“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)

1 - TUNISIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

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 ..."

African Union (AU)

African Union (AU)
African Heads of State pose for a group photo ahead of the start of the 28th African Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2017 (AFP Photo/ Zacharias ABUBEKER)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Rwanda genocide court upholds 30-year sentence for ex-army chief

Yahoo – AFP, 30 June 2014

A file photo taken on July 27, 1994 shows Rwandan former army chief 
Augustin Bizimungu sitting in a truck in near Goma (AFP Photo/Vincent Amalvy)

A file photo taken on July 27, 1994 shows Rwandan former army chief Augustin Bizimungu sitting in a truck in near Goma (AFP Photo/Vincent Amalvy)

Arusha (Tanzania) (AFP) - The UN court for Rwanda upheld a 30-year jail term for former army chief Augustin Bizimungu on Monday for his role in the 1994 genocide during which he called for the murder of minority Tutsis.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) "unanimously affirmed the sentence of 30 years in prison," Judge Theodor Meron said, as the former general stood to hear his appeal dismissed in the courtroom in Tanzania.

Bizimungu was appealing a sentence imposed in May 2011. He is among the most senior figures to be tried by the Tanzania-based tribunal for the genocide in which 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis, were killed.

The court found Bizimungu had complete control over the men he commanded, who were involved in the massacres that started in the night of April 6, 1994.

It also found him guilty of making a speech the following day in which he called for the killing of ethnic Tutsis, just a few days before he was made army chief.

Bizimungu claimed during his appeal hearing that he had "urged military discipline and respect for the dignity of human life."

But prosecutor Abdoulaye Seye asked for a heavier sentence.

The ICTR, based in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha, was established in late 1994 to try the perpetrators of Rwanda's genocide.

It is tasked only with trying those who bear the greatest responsibility for the genocide, but is now wrapping up its work.

Less senior officials and ordinary citizens accused of taking part have been tried in Rwanda.

Bodies of three missing Israeli teenagers found in West Bank

Naftali Frankel, Gil-ad Sha'er and Eyal Yifrach were kidnapped while hitchhiking back from their religious schools

theguardian.com, Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem,  Monday 30 June 2014

An Israeli woman holds a sign showing images of the Israeli teenagers
at a rally in Tel Aviv on Sunday. Photograph: Baz Ratner/Reuters

The bodies of three missing Israeli teenagers, including one with US citizenship, have been found close to the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

A senior spokesman for the Israel Defence Force, Lt Col Peter Lerner, told the Guardian that soldiers and civilian volunteers came across "two bodies buried under a pile of rocks" at about five pm on Monday afternoon in a field between Halhoul and a neighbouring village.

"Digging deeper they came cross a third body." The source added that the identities of the bodies had not be confirmed nor was there any information on the state of the bodies at present to suggest when they had been killed.

He added: "The families have been informed about the discovery and we will release more details when it is available."

The three, Eyal Yifrach, 19, and Gil-ad Sha'er and Naftali Frankel who were both 16, went missing while hitchhiking back from their religious schools in settlements on the West Bank, prompting claims from the Israeli government that they had been kidnapped by the militants from the Islamist organisation Hamas.

Israel has named two Hamas members from the Hebron area as suspects, but despite the arrest of some 400 Palestinians, the two men remained on the run on Monday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was meeting with his Security Cabinet late on Monday to discuss Israel's response to the discovery of the bodies amid a period of increased rocket fire from Gaza and retaliatory airstrikes by Israel.

The case prompted a massive manhunt by soldiers, police, civilians and members of Israel's domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet.

Binyamin Proper, who was among the civilian volunteers that found the bodies, told Channel 2 TV that a member of the search party "saw something suspicious on the ground, plants that looked out of place, moved them and moved some rocks and then found the bodies. We realised it was them and we called the army."

The hunt for the three missing youths has galvanised Israeli society, prompting round the clock coverage and large rallies – the most recent in Tel Aviv on Sunday – calling for their release.

As the search went on, concerns mounted for the teenagers safety amid pointed and grim reminders in the Israeli media that West Bank kidnapping victims historically had often been killed shortly after their abduction.

Early reports on social media and elsewhere suggested the bodies had been found in a rocky gully close to Halhul a town at the entrance to Hebron, a city of 750,000, although that could not immediately be confirmed.

