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)

European Political Community

European Political Community
Given a rather unclear agenda, the family photo looked set to become a highlight of the meeting bringing together EU leaders alongside those of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Britain, Kosovo, Switzerland and Turkey © Ludovic MARIN

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, January 28, 2016

EU launches new tax avoidance push

Yahoo – AFP, Alex Pigman, 28 January 2016

The European Union will launch plans Thursday to stamp out tax avoidance by multi-national corporations whose rock-bottom tax bills have provoked public outrage.

The plans are part of a multi-pronged push by the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, to combat tax avoidance, alongside investigations into the tax deals of major groups such as Starbucks, McDonald's and Fiat.

It (Other OTC: ITGL - news) comes as Google agreed on Friday to pay £130 million ($185.4 million, 172 million euros) in back taxes to Britain after a scathing government inquiry into the search giant's tax arrangements.

"Recent studies at the European parliament estimate the revenue loss at around 50 to 70 billion euros ($55-75 billion) a year, roughly the equivalent of the GDP of Bulgaria," said Economics Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici during a news briefing.

"It is money that is taken from our hospitals, schools, transport, security and other vital public services," the former French finance minister added.

The European Commission said major corporations whose business spans continents will now be obliged to report profit country by country in an unprecedented break with the previous practice of moving money across borders to save on tax.

Another requirement will compel nations to agree on minimum standards for drawing up tax rules, so that multinationals stop the practice of shopping around for loopholes to avoid paying tax altogether.

"The days are numbered for companies that excessively reduce their tax bills," Moscovici said, adding that he hoped to finalise the proposals this year.

The 28 EU member states have passed a number of measures since the LuxLeaks scandal in 2014 revealed that top companies, including Pepsi and Ikea, had reduced their tax rates to as little as one percent in sweetheart deals with Luxembourg.

The revelations, unearthed by a group of investigative journalists, were a huge embarrassment to European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker, who served almost two decades as Luxembourg's prime minister at the time of the deals.

The two main proposals are part of a 15-point OECD package agreed by leaders at a G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey in November.

The OECD calculates that national governments lose $100-240 billion, or 4-10 percent of global tax revenues, every year because of the tax-minimising schemes of multinationals.

Seven EU states are not part of the OECD and the pressure will be huge for them not to block the proposal. They are: Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Croatia and the frequent tax avoidance destination Cyprus.

Separately, the OECD on Wednesday said around 30 countries had signed an agreement to share information on tax issues in a bid to stem fiscal evasion by multinational companies.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Holocaust survivor lauds Merkel's 'heroic' refugee policy

Yahoo  - AFP, January 27, 2016

Holocaust survivor Ruth Klueger delivers a speech on Holocaust Remembrance Day,
January 27, 2016 at the German parliament in Berlin (AFP Photo/John MacDougall)

Berlin (AFP) - Holocaust survivor Ruth Klueger on Wednesday lauded Germany for keeping its doors open to thousands of war refugees, calling Chancellor Angela Merkel's "we can do it" slogan "heroic".

"This country, which was responsible for the worst crimes of the century, has won the applause of the world today," the 84-year-old scholar told the German parliament in an address as part of commemorations for International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

"I am one of the many outsiders who has gone from surprise to admiration," Klueger said, describing Merkel's rallying call of "We can do it" as a "simple but heroic slogan".

Merkel has repeated the mantra over recent months as she has resisted fierce opposition -- even from within her conservative camp -- to reverse her policy towards refugees.

Klueger, who now lives in the United States, said it was precisely Merkel's approach toward those fleeing war and misery that had moved her to accept the German parliament's invitation to speak on the 71st anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz death camp.

Klueger is one of the youngest survivors of the Holocaust, and was first deported to the Auschwitz before being sent to the forced labour camp Christianstadt.

Germany has commemorated the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau every year for the past two decades.

Around 1.1 million people, most of them European Jews, perished between 1940 and 1945 in the camp before it was liberated by Soviet forces.

