Kryon Berlin Tour & Seminar - Berlin, Germany, Sept 17-22 2019 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll)

Kryon Berlin Tour & Seminar - Berlin, Germany, Sept 17-22 2019 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll)
30th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

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

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

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

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

Shuttered: EU ditches summit 'family photo'

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

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

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

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

… The Shift in Human Nature

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 30, 2019

Greta's father says activism makes her happy: interview

Yahoo – AFP, December 30, 2019

Svante Thunberg (L), father of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (C), says
it's clear his daughter is much happier since starting her protest (AFP Photo/

Stockholm (AFP) - Svante Thunberg, father of eco-warrior Greta Thunberg, thinks his daughter is happier being an activist but admitted in an interview he at first had reservations about her taking up the struggle.

The 50-year-old actor-turned-producer told the BBC he and Greta's mother -- opera singer Malena Ernman -- originally objected to their daughter's decision to become a climate activist.

"Obviously we thought it was a bad idea, putting herself out there with all the hate on social media," he said.

Greta, described as a shy 16-year-old, has found herself in the role of spokesperson for a generation haunted by climate change after she started sitting outside the Swedish parliament in August 2018 with her "School Strike for the Climate" sign.

Instantly recognisable with long braids and impish looks, she has become the face of youth concerns over climate change, inspiring millions and being invited to address the United Nations climate summit.

Greta's family realised just how much the existential threat of climate change weighed on her when she became depressed at age 11.

She stopped eating, started missing school and even stopped talking.

Despite his initial apprehension Svante Thunberg -- who has accompanied Greta on two sail trips over the Atlantic -- also said he thought it was clear his daughter was much happier since taking up activism.

"She changed and she could do things that she could never have done before," he said.

Diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, Greta used to be able to eat only in her own home and "didn't speak to a single person".

She is now "an ordinary child", her father added.

Greta has also faced severe criticism and been subjected to a swarm of online conspiracy theory.

Some have claimed she is a puppet of doomsayers, or paid by the "green lobby".

But her father said she was prepared for the "hate" she would receive even before she started her protest.

"She knew exactly what she was doing and I think quite frankly she's very surprised that she has been so well received," Svante Thunberg told the BBC.

Related Article:

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Pizza boxes to pans: The Netherlands proposes EU-wide ban on PFAS

DutchNews, December 19, 2019


The Netherlands is calling for an EU-wide ban on products containing PFAS – toxic chemicals used in a wide range of manufacturing processes, from pizza boxes to non-stick frying pans. 

PFAS do not break down naturally and have been linked to several types of cancer and other health problems. Most, according to EU documents, are considered moderately to highly toxic, particularly for children’s development.

Junior environment minister Stientje van Veldhoven will formally present her proposal to EU ministers on Thursday afternoon, and has already won the support of Germany, Denmark and Sweden, the Volkskrant reported on Thursday. 

The presence of high amounts of PFAS in Dutch soil and water had led to a number of building projects being halted since the introduction of new limits in July. 

However, officials have since increased the maximum permitted concentration up from 0.1 microgrammes per kilo to 0.8 microgrammes in an effort to get construction moving again. 

According to broadcaster NOS, the Netherlands is not calling for maximum limits to the amount of PFAS permitted in soil. 

Rather, the aim of the proposal is to stop the production of PFAS at source and the stimulate the development of alternatives, NOS said.

  • Stagnation of the current US Politics: Compassioned (US) leaders will arise in the future
  • Shortage of fresh/drinking water: Invention to make salt from salt water magnetic and remove it with water desalination process in high volumes
  • Pollution on Earth: 1 - Stop killing the environment! / 2 - The rise of temperature on Earth is “temporary” and is part of the "regular" Watercycle.
  • Replacement of current fossil energy source: Use of magnetics based (small/big) engines to produces electricity / free energy
  • Plastic pollution in the oceans: Invention to remove the plastics gradually from the oceans

Photo: The Ocean Cleanup

Thursday, December 12, 2019

'Wise owl' Lagarde launches major ECB review

Yahoo – AFP, Michelle FITZPATRICK, Tom BARFIELD, December 12, 2019

Neither hawk nor dove, but 'wise owl' (AFP Photo/Daniel ROLAND)

Frankfurt am Main (AFP) - Christine Lagarde on Thursday announced a major review of the ECB's tools and goals and said the eurozone slowdown was beginning to ease, as she made her debut as president vowing to bring her "own style" to the job.