However reports suggested that the access to the area had been sealed by military roadblocks.

The abduction of the three youths has become a heated political issue both on the domestic and international political front, with Palestinian leaders accusing the Israeli government of using it as an excuse to smash the new Palestinian unity government backed by Hamas.

However, even within Palestinian circles cross to President Mahmoud Abbas, concerns had been growing over the potential fallout that would follow the revelation the teenagers had been kidnapped or killed by militants associated with, or member of, Hamas with one official telling the Guardian the unity government would be dead in the water.

In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, "We obviously condemn in the strongest possible terms violence that takes the lives of innocent civilians."

n a statement issue by his office British prime minister David Cameron said: "I am deeply saddened by the news that the bodies of the three Israeli boys kidnapped on 12 June have been found this evening. This was an appalling and inexcusable act of terror perpetrated against young teenagers. Britain will stand with Israel as it seeks to bring to justice those responsible."

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Victory for The Congo: Oil Company Halts Exploration in Africa’s Virunga National Park

Nation of Change, Christina Sarich, Friday 27 June 2014

Soco International will stop oil prospecting in Virunga, a world heritage site in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It’s the biggest success for conservationists in years. Hooray!

British Oil Company, Soco International, has announced a surprising decision to stop exploring in the Virunga world heritage site in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Conservationists claim this is one of their largest successes in years.

Virunga is one of the world’s oldest and most bio-diverse national parks on the planet. It offers beautiful views of the rift valley and Nyiragongo and Mikeno volcanoes. It is home to half the world’s endangered mountain gorillas, as well as elephants, hippos, chimpanzees, blue monkeys, abundant bird life, and thousands of other life forms.

Soco, which operates in Angola and Vietnam, caused outrage when it was initially given permission to conduct seismic testing in Africa for the purpose of oil prospecting. Virunga is considered one of the world’s most volatile regions, and leading conservation groups collected the signatures of more than 700,000 people to halt the company’s plans.

The company told the WWF it would:

“. . .commit not to undertake or commission any exploratory or other drilling within Virunga national park unless Unesco and the DRC government agree that such activities are not incompatible with its world heritage status.”

While the WWF meditation may have helped the cause, it is likely that the involvement of prominent figures like Richard Branson, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and US financier Howard Buffett, helped to put pressure on the British government, who then leaned on Soco to halt their exploration.

Soco stated:

"We will complete our existing operational programme including completing the seismic survey on Lake Edward which is due to conclude shortly. The Company confirms its previous statements that no Block V drilling commitments have ever been made. The conclusion of this phase of work will give the DRC government vital information it will need in deciding how to proceed in Virunga national park.”

Virunga was designated a world heritage site in 1979 but intense fighting among armies and militia such as the Mai Mai rebel group have made it one of the most unstable politically as well. It is also home to tens of thousands of people who fled to Virunga from genocide in Rwanda. The violence has been so intense, that park rangers have been killed and last month, the Virunga chief warden, Emmanuel de Mérode, was shot and seriously wounded.

Furthermore, Lake Albert, which provides water to more than 50,000 families, is also now protected from pollution that would likely ensue from oil exploitation.

"If free from the threat of oil, Virunga can be a source of hope for the people of the DRC. This park can become a leading economic driver for its communities", said Raymond Lumbuenamo, country director of WWF-Congo DRC.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

RNW staff in support of jailed Al Jazeera journalists

RNW.org, Mirjam van den Berg, The Netherlands, 26-06-2014

RNW has published a staff group photo expressing solidarity with three convicted
 Al Jazeera colleagues in Egypt. This follows today's Facebook posting of a statement
 by one of the prisoners highlighting the importance of sustained pressure on the
Egyptian authorities. (RNW/Mirjam van den Berg)

Al Jazeera correspondent Peter Greste and producer Mohamed Fahmy were jailed on Monday for seven years, while producer Baher Mohamed was given 10 years on charges of spreading false news and supporting the now banned Muslim Brotherhood. All three denied the charges.

The sentences have sparked global outrage and calls for their immediate release. The United States called on the Egyptian authorities to reverse the "chilling, draconian sentences", which the White House called "a blow to democratic progress in Egypt".