Related Article:

China's Ai Weiwei shuts show to protest Danish migrant law

Yahoo – AFP, January 27, 2016

Chinese activist Ai Weiwei plans to create a memorial to the plight of refugees
on the Greek island of Lesbos (AFP Photo/Angelos Tzortzinis)

Copenhagen (AFP) - Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei on Wednesday closed down his exhibition in the Danish capital after lawmakers passed a controversial bill allowing authorities to seize valuables from asylum seekers.

"Ai Weiwei has decided to close his exhibition 'Ruptures' at Faurschou Foundation Copenhagen, Denmark. This decision follows the Danish parliament's approval of the law proposal that allows seizing valuables and delaying family reunions for asylum seekers," a post on his official Instagram and Facebook accounts read.

The exhibition opened in March 2015 and had been due to close in mid-April 2016.

"I support Ai Weiwei's decision, which is all about freedom and human rights. I think it's so very sad," Jens Faurschou, owner of the Faurschou Foundation in Copenhagen, told AFP.

Denmark's parliament on Tuesday adopted reforms aimed at dissuading migrants from seeking asylum by delaying family reunifications and allowing authorities to confiscate migrants' valuables.

The law has provoked international outrage, with many rights activists blasting the delay for family reunifications as a breach of international conventions.

"Denmark has decided that it wants to be in the forefront of the symbolic and inhuman politics of today's biggest humanitarian crisis in Europe and the Middle East. We both wish that Denmark had decided instead to be in the forefront of a respectful European solution to solve the acute humanitarian crisis," Faurschou said.

China's most prominent contemporary artist, Ai helped design the Bird's Nest stadium for the Beijing Olympics and has been exhibited around the globe, but his works have often run afoul of China's authorities.

He was detained in 2011 for 81 days over his advocacy of democracy and human rights as well as other criticisms of the government in Beijing. Following the detention, he was placed under house arrest and his passport was taken away. The document was only returned last July, enabling him to travel overseas.

Ai's show in Copenhagen included some of his most important work including Sunflower Seeds, made from 100 million handmade porcelain sunflower seeds.

The show also featured several of the artist's sculptures made of wood from Buddhist temples torn down during China's Cultural Revolution.

Earlier this month, the 58-year-old announced plans to create a memorial to the plight of refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos, after meeting some of the many migrants there who risked their lives to reach Europe.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Soldier criticizes racism following Cologne attacks

Nariman Reinke, a soldier of Moroccan origin, has decided to take a stand against the assaults of New Year's Eve and the racism that has followed. She has had a decidedly mixed response.

Deutsche Welle, 26 January 2016

In the days after New Year's Eve, police reported that a series of sexual assaults and muggings had occurred around Cologne's central train station. They ultimately received hundreds of complaints and at one point believed that the attacks potentially involved up to 1,000 men of North African origin, primarily Moroccan. Hamburg and Stuttgart witnessed similar incidents, though on a smaller scale. The revelations shocked the German public, with calls to reduce the number of migrants to the country.

Thirty-six-year-old Nariman Reinke, daughter of Moroccan parents and now soldier with the German army, or Bundeswehr, decided to write a Facebook post about the incident.

"People began making generalizations," Reinke told DW. "When rumors cropped up that there were some refugees among the offenders, the incident was completely mixed up with Germany's refugee policy. 'You brought the criminals in yourself,' they said. Islam preaches only crime. Then they spoke about Salafism in the same breath, about terror in the same breath. ... It was enough."

Syrian refugees condemned the
sexual assaults on New Year's Eve
She even had to contend with people who accused her of not understanding the plight of the women who had been harassed. "Sexual harassment - against women, men or children- is bad," Reinke said. "I don't want anyone to experience this."

Reinke's Facebook post begins with her saying she is a "German and a Muslim." She says she was "ashamed" and felt "sick" when she heard that there were several Moroccans among the men who harassed women in Cologne on December 31.

