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. …

Saturday, May 25, 2019

UK leadership hopefuls vow to succeed where May failed on Brexit

Yahoo – AFP, Dmitry ZAKS, May 25, 2019

With Theresa May politically fading away, contenders to succeed her as Britain's 
prime minister start lining up while the risk of crashing out of the EU rises (AFP 
Photo/Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS)

London (AFP) - The race to become Britain's next premier opened Saturday with an array of hopefuls promising to succeed where Theresa May failed and finally pull the divided country out of the EU.

But European leaders insisted they had made their final offer during months or acrimonious talks that produced an unpopular compromise for which May ended up paying with her job.

The British prime minister's voice broke on the steps of her Downing Street office as she told Britons on Friday that she was quitting on June 7.

May is bowing out with her legacy in tatters and the country in agony over what to do about voters' decision in 2016 to abandon the European integration project after nearly 50 years.

The markets view the risk of Britain crashing out of the bloc when the twice-delayed departure date arrives on October 31 as uncomfortably high.

The pound has been steadily losing value since May 6 and British business lobbies are raising the alarm.

Their main concern is that current frontrunners to head May's Conservative Party say they will get Brexit done at any cost.

"We will leave the EU on October 31, deal or no deal," former foreign minister Boris Johnson said in Switzerland.

"The way to get a good deal is to prepare for no deal."

Flow chart showing what might happen next in the Brexit process 
(AFP Photo/Gillian HANDYSIDE)

Johnson's main challenges will come from former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab -- viewed as an even more committed eurosceptic -- and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Britain's top diplomat had campaigned against Brexit but has since reversed himself and made headlines in September by comparing the European Union to the evils of the former Soviet empire.

Hunt said moments after May's resignation that he would "make the announcement of my own candidacy at the appropriate time".

'Enthusiastic about Brexit'

The contest is being held against the backdrop of European Parliament elections that the new Brexit Party of the anti-EU populist Nigel Farage is expected to win with about a third of the vote.

Polls show the Conservatives getting punished for their bickering over Brexit and finishing as low as fifth -- their worst result in a national election.

The candidates are also mindful of a party revolt over May's fateful decision to court the pro-EU opposition with the promise of a second Brexit referendum.

Johnson has said that he would like to see Britain leave the EU on October 31, 
with or without a deal (AFP Photo/Ben STANSALL)

The concession was designed to help ram her withdrawal agreement through parliament on the fourth attempt.

But it won her no converts and sparked a party coup attempt that forced May to walk away before she was pushed out.

This prompted more EU-friendly hopefuls such as Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd to concede Saturday that they stood no chance and would not vie for the job.

"I am conscious the Conservative Party wants someone who they believe is very enthusiastic about Brexit," Rudd told The Daily Telegraph.

Johnson is a popular figure viewed by many Conservatives as their best answer to Farage.

But a long political career that also saw him serve as London's cosmopolitan mayor has made him enemies in parliament who will try to block his rise to the top.

Some political insiders view Johnson as a tactician who is talking up his Brexit credentials for political gain.

"He wants to leave with a deal and many of his potential supporters are expecting him to walk back from what he said," a person closely involved in one of leadership campaigns told the Financial Times.

Dominic Raab, the former Brexit secretary, is also among the contenders
(AFP Photo/Tolga AKMEN)

Dark horses

Parliamentary party members will begin whittling down the field of contenders to a final two on June 10.

The finalists will then be put to a postal ballot of around 100,000 party members in July.

The field grew on Saturday when Health Secretary Matt Hancock entered the race with a promise to take a more moderate approach.

Leaving the European Union without an agreement is "not an active policy choice that is available to the next prime minister," Hancock told Sky News.

Hancock is view as one of the dark horses who might make it through a crowded field of more than a dozen names.

International Development Secretary Rory Stewart is also positioning himself as a more consensus seeking alternative to Johnson.

"It now seems that (Johnson) is coming out for a no-deal Brexit," Stewart told BBC radio.

"I think it would be a huge mistake. Damaging, unnecessary, and I think also dishonest."

Yet neither Hancock nor Stewart would say if they would push ahead with May's current agreement or try to secure added concessions from Brussels.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte -- seen as one of Britain's closest European allies -- said firmly that "the withdrawal agreement is not up for renegotiation".

Related Article:

Brexit withdrawal agreement not up for renegotiation, says Dutch PM

DutchNews, May 25, 2019

Photo: Arno Mikkor via Flickr 

Britain’s withdrawal agreement from the European Union is not up for renegotiation now Theresa May has stood down, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said at his weekly news conference. 

