Council of Europe (CoE) - European Human Rights Court - founding fathers (1949)

Council of Europe (CoE) - European Human Rights Court - founding fathers (1949)
French National Assembly head Edouard Herriot and British Foreign minister Ernest Bevin surrounded by Italian, Luxembourg and other delegates at the first meeting of Council of Europe's Consultative Assembly in Strasbourg, August 1949 (AFP Photo)

EU founding fathers signed 'blank' Treaty of Rome (1957)

EU founding fathers signed 'blank' Treaty of Rome (1957)
The Treaty of Rome was signed in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, one of the Renaissance palaces that line the Michelangelo-designed Capitoline Square in the Italian capital

Shuttered: EU ditches summit 'family photo'

Shuttered: EU ditches summit 'family photo'
EU leaders pose for a family photo during the European Summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels on June 28, 2016 (AFP Photo/JOHN THYS)

Merkel says fall of Wall proves 'dreams can come true'


“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013. They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)


"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Friday, April 27, 2018

EU, US police cripple Islamic State media mouthpieces

Yahoo – AFP, Jo Biddle, April 27, 2018

The Islamic State group, whose flags are pictured here in northern Iraq, has lost
large swathes of its territory since a US-led alliance started an offensive in 2014

The Hague (AFP) - European and US police forces have struck at the heart of Islamic State's propaganda machine, seizing servers and "punching a hole" in its ability to spread its radical jihadist message online.

The transatlantic takedown was spread over eight countries and was coordinated by the EU's police agency in "a major operation over a two-year period", the head of Europol, Rob Wainwright, told AFP on Friday.

Wednesday and Thursday's operation was the latest in a campaign targeting in particular the Amaq news agency used by IS to broadcast claims of attacks and spread its message of jihad.

"With this takedown action, targeting major IS-branded media outlets like Amaq, but also al-Bayan radio, Halumu and Nasher news, IS's capability to broadcast and publicise terrorist material has been compromised," Europol said in a statement.

The "simultaneous multinational takedown" was coordinated by Europol from its headquarters in The Hague, and led by the Belgian federal prosecutor.

"Dozens and dozens" of police fanned out in their countries, seizing servers in the Netherlands, Canada and the United States as well as in Bulgaria, France and Romania.

'Technically challenging'

The goal was "to destabilise this apparatus by seizing and dismantling servers used to diffuse IS propaganda and to identify and arrest its administrators," the Belgian prosecutor said in a statement.

"With this groundbreaking operation we have punched a big hole in the capability of IS to spread propaganda online and radicalise young people in Europe," Wainwright said.

Britain's Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit was also involved in identifying "top-level domain registrars abused by IS", and the Bulgarian interior ministry confirmed "access was blocked to four servers, used for disseminating information" by Amaq in its country.

"It was so technically challenging that we were only really able to do it because of our experience in major cybercrime takedowns," Wainwright told AFP.

"We basically ran the cyber playbook against IS," he said, adding police forces around the world had spent years gathering intelligence to locate the servers being used by the jihadists.

'Squeezed' in battle and online

While a US-led international coalition has been combatting IS on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria taking back territory it had seized in 2014, nations have also warned that a multi-pronged effort was needed, including choking off funding and its online access.

"They've been squeezed on the battlefield, and now they've been really badly squeezed, badly hit, on the online platform as well," said Wainwright.

IS used Amaq to claim "every major attack since 2015 in Europe", he said, including the deadly assaults in Paris, Brussels, Barcelona and Berlin.

"The technical infrastructure which allows it to put these terrible propaganda videos and messages out has been knocked offline," Wainwright told AFP, speaking on his last day as Europol chief.

But Europol's investigation is still ongoing, and arrests could follow.

At its height, the IS media portfolio included smartphone apps for children, websites, and a glossy magazine, full of post-apocalyptic prophesies and articles declaring the "caliphate" was the only legitimate and viable home for Muslims.

But as IS's structure has crumbled, its media empire has waned too. Al-Bayan radio, which once broadcast on frequency mode and offered a wide range of statements, news and talks in several languages, had long moved online and reduced its activities.

On Friday, however, Nasher news -- the main Telegram account on which Amaq statements are posted in the region -- remained active, claiming jihadist fighters had damaged three Syrian army vehicles in fighting in southern Damascus.

