"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.) -

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)

A student holds a sign reading "Don't shoot, listen!!!" during a protest
on June 17, 2013 in Brasilia (AFP, Evaristo)
"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

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

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

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

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

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Monday, December 15, 2014

FCA bans £43,000 fare dodger from working in financial services

Financial Conduct Authority says conduct of former Blackrock MD Jonathan Paul Burrows fell short of the standards expected in the City

The Guardian, Jennifer Rankin, Monday 15 December 2014

Jonathan Paul Burrows has been barred by the Financial Conduct Authority
 from taking any job in the regulated financial services industry. Photograph: Jamie
Wiseman / Daily Mail/Solo Syndication

A former City executive has been banned for life from any senior role in the financial services industry, after being exposed as one of the UK’s biggest train fare dodgers.

Jonathan Paul Burrows, a former managing director at Blackrock Asset Management, has been barred by the Financial Conduct Authority from taking any responsible role in the financial services industry.

Announcing the ban, the FCA’s director of enforcement and financial crime, Tracey McDermott, said: “Burrows held a senior position within the financial services industry. His conduct fell short of the standards we expect. Approved persons must act with honesty and integrity at all times and, where they do not, we will take action.”

His dishonest behaviour came to the attention of the City watchdog after it came to light that he had saved himself almost £43,000 over several years by exploiting a loophole at the ticket barriers.

The East Sussex commuter boarded the London-bound train at Stonegate, a rural station with no ticket barriers. When he arrived at Cannon Street station in London, he tapped in using an Oyster card, paying a £7.20 fare, rather than the £21.50 cost of his journey.

Burrows avoided prosecution after making an out-of-court-settlement with Southeastern railways, but had to resign from his high-flying job at Blackrock after a public outcry.

He told the FCA he knew he was breaking the law and had not disclosed his behaviour to his employer. The FCA said they had taken these facts into account when deciding what action to take.

Today’s ruling ends Burrows’s lucrative City career. At Blackrock he had reportedly earned £1m a year. He will never again be allowed into a position of authority, although, in theory, he could take junior back-office jobs.

In a statement after the FCA ruling, Burrows said: “I have always recognised that what I did was foolish. I have apologised to all concerned and reiterate that apology publicly today.”

“While I respect the FCA’s decision today, I also regret it, coming as it did after a 20-year career in the City that was without blemish. I recognise that the FCA has on its plate more profound wrongdoing than mine in the financial services sector, and I am sorry that my case has taken up its time at this critical juncture for the future of the City and its reputation.”

Last year the FCA banned 43 people from working in senior financial services jobs for failing the “fit and proper” test, but few attracted as much attention as Burrows. The fund manager initially managed to keep his identity secret through an out-of-court settlement that roused the anger of unions. At the time, Manuel Cortes, the leader of the TSSA transport union, said the anonymous agreement showed there was one law for the rich and one for the poor. Burrows’s identity was first revealed by the Daily Mail, who contrasted his “two huge, mortgage-free mansions in the East Sussex countryside” with the £4,500 cost of the season ticket.

The majority of people subject to an FCA ban have committed offences at work and Burrows is only the second person to be banned by for wrongdoing unrelated to his job. His case follows senior money-market manager Anthony Verrier, who earlier this year accepted an FCA ban , after being censured by a high court judge for dishonesty.

Many commuters voiced anger that Burrows avoided prosecution, but others expressed a sneaking admiration that he managed to get away with it for so long.

The £43,000 that Burrows repaid to Southeastern trains was calculated on the basis of single fares. This meant the settlement cost him £20,000 more than if he had bought season tickets.

Related Article:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Luxembourg judge brings theft and trade secrecy charges

Charges against unnamed individual follow publication of journalistic investigation and PricewaterhouseCoopers complaint

The Guardian, Simon Bowers, Saturday 13 December 2014

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ HQ in Luxembourg. Photograph: Nicolas Bouvy/EPA

An investigating judge in Luxembourg has charged an unnamed individual with theft and other criminal offences after a complaint was brought by PricewaterhouseCoopers in the wake of a leak of hundreds of confidential tax deals exposing avoidance by multinational corporations.

