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, January 31, 2014

Obama 'really impressed' with Pope's message of equality

Google – AFP, 31 January 2014

Pope Francis greets the crowd during a general audience at St Peter's
square on January 29, 2014 at the Vatican (AFP/File, Alberto Pizzoli)

Washington — US President Barack Obama expressed strong admiration of Pope Francis for promoting "a true sense of brotherhood and sisterhood and regard for those who are less fortunate," in an interview aired Friday.

"I have been really impressed so far with the way he's communicated what I think is the essence of the Christian faith," Obama told CNN of the pontiff who has refashioned the image of the Roman Catholic Church since his installation last year.

The US president, who will visit the Vatican in March, said he didn't believe Francis was acting out of a desire to gain widespread approval.

Rather, "I think he is very much reflecting on his faith and what he needs to do to make sure that folks -- not just of the Catholic faith but people all around the world -- are living out a message that he thinks is consistent with the lessons of Jesus Christ," Obama said.

"That's a meeting I'm looking forward to," he added of the planned March 27 sit-down.

Obama has made rising inequality and the struggles of America's middle classes the signature domestic issue of his second term.

In a speech in December, Obama praised an argument advanced by Pope Francis, the first non-European pontiff in nearly 1,300 years, on rising inequality in societies split between the very poor and the super rich.

"How could it be, he wrote, that it's not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?"

Pope Francis argued in the exhortation, that such conflicted values marked a "case of exclusion" in an unequal society.

And in October, the president told CNBC that he was "hugely impressed" with the pope's humility and empathy to the poor.

Obama was last in Vatican City in 2009, when he met Pope Benedict.

'Dutch PM, Olympic athletes' internet traffic will be monitored by Russia', Friday 31 January 2014

The Russian authorities will monitor and store data communication details from foreign athletes, journalists and official delegations during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, according to research by Dutch news website De Correspondent.

The website says Russian prime minister Dimitri Medvedev signed the decree approving the surveillance last November in great secrecy.

The decree implies Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte, sports minister Edith Schippers and the king and queen could have their communications stored for up to three years, the website says.


The European Commission is aware of the situation and expects member states to inform the people concerned, De Correspondent said.

In the Netherlands this has not happened. Yesterday, however, two sentences were added to the official travel advice for Russia.

One states ‘be aware that Russian law allows all data traffic (telephone, email, internet etc) which is transmitted over the Russian communications network to be monitored, kept and analysed.’

The technology available in Sochi means not only meta data - who phoned who and when - can be monitored but actual conversations and emails can been analysed as well, De Correspondent said.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Norway fund blacklists Israeli firms with settlement ties

Voice of Russia – AFP, 30 January 2014

Photo: tsweden/

Norway's huge sovereign wealth fund, the world's largest, blacklisted two Israeli companies involved in construction of settlements in East Jerusalem, the country's finance ministry said Thursday.

The ban on investing in the firms revived a three-year prohibition on them that the Government Pension Fund of Norway had dropped in August last year.

The companies are Africa Israel Investments, an Israeli real estate developer, and its construction subsidiary Danya Cerbus.

The ministry cited the company's alleged "contribution to serious violations of individual rights in war or conflict through the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem," a territory where Israel's claims are not recognised by the international community.

Norway's sovereign wealth fund is fed by the country's oil surplus. It is worth an estimated $818 billion according to the SWF Institute, a body that tracks such funds.

As well as resuming the Israeli firm blacklisting, Norway suspended a restriction on the fund buying bonds issued in Myanmar, leaving only North Korea, Iran and Syria on the list of countries ineligible for investment.

Archbishops criticise Nigerian and Ugandan anti-gay laws

BBC News, 30 January 2014

Archbishop Welby is on a five-day tour of Africa

Related Stories

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written to the presidents of Nigeria and Uganda, after being asked about laws there penalising gay people.

The letter said homosexual people were loved and valued by God and should not be victimised or diminished.

Nigeria and Uganda have both passed legislation targeting people with same-sex attraction.

The letter is also addressed to all primates (heads of national Churches) in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Archbishops Justin Welby of Canterbury and John Sentamu of York said the letter was a result of "questions about the Church of England's attitude to new legislation in several countries that penalises people with same-sex attraction".