Assault on free speech

Australia, the Netherlands and Britain all summoned their respective Egyptian ambassadors to explain the verdict, which human rights campaigners denounced as a “farce”  and a “frightening assault” on what remains of Egyptian free speech.

The cases have sparked several online campaigns using the slogan "Journalism is not a crime.” Journalists across the globe held silent protests this week to express solidarity.

RNW has joined the international chorus of condemnation, with a photo of its staff holding up speech bubbles calling for free speech, a free press and support for #freeAJstaff.


RNW Director Robert Zaal hopes the group photo will be “shared as much as possible”.

“With this picture, we demonstrate solidarity with our convicted Al Jazeera colleagues in Egypt. As journalists promoting free speech, we feel strongly about this particular case. Free speech and independent journalism go hand in hand and when countries lock up journalists for simply doing their job then there is something seriously wrong.”

“RNW stands shoulder to shoulder with the jailed Al Jazeera colleagues in Egypt and hopes that the current international outcry will have an impact on the Egyptian authorities.”

Pressure and support

In a message given to his brothers during a prison visit and posted on Facebook today, Peter Greste stressed the importance of sustained pressure "from individuals, human rights groups, governments and anyone who understand the fundamental importance of a free press to Egypt's fledgling democracy."

The statement ends with: "We are all grateful for the extraordinary and unprecedented public support that countless people have offered us throughout this ordeal. It has kept us strong and continues to do so. We must all remain committed to fight this gross injustice for as long as necessary."

Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed have been jailed
for endangering Egypt's national security. Photograph: Mohammed Bendari/Rex

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Egypt's Sisi 'won't interfere' on jailed journalists

Yahoo – AFP, June 25, 2014

Egypt's Sisi 'won't interfere' on jailed journalists (AFP)

Cairo (AFP) - Egypt's president said Tuesday the authorities will not interfere in the judiciary, as protests were staged worldwide in solidarity with Al-Jazeera journalists, including an Australian, whose jailing has sparked outrage.

The United States is leading calls for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to pardon the journalists convicted of aiding the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood movement and "spreading false news".

A Cairo court sentenced award-winning Australian journalist Peter Greste and Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy to seven years in jail on Monday, while producer Baher Mohamed was handed 10 years.

Eleven of 20 defendants who stood trial were given 10-year sentences in absentia, including one Dutch journalist and two British journalists. Those sentenced can appeal.

Since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, the Egyptian authorities have been incensed by Al-Jazeera's coverage of their deadly crackdown on his supporters.

They consider the pan-Arab satellite network as the voice of Qatar, and accuse Doha of backing Morsi's Brotherhood, while the emirate openly denounces the repression of the Islamist supporters.

Sisi, the ex-army chief who led Morsi's ouster before being elected president in May, said the authorities "will not interfere in judicial matters".

"We have to respect judiciary rulings, and not comment them even if others don't understand them," he said in a televised speech.

Sisi's comments came a day after the White House urged the Egyptian authorities to pardon the journalists.

But a presidency official told AFP Sisi cannot legally do so until a final court ruling after any appeals.

'Journalism not a crime'

Monday's ruling sparked an international outcry, with US Secretary of State John Kerry denouncing "a chilling and draconian sentence".

Greste's shattered parents vowed to keep fighting for press freedom as Australia joined the call for Sisi to issue a pardon.

"This is a very dark time not only for our family, but for journalism generally," his father Juris said in Brisbane. "The campaign for media freedom and free speech must never end. Journalism is not a crime."

Al-Jazeera, whose journalists had been working in Cairo without official accreditation, condemned the verdict as "unjust".

Journalists around the world demonstrated Tuesday in solidarity with those jailed, including staff at the London headquarters of the BBC, Greste's former employer, and reporters at the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Hong Kong.

"The verdict is unjust, the case is unfounded," BBC news director James Harding told the gathering, before a one-minute silent protest was observed exactly 24 hours after the sentencing.

Scores of journalists posted pictures of themselves on Twitter with their mouths covered in duct-tape, posting under the protest hashtag #FreeAJStaff.

France on Tuesday joined Britain and the Netherlands in summoning the Egyptian ambassadors.

