“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."

“ … 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 ..."

Heads of governments during the opening session of the African Union summit
on January 30, 2014 at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa (AFP, Samuel Gebru)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.
Showing posts with label Germany. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Germany. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

German experts help save Timbuktu heritage

Islamists would have destroyed them, but they were smuggled to safety. The medieval manuscripts from Timbuktu are now being restored with the help of a German university.

Deutsche Welle, 10 June 2014

Eva Brozowsky is on her way back to Bamako. The Malian capital has been her place of work for the last year. The 34-year-old restorer of historical artefacts and specialist in paper is a member of a team of German scientists who are working to save ancient manuscripts from the library in Timbuktu from the ravages of time.

These documents are among the most historically important in West Africa and have been listed as part of UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage since 1988.

Timbuktu, which lies some 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) to the north of Bamako, was one of the spiritual centers of Islam in the Middle Ages. The 1,200 year-old manuscripts include works on alchemy, astrology, medicine, the Koran and history.

Brozowsky believes this collection is comparable in significance to the contents of all of the libraries in the whole of Germany.

There is a plan to build a special archive for the Timbuktu manuscripts in Bamako so that they can eventually be made available to researchers from Mali and abroad.

Brozowsky said the collection consists of between 280,000 and 500,000 manuscripts. Not all of them need to be restored. "But half of them are so fragile that they need to be stabilized before they can be stored away and digitalized," she said.

Heat, acid and insects

The dry desert climate in Tumbuktu has made the paper brittle, it disintegrates easily. Insects have also gnawed their way through some of the manuscripts. Even the ink with which they were written has inflicted damage because of the acid it contains. Once documents have been eaten away, they can't be restored. Brozowsky appealed to international public opinion to ensure that sufficient funds are available to rescue them.

Not all of the hundreds of thousands
of manuscripts need restoration
The present project receives backing from the German foreign ministry, international donors and Germany's Gerda Henkel Foundation. The Düsseldorf-based foundation has already donated half a million euros ($ 369,000) to help save the manuscripts.

Michael Hanssler, who heads the foundation, said they have a special program devoted to researching the political undercurrents of Islam - both historical and contemporary. Over the last four or five years, they have also backed a whole series of projects in Africa. "What is particularly fascinating about these manuscripts is that only a tiny fraction - between two and three percent - have been examined by researchers. The vast majority haven't even been looked at," he said.

Re-writing the history of Africa?

Dimitry Bondarev from the University of Hamburg is in charge of the project for saving the Timbuktu manuscripts for posterity. He said they will help us understand the past better. "There is an enormous potential here for making the history of Africa more comprehensible," he said.

This is because scholars from all over Africa and further afield congregated in Tumbuktu in the Middle Ages to study and to write. The legendary city was located along one of the most important trade routes through the Sahara, encouraging the exchange of knowledge.

"These manuscripts could mean that parts of African history will have to be re-written," Bondarev said. He also believes that the more recent history of Islam and the activities of Islamist groups in northern Mali could be better understood with the help of these manuscripts .

However, the historical documents were very nearly destroyed by those Islamist fighters. After a coup in Mali in 2012, Islamists seized the north of the country and begun to destroy World Heritage sites in Timbuktu and Gao.

Islamist militants targeted World Cultural
 Heritages in northerm Mali following a
coup in March 2012
'Very difficult and very dangerous'

How were the manuscripts saved? By the timely and secret intervention of Abdel Kader Haidara, director of the Mamma Haidara Memorial Library, and a dedicated band of helpers who smuggled them to safety.

"It was very difficult and very dangerous. But fortunately all went well in the end. We set up several committees - one in Timbuktu, one in Bamako, and one for the route between the two. One committee made sure the documents were packed properly for the journey, another escorted them to Bamako and a third made sure they were safely stored away on arrival," he said. The whole operation took six months.

Brozowsky is busy training assistants for the mammoth restoration project. Some are learning how to restore paper, others how to clean the manscripts while a third group are building the boxes that will house and protect them.

"It would take a single individual centuries to accomplish this task. The more people we have, the more funding we have, the quicker our progress. But it will probably take decades before we are finished," she said.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Germany: A new role in Africa?

In the international media, Africa is more present than ever. This week, the German government laid out its new Africa policy. Yet not much has really changed, writes Claus Stäcker.

Deutsche Welle, 22 May 2014

German Chancellor Merkel called it the "continent of opportunities". The gap between Africa and Europe is growing smaller, noted the foreign ministry. Even the media who usually only report on African ferry disasters, abductions and mass killings, are suddenly interested in African development and military presence.

