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. …

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A chronology of the NSA surveillance scandal

Deutsche Welle, 31 October 2013

First it was mobile phone data to fight terrorism, then the NSA surveillance scandal expanded to include the German chancellor as well as millions of individuals around the world. DW reviews how the spy scandal grew.

This undated photo provided by the National Security Agency (NSA) shows its
 headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. 
(Photo by NSA via Getty Images)

On May 20, 2013, he left behind his life as he knew it. The 29-year-old IT specialist and employee at the Booz Allen Hamilton consulting firm Edward Snowden boarded a plane from Hawaii to Hong Kong with a wealth of information documenting the espionage and surveillance programs at the US National Security Agency (NSA) packed in his bags.

By the time the plane was in the air, the American knew he would probably never set foot in his home country again, he told journalists with the British newspaper "The Guardian" a few days later.

In the interview, which took place in a Hong Kong hotel, he explained how and why he decided to take such a step by saying his conscience could no longer allow working for a system that could observe people's communications at any time regardless of whether the people have done anything to warrant such attention.

The first publication

 Snowden said he could no longer
be part of the surveillance state
On June 6, journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote the first of many articles in "The Guardian" based on documents provided by Snowden. The report focused on the NSA's secret program that collects connection data on millions of Americans' phone calls. The issue quickly spread beyond the pages of "The Guardian" to the world's media, including Deutsche Welle. When the first article was published, it was unclear where the information originated.

More reports on secret surveillance by the NSA followed on a nearly daily basis in "The Guardian" and the US paper "The Washington Post." On June 7, the first report of a program called PRISM made it to press. The PRISM data collection program stored digital communication between people in the United States with people outside the country.

Hunt for the whistleblower

As new reports surfaced, the search for the leak continued feverishly in Washington. Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the US Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence, said the informant needed to be hunted down and brought to justice. On June 9, Edward Snowden admitted he was the source of the information on CNN.

He appeared to feel at least somewhat safe in Hong Kong, even if his hotel was only a few meters from a CIA office, as he told "The Guardian" in an interview. Through his work for the American intelligence agency, he knew about the organization's worldwide network. The media began speculating whether China would extradite Snowden to the United States to face a trial.

A diplomatic low point

Merkel's tone on the NSA changed after
learning her own phone was tapped
While an increasing amount of information, including internal workshop materials concerning PRISM, were published, countries around the world began asking the US government questions about its spying habits. In Germany, which was identified by one of the documents as being among the most closely watched countries, opposition politicians and the public demanded an explanation. When Obama visited Berlin on June 19, he said the efforts were made in the legal fight against international terrorism and that a court was responsible for overseeing the NSA's activity.

On June 21, a report appeared describing how the British intelligence agency GCHQ ran a program named Tempora that tapped into fiber optic cables running under British territory.

Edward Snowden left Hong Kong for Russia and on June 23 landed in Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport. Speculation emerged that he was planning to travel to Cuba or a South American country but instead ended up stuck in the airport's transit area for weeks.

When Bolivian President Evo Morales left a conference in Moscow on July 2, his presidential plane was forced to land in Vienna, after France, Spain, Italy and Portugal reportedly denied access to their airspace. The forced landing also occurred among rumors, which proved false, that Snowden was on board. On August 1, Snowden was granted a year's asylum in Russia. Shortly after the announcement, Obama cancelled a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

XKeyscore collected and saved data
from around the world
Just before the visit would have taken place, "The Guardian" reported on July 31 about another NSA surveillance program named XKeyscore. The program provided access to the full text of e-mails around the world. The system is reportedly as easy for agents to use as Google.

Details of the programs continued to be uncovered all summer. Germany was shocked by a report on October 23 in "Der Spiegel" newsmagazine that said the US intelligence agency had tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone and been listening in for years. By this point, millions of German citizens had already found out their private communications were being examined.

