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. …

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Croatians protest ahead of anti-gay marriage referendum

Google – AFP, Veselica (AFP), 30 November 2013

Croatian gay rights supporters hold a giant rainbow flag outside the parliament
 building in Saint Marko Square during a protest in Zagreb on November 30, 2013 (AFP)

Zagreb — Gay rights supporters in conservative and mainly Catholic Croatia staged protests on Saturday on the eve of a controversial referendum that could outlaw same-sex marriage in the EU's newest member state.

More than 1,000 people braved the cold and rainy weather to gather in a square in downtown Zagreb for a protest march against Sunday's vote, which they see as discriminatory.

"We urge voters... to protect minority rights so that no one in Croatia becomes a second class citizen," gay rights activist Sanja Juras told the crowd.

A policeman stands guard as Croatian gay
 rights activists hold a banner reading 
"I vote against" as they march in downtown
 Zagreb during a protest on November 30,
 2013 (AFP)
At the end of their hour-long march through the city centre, under a heavy police presence, the protesters unfurled a giant rainbow flag outside the parliament building.

Demonstrators taking part in the "I vote against" march also carried banners in rainbow colours, reading: "Homosexuality is not a choice but hatred is" and "Let's protect all loves".

Sunday's referendum on whether to amend the country's constitution to define marriage as a "union between a woman and a man" is the result of a Church-backed initiative. Croatia's constitution currently does not define marriage.

The vote has sparked a heated public debate, splitting the country's 4.2 million inhabitants.

Many conservatives in Croatia, which joined the European Union this year, began fearing that same-sex marriage would be allowed in the country after the centre-left government announced a bill enabling gay couples to register as "life partners".

In May, the Church-backed In the Name of the Family group collected over 700,000 signatures seeking a nationwide vote on gay marriage.

"We believe that marriage, children and family are so important issues that the whole society has to decide on them," the leader of the initiative, Zeljka Markic, told AFP.

The government, human rights activists and prominent public figures have all spoken out against the referendum, urging people to cast a 'no' vote.

"With this sentence in the constitution we would make lives of our fellow citizens, who are a sexual minority, more difficult," warned Damir Kovacic, who took part in Saturday's protest with his wife.

"And tomorrow a referendum about someone else's rights might be on the agenda," the 34-year-old electrical engineer told AFP.

But in a country where almost 90 percent of population are Roman Catholics, the Church has vehemently urged followers to vote 'yes'.

"Marriage is the only union enabling procreation," said Croatia's Cardinal Josip Bozanic in a letter read out in churches.

"This is the key difference between a marriage... and other unions."

The latest survey showed that 68 percent of Croatians on Sunday would vote 'yes' compared to 27 percent against.


Croatian gay rights supporters sport 
stickers reading "Vote against" take part 
in a protest outside the parliament 
building in Saint Marko Square in 
Zagreb on November 30, 2013 (AFP)
"It is natural and normal that a child grows up in a marriage of a man and a woman," Katarina Mitermajer, a doctor in her 50s, who plans to vote 'yes', told AFP.

Attitudes towards gay rights have slowly been improving since Croatia's first Gay Pride parade was held in Zagreb in 2002, when dozens of participants were beaten up by extremists.

Pride parades are now staged regularly if still under strong security, while gay rights are more openly discussed in the media and people are becoming less fearful of "coming out".

In 2003 Croatia adopted a law recognising same-sex couples who have lived together for at least three years. Yet apart from official acknowledgement, the measure granted them few rights.

Sunday's vote is the first citizens-initiated referendum since Croatia's independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.

Under Croatian law, a referendum does not require a majority voter turnout to be valid.

Related Article:


Rescuers battle to free Glasgow helicopter pub crash victims

Google – AFP, Andy Buchanan (AFP), 30 November 2013

Emergency services inspect the roof of a pub in central Glasgow, Scotland, shortly
 after midnight on November 30, 2013 where a police helicopter crashed earlier (AFP, 
Andy Buchanan)

Glasgow — Scottish emergency services battled Saturday to rescue people trapped in the wreckage of a Glasgow pub after a police helicopter crashed into the building, causing dozens of casualties including probable fatalities.