"My parents worked very hard to establish themselves here ..." Reinke told DW. "I cringe when I hear these people who sexually assaulted women were from Morocco."

Reinke said she also feels bad when she hears about a refugee home being attacked. "For me it is attempted murder ... because then people say, 'All Germans are Nazis.' And that makes me cringe too."

Reinke's message unleashed an outpouring of reactions. She said her supervisors at the Bundeswehr and her organization Deutscher Soldat, which volunteers for refugee causes, were very cooperative. "I did not realize that it had been shared so much," she said, adding that she was on holiday and looking for wedding dresses with her best friend who was getting married.

Up to 1,000 men, some allegedly of
 North African origin, are reported to have
 sexually attacked and robbed hundreds
of women in Cologne December 31
"I had a lot of positive feedback, but also a lot of negative comments, many racist comments that had nothing to do with what I wrote," Reinke said.

Reinke said the attacks would surely have long-term repercussions for foreigners and their children in Germany. "My brother likes keeping a beard, my husband too," she said. "They find it nice. But my brother was beaten up on the street because of the beard because those who did it thought he was a radical Islamist. He had to shave off his beard."

Above all, she said, Germany must not begin denying help to persecuted people.

Related Article:

Monday, January 25, 2016

Refugee homes for homosexuals set to open in Nuremberg and Berlin

An LGBT community group in Nuremberg has announced plans to open what looks to be Germany's first shelter for homosexual asylum seekers. The move follows a number of attacks and discrimination against gay refugees.

Deutsche Welle, 25 January 2016

Accommodation for homosexual refugees in Nuremberg, southern Germany

The accommodation in the southern German city of Nuremberg is due to open within a matter of weeks.

LGBT group and operators of the accommodation "Fliederlich" said on Monday that up to 10 gay and lesbian refugees will be housed in an empty two-storey building in Nuremberg's city center.

Authorities of the Bavarian city will cover the costs of the shelter, with the first refugees expected to take up residence in the coming weeks. "Fliederlich" estimates that of the 8,000 refugees currently housed in Nuremberg, up to 600 are gay.

The plans to open the accommodation for homosexual refugees follow reports of discrimination and physical attacks against gay refugees.

Call for local government action

According to the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany (LSVD), between August and December 2015, there were 95 cases of violence against LGBT people, mainly in asylum seeker accommodation.

"Some Muslims see the presence of homosexual or transsexual people in the lodging as an affront," said Fliederlich's chairman, Ralpf Hoffmann (pictured above, left). "Gay and lesbian people therefore come under constant stress."

Green party MP Claudia Stamm called on Monday for a stronger commitment from Bavaria's state government to better protect homosexual refugees from discrimination and exclusion.
The Bavarian state premier and leader of the Christian Social Union, Horst Seehofer, has been unwilling to hold a discussion on the matter so far, instead leaving local communities and volunteeers to tackle the problem alone.

Capital to provide separate shelter

Berlin-based gay rights organization "Schwulenberatung" also announced plans for similar accommodation last week. The shelter will house 125 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender asylum seekers in Germany's capital, where there are currently an estimated 3,500 LGBT refugees.

"We have heard a lot of stories about discrimination and crimes against LGBT people in the last two years," said "Schwulenberatung" manager Stephan Jakel. "They were frightened and scared after being beaten or spat on, and one survived a murder attempt. We heard a lot of horrible stories."

Local authorities across Germany have been struggling in recent months to accommodate Europe's biggest refugee influx since the Second World War. More than one million people crossed Germany's borders last year, many of whom had fled war and poverty in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

ksb/msh (Reuters, dpa)
Related Article:

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Hundreds protest along Greek-Turkish border to show support for refugees

Demonstrators have called for the Greek government to offer safe passage to refugees seeking to cross over from Turkey. They insist the fence along the border has put migrants in further danger.