"We are realistic in recognising that there still might be a retained possibility of re-establishing the network," Wainwright said, highlighting that this week's action was the third in a series of such takedowns.

"But we're getting stronger every time, and narrowing the space for them to re-create their online presence."

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

ETA hands over arms ahead of expected disbanding

Yahoo – AFP, April 25, 2018

Bayonne prosecutor Samuel Vuelta Simon said he had received an email tip-off
that "a quantity of arms" belonging to ETA had been retrieved by police (AFP
Photo/IROZ GAIZKA)

Bayonne (France) (AFP) - Basque separatist group ETA has handed over several cases of weapons and munitions as a confidence-building measure ahead of its expected disbanding, a French prosecutor said Wednesday.

Bayonne prosecutor Samuel Vuelta Simon said he had received an email tip-off that "a quantity of arms" belonging to ETA had been retrieved by police after being dropped at a location in the south of the French Basque city.

The announcement comes days before ETA is expected to announce its dissolution, definitively ending its nearly four-decade campaign of bombings and shootings for an independent Basque state in northern Spain and southwest France, seven years after it declared a permanent ceasefire.

A source close to the case said the police had found four cases "in the open air, in the city centre" containing around 20 handguns, several hundred bullets for 9mm and .38-calibre revolvers and a 20-metre-long detonator cable as well as several electronic detonators.

They also found around 200 fake registration places and materials that can be used to steal cars, added the source, who requested anonymity.

ETA last year had already provided French authorities with a list of eight arms caches.

A member of a group mediating in the peace process told AFP that ETA had committed to finding those weapons "which had gone astray" and not been included on the list.

"This restitution process, which remains confidential, is ongoing," Jean-Noel Etcheverry said.

Last week ETA asked forgiveness from its victims for the "pain" caused by its campaign, a move seen as a necessary step towards reconciliation.

Created in 1959 at the height of Francisco Franco's dictatorship ETA is blamed for the deaths of at least 829 people.

International mediators are organising a peace conference in southwest France on May 4.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Prince Harry marks 25 years since racist murder of black teen

Yahoo – AFP, Alice RITCHIE, April 23, 2018

Murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence had ambitions to become an architect
when he was set upon by five white youths at a bus stop in Eltham, southeast London,
in what an inquest ruled was an unprovoked racist attack (AFP Photo)

London (AFP) - Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle attended a memorial on Monday marking the 25th anniversary of the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in a killing that triggered far-reaching changes to British attitudes and policing.

The couple joined Stephen's mother Doreen Lawrence, who campaigned tirelessly for justice after her son was brutally stabbed to death at a bus stop on April 22, 1993.

Prime Minister Theresa May also attended the service in London, telling the congregation that April 22 will now be known as Stephen Lawrence Day.

"For the past 25 years, Doreen and (her husband) Neville have fought heroically to ensure that their son's life and death will never be forgotten. Their dignity, their courage and their sheer determination are an inspiration to us all," she said.

Five suspects were arrested within days of the murder but failures in the police probe into the 18-year-old's killing meant it was not until 2012 that two of them were jailed, after new evidence came to light.

The case drew the interest of anti-apartheid icon and Nobel peace laureate Nelson Mandela, who met the Lawrence family a fortnight after Stephen died, telling them: "It seems black lives are cheap."

A public inquiry in 1999 found the initial police investigation was marred by incompetence, a failure of leadership and "institutional racism".

Britain's Prince Harry and his US fiancee Meghan Markle
 join commemorations for the 25th anniversary of the murder 
of black teenager Stephen Lawrence (AFP Photo/Victoria Jones)

It led to an overhaul of policing in Britain, with London police chief Cressida Dick this weekend noting the "huge and positive change" enacted.

But Jon Boutcher, a senior officer who leads on race issues for the National Police Chiefs' Council, warned that concerns remained in some communities.

"Because of the legacy of the past, we must accept some still view policing as institutionally racist and we need to work doubly hard to gain trust," he said.

It has since emerged that the police also sent an undercover officer to spy on the grieving Lawrence family in the late 1990s as they campaigned for justice.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) meanwhile is still investigating allegations of corruption in the case.

Father forgives

Harry, who is due to marry mixed-race TV star Markle on May 19, will read out a message of support on behalf of his father Prince Charles at the memorial at St Martin-in-the-Fields Church in central London.