The chopper smashed through the roof of The Clutha pub, where more than 100 revellers had crowded in to see a band play on Friday night ahead of St. Andrew's Day, which celebrates Scotland's patron saint.

Police said 32 people had been taken to hospitals across Scotland's biggest city after the helicopter plunged into the riverside bar at 10:25 pm (2225 GMT).

Emergency services gather shortly after 
midnight on November 30, 2013 at the
 site where a police helicopter crashed 
into a pub in central Glasgow (AFP,
Andy Buchanan)
Emergency services worked through the night in a bid to recover people from the scene.

Witnesses said the helicopter, with two police officers and a civilian pilot on board, dropped like a stone, while people inside the pub heard a whoosh before the roof caved in and the air filled with dust and screams.

Firefighters said they had made "some contact" with an unknown number of people in the wreckage of the one-storey building, which was "very unstable".

"It's a case of working hard within the building to try and determine how many casualties are there," fire brigade officer Lewis Ramsay told reporters.

"We are determined that we are going to get the building stable and we will be in there to carry out those rescued."

Ramsay said the 125 firefighters at the scene had "rescued numerous casualties" who had "multiple types of injuries".

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond -- who just days earlier was celebrating the release of a legal blueprint for independence -- confirmed that a police helicopter had been involved in the "tragic accident".

"Given an incident of this scale we must all prepare ourselves for the likelihood of fatalities," he said.

He was to visit the command centre co-ordinating the emergency response later Saturday for an update on the situation.

Emergency services inspect the
roof of the Clutha pub in central
Glasgow, Scotland, shortly after
midnight on November 30, 2013
where a police helicopter crashed
earlier in the evening (AFP, Andy
Buchanan)
An AFP photographer at the scene said the helicopter appeared to have smashed through the top of the bar on the banks of the River Clyde, with a rotor blade sticking out of the roof.

The site had been cordoned off, with emergency service workers visible on the roof after dawn.

Police officer Rose Fitzgerald said it was too early to say why the Eurocopter EC135 T2 helicopter crashed.

"A full investigation is now underway however at this early stage it is too early to provide details on why the helicopter came down," she said.

"We are working hard to recover people still inside the building."

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has sent a team to the scene.

Witnesses told of confusion, terror and then bravery after the accident.

Grace MacLean, who was inside the pub at the time of the crash, told the BBC that the revellers were listening to a ska band at the time.

"We were all just having a nice time and then there was like a 'whoosh' noise -- there was no bang, there was no explosion," she said.

"And then there was some smoke, what seemed like smoke. The band were laughing and we were all joking that the band had made the roof come down.

"They carried on playing and then it started to come down more and someone started screaming and then the whole pub just filled with dust. You couldn't see anything, you couldn't breathe."

The band, Esperanza, later said on their Facebook page that they were all well.

Jim Murphy, a member of parliament and the opposition Labour Party's spokesman for international development, told the BBC he was driving through the area shortly after the incident.

Emergency services inspect the roof of the 
Clutha pub in central Glasgow, Scotland
 shortly after midnight on November 30, 2013
 where a police helicopter crashed (AFP, 
Andy Buchanan)
"I jumped out and tried to help. There were people with injuries. Bad gashes to the head. Some were unconscious. I don't know how many," he said.

He said he and other people formed a human chain to get survivors out of the pub.

"The helicopter was inside the pub. It's a mess. I could only get a yard or two inside. I helped carry people out."

Gordon Smart, who edits the Scottish edition of Rupert Murdoch's newspaper The Sun, said he saw the helicopter coming down.

"It was just such a surreal moment. It looked like it was dropping from a great height at a great speed," he told Sky News television.

"There was no fireball and I did not hear an explosion. It fell like a stone. The engine seemed to be spluttering."

British Prime Minister David Cameron said: "My thoughts are with everyone affected by the helicopter crash in Glasgow -- and the emergency services."