Deutsche Welle, 24 Jnuary 2016

Around 700 people have spent two days demonstrating along the border between Greece and Turkey to protest the 10.5-kilometer (6.5-mile) fence, which activists say is forcing refugees to seek more dangerous ways of reaching Europe.

The protesters urged the Greek government to grant safe passage to the refugees traveling through Turkey into Greece from Syria and other war-torn countries in the Middle East.

Human rights groups say the border restrictions are forcing refugees to pay large sums of money to smugglers in order to get across the border.

After the two-day demonstration ended on Sunday, organizer Petros Constantinou said he and his followers wouldn't give up. "We will never accept this policy being dictated by Europe's politicians... who close borders to refugees and force them to risk their lives," Constantinou said, according to the Associated Press news agency.

The protest took place about 200 meters (yards) from the Turkish border.

blc/tj (AP, AFP)

Greek islander Antonis Deligiorgis, left, pulls an Eritrean woman, Wegasi 
Nebiat, from the sea off Rhodes last year. Photograph: Argiris Mantikos/AP

Related Articles:

Saturday, January 23, 2016

UEFA's approves new technology as Infantino vows FIFA win

Yahoo – AFP, Ben Simon, January 22, 2016

UEFA is to allow goal-line technology starting from Euro 2016 (AFP Photo/
Adrian Dennis)

Nyon (Switzerland) (AFP) - UEFA on Friday approved the use of goal-line technology (GLT) for its competitions, as the body's acting chief Gianni Infantino vowed to win FIFA's upcoming presidential vote.

The greenlight for GLT, which has been expected, was given the final nod at UEFA's executive committee meeting, with the technology to be introduced at the France-hosted Euro 2016 championship.

Meanwhile, with the campaign heating up to replace Sepp Blatter as the head of world football's scandal-tainted governing body, UEFA's executive committee unanimously backed Infantino's candidacy for FIFA's February 26 vote.

"We are certain he is the right man to take FIFA forward now,” an executive committee statement said.

Infantino, UEFA's secretary general who entered the race following the suspension of European football's fallen president Michel Platini, voiced confidence of an election win.

UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino smiles during a press conference closing
 an UEFA Executive meeting at the European football body’s headquarters on 
January 22, 2016 in Nyon (AFP Photo/Alain Grosclaude)

Asked how many votes he expected to get from the 209 FIFA member-associations who will pick the body's next leader, Infantino said: "at least 105, which is the number needed to become the president of FIFA."

UEFA's national associations have also "overwhelmingly" backed Infantino's candidacy, but each nation will disclose its individual endorsement "in due course," the executive committee statement said.

Goal-line technology

Infantino said the decision on goal-line technology was ultimately made because the game did not benefit from uncertainty over goals.

"We looked at it seriously," he said. GLT "will dispel any doubt about whether a goal has been scored."

UEFA's top body approved use of the technology for this summer's continental championship and then for the 2016/17 Champion's League, with GLT expected to ultimately extend to all UEFA competitions.

The technology is already used in the English Premier League, Italy's Serie A, the German Bundesliga and Ligue 1 in France. FIFA also brought it in for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after a series of successful trials.

"The system will work alongside additional assistant referees who will continue to monitor all activity in and around the penalty area," UEFA said.

No vote to replace Platini

UEFA also said that it will not hold a vote to replace Platini until the Frenchman's appeals against his ban have been exhausted.

A general view of the interior of the Stadium in Toulouse, southern France, is
 pictured on January 13, 2016, ahead of its official inauguration, following several
 months of renovation for the upcoming UEFA Euro 2016 European football
 championship (AFP Photo/Pascal Pavani)

Platini was initially suspended from football by FIFA in October over a 2 million Swiss franc ($2 million/1.8 million euros) payment that Blatter authorised for him in 2011.

In December, FIFA judges banned him for eight years.

Platini, who had been the favourite to win FIFA's presidency, has denied wrongdoing and vowed to appeal his ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.