Asked if he thought that the agreement could be looked at again, Rutte said the problem facing Britain is not Theresa May, whom he described as courageous and trustworthy. 

‘The problem,’ he said, ‘is the situation in which she had to work… the UK not wanting to stay as a member of the customs union, not wanting to stay a member of the internal market. 

‘All those red lines made it almost impossible to come to something which could get a majority in the house of commons,’ the Dutch PM, who was a close ally of May during the negotiations, said. 

In Britain there is speculation that EU leaders will now rethink the agreement with May out of the way.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Dutch Labour party big winner in EU election, exit poll shows

DutchNews, May 23, 2019

The Dutch social democratic party PvdA is the big winner of the European elections in the Netherlands, according to an exit poll by public broadcaster NOS. 

Turnout was over 42%, the highest since 1989, the exit poll shows. 

The poll gives the PvdA, led by Frans Timmermans, five seats in the European parliament and puts the VVD Liberals and Christian Democrats both on four seats. New party Forum voor Democratie wins three seats in the poll, alongside the left-wing green party GroenLinks. 

The result will be seen as a disappointment for the pro-Nexit Forum, which had been forecast as a potential winner. The anti-European PVV is also set to see its support slashed from four to just one seat, according to the Ipsos poll. 

In total, just 15% of Dutch voters have voted for pro-Nexit parties and support for Eurosceptic parties, including the Socialists, is down from 23% to just over 19%. 

NOS commentator Ron Frensen said that D66, which has a strong pro-EU message, has been squeezed between the ‘Frans Timmermans effect’ and the fighting on the right. Timmermans is also the social democratic parties’ candidate for president of the European Commission. 

PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher said the exit poll prediction is ‘bizarre’. The PvdA has seen its support plummet in recent years but, Frensen said, the party should not count its blessings. Research, he said, shows that 50% of people who voted for the party on Thursday did so because of Timmermans. 

Forum spokesman Derk Jan Eppink said the party had expected such a result. ‘I am always very careful with polls and the official results is not until Sunday so we hope for an extra seat,’ he said. ‘Nevertheless, with three seats we can mean something in the European parliament.’ 

Support for Forum is down from 15% in the provincial elections in March, when the party was the biggest ahead of the VVD, to 11%. 

The Netherlands has 26 seats in the European parliament. 

The Ispos exit poll results in full

  • PvdA 5 (3)
  • D66 2 (4)
  • PVV 1 (4)
  • CDA 4 (5)
  • VVD 4 (3)
  • GroenLinks 3 (3)
  • Socialists 1 (2)
  • Orthodox religious parties 2
  • Pro animal PvdD 0 (1)
  • 50PLUS 1 (0)
  • FvD 3 (0)

Nos also looked at what will happen when Britain leaves the EU and the Netherlands will get three more seats in the European parliament. Those seats will go to the pro-animal PvdD, the PvdA and the VVD.

Frans Timmermans is the big winner. Photo: European Union, 2018 / Etienne Ansotte

"Recalibration of Free Choice"–  Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: (Old) SoulsMidpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth,  4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical)  8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) (Text version)

“…5 - Integrity That May Surprise…

The Unthinkable… Politics, A Review

Humans will begin to search for integrity and fairness and it's going to happen in the places you never expect. I said this last week, so this is a review. There'll come a time when you will demand this of your politics - fairness and integrity. So when the candidates start calling each other names, you will turn your back on them and they won't get any votes. They're going to get the point real fast, don't you think? How about that?

Let me give you another potential. This country that I sit in right now [USA] will set the mold for that particular attribute. I have no clock. Watch for the youngsters to set this in motion, and they will, for they are the voters of tomorrow and they do not want the energy of today. To some of them, it's so abominable they won't even register to vote in this energy. You're going to see this soon. That was number five.. ..."

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Swiss vote to tighten gun laws, safeguard EU relations

Yahoo – AFP, Nina LARSON, May 19, 2019

Final results showed that Swiss voters overwhelmingly supported reforming their gun
laws, with 63.7 percent casting their ballot in favour (AFP Photo/STEFAN WERMUTH)

Geneva (AFP) - The Swiss voted Sunday to toughen their gun laws and bring them in line with EU legislation, heeding warnings that rejecting the change could have threatened relations with the bloc.

Final results showed that voters overwhelmingly supported reforming Swiss gun laws, with a full 63.7 percent casting their ballot in favour.