Speaking at a Frankfurt press conference after chairing her first governing council meeting, Lagarde said the bank would launch its "strategic review" next month and aim to finish by "the end of 2020".

A central focus of the reassessment, the ECB's first since 2003, will be whether the bank's main objective of keeping inflation "close to, but below" two percent remains relevant after years of anaemic price growth.

Lagarde said she also wanted to focus on "major changes" in society since the last review, including the challenges posed by climate change, technological advances and rising inequality.

As expected, Lagarde kept her predecessor Mario Draghi's ultra-loose monetary policy unchanged Thursday, holding interest rates at historic lows and leaving a 20-billion-euro ($22.2 billion) per month bond-buying programme untouched.

The policies are designed to bolster the 19-nation eurozone economy and drive up inflation at a time of weak global growth, weighed down by US-China trade rows and Brexit uncertainty.

Lagarde said the ECB was seeing "some initial signs of stabilisation in the growth slowdown", despite "persistent global uncertainties".

While manufacturing remained weak as trade tensions fester, the services and construction sectors remain "resilient", she said.

Look out for monetary policy tackling the climate crisis (AFP Photo/Daniel ROLAND)

Neither hawk nor dove

Although her maiden press conference was light on monetary policy news, Lagarde showed she was keenly aware that her performance was being closely scrutinised.

The former International Monetary Fund chief who has no prior central banking experience took pains to urge observers not to weigh her every word or compare her to former ECB boss Mario Draghi.

"Don't over-interpret, don't second guess, don't cross reference, I'm going to be myself and therefore probably different," she told journalists.

"Once and for all, I'm neither a dove nor a hawk, and my ambition is to be this owl, that is often associated with a little bit of wisdom," said Lagarde.

"For ECB watchers and financial market participants... learning how to read Christine Lagarde will take some time" said ING bank economist Carsten Brzeski, judging it "not always clear whether Lagarde spoke on behalf of herself" or the ECB council.

The ECB also unveiled its latest growth and inflation forecasts, for the first time running through to 2022.

Risks to the euro area outlook "remain tilted to the downside, but have become somewhat less pronounced", Lagarde said.

The bank trimmed its eurozone growth forecast for 2020 to 1.1 percent from 1.2 percent, but said it saw output strengthening to 1.4 percent in the following two years.

Inflation meanwhile is predicted to climb from 1.1 percent in 2020 to 1.6 percent in 2022 -- bringing the ECB closer to its target.

"Is it satisfactory? It's certainly directionally good, but is it the aim that we pursue? No," Lagarde said.

'Some initial signs of stabilisation in the growth slowdown': Lagarde already 
seems comfortable with central bank speak (AFP Photo/Daniel ROLAND)

Going green

Pressed for details on the planned review, Lagarde said there was "no preconceived landing zone".

But calls are growing for the ECB to loosen its strict inflation goal after years of stubbornly low growth, and change the way it calculates inflation.

Lagarde herself explicitly mentioned possibly including housing costs in the measurements in future.

The ECB's first female president has also repeatedly stressed that monetary policy has a role to play in tackling the climate crisis, even if the real driver for change lies with fiscal policy.

She said the bank would be speaking to lawmakers, academics and civil society representatives to hear their views.

The focus on climate change comes just days after new European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen unveiled a "Green Deal" for the bloc that aims to build a carbon neutral economy by 2050.

Lagarde praised "the ambition" shown by the initiative and said she hoped it would win widespread backing.

"In our strategic review we will take up climate change, we will take up the fight that is taken up by the European Commission and I hope other European institutions, and see where and how we can participate."

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

EU leader urges MEPs to back green growth plan

Yahoo – AFP, Marine LAOUCHEZ, Dave CLARK, December 11, 2019

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the 'Green New Deal'  to
fight climate change was "Europe's man on the moon moment" (AFP Photo/

Aris Oikonomou)

Brussels (AFP) - The EU's top official Wednesday launched the bloc's new "Green Deal", hailing it as a strategy for jobs and economic growth, not just for cutting emissions.

Unveiling the plan to the European Parliament, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen also warned against the steep cost of inaction.

Earlier, she had compared the ambition of the plan to the 1960s US mission to the moon, but Green groups were quick to warn it does not go far enough.

The key element of the plan will be a law committing member states to build a carbon neutral economy by 2050 -- but first it will need the go-ahead from parliament and EU leaders.