Africa has rarely been so visible to the German public. Yet, recent events in Nigeria, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Mali, have once again highlighted the risks and old stereotypes, and not the opportunities. Government spokesperson Steffen Seibert commented:

"The hotspots of the continent, the catastrophes and the crises are often the focus of the media reports. The strong economic growth in many African countries is hardly reported. The African policy guidelines of the federal government take all of these topics into account."

Chancellor Merkel and Nigerias President
Jonathan at this year's EU-Africa summit.
German firms pleased with the outcome

The areas of focus are not new: more self-reliance, good governance and accountability, democratization and education. Yet they are taking Germany's policies one step further. Previous governments also placed their hopes in sustainable economic development, which would serve the wider public. New approaches might be taken, by engaging Africans in a stronger dialogue and cooperating with them as equal partners.

In the past, Africans were often sidelined on the global playing-field. High-ranking posts in the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the United Nations were often decided without consulting African countries. Their voices were also left unheard in the creation of the G20 and when negotiating the terms of the European Union's Economic Partnership Agreement.

The German-African Business Association, which represents over 600 firms, viewed the new guidelines as a step in the right direction. The investors were glad to hear that the German government had acknowledged the positive changes in Africa. They especially welcomed the introduction of the so called Hermes Cover, which protects German companies if their trade partners fail to pay their debts.

Criticism from the opposition

The German public is often presented
with a picture of war and conflict.
Germany's opposition was less enthusiastic about the new policies. Uwe Kekeritz, a spokesperson for the Green Party described them as empty words. "The policies don't go into any detail," he argued. "There are no actual guidelines on how implement these goals. So these policies are not actually very useful. We have seen similar policies or Africa programs under the former government."

Jan van Aken, a foreign policy expert from the Left Party, warned of a stronger military engagement in Africa. Van Aken told DW. "Germans rarely care about violence and conflict in Africa, unless German interests are at stake". Van Aken noted that it is perfectly correct to want to prevent a genocide, like the Rwandan, yet he believes the German policies lack this preventive element. "One could do more to prevent the outbreak of the conflict on a civil level, rather than solving the problems militarily," he adds.

Development Minister Gerd Müller visited
 South Sudan in March. He appealed for an
 end to the conflict.
France has been pushing for a German alliance to curb the conflict in areas like the Central Africa Republic, which is on the verge of turning into a genocide. The majority of the German public are against foreign military interventions. The costly operation in Afghanistan was enough to make them wary of any further engagements. A survey, carried out by the Körber Foundation, showed that six ot of ten Germans were against further military operations. Germany's Minister for Development Gert Müller did his best to calms his colleagues in the government:

"Africa is not only a partner in trade but also in politics. That's what we do in the UN. In terms of security, we want to enourage the African Union to solve their conflicts themselves."

Müller however ruled out the possibility of sending fighting troops to any African conflict areas.

Related Articles:

".. Africa

Let me tell you where else it's happening that you are unaware - that which is the beginning of the unity of the African states. Soon the continent will have what they never had before, and when that continent is healed and there is no AIDS and no major disease, they're going to want what you have. They're going to want houses and schools and an economy that works without corruption. They will be done with small-minded leaders who kill their populations for power in what has been called for generations "The History of Africa." Soon it will be the end of history in Africa, and a new continent will emerge.

Be aware that the strength may not come from the expected areas, for new leadership is brewing. There is so much land there and the population is so ready there, it will be one of the strongest economies on the planet within two generations plus 20 years. And it's going to happen because of a unifying idea put together by a few. These are the potentials of the planet, and the end of history as you know it.

In approximately 70 years, there will be a black man who leads this African continent into affluence and peace. He won't be a president, but rather a planner and a revolutionary economic thinker. He, and a strong woman with him, will implement the plan continent-wide. They will unite. This is the potential and this is the plan. Africa will arise out the ashes of centuries of disease and despair and create a viable economic force with workers who can create good products for the day. You think China is economically strong? China must do what it does, hobbled by the secrecy and bias of the old ways of its own history. As large as it is, it will have to eventually compete with Africa, a land of free thinkers and fast change. China will have a major competitor, one that doesn't have any cultural barriers to the advancement of the free Human spirit. …."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Smart solar energy for Africa

Deutsche Welle, 15 April 2014

The Berlin-based Mobisol company is bringing power to places where there has been none. By combining mobile phone technology and solar power generators, the company aims to electrify African homes.