Last month journalistic investigations into PwC tax deals were published by the Guardian and more than 20 media organisations around the world linked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, sparking an international scandal that continues to threaten the position of the new European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker.

Juncker stepped down as prime minister of Luxembourg last year after almost two decades at the helm, dominating politics, setting tax policy and aggressively courting investment from multinationals.

In a short statement, the Luxembourg authorities said charges had been brought for theft, professional secrecy violations, trade secrecy violations and illegal obtaining of data.

The action followed a PwC complaint submitted in June 2012.

The Luxembourger Wort newspaper reported that it understood the person charged to be a French national who had previously worked at PwC.

Recent press reports on the leaked papers reveal how far the firm in Luxembourg was pushing tax rules, aggressively exploiting gaps between tax codes in different countries. The confidential papers laid bare how accommodating the Luxembourg tax office had been, turning the tiny nation of 550,000 people into a honeypot for global firms looking to massage down their tax bills.

The revelations last month sparked an emergency debate in the European parliament and an unsuccessful censure vote against Juncker. Finance ministers in France, Germany and Italy wrote to the commission demanding a faster crackdown on loopholes exploited by big business.

The UK parliament’s public accounts committee this week summoned PwC to give evidence alongside its FTSE 100 tax client Shire, the drugs firm which moved tax domicile to Ireland six years ago for tax reasons. The committee’s chair, Margaret Hodge, accused PwC’s UK head of tax, Kevin Nicholson, of lying about the saga. Hodge told him: “I think what you are doing is selling tax avoidance on an industrial scale.”

Nicholson denied the tax services sold by PwC were mass-marketed schemes and said about 80 of the Luxembourg rulings related to UK firms, were all distinct and had been disclosed to HMRC.

In the aftermath of the tax leaks scandal, Luxembourg’s finance minister, Pierre Gramegna, struck a conciliatory note on the international stage, telling a meeting of European finance ministers: “We are a country that wants to combat abuse … If we want to find solutions to this issue we have to tackle it together.”

Speaking to a domestic audience, however, he has described the affair as “the worst attack Luxembourg has experienced in its history”.

Friday, December 12, 2014

2001 Atta-Iraq link a 'fiction,' says top US Senator

The US Senate's retiring Armed Services chairman says a claim used in 2003 to justify the US-led invasion of Iraq was based on a "fiction." Carl Levin says an alleged al Qaeda-Iraqi meeting in Prague never took place.

Deutsche Welle, 12 Dec 2014

Levin told the Senate in plenary session that a CIA letter proved that ahead of the 2001 hijacked-plane attacks on New York and Washington there had been no meeting in Prague between the Hamburg-based lead hijacker Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi spy.

Other records indicated that Atta was "almost certainly in the United States at the time of the purported meeting in Prague," said Levin, who is chairman of the Senate's Armed Services Committee.

He told the Senate late on Thursday that former president George W. Bush and especially Bush's then vice president Dick Cheney "misled" US citizens ahead of the 2003 invasion by claiming that the September 11, 2001, attacks had aconnection with the then Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

"Of course, connections between Saddam and 9/11 or al Qaeda were fiction," Levin said.

Public swayed by misinformation

"There was a concerted campaign on the part of the Bush administration to connect Iraq in the public mind with the horror of the September 11 attacks. That campaign succeeded," said Levin.

He also cited surveys from 2003 that showed that many Americans believed Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 al-Qaeda attacks.

The letter from current CIA director John Brennan released by Levin stated that there was "not one USG (US government counterterrorism) or FBI expert" who had evidence to show that Atta had indeed been in the Czech capital.

"In fact the analysis has been quite the opposite," Brennan wrote.

CIA cable warned against invasion

Levin said he had long sought declassification [publication] of a CIA cable dated March 13, 2003 that warned the then Bush administration against propagating the hijacker-Iraq theory, but to no avail.

