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, April 30, 2015

Church of England ends investments in heavily polluting fossil fuels

Move by church’s £9bn fund to divest £12m from tar sands oil and thermal coal reflects more interventionist stance and sets lead for other institutional investors

The Guardian, Adam Vaughan, Thursday 30 April 2015

Mining lorries carry loads of tar sands in Alberta, Canada. One climate scientist
warned that it would be “game over” for efforts to stop global warming if
Canada’s tar sands were fully exploited. Photograph: Jeff Mcintosh/AP

The Church of England has pulled its money out of two of the most polluting fossil fuels as part of what it called its moral responsibility to protect the world’s poor from the impact of global warming.

In a move approved by the church’s board on Thursday, it divested £12m from tar sands oil and thermal coal – the first time it has ever imposed investment restrictions because of climate change.

The church’s huge £9bn investment fund and leadership on climate change has made it the target of a global campaign calling for organisations to divest from fossil fuel companies. Campaigners hailed the move, which they said in effect “read the last rites” to the two industries.

“This policy is sending a very clear signal about the church’s investments,” said Edward Mason, head of responsible investment for the Church Commissioners. “[This] is a really comprehensive policy, which aspires to put the church at the forefront of institutional investors, highlighting the urgency of the transition to a low-carbon economy and playing our part as investors in that.”

The CoE’s climate-change policy has been in place since 2008 but the new policy, the result of a two-year review, marks a much bolder and more interventionist stance by the church.

It has now divested and ruled out future investments in any company that makes more than 10% of its revenues from thermal coal – used for electricity generation – and oil from the tar sands. One leading climate scientist, Prof James Hansen, has warned that it would be “game over” for efforts to stop dangerous global warming if Canada’s tar sands, the world’s third biggest oil reserve, are fully exploited.

The church argued that it had not been minded to divest from all fossil fuels as some campaigners had wanted, because engagement with some oil and gas companies produced results, such as the adoption of a church-led resolution on climate change by BP at its annual meeting earlier this month.

“Companies like the oil and gas majors are significant players in the business world and political world, and we’d like them to be part of a constructive call for the transition to the low-carbon economy,” said Mason. The church has about £101m invested in Shell and £91.9m in BP.

But the church made clear that it would divest when engagement did not work.

“Engagement is something that we will be looking to demonstrate success. If engagement with companies isn’t productive, the policy does make clear divestment is there as a last resort,” Mason said.

Rev Canon Prof Richard Burridge, deputy chair of the ethical investment advisory group that undertook the review, said: “The church has a moral responsibility to speak and act on both environmental stewardship and justice for the world’s poor who are most vulnerable to climate change.”

Christine Allen, director of policy and public affairs at the development charity Christian Aid, said she welcomed the move but hoped the church would address its investments in other fossil fuels in the future. “The Church of England has effectively read the last rites to the coal and tar sands industry. The message must be heard loud and clear: they have no place in a sustainable future, and ultimately other fossil fuels don’t either,” she said.

Bill McKibben, a prominent environmentalist who has previously chastised the CoE for dragging its feet and not heeding calls by the Anglican archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu that organisations divest, applauded the new policy.

“This is the first great turnaround in the divestment fight, an institution which initially refused to move and then, in good Christian fashion, saw the light.

“Much credit to the CoE – they’re studying the signs of the times, as the good book says, and starting to show their concern for the poorest and most vulnerable parts of humanity and of creation,” he said.

The Guardian is currently running its own climate change campaign, calling on the Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to divest from fossil fuels.

Hungary Says ‘Does Not Plan’ to Introduce Death Penalty

Jakarta Globe – AFP, May 01, 2015

Hungary's Prime minister Viktor Orban arrives at the European Council
headquarters for an extraordinary summit of European leaders to deal with
 a worsening migration crisis, on April 23, 2015 in Brussels. (AFP Photo/
Thierry Charlier)

Budapest. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban “does not plan to introduce the death penalty,” his chief of staff Janos Lazar said Thursday, after strong EU criticism of Orban’s call for debate on its reintroduction.

Orban informed European Parliament president Martin Schulz by telephone that the government would debate the issue, but “the prime minister does not plan to introduce it in the country,” Lazar said.

Hungary will “keep to EU laws”, he added.

The statement came after European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker earlier warned Orban that he faced a “fight” if he reintroduced the death penalty.