Wreckage of the Eurocopter EC135 lifted from the roof of
 the Clutha pub in Glasgow. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/
Getty Images


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Georgia, Moldova Endorse EU Association Agreements

Radio Free Europe, RFE/RL's Georgian Service, November 28, 2013

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili has said he would like his country to
get on with the "long and meticulous work" ahead of signing an Association
Agreement with the EU by next September.

VILNIUS -- Georgia and Moldova have initialed their respective Association Agreements with the European Union ahead of the start of an EU Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius.

The process leaves one page to be ceremonially initialed during the second day of summit proceedings in the Lithuanian capital before more work that allows actual signings months or years down the road.

None of the other four so-called Eastern Partnership countries -- Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Ukraine -- is expected to initial deals in Vilnius.

Georgian First Deputy Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani, who is leading his country's delegation in Vilnius, told RFE/RL that the initialing of the some 1,000-page document means it is already an irrevocable agreement.


Newly installed Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili said earlier this month that his country hoped to sign its EU Association Agreement by September 2014.

But he noted that "long and meticulous work" must be done first.

A signed Association Agreement would offer Georgia the possibility of closer economic integration provided Tbilisi adjusts its legal, judicial, and economic systems to fit certain EU norms.

Ukraine last week turned its attention toward Russia and upended negotiations with the European Union, putting a damper on the widely awaited summit and extending a Moscow-backed chill between some post-Soviet states and Brussels. Kyiv's move sparked street protests by pro-European Ukrainians who view with distrust President Viktor Yanukovych's moves to ally their country more closely with Russia.

Armenia recently sent a similar message to the European Union, putting its priority on a Russian-led customs union.


Belarus, already a member of the same customs union, is still far away from any intention of significantly deepening its ties to the European Union.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Silvio Berlusconi ousted from Italian parliament after tax fraud conviction

Senate votes to strip former prime minister of seat despite his claims that new evidence will exonerate him


theguardian.comLizzy Davies in Rome, Wednesday 27 November 2013

Silvio Berlusconi makes a speech in Rome on the day the Senate voted
to expel him. Photograph: Tony Gentile/Reuters

Silvio Berlusconi suffered arguably the heaviest blow of his political career on Wednesday when the upper house of parliament voted to oust him following a conviction for tax fraud.

A hostile front of the centre-left and anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) voted against the former prime minister, who pulled his Forza Italia party from Enrico Letta's governing coalition and into opposition on Tuesday.

Berlusconi was not present for the Senate vote. But shortly before the chamber approved his expulsion he gave a defiant address to supporters outside his residence in central Rome, declaring a "day of mourning for democracy" and promising that he would remain on the political scene.

"Today they are toasting because they can take an adversary, they say a friend, in front of the executioner's squad," Berlusconi said. "It is the day they have been waiting for for 20 years."

He pledged to continue his role as a political leader, citing other figures not in Parliament, namely the founder of the M5S, Beppe Grillo, and Matteo Renzi of the Democratic Party, tipped by many as a future premier candidate.

"Also, from outside the Parliament, we can continue to fight for our liberty," he said.

Berlusconi, who resigned as PM in late 2011 amid concerns over Italy's growing financial instability, received his first definitive conviction in 20 years of legal battles on 1 August. He was sentenced to four years in prison, commuted to one year of community service.

The debate over the parliamentary ramifications of the conviction has dominated the national political scene for the past four months. The 77-year-old media magnate has issued alternate pleas and threats in an attempt to avoid being stripped of his seat under a law passed last year – with the support of his then party, the Freedom People – which stipulates that MPs convicted of serious criminal offences must be ineligible for parliament.

Berlusconi kept up the battle until the last minute, claiming on Monday to have new evidence that he said would exonerate him, and begging his fellow senators to put off the vote until the documents had been examined.

He insists the conviction is another sign of his continuing persecution by leftwing judges. He has indicated that Giorgio Napolitano, the Italian president, should pardon him without him having to ask – an idea that drew a terse response from the former communist head of state.

He is expected to begin serving his sentence next year for the tax fraud conviction, which related to a complex system of illegally inflated invoices at his Mediaset television empire. But this is not the end of his legal woes. Among other matters, he has been ordered to stand trial on charges of bribing a senator in an attempt to bring down Romano Prodi's government, and is appealing against a first-grade conviction handed down in June for having sex with an underage girl and abusing his office to cover it up. He denies the allegations in both cases.