Tapping Merkel

The chancellor, who had been somewhat reserved in her remarks on the series of spying scandals, expressed her personal anger that her communications were being monitored. In a phone call, Obama reportedly told Merkel he was not aware she was under surveillance. The discovery, however, has become a major wedge inGerman-US relations.

The most recent discoveries to come from Snowden's documents appeared on October 30 in "The Washington Post." The paper wrote that US intelligence agents cooperated with Britain's GCHQ to gain access to Google and Yahoo data and information from millions of users.

The spying scandals are expected to continue dominating the headlines for some time to come. European leaders have also discussed ways of protecting their citizens from surveillance. At the same time, however, the British intelligence service continues to work closely with the US. Members of the Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament, have said they intend to call for a parliamentary inquiry into the US surveillance program - an inquiry for which Edward Snowden may deliver testimony.

Related Articles:



Finland says it was target of "massive" digital spying

Google – AFP, 31 October 2013

Finland's Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja addresses the 68th United Nations General 
Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 27, 2013 (Pool/AFP/File, 
Eduardo Munoz)

Helsinki — Finland said Thursday its foreign ministry had been the target of "massive" digital spying detected in the beginning of the year, but its most sensitive information was not affected.

Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said police had launched a probe into the spying which he described as "very sophisticated."

The MTV3 television station which first broke the story reported that the Russian and Chinese secret services were suspected by Helsinki of being behind the digital attacks.

"It is very embarrassing," Tuomioja told journalists of the spying which authorities believe had been going on for a long time, however he said the most sensitive information, particularly relating to international relations, had not been uncovered.

Finland has informed other European Union nations of the breach in security.

Experts were not surprised that the spying had taken place.

"In Finland authorities have been too innocent. In France for example the use of Blackberry smartphones has been banned for a long time" among high-ranking officials, independent digital expert Petteri Jarvinen told AFP.

"The fact that Finland didn't detect the acts of espionage itself which have lasted for years is very embarrassing," he said, referring to the fact that clues to the spying had come from abroad.

Leopardman vs good missionary: Belgium revamps colonial museum

Google – AFP, Claire Rosemberg (AFP), 31 October 2013

An African man sculpture is displayed at the Museum of Central Africa in 
Tervuren in the suburbs of Brussels on October 9, 2013 (AFP, Georges Gobet)

Brussels — The world's "last" colonial gallery, Brussels' dusty Royal Museum of Central Africa, closes this month to re-emerge with a new vision of the continent more than a half-century after the independence of the former Belgium Congo.

Set to reopen in 2017, the venerable institution has often offended African sensibilities for what is seen as a moth-balled presentation of Africa as it was a century ago.

One Belgium-educated black scholar recalled his distress as a father chased his screaming young daughter around the collection's 1913 "leopardman" statue, crying "Aaah, here come the cannibals!"

A Congo tree is displayed at the Museum
 of Central Africa in Tervuren in the suburbs 
of Brussels on October 9, 2013 (AFP, 
Georges Gobet)
The piece, one of the museum's most controversial, represents the sort of fearsome killer cloaked in a leopard skin whose murderous deeds fuelled Europe's fears of darkest Africa.

It inspired films as well as the politically-suspect adventures of Belgium's own comic book hero in "Tintin in the Congo".

"I decisively told the little girl to stop," wrote Congolese-born Florida professor Jean Muteba Rahier, saying the incident highlighted how the museum peddled "an imperial and racist worldview" of Africans as inferior, bestial and savage beings.

"Africans do not come to visit," Yoto Djongakodi, who heads a committee of African diaspora groups involved in the planned refurbishment, told AFP. "The museum's image must change."

The gallery dates back to 1897, when King Leopold II decided to hold a Congo exhibition to raise funds and find investors for his Congo Free State, a personal property 80 times the size of Belgium and notoriously run like a giant labour camp.

The cruelty of life under the brutal colonial rulers was evoked in Joseph Conrad's 1899 "Heart of Darkness", and denounced more recently in a bestseller by American writer Adam Hochschild, "King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa."