A majority of voters in all but one of Switzerland's 26 cantons backed the reform, with the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino in southern Switzerland the only outlier.

A demand from the neighbouring European Union that the Swiss toughen their gun laws prompted a rare national debate over firearm ownership in the wealthy Alpine nation, which has a deeply-rooted gun culture.

While the government cautioned that the new legislation was crucial to the non-EU country maintaining its treaties with the bloc, the proposal sparked a fierce pushback from the gun lobby and shooting enthusiasts, who gathered enough signatures to trigger a vote under Switzerland's famous direct democratic system.

Brussels changed its own weapons laws two years ago following a wave of deadly terrorist attacks across Europe, slapping bans on certain types of semi-automatic firearms.

While not an EU member, Switzerland is bound to the bloc through an array of intricately connected bilateral agreements.

Bern had cautioned that a "No" vote would lead to Switzerland's exclusion from the visa-free Schengen travel region and also the Dublin accords regulating Europe's asylum-seeking process.

Shooting enthusiasts have gathered enough support to trigger a vote on
new gun laws under Switzerland's famous direct democratic system
(AFP Photo/Fabrice COFFRINI)

This would have far-reaching consequences for security, asylum and even tourism, and would cost the country "several billion Swiss francs each year," it said.

Liberties 'eroded'

The shooting enthusiasts behind Sunday's referendum had insisted the government warnings were "exaggerated".

The campaign charged that law change amounts to an "EU dictate" that reins in Swiss sovereignty and would "erase the right to own weapons" in Switzerland.

The ProTell gun lobby voiced concern at the consequences of Sunday's referendum, in which some 43 percent of eligible voters participated.

"Today, our liberties have been eroded," ProTell President Jean-Luc Addor told RTS, also insisting that the reform would "obviously not avoid a single terrorist attack".

The populist, rightwing Swiss People's Party (SVP) -- the only party to oppose the reform -- meanwhile cautioned that bowing to an "EU dictate" would have consequences.

"We acknowledge that there is a certain need to remain within Schengen and Dublin, but we cannot accept just anything to do so," SVP vice president Celine Amaudru told the ATS news agency, cautioning that the EU going forward "will be able to dictate what it wants" by playing to Swiss fears of being left out.

It is difficult to know exactly how many firearms are in circulation in Switzerland, since guns are registered regionally and there is no national registry.

The strong gun culture in Switzerland is partially tied to its tradition of national defence 
service, as most Swiss men undergo obligatory military service (AFP Photo/STEFAN 

'Exceptional authorisation'

But according to a 2017 report by the Small Arms Survey, the country boasts the world's 16th highest rate of gun ownership, with some 2.3 million firearms in civilian hands -- nearly three for every 10 inhabitants.

The strong gun culture in Switzerland is partially tied to its tradition of national defence service, as most Swiss men undergo obligatory military service between the ages of 18 and 30. They are allowed to keep their assigned weapon when they are done.

Under the new gun law, which has already been approved by legislators, semi-automatic weapons with high-capacity magazines will be listed as "banned".

Collectors and sports shooters could still purchase such weapons, but would need to jump through more hoops to obtain an "exceptional authorisation".

Another issue put to a national referendum Sunday -- a government proposal to overhaul the country's corporate tax system and pump more cash into its pension system -- also won overwhelming support.

A full 66.4 percent of voters, and all 26 cantons, supported that reform, according to the final results.

Netherlands mulls host city for Eurovision 2020

France24 – AFP, 19 May 2019

Netherlands' Duncan Laurence beat 25 other Eurovision finalists with his stirring
power ballad "Arcade" (AFP)

The Hague (AFP) - Several Dutch cities threw their hat in the ring Sunday to host Eurovision 2020 after the Netherlands won this year's glitzy song contest with a stirring power ballad about heartache.

Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Maastricht have all volunteered to organise the famously kitsch event, which draws millions of viewers with its extravagant performances and over-the-top stage sets.

Bookies' favourite Duncan Laurence handed his home country its first victory in 44 years when he beat 25 other finalists at the latest edition held in Tel Aviv on Saturday night.

The 25-year-old, who came out as bisexual in 2016 and has used his new high profile to advocate more tolerance, wooed audiences with his ballad "Arcade" about a romantic breakup.

Italy finished second and Russia third in the results that combined votes from juries from participating countries as well as viewers at home.

