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. …

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Dutch MPs to call for better EU security service cooperation

DutchNews, March 29, 2016    

Photo: Sisyfus via Wikimedia
MPs will call on the government to press for better cooperation between Europe’s security services during Tuesday’s debate on the Brussels bombing, according to the Volkskrant. 

Justice minister Ard van der Steur, the paper says, will be given a rough ride by MPs during the debate. In particular, MPs want more information about last week’s revelations that one of the Brussels bombers had been sent to the Netherlands by Turkey. 

Van der Steur told MPs last week that Turkey had informed the Netherlands digitally that Ibrahim El Bakraoui was on a plane to Schiphol but did not alert the Dutch police. Opposition MPs have submitted 166 follow up questions, the Volkskrant says. 

MPs also want to know how the Netherlands, in its current role as EU president, plans to improve the exchange of information between security services.

‘We have to conclude that cooperation between European security services is failing on many fronts,’ Socialist Party leader Emile Roemer told the paper. 

In addition, opposition MPs and the ruling VVD are expected to demand the government beefs up investment in the police.


A memorial to the victims. Photo: Miguel Discart on Flickr
via Wikimedia Commons

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Pope Francis washes the feet of refugees

In a sign of "humility and service," the Argentine pontiff has washed the feet of refugees from various religious backgrounds. One of the asylum seekers said he felt "more important than Obama."

Deutsche Welle, 24 March 2016


Pope Francis washed the feet of 11 Muslim, Orthodox, Hindu and Catholic refugees and one aid worker at a shelter for asylum seekers as part of traditional rituals held on the Thursday before most Christians celebrate Easter on Sunday.

The "washing of the feet" ritual represents a "gesture of humility and service" that reflects the moment Jesus washed his disciples' feet in chapter 13 of the Gospel of John, according to the Vatican.

"All of us together - Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Copts, Evangelicals - but brothers, children of the same God, who want to live in peace, integrated," the pope said in unscripted comments, according to Reuters news agency.

"Three days ago, there was a gesture of war, of destruction, in a city of Europe by people who don't want to live in peace," he said, referring to attacks in Brussels that left more than 30 people dead. "Behind that gesture, there were arms manufacturers, arms traffickers, who want blood, not peace, who want war, not brotherhood."

The pope, who has championed refugees' rights in Europe at a moment of growing anti-migrant populism, has called on European leaders to do more for refugees and migrants, many of whom are fleeing war in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.


"Washing the feet of the refugees, Pope Francis demands respect for each one of them," wrote Archbishop Rino Fisichella earlier this week.

'More important than Obama'

Angelo Chiorazzo, who founded the charity running the shelter outside of Rome, told Vatican Radio that the asylum seekers were looking forward to the ceremony.

"One of the boys [at the shelter], a Muslim from Mali, told me: 'I really feel more important than [US President Barack] Obama. That the pope, the most important in the world - the best man in the world - will wash my feet," said Chiorazzo.

After the ceremony, the pontiff individually greeted many of the nearly 900 asylum seekers residing at the shelter.


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"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, March 22, 2016

World leaders express sympathy and solidarity with Brussels after attacks

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the terrorists who attacked Brussels were "enemies of all the values that Europe stands for." It was a sentiment echoed by most world leaders.

Deutsche Welle, 22 March 2016


Global leaders have called for concerted international cooperation to minimize the risk of further attacks after the strikes early on Tuesday in Brussels claimed by "Islamic State."

"This is another low by the terrorists in the service of hatred and violence," European Commission president Donald Tusk said Tuesday.

"Our disgust is just as boundless as our determination to fight terrorism," Merkel said in a speech at the chancellery. She added that Europe "will emerge stronger" from the challenge.

Merkel said her cabinet would hold an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday to discuss the consequences of the attacks.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, meanwhile, said: "Europe stands together and as one. Belgium is not alone."

In France, President Francois Hollande said: "The whole of Europe has been hit," urging the continent to take "vital steps in the face of the seriousness of the threat…This attack targets Belgium, but Europe as a whole is hit.”