Al-Qaeda's Hamburg cell, with Atta
(lower middle)
This had followed a December 2001 television appearance by Cheney who claimed that it was "pretty well confirmed" a Prague encounter had taken place between Atta and senior Iraqi agent Ahmad al-Anian months before the hijackers attacked.

Far from Cheney's claim that it was 'pretty well confirmed,' there was "almost no evidence that such a meeting took place," Levin told the Senate, adding that it was an unsubstantiated, "single source" rumor.

Czech agents under pressure

Levin also cited a memoir published early this year by the former head of Czech counterintelligence, Jiri Ruzek, who wrote that US officials had pressured Czech intelligence to confirm that such a meeting had taken place.

Rusek wrote that from a US perspective Czech agents had not provided the "'right intelligence output'."

"They wanted to mine [extract] certainty from unconfirmed suspicion and use it as an excuse for military action," Rusek wrote.

FBI officials quoted by Reuters late on Thursday said Atta was probably in Florida in early April 2001 -- preparing for the September 11 attacks -- and that they had found no evidence of his traveling in Europe around that time.

'False statements'

The conclusion, Levin said, was that future US leaders "must not commit our sons and daughters to battle on the basis of false statements."

The 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein cost the lives of more than 4,689 soldiers, mostly American, between 2003 and a combat troop withdrawal in 2009.

Civilian deaths in Iraq since 2003 are put at at least 133,000 by the website Iraq Body Count.

Senator Levin's remarks followed the Senate's release of a damning report on CIA interrogations of al Qaeda suspects in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Al Qaeda hijackers, using four passenger planes, murdered nearly 3,000 people in New York and Washington in the attacks.

Switzerland targets corruption in sports with 'FIFA bill'

Yahoo – AFP, David Courbet, 12 Dec 2014

FIFA, based in Switzerland, has been at the centre of claims of corruption over
its decision to grant Qatar the 2022 World Cup (AFP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini)

Geneva (AFP) - Swiss deputies on Friday passed a law making it easier to bring corruption charges against the leaders of international sporting bodies such as FIFA which have faced years of sleaze allegations.

The law will affect about 60 multi-billion dollar sporting federations, including football's governing body and the International Olympic Committee, based in Switzerland and has become known as "Lex FIFA", or the FIFA law.

The legislation makes the chiefs of sporting federations "politically exposed persons," alongside political dictators, for whom an allegation of money laundering or corruption will trigger judicial proceedings.

"With this law, corruption in sport will become a crime. It's the first step towards cleaning up sport," Roland Buchel, a lawmaker with the populist Swiss People's Party who led a four-year campaign for the bill, told AFP.

The law is in response to years of allegations of corruption against sporting bodies, including FIFA.

Football's global body, which is based in Zurich, has been at the centre of controversy over its decision to grant the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

FIFA and Qatar have denied any wrongdoing.

But the governing body's executive will vote next week on whether to release the full report of corruption inquiry.

Federation chiefs had been exempt from Swiss laws on money laundering, which were based on measures drawn up by the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force.

The new lawl, under which banks will have to flag any suspect payments, brings sports officials -- and their relatives -- into line with politicians.

"It sends a clear message to the world, that officials must accept responsibility," Buchel said.

He said the law should be rubber stamped by the government by April or May 2015.

FIFA and IOC welcome bill

FIFA and the International Olympic Committee welcomed the new law, which was passed by the lower chamber, the National Council by 128 votes to 62 against, with five abstentions.

"As FIFA has repeatedly stated in the past, FIFA supports government measures for protecting the integrity of the sport and tackling corruption," a spokesman said.

The organisation last month published a summary of an investigation into the Qatar bids and Russia's victory for the 2018 World Cup, clearing them of corruption and ruling out a re-vote.

But the author of the investigation, lawyer Michael Garcia, has slammed the summary as "incomplete and erroneous". He has lodged an appeal with FIFA to get a new version released.

The IOC brought in new rules on bidding following bribery revelations surrounding Salt Lake City's bid to host the 2002 Winter Olympics.

The Lausanne-based organisation "fully supports and welcomes this important move by Swiss lawmakers -– it is in line with what the IOC already does," its president Thomas Bach said.

