'Dump Trump': Tens of thousands join global march

'Dump Trump': Tens of thousands join global march
Demonstrators arrive on the National Mall in Washington, DC, for the 'Women's March on Washington' on January 21, 2017 (AFP Photo/Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS)

March for Science protesters hit the streets worldwide

March for Science protesters hit the streets worldwide
Thousands of people in Australia and New Zealand on Saturday kicked off the March for Science, the first of more than 500 marches around the globe in support of scienceThousands of people in Australia and New Zealand on Saturday kicked off the March for Science, the first of more than 500 marches around the globe in support of science

Bernie Sanders and the Movement Where the People Found Their Voice

"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.)

Hong Kong's grandpa protesters speak softly but carry a stick

Hong Kong's grandpa protesters speak softly but carry a stick
'Grandpa Wong' is a regular sight at Hong Kong's street battles (AFP Photo/VIVEK PRAKASH)
A student holds a sign reading "Don't shoot, listen!!!" during a protest
on June 17, 2013 in Brasilia (AFP, Evaristo)

FIFA scandal engulfs Blatter and Platini

FIFA scandal engulfs Blatter and Platini
FIFA President Sepp Blatter (L) shakes hands with UEFA president Michel Platini after being re-elected following a vote in Zurich on May 29, 2015 (AFP Photo/Michael Buholzer)
"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. …

Wall Street's 'Fearless Girl' statue to stay until 2018

Wall Street's 'Fearless Girl' statue to stay until 2018
The " Fearless Girl " statue on Wall Street is seen by many as a defiant symbol of women's rights under the new administration of President Donald Trump (AFP Photo/ TIMOTHY A. CLARY)

“… The Fall of Many - Seen It Yet?

You are going to see more and more personal secrets being revealed about persons in high places of popularity or government. It will seem like an epidemic of non-integrity! But what is happening is exactly what we have been teaching. The new energy has light that will expose the darkness of things that are not commensurate with integrity. They have always been there, and they were kept from being seen by many who keep secrets in the dark. Seen the change yet?

In order to get to a more stable future, you will have to go through gyrations of dark and light. What this means is that the dark is going to be revealed and push back at you. It will eventually lose. We told you this. That's what you're here for is to help those around you who don't see an escape from the past. They didn't get their nuclear war, but everything else is going into the dumper anyway. … “

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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

US Olympics chief resigns in wake of abuse scandal

Yahoo – AFP, Rob Woollard, February 28, 2018

United States Olympic Committee chief executive Scott Blackmun faced stinging
criticism for his handling of the case involving gymnastics team doctor Larry
Nassar (AFP Photo/Maxx Wolfson)

Los Angeles (AFP) - Embattled United States Olympic Committee chief executive Scott Blackmun has stepped down following calls for his resignation in the wake of the USA gymnastics abuse scandal, it was confirmed on Wednesday.

Blackmun, who faced stinging criticism for his handling of the case involving team doctor Larry Nassar which rocked the sport, departs after eight years in the role.

The 60-year-old administrator had recently disclosed he was battling prostate cancer.

"Given Scott's current health situation, we have mutually agreed it is in the best interest of both Scott and the USOC that we identify new leadership so that we can immediately address the urgent initiatives ahead of us," USOC Chairman Larry Probst said in a statement.

"The USOC is at a critical point in its history. The important work that Scott started needs to continue and will require especially vigorous attention in light of Larry Nassar’s decades-long abuse of athletes affiliated with USA Gymnastics."

USOC said board member Susanne Lyons would replace Blackmun as interim chief executive as the hunt for a permanent successor got under way.

Blackmun's departure comes after he had faced calls to resign for his alleged failure to act swiftly as the Nassar scandal unfolded, claims rejected by USOC.

Multiple US senators had demanded his resignation after a Wall Street Journal report that said USOC was made aware of allegations surrounding Nassar in 2015 yet did nothing to intervene.

USOC had defended Blackmun's handling of the case, with Probst telling reporters in Pyeongchang at the Winter Olympics this month that "he did what he was supposed to do and he did the right thing at every turn."

'They don't trust him'

Probst had initially ruled out any changes in personnel until an investigation ordered by USOC had determined who knew what and when, stating that Blackmun had "served USOC with distinction."

However the progress of that investigation was confronted by an immediate roadblock after it emerged last week that several of Nassar's victims had vowed not to co-operate, citing mistrust of USOC and Blackmun.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Olympic gymnasts including gold medallists Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, had said they would opt out of the investigation.