US 'will do what is necessary'

US President Barack Obama said the US would do "whatever is necessary to support our friend and ally Belgium," in the wake of terrorist attacks. "We must unite, we must be together regardless of nationality or race or faith in standing against the scourge of terrorism," Obama said during his visit to Cuba.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby said: "The United States stands with the people of Belgium. We are ready to support the investigation as appropriate." The White House said the U.S. was in contact with Belgian officials about the explosions at the Brussels airport and subway system.

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump said the cause of the bloodshed was "no assimilation" by immigrants. "Belgium is not the Belgium you and I knew from 20 years ago, which was one of the most beautiful and safest cities in the world," Trump told NBC. "Belgium is a horror show right now. Terrible things are happening. People are leaving. People are afraid. This all happened because, frankly, there's no assimilation."

Putin calls for international coperation

Russian President Vladimir Putin attacked what he called "barbarous crimes" and expressed his condolences with Belgium. "(They) demonstrate once again that terrorism has no borders and threatens people around the world. Fighting this evil calls for the most active international cooperation."

Meanwhile, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has called the head of the Ukrainian security service a "halfwit," after the latter said Moscow might be involved in Tuesday's attacks in Brussels. Gritsak had said he “would not be surprised if it turns out that the Brussels attacks were an element of hybrid war waged by Russia.”

Belgium's flag flying at half-mast in London.

'Attacks could have happened anywhere'

"We will never let these terrorists win," said British Prime Minister David Cameron. "We face a very real terrorist threat right across the different countries of Europe and we have to meet that with everything we have." Cameron said the attacks could just as well have happened in Germany or the UK. “We face a very real terrorist threat right across the different countries of Europe and we have to meet that with everything we have."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: "My thoughts are with the victims as we stand with Belgium and the EU."

"Our Union's capital is under attack. We mourn the dead and pledge to conquer terror through democracy," the Greek foreign ministry said in a tweet. It added in French, "Nous sommes tous Bruxellois," meaning "We are all citizens of Brussels."

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said: "Terrorism will never defeat us. The union of democrats in Europe will always prevail over barbarism and madness."

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven described the blasts as "an attack against democratic Europe. We will never accept that terrorists attack our open societies."

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi tweeted: "My heart and spirit in Brussels, Europe," while Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said "the Brussels attacks strike the heart of our Europe."

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said neighboring Belgium had "again been hit by cowardly and murderous attacks. Our hearts go out to the victims and next of kin. The Netherlands stands ready to help and support our southern neighbors in any possible way." Rutte said that "extra alertness is necessary, also in our country. We will take all necessary precautionary measures."

Brussels comes on the heels of Turkish attacks

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the attacks "have once again shown the worldwide character of terrorism." Foreign Minister Volkan Bozkir added: "Every effort must continue to fight terrorism without distinction and those who support terrorism."

Pope implores end to violence

Pope Francis described the attacks as "blind violence, which causes so much suffering."
"Imploring the gift of peace from God, (the pontiff) invokes divine blessings on the bereaved families and the Belgian people," he said in a message to Jozef De Kesel, the archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels.

In Egypt, Sunni Islam's leading seat of learning, Al-Azhar, said the blasts "violate the tolerant teachings of Islam" and urged the international community to confront the "epidemic" of terrorism.

jh/msh (AP, AFP)
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2015 Kryon Kundalini Tour (Cusco #2, Peru) - "The Dysfunction of Darkness" - Nov, 14, 2015 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Reference to Paris/ISIS/Dark-Old Energy/USA+Warning for Governments around the World !!!) (Text version)

"... Funding is the Grease of the Engine of Darkness

Everyone on the planet will have to get off the fence in order to eliminate the dark army. Now we have told you before how to do it. And politicians will roll their eyes. Those on the inside of government who know how things work will roll their eyes. You can eliminate the dark army without death. The very thing they're afraid of losing, you can take from them now. Money! How does a dark army work when they can't eat? How will they function when they have no weapons? I guarantee you, even the darkest member of a dark army will go home if they're not fed, or there's no one around to organize them because the leaders are hungry and left. It's impossible, some say. The money is coming from unknown sources, they say. Let me tell you something. No, it isn't. It is coming from very known sources. Much of it comes from the resources of conquered land, but not all. They will start losing their land soon, so they will need funds all the more. If the sources of their income were totally exposed - there are those listening who need to hear this - if the sources of their income were totally exposed, it would make a big difference to the public, who would be shocked.