Despite his expulsion, Berlusconi will by no means disappear from the political scene. His future role has been compared to that of Beppe Grillo, the M5S's figurehead who himself has not been elected.

The expulsion vote will heighten the tensions that have plagued the Letta government from its inception this year, even if, with a breakaway centre-right group that remains loyal to the coalition, it has a reasonably secure if small majority.

With their leader kicked out of the senate, Forza Italia MPs could prove highly disruptive in opposition and could stymie the kind of institutional reforms Letta says he wants to pass.

EU lays down steps US must take to protect data

Google – AFP, 27 November 2013

A pictures shows binary code reflected from a computer screen in a
woman's eye on October 22, 2012 (AFP/File, Leon Neal)

Brussels — The EU on Wednesday laid down steps Washington must take to restore trust after a huge spy scandal, including giving EU citizens the right to US legal redress to protect personal data.

"Massive spying on our citizens, companies and leaders is unacceptable," EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said, adding there was "now a window of opportunity to rebuild trust which we expect our American partners to use".

An umbrella agreement being negotiated on EU-US data protection "has to give European citizens concrete and enforceable rights, notably the right to judicial redress in the US whenever their personal data are being processed in the US," Reding said in a statement.

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding
 speaks during a press conference in
 Brussels, on September 17, 2013 (AFP/File,
John Thys)
At the same time, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malstroem said she was satisfied that separate EU-US accords on the transfer of airline passenger and financial transaction data were working properly.

A key concern in Europe -- where memories of surveillance by fascist and communist dictatorships remain alive -- is the pressure Washington exerts on giant US companies to hand over personal data, including those of EU citizens, on national security grounds.

Up to now, Brussels and Washington have reconciled their differences in a 2001 'Safe Harbour' agreement meant to ensure US companies respect EU norms on commercial use of personal data.

In the EU, personal data protection is considered to be a basic right whose commercial use must be carefully controlled.

Safe Harbour now needs to be tightened up, Redding said, setting a deadline of mid-2014 to agree the changes with Washington.

Among 13 suggested changes, she included a provision requiring US companies to make clear the extent to which US authorities have the right to collect and process personal data they may have gathered.

The "national security" justification often cited for such government access must also be used only if strictly necessary.

Reding said the EU should conclude reform of its own data protection laws and be actively involved to ensure that US reforms promised by President Barack Obama "also benefit EU citizens".

Highlighted by the reported US tapping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone, data protection has become a hugely sensitive topic since intelligence leaker Edward Snowden released evidence of a massive network of US spy operations on friend and foe alike earlier this year.

The uproar prompted the European Parliament to call for talks on a massive free trade deal with the United States to be scrapped, along with the Safe Harbour system.

Data protection has become a hugely
sensitive topic since intelligence leaker
Edward Snowden described a massive
network of US spy operations on friend
and foe alike earlier this year (AFP/File,
Prakash Singh)
But the European Commission stressed again Wednesday that data protection standards would not be part of the negotiations on the planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Malstroem meanwhile said the Commission, the EU's executive arm, would not suspend data protection accords "just because of press articles" -- an apparent reference to reports based on Snowden's leaks.

The Passenger Name Record (PNR) system for airline passengers and the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) "provide effective safeguards to protect the fundamental rights of European citizens," Malstroem said.

The "clear and effective guarantees in place" allow the Commission to "make sure that the US authorities stick to agreed rules," she said.

The EU will continue alert and monitor "the lawful implementationof EU-US agreements on data transfers," she added.


US Senator Christopher Murphy (r) congressman Gregory Meeks speak
in Berlin over the NSA scandal. Photo: dpa

Bulgarian students lead wave of protest

Young people occupying institutions all over the country amid growing anger over corruption and unemployment

The Guardian, Kit Gillet in Sofia, Tuesday 26 November 2013

Student protests outside Bulgarian parliament

Opinion polls suggest that around two-thirds of Bulgaria’s 7.3 ­million people support the student protests. Photograph: Rex Features

Just after 1am inside Sofia University, a handful of young people are spray painting protest banners in a dimly lit corridor. Upstairs in a lecture hall, and dotted around nearby classrooms, fellow students are curled up on the floor asleep. Volunteers in yellow jackets are standing guard at the university gates.