“Mr. Orban should immediately make clear that this is not his intention and would it be his intention, it would be a fight,” Juncker told a press conference, stressing that the EU charter forbids the death penalty in the 28-nation bloc.

The controversy was sparked on Tuesday when Orban pushed for a debate on bringing back capital punishment, saying existing penalties in Hungary were too soft.

Orban’s comments immediately sparked a sharp response after a series of spats with Brussels over his hardline stance on human rights and civil society norms — key values for the European Union.

Hungary abolished capital punishment after the end of communism in 1990, fulfilling a key condition for membership of the European Union, which it joined in 2004.

Agence France-Presse

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Top Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Luz says will no longer draw Mohammed

Yahoo – AFP, 29 April 2015

Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Luz says drawing the Prophet 
Mohammed 'no longer interests me' (AFP Photo/Alexander Klein)

Paris (AFP) - Cartoonist Luz, who drew Charlie Hebdo's front cover picture of Mohammed following the massacre of the satirical weekly's editorial team by jihadists in January, has told a French magazine he will no longer draw the prophet.

"I will no longer draw the figure of Mohammed. It no longer interests me," he told Les Inrockuptibles magazine in an interview published on Wednesday.

"I'm not going to spend my life drawing (cartoons of Mohammed)."

Luz's cover image in January portrayed Mohammed with a sign saying "Je Suis Charlie" under the words "All is forgiven".

The issue came out a week after the attack by jihadists on the magazine's office left 12 dead. It had a print run of eight million -- a record for the French press.

"The terrorists did not win," Luz told Les Inrockuptibles.

"They will have won if the whole of France continues to be scared," he added, accusing the far-right National Front of trying to stir up fear in the wake of the attacks.

Related Articles:

'I Am Charlie': Mass rallies for French massacre victims

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration LecturesGod / CreatorReligions/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)

“.   New Tolerance

Look for a softening of finger pointing and an awakening of new tolerance. There will remain many systems for different cultures, as traditions and history are important to sustaining the integrity of culture. So there are many in the Middle East who would follow the prophet and they will continue, but with an increase of awareness. It will be the increase of awareness of what the prophet really wanted all along - unity and tolerance. The angel in the cave instructed him to "unify the tribes and give them the God of Israel." You're going to start seeing a softening of intolerance and the beginning of a new way of being.

Eventually, this will create an acknowledgement that says, "You may not believe the way we believe, but we honor you and your God. We honor our prophet and we will love you according to his teachings. We don't have to agree in order to love." How would you like that? The earth is not going to turn into one belief system. It never will, for Humans don't do that. There must be variety, and there must be the beauty of cultural differences. But the systems will slowly update themselves with increased awareness of the truth of a new kind of balance. So that's the first thing. Watch for these changes, dear ones. ...."

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Cyprus president to meet with Turkish Cypriot leader ahead of reunification talks

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades is set to meet newly elected Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci. The meeting comes ahead of a new round of UN-brokered talks aimed at reuniting the long-divided island.

Deutsche Welle, 28 April 2015

Spokesman for Cyprus' government, Nicos Christodoulides, said on Tuesday that the two leaders will meet on Saturday to tackle issues relating to reconciliation efforts between the ethnically divided island.

Greek Cypriots pulled out of the UN-brokered talks in October in protest at Turkish exploration for oil and gas off the island's coast but announced earlier this month that they would return to the negotiating table after the Turkish Cypriot election. The venue is yet to be confirmed.

Hope of reunification

Akinci, a longtime advocate of reunifying the island, was Cyprus rejoices as unifier Akinci wins in Turkish north elected as the leader of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on Sunday - defeating nationalist incumbent Dervis Eroglu.

Following Akinci's election, Anastasiades said on Monday that the result had renewed hope that a settlement could be reached between Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders after 40 years of division.

"At long last, hope is created that our homeland can be reunited to create a modern state governed by EU principles, creating the prospects of cooperation, peace and tranquility," Anastasiades said in Cyprus' capital, Nicosia.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan scolded Akinci, however, after the new Turkish Cypriot leader said Turkey and the TRNC should enjoy a relationship of "brotherly countries" rather than mother and child.

Four divided decades

Cyprus has been divided by a UN-monitored ceasefire line since 1974 when Turkish troops occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup, seeking union with Greece.

The Turkish Cypriots, who had already pulled out of government institutions in the face of communal violence in 1963, declared their breakaway state in 1983.