Let me talk to politicians. You regularly sit across the table from those who are from other countries and who are allies. They smile at you as they fund the dark side. After all, there is money to be made with war! This has been the way of it for years. But this won't last long. Politician, when it's found out that you knew about it, you are the one who will be held responsible. You didn't do anything about it.

I want to talk to Americans, because my partner [Lee] is an American. I'm going to tell you something now, and you're not going to believe it. Many of your hard-earned tax funds are finding their way to the dark army! And there are those within your government who know it. I'll give you an answer as to what to do about it in just a few words: International transparent forensic accounting. International transparent forensic accounting! It is time to clean up the funding of the dark, and kill their ability to make war. (***)

I have a warning for any of those in leadership who know about where the money is coming from, and are not doing anything about it. Your leadership days are numbered. The light is going to expose it and you will lose. Why not get on the right side of the fence now?

Is this too high-minded? Is this too simple? To think that the world could come together and pull the rug from under the darkness where they sit and the cocoon of money that they're in - could this actually happen? Watch for a wild card! [Kryon chuckles again.]

If you did this, would it change the kind of attack you had in Paris? After all, that wasn't an army at all, but just a few. The answer is yes - for the few answer to the many and were trained by the many. They saw the many as an established core to work from. Without the core, there is no purpose. The few are then on their own, without anything backing them up.

It's up to you listening, not the ones in this room. The ones listening and reading later may not even be into Kryon or channeling, but they hear this and know I'm right. This is not a dark message. It's a light message! The beginning is here. Things are changing. You are witnessing the change as we speak.

There'll come a day when you will never see this happen again, these organized groups of evil. This is the joyful message I have for you today. History will remember these times when the world finally got together and realized where they were going. It is tough now. It changes the paradigm of existence. Lives, governments and business will all start to understand the battle is here and is theirs to win. What is your reaction?

I want you to congratulate, love, and understand those who were lost yesterday [in Paris]. I've said this before: They are on my side of the veil now. They're all right. They're now looking back at you and - we have used the phrase before - they're saying, “We did our part. Now you do yours.” They will return to this planet, all of them, and participate in the beauty of the light you are creating at this time of shift on your planet.

Believe me, the end has already happened. This is the beginning.

I am in love with humanity, because of what I have seen you do.

And so it is.

KRYON

(*) "The Recalibration of Dark and Light"

(**) "Revelations of Darkness"

(***) Within days, a petition was circulating for this exact thing: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/create-international-transparent-forensic-accounting-system-end-all-funding-terrorist-groups-isisisisil



US Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew (R) votes yes on a wide-ranging draft
 resolution aimed at ramping up sanctions against the Islamic State group as
 finance ministers gather at the United Nations Security Council on December 17,
2015 (AFP Photo/Timothy A. Clary)


“ .. Do Not Despair

There's too much information to give you in one channelling, in one sitting, so I refer to past messages for you to better understand and reference the information in order to get the bigger picture. So I wish to remind you of something I also told you in a recent channelling called Do Not DespairYou're winning! It's because you're winning that the dark consciousness on this planet is feeling it, and the humanity that represents darkness is pulling out everything it has to survive.

It Has Always Been There

Let's look at it, because it's all over the news. Are you shocked at the sudden existence of the organization that will remain unnamed [for this channelling]? Where did it come from? How could it be so organized? How could it be so well funded? This organization could have its own country soon! They might as well name it, “The Old Energy Dark Country”, for that's what it will represent.