To get an office in the Friedrichshain area of Berlin is not easy. After a long search Mobisol managed to rent an office on the fourth floor at the back of an old factory building. From a hallway rooms branch off where employees sit in front of their computers. One room is used as a small workshop. The walls are full of photos showing African people: standing around small solar panels in their villages, installing solar panels on roofs of corrugated iron sheets, watching TV in a small room, listening to radios or working with laptops. They are photos of African customers and colleagues.

"They are there to remind us that we are providing a service to the people on the ground in Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda, who are selling our products there," said Thomas Duveau, one of Mobisol's strategic heads. There are about 30 employees at the company's headquarters in Berlin. They work in various departments from software development to administration.

Thomas Duveau is a strategic
planner at Mobisol
The real Mobisol product is not made in Berlin. The workshop in the German capital is used to try out new ideas. All solar panels and batteries are purchased in China and shipped directly to Africa. Mobisol's most important product is made by the Schwedt company in the German state of Brandenburg. It is a yellow plastic box, the size of a shoebox.

Inside the box there is the control facility for the solar power system and a mobile phone SIM card that connects the box with Berlin. The only requirement for the technology to work is a functioning mobile network. That can be found, for example, in Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda. 85 percent of people there have mobile phones but not all of them have electricity. They frequently use their mobile phones for money transfers. For many, the only way to charge the phones was by using diesel generators. "Our solar power systems enable people for the first time to produce power in their homes," said Duveau.

Performance on demand

The smallest of the simple yet robust sets of equipment delivers 30 watts. In just one hour it can be installed on a roof from where it provides light for up to three lamps, while also powering a radio and charging a cell phone. The largest plant produces 200 watts and can power a refrigerator as well as lighting several rooms, a stereo unit and a TV.

The Mobisol power box is simple and robust
In Germany, a family of four uses an average of 3,500 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. In Tanzania, a family uses one tenth of that amount. Businesses, of course, consume more energy. In response to requests from entrepreneurs, Mobisol is currently developing a 600 watt system which can operate a small workshop.

Via the SIM card installed in the system, signals are received every hour in Berlin indicating whether the system is producing power. "If not then we send a text message request to one of our local partners, with the address of the customer, to quickly go there and check the status," Thomas Duveau told DW.

"That means we sometimes know before the customer that there is a problem with the system that needs to be fixed. That's a level of service that is quite rare in East Africa."

Customer service includes a toll-free hotline in the local language and the guarantee that a defect system will produce electricity again within 72 hours. 220 employees are working for Mobisol in East Africa, most of them in Tanzania. All were trained in their home country by German technicians.

One very important element for African customers is the micro-financing. Customers have three years to pay for the equipment. It then belongs to them. Depending on the size of the solar power system, they pay between seven and 33 euros ($9 to $45) per month. That is often less than they have been used to paying for kerosene lamps or diesel generators.

Mobisol has 220 employees in East Africa, all trained by German technicians

Payment models

Payments are made using mobile phones. 97 percent of the payments are transferred without any problem, said Thomas Duveau.

"Should a customer fail to pay an instalment, we have the ability to shut down the plant from Berlin, thanks to the SIM card incorporated in the system," he added. When that happens, the outstanding payment is usually quickly made and the equipment is turned back on again.

Regular payments are vital for the company's survival. During its first years, Mobisol received some funding from the European Union and from the German Reconstruction Credit Institute (KfW). 1,000 sets of equipment were financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Big plans for Rwanda

Judging by the age of the company and its employees, Mobisol is a startup.

Mobisol hopes to have 10,000
customers by the end of the year
Only three years ago, the first prototype of the solar power system was developed by three engineers in a garage in Berlin. The company started pilot projects in Tanzania and Kenya in 2012. In April 2013, the company made its first official sale.

Currently, the company has 3,000 customers and is expecting to have 10,000 by the end of this year. Thomas Duveau is confident that Mobisol could become Africa's largest energy supplier by 2020.

Currently, the company is negotiating with the Rwandan government which wants to provide 70 percent of the population with access to electricity by 2017. At the moment, this is only the case for 17 percent.

In Berlin, the company's strategists are currently considering how they can combine swift growth with good quality and service. Time is pressing - Mobisol has just received an enquiry from the World Bank asking if it can envisage large-scale production.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Melber: 'German apology for Namibia's Herero atrocities could mean compensation'

Deutsche Welle, 5 March 2014

Afro-German rights groups have once again called for an official apology for Germany's colonial atrocities in Namibia. The demands were made during the handing over of remains of Herero victims to a Namibian delegation.