"We do not have all the answers yet. Today is the start of a journey. But this is Europe's man on the moon moment," Ursula von der Leyen said.

She promised a "new growth strategy" that "gives back more than it takes away", aiming to mobilise around 100 billion euros to fund clean energy projects.

"We have to make sure no one is left behind," she told reporters. "This transition will either be working for all and be just, or it will not work at all."

In parliament, she said: "Some say the cost of this transition is too high, let us never forget what the cost of non-action would be. It is rising by the year."

The document is the first major political challenge for the former German defence minister since she took charge of the European Commission this month.

And it comes as a UN global climate summit is under way in Madrid -- focusing attention on the crisis -- and on the eve of von der Leyen's first EU summit.

Various leaked versions of the plan have been flying around Brussels for weeks, and lobby groups from all sides of the debate have been piling on pressure.

The European Parliament was the first to officially receive the plan.

"At this point, we can't yet say if it's a Green Deal or green washing," said French Green MEP Karima Delli as associations feared the proposals did not go far enough.

The leaders of EU member states will hear it on Thursday at their Brussels summit and von der Leyen's deputy Frans Timmermans will take it to this week's COP25 forum in Madrid.

"It's important that, in parallel to the announcement, there's a signal" of support from European leaders, European Council President Charles Michel said.

The "European Green Deal" lists legislative proposals, financial instruments and action plans in different sectors, with a timetable.

The key goals are to use a combination of cleaner tech and carbon capture methods to make Europe the first "carbon neutral" economy by 2050.

Global competitors

Three countries still highly dependent on fossil fuels, particularly coal, could still block the way: Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

To convince them, the Commission plans to establish a 100-billion-euro "transition mechanism" to help them transition to renewable energy sources.

"It would help if at the Council we get some progress on carbon neutrality," said MEP Pascal Canfin, chair of the environment committee of the leaders' meeting.

The European Commission wants to set a target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50 or even 55 percent by 2030, up from its 40 percent goal.

But for some this does not go far enough.

"The promises are too small, too few, and too far off," said Jagoda Munic of Friends of the Earth Europe.

"We're on a runaway train to ecological and climate collapse and the EU Commission is gently switching gears instead of slamming on the brakes."

The action plan also includes plans to extend the EU Emissions Trading System into the highly polluting shipping sector.

And there are plans for a "border adjustment mechanism" aimed at importers to ensure that EU companies do not lose out to competitors who flout the Paris Climate Agreement.

The Commission will also lay out the timetable for its "from farm to fork" strategy to promote sustainable and quality agriculture, as well as that on biodiversity.

But however ambitious von der Leyen's environmental plan is, it will be very dependent on the money EU members are willing to spend on it.

For the moment, this is the unknown. Negotiations for the multi-year MFF budget for the period 2021-2027 are running late and entering a difficult stage.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

World's youngest PM takes office in Finland

Yahoo – AFP, December 10, 2019

Sanna Marin is Finland's youngest ever leader (AFP Photo/Heikki Saukkomaa)

Helsinki (AFP) - Finland's Sanna Marin, 34, was officially appointed as the country's prime minister on Tuesday, becoming the world's youngest sitting head of government.

The former transport minister takes the helm of a coalition of five parties that will all be led by women, once the prime minister takes over as head of her Social Democratic party next year. All but one of the female coalition leaders are aged under 35.

Marin became Finland's third female prime minister after her nomination was passed in parliament by 99 votes to 70 Tuesday and President Sauli Niinisto officially appointed the new centre-left cabinet.

She succeeds Antti Rinne, who resigned last week after losing the trust of one of his coalition parties over his handling of a postal strike.

Marin has made global headlines for becoming not only Finland's youngest ever leader, but also the world's youngest sitting head of government, ahead of Ukraine's Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk who is currently 35.

Marin (C) was sworn in with her centre-left cabinet (AFP Photo/Vesa Moilanen)

But on Tuesday, Marin deflected questions about the international attention she has received over becoming the world's youngest premier.

"My own thoughts have been on practical things and this week, I haven't followed what the press have been writing very much either at home or abroad," she told reporters outside parliament.

Earlier this week she said: "I have never thought about my age or gender, I think of the reasons I got into politics and those things for which we have won the trust of the electorate."

Marin grew up looked after by her mother and her mother's girlfriend, and said that her "rainbow family" showed her the importance of "equality, fairness and human rights".