UEFA said "there will be no presidential election scheduled" until sports appeals bodies have ruled on Platini's case.

The French football legend withdrew from the FIFA presidency race on January 7.

The 'football' candidate

Infantino is facing tough competition from four rivals in the contest to become the most powerful man in football.

But, he said, those clamouring for an end to the scandals and allegations that have tarnished the game should have confidence in his leadership, dismissing the notion that he was a regional candidate.

"I am not the UEFA candidate. I am not the European candidate...I am the football candidate," he said.

A giant screen in the stadium shows a replay of France's Karim Benzemas shot 
using new goal line technology during a football match between France and 
Honduras in Porto Alegre during the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil on June 15, 
2014 (AFP Photo/Franck Fife)

Thirty-nine people have been charged by the United States with corruption in football going back decades, while Swiss prosecutors have also opened investigations targeting Blatter and the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, won by Russia and Qatar respectively.

Top corporate sponsors of the World Cup like Visa and Coca-Cola have demanded sweeping change in global football's management.

"They know me," Infantino said when asked if he had made contact with these corporations during his campaign. "They know how I work. They know who I am."

FIFA presidential candidate Prince Ali bin al Hussein of Jordan has already sounded an alarm over impropriety in the campaign.

Hussein said a development deal agreed between the Asian and African confederations looked like a scheme to secure Africa's backing for Asian football chief and FIFA presidential candidate Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa of Bahrain.

Asked about fears of vote buying, Infantino said "he had no concerns at all with regards to this election."

Meanwhile, Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko confirmed his backing for Infantino to win the FIFA vote.

"Undoubtedly we have a candidate of Europe -- Infantino. He is our candidate. Europe is acting as a united front. Therefore we support him as the candidate of Europe," Mutko told R-SPort news agency by phone.

"Infantino has been in UEFA for 15 years, he is the secretary general, a respected person."

Related Articles:

Thursday, January 21, 2016

World Muslim body condemns attacks on Saudi missions in Iran

Yahoo – AFP, January 21, 2016

Secretary General of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Saudi Iyad Ameen
Madani (R) shakes hands with Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi during
an emergency meeting in the Saudi city of Jeddah, on January 21, 2016 (AFP Photo)

Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) (AFP) - A global Muslim body on Thursday condemned the attacks on Saudi missions in Iran earlier this month and denounced Tehran's regional "interference".

Foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, in a statement, said it "condemns the aggressions against the missions of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Tehran and Mashhad".

The statement followed an extraordinary meeting requested by Saudi Arabia after protesters in Iran burned Riyadh's embassy in Tehran and a consulate in the second city of Mashhad.

Such "aggressions" contravene international law as well as the OIC charter, said the communique, which member state Iran rejected.

The violence against Riyadh's missions occurred after the kingdom executed dissident Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, a driving force behind anti-government protests.

Sunni Saudi Arabia and some of its allies cut diplomatic ties with Shiite Iran as a result of the violence against its missions.

Nimr was one of four Shiites put to death on January 2 alongside 43 Sunnis. All were convicted of "terrorism".

The 57-member OIC said it "rejects and condemns Iran's inflammatory statements" over the executions, "considering those statements a blatant interference in the internal affairs" of Saudi Arabia.

It also denounced "Iran's interference in the internal affairs of the states of the region and other member states (including Bahrain, Yemen and Syria and Somalia) and its continued support for terrorism".

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi attended the meeting but his country "declared its rejection of the communique," the document said.

It added that Lebanon also "distances itself" from the meeting's final statement.

The OIC calls itself the collective voice of the Muslim world.

Tensions between the leading Sunni and Shiite nations have caused concern around the globe. China, France and Pakistan have all sought a de-escalation.

Iranian protesters set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran during a demonstration 
against the execution of prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi 
authorities, on January 2, 2016 (AFP Photo/Mohammadreza Nadimi)

'Continuous attacks'

At the start of Thursday's meeting, OIC Secretary General Iyad Madani called for "building bridges of understanding and restoring mutual trust" through dialogue.

