“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, March 28, 2016

Ghana government called upon to save historical sites

Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Ghana every year. But experts warn that revenue from tourism could suffer if attractions are neglected. Some sites are already crumbling and it may be too late to save them.

Deutsche Welle, 28 March 2016

Ruins of the demolished Sea View Hotel

James Town in Ghana’s capital Accra is home to many historical edifices. Ghana’s first hotel, the C.V. Hotel, was built here. It housed the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, during her historic visit in 1961 to the first country south of the Sahara to achieve independence. But there are more Ghanaian landmarks in this part of town. They include the Ussher Fort, one of the oldest in Ghana, as well as a lighthouse, the main fishing harbor of James Town and James Fort Prison.

Tour guide Nice-One knows his way around the tourist attractions in this community. Although happy about his job, he is saddened by the current state of decay of many of these historical sites. He says the disappearance of the C.V. Hotel to make way for the building of a charismatic church is downright shocking: "A few days ago the owners of the land just came and demolished it and sold the land to the church people."

Fort James in Accra was built by the British as a trading post in 1673

Residents complain

The residents are unhappy too. One of them, Clinton Ofori, told DW that he never expected this to happen: "It is pitiful, because this was the first hotel in Ghana, and now the building has been demolished."

A lighthouse situated close to the sea, in an area notorious for slave trading in the past, is also being left to rot. The tower hasn’t seen any maintenance for years. The same goes for the Ussher Fort, which was built by the Dutch in the 17th century. Eventually it became a prison for Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah and other prominent freedom fighters, turning it into a site of great historical significance.

Tourism expert Nii Kwatey Boi Quatey is appalled by the neglect of these facilities because they are also important for tourism: "It is so unfortunate for us to see James Fort prison being neglected. There is no tourism here and things are not going well." Quatey calls on those in charge in Ghana to sit up and take notice.

The historical Rex Cinema, built on the initiative of first President Kwame Nkrumah

Lights out at the Rex Cinema

Nearby is Rex Cinema, one of the oldest movie theaters in the country. It was established by Ghana’s first president after independence. It was meant to boost the national film industry. But such hopes have now faded and the younger generation may soon not even have the chance to see this dilapidated edifice. There is an ongoing campaign to save the building but its future is far from certain.

The country is hoping to rake in $8.3 billion (7.4 billion euros) yearly from tourism by 2027. This is based on an estimate of 4.3 million international tourist arrivals. But for the tourists to come, the attractions must be properly maintained.

Abigail Hagan of the University of Ghana Business School leads a team of researchers who study the tourism sector in Ghana. She says the government has to step in to save the collapsing buildings: "It’s like a gold mine for us as a nation. We must study what others have done and then try to emulate that. Government needs to come to the aid of the people," she says, noting that the historical buildings "can be a source of revenue for both the government and the inhabitants of this town."

This colonial-era lighthouse in Accra

Ghana’s Museums and Monument Board, which is reportedly facing budget problems, stands accused of doing nothing to save the landmarks. The hope now lies with initiatives by the Ghanaians themselves to encourage their leaders to step in and save the monuments.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Hot rocks: Kenya taps geothermal heat to boost power

Yahoo – AFP, Cyril Belaud, 16 March 2016

Kenya Generating Company, KenGen's Ol-Karia IV power plant is seen from
a vantage point in September 2015 (AFP Photo/Tony Karumba)

Hell's Gate (Kenya) (AFP) - Zebra and antelope look on as clouds of white steam twist into the air at Hell's Gate, where Kenya's dream of providing cheap, renewable electricity is becoming a reality.

Just over a third of the 45 million people who live in Kenya have electricity, and power cuts are frequent across the network, even in the capital Nairobi.

But Africa's Great Rift Valley -- where the continent is gradually tearing apart and the earth's crust thins -- runs through the heart of Kenya, and access to hot rocks below the surface has put a wealth of geothermal power at its fingertips.

"Geothermal energy can be found probably anywhere in the world. But what makes it most accessible here is the fact that the Earth's crust is very thin, so the steam comes out very easily and hence you can use it for electricity generation," says Boniface Kipkorir, an engineer working at the Olkaria plant in Hell's Gate National Park.