On Wednesday (05.03.2014) Berlin's Charite hospital handed over three complete skeletons and 18 skulls to a delegation from Namibia. The remains are more than a hundred years old and date back to the time of repressive German colonial rule. The Herero and Nama ethnic group had rebelled against their German colonial masters and the uprising was brutally put down and tens of thousands were killed. Historians call it genocide, but successive German governments have steadfastly declined to use that term, let alone contemplate reparations.

DW: How significant is this return of remains of the Herero people for both Germany and Namibia?

Henning Melber: Actually it should be significant for both sides, but I am afraid it is much more significant for the Namibian side, for the Herero and the Nama side, than it is for the German side. The German side is very reluctant to recognize what happened 110 years ago as genocide. This is despite the fact that a UN report years ago that looked at the genocide of the twentieth century described the actions against the Herero and Nama in what was then called German south west Africa as the first genocide of the twentieth century. For the Namibians, it's important and literally speaking its the skeletons coming out of the closet. This is now the second transfer of skulls back to Namibia. The first (transfer) happened one and half years ago and it ended in a huge embarrassment because the German side was desperate to downplay the symbolic relevance of the act and avoided an official apology for the genocide. It is very interesting to see that the second transfer happened on a much lower scale .

Why does the German government shy away from the term genocide in this particular context?

First of all the admission of the genocide might lead to demands for compensation. So there is a reluctant to admit to genocide because there is no expiry date on genocide and the victims could come up with demands for compensation. I think it is a much more wider issue. Because if Germany would do that, it would be a precedence where other colonial powers who committed genocides all over the world in the colonial era, would be under pressure to come up with similar recognition. It's a speculative thing but I assume that the Germans are actually advised from other European countries not to recognize the act of genocide.

What might be the outcome if the German government were to apologize for what had happened in what was then German South West Africa?

Legally speaking that would open the doors for subsequent demands. An official apology offered would be considered in legal terms as an admission of guilt. That is also why in 2004, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, the then Social Democrat minister for development attended the 100 years ceremony of the battle in Namibia, but did not explicitly offer an apology but asked for forgiveness. When asked she said it was an apology, but legally speaking, as others pointed out it was not in legal terms an apology. T his is what the German government has always avoided.

Can you see any future German government adopting a different stance on this issue?

It's interesting that a year ago, there were two drafts discussed in the German Bundestag, one by the Left Party and the other by the Social Democratic and Green parties. Both went much further than anything that any government before had adopted as an official line. The only difference was that the Left Party asked also for compensation and the other submission by the Social Democratic and the Green Party stopped short of that but also asked for an official apology. So now one of those two parties is in the great coalition government. And Actually it is very interesting question to the Social Democratic coalition partner in that government how much they are loyal to the submission they had put to the Bundestag a year ago.

Henning Melber is a German political scientist specializing in Namibia.

Interview: Mark Caldwell.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Statue of pharaoh Tutankhamon's sister recovered

Google – AFP, 8 December 2013

A statue of pharaoh Tutankhamun standing on a papyrus boat is displayed at
the Egyptian Museum in Cairo on September 30, 2013 (AFP/File, Mahmoud Khaled)

Cairo — Egypt said on Sunday it has recovered a statue of pharaoh Tutankhamun's sister looted from the southern Mallawi museum during riots by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

The 32 centimetre (12.6 inches) limestone statue of Ankhesamon, sister of the famous boy king and daughter of pharaoh Akhenaten, who ruled around 1,500 BC, was stolen on August 14.

"The piece is one of the most important in the museum," said antiquities minister Mohamed Ibrahim in a statement.

Authorities have recovered 800 of the 1,050 artefacts stolen from the museum in southern Egypt during nationwide riots on August 14 after police clashed with Islamists in Cairo, he added.

Supporters of Morsi attacked the museum, police stations and Christian churches across the country after police dispersed two Islamist protest camps in Cairo, killing hundreds.

The minister also said that a statue dating back over 2,500 years that was stolen from the Cairo museum during the 2011 revolt against Hosni Mubarak was found in Belgium.

The statues that dates to the 26th dynasty, more than 500 years BC, and made from earthenware was stolen on January 28, 2011 when looting and violence erupted in Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the anti-Mubarak revolt.

The piece was smuggled to Belgium where a French expert analysed it and contacted Egypt authorities.