The separatist state is recognized only by Turkey, however, which provides around a third of its budget.

Earlier last week, both Ankara and Washington voiced hope that 2015 be the year Cyprus becomes reunited.

ksb/bw (AFP, AP)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Cyprus rejoices as unifier Akinci wins in Turkish north

Turkish Cypriots have elected Mustafa Akinci leader of their internationally shunned republic. He has pledged to focus his energy on breaking decades of stalemate and achieving an accord that would reunify Cyprus.

Deutsche Welle, 27 April 2015

Mustafa Akinci received 60.5 percent of the vote to lead Turkish Cyprus. The challenger, who had previously served 14 years as mayor of the Turkish half of the island's divided capital, Nicosia, beat the five-year incumbent, Dervis Eroglu, in a runoff poll that could accelerate UN-backed efforts to reunify Cyprus, a British colony until 1960. About 64 percent the 177,000 registered voters turned out.

"We achieved change and my policy will be focused on reaching a peace settlement," Akinci told supporters at a victory rally on Sunday. "This country cannot tolerate any more wasted time."
A moderate who supports a federated solution, Akincis is expected to help resume reunification talks next month. He rode discontent with five years of rule by the right-wing Eroglu, whose own efforts at talks failed in 2014.

'A tremendous burden'

As mayor of Turkish Nicosia from the late 1970s to early 1990s, Akinci collaborated with his Greek Cypriot counterpart on an architectural plan for the capital's future reunification, earning accolades. Since that time, he has held several government posts and led and helped found centrist political parties. After winning, Akinci said he had agreed to meet with Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades soon.

"Anastasiades and I are the same generation," Akinci told his supporters on Sunday, adding that voters had answered critics who accused him of selling out to Greek Cypriots. "If we can't solve this now, it will be a tremendous burden on future generations."

Only Turkey, which maintains more than 30,000 troops in north Cyprus, recognizes the region's 1983 declaration of independence, preceded in 1974 by Turkey's invasion of the island following a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Only the internationally recognized south of Cyprus benefits from the country's joining the European Union in 2004. In 2013, rumors floated that Cyprus could lose the euro as the country's official currency, and just in February the Anastasiades administration signed a port deal with Russia to shore up finances.

On Sunday, UN envoy Espen Barth Eide congratulated Akinci on his win and "welcomed his commitment to resuming negotiations as soon as possible," the United Nations announced in a statement. Eide will return to the island early next month to prepare for the resumption of talks, which Anastasiades had put on hold following a pre-election clash over rights to the island's offshore natural gas reserves.

Sibel Siber, the first female prime minister of north Cyprus, lost in the first round of the election, but her Republican Turkish Party threw its support behind Akinci, helping seal Sunday's historic victory.

mkg/gsw (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

EU finance ministers dream of a capital market union

The EU finance ministers have been looking for new sources for investment in Europe, one of which could be the "capital market union." But what is it? Bernd Riegert reports from Riga.

Deutsche Welle, 26 April 2015

The Greek crisis dominated discussions at the summit of European finance ministers. But besides Greece, the 28 ministers also had the next big project to discuss: the capital market union is to be put on track. The first decisions for the creation of a single market for capital investments and finance streams in Europe have to be made now, even if the union is only expected to be completed in 2019. "It is extremely important and very urgent that we start on it now," the responsible EU commissioner Jonathan Hill said at the meeting of in the Latvian capital, Riga.

According to Hill, the aim of the capital market union is to create more potential sources of financing for companies, beyond the traditional bank loans. Small and medium-sized businesses are to be given the opportunity to get financing directly, either from investors or from stock markets across Europe. "That way we can free capital for investments that have been frozen until now. We have to tear down the barriers that still exist in Europe," said Hill. This summer, the commissioner intends to present a more exact road map explaining what laws and directives the finance ministers and the European Parliament will have to enact to create a unified capital market.

German federal bank approves

Weidmann is cautiously optimistic
about Europe's grand new project
Jens Weidmann, president of the German federal bank, welcomes the idea. "The capital market union has a real potential, but it will only come into its own in the long term, through a better distribution of capital and a sharing of risk," he told reporters in Riga. It was not, he insisted, a short term solution to the low investments in the EU, which have significantly dipped since the financial crisis of 2008. Hill, along with the majority of finance ministers in the EU, is working on the assumption that the planned capital market union could bring more venture capital for young digital companies, so-called start-ups. The plan is to match the US on this point, where direct investments in start-ups are much more common than in Europe.