"Geothermal energy is clean, green, its carbon footprint on the environment is minimal," said Kipkorir, who works for KenGen (Kenya Electricity Generating Company), the country's largest electricity producer.

Since geothermal energy production began in Kenya in the 1980s, the technology has evolved to help make it a cleaner process.

The region's underground is a geothermal hotspot, harbouring hot water sources and steam at 300 degrees Celsius (572 degrees Fahrenheit) that is piped up to the surface from depths of up to 2,000 metres (6,500 feet).

When the mix reaches the plant, the steam powers a generator turbine.

Boosting electricity is a key priority for the Kenyan government, which is aiming to triple production capacity by 2020 to compensate for demand that is forecast to increase by 11 percent annually.

A world leader?

The potential is immense. There are more than a dozen possible sites scattered throughout the Rift Valley which have an estimated potential of 10,000 megawatts (MW) -- four times the country's current production capacity.

Development of those sites could make Kenya one of the world leaders in geothermal energy.

Last year, with the installation two new production units at Olkaria, Kenya more than doubled its production of geothermal energy to 609 MW.

That makes it the world's eighth-largest geothermal producer, accounting for some five percent of global output.

Africa's Great Rift Valley, where the continent is gradually tearing apart and the
 earth's crust thins, runs through the heart of Kenya, and access to hot rocks
 below the surface has put a wealth of geothermal power at its fingertips (AFP
Photo/Tony Karumba)

Olkaria, which lies 120 kilometres (75 miles) northwest of Nairobi, is the largest geothermal plant in Africa. Surrounded by wooded hills which are home to giraffe and antelope, the plant has a network of pipes that run deep underground.

During its construction, the animals were scared off, but soon found elsewhere to roam inside the national park, which covers 68 square kilometres (26 square miles). Now buffalo, zebra and antelope come close to the station, apparently unconcerned by its presence.

Steam rises into the air, but it is water vapour -- there is no pollution or stench like that of a coal-fired station.

Geothermal outpacing hydropower

For many years, Kenya has relied on its hydroelectric network, which last year produced 820 MW. But recurring droughts have rendered this source of energy much less reliable than before.

"When we looked at the hydro, we realised it's very good, because it's a very cheap source of power -- but it is also affected by drought," says Albert Mugo, KenGen's chief executive.

"In the last two years, we've had very bad drought and the levels of the reservoirs became very low. When that happens, you have to reduce the amount of electricity that you can generate."

"It is not the same with geothermal," Mugo says. "Once you have your wells and you start producing, the plants run on a 24 hours basis. It's a very reliable source of supply."

The growth of geothermal energy is expected to continue, while hydropower production levels out.

"There is more geothermal that is being installed and very little of hydro," he says.

"So looking at the strategy for Kenya for development... we see a lot of geothermal coming in," he says.

According to its "Vision 2030" plan, under which this East African nation will become a middle-income country by 2030, the Kenyan government sees electricity production capacity reaching 17,500 MW, compared to 2,200 MW in 2015.

The aim is for 5,000 MW of that figure to come from geothermal energy, which would make it the country's primary energy source in a move that could help reduce costs to customers.

Related Articles:

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

“…  4 - Energy (again)

The natural resources of the planet are finite and will not support the continuation of what you've been doing. We've been saying this for a decade. Watch for increased science and increased funding for alternate ways of creating electricity (finally). Watch for the very companies who have the most to lose being the ones who fund it. It is the beginning of a full realization that a change of thinking is at hand. You can take things from Gaia that are energy, instead of physical resources. We speak yet again about geothermal, about tidal, about wind. Again, we plead with you not to over-engineer this. For one of the things that Human Beings do in a technological age is to over-engineer simple things. Look at nuclear - the most over-engineered and expensive steam engine in existence!