The letter comes as Archbishop Welby starts a five-day tour of Africa.


In Nigeria this month, President Goodluck Jonathan signed into law a bill which bans same-sex marriages, gay groups and shows of same-sex public affection.

In Uganda - Archbishop Sentamu's native country - a bill allowing for greater punishments for gay people, and those who fail to turn them in to police, has been passed by parliament, but blocked - for now - by President Yoweri Museveni.

The laws have been heavily criticised by gay and human rights groups.

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay described the Nigerian law as "draconian".

She said she had rarely seen a piece of legislation "that in so few paragraphs directly violates so many basic, universal human rights".

In their letter, the archbishops reiterated their support for a document known as the Dromantine Communique, published in 2005 by the primates of the Anglican Communion.

The communique said: "We continue unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people.

"The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us.

"We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by Him and deserving the best we can give - pastoral care and friendship."

'False gospel'

Archbishop Welby's stance on homosexual relationships has created tension with more traditionalist Anglicans.

Last October, he held talks with members of the Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon), which condemns those who preach what it calls a "false gospel" claiming God's blessing for same-sex unions.

The primates of seven national Anglican churches in Africa attended October's Gafcon meeting, including Uganda and Nigeria.

Archbishop Welby has said some gay couples have loving, stable and monogamous relationships of "stunning" quality.

But he says he still supports the Church of England's opposition to active homosexuality.

Question: Dear Kryon: Regarding homosexuality or transsexuals. WHY are they the way they are and WHY are they not accepted in mainstream society?

Answer: [From the Kryon Office]
There is often a tremendous amount of information on subjects that are not necessarily part of the on-line magazine Q&A database. Kryon has been channelling for fourteen years, with 9 books covering many, many topics. Homosexuality was one of them from the very beginning. Please see our "Books index page" for subjects contained in the Kryon books: []

An excerpt from Kryon Book 6, page 306

Question from the book: Dear Kryon, I am gay, and an enlightened man. I live in an American society that barely tolerates me, and actually has some laws against my way of life. The church I used to belong to cast me out as being evil and anti-God. I don't feel that I am violating some Human ethic. My love is as true as any heterosexual, and I am a light worker. Tell me what I should know.

Answer from the book: Dear one, less than two generations from now, there will be those who find this book and laugh at the quaintness of this very question. Before I answer, let me ask you and those reading this to examine a phenomenon about Human society and "God."

Thirty years ago, interracial marriage was considered to be wrong by the laws of God. Now your society finds it common. The spiritual objections around it were either dropped or "rewritten" by those divinely inspired and authorized to do so. Therefore, your actual interpretations of the instructions from God changed with your society's tolerance level--an interesting thing, indeed, how the interpretations of God seem to change regularly to match a changing culture!

The truth, of course, is that you find yourself in a situation that is known to create a test for you. Right now, in this time, you have agreed to come into your culture with an attribute that may alienate you from friends and religious followers. You have faced fear of rejection and have had to "swim upstream," so to speak, just as an everyday life occurrence. Your contract, therefore, has been set up well, and you are in the middle of it. Additionally, like so many like you, you have a divine interest in yourselves! You feel part of the spiritual family. What a dichotomy indeed, to be judged as evil by those who are the high spiritual leaders--interpreting God for today's culture.

Now I say this: What is your intent? Is it to walk with love for all those around you and become an enlightened Human Being in this New Age? Is it to forgive those who see you as a spiritual blight on society? Can you have the kind of tolerance for them that they seem not to have for you? Can you overlook the fact that they freely quote their scriptures in order to condemn you, yet they don't seem to have the love tolerance that is the cornerstone of their own message?

If the answer is yes, then there is nothing else you must do. Your INTENT is everything, and your life will be honored with peace over those who would cause unrest, and tolerance for the intolerable. Your sexual attributes are simply chemistry and setups within your DNA. They are given by agreement as gifts for you to experience in this life. Look on them in this fashion, and be comfortable with that fact that you are a perfect spiritual creation under God--loved beyond measure--just like all humans. But then you know that, don't you?