But reactions were limited to verbal objections, as the West cannot afford to harm ties with Egypt, the first Arab country to have signed a peace treaty with Israel and a strategic US ally in the Middle East.

A day before the ruling, US officials announced that $572 million (420 million euros) in aid, frozen since October, had been released to Egypt.

The Al-Jazeera ruling is the latest issue in Egypt to concern rights groups since a 2011 uprising toppled long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

And since Morsi's ouster, political unrest has reached unprecedented levels in Egypt, with more than 1,400 people killed and at least 15,000 jailed in a government crackdown.

'McCarthyist climate'

Hundreds have also been sentenced to death in speedy mass trials and dozens of youth activists who spearheaded the 2011 uprising have been handed jail terms, with the authorities being accused of using the judiciary as a blunt tool of repression.

"Many judges believe the state was threatened" during Morsi's single year of rule, said Hassan Nafaa, a political professor at Cairo University. "They are taking their revenge today with harsh and unjustified verdicts."

Middle East expert Karim Bittar told AFP the "rulings confirm that Egypt is living in a purely McCarthyist climate".

In the latest case of mass trials, state media said 494 alleged Morsi supporters would go on trial on July 16 over clashes that killed 44 people in August 2013.

The Al-Jazeera ruling drew limited criticism in Cairo, with newspapers speaking of verdicts against "terrorists" accused of "tarnishing Egypt's image abroad".

The few voices denouncing the court's decision were to be found on social media networks.

"Seven-10 years in jail for journalists. Mubarak got 3 years for 30 years of corruption," a prominent blogger known as The Big Pharaoh tweeted.

Related Article:

Organic farm in Benin looks to set example for Africa

Business Recorder – AFP, Tuesday, 24 June 2014

PORTO-NOVO: With his pilgrim's staff and panama hat, Father Godfrey Nzamujo nips up and down the paths of Songhai, the organic farm he created nearly 30 years ago to fight poverty and rural migration in Africa.

The small farm covered barely a hectare when it was set up in Porto Novo in 1985 but has since become a pilot project for the rest of the continent badly in need of new ideas to maximise yields.

The centre in Benin's capital now stretches over 24 hectares (60 acres) and employs an army of workers and apprentices, who toil from sunrise to sunset growing fruit, vegetables and rice, as well as rearing fish, pigs, poultry.

"Nothing is wasted, everything is transformed" according to Nzamujo's principle, with even chicken droppings turned into the bio-gas that powers the centre's kitchens.

Big plans

Songhai in tiny Benin has big plans for Africa. It already has similar operations in Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone and wants to set up shop in 13 more west and central African countries.

Nzamujo's raison d'etre is how to help Africans increase yields through simple techniques, without using pesticides or fertilisers, and while cutting production costs and protecting the environment.

The Nigeria-born priest, who was raised in California on the US west coast, said he was shocked by the appalling images of famine in Africa on television at the start of the 1980s.

He then left to discover the continent to see how he could put to good use his university training in agronomics, economics and information technology and fight against poverty on his own terms.

After visiting a number of countries, he ended up in Benin where the country's then-Marxist government gave him a small plot.

"It was abandoned land, killed by chemical fertiliser and conventional agricultural practices. It didn't work," he told AFP.

"There were seven of us. We dug wells and watered with our own hands. And during the main dry season, this grey surface became green," he recalled with a smile.

Increased yields

Nzamujo's secret is in imitating nature, encouraging "good bacteria" present in the soil to maximise production without having to rely on chemicals.

Yields at Songhai speak for themselves: the farm produces seven tonnes of rice per hectare three times a year, up from one tonne per hectare once a year at the beginning of the project.

"Songhai is facing up to the triple challenge of Africa today: poverty, environment and youth employment," said Nzamujo proudly.

The cleric's system centres on local production and distribution, creating economic activity to tackle poverty head on.

At Songhai, jam simmers in large pots while chickens are roasted and soya oil, rice and fruit juice are packaged for sale in the centre's shop or served at its restaurant.

Discarded parts of agricultural machinery are reused to create ingenious contraptions and used water is filtered using water hyacinths.

The centre also has an Internet point and even a bank so that local people can avoid going into the city centre.

Interns and innovation

Youth employment is encouraged and some 400 farm apprentices -- selected by competition -- are trained every year. The 18-month course is entirely free.