The king's show featured Congo flora and fauna as well as 300 men, women and children shipped to Europe to portray life in an African village built beside a lake at his Tervuren forest estate outside Brussels.

'World's last great colonial museum'

The Africans cooked, played and rowed around the lake in a wooden pirogue. A few died in Tervuren, others on the way home.

A Palace of the Colonies was also built to house what has become the world's biggest anthropological and scientific collection from central Africa.

BELGIUM-AFRICA-MUSEUM-HISTORY-DIPLOMACY (AFP, Georges Gobet)

These include the archives of Leopold's ally, Henry Morton Stanley, best remembered for his legendary "Dr Livingstone I presume?"

The show was a whopping success, drawing 1.3 million visitors in six months. A few years later, in 1908, Belgium finally agreed to take over the colony in the name of the state and in 1910 the massive neo-classical palace currently housing the museum officially opened.

"People often say our museum is the world's last great colonial museum because it carries so many lasting traces of the colonial past," director Guido Gryseels told AFP.

"The permanent exhibition hasn't changed since the 1950s."

With 10 million zoological specimens, 150,000 ethnological items and three kilometres (nearly two miles) of archives, "we have the world's largest central African collection", he said.
As in a time warp, both the glass display cases and the spears, maps, paddles and bowls inside date from the 19th century.

With Stanley's cap, Leopold's ivory bust and a host of stuffed wild animals, the museum evokes an African exotica of costumes and beating drums.

"The museum just doesn't reflect contemporary Africa," said Djongakodi, the Congolese head of the COMRAF group which is working with Gryseels on the revamp.

Shocking to many are early 19th-century sculptures in the entrance of giant-sized European missionaries looking down paternally on pint-sized Africans in loin-cloths.

"Belgium brings civilisation to Congo," says a plaque.

'It's a headache'

An engraved tribute to those who died in the Congo lists 1,508 Belgians but not a single Congolese.

"Not even those who died fighting for Belgium during the two world wars, though there were more Congolese than Belgian deaths," said Djongakodi.

The museum will close its doors on November 30 for the 75 million-euro ($102 million) refurbishment, and challenges abound.

The glass cases and high-ceilinged halls, classified as national heritage, cannot be touched -- precluding the installation of much-needed air-conditioning -- so authorities plan to erect a new building with modern facilities that will connect to the old palace via an underground passageway.

But the test for director Gryseels is to reinvent the museum's image.

Colonial military uniforms and weapons are
 displayed at the Museum of Central Africa
 in Tervuren in the suburbs of Brussels
on October 9, 2013 (AFP, Georges Gobet)
"It's a headache," he said. "Our museum must continue to evoke Belgium's colonial past while becoming a window on Africa today.... and place the accent on African men and women rather than on objects."

"Fifteen years ago it would've been difficult," he conceded.

"Belgium was the last colonial power to question its past. It's a very emotional issue due to the massive number of Belgians who served in the Congo as teachers, doctors, civil servants or soldiers."

Gryseels said his generation grew up proud of having provided roads and schools, though when Congo seized its independence in 1960 it had only 27 university graduates.

The museum itself helped prompt a re-think with exhibitions and talks in 2001 and 2005 that spurred a national debate on the past on a scale not seen in Britain, France, Spain or Portugal.

Until then "the museum symbolised a time when Belgium was rich, when it played a role on the world scene, when it was still the good old days."

United Kingdom of Surveillance

Deutsche Welle, 31 October 2013

With all the attention focused on the NSA, Europeans all too often ignore the threat in their midst: Britain’s surveillance apparatus, argues Thorsten Benner.


On the face of it, at their summit last week in Brussels, EU leaders presented a united front of controlled outrage against the revelations that the NSA had not just collected the data of millions of ordinary citizens but also spied on German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Francois Hollande.

In the past week, all European attention was focused on what President Barack Obama knew or didn't know about the spying activities and what this means for the future of transatlantic relations. Jan Philipp Albrecht, a member of the European Parliament and leading critic of surveillance, points to a "culturegap" on privacy between the Europe and the United States.