Your current ideas of capturing energy from tidal and wave motion don't have to be technical marvels. Think paddle wheel on a pier with waves, which will create energy in both directions [waves coming and going] tied to a generator that can power dozens of neighborhoods, not full cities. Think simple and decentralize the idea of utilities. The same goes for wind and geothermal. Think of utilities for groups of homes in a cluster. You won't have a grid failure if there is no grid. This is the way of the future, and you'll be more inclined to have it sooner than later if you do this, and it won't cost as much.


We've told you that one of the greatest natural resources of the planet, which is going to shift and change and be mysterious to you, is fresh water. It's going to be the next gold, dear ones. So, we have also given you some hints and examples and again we plead: Even before the potentials of running out of it, learn how to desalinate water in real time without heat. It's there, it's doable, and some already have it in the lab. This will create inexpensive fresh water for the planet.

There is a change of attitude that is starting to occur. Slowly you're starting to see it and the only thing getting in the way of it are those companies with the big money who currently have the old system. That's starting to change as well. For the big money always wants to invest in what it knows is coming next, but it wants to create what is coming next within the framework of what it has "on the shelf." What is on the shelf is oil, coal, dams, and non-renewable resource usage. It hasn't changed much in the last 100 years, has it? Now you will see a change of free choice. You're going to see decisions made in the boardrooms that would have curled the toes of those two generations ago. Now "the worst thing they could do" might become "the best thing they could do." That, dear ones, is a change of free choice concept. When the thinkers of tomorrow see options that were never options before, that is a shift. That was number four. ….”

"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channeled 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.) - (Text version)

“... Japan

Let us talk for a moment about Japan, and then I'll close the day of messages. There are thousands of souls on my side of the veil and they're just fine, more than fine. We have spoken so often of what happens at the Wind of Birth. I told you, before they even came in, they saw the potential. I looked in their eyes. "You may not last long. You know that, don't you? You're coming into this planet and you may not be here very long. And the passing that you will have with your family will not be pleasant, if any ever are. Why would you come in anyway?" I want to tell you what they said. When a soul has the mind of God, it understands fully what generates peace and what generates energy shift. You can clearly see what generates what the planet needs the most when you are about to arrive. So they said, "We're going to be part of one of the biggest compassion events the planet has ever seen." One earthquake, one tsunami. All of those who left that day will change the earth forever. And it already has. It was the same for the last tsunami as well.

Every single one of them on my side of the veil is getting ready to come back. Many old souls were involved, and just for a moment, if they could give you any information, if they could talk to you right now, if they could speak your language and look into your eyes, they would thank you for your compassion for them and those who are left. And they would say, "Be with those family members who are still alive. Enter their hearts every day and give them peace and keep them from crying, because we're OK."

Nuclear Power Revealed

So let me tell you what else they did. They just showed you what's wrong with nuclear power. "Safe to the maximum," they said. "Our devices are strong and cannot fail." But they did. They are no match for Gaia.

It seems that for more than 20 years, every single time we sit in the chair and speak of electric power, we tell you that hundreds of thousands of tons of push/pull energy on a regular schedule is available to you. It is moon-driven, forever. It can make all of the electricity for all of the cities on your planet, no matter how much you use. There's no environmental impact at all. Use the power of the tides, the oceans, the waves in clever ways. Use them in a bigger way than any designer has ever put together yet, to power your cities. The largest cities on your planet are on the coasts, and that's where the power source is. Hydro is the answer. It's not dangerous. You've ignored it because it seems harder to engineer and it's not in a controlled environment. Yet, you've chosen to build one of the most complex and dangerous steam engines on Earth - nuclear power.

We also have indicated that all you have to do is dig down deep enough and the planet will give you heat. It's right below the surface, not too far away all the time. You'll have a Gaia steam engine that way, too. There's no danger at all and you don't have to dig that far. All you have to do is heat fluid, and there are some fluids that boil far faster than water. So we say it again and again. Maybe this will show you what's wrong with what you've been doing, and this will turn the attitudes of your science to create something so beautiful and so powerful for your grandchildren. Why do you think you were given the moon? Now you know.