Scarlett Johansson quits Oxfam over Israeli firm advert

Google – AFP, 30 January 2014

US actress Scarlett Johansson poses during a photocall at the 70th Venice
Film Festival at Venice Lido on September 3, 2013 (AFP/File, Tiziana Fabi)

London — US actress Scarlett Johansson has quit as global ambassador for Oxfam after the aid group deemed the role "incompatible" with her promotion of an Israeli firm that has a factory in the occupied West Bank.

Johansson, 29, appears in an advertisement for home drinks carbonation firm SodaStream, which is due to air during the US Super Bowl on Sunday.

It has already been seen more than 4.5 million times on the YouTube video-sharing website.

The Hollywood star has worked for Oxfam since 2005 but the British-based aid agency said she had stepped down due to her role with SodaStream.

"Oxfam has accepted Scarlett Johansson's decision to step down after eight years as a global ambassador and we are grateful for her many contributions," the charity said in a statement.

"While Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors, Ms Johansson's role promoting the company SodaStream is incompatible with her role as an Oxfam global ambassador.

"Oxfam believes that businesses such as SodaStream, that operate in settlements, further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support.

MPs debate EU plans to tackle credit card, direct debit charges, Thursday 30 January 2014

European Commission plans to make sure credit card companies do not charge shopkeepers excessive fees are being debated in the Dutch parliament on Thursday.

Credit cards are not widely accepted in the Netherlands because shopkeepers are angered by the high fees they have to pay. For example, the fee on a €600 suit bought by credit card can mount up to €15, Nos television reports.

The Dutch retailers' association Detailhandel Nederland has called on politicians to try to end the dominant position held by MasterCard and Visa.


'The most important benefit of the Brussels proposals is putting limits on the sky-high fees,' said spokesman Tom Ponjee. 'A customer who pays by credit card costs a shop 40 times as much as one who uses a direct debit card.'

Brussels is proposing a limit of up to 0.3% of the purchase price for credit card payments.

Currently just 2% of Dutch shoppers make regular use of credit cards. 'In the US, half of them use credit cards,' Ponjee told the broadcaster. 'We would not exactly be cheering if that was the case here.'

Direct debit

During the debate MPs from the Liberal democratic party D66 said they are concerned the Brussels' proposals will push up direct debit (pincard) payments by imposing a maximum charge.

'That sounds good but it is not,' MP Wouter Koolmees told website The Brussels plan envisages a 0.2% ceiling which in many cases will be higher than the current five or six cent fees charged in the Netherlands.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

HRW Says Kyrgyz Police Abuse Gay Men

Radio Free Europe, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, January 29, 2014

A gay-rights demonstration in Kyrgyzstan

A new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) concludes that police in Kyrgyzstan have extorted, threatened, arbitrarily detained, beaten, and sexually abused gay and bisexual men.

The 65-page report is based on interviews with 40 gay and bisexual men in four regions of Kyrgyzstan.

It includes cases of severe physical violence against gay and bisexual men, including punching, kicking, and beating with gun butts, batons, empty beer bottles, or other objects.

Several gay men also reported sexual violence by police officers, including rape, group rape, and attempts to insert a stick, a hammer, or an electric shock device into their rectums, as well as gratuitous touching during a search or being forced to undress in front of police.

Anna Kirey, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights researcher at HRW, said that "gay and bisexual men in Kyrgyzstan already live in fear due to widespread homophobic attitudes, and the police are making a nightmarish situation even worse."

"The state has to publicly accept that it is taking place and must condemn on the highest level those kinds of crimes," she told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service.

HRW is asking the Kyrgyz government to thoroughly investigate the reports.

It also wants Kyrgyzstan to establish a confidential complaint mechanism.

HRW said only two of the 40 men interviewed had filed complaints. Neither case led to anyone being held accountable.

However, Kyrgyz Interior Ministry spokesman Jorobai Abdraimov cast doubt on the accuracy of the HRW report.

"We do not know how much of the report by the international rights organization is true and how much is not," Abdraimov said. "If they really have facts saying that [homosexuals] had been beaten or tortured, then let them come to us and show us those facts. We will launch internal investigations into such facts. Or let other state bodies lead the investigations. Those kinds of complaints are thoroughly investigated."