Paul Okou is one of them. The 25-year-old from Parakou, northern Benin, would like to follow his parents into farming but is hoping to work in a more profitable way.

"My parents use traditional, archaic methods while at Songhai we learn the modern way, albeit makeshift," he said.

"What we used to do in two days now we do in two hours."

The apprentices are sent into villages where they apply what they have learned. Once in charge of a farm, they join the Songhai network and are checked regularly.

Songhai also welcomes interns who are paying for their own training.

They include Abua Eucharia Nchinor, a Nigerian in his 30s, and Kemajou Nathanael, a 39-year-old former salesman from Cameroon, who both want to open an organic farm in their respective countries.

According to Nzamujo, Songhai is not a cure-all for Africa's problems but tackles their root causes.

"Imagine if all the young people who hang around big cities did their training here and we equip them. Imagine the productivity of Africa today.

Related Articles:

Question: Dear Kryon: I would appreciate a perspective on the following: There seems to be two opposed schools of thought with respect to pesticides and their use. One group categorically states that they are very dangerous and that they are responsible for causing cancers etc... (there's a very long list!!) The other group naturally claims that they are perfectly safe with today's technological advances etc. 

Answer: The chemicals you are using today are dangerous to your health. The more they are used, the more it will be seen over time. We have indicated before that there are far better natural scientific solutions to protecting your crops. Use biology to balance biology. It is non-toxic and simply an alteration of what already exists.

Muslim Council of Britain says female genital mutilation is 'un-Islamic'

Group issues explicit guidance for the first time, condemning practice which it says is no longer linked to religious teaching

theguardian.com, Alexandra Topping,  Monday 23 June 2014

Anti-FGM campaigners prepare to deliver a 250,000-signature petition to
 education secretary Michael Gove. Photograph: Christian Sinibaldi for the Guardian

The Muslim Council of Britain, the country's largest Muslim organisation, has condemned the practice of female genital mutilation as "un-Islamic" and told its members that FGM risks bringing their religion into disrepute.

The influential MCB has for the first time issued explicit guidance, which criticises the practice and says it is "no longer linked to the teaching of Islam". It added that one of the "basic principles" of Islam was that believers should not harm themselves or others.

The organisation will send flyers to each of the 500 mosques that form its membership, which will also be distributed in community centres in a drive to eradicate a practice that affects 125 million women and girls worldwide and can lead to psychological torment, complications during childbirth, problems with fertility, and death.

The MCB has collaborated with the African women's support and campaigning organisation Forward and the Muslim Spiritual Care Provision in the NHS (MSCP) to raise awareness of the dangers of FGM and warn practitioners that they face up to 14 years in prison if they subject girls to the practice, which involves the removal of the clitoris, or in more extreme cases the removal of the outer labia and the sewing up of the vagina, with a small hole left for menstruation and to pass urine.

The leaflet states: "FGM is not an Islamic requirement. There is no reference to it in the holy Qur'an that states girls must be circumcised. Nor is there any authentic reference to this in the Sunnah, the sayings or traditions of our prophet. FGM is bringing the religion of Islam into disrepute."

It also states that there is "an increasingly high risk of being prosecuted" for carrying out mutilation, which has been illegal in Britain since 1985.

Dr Shuja Shafi, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "We at the MCB are pleased to address this very important issue of female genital mutilation. Working closely together we can end this practice and ensure it is no longer linked to the religion of Islam or the teachings of the prophet Muhammad."

Dr Soheir Elneil, chair of the African women's campaign group Forward, which helped to prepare the leaflet, said the publication was a step forward in the battle to bring FGM to an end within a generation. "This is the first time such a publication has been achieved with the full cooperation and support of the relevant parties, and we hope all those working in FGM will find it a helpful tool in the work that they do," she said. "It states that FGM is non-Islamic and is against the teachings of Islam, that it is putting the health of women and girls at risk, and informs the reader of the legal implications in the UK of carrying out the practice."

Last week the Home Office held a summit at which other religious organisations, including the Shia al-Khoei Foundation and the Muslim Women's Network UK, announced their support for a government declaration against FGM to be published next month.

Related Articles:

Question: Dear and beloved Kryon: What should we know about "Brit-Mila" (Jewish circumcision)?