The barbaric past of humanity comes forward to show its face. It has always been there, hiding under the rocks and between the cracks of civilized humanity. It couldn't show itself until now, but now it has to. It's ugly and it's not for the faint at heart, is it, dear ones? Seeing evil personified in Human action is abhorrent. It is so ugly and so dark that you cannot look upon it with a gentle heart. God is not a part of it and this is obvious.

You're winning! Light is winning! The uprising of dark consciousness would not have shown itself with this strength, or this quickly, if this were not so. This is exactly what I told you to look for, and it is proof that those representing this dark consciousness are in trouble. Dear ones, dark consciousness has always had a tried-and-true system. It lurks in the shadows and influences all the power places of the planet - government, commerce, finance. Suddenly, it can't hide there as well anymore and it's out in the open.

Where is the funding coming from? It is coming from a storehouse that has always been there, dear ones. It uses income that has been generated from low consciousness acts, collected for a very long time. Funding didn't just appear. It has been stored, waiting to be used in order to spread fear and darkness to save what they believe is their way.

Who Will Win?

Dear ones, they haven't got a chance! But it looks like they do, doesn't it? Everything that they are doing is calculated to scare you into submission. Are they winning? Now, that's a question I want you to take from here and examine every day.

Fear is black. If you're in fear, there is no light. You can be the grandest Lightworker, or even be the channeller, but if you're in fear, it doesn't matter how many years you've done light work, or how much light you've accumulated personally. It all goes away with fear, and then they've won the battle for your mind. Do you understand this?

The Strength of the Old Soul - YOU

Old souls, Lightworkers reading this, the experiences you have had over lifetimes and lifetimes are incredible! The old soul knows fear. I don't want to be too graphic, but I want you to understand! What was it like when you put your head in the guillotine because you talked about God in a way that was inappropriate? What was it like to be bound hand and foot when they lit the match at your feet? Old soul, that's fear! You carry those experiences in your Akash.

I want to tell you they haven't got a chance to scare you! You absolutely know what fear is, and they haven't got a chance as long as you cling to that part of you that is the strength of God. You've been through it all. That means you've got the weapons of truth, wisdom and light. Don't forget it. Don't forget who you are!

Do you see how fast they assembled? It seemed like only yesterday that there was no organization at all. Where did they come from? Have you noticed a certain hesitancy to fight them? Why is it that the citizens of the lands that they are invading are hesitant to fight them? Instead, these leaders are calling on others to help. Why is it that the others are also hesitant? I want to show you that there are some anomalies of logic that are not making sense, because this is a battle you have never seen before on this planet. We've expected it, but you haven't. It's about consciousness, not land or resources.

How to Win?

We gave you the secret before of how to defeat them without taking even one life: Simply take away their funding. They cannot exist without their funding. The funding has to be organized, stored, and distributed. It has to be generated in such a way that it must also go through institutions. Did you hear that? All you have to do is stop the system. Winning won't be done with bombing. It's going to be done with intelligence, clever thinking and financial forensics. It's time to get smart on some of these things and not to be afraid to look at this puzzle differently than you have before. Do not apply the energy they are using in order to fight them, because you won't win. Figure it out. It's the last bastion of organized darkness and evil thinking on this planet coming together to try to survive the assault of your light. Don't be afraid to look at the funding trail, no matter where it takes you.

Fear is Their Weapon

I want you to know something as you look at your news. It may appear that you are unable to stop them. In many places, they will gain strength as they create fear. The fear is easily created in those who are not old souls and who don't know fear like you do and who don't have the armor of your spiritual experiences. This puts you in the front line, dear one. Did you realize that? But you don't have to go fight them on their terms. All you have to do is broadcast light. High consciousness will beat fear any day.. .”

Saturday, March 19, 2016

EU, Turkey strike 'historic' deal to send back migrants

Yahoo – AFP, Lachlan Carmichael, 19 March 2016

Refugees and migrants arrive on the northern island of Lesbos after crossing 
the Aegean sea from Turkey, on February 23, 2016 (AFP Photo/Aris Messinis)

Brussels (AFP) - Turkish and EU leaders on Friday agreed a "historic" deal for curbing the influx of migrants that has plunged Europe into its biggest refugee crisis since the end of World War II.