The new bill only affects international organisations based in Switzerland -- where they enjoy favourable tax status -- and not regional or national groups.

Buchel said he regretted that UEFA, European football's governing body which is based in the Swiss town of Nyon, was not covered, but said he hoped it would eventually be.

Asked if he feared sporting bodies might now leave Switzerland, he said: "Good riddance."

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Brazil charges 35 over Petrobras kickbacks

Yahoo – AFP, 11 Dec 2014

Brazilian prosecutors charged 35 businessmen in connection with the Petrobras corruption case on Thursday, the first wave of indictments arising from the investigation into the scandal surrounding the state-owned oil giant.

The 35 are accused of being complicit in a scheme which saw dozens of politicians, mostly allies of the government, receive hundreds of millions of dollars in sweeteners from over-charged contracts involving Brazil's biggest company.

The group are the first people to be charged in the scandal, which broke following the arrest nine months ago of Paulo Roberto Costa, formerly a Petrobras director of supplies.

Costa blew the whistle as part of a plea bargain.

The prosecutors' office added further prosecutions were likely to follow after charging former Petrobras officials along with a slew of figures from leading construction and engineering firms who allegedly paid out bribes in return for winning fat contracts.

"The is the start of the investigation, we have a long way still to go," said prosecutor Rodrigo Janot.

"These people stole Brazilians' pride," said Janot, who warned the case was complex while promising a "calm, balanced, but firm and thorough investigation."

Those accused face charges of corruption, money laundering and helping to set up a criminal organization.

Executives charged included ranking officials from constructors such as OAS, Camargo Correa, UTC, Mendes Junior, Engevix and Galvao Engenharia Engineering.

They are accused of forming a "club" to rotate contracts with Petrobras and cream off cash for politicians to look the other way.

"These people not only corrupted Petrobras but other public bodies. They should therefore go to jail," said the prosecutor for southern Parana state, Deltan Dallagnol, who is heading a special unit tasked with investigating the case.

Under the alleged scheme, companies which won contracts including illicit surcharges of between one and six percent of the deal would pass the cash on to intermediaries who would set up front firms who would produce bogus contracts, services and consultancy services, with the money laundered through those firms.

Police estimate that overall the corrupt network managed to launder around $3.8 billion.

Sony says sorry to Obama, amid leaked emails storm

Yahoo – AFP, December 12, 2014

Sony says sorry to Obama, amid leaked emails storm

Beleaguered studio Sony Pictures has apologized for racially insensitive remarks about President Barack Obama in company emails, the latest in a series of leaks that have left Hollywood reeling.

The unflattering leaks -- including a producer labeling Angelina Jolie a "minimally talented spoiled brat" -- have thrown Sony into damage control mode, amid few signs they are going to stop any time soon.

Other revelations have included the salaries of top executives and stars, unpublished scripts and the aliases used by some celebrities to lay low when they check into hotels. Sony Pictures Entertainment is battling to contain the fallout from a massive hacking attack which some have blamed on North Korea, angry at a forthcoming movie which lampoons the reclusive state's leader.

The latest leaks reportedly include an email exchange in which Sony co-chairwoman Amy Pascal asks film producer Scott Rudin what she should ask Obama at a "stupid" fundraising breakfast.

"Would he like to finance some movies?" joked Rudin, to which Pascal replied: "I doubt it. Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?" -- a reference to Quentin Tarantino slave movie "Django Unchained."

Rudin shot back: ""12 Years" -- harrowing historical drama "12 Years a Slave."

Pascal retorted: "Or the Butler" -- Lee Daniels' "The Butler," about a black butler who serves generations of presidents at the White House.

Pascal apologized for her remarks Thursday, saying: "The content of my emails were insensitive and inappropriate but are not an accurate reflection of who I am.

"Although this was a private communication that was stolen, I accept full responsibility for what I wrote and apologize to everyone who was offended," she added in a statement cited by Variety.

Rudin -- who did not reply to a request for comment -- was also behind the scathing comments about Jolie and a planned movie about Cleopatra, with Jolie in the title role.