Such loose talk suffers from a major blind spot: There is no united Europe when it comes to surveillance. A chief enemy of privacy rights is part of the European Union: the government of the United Kingdom. Britain is the second most important member of the "Five Eyes" global spying alliance that in addition to the US includes Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Britain runs a massive surveillance apparatus affecting millions of citizens around Europe and the world through taps on fiber-optic cables, weakening of encryption, and compelling of Internet service providers to provide user data to the authorities.

UK bigger challenge than US

As the Snowden documents reveal, the NSA even pays the UK to operate as the European hub for surveillance. The fight for digital privacy rights will not be won unless Europe starts to confront the crucial challenge within its own borders. And in a number of ways, advocates against mass surveillance face an even tougher environment in the UK than in the US.

Thorsten Benner
First, politically there is little momentum against surveillance in the UK. Whereas in the US you have an emerging anti-surveillance alliance composed of left-wing civil rights defenders, libertarians and digital companies worried about their reputation and profits, there is nothing like that in Britain. Second, in terms of safeguards and oversight the UK is has a very feeble regime. The GCHQ seems to use the weak regulatory environment in the UK as a selling point in order to attract US funding for surveillance.

As a recent study points out in the UK "the authorization and the review process are entirely contained within the executive branch". There does not seem to be any judicial review of surveillance powers and activities by UK courts under the terrorism act. Parliament is not much more effective either. According to Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert, the GCHQ has "almost completely free rein". The committee that is supposed to scrutinize the intelligence services "consists of a small number of parliamentarians, handpicked by the prime minister, and includes ex-ministers who effectively scrutinize their own past decisions. It is not clear (…) they all understand the technical capabilities they are supposed to comment on."

Lackluster media

Third, the UK's news media are in a weak position. Part of it seems self-inflicted. The BBC's reporting on the UK surveillance activities has been rather lackluster and no match for aspirations of the institution that prides itself on being the world's most trusted news source. Part of this weakness is due to government interference and the lack of constitutional protections for press freedom.

The Guardian, the world's leading source of reporting on surveillance, has found itself at the receiving end of government intimidation that includes the forced destruction of a laptop with the Snowden material under the supervision of senior government officials. Just this week David Cameron issued another threat to the media to voluntarily stop reporting on the Snowden files or face "injunctions or D-notices (publication bans) or the other tougher measures". Cameron used language that one would expect to hear from Russian President Vladimir Putin but not from the prime minister of one of the world's oldest and proudest democracies.

Parliament's duty

Anyone in Europe concerned about the right to privacy in the digital age needs to work through multiple channels to try to turn the tide in the UK. First, work with the UK parliament. The fact that today Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert will lead a debate on the question of oversight of intelligence and security services is a welcome first sign of hope that the UK parliament starts to live up to its responsibilities. The goal should be to convince the British parliament to push in favor of a EU agreement that affords all European citizens the same protections that are afforded to national citizens when it comes to the work of intelligence services.

Second, European NGOs, companies and governments should strive to build coalitions that help to delegitimize the UK (and by extension US) mass surveillance activities as violating fundamental rights to privacy enshrined in both existing EU and international law. The recent German-Brazilian initiative at the UN General Assembly is one step in the right direction.

Legal campaign

Third, challenge British surveillance activities in court. The watchdog group Privacy International has tried that but was forced to file the suit with a secret tribunal rather than a regular administrative court. That is why the recent initiative by rights groups to launch a legal challenge against the UK before the European Court of Human Rights is an overdue step. In addition, the European Commission should consider suing Britain for violating European norms on privacy protection.

At the same time, rights advocates should counter any efforts to enter bilateral deals with the US or the UK on the cheap. The Bertelsmann Foundation's Annette Heuser for example has argued that Germany should apply to enter the "Five Eyes" global spying alliance hinting at Germany's "crucial intelligence" on Iran and Syria as a dowry. Such a step would only serve to legitimize and strengthen the mass surveillance practice of the UK and US.