Under the deal, all migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey as early as Sunday will be turned back.

Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu 
(L) talks with EU Council President 
Donald Tusk during the EU summit at 
headquarters in Brussels on March 18, 
2016 (AFP Photo/John Thys)
But the leaders warned that a Herculean task lay ahead to implement the accord. And rights watchdogs said they would monitor it closely to ensure that those seeking asylum were protected.

Turkey extracted a string of political and financial concessions in exchange for becoming a bulwark against the flow of desperate humanity heading to Europe from Syria and elsewhere.

"It is a historic day because we reached a very important agreement between Turkey and the EU," Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said after the deal was struck at a summit in Brussels.

"We today realised that Turkey and the EU have the same destiny, the same challenges and the same future."

EU president Donald Tusk said that under the deal, all "irregular" migrants would be returned to Turkey from Sunday.

For every Syrian refugee expelled, the EU would resettle one directly from Turkey.

Tusk said the deal would only work as part of a broader plan, including support for Greece, the main point of entry for migrants to Europe, and cutting the flow of refugees through the Balkans to Germany.

"Some may think this agreement is a silver bullet but reality is more complex," said Tusk, who has played a leading role in a crisis that has seen 1.2 million asylum seekers reach Europe since January 2015.

'Herculean task'

Around 4,000 people including women and children have drowned crossing the Aegean Sea in flimsy smugglers' boats, including 400 this year alone.

A key part of the agreement will take effect from Sunday midnight when all 
migrants arriving on the Greek islands will be designated for return to Turkey 
(AFP Photo/Simon MALFATTO, Jean Michel CORNU)

For its cooperation to stem the flow, Turkey won an acceleration of its long-stalled bid for EU membership, the doubling of refugee aid to six billion euros ($6.8 billion) and visa-free travel for its nationals to Europe's Schengen passport-free zone by June.

But there remained huge doubts about how to implement such a scheme, not least due to still often-tense relations between Ankara and Brussels.

"This is a Herculean task facing us," European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker told the press conference.

He said some 4,000 border officials and other experts will need to start working immediately on implementing the deal that will cost the EU up to 300 million euros over six months.

EU officials stressed that each application will be treated individually, with full rights of appeal and proper oversight.

Turkish officials as well as UNHCR officials will be sent to the Greek islands to oversee the scheme.

The deal also envisages major aid for Greece, where tens of thousands of refugees are already trapped in dire conditions after Balkan countries shut their borders.

The deal will not affect the 46,000 migrants already in Greece, who will either be expelled as economic migrants or granted asylum.

'Don't trade refugees

The United Nations and rights groups fear the deal could violate international law that forbids the mass deportation of refugees.

A man carries wood along the railway tracks in a makeshift camp at the 
Greek-Macedonian border, near the Greek village of Idomeni, on March 18, 
2016 (AFP Photo/Sakis Mitrolidis)

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stressed the right to asylum must be paramount.

"Ultimately, the response must be about addressing the compelling needs of individuals fleeing war and persecution. Refugees need protection, not rejection," it said in a statement.

Amnesty International set up a sign outside the summit venue saying: "Don't trade refugees".

The deal a "historic blow to human rights," Amnesty said.

John Dalhuisen, Amnesty director for Europe and Central Asia accused the EU of seeking to "wilfully ignore its international obligations”.

EU states have expressed concerns about Ankara's human rights record, including its treatment of the Kurds and a crackdown on critics of the government.

Far from the smiles in Brussels, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blasted the EU for taking a "handful of refugees" in contrast to the nearly three million Turkey is hosting.

Erdogan also accused the Europeans of supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) days after a bombing in Ankara claimed by Kurdish rebels allegedly linked to the group.

"European countries are paying no attention, as if they are dancing in a minefield," he said.