'Proud' monarchs

"We are proud of Duncan Lawrence who has conquered Europe with musical class... and is bringing Eurovision home next year," Dutch King Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Maxima said in a tweet shortly after the winner was announced.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte joined the chorus of praise, hailing the performance as "sublime and powerful".

Relatively unknown before being chosen to represent his country, Laurence was visibly moved by his success.

"My dream has come true, it really has come true," he told journalists following his victory -- the Netherlands' first since 1975.

More than 5.3 million Dutch viewers watched the live show, according to Dutch broadcaster Avrotros.

The largely European competition, which gifted the Swedish supergroup ABBA to the world, dates back to the 1950s.

Over the years, it has widened to include channels subscribing to the European Broadcasting Union, and now spreads as far as Australia.

While Eurovision organisers take care to note that the event is meant to be non-political, it is frequently punctured by some controversy.

The Tel Aviv edition was no exception. Two backup dancers for Madonna appeared on stage wearing Israeli and Palestinian flags on their backs.

Icelandic group Hatari meanwhile displayed scarfs with Palestinian flags when results were being announced.

Israel won the right to host the extravaganza thanks to last year's victory by Israeli singer Netta Barzilai, who opened the show on Saturday night.

Related Article:

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Humiliating exit for Austrian far-right's 'Mr Clean'

Yahoo – AFP, Jastinder KHERA, May 18, 2019

After years of efforts to clean up the image of Austria's far-right, Heinz-Christian
Strache (L) quit Saturday over what he termed a "stupid, irresponsible mistake"

Vienna (AFP) - Heinz-Christian Strache, the man who successfully steered Austria's far-right back into government after years in opposition, has himself been brought down by an explosive corruption scandal.

The 49-year-old was forced to quit Saturday after German media published hidden-camera footage -- of unknown provenance -- showing him meeting the purported niece of a Russian oligarch over a boozy dinner in a luxury villa on the resort island of Ibiza.

After years of efforts to clean up the image of his Freedom Party (FPOe), founded after World War II by former Nazis, Strache has now been disgraced by what he termed a "stupid, irresponsible mistake".

In the recordings, Strache is seen promising public contracts in return for campaign help and suggesting he could help bring about staff changes in Austria's largest-circulation tabloid, the Krone Zeitung, as well as the part-privatisation of public broadcaster ORF.

For many observers, the scene seemed to confirm the stereotypes of the party that Strache had worked so hard to bury: too ready to engage in dubious practices, too close to Russia, and contemptuous of the free media.

'Mature' figure

It almost certainly marks the humiliating end of a political career which had come a long way in the three decades since Strache was detained by German police at a torch-lit protest by a group aping the Hitler Youth.

When the former dental technician, brought up single-handedly by his mother in a lower-middle-class area of Vienna, took over the FPOe in 2005 aged 35, the movement was a mess.

Joerg Haider, its controversial but magnetic leader from 1986-2000, had broken off to form his own party, the movement torn apart by its last spell in government in the early 2000s.

But "HC", his striking blue eyes matching the party colours, restored its fortunes and in elections in 2017, the FPOe won 26 percent -- double the score of the Alternative for Germany a month earlier.

This gave Strache, cutting a mature figure in new glasses, a ticket to enter talks to form a coalition with Sebastian Kurz's conservative People's Party (OeVP).

When the FPOe last entered government in 2000 under Haider, there was uproar in Europe.

This time, the reaction was more muted, with Europe more inured to populists and the FPOe seen as having moderated.

Stream of controversy

Indeed, early in Strache's leadership, FPOe posters screamed "Daham statt Islam" ("Home not Islam") but over the years they became less shrill and more subtle.

In the 2017 campaign, the main messages were "fairness" -- an elastic term encompassing everything from lower taxes to scrapping benefits for immigrants -- and opposition to "Islamisation".

Strache also moved to clean up the party's image by suspending members for anti-Semitic behaviour.

However, since the party's entry into government, it has been dogged by a steady succession of controversies.

Strache himself was forced to apologise last year to one of ORF's most prominent newscasters, Armin Wolf, after sharing a Facebook post accusing the journalist of spreading "lies" and "fake news".

Other revelations pointed to extremist sympathies in the party's base, including links to the Identitarian Movement Austria.

The appointment of the FPOe's Herbert Kickl as interior minister also sparked fears among Austria's Western partners over whether information could be leaked to Moscow.