Egypt, which is full of archaeological treasures, regularly announces the recovery of stolen artefacts.

In November, it announced the recovery of 90 artefacts that had been put on sale by a Jerusalem auction house. Others pieces have been returned by Britain and Germany.

Related Articles:

Killer whales have been thrilling whale watchers this week in Puget Sound. But
they were especially exciting Tuesday when nearly three dozen orcas surrounded
 the ferry from Seattle as it approached the terminal on Bainbridge Island. NOAA
Fisheries Service photo by Candice Emmons

Sunday, November 24, 2013

World powers, Iran clinch 'historic' nuclear deal

Google – AFP, 24 November 2013

Iranian FM Mohammad Javad Zarif (2nd L) shakes hands with US Secretary of
 State John Kerry, next to Chinese FM Wang Yi (far L) and French FM Laurent Fabius
after a statement on early November 24, 2013, in Geneva (AFP, Fabrice Coffrini)

Geneva — Iran agreed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief in a breakthrough deal with world powers reached on Sunday after a decade of failed diplomacy and rising tensions.

US President Barack Obama said the preliminary accord clinched in marathon Geneva talks was "an important first step" towards easing fears once and for all that Tehran will get the bomb.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whose elections in June raised big hopes for a thaw with the West, said on Twitter that the breakthrough was made possible by the "Iranian people's vote for moderation" and that it would "open new horizons".

Top diplomats from China, US, France,
Russia, EU and Iran attend a plenary 
session on early November 24, 2013, in
Geneva (AFP, Fabrice Coffrini)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office however immediately called the agreement struck in Geneva a "bad deal", saying it still left the Islamic republic with the capacity to make a nuclear weapon.

"Today, the United States together with our close allies and partners took an important first step toward a comprehensive solution that addresses our concerns with the Islamic Republic of Iran's nuclear programme," Obama said at the White House.

"While today's announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal.

"For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear programme, and key parts of the programme will be rolled back."

The Arms Control Association called the deal an "historic breakthrough" in the decade-old impasse a "net plus for nuclear nonproliferation and international security."

Under the deal between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany announced at 3:00 am Geneva time (0200 GMT), Tehran will limit uranium enrichment -- the area that raises most suspicions over Iran's alleged nuclear weapons drive -- to low levels.

It will neutralise its entire stockpile of uranium enriched to medium 20-percent purities -- close to weapons-grade -- within six months, US Secretary of State John Kerry said in Geneva where he and other foreign ministers helped nail down the deal.

Iran will also not add to its stockpile of low-enriched uranium, nor install more centrifuges or commission the Arak reactor.

UN atomic inspectors will also have additional, "unprecedented" access, Kerry said.

In exchange the deal will afford the Islamic republic some $7 billion (5.2 billion euros) in sanctions relief and the powers promised to impose no new embargo measures for six months if it sticks by the accord.

US President Barack Obama makes a
statement from the State Dining Room of
the White House in Washington, DC,
after an agreement to freeze Iran's nuclear
program was reached in Geneva, on
November 23, 2013 (AFP, Brendan
This represents "limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible relief while maintaining the vast bulk of our sanctions, including the oil, finance, and banking sanctions architecture," the White House said.

During this six-month period, Iran and the US, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany will negotiate a "comprehensive solution ... to give the international community confidence that Iran?s nuclear activities will be exclusively peaceful."

The deal was done at the third meeting of the P5+1 and Iran since Rouhani, seen as a relative moderate, replaced the more hawkish Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in August saying he was ready for "serious" negotiations "without wasting time".

It remains to be seen, however, how the deal will go down with hardliners in both the United States and Iran -- and whether both sides stick to their commitments over the next half year.

Iranians, many of whom see the nuclear programme as source of national pride, are impatient to see a lifting of sanctions that have more than halved Iran's vital oil exports since mid-2012 and hit the economy hard.

Supreme leader Ali Ayatollah Khamenei, describing Israel as a doomed "rabid dog", said in Iran on Wednesday that he insisted "on not retreating one step from the rights of the Iranian nation."

Many in Israel strongly believe that the only aim of Iran -- an ally of Hezbollah and embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad -- is to develop a nuclear arsenal with which to threaten their country.