Jolie 'minimally talented spoiled brat'

"I'm not destroying my career over a minimally talented spoiled brat who thought nothing of shoving this off her plate for 18 months so she could go direct a movie," Rudin wrote.

"She's a camp event and a celebrity ... There is NO relationship with any movie star ... that requires our willingness to prostrate ourselves this way in the face of childish, irresponsible, willful and un-partnerly behavior."

The emails, published by online sites including gawker.com, were leaked as part of a huge hacking attack on Sony Pictures over the last few weeks.

Earlier this week, a group which claims to have hacked Sony's servers demanded its movie studio pull a soon-to-be-released comedy depicting a fictional CIA plot to kill North Korea's leader.

North Korea Sunday denied involvement in the brazen cyber attack on Sony Pictures, but praised it as a "righteous deed" potentially orchestrated by supporters furious over the movie "The Interview," due out on Christmas Day.

In a sign of nerves about the film, Sony barred TV cameras and print reporters from a red carpet premiere of "The Interview" in Los Angeles on Thursday.

The movie is scheduled for release on December 25. Experts say the furor surrounding it will likely help at the box office.

"It certainly doesn't hurt Sony to have a country publicly denounce the film," Jeff Bock of box officer tracker Exhibitor Relations told AFP.

It "will definitely stir up interest as people will want to see what all the fuss is about," he added.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

UN demands prosecution for CIA officials who tortured al Qaeda suspects

The United Nations has said that officials who committed rights violations against terror suspects must be prosecuted. Several countries expressed outrage at a US Senate report on the CIA's counterterrorism program.

Deutsche Welle, 10 Dec 2014

The UN's special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights, Ben Emmerson, said on Wednesday that senior US officials who authorized and tortured prisoners in consonance with former President George W. Bush's security policy after the September 11, 2001 attacks should be made accountable for committing human rights violations.

"The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy ... must be brought to justice and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes," he said, according to the Associated Press.

International law prohibits granting immunity to government officials who allow the use of torture, Emmerson said, referring to the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA's harsh interrogation techniques of terror suspects at secret overseas facilities.

The document, released on Tuesday claimed that the CIA's detention and interrogation program of al Qaeda suspects following the 9/11 attacks included harsh techniques such as waterboarding and "Russian roulette" to force detainees into admission.

'Gross violation of human rights'

The report sparked controversy all over the world, prompting US President Barack Obama to say that the CIA's rights violations "did significant damage to America's standing in the world."

Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier condemned the CIA's activities as documented in the report, saying they amounted to a "gross violation of our liberal, democratic values" and that "what was then considered right and done in the fight against Islamic terrorism was unacceptable and a serious mistake."

In a statement on Wednesday, EU spokeswoman Catherine Ray also acknowledged that the report raised "serious questions about the violation of human rights by the US authorities," but that it was "a positive step in confronting publicly and critically the Central Intelligence Agency's detention and interrogation program."

Poland admits to hosting torture center

Although the EU's official statement did not comment on the CIA's overseas detention facilities, especially in EU countries, Poland's former President Aleksander Kwasniewski revealed on Wednesday that his country secretly hosted a CIA prison where al Qaeda suspects were tortured. Kwasniewski said that, as a member of NATO, Poland had enhanced intelligence cooperation with the United States after the 2001 September attacks, in which more than 2,000 people died.

Poland's former president said his country had allowed terror suspects on its soil under the condition that they be treated as prisoners of war.

Warsaw also put pressure on the US president in 2003 to end the brutal interrogations on its soil, but in July this year, Poland was slammed by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for allowing the torture of a Palestinian and a Saudi terror suspect within its territory before the two were sent to Guantanamo Bay. The ECJ concluded that Poland had cooperated in the CIA's program.