This benevolent Universe gave you an astral body that allows the waters in your ocean to push and pull and push on the most regular schedule of anything you know of. Yet there you sit enjoying just looking at it instead of using it. It could be enormous, free energy forever, ready to be converted when you design the methods of capturing it. It's time.

So in closing, do you understand what you're seeing? You're seeing intelligent design, quantum energy and high consciousness. You are seeing changes in Human nature. You're seeing countries putting things together instead of separating. You are seeing those who don't want war and instead want peace, good schools for their children, safety in their streets and a say in their government. We told you it was going to happen this way. I want my partner to teach these things that I have said in his 3D lectures for awhile. Many won't be able to know these things otherwise.  

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Equatorial Guinea to hold presidential vote on April 24: media

Yahoo – AFP, 13 March 2016

Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema seized power following
a coup in 1979 (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

Malabo (Equatorial Guinea) (AFP) - Equatorial Guinea will hold a presidential election on April 24 in which President Teodoro Obiang Nguema will seek to extend his 36 years in office with another seven-year term, official media announced.

"Following consultation with the cabinet on Friday... I have decided that the presidential elections will be on April 24, 2016," Obiang said in a presidential decree read on state radio.

Africa's longest serving ruler, 73-year-old Obiang has ruled Equatorial Guinea with an iron fist for nearly four decades.

His regime has regularly come under fire from rights groups for violent suppression of opposition as well as for rampant corruption.

He is almost certain to win the upcoming election, having been re-elected in 2009 with 95.37 percent of the vote.

Campaigning will start in the central African nation on April 8, concluding April 22, according to the decree.

The presidential election was originally scheduled for November and no reason was given for the delay.

Obiang had declared his candidacy for another seven year term in November at a meeting of his ruling Democratic Party.

He will face off against Gabriel Nse Obiang, considered to be the incumbent president's main rival, recently announcing his candidacy for the opposition CI party.

Nse Obiang's national campaign tour was suspended Tuesday "until further notice" and five of his supporters were arrested after they were accused of assaulting a security officer at a public meeting two days earlier.

President Obiang came to power in a coup in 1979, overthrowing the bloody rule of his uncle, Macias Nguema.

His son, second vice president Teodorin Obiang, has been wanted in France since 2014 as part of a corruption probe.

He is suspected of using public funds to buy assets and property in France worth several hundred million euros, according to a source close to the French investigation.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Angola's dos Santos says to quit after 36 years in power

Yahoo – AFP, Daniel Garela-Pensador, March 11, 2016

Jose Eduardo dos Santos has been president of Angola since 1979 (AFP
Photo/Alain Jocard)

Luanda (AFP) - Angola's iron-fisted ruler Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Africa's second-longest serving leader, on Friday said he would quit in 2018 after his current mandate ends, but experts were sceptical about his latest pledge to step down.

"I have taken the decision to quit political life in 2018," he told the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) party politburo in the capital Luanda.

It was the 73-year-old's third such announcement since he came to office in 1979. He has been in office just one month less than Africa's record-holder, Equatorial Guinea's Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

The president's tenure ends in late 2017, but he did not elaborate why he would leave the year after. Analysts suggest he may run for re-election, leaving only once he feels secure about the future.

In power for almost four decades as president, dos Santos has consolidated political power while his family has amassed a vast business empire.

He added another five years to his reign by taking a large victory in a disputed election in 2012, but since has faced growing discontent from the nation's youth.

Critics accuse dos Santos of overseeing corruption, misrule, arbitrary arrests and intimidation.

Paula Roque, expert researcher on Angola with the University of Oxford, believes that the announcement offers "no assurance that one of Africa longest heads of state will finally step down."

"What he is saying by announcing that he will step down in 2018 is that he will run in the next poll and then decide if the country is stable enough to step down," said Roque.

Dos Santos came to power in 1979, following the unexpected death from cancer of Angola's liberation president Agostinho Neto.

As head of the military, police and cabinet, the leader has an iron grip on all aspects of power in Africa's second biggest oil producer.

He names the senior judges and has MPLA allies in all public agencies, including the supposedly independent electoral commission.