Stephen had ambitions to become an architect when he was set upon by five white youths at a bus stop in southeast London in what an inquest ruled was an unprovoked racist attack.

British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks with Doreen Lawrence, mother 
of Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in 1993 (AFP Photo/Victoria Jones)

Despite the early arrests, state prosecutors initially concluded there was insufficient evidence to progress with murder charges against any of the five suspects.

Two of them, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were finally convicted in January 2012 on the basis of new forensic evidence and jailed for 15 and 14 years respectively.

Neville Lawrence, who split with his wife after the murder and returned to his home country of Jamaica, said earlier this month that he has now forgiven the men who killed his son.

"I have justice and I have freedom from the burden that I have carried for so many years, through forgiveness," he said.

Doreen Lawrence, who set up a youth charity in her son's name and was in 2013 appointed to the House of Lords, has also said that it is now time to move on.

"Twenty-five years is a long time to be out campaigning," she told ITV television, adding that she would like to spend more time "on positive things", including her grandchildren.

"For me, I've not really lived my life in the way that I would have liked to. I'm always being asked to do something. Now I think, enough."

Armenia celebrates as veteran leader quits amid protests

Yahoo – AFP, Mariam Harutyunyan, April 23, 2018

People celebrated Armenian prime minister Serzh Sarkisian's resignation
in downtown Yerevan (AFP Photo/KAREN MINASYAN)

Last week Sarkisian was elected prime minister by lawmakers after serving a decade as president, triggering political turmoil in the Moscow-allied nation of 2.9 million people.

The opposition said the move was designed to extend his chokehold on power under a new parliamentary system of government. Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of the capital Yerevan in recent days.

The 63-year-old Sarkisian -- who earlier refused to step down -- stunned the country Monday by saying he was in the wrong and resigning.

His announcement came shortly after the release of protest leader Pashinyan who had been detained by police on Sunday.

"I am leaving the post of the country's leader," pro-Moscow Sarkisian was quoted as saying in a statement by his office.

"Nikol Pashinyan was right. I was wrong."

Sarkisian implied that there were several ways to resolve the crisis and that he could have used force to break up protests but chose not do to it.

"This is not in my nature," he added.

Sarkisian quit after a number of serving and former soldiers joined the protests.

Spontaneous street parties broke out and many flocked to stores to buy wine to
toast to the country's future (AFP Photo/KAREN MINASYAN)

'People won'

Armenians cheered the resignation, dancing, hugging each other and setting off fireworks.

"The people won!" shouted supporters of Pashinyan as some people waved national flags and others tooted car horns, on the 11th day of demonstrations.

Spontaneous street parties broke out as tens of thousands took to the streets. Many flocked to stores to buy wine and raise a toast to the country's future.

"You have won, the proud citizens of Armenia!" Pashinyan, the 42-year-old leader of the Civil Contract Party, wrote on Facebook.

"And no one will be able to take this victory away from you. I congratulate you, the victorious people."

First Vice Premier Karen Karapetyan has been appointed acting head of government.

Sarkisian remained the country's top leader even after he transitioned to the post of prime minister following constitutional amendments approved in 2015, which transferred powers from the presidency to the premiership.

Sarkisian, a shrewd former military officer, was first elected president of the impoverished, Moscow-allied country in 2008.

He also held the office of prime minister from 2007 to 2008.

Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian (left) stormed out of a tense televised debate
with opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan on Sunday (AFP Photo/Vano SHLAMOV)

After the 2008 presidential vote, 10 people died in clashes between police and supporters of the defeated opposition candidate.

The Kremlin said it was closely watching the political crisis in Armenia -- which hosts a Russian military base -- but would not interfere.

'New life'

Sarkisian's peaceful departure after a decade in power has been hailed as unprecedented.

"For the first time ever the people forced the head of state to resign," said 46-year-old Arman Sarkisian (no relation to Serzh Sarkisian).

"This has never happened before. From now on those who will replace him will think twice before taking decisions."

Gohar Badalyan, a 21-year-old student, added: "A new life is beginning today."

Sarkisian had earlier refused to go and on Sunday stormed out of televised talks with Pashinyan, accusing him of "blackmail".

Over the past days, thousands of opposition supporters held rallies against Sarkisian, denouncing his failure to fight poverty, corruption and the influence of oligarchs.