Rather foundations (not least those associated with media companies) should invest in research and advocacy on protecting rights of citizens against surveillance. This will be an uphill battle at best given that there are many advocates of surveillance in governments across Europe (including Germany). But this will be the only way to tackle the problem at its root.

Thorsten Benner (@thorstenbenner) is director of the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi) in Berlin.
Related Article:


Poland asks European court to hide CIA secret torture prison case from public

RT.com, October 30, 2013

An aerial view shows a watch tower of an airport in Szymany, close to Szczytno
 in northeastern Poland, September 9, 2008. It was identified as a potential site which the
CIA used to transfer Al-Qaeda suspects to a nearby prison. (Reuters / Kacper Pempel)

Poland has asked the European Court of Human Rights to bar media and public presence during an upcoming hearing on Poland’s complicity with the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program that delivered terror suspects to secret prisons around the world.

The public hearing in Strasbourg, France, scheduled for Dec. 3, will be the first arguments testing allegations that the Polish government allowed the CIA to operate a jail for supposed Al-Qaeda fighters in Poland.

The request for a private hearing “will be examined by the court shortly,” a court spokesperson told Reuters.

Poland cited national security concerns as to why it wants the hearing to remain confidential. The Polish government would not comment on the story.

A Polish human rights group criticized the request for privacy, saying the public deserves to know whether Poland allowed the CIA to hide prisoners from the American court system.

"We should have the right to review this case in public," said Adam Bodnar, vice president of the Warsaw-based Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights. "I do not see a reason for confidentiality of proceedings."

Bodnar added that most of the evidence about the alleged CIA jail is already public, and keeping it secret is pointless now. His organization was instrumental in uncovering evidence of Poland’s cooperation with the agency.

Former President George W. Bush acknowledged the existence of the secret detention centers, or “black sites,” run by the CIA on September 6, 2006 - nearly a year after they were first exposed by news outlets and NGOs.

Poland began its own secretive investigation into the prison allegations in 2008. In early 2012, Poland's Prosecutor General's office began an investigation into former Polish intelligence chief Zbigniew Siemiątkowski, who was charged in March 2012 with facilitating the alleged CIA prison.

Suspected Al-Qaeda militants allege they were tortured while in CIA custody.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) case was brought by lawyers for Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, both now detainees waiting for charges at Guantanamo Bay.

The men allege they were kidnapped and held by the CIA at an intelligence training facility near Stare Kiejkuty, in northeast Poland. There, suspects “were subjected to enforced disappearance and tortured between 2002 and 2005,” Amnesty International said.

Nashiri claims that while at the Polish site, he was subjected to torture, or “enhanced interrogation techniques,” and other harsh treatments, “such as ‘mock execution’ with a gun and threats of sexual assault against his family members,” Amnesty reported.

Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in one month while in secret CIA detention.

Nashiri and Zubaydah are also listed as parties in Poland’s own investigation - which is separate from the European Court’s case - along with a recently-added third man, Yemeni Walid Bin Attash.

Polish officials maintain the country did not host CIA jails, though they admit that in 2002 and 2003, the CIA landed aircraft at a remote airfield near the site of the alleged jail in northern Poland.

Hosting such a secret prison violates the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Convention Against Torture, both of which all European Union member states are bound to follow.

The Polish government has said it would prefer its own investigation to run to completion before the European court starts its case. But rights activists and lawyers for the alleged detainees said the Polish investigation has slowed to avoid embarrassing of the government, though prosecutors deny those allegations.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

IOC president says gays will be welcomed equally at Sochi Games

• Thomas Bach has received assurances from Vladimir Putin
• Russian president in talks after anti-gay law controversy

theguardian.com, Press Association, 30 October 2013

The IOC president Thomas Bach says the Sochi Winter Games will be
'free of discrimination'. Photograph: Reuters

Thomas Bach is confident there will be no discrimination against gay athletes and visitors at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The International Olympic Committee president said he had received assurances from Vladimir Putin that everyone travelling to the February event would be welcomed equally "regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation".