"The athletes don’t want to participate," a lawyer for the gymnasts told the paper. "They don't trust the USOC, and they don't trust (Blackmun)."

Raisman, a prominent Blackmun critic, had questioned how committed USOC was to the investigation.

"For 31 months, I heard nothing," Raisman told the Journal. "I find it hard to believe after all this time that the USOC is genuinely concerned about anything other than the scrutiny it's now facing."

At least 265 female athletes, several of them Olympic gold medal gymnasts, claimed former US Olympic team doctor Nassar abused them over a period of two decades in the worst scandal in US Olympic history.

Nassar, 54, was last month sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for his crimes after days of harrowing victim-impact testimony.

Blackmun had issued an apology in the wake of those court hearings after USOC failed to send a representative to attend.

"The USOC should have been there to hear it in person, and I am deeply sorry that did not happen," Blackmun said in an apology in January addressed to Nassar's victims.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Republicans rebuff students' call for stricter gun curbs

Yahoo – AFP, Jim MANNION, February 27, 2018

House Speaker Paul Ryan says no to a ban on guns "for law abiding
citizens" (AFP Photo/WIN MCNAMEE)

Washington (AFP) - Republican leaders rebuffed calls for major changes in US gun laws Tuesday, blaming the mass shooting at a Florida high school on a "colossal breakdown" of law enforcement rather than the easy availability of assault rifles.

Student survivors of the assault two weeks ago met with members of Congress to press for curbs on gun sales but found little enthusiasm for legislative action beyond closing gaps in a national system of background checks.

"Let me just say we shouldn't be banning guns for law abiding citizens, we should be focusing on making sure citizens who should not get guns in the first place don't get those guns," House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters.

Ryan and other Republican leaders until now have largely been absent from the debate that has raged since a troubled 19-year-old armed with a semi-automatic rifle killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

Ryan blamed the February 14 rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on the failure of local authorities to heed numerous warnings about the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, a former student at the school.

"There was a colossal breakdown in the system locally," he said, citing lapses by the FBI and a deputy sheriff accused of failing to act when shooting broke out at the school.

Ryan's argument echoed that of US President Donald Trump who asserted Monday that he would have charged into the school after the shooter, even without a gun.

Trump last week called for raising the minimum age for gun purchases to 21, but has made no mention of that since.

Instead, he has pushed for arming teachers as a first line of defense, an approach favored by the National Rifle Association but widely criticized by teachers themselves as impractical and an unreasonable burden on them.

Trump also has called for building more mental hospitals, a ban on devices known as "bump stocks" to make a semi-automatic weapon fire more rapidly, and better background checks to keep guns out of the hands of "sickos."

A bipartisan bill currently before Congress would step up state and federal agency reporting to a national database of offenses that would bar an individual from purchasing a firearm.

Students are to return to class Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High 
School in Parkland, Florida among them senior Emma Gonzalez who has been
vocal in calling for gun control (AFP Photo/JOE RAEDLE)

Closer to home, Florida's legislature is weighing whether to raise the minimum age for gun purchases to 21 as part of a package of measures sponsored by the state's Republican governor. But a ban on assault rifles is not part of the package.

Gun ban

While some Democrats favor more comprehensive gun reform, they hold out little hope for it in a Republican-dominated Congress despite the new momentum created by student survivors of the Florida shooting, and polls showing overwhelming public support for stricter gun laws.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was to meet behind closed doors Tuesday with students from Parkland, where classes will resume on Wednesday, exactly two weeks after tragedy struck.

The students also met Monday evening with Representative Steve Scalise, the number three Republican leader.

Scalise was shot and nearly killed last June at a congressional baseball practice by a heavily armed man.

He said the session with the students was "very emotional."

"Some of the things that they've been through are similar to some of the things that I've been through," he said in an interview with CBS.

But they appear not to have swayed him on the assault rifle ban.

A ban on AR-15s "is not one of the big discussions here," Scalise said.

"You can talk about any one weapon and if you ban that weapon, does that mean that nothing else is going to happen?"

Scalise later joined Ryan in arguing that existing gun laws needed to be better enforced, rather than overhauled.

"This speaks to bigger questions of our culture. What are we teaching our kids? Look at the violence in our culture," Ryan said. "There are bigger questions here than a narrow law."