Answer: All circumcision was based on commonsense health issues of the day, which manifested itself in religious-based teaching. That basically is what made people keep doing it. This eighth-day-from-birth ritual is no more religious today than trimming your fingernails (except that Brit-Mila is only done once, and it hurts a bit more).

It's time to start seeing these things for what they are. Common sense is not static. It's dynamic, and related to the culture of the time. Yesterday's common sense about health changed greatly with the discovery of germs. It changed again with practices of cleanliness due to the discovery of germs, and so on. Therefore, we would say that it really doesn't make a lot of difference in today's health practices. It's done almost totally for cultural historic and traditional purposes and holds no energy around it other than the obvious intent of the tradition.

This is also true for a great deal of the admonishments of the Old Testament regarding food and cleanliness, and even the rules of the neighborhood (such as taking your neighbor's life if he steals your goat, or selling your daughter in slavery if you really need the money... all found in scripture). The times are gone where these things matter anymore, yet they're still treated with reverence and even practiced religiously in some places. They're now only relics of tradition, and that's all. If you feel that you should honor a tradition, then do it. If not, then don't. It's not a spiritual or health issue any longer.

Be the boss of your own body and your own traditions. Follow what your spiritual intuition tells you is appropriate for your own spiritual path and health.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sudan death row's Meriam Ibrahim released after international outcry

Campaign triggered after woman imprisoned for marrying a Christian was sentenced to 100 lashes and hanging for apostasy

The Guardian, Harriet Sherwood, Monday 23 June 2014

Meriam Ibrahim, 27, with Martin, her 18-month-old son, holds her newborn
baby girl she gave birth to in a Sudan jail. Photograph: Uncredited/AP

A Christian woman on death row in a Sudanese prison has been released on the orders of a court in Khartoum following an international outcry over her sentence and treatment.

Meriam Ibrahim, 27, had been sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery and to be hanged for apostasy after refusing to renounce her faith. Her case triggered an international campaign, drawing in political and religious leaders, celebrities and human rights organisations.

Demands for her release accelerated after Ibrahim gave birth while shackled to the floor of her prison cell at Omdurman women's prison. Her newborn daughter, Maya, and her toddler son, Martin, were incarcerated with her.

"I'm so happy," Ibrahim's husband, Daniel Wani, a US citizen, told the Guardian by phone from Khartoum on Monday. He said his wife and their two children were in relatively good condition, and he hoped that the family would soon be able to start a new life in the US. Elshareef Mohammed, Ibrahim's lawyer, said that she was "fine and very happy" but had been taken to a safe house amid fears that the family could be at risk of attack.

The case against Ibrahim was triggered by allegations made by men claiming to be relatives, although Ibrahim denied knowing them.

The news of her release was broken by the Sudanese state news agency, Suna, which said: "The appeal court ordered the release of [Ibrahim] and the cancellation of the [earlier] court ruling." Judges had been hearing an appeal against Ibrahim's convictions for the past two weeks. Her lawyers argued that the case was based on weak and inconsistent claims and contravened Sudan's interim constitution.

Jehanne Henry, of Human Rights Watch, said: "Obviously this is good news and it shows that the appeals court sought to uphold rights. This is the outcome we were hoping for because there was a clear legal basis for releasing her." Ibrahim's conviction and sentences were "such a blatant disregard of fundamental human rights that it provoked quite an outcry", she said. "It's quite possible that international pressure had an influence."

Ibrahim was convicted of apostasy after the court insisted she was a Muslim because her father was a Muslim, even though Ibrahim said she had been brought up as a Christian after her father abandoned the family when she was six. Following her conviction last month, she was given three days to renounce her faith or face a death sentence.

Then eight months pregnant, she was told that her death sentence would be deferred for two years to allow her to nurse her unborn baby.

The leaders of Britain's three political parties backed a campaign to get Ibrahim released. David Cameron said he was "absolutely appalled" by her sentence. "The way she is being treated is barbaric and has no place in today's world. Religious freedom is an absolute, fundamental human right," the prime minister said. The US state department said it was "deeply disturbed" by the case and called on Khartoum to respect the right to freedom of religion.

Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair, Jesse Jackson and Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, were among high-profile international figures calling for the sentence to be dropped.