This will prevent conflicts "that will waste energy and hinder the development of our people," he said.

Tensions between members "distract us from addressing the real challenges", including "terrorism", which threaten members of the organisation, Madani told the group based in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah.

The final communique underscored the "importance of reinforcing relations of good neighbourliness" among members.

Iran sacked a senior security official over his failure to stop the attack on Riyadh's embassy, while Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday said the attack was against Islam.

But Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir charged at Thursday's meeting that Iran respects neither Islam nor the charter of the OIC.

"The importance of this meeting is in the fact that this aggression is not the first but only a part of a series of continuous attacks that diplomatic missions have been subjected to in Iran for 35 years," Jubeir said.

"It is important to point out that the aggression against the kingdom's missions comes as part of Iran's aggressive policies and its continuous interference in the internal issues of the countries in the region".

Saudi Arabia and Iran support opposite sides in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen. Iran has also consolidated its influence in Iraq and Lebanon.

Riyadh had also called for an emergency meeting of the Arab League after the attack on its missions.

The Cairo-based body on January 10 expressed full support for Saudi Arabia in dealing with the "hostile acts and provocations of Iran".

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Turkey jails woman for 'obscene hand gesture at Erdogan'

Yahoo – AFP , Dilay Gundogan, January 20, 2016

Concerns have mounted in recent months over freedom of expression in Turkey,
 in particular over the spiralling numbers of Turks being taken to court on
charges of insulting President Erdogan (AFP Photo/Adem Altan)

Istanbul (AFP) - A Turkish court on Wednesday sentenced a woman to almost a year in jail for making an obscene hand gesture at President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an anti-government protest in 2014, reports said Tuesday.

Filiz Akinci was convicted of making an offensive hand gesture at Erdogan -- then prime minister -- while his bus was passing on his way to a rally for local elections in the western city of Izmir in March 2014.

In the sixth hearing of the trial on Wednesday, the court in Izmir sentenced Akinci, an economist and a mother-of-two, to 11 months and 20 days in jail, Dogan news agency reported.

The court had originally sentenced her to six months in jail, but doubled it because the "victim" was a public official, Dogan added.

Akinci's sentence was eventually reduced by ten days due to her "good behaviour" during the trial. She was also ordered to pay 1,800 Turkish lira ($590; 540 euros) in legal costs to Erdogan's lawyer Sema Cansu Bozkurt Sutcu.

"I am not guilty. I didn't commit any crime," Akinci told the court, breaking down into tears when the verdict was read out.

The judges did not suspend her sentence as in most cases in the past against suspects facing legal proceedings on accusations of insulting Erdogan or other top officials.

Concerns have mounted in recent months over freedom of expression in Turkey, in particular over the spiralling numbers of Turks being taken to court on charges of insulting Erdogan, accused by his opponents of increasing authoritarianism.

Prosecutors last week even opened an investigation against the leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Kemal Kilicdaroglu for insulting the president by calling him a "tinpot dictator".

Without naming her, Erdogan had in a speech after the incident lashed out at Akinci for making the gesture, saying: "You did this when the prime minister of this country was passing by. I would understand if it was a man, but I do not understand how a woman could do it."

Izmir, a port city on the Aegean coast, is seen as a bastion of secularism where Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) fares far less well than in its Anatolian strongholds.

Erdogan, who became president in August 2014 after almost 12 years as prime minister, faced street protests after a corruption scandal erupted in December 2013, implicating his key allies.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Margot Wallstrom, tough Swede shown the door by Israel

Yahoo – AFP, Gaël Branchereau,  January 15, 2016

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom will not be welcome in Israel following
 her call for investigations into the killing of Palestinians by Israeli forces and other
critical comments, a top Israeli official said (AFP Photo/Antti Aimo Koivisto)

Stockholm (AFP) - The unusually frank approach of Sweden's foreign minister has seen fans send her flowers over her biting criticism of Saudi Arabia -- and now prompted Israel to declare her persona non grata.