In a 2015 interview, Marin said she felt 'invisible' as a child, because she could not speak openly about her family setup.

The world's youngest political leaders after Finland's Sanna Marin become the 
world's youngest sitting prime minister on Tuesday. (AFP Photo/Jonathan WALTER)

She has also said that her childhood has strongly influenced her political priorities, which include protecting Finland's generous welfare system and low levels of inequality.

"I come from a poor family and would not have been able to succeed and move forward were it not for the strong welfare state and the Finnish education system," she told Helsingin Sanomat.

The Social Democrats took office in June after defeating the far-right, anti-immigration Finns Party by the narrowest of margins in April's general election.

The victory was seen by some commentators as a triumph for Finland's liberal, equal society over a party that ran on a ticket of cutting asylum levels almost to zero and halting anti-climate change measures.

Speaking after Tuesday's parliamentary vote, Marin pledged to rebuild trust in her party.

"We have promised the Finnish people change and now we must deliver on that promise. In June we agreed a government programme together and I believe it is through actions that we will best restore people's trust," she said.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Pope meets with embattled Malta PM despite plea to cancel

Yahoo – AFP, December 7, 2019

Pope Francis and Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat meet at the Vatican,
despite calls from academics for the pontiff to cancel the event (AFP Photo/Handout)

Vatican City (AFP) - Pope Francis held a private audience with outgoing Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on Saturday, despite a plea to cancel the meeting over a scandal-hit investigation into the murder of a journalist.

The Argentine pontiff met Muscat and his family for an event the Vatican said had been scheduled months ago.

Muscat said Sunday he will step down in January after mass protests over a much-criticised probe into the 2017 murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, which has also led to the resignations of his chief of staff and tourism minister.

Twenty-two Maltese academics sent the pope a letter, dated before Muscat's decision to step down, asking Francis to cancel a meeting they slammed as a "propaganda exercise" for the prime minister.

They said it would be "totally unwise, and pastorally undesirable" for the audience at the Vatican to take place, "given the serious and grave nature of the accusations and allegations which are plaguing" the government in Valletta.

Caruana Galizia, a mother of three described as a "one-woman WikiLeaks", was blown up in a car bomb attack near her home in October 2017.

The reporter had become known for exposing cronyism and sleaze within the country's political and business elite, including among Muscat's inner circle.

Francis joined the cries of outrage across the globe over her slaying, sending a rare formal note of condolences, which are usually reserved for the deaths of prominent world leaders rather than private citizens.

Related Articles:

Friday, December 6, 2019

Merkel voices 'deep shame' on first visit to Auschwitz

Yahoo – AFP, Yannick PASQUET, December 6, 2019

Angela Merkel is only the third chancellor ever to visit Auschitz-Birkenau (AFP Photo/

Oswiecim (Poland) (AFP) - Angela Merkel visited the former Auschwitz Nazi death camp on Friday for the first time as chancellor and said admitting Nazi crimes was a key part of Germany's identity that could combat growing anti-Semitism.

"Remembering the crimes... is a responsibility which never ends," Merkel said during the visit in a message aimed at calls from the German far right for a shift away from a culture of remembrance and atonement.

"To be aware of this responsibility is part of our national identity, our self-understanding as an enlightened and free society," she added.

Merkel is only the third chancellor ever to visit a place that has come to symbolise the Holocaust.

Map of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp as it was in 1944 in Poland (AFP 
Photo/Sophie RAMIS)

She expressed Germany's "deep shame" at what happened in Auschwitz and neighbouring Birkenau, where a million Jews lost their lives between 1940 and 1945.

"I bow my head before the victims of the Shoah," she said, speaking in front of Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and a survivor of the camp, 87-year-old Bogdan Stanislaw Bartnikowski.

The 65-year-old chancellor, who was born nine years after the end of World War II, also addressed a rise of anti-Semitic and other hate crimes in Germany in recent years, saying they had reached an "alarming level".

"To combat anti-Semitism, the history of extermination camps has to be shared, it has to be told," she said.

Auschwitz "demands that we keep the memory alive".

A visitor to Auschwitz stands in front of victims' shoes (AFP Photo/JANEK 

'Keeping the memory of the Shoah'

Merkel began her visit by walking under the Nazi slogan "Arbeit macht frei" (Work will set you free) that still hangs over the gates of the camp.

