental and constitutional principle of our legal system. Unimpeded access to a lawyer is part of our concept of the rule of law," Curling said.

The UK is the only foreign power still jailing Afghans in their own country, after Washington in March sealed plans for the much-delayed handover of the last Afghan prisoners it still holds on Afghan soil.

Karzai has long been an outspoken opponent of foreign-run jails, which he sees as a serious violation of national sovereignty, but has focused most of his attention and political firepower on getting US forces to relinquish their huge prison near Kabul and has remained relatively silent about the prisoners detained by Britain.

Curling warned that if the UK continued to hold prisoners without trial or access to a lawyer, it would undermine efforts to improve justice in Afghanistan.

"The government states that one of the objectives of its current work in Afghanistan is to establish the rule of law and build a fair justice system by the time UK forces leave in 2014. In such a context, for the UK government itself to be refusing my client and other individuals the right to access justice is wrong and unlawful."

Activists demand the closing of the US military's detention
facility in Guantanamo, April 11, 2013 in New York City
 (AFP/File, Stan Honda)

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US fines Total $398 mn over bribes in Iran

Google – AFP, Paul Handley (AFP), 29 may 2013 

French oil group Total's logo is seen in Paris on November 23, 2012
(AFP/File, Eric Piermont)

WASHINGTON — French oil giant Total has been fined $398.2 million under US foreign corruption laws to resolve charges it bribed officials in Iran to secure oil and gas concessions, US authorities announced Wednesday.

Total was fined $245.2 million by the Department of Justice for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), while the Securities and Exchange Commission penalized it another $153 million in disgorgement and interest in the case.

The charges stemmed from some $60 million in bribes that Total intermediaries paid Iranian officials between 1995 and 2004 to obtain the rights to develop several oil and gas fields, the Justice Department said.

US Attorney Neil MacBride answers reporters' 
questions on June 23, 2011 in Washington, DC
(Getty Images/AFP/File, Chip Somodevilla)
US authorities worked together with French officials in the lengthy probe.

In tandem Wednesday French authorities recommended that Total, the company's chairman and chief executive be prosecuted for violating French bribery laws.

Total agreed to pay the US fines under a deferred prosecution agreement which requires the company over the next three years to retain an independent corporate compliance monitor and to implement controls to prevent FCPA violations,

"Today's deferred prosecution agreement, with both its punitive and forward-looking compliance provisions, dovetails with our goals of bringing violators to justice and preventing future misconduct," said US Attorney Neil MacBride.

The Justice Department said the bribes began in 1995 when Total tried to reenter the Iranian market by obtaining rights from the National Iranian Oil Company to develop two fields known as Sirra A and Sirra E.

Total paid around $16 million to an Iranian official via a fake consulting agreement to make the deal happen, the department said.

In 1997 Total began paying another $44 million via a second consulting arrangement for rights to develop part of the South Pars gas field, the world's largest.

"Total mischaracterized the unlawful payments as 'business development expenses' when they were, in fact, bribes designed to corruptly influence a foreign official," the department said.

In Paris Total told AFP that the company would challenge the French accusations.

"In the event of a trial, Total and its chief executive for the Middle East at the time, will argue that the behavior that they are accused of was completely legal under French law," the company said.

France marks first gay wedding

Google – AFP, 29 may 2013

Vincent Autin (L) and Bruno Boileau (C) kiss during their wedding, France's 
first official gay marriage on May 29, 2013 (AFP, Gerard Julien)

MONTPELLIER, France — Vincent Autin and Bruno Boileau said "I do" on Wednesday in France's first official gay marriage, as hundreds of guests and journalists looked on in the highly emotional ceremony.

"I now pronounce you united in marriage by law", Helene Mandroux, the visibly moved mayor of the southern city of Montpellier, told the couple to general applause, as Frank Sinatra's song "Love and Marriage" filled the room.

The high-profile ceremony, also attended by the Socialist government's spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, is the apex of months of huge divisions in France over a bill allowing same-sex marriage and adoption.

The bill was finally signed into law on May 18 to the cheers of supporters, but opponents have vowed to fight on and tens of thousands converged on Paris Sunday for a demonstration that ended in violence.

Autin, 40, made a short speech after the ceremony thanking supporters and his family, frequently breaking down in tears. "Love yourselves, let's love ourselves, because it's important," he said.

Mandroux then read out a letter by Jack Lang, a former culture and education minister who is gay. "Your happiness delights me... Here's to love, here's to life."

The ceremony took place under police surveillance, but no major incidents were reported.

Supporters of same-sex marriage had gathered outside the town hall in Montpellier where the marriage took place, as had some opponents who let off several flares.