Declared unwelcome by authorities in the Jewish state on Wednesday thanks to a raft of critical comments, Margot Wallstrom has made a name for herself as a vocal feminist and fierce defender of human rights.

The 61-year-old Social Democrat is the undisputed star of her government, but critics wonder whether her tendency to speak her mind -- not a quality traditionally found in diplomats -- is good for the country.

She has repeatedly enraged Israel, starting with Sweden's recognition of a Palestinian state shortly after she became foreign minister in October 2014.

In the wake of November's terror attacks in Paris, she identified the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as one of the factors explaining why "there are so many people who have become radicalised" -- comments Israel called "appallingly impudent".

And in December, she called on Israel to halt what she called "extrajudicial executions" in response to attacks by knife-wielding Palestinians, following up with a demand the next month for "thorough" investigations into the killing of Palestinians by the Israeli army.

Firmly signalling that Wallstrom needn't book any trips to Israel in the near future, the country's deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely blasted her comments as "a mix of blindness and political stupidity".

Swedish critics have also questioned the wisdom of her diplomatic strategy.

"The political actions of Margot Wallstrom are marked by controversy," said liberal commentator Lars Kriss, arguing that her anti-Israel offensive borders on "an obsession" and questioning whether she is "an asset" to Sweden.

"Margot Wallstrom has already made trouble with her habit of thinking aloud," wrote financial newspaper Dagens Industri.

"She is beginning to become a problem."

Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom is the undisputed star of her 
government, but critics wonder whether her tendency to speak her mind -- not
 a quality traditionally found in diplomats -- is good for the country (AFP
Photo/Timothy A. Clary)

Rocking the boat

Wallstrom defends her approach, pointing to the huge number of people who sent her flowers after she lashed Saudi Arabia for human rights abuses in frank terms that other Western foreign ministers might have avoided in dealing with the oil-rich state.

"People long for those who stand up for their values," she told the Financial Times in September.

Last March, Riyadh recalled its ambassador to Stockholm, accusing Sweden of "flagrant interference" in its affairs after Wallstrom told parliament the country was a "dictatorship" that violated women's rights and whipped bloggers.

And around the same time, Sweden unilaterally cancelled a long-standing military cooperation deal between the two countries.

Saudi Arabia proceeded to freeze Swedish business visas to the Gulf kingdom -- but with Stockholm fearing the financial impact, Saudi business leaders were invited for talks, and the two countries have now normalised ties.

Wallstrom has also found time to condemn the "reign of terror" of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Handed the foreign policy portfolio by Prime Minister Stefan Lofven -- a former metalworker well aware of his own inexperience on the international stage -- Wallstrom has come a long way for someone who started out as a lowly bank clerk in the provinces.

Born in northern Sweden, she became an activist in the 1970s in the solidly left-leaning western province of Varmland, entering parliament at the age of 25.

After a series of ministerial roles she headed to Brussels to become EU environment commissioner in 1999, then the EU Commission's vice-president in 2004.

She has spoken out tirelessly against the under-representation of women in politics, with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon naming her special envoy on Sexual Violence in Conflict in 2010.

And with her country struggling to cope with a huge migrant influx, she cried on television last September when commenting on the fate of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler whose photo became a heartbreaking symbol of the refugee crisis when his body washed up on a Turkish beach.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Corruption 'embedded' in world athletics, says doping body

Yahoo – AFP, Damien Stroka, 14 January 2016

Athletics' governing council must have been aware of the corruption scandal, 
according to a new report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (AFP Photo/Gabriel Bouys)

Munich (Germany) (AFP) - A World Anti-Doping Agency report said Thursday that corruption was "embedded" at the world athletics body, piling pressure on its new leader Sebastian Coe.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) must have known about corruption orchestrated by its former leader Lamine Diack, and about doping in Russia, it claimed.