Related Article:

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Delta, United abandon US gun lobby after Florida shooting

Yahoo – AFP, February 24, 2018

Delta has joined a host of companies that are cutting ties with the National
Rifle Association, the powerful US gun lobby (AFP Photo/Andrew Burton)

Washington (AFP) - US airlines Delta and United on Saturday joined the ever-expanding list of companies cutting ties with the National Rifle Association, the country's powerful gun lobby, in the wake of a deadly school shooting in Florida.

The "#BoycottNRA" hashtag has gained traction on Twitter since the Valentine Day's rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida left 14 students and three staff dead.

"Delta is reaching out to the NRA to let them know we will be ending their contract for discounted rates through our group travel program," Delta said in a statement.

"We will be requesting that the NRA remove our information from their website."

United chimed in with a similar message, also discontinuing discounted rates for NRA members attending the group's annual meeting.

The two airlines join several other companies in retracting benefits for the NRA and its members, including rental car companies Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise and Hertz, First National Bank of Omaha and insurance providers Chubb and MetLife.

"Customer feedback has caused us to review our relationship with the NRA," First National Bank of Omaha said.

Allied Van Lines and North American Van Lines, along with security company Symantec, have also severed ties.

Allied Van Lines said it "no longer has an affiliate relationship with the NRA effective immediately."

None of the companies explicitly linked their statements to the mass shooting in Florida, but their decisions come as activists are pushing for stronger gun controls in the United States.

Bank of America said it would immediately "engage the limited number of clients we have that manufacture assault weapons for nonmilitary use to understand what they can contribute" to helping end mass shootings.

A 19-year-old former student at the Parkland school, Nikolas Cruz, used an assault-style rifle to carry out the February 14 shooting.

The incident has once again shone the spotlight on the NRA, which staunchly opposes any limits to the right to bear arms enshrined in the US Constitution.

On Thursday, National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre slammed what he called "the shameful politicization of tragedy," and called for Americans to be the first line of defense -- meaning arming teachers.

That idea has been embraced by President Donald Trump, who again pushed his controversial plan to arm "firearms adept" teachers with "annual training" to help protect the nation's schools.

"Shootings will not happen again - a big & very inexpensive deterrent. Up to States," Trump tweeted.

Gun glut: Industry's woes go beyond politics

Yahoo – AFP, John BIERS, February 24, 2018

Just two days before the school shooting in Florida revived the US gun control
debate, debt-plagued gunmaker Remington Outdoor announced it will file for
bankruptcy (AFP Photo/DOMINICK REUTER)

New York (AFP) - Just two days before the school shooting in Florida revived the US gun control debate, debt-plagued gunmaker Remington Outdoor announced it will file for bankruptcy.

The financial woes of the more than 200-year-old company illustrate a paradox of the Trump era: weapon manufacturers miscalculated, ramping up production in anticipation of a Hillary Clinton presidency that would drive sales of those fearing increased gun control.

Instead, they got a period of political dominance for the powerful gun lobby accompanied by financial fragility for the gunmakers.

Since Donald Trump was elected president in November 2016, gun manufacturers have struggled to deal with excess supply, forcing them to rein back manufacturing, cut jobs and slash prices, as well as prompting some executives to be replaced.

"Because Republicans are in control of both the White House and the Congress, the threat of increased gun regulation went way down and so the stocking behavior of consumers went way down," said Emile Courtney, an analyst at S&P Global Ratings.

But since the February 14 Parkland shooting, which left 14 students and three teachers dead, survivors from the Florida school have emerged as powerful advocates for gun control, urging Trump and others to take action.

On Friday, a stampede of major companies, including insurers Chubb and MetLife, security company Symantec and rental car giants Avis Budget Group, Enterprise Holdings and Hertz joined others in ending discount programs for National Rifle Association members.

The move came amid heightened pressure from some consumers as the "#BoycottNRA" hashtag trended on Twitter.

Demand fell 'off the cliff'

If past trends hold, the revived talk of gun restrictions in the wake of the mass shooting will boost gun sales as more consumers stockpile weapons amid worries they could be banned.

But it is unclear how that will affect the companies' bottom line amid a rising tide of antagonism toward the gun lobby.

Sturm Ruger & Company this week became the latest industry player to detail the hit from slackening sales, reporting a 40 percent drop in 2017 profits to $52.1 million, a sharp pullback from the assessment of "stronger-than-normal demand during most of 2016."

The company cut manufacturing of its firearms and has eliminated 700 jobs over the last year, 28 percent of its workforce, executives said on a conference call this week.

Sturm Ruger chief executive Christopher Killoy said the company had made progress in working down inventory amid the tough climate.

Christopher Metz, who was hired as chief executive of Vista Outdoor in October, said pricing is now "much more rational" compared with a significant part of last year.