Society in Kyrgyzstan, as in many other former Soviet republics where same-sex relations were decriminalized in the 1990s, remains generally hostile toward homosexuality.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Europe court finds Ireland liable for sexual abuse in Catholic school

Google – AFP, 28 Janaury 2014

Leinster House which houses the Seanad chamber, or upper house of the
 Irish parliament, is pictured in Dublin on October 2, 2013 (AFP/File, Peter Muhly)

Strasbourg — The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday found Ireland liable for sexual abuse suffered by a girl at a Catholic-run state primary school in the 1970s.

"The Court found that it was an inherent obligation of a Government to protect children from ill-treatment, especially in a primary education context," the court said in its ruling of a case brought by a woman who had been sexually abused by the principal of her school in 1973.

"That obligation had not been met," it said.

Queen's household finances under fire

Google – AFP, Katy Lee (AFP), 28 January 2014

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is pictured after recording her Christmas Day
broadcast to the Commonwealth, at Buckingham Palace on December 12, 2013
(POOL/AFP/File, John Stillwell)

London — MPs on Tuesday took aim at Queen Elizabeth II's household accountants, saying they must cut their costs and tackle a huge backlog of repairs to the monarch's crumbling palaces.

Palace officials must also do more to boost the royal family's income as they are dipping into reserve funds alarmingly often, parliament's public accounts committee said in a report.

The queen's reserves are down to a "historically low" £1 million ($1.65 million, 1.2 million euros), the report revealed.

A view of the Victoria Memorial and
 Buckingham Palace in London on July 22,
2013 (AFP/File, Justin Tallis)
Committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge said lawmakers felt the queen had "not been served well" by her household accountants or by the Treasury, which is supposed to scrutinise royal spending.

"The household needs to get better at planning and managing its budgets for the longer term ?- and the Treasury should be more actively involved in reviewing what the household is doing," she said.

The report warned that palace officials were failing to invest in repairs, with nearly 40 percent of the royal estate deemed to be in an unacceptable condition when assessments were made in March 2012.

One MP on the committee recalled that he had noticed leaks in Buckingham Palace's picture gallery on a recent visit.

"The rain was coming in on the expensive paintings," he told the committee.

The Victoria and Albert Mausoleum, where the late queen Victoria and her husband prince Albert are buried, has been waiting for repairs for 18 years, the report said, while other problems include walls riddled with asbestos.

Some of Buckingham Palace's 775 rooms have not been refurbished for 60 years, a palace official told MPs.

"The household must get a much firmer grip on how it plans to address its maintenance backlog," said Hodge.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said tackling repairs was "a significant financial priority for the royal household".

"Recent examples of work include the renewal of a lead roof over the royal library at Windsor and the removal of asbestos from the basement of Buckingham Palace," she said. "The need for property maintenance is continually assessed."

The committee acknowledged that the queen's household has managed to cut its net costs by 16 percent since 2007-8, but said most of this was through increasing its income, such as by opening the palace to tourists.

The royal household must do more to make efficiency savings, the report said.

Members of the Order of the Garter take
 part in an annual procession at Windso
r Castle on June 17, 2013 (POOL/AFP/
File, Will Oliver)
It added that the palace should make sure it has "sufficient commercial expertise in place" in order to maximise the royal family's income, such as through tours, leasing its properties and making its facilities available for commercial events.

Officials have also considered opening the doors of Buckingham Palace more often in order to bring in more money from tourists, but decided there were too many "constraints" including high set-up costs, the report said.

Currently the palace is open to the public during August and September, when the queen takes her summer holiday in Scotland, and there are private guided tours at other times.

The palace told lawmakers it had already made significant efficiency savings and had been forced to dip into reserves because of the huge cost of the diamond jubilee celebrations marking the queen's 60th year on the throne in 2012.

Last year the queen received £31 million from the taxpayer to cover her staffing costs, travel and the maintenance of her palaces. The so-called Sovereign Grant is set to rise to £36.1 million in 2013-14 and to £37.9 million in 2014-15.

Monday, January 27, 2014

European Continent Now Completely Free of Criminalizing Gay Sex After Cypriot State Repeal

Towleroad, Andy Towle, January 27, 2014

The European continent is now completely free of laws criminalizing gay sex after lawmakers in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus voted today to repeal a colonial era sodomy ban. The bill, which was passed on a second reading, still requires endorsement by Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu but he has promised to sign it.