Polish prosecutors have been investigating the secret prison since 2008 and media reports suggest that the CIA had secret prisons in Afghanistan, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Thailand. The Senate report also mentions that US officials detained 119 suspects in so-called CIA "black sites," but the names of the countries participating have not been mentioned.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Torture report: UN, rights groups demand prosecutions

Yahoo - AFP,  Paul Handley, 9 Dec 2014

Rights groups and the UN's top rights defender said the report shows the CIA's
 secret efforts to extract information from detainees after the 9/11 attacks repeatedly
violated international law and basic human rights Photo By Saul Loeb/AFP)

The United Nations and human rights groups called Tuesday for the criminal prosecution of US officials after a Senate report detailed a brutal CIA torture program.

But the Justice Department rejected pursuing charges against anyone involved in the interrogations, saying it had not found anything in the scathing, heavily detailed report that could lead to a successful conviction.

The rights groups and the UN's top rights defender said the report shows the Central Intelligence Agency's secret efforts to extract information from detainees after the 9/11 attacks repeatedly violated international law and basic human rights.

The 524-page summary report from the Senate Intelligence Committee details extensive waterboarding, beatings and other extreme "interrogation techniques" used on detainees.

The report "confirms what the international community has long believed -- that there was a clear policy orchestrated at a high level within the (George W.) Bush administration, which allowed to commit systematic crimes and gross violations of international human rights law," said Ben Emmerson, UN special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights.

"It is now time to take action. The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today's report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes."

Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, called the report "shocking," saying: "It is impossible to read it without feeling immense outrage that our government engaged in these terrible crimes."

"The government officials who authorized illegal activity need to be held accountable," Romero said.

The ACLU called on President Barack Obama to appoint a special prosecutor to examine "the role played by the senior officials most responsible for it and by those who tried to cover up crimes."

"If there is sufficient evidence of criminal conduct, the offenders should be prosecuted," it said.

The group acknowledged that Obama has already ended the torture program, but said the CIA needs to be forbidden from other activities related to it, including holding people in custody or operating detention centers like those where the torture took place.

And it said that the government should apologize to and compensate victims of US torture policies, in compliance with international law.

Such moves would "help ensure that the United States never tortures again," it said.

 'Time for accountability' 

The calls came after the long-awaited release of the report -- which is actually a 524-page summary of the 6,000-page full report, with numerous details and especially the names of people involved blacked out.

Amnesty International said the report makes clear that the CIA was acting unlawfully "from day one" and its brutal interrogations were not a rogue operation.

Steven Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty's US branch, said the program "gave the green light to commit the crimes under international law of torture and enforced disappearance -- with impunity. It’s time for accountability, including a full investigation, prosecutions and remedy for victims."

Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth said the report "shows the repeated claims that harsh measures were needed to protect Americans are fiction."

He noted that the Obama administration had ended many of the practices described in graphic detail in the report.

But Roth added: "Unless this important truth-telling process leads to prosecution of the officials responsible, torture will remain a 'policy option' for future presidents."

Emmerson said the torture carried out by the CIA could not be defended by the fact that it was authorized by top officials.

"Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability," he said.

"International law prohibits the granting of immunities to public officials who have engaged in acts of torture," including senior officials who authorized them, he added.

But prosecution of anyone -- which would put the Obama administration against that of his predecessor, Bush -- appeared doubtful.

The Department of Justice said that since 2009, it had already pursued two investigations into mistreatment of detainees and decided the evidence was not sufficient to obtain a conviction.

The DOJ said in a statement that investigators had reviewed the Senate report "and did not find any new information that they had not previously considered in reaching their determination."

Related Article:

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Ex Vatican bank heads accused of embezzlement, accounts seized

Yahoo – AFP, 6 Dec 2014

Two former Vatican bank managers and a lawyer have had their accounts seized as part of an investigation into allegations of embezzlement, the Vatican said Saturday.

The bank, officially known as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), said it had pressed charges against the trio some months ago and "the accounts held by the concerned individuals at the IOR have recently been seized".

Italian media reports named the accused as former bank president Angelo Caloia, ex-director general Lelio Scaletti, and lawyer Gabriele Liuzzo.

While the IOR would not provide details on the case "given the ongoing judicial enquiry", Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told Italian media they were suspected of embezzling money.