They blocked roads and marched arm-in-arm holding Armenian flags, with students and a group of serving soldiers joining the protests.

A number of uniformed former soldiers and veterans who fought in Nagorny Karabakh -- a breakaway region seized by Armenian separatists after the collapse of the Soviet Union -- also joined the demonstrations.

Despite the festive mood, many in Armenia acknowledged on Monday that the country still faced huge uncertainty.

Armenians hailed Sarkisian's peaceful departure after a decade in power as 
unprecedented in the country's history (AFP Photo/Vano SHLAMOV)

Andranik Serobyan, a teacher, said the "hardest part is ahead".

"Who will be the prime minister? Who will be the country's leader? We will have to live through all of this."

Kremlin 'observing'

In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman -- who spoke to reporters before Sarkisian resigned -- said that Russia was carefully watching events in Armenia, which has retained close ties to its former Soviet master.

"We are very attentively observing what is happening in Armenia," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, calling the South Caucasus country "extremely important" for Russia.

Peskov dismissed a question on whether Russia would interfere in the crisis -- which he called "exclusively an internal affair" -- as "absolutely inappropriate."

Saturday, April 21, 2018

UN Security Council meets over Syria in remote Swedish farmhouse

Yahoo – AFP, Camille BAS-WOHLERT, April 21, 2018

The UN security council is holding its informal meeting in Backakra in
Sweden (AFP Photo/Johan NILSSON)

Backåkra (Sweden) (AFP) - The UN Security Council met in a secluded farmhouse on the southern tip of Sweden on Saturday in a bid to overcome deep divisions over how to end the war in Syria.

In a first for the Security Council, which normally holds its annual brainstorming session in upstate New York, the 15 ambassadors and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres were this year invited to hold an informal meeting in Backakra by Sweden, a non-permanent member of the body.

The United Nations' special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, is expected on Sunday.

"We still face a very serious divide on that (Syria) matter," Guterres said as he arrived along with the ambassadors.

"We really need to find a way in relation to the violation of international law that the use of chemical weapons represents," he added.

The farmhouse is the summer residence of Dag Hammarskjold, the United Nations' second secretary-general who died in a plane crash in Africa in 1961.

Situated in the heart of a nature reserve, just a stone's throw from the Baltic Sea, the farmhouse consists of four buildings around a courtyard and has been completely renovated in recent years.

The southern wing serves as the summer residence for the Swedish Academy which awards the Nobel Literature Prize.

With both New York and Damascus thousands of kilometres away, the council is exploring "the means to strengthen and make more effective United Nations peacekeeping missions," the Swedish government said.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom welcomed the decision to hold the meeting in Sweden, "where there is a long tradition of peaceful conflict prevention and resolution".

But she warned against being too hopeful the Syrian issue would be resolved over the weekend.

"Hopefully there will be some new ideas on the table and I think it’ll be on those tracks: the humanitarian situation, the chemical weapons," she said.

But "not even the beautiful settings like these can solve all the problems", the minister added.

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley (L) and Sweden's 
Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom are in Backakra (AFP Photo/Johan NILSSON)

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said on the Syria issue: "We're not having that much success, we're still deadlocked.

"Retreats like this are very important -- to get away from New York sometimes and discuss these things in a way that we can really try and find a solution."

British ambassador Karen Pierce said: "We are determined to try and find a workable solution, so we will keep doing that with our Russian colleagues."

While the war in Syria is not the only topic of the deliberations, it is high up on the agenda because it was an issue that divided council members deeply in recent months.

Skau said Backakra was a "fitting and inspiring venue" to reconnect with the power of diplomacy.

"It's a place to roll up our sleeves, take off our jackets and ties and come up with some real and meaningful ways forward," he said.

'No excessive hopes'

Air strikes by the US, UK and France on April 14 targeted three sites, which the countries argued were used by the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad for a chemical weapons programme.

Syria has been accused of using chemical weapons in an attack a week earlier in Douma, the last rebel stronghold near Damascus.

Assad and Russian allies have denied that Syria was responsible for the attack, which according to rescuers, left more than 40 people dead. But the Western powers insist that the Syrian regime had crossed a red line.

The air strikes, conducted without a Security Council resolution, have led to fierce tensions between Russia and the other permanent council members, the US, France, Britain and China.