It is the fourth week of an occupation. Hundreds of students in a dozen institutions across Bulgaria have taken over all or parts of their universities, padlocking the gates and adding a new dimension to a movement that has rapidly escalated into the biggest rolling wave of demonstrations since the collapse of communism 24 years ago.

Something has snapped in Bulgaria this year. Fury at corruption and nepotism, youth unemployment at 28.7%, low wages and limited job opportunities that force qualified Bulgarians to find work overseas, and a sense that those in power have for too long put their own interests above those of the country, have coalesced this year into one long pulse of anger.

Public opinion polls suggest that around two-thirds of Bulgaria's 7.3 million people support the movement. "We have to try to get morals back into our political system," said Mina Hristova, a 23-year-old cultural anthropology student. "We are here because we need to show our politicians that there are consequences to their actions."

The state has resorted to bussing in supporters to confront the semi-permanent street demonstrations that have choked Sofia this year. "We've gone through difficult times in the last 23 years, but we've always found a solution," the foreign minister, Kristian Vigenin, told the Guardian on a recent march.

The fury spilled out on to the streets in June when tens of thousands marched through the capital in outrage over the appointment of Delyan Peevski, a well-connected media mogul, as head of the State Agency for National Security. Peevski had lost an earlier position as deputy minister of disaster management after allegations of corruption.

For many in Bulgaria this was painful proof of the nepotistic nature of their political system, which, according to Transparency International, is the second most corrupt among the 28 EU member states, beaten only by Greece.

Peevski's resignation less than 24 hours after his appointment did nothing to quell the anger. Instead, protesters demanded the resignation of the centre-left government of the prime minister, Plamen Oresharski, which had been in office for just six weeks.

Oresharski told the people that it was too soon to judge him, but every day since, protesters have gathered outside parliament to shout slogans and demand real political change. In late July, protesters clashed with riot police after a crowd of 2,000 trapped government officials inside the parliament building for eight hours. It was one of the few nights that saw bloodshed in an otherwise peaceful protest movement.

After five months of protesting, in recent weeks it has been Bulgarian students who have taken the lead, occupying their universities and organising the daily protests outside parliament.

"Every one of us had the feeling that something was wrong from when we were children," said Ivaylo Dinev, a 24-year-old history student and the informal leader of the student protests. "We've seen the influence of the mafia in politics all of our lives, no matter which party is in power. What we need is real change. Before I was 18, I was a rebel without a cause. Now I have a cause."

Inside Sofia University, handmade banners and signs ask students to "talk big" and imagine what they would do if they were in political office. Sleeping bags hang from nearby coat pegs.On a raised platform at the front of the lecture hall, protest leaders discuss plans and strategies.

According to Borislav Gavrilov, a professor of modern history at Sofia University, members of the former communist secret police remain in positions of power across Bulgarian society, wielding unfair influence and stunting the development of the nation. "They are all through the government, the economy, the media – especially the media," he explained. "People are sick and tired of fake change. We had protests in 1997, 2009 – hopefully this is third time lucky."

"Trust in the government has now eroded to an unprecedented degree," said Daniel Smilov, a professor of political science at Sofia University, adding that protesters have lost their faith in all the political parties. "The government complains that the protesters don't want dialogue, but it is unclear what the dialogue should be about, since the protesters' main demand is new elections and the government refuse to consider that," he said.

Last Tuesday, students clashed with riot police as they tried to form human chains around the exits from parliament. Twenty-three protesters were arrested, and the following day a further 25 were rounded up in their homes in an early-morning operation. "We were just sitting on the ground in front of the police singing protest songs when they tried to pull us apart," said Nona Keranova, a 20-year-old law student, who was with some of the group who were arrested.

Keranova was not arrested, but she says she was dragged along the ground by a policeman and pushed up against a wall. It was unknown people later in the evening, she added, and not the students, who clashed with the police and threw bottles at them. "We are trying to change things peacefully," she said.