Related Article:

China seals first free-trade deal with Switzerland

BBC News, 24 May 2013

Related Stories 

Bilateral trade between China and Switzerland is
worth $26bn
China has signed the framework of a free-trade agreement with Switzerland, which could become Beijing's first such deal with a major Western economy.

The signing ceremony took place during an official visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Switzerland.

Bilateral trade between the two countries is worth $26bn through imports and exports of watches, medicines, textiles and dairy products.

Mr Li said he hoped the deal would be felt beyond Switzerland's borders.

"This free-trade deal is the first between China and a continental European economy, and the first with one of the 20 leading economies of the globe," Mr Li told reporters after the two countries signed the preliminary agreement.

"This has huge meaning for global free-trade," he added.

For his part, Swiss President Ueli Maurer described the agreement as a "real milestone".

China is Switzerland's third biggest trading partner after the European Union and America, with exports to China of watches, pharmaceuticals and machinery amounting to over $22bn.

It is no coincidence that China's premier made Switzerland his first stop on his brief European tour, the BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Berne says.

China has hinted it could also make Switzerland its financial centre of choice, if Beijing allows offshore trading of its currency, the yuan, she adds.

High-level figures in Switzerland's watch-making industry are viewing the deal positively, hoping it will reduce China's import duties on watches from 16% to 12%.

""It will give a legal framework to our cooperation," Jean-Daniel Pasche, the head of Switzerland's main watch federation, told AFP news agency.

China is also looking to sell Switzerland more textiles and agricultural products.

The agreement still needs to be cleared by both chambers of the Swiss parliament before it can be ratified.

Swiss strike bank deal with US over tax evasion

Google – AFP, Jonathan Fowler (AFP), 29 May 2013

Swiss pedestrians walk past an embossed bank sign in Zurich, on October 13, 
2012 (AFP/File, Fabrice Coffrini)

GENEVA — Switzerland has accepted a United States demand to settle a dispute over the alleged complicity of Swiss banks in tax evasion by Americans, Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said Wednesday.

"This is both a good and a practical solution," Widmer-Schlumpf told reporters after a cabinet meeting approved the draft accord.

The deal, which will require approval by parliament, frees up Swiss banks to circumvent some elements of secrecy laws and turn over key information to US authorities.

She declined to give details of the sum that the banks will have to pay US revenue authorities in order to win legal closure, though Swiss media have reported that the overall figure could hit 10 billion Swiss francs ($10.3 billion, 8.0 billion euros).

Washington has repeatedly accused Swiss banks of complicity in tax evasion, since they hold billions of dollars belonging to American citizens accused of hiding away taxable income from the US revenue service.

"If a bank has done a lot of business involving undeclared American funds, it will have to deal with the problem," Widmer-Schlumpf underlined.

"We hope that it will enable this chapter to be closed," she said, saying that it was nonetheless up to individual banks to decide if they wanted to cooperate with US authorities.

However, any bank failing to toe the line risks being barred from the US market.

Widmer-Schlumpf indicated that the government had been presented with a take it or leave it offer by Washington.

"It was a unilateral offer, one that we couldn't negotiate," she said.

She rejected reports that the Swiss taxpayer would have to come up with at least part of the funds.

"Switzerland will pay nothing," she insisted.

Widmer-Schlumpf underlined that the goal of the deal was to create a legal framework under which the banks themselves could win legal closure of their disputes with the United States.

A bill on the deal will be put to parliament next month, and the implementation of its provisions will be limited to one year.

In a statement, the government said the bill "authorises banks to cooperate with the US authorities and to make available the information necessary to safeguard their interests".

"This includes in particular information about business relationships concerning US persons and details on people who were involved in the US business of the respective banks," it said.

With the global economic crisis having put tax havens into sharp focus, Switzerland has fought to defend its long-cherished principle of banking secrecy by giving ground in some areas but declining to allow the automatic handover of account details.

The government said that while the names of US clients can be handed over automatically, their account details can only be disclosed if Washington makes a specific request under rules related to the pursuit of tax dodgers.

Previous reports have said the 300 banks in Switzerland would be ranked by their level of alleged complicity in tax evasion.

The dozen seen as the main offenders would reportedly be forced to make individual deals, while a second category, comprising those with American clients but which have not yet faced legal action in the United States, would have to pay a set fine.

Under the accord agreed Wednesday, Swiss banks will give details of employees who deal with American clients.

In April 2012, Washington won the handover of the names of 10,000 such employees from some Swiss banks.

That came after a green light from the government, which faced criticism from banking sector employees for potentially exposing them to charges of abetting tax evasion.

The new deal would be far larger in scope, and the government said banks "will be obliged by law to provide maximum protection for their employees", including against dismissal, with a 2.5-million-Swiss-franc fund has been created by the banks for this purpose.

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