"There were competitors that were trying to catch up with the kind of falling off the cliff demand," Metz said early this month.

New era?

In the wake of the Parkland shooting, Trump has opened the door to some changes, such as endorsing a ban on "bump stocks," an accessory that can turn a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic one, and urging stronger background checks.

But the president, who praised the National Rifle Association as "very, very great people," also favors arming teachers, a stance ridiculed by educators.

Jeff Pistole, a gun dealer in Arkansas, expects the headlines to boost gun sales in the short run, especially for the AR-15, the gun used in Florida and many other mass shootings.

"Every time there's a shooting, the price spikes on them and then after everything settles down, the price falls back down on them. And after Trump got elected, they got really cheap," he said.

Pistole said the response to Parkland by gun control supporters has been much more muscular compared with the Las Vegas shooting in October, which resulted in 58 fatalities.

"There's been a lot of backlash," he said. "At first, people are saying 'Oh, Trump's president, we're not worried...' but with this one, there's a lot going on in the media, so people are paying attention to it."

This has also increased pressure on companies to cut ties with the gun industry. First National Bank of Omaha announced Thursday it was withdrawing its NRA-branded Visa credit card.

"Customer feedback has caused us to review our relationship with the NRA," First National Bank said on Twitter.

"As a result, First National Bank of Omaha will not renew its contract with the National Rifle Association to issue the NRA Visa card."

Asset manager BlackRock, a large shareholder in American Outdoor Brands, Sturm Ruger and Vista, said it planned to speak with gunmakers following the Florida shooting, but would not sell the shares, according to news reports.

Who are the youthful vanguard of the US anti-gun campaign?

Yahoo – AFP, Leila MACOR,  February 22, 2018

Survivors of the mass shooting at Majory Stoneman High School in Florida are
leading what's considered an unprecedented youth mobilization against gun
violence in the US (AFP Photo/RHONA WISE)

Miami (AFP) - Young survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting have impressed the world with their eloquence as they grab the banner of the fight to end gun violence in America.

Cameron Kasky started the slogan #NeverAgain, David Hogg is now a target of an online smear campaign and Emma Gonzalez moved many in the country with her cry: "Shame on you!"

Who are the fresh-faced leaders of the #NeverAgain campaign to demand stricter gun laws, an issue that sharply divides American society?

In this file photo taken on February 17, 2018, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High 
School student Cameron Kasky speaks at a rally for gun control in Fort Lauderdale, 
Florida (AFP Photo/RHONA WISE)

Cameron Kasky

The 17-year-old has been described by the New Yorker as a "theater kid" and calls himself the "class clown."

On February 14, the day of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Kasky addressed pro-gun advocates with a scathing Facebook post: "I'm safe... Thank you to all the second amendment warriors who protected me."

Two days after the massacre that left 17 dead at his school, Kasky created the hashtag #NeverAgain, urging his supporters to make it go viral, which it did.

Perhaps his most high-profile moment came on Wednesday, when he confronted US Senator Marco Rubio of Florida at a CNN "town hall" event broadcast on prime time.

Appearing relaxed and confident, the teen confronted the one-time presidential candidate, who has received funding from the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) pro-gun lobby: "Senator Rubio, can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA in the future?"

Emma Gonzalez rallied the nascent movement with a fiery 
speech that captured widespread attention (AFP Photo/

Emma Gonzalez

"Shame on you!" the 18-year-old declared at an anti-gun rally on February 16th, berating US President Donald Trump and other politicians who accept money from the NRA.

Her fiery speech captured national attention and spurred a nascent movement bringing together student survivors, parents, teachers and other activists.

Gonzalez, whose family has roots in Cuba and is easily recognizable with her shaved head, had written the speech just hours before and her only previous activism was participating in last year's "March for Science."

She and her cohorts called for a "March for Our Lives" in Washington on March 24, saying: "You're either with us, or against us at this point."

The march has since raised at least $2 million in funding from Hollywood A-listers including George Clooney and his human rights lawyer wife Amal, talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, director Steven Spielberg and his actress wife Kate Capshaw, and film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg.

David Hogg (right) gives his account of surviving the shooting at his high 
school, which left 17 people dead (AFP Photo/MARK WILSON)

David Hogg

The 17-year-old aspiring journalist took refuge in a closet during the school massacre. Despite the terrifying circumstances, his instinct led him to film interviews with his fellow students while in hiding. The video went viral.