A demand by Amnesty International for Ibrahim's release won the support of more than 1 million people worldwide. Thousands rallied to a Twitter campaign, #SaveMeriam. The actor Mia Farrow urged her followers to "bombard" the Sudanese embassies in London and Washington with demands for Ibrahim's release, supplying the relevant phone numbers.

Sarah Jackson of Amnesty said yesterday: "Today's ruling is a small step to redressing the injustice done to Meriam. However, she should never have been prosecuted. Meriam was sentenced to death when eight months pregnant for something which should not be a crime. Furthermore, her abhorrent treatment, including being shackled, violated international human rights law against ill-treatment."

Amnesty urged the Sudanese authorities to repeal provisions that criminalise acts of apostasy and adultery, and to establish a moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolishing the death penalty.

The US government is now likely to come under pressure to allow Ibrahim to settle in the US by granting asylum or citizenship on the basis of her marriage. Ibrahim and Wani were married in a Khartoum church in December 2011. Under Sudanese law, it is forbidden for a Muslim woman to marry a Christian man. However, Ibrahim claimed in court that she had been brought up as a Christian by her mother after her Muslim father left the family. She had attended church regularly. Wani – who is originally from South Sudan – said that she was more committed to her faith than he was.

A statement signed by Father Mussa Timothy Kacho, episcopal vicar for Khartoum, said Ibrahim had "never been a Muslim in her life". The couple had business interests in Khartoum including a hair salon, a mini-mart and agricultural land.

In 2013, a man who claimed to be Ibrahim's brother alerted the Sudanese authorities to what he believed was an unlawful union.

In May, the court declared the marriage invalid, and Ibrahim guilty of adultery. She was sentenced to a public whipping, and to be hanged for apostasy. Ibrahim was held in what human rights organisations described as atrocious conditions with limited access to medical care and legal representation. Wani was permitted only brief visits to his family. He said his wife and children were being held in inhumane conditions. Hopes for Ibrahim's release were raised three weeks ago when a Sudanese foreign ministry official said she would be freed imminently. The Sudanese government swiftly issued a statement saying Ibrahim could only be freed on a court order, not as a political decision.


August 2013 Ibrahim is arrested

15 May 2014 Ibrahim appears in court charged with apostasy and adultery and is sentenced 100 lashes then to death by hanging

22 May Ibrahim's legal team files an appeal, saying the verdict contradicts the country's 2005 constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion as well as international rights agreements to which Sudan is a signatory

27 May Ibrahim gives birth to a daughter at the women's prison in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman

10 June The EU is among those to press Sudan to free Ibrahim

Al-Jazeera journalists jailed for seven years in Egypt

Peter Greste, Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed of Al-Jazeera English sentenced on terrorism-related charges

theguardian.com, Patrick Kingsley and agencies in Cairo, Monday 23 June 2014

L to R: Al-Jazeera English producer Baher Mohammed, Canadian-Egyptian
 acting Cairo bureau chief Mohammed Fahmy, and Australian correspondent Peter
Greste during their trial on terror charges in Cairo, Egypt. Photograph: Heba Elkholy/AP

Egypt's judiciary has dealt a shocking blow to the principle of free speech after three journalists for Al-Jazeera English were sentenced to between seven and 10 years in jail on charges of aiding terrorists and endangering national security.

The former BBC correspondent Peter Greste, from Australia, the ex-CNN journalist Mohamed Fahmy, and local producer Baher Mohammed were jailed for seven, seven and 10 years respectively. Four students and activists indicted in the case were sentenced to seven years.

The judge also handed 10-year sentences to British journalists Sue Turton and Dominic Kane and the Dutch journalist Rena Netjes, who were not in Egypt but being tried in absentia.

The courtroom packed with journalists, diplomats and relatives erupted at the verdict which came despite what independent observers said was a complete lack of evidence.

Shouting from the defendants' cage as he was led away, Fahmy, a Canadian-Egyptian citizen, said: "They'll pay for this". Greste's reaction could not be heard, but the faces of his two younger brothers – both present in court – were grim.

"I'm just stunned," said Andrew Greste, as reporters were pushed from the courtroom. "It's difficult to comprehend how they can have reached this decision."