Thousands of migrants are stranded at a makeshift camp in Idomeni on the 
Greece-Macedonian border (AFP Photo/Dimitar Dilkoff)


But one major hurdle that was overcome was opposition from Cyprus, which has long-standing tensions with Turkey over Ankara's refusal to recognise its government on the divided island.

The migrant crisis has left Europe increasingly divided, with fears that its Schengen passport-free zone could collapse as states reintroduce border controls and concerns over the rise of populism and anti-immigrant sentiment.

Greek Interior Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis described the overwhelmed border town of Idomeni where many of the migrants are camped out as a "modern-day Dachau".

Some migrants, speaking in a rain-sodden makeshift camp, told AFP said they would stay, others that they would try to get across the border, and others said they were against moving to reception centres.

Imen, a 17-year-old girl travelling with her brother, mother and two aunts, said, "We have to meet our father who is in Germany now. He left a few months ago to wait for us there. What are we going to do?"

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

British expats challenge exclusion from EU referendum

Yahoo – AFP, 16 March 2016

Fiscal watchdog the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), which compiles official
government forecasts, added that the latest predictions were based on the assumption
that Britain remained in the European Union (AFP Photo/Gerard Cerles)

London (AFP) - A British World War II veteran living in Italy launched a legal challenge on Wednesday against a rule barring long-term expatriates from voting in Britain's European Union referendum.

Lawyers for Harry Shindler, 94, and his co-claimant, Belgium resident Jacquelyn MacLennan, say they are being penalised for exercising their right of free movement across the EU.

Britons who have lived abroad for more than 15 years are prohibited from voting in British general elections and as a result cannot participate in the referendum on June 23.

But lawyers from Leigh Day solicitors argue that the referendum franchise has already been extended beyond what is normal for elections, and should also include expats.

If successful, the law farm demanded that the government "rush through amending legislation" before the June vote.

The EU Referendum Act passed last year gives an exceptional vote to members of the unelected House of Lords, as well as to Irish and Commonwealth citizens living in the British territory of Gibraltar off the southern Spanish coast.

"The people it arbitrarily excludes are those UK citizens who are among those most likely to be affected by the decision taken by voters in this referendum," said Richard Stein, the Leigh Day lawyer leading the case.

"Not to allow them to vote on the decision whether the UK remains part of the EU is unlawful and we have asked the court to deal with the issues urgently so that the act can be amended before the June date, to include all UK citizens residing in the EU for however long," he said.

15,000 sign online petition

The High Court in London confirmed it received papers on Wednesday seeking an urgent judicial review of the compatability of the EU Referendum Act with European Union law.

"This is the first step in the process of applying for a judicial review, so there is no court hearing at this stage," a court spokesman told AFP.

"That decision will be made by a judge," he added, without giving a timescale.

Shindler, who fought in Italy during World War II and retired to the country in 1982, lost a challenge to the 15-year general election rule at the European Court of Human Rights in 2013.

"It leaves us speechless to think anyone can stand up in parliament and deny another Brit the right to vote," Shindler said this week from his home in Porto d'Ascoli.

An estimated 1.2 million Britons live in the European Union, according to a parliamentary report, and many are concerned about the impact that a so-called Brexit would have on their rights.

Leigh Day claimed that up to two million people could be affected.

A government spokesman said the franchise issue had been "debated, considered and agreed" by parliament.

He noted that in the long-term -- but not in time for the referendum -- ministers remained committed to a promise to scrap the 15-year rule.

A petition to allow all British expatriates to vote in the referendum, launched in November, has attracted almost 15,000 signatures.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Europe-Russia mission departs on hunt for life on Mars

Yahoo – AFP, Kirill Kudryavtsev, 15 March 2016

A Russian Proton-M rocket carrying the ExoMars 2016 spacecraft blasts off from
 the launch pad at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome on March 14, 2016
(AFP Photo/Kirill Kudryavtsev)

Baikonur (Kazakhstan) (AFP) - A joint European-Russian mission aiming to search for traces of life on Mars left Earth's orbit Monday at the start of a seven-month unmanned journey to the Red Planet, space agency managers said.