But Richard Pound, the former WADA president who wrote the report, backed Coe as the best person to lead reforms of the world body.

Despite that support Pound still produced a litany of accusations against the IAAF.

It was not tough enough with "several countries" including Russia, the report said, indicating that doping scandals were not limited to Russia.

Veteran Senegalese powerbroker Diack faces criminal charges in France over allegations that he took more than one million euros ($1.1 million) in bribes from Russian athletes and officials to cover up failed drug tests.

"The corruption was embedded in the organisation," Pound said in a damning comment on the IAAF's handling of drug abuse.

Pound said there was a "complete breakdown of governance structures and lack of accountability" at the IAAF.

"It cannot be ignored or dismissed as attributable to the odd renegade acting on his own," he said of the corruption.

Pound said the the IAAF governing council, which included Coe, had to be aware of the corruption.

Graphic on doping methods banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
(AFP Photo/Adrian Leung/John Saeki)

Pound backs Coe

"The IAAF Council could not have been unaware of the extent of doping in athletics and the non-enforcement of applicable anti-doping rules," Pound said.

Former British running legend Coe, who took over the IAAF leadership in August when Diack stood down, sat in the audience as the report was presented.

And when asked about reforms to the world body, Pound said: "As far as the ability of Lord Coe to remain at the head of the IAAF, I think it's a fabulous opportunity for the IAAF to seize this opportunity and under strong leadership to move forward out of this.

"There's an enormous amount of reputational recovery to do here and, descending to personalities, I can't think of anyone better than Lord Coe to lead that. So all our fingers are crossed in that respect."

Coe later told AFP: "The journey back to trust will take far longer and will be a painful process."

He added: "We can't sit here begging for trust. We have to show by every action that we take that we earn that trust.

"Many of the recommendations that are contained in the report today we will look at them very, very closely and when we think we can and we should absorb them into our own reform process, we will."

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) independent commission chairman Dick 
Pound attends a press conference in Unterschleissheim, southern Germany, 
on January 14, 2016 (AFP Photo/Lukas Barth)

Interpol wanted notice

The first part of Pound's report, released in November said there was a "state-sponsored" doping system in Russia, which has since been suspended by the IAAF.

The new report said Diack had told a lawyer he would need to make a deal with Russia's President Vladimir Putin to ensure nine Russian athletes accused of doping would not compete at the 2013 world championships in Moscow.

The report told of a sudden increase from $6 million to $25 million for Russian rights to televise the 2013 world championships. This was provided by a Russian bank.

Diack handpicked a lawyer to handle Russian doping cases even though he had little experience with anti-doping measures, the report added.

Richard McLaren, a lawyer who was part of the investigation commission, said that Diack's advisor Habib Cisse deliberately held up sending warning notices to Russia about drug failures.

He said the extortion "went beyond sporting corruption and may have been criminal in nature".

Cisse is facing charges in France along with his former boss, Diack's son Papa Massata Diack and Gabriel Dolle, the former IAAF anti-doping doctor.

Interpol on Thursday said it had issued a wanted notice for Papa Massata Diack.

Sebastian Coe was appointed president of the International Association of 
Athletics Federation (IAAF) in 2015 (AFP Photo/Lukas Barth)

According to McLaren, Cisse and Papa Massata Diack put up a "formidable barrier to the effective operation" of the IAAF's efforts to clamp down on doping.

Several IAAF staff have said they sought to draw attention to the doping abuses to leaders but were ignored.

"There was an evident lack of political appetite within the IAAF to confront Russia with the full extent of its known and suspected doping activities," the Pound report said.

Coe has insisted he knew nothing about the corruption and that there was no cover up even though internal IAAF correspondence indicates athletics leaders expressed concern about problems in Russia as far back as 2009.

Pound warned that Kenya "clearly" also had a doping problem but that he had only had a mandate to investigate Russia.