Cyprus Mail reports:
In the north, homosexuality was punishable by imprisonment for five years and Turkish Cypriot activists, had even until recently been forced to hold protests in secret, leaving LGBT signs and symbols anonymously in various places.
Paulo Côrte-Real, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s executive Board, welcomed the move: “We can finally call Europe a continent completely free from laws criminalising homosexuality. In 1981, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in its historic judgment in Dudgeon v UK case that such laws are in breach of the European Human Rights Convention and must be abolished. It took Europe 33 years to completely free the continent from these unjust and discriminatory laws.”
In August 2012, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) agreed to examine a legal challenge against Turkey for the north’s continued failure to repeal a law banning homosexuality.
North America, Australia, and now Europe are free of laws criminalizing homosexuality.

RBS sets aside £3.1bn for new claims

BBC News, 27 January 2014

Related Stories

RBS may face full-year losses of up to £8bn, after the bank said it needed another £3.1bn for claims relating to the financial crisis.

Shares in the 80%-taxpayer owned bank dropped 3% on the news.

RBS boss Ross McEwan said: "The scale of the bad decisions during that period [the financial crisis] means that some problems are still just emerging."

RBS said its executive committee would not receive a bonus for 2013, Mr McEwan has waived his bonus for 2013-14.

RBS said on Monday the £3.1bn it planned to set aside would be used to settle claims relating to mortgage products, PPI claims and interest rate hedging.


It would allocate:

  • £1.9bn to pay for fines and damages relating to mis-selling mortgage bonds in the US, as well as other penalties relating to market manipulation
  • £650m of losses for mis-selling payment protection insurance (PPI)
  • £500m of losses for compensating small businesses who were wrongly sold interest rate hedging products
  • The bank also said there would be £4.5bn of further losses on bad loans and investments
  • It suggested there could be unspecified further losses from selling off bad assets 

RBS chairman Philip Hampton said: "RBS did suffer more than most banks in the crisis and these charges today represent an extra clearing-up of the mess that was created in the bank in the run-up to the financial crisis of 2008."

The announcement of the new provisions came near the end of share dealing in London.

Ian Gordon, from Investec Securities, said the news was not entirely unexpected, but the amounts involved were: "Some of this is a pull forward of future bad news and some of this is additional.

"Most of the items aren't surprising, but the amounts are at or above the top end of expectations."

The cumulative amount set aside to cover the mis-selling of PPI, payment protection insurance, alone, is now £3.1bn, said RBS.

RBS, has also, in common with most of its rivals, been fined for fixing the key Libor interest rate and has suspended traders amid an investigation into alleged rigging of the foreign exchange markets.

The BBC learned earlier this month that general discussions about bonuses had taken place with shareholders, including UK Financial Investments, the body that manages the government's shareholding in the bank.

The controversy over bank bonuses flared up in Parliament earlier this month, with Labour demanding George Osborne block any attempt by RBS to pay bonuses of up to double its bankers' annual salary.

Related Articles:

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Hot meals, housing bring cheer to Syrian refugees in Bulgaria

Google – AFP, Diana Simeonova (AFP), 25 January 2014

Volunteers distribute Polish food donations to Syrian refugees in the largest
 Bulgarian camp of Syrian refugees in the town of Harmanli on January 21, 2014
(AFP/File, Dimitar Dilkoff)

Harmanli — Two months ago, hungry Syrian children were shuffling around barefoot in the snow in Bulgaria's biggest refugee camp, while their miserable parents shivered inside ragged tents.

But now the threadbare khaki tents have disappeared, families have moved into freshly-painted rooms and the United Nations is providing each refugee one hot meal a day.

Donations of food and clothes as well as 5.6 million euros ($7.6 million) in EU money have helped ease the grim conditions that greeted Syrians fleeing almost three years of civil war.

A girl crosses a puddle during the first
 snowfall in a refugee camp set in the
 Bulgarian town of Harmanli, south-east
 of Sofia, on November 27, 2013 (AFP/File,
Nikolay Doychinov)
"I'm starting to like this place. It's better than Syria anyway," shrugs dental technician Husain Khatba, 23, one of about 11,000 refugees who fled from Syria to neighbouring Turkey and then sneaked across that country's porous border into Bulgaria.