Moscow has used its veto on the council 12 times since 2011.

A fact-finding mission from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to the Syrian town of Douma has finally arrived at the site of the alleged chemical attack, Russia's foreign ministry said.

Some non-permanent member countries of the council have been critical of the trip to Sweden.

With the conflicts the council has on its table, including the one in Syria, it is abnormal that the council would travel so far, said one ambassador, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"What will happen if something bad happens?" the ambassador asked.

Related Article:


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Albania, Macedonia backed for EU membership talks

Yahoo – AFP, Lachlan CARMICHAEL, April 17, 2018

The announcement comes a month ahead of a summit in Sofia when the leaders of
six Balkan nations will be given fresh hope of eventually joining the EU (AFP
Photo/EMMANUEL DUNAND)

Brussels (AFP) - The EU on Tuesday backed the opening of formal membership talks with Albania and Macedonia as the bloc looks to expand into the Balkans and grow for the first time in years.

The announcement comes a month ahead of a summit in Sofia when the leaders of six Balkan nations will be given fresh hope of eventually joining the EU, amid rivalry between Brussels and Moscow over the region.

Skopje and Tirana both welcomed the move and vowed to work hard to remove obstacles on the long way to full membership.

EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, recommended that member states "open accession negotiations with Albania and with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia."

Mogherini stressed that any prospective members must make sweeping reforms to secure their entry to the club, which currently counts 28 countries as members -- although Britain is set to leave next year.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker put all enlargement on hold four years ago, and the Balkans states have become increasingly impatient.

Montenegro and Serbia are the frontrunners to join, having already started the formal membership process, with Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia lagging behind.

In February the EU unveiled its new strategy for the region, which aims to give membership to some states by 2025 but insists they must first resolve all border rows.

The EU has been wary of admitting new members before they settle their differences. The border rows will be a particular point of contention in a region still bedevilled by the aftermath of the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

These include a bitter and long-running dispute between Macedonia and EU-member Greece over its name, which Athens insists refers to its own northern province.

'Drift to Russia'

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, whose country's NATO membership bid has also been held up by the row, said his government wanted to resolve the dispute as soon as possible.

Macron insisted on reforming the European Union before expanding the
bloc (AFP Photo/Frederick FLORIN)

"We are making efforts to finish this before the summit... but we would be even happier if it can happen earlier," Zaev told a press conference in Skopje.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said the former communist country has "passed the historic test of our rapprochment with Europe" but acknowledged hard work lay ahead.

Rama told reporters in the capital Tirana that it marked "the opening of a new, more difficult phase of reforms and reinforcing the fight against crime and corruption."

Mogherini told reporters at the European parliament that Montenegro and Serbia have "progressed well" with their reforms, adding that "maintaining and deepening the current reforms must continue in all areas."

These areas are the rule of law, human rights, democratic institutions and public administration as well as ensuring economic competitiveness.

An ally of Russia, Serbia has refused to recognise its former breakaway province of Kosovo since it declared independence a decade ago. Five EU countries also do not recognise its independence.

Bulgaria, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, has warned it is now or never for expanding the European Union into the Balkans as concerns grow about Moscow's influence in the bloc's eastern backyard.

French President Emmanuel Macron underscored the concerns, saying: "Yes to anchoring them in the EU and not letting them drift toward Turkey and Russia."

But Macron insisted on reforming the bloc before admitting them, saying: "I will not defend any new enlargement until there is a deepening and improvement of our own Europe."

Saturday, April 14, 2018

'Illegal to be who I am' - Daley urges change in same-sex laws

Yahoo – AFP, Robert SMITH, April 13, 2018

Britain's Tom Daley has voiced his concerns about the treatment of homosexuals
 in large parts of the Commonwealth, whose athletes are gathered on Australia's
Gold Coast for the ongoing Games (AFP Photo/Anthony WALLACE)

Gold Coast (Australia) (AFP) - English world champion diver Tom Daley on Friday urged Commonwealth nations who outlaw homosexuality to relax their anti-gay stance.

Openly gay Daley, who is expecting a child with his partner through a surrogate, grasped the opportunity of his gold medal triumph in the 10m synchro event to push for change.

Daley, who won gold with team-mate Daniel Goodfellow, said sexual acts between consenting adults of the same sex are criminalised in 37 Commonwealth countries.