In the US, significantly more companies get capital from stock markets, whereas in Europe banks dominate the financing of economic activities. No wonder, then, that some banks are much more reserved about the plans for a capital market union - even if the European Commission keeps insisting that the it is not meant as competition, but as support.

Weidmann likes the idea, in principle, of realigning the balance between investments from investors and from banks. But he points out that these investments will be secured through loans, not debts, which could lead to risky speculations. If it's done right, Weidmann thinks the capital market union could have advantages for the whole of Europe. "Cross-border investments with private capital could lead to a better distribution of risk between member states in the European Union," he said. Regional shocks could then be absorbed by diversified capital market investments. "The effects on the economies of individual countries would not be as strong. That could reduce the vulnerability of individual states and so the whole union," Weidmann said.

'More financial sources lead to more stability'

Guntram Wolff, the market expert invited to give a lecture to the finance ministers, expects the capital market union to make Europe's financial system safer in the long-term.

"More financial sources lead to more stability, Wolff told DW. The ordinary saver could also benefit because in a wider financial market across Europe he could expect higher interest and profits for his savings if there is an alternative to the traditional banks. But critics warn that a poorly regulated capital market union could lead to the same kind of highly risky, un-transparent financial products that led to the 2008 financial crisis.

Schäuble thinks infrastructure is the key
These products, also known as securitizations, were also a vehicle for investments, which is why the European Central Bank and the Bank of England are working to at least allow relatively safe securitizations once again - in other words, open the door to the financial casino again.

"The initiative of the European Central Bank and the Bank of England is only aiming for a specific section of the market - namely simple and relatively high-value securitizations," said Weidmann. That might be relatively sensible, but "on the other hand, that shouldn't lead to people forgetting the lessons of the crisis and allowing some to take on risk that they can't take and don't even understand."

A short-term prescription

The European Commission and the finance ministers agreed in Riga that the capital market union would make a good addition to Europe's investment initiative. In the next few years, the EU wants to encourage "strategic" investments, from public and private sources, in infrastructure and a number of projects, of 315 billion euros ($343 billion).

"We have a broad agreement that we have to concentrate on that, to support our priority for Europe: growth! That's how we successfully fight unemployment and youth unemployment, and not some time in the future, but now," said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.

Wolff, who runs the Brussels think tank Bruegel, is not quite so enthusiastic. In the short term, he warns that the capital market union will not be an effective cure for the credit problem in the southern European states. "We shouldn't dream that the capital market union will solve problems in Greece or other southern countries. In those places, we have to solve the problems in the banking system and the state debts."

Beijing ratifies protocol for nuclear-weapon-free treaty in Central Asia

Want China Times, Xinhua 2015-04-25

The 14th session of the 12th NPC Standing Committee held in the Great
Hall of the People in Beijing, April 24. (File photo/Xinhua)

China's top legislature on Friday ratified the protocol to the Treaty on Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (NWFZ) in Central Asia.

After approving the protocol, the National People's Congress Standing Committee declared that no security protocol or treaty will undermine the status of the NWFZ, and that all explanations and applications of the clauses in the protocol shall support the goal of the building of the NWFZ in Central Asia.

The protocol was signed by representatives of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States on May 6, 2014 in New York.

The protocol provides legally-binding assurances not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against parties to the NWFZ parties.

Enacted in 2009, the treaty commits the signatories, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, to refrain from developing, acquiring or possessing nuclear weapons.

Related Article:

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Russia seeks more Chinese investment: official   2015-04-24

ST. PETERSBURG, April 24 (Xinhua) -- Russia is interested in Chinese investment, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Friday.

The official said Russia has seen Western markets closed to Russian investment, so the country has been stepping up its financial cooperation with China and is seeking larger Chinese investments in the Russian economy.

Siluanov mentioned the 800-km high-speed railway connecting Moscow with Kazan, capital of the Tatarstan Republic, as one possible project China may invest in. The investment for the project is estimated at 1 trillion rubles (19 billion U.S. dollars).

Siluanov also expressed support for China's initiative of the Silk Road Economic Belt.

"The Silk Road initiative would facilitate a broader relationship between our countries," RIA Novosti news agency quoted him as saying.

Siluanov noted that the project would provide better conditions for freight between Asia and Europe and therefore help improve Russia's economy.