Reports said they had siphoned off between 50 and 60 million euros ($61 and $73 million) while managing the sale by the bank of 29 buildings.

In a statement the bank said the former managers and lawyer were under investigation based on "circumstances recorded between 2001 and 2008 that have emerged in the internal review process initiated in early 2013."

The IOR has been trying to rid itself of a reputation for shady dealings, following a series of money-laundering scandals in the past.

It was the main shareholder of the Banco Ambrosiano, which collapsed in 1982 amid accusations of ties to the Mafia, while its chairman Roberto Calvi -- dubbed "God's Banker" -- was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London in a suspected murder by mobsters.

Pope Francis was elected last year with a mandate to clean up the Vatican and has focused on improving transparency in the centuries-old institution.

"We are very pleased that the Vatican authorities are taking decisive action," Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, head of the IOR board, was quoted as saying.

Related Article:

Friday, December 5, 2014

China arrests former security chief Zhou Yongkang

Yahoo – AFP, Felicia Sonmez, 5 Dec 2014

Zhou Yongkang, pictured giving a speech in Beijing on May 18, 2012, has been
 expelled from the Communist Party and arrested, the state-run Xinhua news
agency reports (AFP Photo)

China's powerful former security chief Zhou Yongkang has been arrested and put under a judicial probe after being expelled from the Communist Party, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported early Saturday.

Zhou -- who retired from China's all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) in 2012 -- "leaked the party's and the country's secrets," Xinhua said, adding that the once-influential official was found to have "accepted a large amount of money and properties personally and through his family".

The announcement makes Zhou the most senior member of the Communist Party to be investigated since the infamous Gang of Four -- a faction that included the widow of founding leader Mao Zedong -- were put on trial in 1980.

An official's dismissal from the party paves the way for a criminal prosecution which usually leads to guilty verdict at a trial, followed by a prison sentence.

Zhou became ensnared in President Xi Jinping's much-publicised anti-corruption drive in July when he was put under investigation for "serious disciplinary violation".

Xinhua said the decision to expel Zhou was made at a Politburo meeting on Friday, indicating that the move was approved by the party's innermost circle of leaders, including Xi.

'Huge profits'

Communist Party authorities have been waging an anti-graft campaign since Xi ascended to the leadership two years ago.

The campaign has netted high-level "tigers" as well as low-level "flies" -- although critics say the Communist Party has failed to introduce systemic reforms to prevent graft, such as public disclosure of assets.

According to the Xinhua report, which cited a Politburo statement, Zhou "abused his power to help relatives, mistresses and friends make huge profits from operating businesses, resulting in serious losses of state-owned assets".

In unusually frank language, the official news agency also said that Zhou was found to have "committed adultery with a number of women and traded his power for sex and money".

"What Zhou did completely deviated from the Party's nature and mission, and seriously violated Party discipline," Xinhua reported, citing the Politburo statement.

"His behaviors badly undermined the reputation of the Party, significantly damaged the cause of the Party and the people, and have yielded serious consequences," it added.

Adultery is not illegal in China, but the Communist Party has for years been embarrassed by reports of its cadres keeping multiple mistresses.

Authorities said in June that officials guilty of affairs "could be removed from their posts, or stripped of party membership".

Zhou's expulsion from the party had been rumoured for months, and a number of officials with close ties to the former security czar have recently been ousted from the party.

They include Ji Wenlin, Yu Gang and Tan Hong, all former secretaries to Zhou, according to overseas Chinese reports.

In addition to Zhou, Xi's anti-corruption campaign has also led to the ousting of Xu Caihou, a former vice-chairman of China's Central Military Commission.

Xu, who was a Politburo member until 2012, in July became the first of the body's former members to fall in the current crackdown on graft, which follows the ascension of Xi to power as the head of the party.

Even as Xi has pledged to battle corruption, a recent Transparency International report suggested that corruption has actually worsened in China.

The report, released by the Berlin-based group on Wednesday, showed China dropping four points from its previous ranking to 36, the same as Rwanda, Malawi and Angola.