Observers say the manner in which Strache has been brought down will raise questions over the FPOe's future and to what extent his efforts to detoxify the party have been permanently damaged.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

EU fines five major banks 1 bn euros for currency collusion

Yahoo – AFP, May 16, 2019

.With collusion between traders, clients may not have gotten the best rates (AFP
Photo/Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS)

Brussels (AFP) - The EU's powerful anti-trust authority on Thursday fined five major banks -- including Barclays and Citigroup -- more than a billion euros for collusion in the massive foreign exchange currency market.

The European Commission sanctioned Barclays, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Citigroup, JPMorgan and Japan's MUFG Bank a total of 1.07 billion euros ($1.2 billion) after finding that traders colluded to fix exchange rates using electronic chat rooms, a statement said.

The commission said Swiss giant UBS received no fine as it revealed the collusion to the authorities.

"These cartel decisions send a clear message that the commission will not tolerate collusive behaviour in any sector of the financial markets," said EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

"The behaviour of these banks undermined the integrity of the sector at the expense of the European economy and consumers," she added.

The decision involves two cases of forex manipulation, with the first known as "Essex Express 'n the Jimmy" because all the traders (except Jimmy) lived in the county to the east of London, the commission said.

The other one was called "Three-way banana split", though the EU's executive arm did not explain why.

"Some of the traders created the chat rooms and then invited one another to join, based on their trading activities and personal affinities, creating closed circles of trust," the commission explained.

The collusion took place between 2007 and 2013, roughly the years of the financial crisis and has been sanctioned by other authorities, including the US.

Except Japan's MUFG, the banks cooperated with the commission and in return received lighter fines than the EU's maximum amount.

"We are pleased to resolve this historical matter, which relates to the conduct of one former employee. We have since made significant control improvements," said a spokesperson for JPMorgan.

Several of the banks, including Barclays, had already provisioned for the fines in earlier filings.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Dutch court won’t send back British drugs trafficker, citing prison conditions

DutchNews, May 10, 2019


Dutch judges have refused to extradite a British drugs smuggler to the UK because of their concerns about the state of a British jail. 

The man, who had been living in Spain, was the subject of a European arrest warrant issued in Liverpool in 2017 on charges of trafficking heroin and cocaine, and was picked up in the Netherlands. 

The court in Amsterdam said in its ruling it would suspend the extradition pending further information about the prison in Liverpool, which, according to a 2017 report, had some of the ‘most disturbing conditions’ ever seen by prison inspectors. 

This, the court said, led to its decision to suspend the extradition because there is a ‘real risk’ the man would be subject to inhuman or degrading treatment if returned to the UK. 

The British prisons ministry said in a statement to the court: ‘We do not accept that conditions anywhere in our prisons amount to inhuman or degrading treatment contrary to Article 3 ECHR.’ 

In addition, the statement said that major improvements had been made to conditions at the prison, and two others cited in the report in Bedford and Birmingham. 

In 2017, a Dutch court has refused to extradite eight suspects facing drugs charges in Belgium to the Belgian authorities, saying it needed more information about prison conditions there. 

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture said a month before the case was heard that conditions in Belgium’s prisons were the worst it had seen in Europe, particularly in terms of overcrowding.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Pope changes Church law to make reporting sex abuse obligatory

Yahoo – AFP, Ella IDE, 9 May 2019

Pope Francis has been forced to respond to a global scandal over paedophilia in the church

Pope Francis on Thursday passed a landmark new measure to oblige those who know about sex abuse in the Catholic Church to report it to their superiors, in a move which could bring countless new cases to light.

Every diocese in the world will now be obliged to have a system for the reporting of abuse, under a new law published by the Vatican following a global clerical paedophilia scandal.

But the requirement will not apply to secrets revealed to priests in the confessional.

It is time to learn from the "bitter lessons of the past", Francis said in the text of the legal decree, which comes into effect on June 1.

It follows a series of clerical assault cases in countries ranging from Australia to Chile, Germany and the US.

The "Motu Proprio", a legal document issued under the pope's personal authority, declares that anyone who has knowledge of abuse, or suspects it, is "obliged to report (it) promptly" to the Church, using "easily accessible systems".

Under the new measure, every diocese around the world is obliged by June 2020 to create a system for the reporting of sexual abuse by clerics, the use of child pornography and cover-ups of abuse.

The law could see the Vatican inundated with reports of abuse or cover-ups, as it applies retroactively, meaning those who know about old cases are obliged to flag them up as well.

'Bring predators to justice'

The impact "likely will be felt most intensely outside the West, since places such as the US, Canada and some parts of Western Europe (though, ironically, not the pope's backyard in Italy), already have fairly robust reporting systems," said Vatican expert John Allen, on the online religious newspaper Crux Now.