Not all the students are happy with the occupation, which has shut down many of the university's faculties, including law and languages. Every evening the students gather in one of the lecture halls to discuss the day's activities and vote on important measures.

Students who are not part of the occupation are invited to come to talk and debate. "We try to explain why this occupation is needed, that it is up to us to keep these protests going," said 19-year-old Teodora Shalvardjieva, who began her studies in international relations weeks before the occupation began. "We can't stop this until the government resigns."

Some are persuaded, but many others just want to get back to their studies, fearful that the whole academic year will be forfeit if the occupation continues for much longer. On Monday it was announced that classes would resume shortly, but that the student occupation would remain in place.

Rise of the far right

Almost 10,000 refugees have arrived in Bulgaria this year, most of them Syrians fleeing the civil war. The surge has fuelled xenophobic tensions and concerns over violent attacks and the growth of rightwing parties.

Last week the new Nationalist party was formed, combining football hooligans, ultranationalists and skinheads, while another faction announced the creation of vigilante groups.

Bulgaria is the poorest member of the EU and many say it cannot support a wave of refugees. In a recent poll, 15% said they approved of violence against foreigners, while 20% wanted the border with Turkey closed.

November has seen a spate of attacks and protests against asylum seekers, and Amnesty has warned that "recent government statements risk inflaming the situation".

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

UN passes anti-spying resolution

Google – AFP, 26 November 2013

Picture taken on November 9, 2012 shows German Chancellor Angela Merkel
using her mobile phone in Berlin (DPA/AFP/File, Kay Nietfeld)

UNITED NATIONS (United States) — A UN rights committee on Tuesday passed a "right to privacy" resolution pressed by Germany and Brazil, which have led international outrage over reports of US spying on their leaders.

The resolution says that surveillance and data interception by governments and companies "may violate or abuse human rights."

Fifty-five countries, including France, Russia and North Korea, co-sponsored the text which did not name any target but made lightly veiled references to spying which has put the US National Security Agency at the center of global controversy.

Brazil and Germany launched the initiative after reports leaked by former US intelligence operative Edward Snowden that the NSA had listened in to the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the office communications of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff.

Germany's UN ambassador Peter Wittig said it was the first time a UN body has taken a stand on "online" human rights and the resolution sent an important "political message."

The resolution "emphasizes that unlawful and arbitrary surveillance and the interception of communications are highly intrusive acts that violate the right to privacy and may also violate the freedom of expression," Wittig told the UN General Assembly's human rights committee.

"Human rights should prevail irrespective of the medium and therefore need to be protected both offline and online," added Brazil's UN envoy Antonio Patriota.

"States should refrain from and be held accountable for any act that violate these rights, including the right to privacy," he added.

The United States and key allies Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand -- who together make up the so-called "Five-Eyes" intelligence group -- joined a consensus vote passing the resolution after language suggesting that foreign spying would be a rights violation was weakened.

The resolution said the UN committee is "deeply concerned at the negative impact" that surveillance and interception of communications "including extraterritorial surveillance" can have on human rights.

Germany and Brazil had wanted the text to say the assembly was "deeply concerned at human rights violations and abuses that may result from the conduct of any surveillance of communications, including extraterritorial surveillance of communications."

Under the resolution, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay will prepare a report on domestic and "extra-territorial" privacy. Wittig also promised a "thorough" debate on the issue at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

US deputy ambassador Elizabeth Cousens gave backing to the initiative.

She did not mention the NSA controversy, but told the committee: "In some cases, conduct that violates privacy rights may also seriously impede or even prevent the exercise of freedom of expression, but conduct that violates privacy rights does not violate the right to freedom of expression in every case."

Indonesia, which is involved in a battle with Australia over allegations of spying on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, spoke out strongly for the resolution.

North Korea, one of the world's most tightly controlled countries and an unlikely ally backing the resolution, used the meeting to slam US spying.

North Korean ambassador Sin Son-Ho accused the United States of "hypocrisy and deception" in condemning other countries' human rights records.