Chinese president Xi Jinping greets his Russian counterpart Vladimir
Putin at the APEC summit in Beijing, November 2014. (Photo/CNS)

Related Articles:

European leaders agree to reinforce migrant rescue mission in Mediterranean, Editor: huaxia,  2015-04-24

European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker (L) and European Council
President Donald Tusk (R) attend a press conference after an extraordinary summit
aiming to discuss how to address the migratory pressures in the Mediterranean, at the
EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, April 23, 2015. (Xinhua/Ye Pingfan)
BRUSSELS, April 23 (Xinhua) -- European leaders agreed to reinforce the Joint Operations in the Mediterranean by increasing the financial resources at the extraordinary summit on migratory pressures on Thursday.

European Council President Donald Tusk told a press conference that "we have agreed to triple the resources available to Triton border mission to enhance its operation capability."

The Triton operation is a migrant search and rescue mission run by the European Union (EU) 's justice and home affairs agency Frontex.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the funding for the Triton operation will be increased to 120 million euros (130 million U.S. dollars).

"Given the instability in Libya creates an environment for the criminal activities of traffickers," according to an EU statement, European leaders also decided to step up cooperation against smuggling networks, through Frontex and by deploying immigration officers to the third countries.

Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi speaks at the press briefing after the European
 Union (EU) extraordinary summit aiming to discuss how to address the migratory
 pressures in the Mediterranean at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on
April 23, 2015. (Xinhua/Zhou Lei)

Only 28 migrants out of 700 have survived by far after their boat capsized some 130 miles (209 km) south of Lampedusa, Italy, last Saturday night.

This disaster follows another similar tragedy which took place a week earlier, during which more than 400 migrants drowned after their vessel sank off the Libyan coast.

In response to the deaths of thousands of people in the Mediterranean, the institutions of the EU and member states have been called on to take the necessary humanitarian actions and political decisions.

Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, called for an EU migration policy in his Preliminary remarks. However, "there is no such thing as an EU migration policy. We have a patchwork of 28 different national systems," Schulz said.

"The lack of a truly European asylum and migration policy is now turning the Mediterranean into a graveyard," said he.

Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Thursday said he was confident in the new European Union (EU)'s commitment on the migrant crisis at the extraordinary summit.

"I am optimistic on the fact that we can bring home the sign that something has finally changed in Europe ... I believe I can say there are all the conditions for a change," Renzi was quoted by Italian media as saying.

Erdogan lashes out at West and Russia for recognizing Armenian killings as genocide

Turkish President Erdogan has slammed the world leaders for recognizing the 1915 massacre of Armenians as genocide. Erdogan said countries like Germany, France and Russia should first "clean their own stains."

Deutsche Welle, 25 April 2015

Recep Tayyip Erdogan hits out at European Union and the US for using the word genocide to describe the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a century ago.

The Turkish president accused Germany, France and Russia of "supporting claims based on Armenian lies."

Erdogan also accused the United States of siding with Armenia, despite the fact that US President Barack Obama stopped short of calling the killings as "genocide" and instead used the Armenian term Medz Yeghern (great catastrophe) for the World War I killings.

"The latest countries to speak of genocide are Germany, Russia and France. What happened during the two world wars that had been initiated by Germany in the past century is before our eyes," President Erdogan was quoted by Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency as saying on Saturday.

Demonstrations are being held in
several countries to mark the 100
years of Armenian killings
"First, they (Germany, Russia and France) must, one by one, clean the stains on their own histories," he added.

The US is siding with "hatred," the president said, also slamming the European Union, which on April 15 voted to call the events genocide.

"Hey European Union! Don't offer us any thoughts. Keep them to yourself," Erdogan said.

During the centenary commemorations of the massacre on Friday in Armenia, French President Francois Holland said Turkey must recognize the killings as genocide, whereas Russian President Vladimir Putin also used the word which Ankara strongly objects to.

Historians estimate up to 1.5 million Armenian people were murdered around the time of the First World War. Turkey says the victims of the event were merely casualties of war, arguing that the toll has been exaggerated.

Earlier this month, Pope Francis described the killings as "the first genocide ofthe 20th century," drawing the wrath of Turkey, which recalled its Vatican envoy in protest.

'Confronting history'

Earlier in the week, German President Joachim Gauck called Turkey's Ottoman Empire killings of Armenians "genocide" at a memorial service in Berlin.