Daley voiced his concerns about the treatment of homosexuals in large parts of the Commonwealth, whose athletes are gathered on Australia's Gold Coast for the ongoing Games.

"Hopefully, I know this might sound a bit political, but by the next Commonwealth Games (in Birmingham 2022), there are 37 countries in the Commonwealth where it's currently illegal to be who I am, so hopefully we can reduce that number between now and then," Daley told reporters.

"Coming to the Gold Coast and being able to live as an openly gay man is really important and to be able to feel comfortable in who you are when you are standing on that diving board.

"For 37 countries that are here participating that's very much not the case."

Daley said it was time for those Commonwealth countries to change their anti-gay laws.

"You just have to face those things and try and make change," he said.

"There are lots of things that are going to take a long time to change, but I feel with the Commonwealth I think we can really help push some of the other nations to relax their laws on anti-gay sex."

Commonwealth Games Federation CEO David Grevemberg said his organisation was proud of its record on inclusivity.

"At the time of Glasgow 2014, 43 Commonwealth countries criminalised same sex activity, but today, that number has been reduced to 37," Grevemberg said Friday.

"We hope that the Commonwealth sports movement is playing a meaningful role in the wider global conversation around tolerance, empowerment and legal recognition for all."

Daley's comments were backed by New Zealand boxer Alexis Pritchard, who wore rainbow socks in support of gay rights in her 57kg semi-final on Friday.

"I think it's particularly sad that people cannot love who they want to love," she told AFP.

"It's important that each and every individual has rights to receive love and give love to the people that they choose.

"I find it absolutely sad that we are not open to that in so many nations."

The penalties for private, consensual sexual conduct between same-sex adults remain harsh in a number of Commonwealth countries, including imprisonment, hard labour and in some cases flogging.

The Commonwealth countries that outlaw homosexuality include Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Tonga.

Monday, April 9, 2018

British charities are opening Dutch offices ahead of Brexit

DutchNews, April 9, 2018

The Peace Palace is a draw to NGOs 

Four British non-profit organisations have opened offices in the Netherlands ahead of Brexit, according to Charity Finance magazine. 

Support organisation Euclid Network, human rights group Redress, peace-building organisation International Alert and Field Ready which develops humanitarian supplies have all moved some or all of their operations to The Hague, the magazine said. 

Support organisation Euclid Network decided to move its entire operation from Britain to The Hague in October last year. 

‘Some 70% to 80% of our revenue is from EU programmes… If we lost the EU funding, there would probably be no organisation,’ said Euclid director Stephen Barnett.

‘The Netherlands won out on the six factors we were considering. It had a strong local member in Social Enterprise NL, great transport links by rail and air, a good community of expats working for international NGOs, attainable staff costs and a solid international reputation,’ Barnett said. 

Rupert Skilbeck, director of human rights organisation Redress told the magazine: ‘When we started thinking about establishing a base in Europe to maximise the global impact of our work seeking justice and reparation for torture survivors, we found that The Hague best exemplified that international outlook and provided the perfect platform for us.’ 

Debbie Ball, head of fundraising at International Alert, said her charity was attracted by the ability to continue to access EU funding, as well as the city’s welcoming attitude when setting up a new European office. Aid organisation Field Ready, which is based in the US, but has a substantial presence in Britain, has also opened an office in the Netherlands.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Three quit in protest as #MeToo scandal rocks Nobel literature academy

Yahoo – AFP, Gaël BRANCHEREAU, 6 April 2018

The prestigious Academy has been reeling since it was revealed as part of the
#MeToo campaign in November that several members, as well as members'
wives and daughters, had allegedly been assaulted by the well-known figure
at the centre of the scandal

Three prominent members of the Swedish Academy resigned on Friday in protest at close ties between the institution, which awards the Nobel Literature Prize, and a high-profile man accused of sexual assault.

The Academy has been reeling since it was revealed as part of the #MeToo campaign in November that several members, as well as members' wives and daughters, had allegedly been assaulted by the well-known figure at the centre of the scandal.

Sweden's Dagens Nyheter newspaper broke the news, publishing the testimony of 18 women claiming to have been assaulted or raped by one of the most influential figures in Stockholm's cultural scene.

The Academy has since cut all ties with the man, who has not been publicly identified.