Analysts believe that Dos Santos could be grooming one of his children to succeed him, or will ensure that whoever succeeds him protects his family interests and will not go after him or his family for looting state coffers.

Iron fisted rule

Few publicly criticise him. Independent journalists who express their opinions risk criminal charges.

A group of youth activists are currently standing trial on charges of "rebellion" and attempting to carry out a "coup".

Dos Santos's lengthy term in office has been marked by tense relations between his MPLA party and war time rebels turned opposition, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).

UNITA has been significantly weakened since the killing of its founder Jonas Savimbi by MPLA forces in 2002. His death paved the way for a peace deal that brought an end to one of Africa's longest and bloodiest conflicts.

In 2014, UNITA voiced concern over what it called the deteriorating state of democracy under Dos Santos's rule.

"Dos Santos was never elected, he will leave a negative legacy, having led Angola to an alarming crisis," said Makuta Nkondo, a former UNITA opposition lawmaker.

Although he shuns the spotlight, the elderly leader's family has built up a vast business empire, with his daughter Isabel dos Santos ranked Africa's richest woman.

Despite the country's oil and diamond riches, the majority of the population live in abject poverty, with an enormous gap between the rich and poor.

The fall in oil prices has hit the economy, with the kwanza currency losing 35 percent if its value against the dollar this year.

Activists who lit Syria revolt washed away in migrant wave

Yahoo – AFP, Serene Assir, 12 March 2016

Migrants and refugees warm themselves around a bonfire at a makeshift camp
on the Greek-Macedonian border (AFP Photo/Dimitar Dilkoff)

Beirut (AFP) - When hopeful pro-democracy activists in Syria took to the streets in 2011, they couldn't have imagined that five years later they might end up living as refugees in Europe.

Using smartphones to keep up with the news from camps and relatives' homes thousands of kilometres (miles) away, they mourn a revolt that gave way to an internationalised war.

"When I arrived in Germany, I felt like I was living with an open wound, like I'd lost my soul. I felt guilty for leaving everything behind," says Jimmy Shahinian, a 28-year-old activist with sharp features and jet-black hair.

Syria's conflict erupted on March 15, 2011, 
when protesters massed on the streets
 to demand that President Bashar al-Assad
step down (AFP Photo/Anwar Amro)
"We had made a promise that we would change things," he tells AFP by phone from his new home, an apartment he shares with five other young men in Genthin, about 100 kilometres (62 miles) west of Berlin.

Syria's conflict erupted on March 15, 2011, when protesters massed on the streets to demand that President Bashar al-Assad step down.

Activists took the lead, using Facebook and Skype to organise protests, speak with international journalists, and broadcast clever slogans calling for the regime's downfall.

Shahinian, a Christian, joined the movement, and was subsequently jailed and tortured.

When the jihadist Islamic State group took over his native city Raqa in 2013, he began receiving terrifying death threats.

Smuggled into Turkey in an ambulance, Shahinian became one of nearly five million Syrians who have fled the country since the conflict began.

But even in Turkey, where at least three young anti-IS activists have been assassinated in recent months, he felt unsafe.

"I had no choice but to leave," he says.

Like most other new arrivals in Germany, his first port of call was an asylum-seeker camp, where he shared a room with some 10 other people.

He tries to keep his cause alive by volunteering for a civil society group in Berlin named Citizens for Syria and learning German, though he admits "it is very hard to get used to the new life".

"I suppose it's always this way. We sparked the revolution, and the spark is always the first to burn."

'Besieged in my head'

Some, like citizen journalist Yazan, are unable to abandon a cause that they were ready to die for.

Syrian rescue workers and residents try to pull a man out from under the rubble of 
a building following a reported air strike on the rebel-held neighbourhood of Salhin in the
northern city of Aleppo (AFP Photo/Thaer Mohammed)

Yazan lived through a brutal, nearly two-year siege in the Old City of Homs, once known as the "capital of the revolution" but now squarely back in regime hands.

He would spend his days snapping photos of children playing in rubble, rebels standing guard, wounded being rushed to dismally equipped field hospitals and cats wandering through ancient architectural gems reduced to ruins.