The Turkish government's statement, issued late on Friday, claimed the German president didn't have "the right to attribute to the Turkish people a crime which they have not committed."

It also warned Germany that it had angered its large Turkish population, saying they "will not forget and forgive President Gauck's statements."

On Friday Germany's parliamentary speaker, Norbert Lammert, said that Germany's own history made it even more important for it to stand up on the subject.

"We Germans cannot lecture anyone about dealing with their past, but we can, through our own experiences, encourage others to confront their history - even when it hurts," he said.

Germany's parliament is expected to vote on a motion to officially declare the killings of Armenians as genocide before its summer break.

The draft resolution, published online earlier in the week, was careful to point out that Germany's role in the Holocaust during World War II was even worse than the Turks' attack on Armenia.

More than 20 parliaments globally now recognize the event as genocide.

Commemorations have taken place around the world to mark the centenary of the massacre.

shs/rc (dpa, AFP, AP, Reuters)

Friday, April 24, 2015

UK trader Navinder Singh Sarao arrested over role in 'Flash Crash'

A high frequency trader in the UK has been arrested on charges he manipulated financial markets and helped precipitate the 2010 "Flash Crash," which saw US markets inexplicably plummet hundreds of points within minutes.

Deutsche Welle, 22 April 2015

Navinder Singh Sarao is alleged to have made $40 million trading off the plunge he helped initiate. The May 2010 "Flash Crash" saw the US Dow Jones Industrial Index plunge more than 1,000 points before recovering toward the end of the trading day.

The US Justice Department has charged the 37-year-old, of Hounslow, UK, with wire fraud, commodities fraud and manipulation.

Sarao also faces civil charges from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which called him "a very significant player in the market."

"His conduct was at least significantly responsible for the order imbalance that in turn was one of the conditions that led to the flash crash," CTFC head of enforcement head Aitan Goelman said on a conference call with reporters.

Sarao "allegedly traded in a manner designed to profit from this temporary artificial volatility," the CFTC said.

Extradition request

The case against Sarao is the first time US regulators have alleged that market manipulation played a role in the crash, which is still being investigated.

Sarao will appear in a London court on Wednesday. The US Justice Department will request he be extradited to the United States to face the charges.

A defense attorney has not yet commented on the allegations against Sarao.

High frequency traders use automated computer systems to purchase and sell securities in fractions of a second, making small profits that rapidly accumulate on account of the large volume of trades made.

The May 6, 2010 "Flash Crash" damaged investor confidence and led to a series of federal regulations designed to prevent a repeat.

bw/cmk (AP, Reuters, AFP)

Navrinder Sarao at Westminster magistrates’ court. Photograph: 
Priscilla Coleman/MB Media

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Switzerland comes out on top in World Happiness Report

Switzerland has knocked Denmark off its perch as the happiest country in the world. That's according to the 2015 World Happiness Report, which seeks to quantify happiness as a means of influencing governmental policy.

Deutsche Welle, 24 April 2015

The third annual World Happiness Report put Switzerland at the top of the list, followed closely by Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada. Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand and Australia rounded out the top 10 for 2015.

Germany was placed 26th of the 160 countries studied, not far behind Britain, which placed 21st, and the United States, which did a little better at 15th.

Among the lowest on the list were war-torn Syria and Afghanistan, which were among the bottom 10, along with eight sub-Saharan African countries.

The rankings were based on a number of factors, including real gross domestic product per capita, healthy life expectancy, social support systems and the perceived degree of corruption or lack thereof in government.

Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University in the United States, which led the study on behalf of the United Nations, told a press conference in New York on Thursday that the top 13 countries were the same as in last year's report, although their order had shifted.

Sachs, who was one of the authors of the report, said the winning formula for all 13 was relative affluence combined with strong social support networks and relatively accountable systems of government.

"Countries below that top group fall short, either in income or in social support or in both," he said.

Sachs said the report would be widely distributed at the United Nations and that he expected that it would be carefully read by governments all over the world.

"We want this to have an impact, to put it straightforwardly, on the deliberations on sustainable development because we think this really matters," he said.

'Networks that connect people'

Another co-author of the report, John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia, told the CBC, Canada's public broadcaster, that although affluence played a major role in happiness, "the importance of social factors and the norms and networks that connect people" was a theme that cut through all levels of income.