Netanyahu wants all of Iran's nuclear facilities dismantled for good, not some of them temporarily, believing nothing short of this will prevent its arch foe going nuclear -- as it is widely assumed to be itself.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L)
 and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad 
Javad Zarif arrive for a statement on early
 November 24, 2013, in Geneva (AFP,
Fabrice Coffrini)
"This is a bad agreement that gives Iran what it wanted: the partial lifting of sanctions while maintaining an essential part of its nuclear programme," Netanyahu's office said.

"Iran is threatening Israel and Israel has the right to defend itself," Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said, warning that Israel was not bound by the accord.

Kerry said however that the deal extends the "breakout" time needed by Iran to develop nuclear weapons and thus "will make our partners in the region safer. It will make our ally Israel safer."

Many hardliners in the United States agree that Obama, who in September held an historic phone call with Rouhani, is being too soft on Iran by negotiating with Tehran and striking this deal.

"Unfortunately, some members of Congress believe further US-mandated sanctions would improve the United States negotiating position in the next round of talks," said Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association.

"Such a strategy is illogical and would be counterproductive."

Related Articles:

'Energizer bunny' Kerry wins new diplomatic coup

Iranians hail 'smiling' FM as hero of nuclear deal
Iranian Leaders Welcome 'Historic' Nuclear Deal

Obama and Iran's Rouhani hold historic phone call

Putin plays powerbroker in Mideast

"Recalibration of Knowledge" – Jan 14, 2012 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: Channelling, God-Creator, Benevolent Design, New Energy, Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) SoulsReincarnation, Gaia, Old Energies (Africa, Terrorists, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela ... ), Weather, Rejuvenation, Akash, Nicolas Tesla / Einstein, Cold Fusion, Magnetics, Lemuria, Atomic Structure (Electrons, Particles, Polarity, Self Balancing, Magnetism), Entanglement, "Life is necessary for a Universe to exist and not the other way around", DNA, Humans (Baby getting ready, First Breath, Stem Cells, Embryonic Stem Cells, Rejuvenation), Global Unity, ... etc.) (Text Version)

“…  I want you to watch some countries. I don't have a clock [this statement is Kryon telling us that there is no time frame on his side of the veil, only potentials]. I'll just tell you, it's imminent [in Spirit's timing, this could mean as soon as a decade]. I want you to watch some countries carefully for changes. You're going to be seeing changes that are obvious, and some that are not obvious [covert or assumptive]. But the obvious ones you will see sooner than not - Cuba, Korea [North], Iran, of course, and Venezuela. I want you to watch what happens when they start to realize that they don't have any more allies on Earth! Even their brothers who used to support them in their hatred of some are saying, "Well, perhaps not anymore. It doesn't seem to be supporting us anymore. "Watch the synchronicities that are occurring. The leaders who have either died or are going to in the next year or so will take with them the old ways. Watch what happens to those who take their place, and remember these meetings where I described these potentials to you. …”

Thursday, September 5, 2013

German film producers take on Saudi Arabia

Deutsche Welle, 5 Sep 2013

"Wadjda" is the first feature film ever made in Saudi Arabia. One of its German producers tells DW about the daring women involved, and how his own perception of Saudi Arabia changed in the process.

Berlin film producers Gerhard Meixner and Roman Paul have worked on a number of films in the Middle East, but "Wadjda" stands out. It tells the story of an 11-year-old girl who goes against every social convention to realize her dream: riding through the city of Riyadh on her own green bicycle. In the conservative Muslim country, women and girls are not permitted to ride bikes - but that doesn't bother Wadjda.

Meixner and Paul worked together with Saudi Arabian filmmaker Haifaa Al Mansour to create the film, which opens in German cinemas on Thursday, September 5.

DW: How did you come across the content for the film and meet director Haifaa al Mansour, who had been studying film in Sydney?

Roman Paul: Haifaa actually came to us. She sent us an email and offered us the project. Actually, she'd done that with just about every other European film production company. But we were the only ones that were interested.

Was it difficult to film in Saudi Arabia? No feature film has ever been filmed there, and cinemas are banned. And then you come with a film about a girl that wants to ride around on a bicycle.

The film presents a very complex view of life in Saudi Arabia. It was important for us to show how the people there live, what characterizes their lives and that we don't make a film that's just about suppression.

Roman Paul and his team recognized
the potential in Haifaa's story
Haifaa originally wanted to film in the [United Arab] Emirates, but we asked her whether we could film it in Saudi Arabia. Haifaa said, "There aren't any regulations against it." We went to Saudi Arabia together and visited the eastern region and the city of Riyadh and met with TV producer Amr Alkahtani. [Eds: While feature films are banned, television programs are filmed in Saudi Arabia.] He was certain he could get us the proper permits. And that's how it happened.