The German met with the Russian president on Monday to seek assurances over Russia's controversial anti-gay law, which has overshadowed the build-up to the Games.

Bach said in a statement from the IOC: "All visitors travelling to Sochi for the Games regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation will be welcomed here equally – this has been made very clear by the Russian authorities.

"The Games themselves are open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media, and, of course, athletes. This is a principal pillar of the Olympic movement that will be upheld in Sochi."

The law, which was enacted in June and prohibits "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors", has been widely condemned. It hit the headlines during August's World Athletics Championships in Moscow and led to calls to boycott the Games amid fears that gay athletes and visitors could be discriminated against.

Related Articles:


Shutdown for the EU?

Deutsche Welle, 30 October 2013

With astonishment and incomprehension, many Europeans watched as Tea Party followers paralyzed the US. But some politicans worry the European Union could soon find itself in a similar situation.


The unimaginable became reality when a splinter group of reactionary politicians, the Tea Party Movement, plunged superpower United States into a crisis over a budget dispute. Only with utmost difficulty was President Obama able to end the shutdown and avert the US' looming insolvency. "The US is far away, this could never happen to us," many Europeans might have thought. But those assumptions are probably wrong. In the European Parliament such blockade politics may be just the tactic reactionary forces need to stir things up.

Franziska Keller of Germany's Green Party
Should EU and euro-hostile right-wing populist parties continue to garner momentum - even winning votes in the May 2014 European elections - these groups would gain influence in the European Parliament. There, they could form alliances and influence EU policy in their own favor. In Brussels the assumption isn't that the EU could become completely lame, but fears are growing in the light of a potential shutdown threat. Such a move would block legislative initiatives and obstruct parliamentary work. European representative Franziska Keller from Germany's Green Party spoke with DW regarding current reactionary groups in parliament. "We could soon be facing the blockage of a lot more legislative initiatives and the like," she warned.

Alliance of right-wing populists

The right-wing populist camp is mobilizing. French and Dutch EU opponents under Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders are looking to join forces. On Twitter, Wilders announced a meeting with Le Pen on Nov. 13 to discuss a common European election strategy. Franziska Keller believes that the right-wing populists will target the migration and refugee policies of the EU. "It's going to be tough," Keller said. "If we consider the consequences of the refugee tragedy from Lampedusa and want to strengthen legal immigration, then we're going to have to brace ourselves for the fight."

Marine Le Pen at an election rally of
the Front National
Beyond Germany, other European politicians are concerned. "The rise of populism is the most threatening social and political phenomenon in Europe today," Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta told the New York Times.

"However, we need to address it," Letta said, "or else we'll get the most anti-European European Parliament we've ever had after elections in May 2014."

Electoral victories for anti-Europeans

At least 70 percent of the seats must be occupied by pro-Europeans in order to prevent a "nightmare." But in nearly all of the EU countries, right-wing, euro-skeptical and anti-European parties are gaining presence. These parties' key issues - such as immigration, austerity, EU withdrawal or rejection of the Euro - dominated the last elections.

The latest example is the parliamentary election in Austria, which took place at the end of September: Right-wing populists received more than 30 percent of the vote. In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders' right-wing Party for Freedom is third-strongest in the country. A stronghold in France is also the right-leaning Front National. After the first round of presidential voting, party leader Marine Le Pen took a surprising 18 percent of the vote. In a recent survey conducted by magazine, Le Nouvel Observateur, the Front National was the frontrunner for the European elections. In Greece, however, it is the left-wing party, Syriza, and the Communist Party (KKE) who are campaigning for that country's exit from the Eurozone and the EU.


Symbolic message

Low voter turnout could facilitate the entry of EU opponents into the EU Parliament. At the last European elections in June 2009, turnout was just over 43 percent. Thus it was much lower than the average 60 to 70 percent, which is common in national parliamentary and presidential elections in the European democracies.