This, he said, included "everything from the degree of trust and collaboration in the workplace to time spent with family and friends, for example."

The other co-author, Richard Layard from the London School of Economics, stressed the importance of an individual's childhood to how happy they could be expected to be in their adult lives.

"We must invest early on in the lives of our children so that they grow to become independent, productive and happy adults, contributing both socially and economically," he said.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Deutsche Bank fined $2.5 bn for rigging key interest rates

Yahoo – AFP, 23 April 2015

Deutsche Bank pleaded guilty to a US charge of wire fraud in connection 
with the scam and admitted to participating in the price-fixing conspiracy
(AFP Photo/Daniel Roland)

New York (AFP) - German banking giant Deutsche Bank will pay a record $2.5 billion for rigging interest rates in a multi-bank conspiracy that undermined global financial markets, US and British authorities said Thursday.

"Deutsche Bank secretly conspired with its competitors to rig the benchmark interest rates at the heart of the global financial system," said US Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the Justice Department's antitrust division.

"Deutsche Bank's misconduct not only harmed its unsuspecting counterparties, it undermined the integrity and the competitiveness of financial markets everywhere."

Germany's biggest bank agreed to pay the record fine for manipulating the London InterBank Offered Rate, used to peg millions of interest rate-sensitive contracts and loans around the world, to boost its trading positions.

The Frankfurt am Main headquarters of
 Deutsche Bank, which will pay $2.5 billion
 in fines after admitting its guilt in a
multi-bank conspiracy to rig LIBOR
interest rates (AFP Photo/Daniel Roland)
Deutsche Bank's London subsidiary DB Group Services, where most of those who manipulated the rate worked, agreed to plead guilty to one US count of wire fraud in the case.

Deutsche Bank will pay a $775 million penalty to the Justice Department, the largest criminal penalty yet imposed in the LIBOR resolutions, and agreed to a corporate monitor, the first time that has been imposed.

The monitor is part of a US three-year deferred prosecution agreement in which Deutsche Bank admitted its role in rigging LIBOR and participating in a price-fixing conspiracy with other banks by rigging the Japanese yen LIBOR.

Deutsche Bank will continue to cooperate in the Justice Department's continuing investigation.

The deal allows Deutsche Bank to keep its operating license in the United States. The bank's New York branch has more than 1,700 employees and total assets exceeding $152 billion.

In addition, Deutsche Bank will pay $800 million to the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission, $600 million to the New York Department of Financial Services and $344 million to Britain's Financial Conduct Authority.

Deutsche Bank is the sixth bank to resolve LIBOR charges in the long-running US investigation into the scandal, which emerged in 2012 when Barclays was fined by US and British regulators for rigging the benchmark rates.

The bank's misconduct occurred from at least 2003 through early 2011, according to the Justice Department.

For Britain's Financial Conduct Authority, Deutsche Bank will pay a record fine of 227 million pounds for manipulation conducted between 2005 and 2010.

"Deutsche Bank’s failings were compounded by them repeatedly misleading us," said Georgina Philippou, the FCA's acting director of enforcement and market oversight.

Leslie Caldwell, the US assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division, said that the bank's cooperation at the outset of the government's investigation was "not full and complete" but subsequently improved.

Damning exchanges

Internal communications -- in emails, telephone calls and electronic chats -- revealed how Deutsche Bank employees defrauded counterparties and conspired to manipulate rates.

A 2007 email showed a Deutsche Bank employee bragging about LIBOR manipulations by the Frankfurt and London offices to the head of the bank's global finance unit: "HAVE U SEEN THE 3MK FIXING TODAY? THAT WAS AN EXCELLENT CONCERTED ACTION FFT/LDN. CHEERS."

In a September 2006 exchange, the bank's London desk head pleads with an external banker at Barclays for a reduction in the EURIBOR rate, and apparently got it.

"I’m begging u, don't forget me… pleassssssssssssssseeeeeeeeee… I’m on my knees…," the desk chief wrote.

The external banker eventually agreed, "ok, I'm telling him."

Deutsche Bank said it would book an additional charge of 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion) in the first quarter for litigation costs related to the LIBOR case and other issues.

"We have disciplined or dismissed individuals involved in the trader misconduct; have substantially strengthened our control teams, procedures and record-keeping; and are conducting a thorough review of the bank's actions in addressing this matter," said co-chief executives Jurgen Fitschen and Anshu Jain in a statement.

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