The Proton rocket carrying the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) to examine Mars' atmosphere and a descent module that will conduct a test landing on its surface had earlier launched from the Russian-operated Baikonur cosmodrome in the Kazakh steppe at 0931 GMT.

The spacecraft detached from its Briz-M rocket booster just after 2000 GMT before beginning its 496-million-kilometre (308-million-mile) voyage through the cosmos, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.

At 2129 GMT the probe and the lander, dubbed Schiaparelli, sent "signals confirming that the launch had gone well and that the space vehicle is in good condition" ESA said in a statement later Monday.

The TGO probe "is alive and talking," ESA said on Twitter.

The ExoMars 2016 mission, a collaboration between the ESA and its Russian equivalent Roscosmos, is the first part of a two-phase exploration aiming to answer questions about the existence of life on Earth's neighbour.

The TGO will examine methane around Mars while the lander, Schiaparelli, will detach and descend to the surface of the fourth planet from the Sun.

The landing of the module on Mars is designed as a trial run ahead of the planned second stage of the mission in 2018 that will see the first European rover land on the surface to drill for signs of life, although problems with financing mean it could be delayed.

Details of the ExoMars mission to be launched on March 14. (AFP Photo/Paz
Pizarro, Jonathan Jacobsen, Simon Malfatto, Laurence Saubadu)

'Nose in space'

One key goal of the TGO is to analyse methane, a gas which on Earth is created in large part by living microbes, and traces of which were observed by previous Mars missions.

"TGO will be like a big nose in space," said Jorge Vago, ExoMars project scientist.

Methane, ESA said, is normally destroyed by ultraviolet radiation within a few hundred years, which implied that in Mars' case "it must still be produced today".

TGO will analyse Mars' methane in more detail than any previous mission, said ESA, in order to try to determine its likely origin.

One component of TGO, a neutron detector called FREND, can help provide improved mapping of potential water resources on Mars, amid growing evidence the planet once had as much if not more water than Earth.

A better insight into water on Mars could aid scientists' understanding of how the Earth might cope in conditions of increased drought.

Schiaparelli, in turn, will spend several days measuring climatic conditions including seasonal dust storms on the Red Planet while serving as a test lander ahead of the rover's anticipated arrival.

The module takes its name from 19th century Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli whose discovery of "canals" on Mars caused people to believe, for a while, that there was intelligent life on our neighbouring planet.

The ExoMars spacecraft was built and designed by Franco-Italian contractor Thales Alenia Space.

A Russian Proton-M rocket carrying the ExoMars 2016 spacecraft blasts off from 
the launch pad at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome on March 14, 
2016 (AFP Photo/Kirill Kudryavtsev)

'Need more money'

As for the next phase of ExoMars, ESA director general Jan Woerner has mooted a possible two-year delay, saying in January: "We need some more money" due to cost increases.

The rover scheduled for 2018 has been designed to drill up to two metres (around seven feet) into the Red Planet in search of organic matter, a key indicator of life past or present.

ESA said the rover landing "remains a significant challenge" however.

Although TGO's main science mission is scheduled to last until December 2017, it has enough fuel to continue operations for years after, if all goes well.

Thomas Reiter, director of human spaceflight at ESA, said in televised remarks ahead of the launch he believed a manned mission to Mars would take place "maybe in 20 years or 30 years".

Russian-American duo Mikhail Kornienko and Scott Kelly earlier this month returned from a year-long mission at the International Space Station seen as a vital precursor to such a mission.

The ExoMars mission will complement the work of NASA's "Curiosity" rover which has spent more than three years on the Red Planet as part of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission.

Curiosity, a car-sized mobile laboratory, aims to gather soil and rock samples on Mars and analyse them "for organic compounds and environmental conditions that could have supported life now or in the past," according to NASA.

Space has been one of the few areas of cooperation between Moscow and the West that has not been damaged by ongoing geopolitical tensions stemming from the crises in Ukraine and Syria.