The lower the overall turnout is, the more indifferent voters are, the easier it is for radical forces to gain majorities," said Sergey Lagodinsky of the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation in an interview with DW. The general frustration with policy draws voters into becoming "prisoners in the camp of populist promises."

According to German broadcaster ARD, policy strategists in Brussels expect that after the European elections, up to 20 percent of the representatives will want to abolish the European Parliament. This would be more than double the current number. Currently about 60 of the 765 deputies are Euro-skeptics. "If there were a relatively strong group within the parliament to work against the parliament and union," said Lagodinksy, it would be a message of great symbolic power. "I believe this symbolic power would be the worst thing that could happen."

In the wake of populism

Unlike the Tea Party, a sub-group of the Republican Partv in the US, which has greater influence over US policy, the EU-critics are relatively isolated, according to Sergey Lagodinsky. These critics would not present an institutional threat like the Tea Party.

After European Parliamentary elections
 in 2014, more anti-Europe representatives
could occupy these seats
"The danger would be, however, that other conservative parties, even left-leaning parties, get involved in the wake of populism." Lagodinsky names Germany as an example, "where, with the growing importance of the anti-Euro Alternative für Deutschland Party (AFD), as well as the conservative groups - potentially the Free Democratic Party (FDP) - are being pressured and attempt to play with these slogans."


EU representatives like Franziska Keller of Germany's Green Party want to use the remaining time until next year's European elections in May to highlight the importance of voting and to develop a strategy above all else to cut the right-wing populists down to size. "Until now the right-wing groups in European Parliament have ultimately broken into pieces over their nationalistic disputes," Keller said, adding that she could imagine the same thing happening again. "But we cannot rely on it."

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Swedish technology likely used in Georgia surveillance

Google – AFP, Anna-Karin Lampou (AFP), 30 October 2013

A man talks on his mobile phone as he enjoys the sunset from a roof bar in
Tbilisi, March 29, 2005 (AFP/File, Mladen Antonov)

Stockholm — The Georgian government may be using technology from Swedish telecom giant Ericsson to illegally monitor its own citizens, the company said Wednesday.

The technology, originally designed to track criminals, is standard and Ericsson sold it along with networking equipment to Georgian telecom provider Geocell in 2005, the Swedish company told AFP.

"The technology is aimed at lawful monitoring to fight crime, but the (Georgian) authorities allegedly use it for purposes it's not intended for," said Ericsson spokesman Fredrik Hallstan.

He was speaking after Swedish public radio reported that the Georgian government may be using Ericsson technology to eavesdrop on its own population.

The story, first reported Wednesday, has an additional Nordic dimension as Geocell is majority-owned by Swedish-Finnish telecom operator TeliaSonera.

Authorities in Georgia have the technical capacity to monitor 21,000 mobile phones, of which one-third are connected to Geocell, according to the radio, which did not give a source for these figures.

The claim that Ericsson's technology is being used for unauthorised eavesdropping comes in the wake of allegations that the Georgian government is deeply involved in monitoring its own citizens.

Surveillance without court authorisation is a "systematic practice" in Georgia, according to a report published last month by Thomas Hammarberg, the EU special adviser on constitutional and legal reform and human rights in Georgia.

"The possibility of some access to inter-personal communications could be essential in the fight against organised crime and terrorism," Hammarberg wrote in the report.

"However, the risk for misuse means that there is a need of legal regulations and democratic and judicial control over all activities in this domain."

Salomon Beckele, spokesman for TeliaSonera, told AFP that operators in Georgia are required to give the government access to their networks.

"It monitors the networks, and we don't have any idea what they are listening to and what information they gather -- neither we or any other operators would know," he said.

Pasi Koistinen, CEO at Geocell, told Swedish radio that the surveillance was legal under Georgian law.

"I find it unacceptable and would like to see the law changed," he told the radio from Georgia. "But as long as the surveillance is done according to the laws, we must follow the laws in this country."