Bulgaria is a key entry point for Syrian refugees hoping to make their way further into the European Union, but the bloc's poorest nation found itself overwhelmed by the massive influx.

Dire conditions at Harmanli, a former military camp, as freezing winter weather gripped Bulgaria, prompted government appeals for help as the UN refugee agency raised alarm over a "human emergency".

The aid response has brought a touch of cheer to the camp, home to about 1,800 people, as well as six other similar sites in the country.

Rows of metal containers housing people remain, but those who had been living in tents have now moved to two renovated buildings. Each family has its own room furnished with new bunk beds, mattresses, blankets and bed linen. Another building is also being prepared for single mothers with babies.

Portable toilets line up along the main alley and there are several extra showers, even if people say they are still too few.

Volunteers distribute Polish food donations
 to Syrian refugees in the largest Bulgarian
 camp in the town of Harmanli on January
21, 2014 (AFP/File, Dimitar Dilkoff)
Construction debris from the ongoing refurbishments steal part of the glow from the newly painted rooms and hallways. But as Khatba joked: "It's just very bad now but not very, very bad as it used to be."

A tiny medical clinic has also been set up in one of the buildings, while an improvised school organised by the refugees themselves offers English classes for the adults and English and maths for the children.

'Many things have changed'

Even the sounds around the camp are cheerier, as the shouts of children playing football mingle with music blaring from a stereo in one of the buildings.

"Many things have changed. There's aid coming from different people and organisations and it's good," said another Syrian refugee, Rasheed Jamil, 35.

One major improvement has been the distribution by the UNHCR of one hot meal per day. The Bulgarian government is preparing to give out two meals a day in all camps from February.

On the day AFP visited, a truck stuffed with 22 tonnes of aid including clothes, food, bedding, toys and even washing machines arrived from Poland after a campaign there by volunteers Michal Borkiewicz and Maciej Pastwa.

A Syrian refugee looks out of the container
 window in the largest Bulgarian camp in
 the town of Harmanli on January 21, 2014
(AFP/File, Dimitar Dilkoff)
"It's a small thing but it is better than nothing," said Pastwa, 46, who drove all the way to Harmanli this week to see the truck unloaded.

His friend Borkiewicz, 33, said he was "ashamed and angry" that the European Union had failed to take in larger numbers of refugees.

Amnesty International said in December that EU leaders should "hang their heads in shame" at their failure to provide safe haven for Syrian refugees, estimating only 55,000 asylum seekers had been accepted into the EU.

An estimated 2.4 million have fled the war.

The magic 'green card'

Despite the improvements, the UNHCR earlier this month slammed "deplorable" conditions in Bulgaria, such as a lack of food and healthcare and arbitrary detention.

The agency also flagged concerns over measures taken by Bulgaria to stop more refugees from entering the country.

However many only see Bulgaria as a stopover to a better future elsewhere in Europe.

Michal Borkiewicz loads a truck with over 13 tonnes of aid supplies such as clothing,
 food, housewares and toys for Syrian refugees living in Bulgaria on January 15,
2014 in Warsaw, Poland (AFP/File, Wojtek Radwanski)

After months of living in administrative limbo, the Syrians were recently fingerprinted by Bulgaria's refugee agency, boosting hopes they might soon receive what they call a "green card", the magic word on everyone's lips.

The green piece of paper allows the refugees to leave the otherwise closed camp and is the first step in the lengthy administrative process towards obtaining refugee status or asylum.

"Being here is our biggest problem. We just want to take our documents and go," said Sahar Ibrahim, 21, who came with her family from Aleppo and, like most Syrians here, wants to go to Germany.

"I can't stay in Bulgaria. It's impossible here. I will try Germany or Sweden," added Malik Morkis, 32, from Homs.

Ukraine leader offers opposition PM post to end crisis

Google – AFP, Stuart Williams and Dario Thuburn (AFP), 25 January 2014

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (2nd left) meets opposition leaders
in Kiev, on January 25, 2014 (Pool/AFP, Mykhaylo Markiv)

Kiev — Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on Saturday offered the opposition the post of prime minister and to change the constitution, in a proposed compromise deal aiming to end the country's worst post-independence crisis.