She marked a minute's silence by the Death Wall where thousands of prisoners were shot dead and visited the site of a gas chamber and a crematorium.

In total, 1.1 million people were killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau, including non-Jewish Poles, Soviet prisoners of war, Roma and anti-Nazi fighters.

Many were killed the same day they arrived at the camp.

"There is no other place of memory that demonstrates with such precision what happened during the Shoah," Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, who accompanied Merkel, told AFP.

On the eve of her trip, Germany's federal state approved a new 60-million-euro ($66-million) donation for the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, which is marking 10 years since it was set up.

"This is an important and significant step towards keeping the memory of the Shoah," Israel's embassy to Germany said on Twitter.

Merkel and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki placed candles at the
International Monument Auschwitz II-Birkenau on Friday (AFP Photo/JANEK 

'Break with civilisation'

Merkel follows in the footsteps of previous German chancellors Helmut Schmidt, who came in 1977, and Helmut Kohl, who visited in 1989 and 1995.

She has already visited several former concentration and extermination camps in Germany over many years and has been to Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial centre five times.

In 2008, she became the first German leader to address the Israeli parliament.

Merkel has called the Holocaust a "break with civilisation" and has voiced concern about the rise of anti-Semitism in Germany.

Her visit comes two months after an attack aimed at a synagogue in the eastern city of Halle in which two people were killed -- part of a growing trend.

Police figures show that anti-Semitic offences rose by almost 10 percent in Germany last year from the previous year to 1,646 -- the highest level in a decade.

A million Jews were killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau, along with 100,000 non-Jewish 
Poles, Soviet prisoners of war, Roma and anti-Nazi fighters (AFP Photo/JANEK 

'180-degree shift' in remembrance

Germany's far-right Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) party, some of whose members have been accused of using anti-Semitic rhetoric, has called for a rethink of the way Germany remembers its Nazi past.

Senior AfD lawmaker Bjoern Hoecke has called for a "180-degree shift" in the culture of atonement -- a cornerstone of German political life for decades.

The timing of the visit is also significant because of questions over Merkel's political future as tensions persist within the governing coalition.

German media reported that she wanted to make the trip ahead of any potential political crisis.

Merkel intends to step down at the end of her mandate in 2021 but there is a chance that the date could be brought forward if her junior coalition partners, the Social Democrats, pull out of the government.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Austerity -- the backdrop to Britain's 'Brexit election'

Yahoo – AFP, Roland JACKSON, 5 December 2019

As record numbers of Britons flock to food banks and homelessness soars, for many
people rampant poverty, not Brexit, is the main issue in next week's general election

As record numbers of Britons are forced to use food banks and homelessness soars, for many people rampant poverty, not Brexit, is the main issue in next week's general election.

In Slough, west of London and just four miles (6.4 kilometres) from Queen Elizabeth II's opulent Windsor Castle residence, ex-drug addict John unwraps Christmas chocolates.

"Without these people, we wouldn't be able to eat so... people like us couldn't really exist," he told AFP at a food bank operating out of a Baptist church near a sex shop.

Anti-hunger campaigners the Trussell Trust, which runs the facility and more than 1,200 food banks like it, handed out a record 823,145 emergency parcels -- which each comprise food for three days -- in the six months to September.

That was the busiest half-year since the organisation was created in 1997 and marked a 23-percent surge from the same period of 2018.

In Slough, a large industrial town of 162,000 people best known in recent years as the drab setting for comedian Ricky Gervais' cult comedy "The Office", the increase was 29 percent.

The jump in demand was partly from the working poor struggling to make ends meet.

As polls approach next Thursday, Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the main opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have both vowed to address glaring inequality.

Access to food banks is granted via referrals from care professionals like 
doctors and social workers, who issue vouchers

But more than a decade after the global financial crisis that sparked a vicious worldwide recession, many cities, towns and villages across Britain have yet to recover from harsh austerity.

'Full of poverty'

"Slough is in such a bad state," said John, who declined to give his real name.

"This place is full of poverty and where there's poverty there's drugs, and where there's drugs there's going to be addicts, and where there's addicts there's going to be burglaries...

"What I find ridiculous is no (politician) is speaking about the main issues which (are) mental health and poverty and drugs addiction ... within communities that are receiving less money."

Austerity-driven changes to the welfare system have hit the poorest the hardest over the last decade, campaigners argue.