Human Rights Watch specialist Philippe Bolopion said it was unfortunate that the resolution had been watered down.

But he said it was "a vital first step toward stigmatizing indiscriminate global surveillance."

The non-binding resolution will now go to the full 193-member UN General Assembly for a vote.

US Senator Christopher Murphy (r) congressman Gregory Meeks speak
in Berlin over the NSA scandal. Photo: dpa

Pope Francis urges reform of papal powers

Google – AFP, Dario Thuburn (AFP), 26 November 2013

Pope Francis leads a mass at St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on
November 23, 2013 (AFP/File, Andreas Solaro)

Vatican City — Pope Francis called for reform to take powers from the Vatican and said Catholics should be more engaged in helping the needy, but ruled out allowing women priests in a key document released by the Vatican on Tuesday.

The Catholic leader said he was seeking advice on how his role should change -- using an informal style for his first "apostolic exhortation", in which he outlined his vision for the future of the Roman Catholic Church.

"It is my duty, as the Bishop of Rome, to be open to suggestions which can help make the exercise of my ministry more faithful to the meaning which Jesus Christ wished to give it," the pope wrote.

Pope Francis greets the crowd after a 
ceremony of Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus
 Christ the King at St Peter's Square on
 November 24, 2013 at the Vatican 
(AFP/File, Vincenzo Pinto)
Francis said it was time for "a conversion of the papacy", adding that "excessive centralisation, rather than proving helpful, complicates the Church's life".

Bishops should have "genuine doctrinal authority", he said in the document -- a type of long open letter used by popes to communicate with their faithful.

"We have made little progress in this regard," he said.

The 84-page document did not address many of the hot-button ethical reforms called for by progressives but Francis did say that the issue of the priesthood being reserved for men was "not a question open to discussion".

On abortion, he also said the Church "cannot be expected to change its position on this question".

But he added that it should do more "to adequately accompany women in very difficult situations, where abortion appears as a quick solution".

Francis has instituted a council of cardinals to advise him on reforms including a shake-up of the Vatican bureaucracy after a series of high-profile scandals in recent years and disgruntlement in many local churches.

The Vatican this month also launched a worldwide consultation of Catholic dioceses including questions about pastoral care for same-sex couples, and Francis on Tuesday underlined the need for churches to keep an open door even without changes to Catholic doctrine.

Observers underlined the simple style of the document, which contrasted with that of Francis's more academic predecessor, pope emeritus Benedict XVI.

"He has his own style and language. It is almost colloquial in tone, which reflects a deep pastoral inspiration," said Monsignor Claudio Celli, head of the Vatican's social communications department.

Monsignor Rino Fisichella, head of the Vatican's evangelisation efforts, said the reform of the papacy meant "moving from a bureaucratic, static administrative vision to a missionary one".
'Freedom to worship'

In the document, Francis stressed the importance of the Church's social message and launched a wide-ranging condemnation of the injustices of the global economy and modern capitalism -- a key priority for his papacy.

"The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode," he said.

Turning to other faiths, Francis said that ties with Islam had taken on "great importance" for the Catholic Church because of the growing number of Muslim immigrants in many traditionally Christian countries.

Pope Francis greets the crowd after a
 ceremony of Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus
 Christ the King at St Peter's Square 
on November 24, 2013 at the Vatican
(AFP, Vincenzo Pinto)
"We Christians should embrace with affection and respect Muslim immigrants to our countries in the same way that we hope and ask to be received and respected in countries of Islamic tradition," he said.

"I ask and I humbly entreat those countries to grant Christians freedom to worship and to practice their faith, in light of the freedom which followers of Islam enjoy in Western countries," he added.

Much of the exhortation was devoted to spiritual issues, particularly the need for a more joyful approach to faith reflected in the document's Latin title "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel).

"There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter," he said, adding that the Christian message should not be "a catalogue of sins and faults" and should be about striving for "the good of others".

The document included practical tips from Francis for priests on how to give better homilies as well as a call for them to be closer to their parishioners.

"Our church doors should always be open, so that if someone, moved by the Spirit, comes there looking for God, he or she will not find a closed door," he said.