The law only applies within the Church and has no force to oblige individuals to report abuse to civil authorities.

"The Motu Proprio shows Pope Francis expects swift and comprehensive progress," commented Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, head of the Bishops' Conference in the United States, where thousands have people have reported abuse.

It will "empower the Church everywhere to bring predators to justice, no matter what rank they hold," he said.

The US-based Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said "mandated reporting is a good thing" but added in a statement that "we would have been far more impressed if this new law required church officials to report to police and prosecutors".

The document focuses particularly on the sexual or psychological abuse of children and vulnerable adults, but also targets sexual abuse and violence resulting from an abuse of authority -- such as the exploitation of nuns by priests.

Pope Francis admitting publicly in February that priests have used nuns as "sexual slaves" -- and may still be doing so.

'Exhaustive in scope'

"The new norms... are exhaustive in scope, applying in some way to every ordained or vowed member of the 1.3 billion-person church," Vatican watcher Joshua McElwee wrote in the National Catholic Reporter.

That raises the question as to how realistic it is for the Vatican to promise a response to reports within 30 days, particularly considering there are scores of cases currently backlogged, Allen said.

Victims' groups have long called for Francis to put in place concrete measures to tackle clerical child abuse, but they want more, including the immediate dismissal of any cleric found guilty of even a single act of abuse, or of covering it up.

They also want all abusers or suspected abusers to be reported to police, and any abuse-related files handed over to them.

Some have called for priests who hear of abuse during confessions to be forced to report it. The new law stops short of that.

Catholics believe that within the confessional the penitent is talking to God, and everything in the confession is secret. A priest who reveals such secrets is automatically expelled from the Church.

Pope Francis has been forced to respond to a global scandal over paedophilia in the church.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Royal baby announcement breaks with tradition

Yahoo – AFP, Dario THUBURN, May 6, 2019

In a modern twist, the royal birth was also announced on Instagram, from
the royal couple's official account (AFP Photo/HO)

London (AFP) - Tradition-defying royal couple Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, broke with custom yet again on Monday with the announcement of the birth of their first child.

News of the birth was released on Instagram -- a first in royal history -- in a post on their @sussexroyal account with the couple's crest and the simple phrase: "It's a BOY!"

The post received more than 750,000 likes in under an hour.

The account was only launched in April, breaking a world record by reaching a million followers in under six hours.

Harry has battled to protect his privacy for years.

The 34-year-old's relationship with the media has been fraught ever since the death of his mother Diana in a car crash in Paris 1997 while being chased by paparazzi.

The couple had made it clear last month that they wanted the birth kept private -- in contrast to Harry's brother Prince William and his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.

Their three children were all delivered in the private wing of St Mary's Hospital in London and shown off to the world's media and royal fans a short time later.

Instead, the new baby will only be seen later this week to a media pool that will share the images worldwide.

Wish to 'celebrate privately'

"Their Royal Highnesses have taken a personal decision to keep the plans around the arrival of their baby private," Buckingham Palace said in a statement in April.

"The Duke and Duchess look forward to sharing the exciting news with everyone once they have had an opportunity to celebrate privately as a new family," it said.

The circumstances of Monday's announcement demonstrated the couple's wish to retain their privacy as much as possible.

Royal officials announced on Monday afternoon that Meghan had gone into labour in the early hours of that morning.

Only half an hour later, a royal statement announced that Meghan had in fact given birth at 5:26am (0426 GMT).

George and Sir John

The announcement was followed up by a video statement by a beaming Harry, standing in front of a stable in Windsor -- a town outside London where the couple now live on the grounds of its famous castle.

The names of two black horses behind him were clearly visible -- George and Sir John, prompting some media to speculate the child's name might be John, who would be cousin to William and Kate's first son George.

"This little thing is absolutely to die for. So I am just over the moon," Harry said, calling the birth "the most amazing experience I can ever possibly imagine".

Harry said the announcement of the name was the "next bit".

"I think we will be seeing you guys in probably two days' time as planned as a family to be able to share it with you guys and so everyone can see the baby," he said.

Neither Harry nor royal officials specified where the birth took place -- at their residence at Frogmore Cottage or in a nearby hospital.

Some British media earlier reported that the couple wanted a home birth, which would re-connect with older tradition.

Queen Elizabeth had all four of her children, including Harry's father Prince Charles, in a royal palace.