But his identity is generally known by the public as he is a high-profile person in cultural circles.

The alleged sexual assaults occurred between 1996 and 2017, according to Dagens Nyheter.

One of the resigning members Peter Englund said the scandal had deeply divided the Swedish literary world.

"Over time, a crack that appeared has continued to grow," he said in a letter to the Aftonbladet newspaper, adding that the Academy's permanent secretary Sara Danius had been subject to "unjustified" criticism.

The fallout continued Friday as King Carl XVI Gustaf was informed of developments as the director general of the Nobel Foundation Lars Heikensten expressed concern over a "serious and difficult situation".

'Tower of Babel is crumbling'

Along with Englund, members Klas Ostergren and Kjell Espmark decided to step down after the group's normal meeting on Thursday at a Stockholm restaurant.

"It is with great sadness that after 36 years working at the Academy, including 17 as chairman of the Nobel Committee, I feel forced to make this decision," Espmark said in a letter to the media.

"When prominent academy members put friendship ahead of responsibility and integrity, I can no longer participate in its work".

Ostergren condemned "a betrayal of the founder and his great protector", referring to the Academy's founder, Swedish King Gustav III, and inventor Alfred Nobel, who left some of his fortune to the institution.

The three men are lifetime members and cannot technically resign, but there is nothing forcing them to attend meetings.

Of the academy's 18 members, five are no longer active after two women, Kerstin Ekman and Lotta Lotass, went on leave for several years.

Bjorn Wiman, the culture editor of Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, said the resignations are "a disaster" for an academy "in ruins".

His counterpart at the Aftonbladet newspaper, Asa Linderborg, said "the tower of Babel is crumbling".

The allegations against the man were first revealed as part of the #MeToo campaign exposing sexual misconduct, which began in Hollywood and went on to shake artistic, media and political circles in Sweden, one of the most gender equal countries in the world.

In March, Stockholm's public prosecutor's office announced that part of the investigation, into claims of alleged rapes and assaults between 2013 and 2015, had been called off as the statute of limitation had passed or due to lack of evidence.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Almost 80% of UK firms pay men more than women: data

Yahoo, Roland JACKSON, 5 April 2018

Almost 80% of UK firms pay men more than women: data

London (AFP) - Almost eight out of 10 companies and public sector bodies operating in Britain pay men more than women overall, said data published Thursday confirming long-standing gender inequality in the workplace.

Prime Minister Theresa May introduced laws last year to force all employers with more than 250 staff to submit their gender pay gap details to the Government Equalities Office, which has now published a slew of data.

Some 10,015 businesses complied with Wednesday's midnight deadline for submissions, while those who failed to do so face the prospect of legal action.

Some 78 percent of commercial businesses and public sector organisations pay male staff more than female colleagues, according to Thursday's data cache.

However, 14 percent of respondents revealed that they pay women more than men, while eight percent had no gender pay gap.

The average gap -- or percentage difference between the average male salary and the average female salary -- across all companies that submitted details stood at 12 percent.

May this week vowed to tackle the "burning injustice" of the gender pay gap -- and has compared the battle with the women's suffrage campaign a century ago.

Britain's second only female prime minister after Margaret Thatcher wants to push toward pay equality, meaning the same money for a comparable job -- from back-office staff to highly-paid board members.

'Major injustices'

Thursday's data meanwhile revealed that local newspaper group North Wales News Media fared the worst, with 85.2 percent of men paid more than women.

Millwall Holdings, the parent group of Millwall Football Club, reported an equivalent figure of 80 percent.

Ireland's Ryanair had one of the biggest gaps, with women paid 71.8 percent less then men on average.

The airline claimed its data had been affected by the "relatively low numbers" of female pilots in the aviation industry. Ryanair has a total of 554 UK pilots, of which 546 are men and just eight are women.

"A hundred years ago, some women first won the right to vote," May said earlier this week.

"But for all the welcome progress in the decades since, major injustices still hold too many women back.

"When I became prime minister, I committed myself to tackling the burning injustices which mar our society. One such is the gender pay gap."

Britain's beleaguered banks have already revealed that their female workers' salaries lagged far behind those of their mostly male colleagues.

Men employed in London's City financial district earn significantly more per hour than women excluding bonuses, and the difference is even wider among institutions that are more focused on investment banking.