Fahmy's mother and fiancée both broke down in tears, while his brother Adel, who travelled from his home in Kuwait for the verdict, reacted with fury.

"This is not a system," he said. "This is not a country. They've ruined our lives. It shows everything that's wrong with the system: it's corrupt. This country is corrupt through and through."

Diplomats and rights campaigners who have observed the trial expressed incredulity at the verdict.

"On the basis of the evidence that we've seen, we can't understand the verdict," said Larry King, the Australian ambassador in Cairo. "We will make our feelings clear to the Egyptian government and we will continue to provide all possible consular assistance."

Evidence provided by the prosecution included footage from channels and events with nothing to do with Egyptian politics or al-Jazeera. It included videos of trotting horses from Sky News Arabia, a song by the Australian singer Gotye, and a BBC documentary from Somalia.

Mohamed Lotfy, executive director of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms who has observed every session of the trial for Amnesty, said the verdict sent a chilling message to all opposition figures in Egypt.

"It's a warning to all journalists that they could one day face a similar trial and conviction simply for carrying out their official duties," Lotfy said. "This feeds into a wider picture of a politicised judiciary and the use of trials to crack down on all opposition voices."

The British ambassador, James Watt, said he was disappointed by the verdict: "Freedom of expression is fundamental to any democracy".

It remains unclear what recourse the defendants will now take. Shouting as he left court, Fahmy said he would not seek an appeal – perhaps hopeful of an intervention from Egypt's new president, the former general Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. But Greste's youngest brother, Mike, later said an appeal was the only legal recourse left to his family.

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

US Presbyterians vote to divest from firms to pressure Israel

Yahoo – AFP, 21 June 2014

Israeli soldiers patrol a street in the West Bank village of Beit Furik,
southeast of Nablus, early on June 20, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

Washington (AFP) - The nearly 1.9 million member Presbyterian Church USA voted Friday after a contentious debate to divest from three companies that provide supplies to Israeli forces and settlers in the occupied West Bank.

The 310 to 303 vote at the influential Protestant denomination's meeting in Detroit, Michigan, means the group will pull any financial investments out of Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions, according to the church's official news service.

Israeli soldiers arrest a young Palestinian
 boy following clashes in the West Bank
 town of Hebron, on June 20, 2014 (AFP
Photo/Thomas Coex)
Assembly moderator Heath Rada emphasized the decision "in no way reflects anything but love for both the Jewish and Palestinian people," the news service said.

The measure also included a reaffirmation of Israel's right to exist, an endorsement of a two-state solution and encouraged interfaith dialogue, The New York Times reported.

It also included a provision to encourage "positive investment" to improve the lives of Israelis and Palestinians, the Times said.

The close vote came after a week of intense lobbying and "most contentious debate of this assembly," the church's news service said, noting that divestment has historically been seen as a "last resort" after "other engagement tools have failed."

In a statement ahead of the vote, Presbyterian Church USA said it was considering divestment in Caterpillar because its responsible investing committee found the company provides the bulldozers "used in the destruction of Palestinian homes, clearing land of structures and fruit and olive tree groves, and in preparation for the construction of the barrier wall."

Hewlett-Packard, it said, "provides electronic systems at checkpoints, logistics and communications systems to support the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, and has business relationships with illegal settlements in the West Bank."

And Motorola Solutions "provides military communications and surveillance systems in the illegal Israeli settlements," the Church added.

HP spokeswoman Kelli Schlegel insisted, however, that "respecting human rights is a core value at HP and is embedded in the way we do business."

The HP systems used at checkpoints help expedite "passage in a secure environment, enabling people to get to their place of work or to carry out their business in a faster and safer way," Schlegel added.

Motorola Solutions emphasized in a statement the "company has a long record of working with customers" throughout the Middle East and "supports all efforts in the region to find a peaceful resolution" to conflict.

The company added it has "a comprehensive set of policies and procedures that addresses human rights, which is designed to ensure that our operations worldwide are conducted using the highest standards of integrity and ethical business conduct applied uniformly and consistently."

Caterpillar did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

At the 2012 General Assembly, Presbyterian USA voted to boycott products made in the Israeli settlements and to "begin positive investments in Palestinian businesses."

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Also in the garden of the Vatican embraced Peres
and Abbas together. (NOS/AFP)