It's not the case that social issues - and this also comes up in the film - aren't discussed in Saudi Arabia. We in the Western world look at countries like that as if they were rigid and not very dynamic. But especially in Saudi Arabia, it's really dynamic in its core. Since you can't just pick up and travel to Saudi Arabia very easily, you don't get any personal impressions.

The film is meant to change that. At the same time, it was also made for a Saudi audience. It's already been shown at the German and American embassies in Riyadh. There, Saudis could also watch the film. It passed the Saudi censorship bureau and will be shown on TV in Saudi Arabia.

You were on-site during the entire filming. What was your impression of Saudi Arabia?

Before we went, I was somewhat scared of the country. I'd pictured it in pretty dismal colors. But the people were very happy and friendly and open-minded towards us. That surprised us. There's a whole political spectrum there that goes from left to right. You meet people with very different viewpoints.

The film is set in Riyadh, and yet you don't see much of the city in the film. Was it your intention to show the close quarters that Wadjda lives in?

It didn't feel like it was so cramped. It takes place in a quarter of the city where Wadjda lives with her family. Then she goes on an excursion to Riyadh's Old Town - where she goes with Abdullah. They run into each other in a mall, which plays a big role in Saudi Arabia. Shopping malls are a big pleasure for Saudis, since there aren't any movie theaters or bars or anything like that. So the film shows very different sides of Riyadh.

Wadjda big dream is a green bicycle. The color green stands for hope, but it's also the color of the Saudi flag. What do you see in the color green?
Director Haifaa Al Mansour made her
 film debut with "Wadjda" - the first
 by a Saudi woman

The bike is green. It's a symbol of dreams that one can accomplish - even in the face of societal pressures - without harming anyone. Wadjda wants to make her dreams come true. She gets no support, and only meets continual resistance. But she stays at it.

Does Wadjda attend a Muslim school or a school for general education?

It's a general school for girls. And Wadjda's class is the Koran club. You could compare that to a school theater club here. They have a special contest that is portrayed in the film.

I was surprised to see how adamantly the teachers encourage the girls to adhere to tradition. I'd thought that maybe the girls at an all-girls school would have more freedom than they do outside of the school.

With these women, it's not about propagating solidarity among women in order to reach some supposedly greater freedom within society. For these women, it's important that tradition lives on, that young girls internalize and live up to the rules. Haifaa Al Mansour said she'd dedicated the film to her former classmates. She grew up in a small town. Some of her classmates were crazy girls with unsual ideas, wishes and dreams. But none of them had the obstinacy of Haifaa, who reached her dream of becoming a film director. The other girls found their path within traditional society.

What kind of impact can a woman like Haifaa al Mansour have in Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia's a relatively closed society. Haifaa will surely gain prominence there when the film is released and begins its worldwide run. She's one of Saudi Arabia's most exceptional artistic personalities. The film will of course be controversial.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Music to combat hopelessness

Deutsche Welle, 8 Aug 2013

The world's only pan-Arab youth orchestra met in Berlin to make music together. But the young musicians also discussed the situation in their home countries - politics, hopes and fears.

Around 60 musicians from seven different Arab nations followed Bremen-based conductor Heiner Buhlmann as he led them through Dvorak's Symphony No. 8. It was the orchestra's first major performance at the Young Euro Classic Festival in Berlin's Konzerthaus at the beginning of August.

With support from Germany's Federal Foreign Office, the Arab Youth Philharmonic Orchestra - made up of musicians from Egypt, Algeria, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia and the Palestinian territories - met for the first time in Berlin to rehearse for their performance.

Harpist Toaa Salah El-Deen can't help
but show her pride and joy
Their repertory includes classical European works and traditional pieces from the Arab world. "We play Claude Debussy's 'Dances for Harp' since the harp was originally an Egyptian instrument," said 22-year-old harpist Toaa Salah El-Deen of Cairo. "I'm so proud to be able to perform as a soloist for the first time with an orchestra. The experience is priceless."

A vision of peace

"The Arab Youth Philharmonic Orchestra symbolizes a vision for harmony and peaceful cooperation in the Arab world - something that's become uncertain there," said orchestra founder Fawzy El-Shamy, former director of the Cairo Music Conservatory. "That makes this vision even more important."

"Of course the musicians talk a lot about politics during rehearsal breaks because they all want to live in peace," the conductor noted.