Despite the anti-graft crackdown, "too many corruption cases take place behind closed doors and the manner in which people are prosecuted needs greater transparency," the group said.

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

US probe finds excessive use of force by Cleveland police

Yahoo – AFP, 4 Dec 2014

A man holds a sign in Cleveland, Ohio on November 25, 2014 referring to the fatal
 shooting of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy, who was wielding a replica handgun
(AFP Photo/Jordan Gonzalez)

Washington (AFP) - A US federal probe has concluded that the police in Cleveland -- where a 12-year-old boy was recently shot and killed by police -- has engaged in a pattern of "using excessive force," Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday.

The announcement came amid rising racial tensions over a series of police killings of African Americans, most recently that of Tamir Rice, who was shot to death last month in a Cleveland playground by police responding to reports of a boy brandishing a gun. Rice was later found to have a toy gun.

"We have determined that there is reasonable cause to believe that the Cleveland Division of Police engages in a pattern or practice of using excessive force – in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, and as a result of systemic deficiencies, including insufficient accountability, inadequate training and equipment, ineffective policies, and inadequate engagement with the community," Holder said.

The federal investigation into police practices in Cleveland was begun 18 months ago and not specifically about the Rice shooting.

But Holder said the city had acknowledged the findings and agreed to take court-enforced remedial actions, including the naming of an independent monitor to oversee reforms.

The action followed a night of protests in New York over a grand jury's decision not to charge a police officer who choked to death an unarmed black man, Eric Garner.

A similar decision on November 24 by a grand jury in Missouri in the case of a white officer who killed an unarmed black teen, Michael Brown, sparked riots in the St Louis suburbs and protests in cities across the countries.

The cases have reignited a long-standing debate over police treatment with African Americans, and what some see as overly aggressive policing tactics.

Related Article:

Vatican Finds Hundreds of Millions of Euros ‘Tucked Away’

Departments used to have 'free hand', but this is changing

Jakarta Globe, Reuters, Dec 04, 2014

Nuns take pictures in St. Peter's square on Dec. 4, 2014 at the Vatican during
the installation of the traditional Christmas tree. (AFP Photo/Vincenzo Pinto)

Vatican City. The Vatican’s economy minister has said hundreds of millions of euros were found “tucked away” in accounts of various Holy See departments without having appeared in the city-state’s balance sheets.

In an article for Britain’s Catholic Herald Magazine to be published on Friday, Australian Cardinal George Pell wrote that the discovery meant overall Vatican finances were in better shape than previously believed.

“In fact, we have discovered that the situation is much healthier than it seemed, because some hundreds of millions of euros were tucked away in particular sectional accounts and did not appear on the balance sheet,” he wrote.

“It is important to point out that the Vatican is not broke … the Holy See is paying its way, while possessing substantial assets and investments,” Pell said, according to an advance text made available on Thursday.

Pell did not suggest any wrongdoing but said Vatican departments had long had “an almost free hand” with their finances and followed “long-established patterns” in managing their affairs.

“Very few were tempted to tell the outside world what was happening, except when they needed extra help,” he said, singling out the once-powerful Secretariat of State as one department that had especially jealously guarded its independence.

“It was impossible for anyone to know accurately what was going on overall,” said Pell, head of the new Secretariat for the Economy that is independent of the now downgraded Secretariat of State.

Australian outsider

Pell is an outsider from the English-speaking world transferred by Pope Francis from Sydney to Rome to oversee the Vatican’s often muddled finances after decades of control by Italians.

Pell’s office sent a letter to all Vatican departments last month about changes in economic ethics and accountability.

As of Jan. 1, each department will have to enact “sound and efficient financial management policies” and prepare financial information and reports that meet international accounting standards.

Each department’s financial statements will be reviewed by a major international auditing firm, the letter said.

Since the pope’s election in March, 2013, the Vatican has enacted major reforms to adhere to international financial standards and prevent money laundering. It has closed many suspicious accounts at its scandal-rocked bank.

In his article, Pell said the reforms were “well under way and already past the point where the Vatican could return to the ‘bad old days’.”