Yanukovych offered top opposition leaders Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Vitali Klitschko the posts of prime minister and deputy prime minister in a brand new government, the presidency said.

Opposition leaders, who have called for Yanukovych's resignation, could not immediately be reached for a reaction and it was not clear if they would accept the deal.

Anti-government protesters cover
 themselves under makeshift shields
 during clashes with police in Kiev
 on January 25, 2014 (AFP, Genya
The Ukrainian presidency said in a statement after talks between Yanukovych and the opposition that the two sides had agreed the protests and the police presence in Kiev would be scaled down, raising hopes of a resolution of the crisis.

Yanukovych said he was willing to consider changes to the constitution that would reduce the presidency's huge powers, the presidency said.

Fatherland party leader Yatsenyuk is a former foreign minister and speaker of parliament. UDAR (Punch) party leader and world boxing champion Klitschko would be his deputy in charge of humanitarian affairs.

"If he (Yatsenyuk) agrees to take the post of prime minister then a decision will be taken for the government to resign," Justice Minister Olena Lukash said.

The president also promised to consider changes to draconian anti-protest laws passed by parliament January 16 which sparked the latest crisis.

"We are ready to make changes to these laws and work together with our political opponents on finding a political consensus for a compromise on these laws," the presidency statement said.

The president also agreed to a key demand of the opposition to agree to put a bill to parliament that would amnesty those arrested during the protests and political crisis.

But the condition is that the protest's epicentre -- Independence Square -- and the offices seized by protesters were given back to the authorities.

Akhmetov says dialogue 'only solution'

The protests first erupted in response to Yanukovych's refusal to sign a key deal with the European Union in November.

But they have snowballed into anti-government protests against Yanukovych's four-year rule, which the opposition claims has been riddled with corruption and nepotism.

Three people have been killed in the protests, according to officials, although the opposition puts the toll at six.

An anti-government protester paints a
 scene of fellow protesters clashing with
 riot police in central Kiev on January 25,
2014 (AFP, Vasily Maximov)
The Ukrainian interior minister earlier warned that efforts to solve the crisis without using force were proving "futile" as the opposition accused Yanukovych of planning to impose a state of emergency.

The European Union urged concrete steps to end the crisis, which has raised fears of a prolonged civil conflict.

The authorities have also faced mounting pressure outside Kiev with protesters storming regional administration offices not just in the anti-Yanukovych west of the country but also north and east of Kiev.

Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko has bluntly warned that the use of force was a possibility.

"The events of the last days in the Ukrainian capital have shown that our attempts to solve the conflict peacefully, without recourse to a confrontation of force, remain futile," he said.

Accusing the mainstream opposition of failing to control radicals, Zakharchenko said the authorities now had information that the protesters were "hoarding firearms" at their headquarters.

He later said that all protesters remaining on Independence Square and occupying official buildings in Kiev would be considered as "extremist groups" and the authorities would use force if need be.

In a sign of a possible split within the ruling Regions Party over how to deal with the crisis, Ukraine's richest man Rinat Akhmetov said that dialogue was the only way forward.

"There can be only one solution to the political crisis -- a peaceful one. Any use of force is unacceptable," said Akhmetov, an ally of Yanukovych and bankroller of his party.

"The only way out is to move from street confrontation to negotiations," he added in a statement released by his SCM holding company.

Ukrainian anti-government protesters
 throw Molotov cocktails during clashes
 with riot police in central Kiev early
 on January 25, 2014 (AFP, Dmitry
The crisis is Ukraine's worst since its independence in 1991 and has seen crowds of hundreds of thousands of protesters in Kiev.

World leaders have condemned the violence and urged the president to hold talks. But so far Western pressure has had little impact on the standoff.

EU Enlargement Commissioner, Stefan Fuele, who held talks with Yanukovych in Kiev Friday, urged the Ukrainian government to take concrete steps to halt "a spiral of violence and intimidation" and restore peace in the country.

"I have discussed a series of steps to this end, that could lead to confidence building and to a political process aimed at ending this crisis," he added.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is due in Kiev next week while the crisis is also expected to dominate an upcoming EU-Russia summit.

Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk has starkly warned of a "black scenario that is really possible: Ukraine falling apart."