Fostering intercultural understanding
through music
"They talk about the history and background of conflicts in the Arab world and things they've seen on television but don't completely understand. This exchange helps to cultivate peace within our own little group. And then we bring that positive energy to the stage," the optimistic El-Shamy told DW.

Escape to music

"Really bad news." That's how cellist Somar Ashkar of Damascus described the current situation in his home country. He's perplexed. "Life is becoming incredibly difficult for us. Nothing is like it used to be. But nobody knows what we can do. We just wait. But for whom? Something has to happen…the misery has to be brought to a halt. The fighting and conflicts and everything. We truly want that - peace!"

The cellist traveled with fellow Syrian musicians to Berlin via Lebanon. Once in the German capital, they plunged into music. "We used to always be happy during rehearsals, but that attitude has disappeared due to the war. Still, we're not giving up. Music helps me through it all."

Conductor Heiner Buhlmann
"My friends and I always try to make people happy with music and let them forget what's happening in Syria for a while," he added.

Unanswered questions

"Around 30 percent of the musicians in our orchestra come from Syria," explained violinist Jasmin Assom de Meledin El-Serafi, of Alexandria, Egypt. "I asked them: 'Who among you supports Bashar al-Assad, and who's against him? And what's happening there?'"

"They explained that many Syrians are in the army and have acted against countless civilians. None of them understand it," the pensive violinist said.

Music should have the power to change not only the lives of the musicians, believes 22-year-old Egyptian concertmaster Kalim Samie Salé, who has been studying in Berlin with violinist Kolja Blacher for the past four years. "There's no right or wrong in music," he told DW. "Even if we Arabs sometimes want to add a different touch to classical music, we always strike a healthy balance with our conductor Heiner Buhlmann." Salé noted that he and his colleagues often want to play more slowly, but Buhlmann spurs them on.

Music instead of politics

"I don't talk about politics much. People always have different opinions, and everyone thinks he's right," the orchestra leader said. "That makes for bad karma, so I think it's better in times like these to just concentrate on the music."

Gathering for the first time in Berli:
the Arab Youth Philharmonic Orchestra
To that end, the ambitious young musicians presented a work from their own cultural context: Attia Sharara's "Arab Suite" from 1978, a medley of melodies from Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Libya, Syria and Lebanon. After thunderous applause, the musicians came down from the stage refreshed and rejuvenated.

"We're concerned," said musicicologist El-Shamy. "At home, I was always with my students at Tahir Square. When we return, we'll go straight to Tahir."

Concertmaster Salé, for his part, said that being young, he still has hope for the future, but "I think we need more time, much more time."

Related Article:

“… You Can See It In Your News

The final item is this: All around you, dear ones, is proof of what I'm telling you. You have two countries currently in turmoil at the moment, and a third one about to go. All three have been stable for a very long time. Who would have thought that Egypt would be part of this? Egypt seemed to be in balance for decades - or was it? Syria ruled itself with an iron hand and created a stability of power that was absolute. What would then cause these to erupt the way they did and at this time? If you take a look at why, and why now, you'll see the timing is all around 2013 and 2012. And it's around Human consciousness that is starting to be more transparent and saying, "We don't want what we now understand and see is continuing unbalance in our country. We see it never getting better, and now we want finality and we want resolution." That is what you're looking at.

It's ugly to look at this, for there is death, suffering, sorrow and turmoil. There is frustration, and the resolution of it all may take longer than you want it to. But someday you will look back and see the results clearly. Mass Human consciousness is starting to change and demand what it expects in the way of integrity. Governments often want the old ways of power, but their people want schools, hospitals, safe streets and parks, and peace with their neighbors.

So expect more of this, especially this year. The more turmoil you see, the more the puzzle is being worked with. So we close this message the way we started it. I know who you are, magnificent one. I sit at your feet in awe. Do not miss this point! Old souls have been here through all of the transitions of humanity. Do you understand that? Four times you came close to this shift you are today experiencing and four times you missed it. Four times you died in the process of trying. This time you didn't.

Do not miss this: There is something within your Akash, a "remembrance button", that is being pushed and plays an emotion that says, "We've felt this before and it didn't turn out well." Don't let this energy define you. It's the button of duality and fear that says things are always the way they are and they will repeat themselves because that's just the way life works. No it isn't! You are magnificent and you have the ability at this point to finally begin to see it, and to cast all the fears and the voices in the back seat of life and tell them you are in charge now and you are the one driving the car of your reality. That's the message of the day. ….”