Those concerns were amplified a year ago when the United Nations accused the British government of being in a "state of denial" about a growing rich-poor divide.

Since the financial crisis, the government implemented across-the-board cuts and spending freezes.

There were also attempts to restructure the Universal Credit welfare payments system to encourage people to work.

Sue Sibany-King manages the food bank at the Slough Baptist Church in 
a large industrial town of 162,000 people

The programme is deeply unpopular because claimants must wait five weeks for their first payment, which can push the poorest into more debt and poverty, food bank volunteers say.

The independent Social Metrics Commission estimates there are 14.3 million Britons in poverty or just over one in five of the population. About 4.6 million of those are children.

The SMC adds however that the poverty rate held between 21 and 25 percent since early 2000, under governments of all political colours.

"Household income has been affected by welfare changes, rises in the cost of living and in particular, rents," added Judith Cavanagh, coordinator at charity coalition End Child Poverty.

"This is why two-thirds of children in poverty now come from a working household. Families are finding that they have to cut back on essentials like food, heating and clothing."

Meanwhile, homelessness is soaring and accounts for one fifth of food bank usage.

Increasingly, many homeless people are in work yet unable to afford housing.

"Homelessness is the most extreme expression of poverty," said Jasmine Basran, policy and public affairs manager at charity Crisis UK.

"We know people are pushed into homelessness when they cannot afford to cover the cost of basic essentials -- their rent, their food, their bills."

There were 171,000 homeless families and individuals sleeping on streets, in cars, buses or emergency accommodation, a 2017 study from Crisis UK indicated.

The Trussell Trust, which runs more than 1,200 food banks, handed out a record 
823,145 emergency parcels -- which each comprise food for three days 
-- in the six months to September

Homelessness crisis

Britain faces a "homelessness crisis" requiring immediate action, said Basran, whose charity wants the next government to unfreeze benefits, build social housing and invest in services.

Similarly it wants an end to food banks, which, while currently playing a "critical role", should not be necessary.

"People should be receiving the support they need to be able to live and thrive," said Basran.

Access to food banks is granted via referrals from care professionals like doctors and social workers, who issue vouchers.

Back in Slough, John, who lives in temporary accommodation after being homeless, remains unconvinced the election will change anything for the poor.

"I think all politics is bullshit and they need to have someone who is a bit more realistic and lived on the streets of London, on the poverty side," he said.

"They need someone like that in charge. Only someone that has come through the gutter would know what it's like."

Sunday, December 1, 2019

EU leadership takes office touting green ambition - AFP, 1 November 2019

Von der Leyen replaced EU veteran Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the 
European Commission AFP

Brussels (AFP) - The EU's new leadership took office on Sunday, one month later then planned, promising a more united Europe that would be ready to face major challenges, including fighting climate change.

Germany's Ursula von der Leyen became president of the European Commission and marked the occasion in a short ceremony with her top EU official counterparts, including EU Council President Charles Michel who also started on Sunday.

The team took the reins as the 28-member union is faced with a mountain of difficulties, including the Brexit divorce with Britain and tense ties with superpowers China and the United States.

Von der Leyen said the officials gathered, who also included European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, must meet a great responsibility as guardians of the EU treaties.

"It is a responsibility towards the European people and towards our founding father and mothers, but it is also a responsibility towards our children," she said.

"It is our responsibility to leave a union that is stronger than the one we inherited: ... a continent in peace with rights and liberties (and) a single market with unprecedented economic opportunities," she said.

Former IMF chief Lagarde, who took office last month, stressed that the union had only recently left the damaging debt crisis and must look to the future.

"It's a formidable challenge that awaits us, but my hope is that... we may leave this age of repairing (the EU) to one of renovation and hope," she said.

Von der Leyen, who replaced EU veteran Jean-Claude Juncker, will lead a 27-strong team of commissioners who also began work on Sunday with a clear ambition to make Europe a global powerhouse on green policy.

European Parliament President David Sassoli said the MEPs would hold an extraordinary session on December 11 -- the eve of an EU leaders summit -- to receive the commission's first climate proposals, dubbed the "Green New Deal".

The Sunday ceremony was officially the 10th anniversary of the latest European treaty that simplified an EU governance, which remains complicated and often criticised as too removed from the continent's 500 million citizens.

Her mandate was due to start November 1 but was delayed after three of her initial nominees to the commission were rejected during the parliamentary confirmation process in an unprecedented snub.