But Elisabeth Loefgren, a spokeswoman at Amnesty International Sweden, told AFP that companies have a responsibility not to violate human rights, and the argument that their actions are legal is a poor excuse.

"If the tapping is against the law as we see it -- if it is illegal surveillance -- it is clear that Ericsson and Geocell, TeliaSonera's subsidiary, have to take responsibility," she said.

Germany to allow third gender option at birth

Google – AFP, Carolyn Beeler (AFP), 30 October 2013

A new born baby takes the finger of its mother after the delivery on September 17,
2013 at the Lens hospital in northern France (AFP/File, Philippe Huguen)

Berlin — Germany on Friday will become the first European country to allow babies born with characteristics of both sexes to be registered as neither male nor female.

Parents will be allowed to leave the field for gender blank on birth certificates, effectively creating a category for indeterminate sex in the public register.

"This will be the first time that the law acknowledges that there are human beings who are neither male nor female, or are both -- people who do not fit into the traditional legal categories," University of Bremen law professor Konstanze Plett told AFP.

The change is intended to remove pressure on parents to quickly make a decision about controversial sex assignment surgeries for newborns.

A premature newborn lies on a cot in
the neo-natal ward of the Delafontaine
hospital in Saint Denis near Paris on
March 19, 2013 (AFP/File, Joel Saget)
But even as the law takes effect November 1, there are questions about what it will mean to live with no legal gender.

German passports, which currently bear an "M" for male or "F" for female, will soon be allowed to have an "X" in the gender field, according to a spokesman for the interior ministry.

According to Plett, a specialist in human rights for intersex people, regulations for other personal documents will need to follow suit.

"We will have fellow human beings with no sex registered," Plett said. "They can't be forced into either one of the traditional sexes in these other contexts."

Lawmakers have yet to make clear how the change will impact marriage and partnership laws.
In Germany, marriage is reserved for a man and a woman, and civil partnerships are reserved for two people of the same sex.

The law's narrow focus is targeted at parents of newborns and "is not adequate to fully resolve the complex problems of intersex people", including marriage and civil partnerships, according to the interior ministry spokesman.

A more immediate concern for intersex advocates is how children "outed" at birth will fare in a world that operates largely on a gender binary.

"Schools have toilets for boys and toilets for girls. Where will the intermediate child go?" said Silvan Agius, policy director at ILGA Europe, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex rights group.

"There are separate sports activities for boys and for girls, and so many other things like this," Agius said.

"The law doesn't change that. It does not immediately create a space for intersex people to be themselves."

Europe lags behind on gender identity rights, Agius said.

Earlier this year Australia began allowing individuals to identify as intersex on personal documents, and added gender identity as a protected category under federal anti-discrimination laws.

The German law follows a 2012 report by the Ethics Council, an independent body of experts, concluding that people with 'Differences of Sex Development' suffer in the face of "widespread societal ignorance" and "a lack of respect on the part of the medical profession."

Personal testimony from the report quoted a subject born in 1965 with no clear gender-defining genitalia who was castrated as an infant without parental consent.

"I am neither a man nor a woman," the person said.

"I will remain the patchwork created by doctors, bruised and scarred."

Experts estimate the population of intersex people at one in 1,500 to 2,000 births. But advocates say the number is much larger partly due to difficulties in defining intersexuality physically or hormonally.

The new law has already raised the profile of this small population, which could prompt increased awareness, but, some fear, could also trigger discrimination.

"It is an absolute must that parents, teachers and doctors be educated about the lives of intersex people," said Lucie Veith, head of an intersex support group in Germany.

"The government must take measures to ensure that no children are discriminated against because of this new law."

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"The Akashic Circle" – Jul 17, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: Religion, The Humanization of GodBenevolent Design, DNA, Akashic Circle, (Old) Souls, Gaia, Indigenous People, Talents, Reincarnation, Genders, Gender Switches, In “between” Gender Change, Gender Confusion, Shift of Human Consciousness, Global Unity,..... etc.)  - (Text version)