By night, Yazan would sign into Skype to speak to journalists covering Syria, shedding light on the destruction of Homs and on military developments on the frontlines.

After surviving daily bombardment and eating little more than weeds for months, he has spent the past year in the quiet comfort of his uncle's idyllic home in Saint Etienne, central France.

Although he lives in a different world, Yazan says the conflict, and its root cause, remain with him.

He spends his nights poring over activists' Facebook pages, following minute-by-minute developments on the ground.

"In Syria my body was besieged. Here, I am besieged in my head," says the 30-year-old.

He admits he can't move on while his father and brother remain among the estimated 200,000 people held in the regime's hellish jails.

"Here I can eat, I can sleep in safety. But however hard I try, I can't imagine the future," Yazan says.

"My whole life is on hold until the regime falls."

Activists took the lead when Syria's conflict erupted in 2011, using Facebook and
 Skype to organise protests, speak with international journalists, and broadcast 
clever slogans calling for the downfall of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad 
(AFP Photo/Anwar Amro)

Major powers' 'playing field'

Ahmad al-Rifai, a 24-year-old who spent months taking photos in opposition strongholds across northern Syria, is also in Germany -- where more than one million asylum requests were registered last year.

He blames the Syrian government but also the international community for the transformation of the revolt into a war that has killed 270,000 people.

"In the good old days, the people would decide when and where to protest, or when to go on strike," Rifai says.

"Now, the Syrian people have no decision-making power at all. Syria has become a playing field for major powers like Russia, the United States and Iran."

Despite the pain of watching his ravaged country from afar, Rifai tries to stay hopeful.

He has learned to speak German since arriving in Aachen city in 2014, and he serves as a translator between newly arrived refugees and Red Cross volunteers.

In April, he will start an internship with a digital media company. He hopes one day to return to Syria, to help rebuild.

"Once an activist, always an activist," he says.

Iraq cleric Sadr calls for Baghdad protest camp

Yahoo – AFP, 12 March 2016

Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr returned to Iraq in 2011, after a self-imposed 
exile in Iran (AFP Photo)

Najaf (Iraq) (AFP) - Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr on Saturday urged his followers to ramp up pro-reform rallies by setting up tents in front of Baghdad's 'Green Zone' and camping out until their demands are met.

The Shiite said in a statement that the sit-in demanding the reshuffle of a cabinet perceived as corrupt and ineffective would begin next Friday, on March 18.

An Iraqi fighter from the Saraya al-Salam --
 a group formed by Shiite cleric Moqtada 
al-Sadr (AFP Photo/Haidar Hamdani)
"I make a historical call to every honest, reform-loving Iraqi to rise up and start a new phase in the peaceful popular protests," the statement said.

Sadr urged protesters to stay there for the 10 remaining days of an ultimatum he gave the government last month.

"Get ready and organise yourselves to establish sit-in tents. This is your time to root out corruption and the corrupt," he said.

A month ago, Sadr gave Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi a 45-day deadline to present the names of technocrats for a new government.

Abadi has been pushing for a government of technocrats in a bid to revive reform pledges that he made last year but have remained largely a dead letter.

Despite some of the ministers seen as the most corrupt being from his own political movement, Sadr has, with some success, attempted to make the new reform drive his own.

Sadrists have held a series of massive rallies in central Baghdad, with thousands turning out on Friday for the latest protest to press their demands.

The presence a week earlier of armed Sadr supporters outside the Green Zone -- where Abadi's office, parliament and the US embassy are located -- sparked intense security concerns.

Iraqi supporters of Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr attend an anti-corruption rally at
Baghdad's Tahrir Square on March 11, 2016 (AFP Photo/Ahmad Al-Rubaye)

In the protest that he attended in Baghdad two weeks ago, Sadr threatened that his supporters could storm the Green Zone if their demands were not met.

The Sadr rallies saw thousands of the Najaf-based cleric's supporters and members of his Peace Brigades militia bused in from the south of Iraq.

They stifled what was left of a secular protest movement that also demonstrated against corruption but was launched last year over the lack of basic services such as water and electricity.