Hogg was recruited by Kasky to help lead the #NeverAgain movement.

But his experience in recent days lays bare the politicization of the issue. Hogg's father is a retired FBI agent and right-wing conspiracy theorists believe the agency is behind a shadowy campaign to bring down Trump.

The teen has been attacked and harassed online, and even accused of being a "crisis actor" paid to travel to tragedies to propagate liberal viewpoints.

"I am not a crisis actor," Hogg said. "I'm someone who had to witness this and live through this and I continue to be having to do that. I'm not acting on anybody's behalf."

Delaney Tarr, 17, is among the generation of Americans for whom the threat 
of school shootings has always been a part of life (AFP Photo/RHONA WISE)

Delaney Tarr

The 17-year-old was among hundreds of Florida students who descended on the state legislature this week to demand gun control laws.

"We've had enough of thoughts and prayers," she said. "We are coming after every single one of you and demanding that you take action."

She is among a generation of young Americans who grew up in an era of school shootings, and always carries around her car keys, with the idea that she could hunker down inside the vehicle in such a situation.

When it actually happened, she ended up hiding with her classmates in a closet.

Related Article:

Friday, February 23, 2018

Australia's scandal-hit deputy PM quits

Yahoo – AFP, Martin PARRY, 23 February 2018

Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce (R), already under fire over an
affair, is now facing a sexual harassment allegation

Australia's scandal-hit deputy leader Barnaby Joyce announced Friday he was quitting and moving to the backbench amid claims of sexual harassment and controversy over an affair with a now-pregnant former aide.

Joyce, whose National Party rules alongside Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's Liberals, has been front-page news in Australia for two weeks since it emerged he had left his wife of 24 years for his younger former media adviser, who is now expecting their baby boy.

The 50-year-old had insisted he would ride out the storm but his position became untenable on Friday when a sexual harassment complaint against him, which he denies, was lodged with the party by an unnamed woman.

Joyce said at a press conference in Armidale, his rural New South Wales seat, that he would step down as Nationals leader and deputy prime minister at a party meeting on Monday.

"It's incredibly important that there be a circuit-breaker, not just for the parliament, but more importantly, a circuit-breaker for Vikki (his lover), for my unborn child, my daughters and for Nat (his wife)," he said.

"This has got to stop. It's not fair on them. It's just completely and utterly unwarranted, the sort of observation that's happened."

Joyce, who has also been criticised for living in an apartment rent-free with now partner Vikki Campion after splitting with his wife, was due to be the acting prime minister this week with Turnbull meeting US President Donald Trump in Washington.

But he opted to take leave.

With Foreign Minister Julie Bishop also out of the country, the role has been assumed by Senate leader Mathias Cormann, who said ahead of Joyce's decision that any harassment claim must be taken seriously.

"Any allegation of sexual harassment is a very serious allegation," he told reporters. "I understand that a formal complaint has been made, and that that complaint is being investigated."

Joyce called the claim "spurious and defamatory" and said he wanted it investigated by the authorities.

"I have asked that that be referred to the police," he said, while admitting it had been "the straw that broke the camel's back".

"It's quite evident that you can't go to the despatch box with issues like that surrounding you."

Riveted Australia

The daily media headlines on the scandal have riveted the Australian public and sparked debate about workplace culture amid the global #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.

But it has also highlighted the perilous state of the coalition government, which just a few months ago survived a crisis over lawmakers' dual citizenship that threatened its wafer-thin parliamentary majority.

Last week a furious Turnbull, who relies on the smaller National Party to govern, savaged Joyce for "a shocking error of judgement", leading his deputy to fire back that the prime minister was "inept".

In a statement from Washington, Turnbull Friday thanked Joyce for being "a fierce advocate for rural and regional Australia", while insisting the Nationals-Liberal coalition was "undiminished" by the scandal.

But Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten called it "fundamentally damaged" and accused Turnbull of "an atrocious lack of judgement".

"The fact that this scandal has dragged on for 16 days has been damaging to the government, but more importantly, the country," he said.

Joyce's decision to quit came with colleagues reportedly growing increasingly frustrated with his handling of the love-child scandal.

Joyce had opted to give several media interviews this week, at a time when he was expected to be on leave and out of the spotlight, prompting two of the party's backbenchers to publicly call on him to resign.

Junior Nationals minister David Gillespie has indicated he would be a candidate for the vacancy, while reports said Veterans Affairs Minister Michael McCormack had significant backing.

The new Nationals leader will automatically become deputy prime minister, under a coalition agreement between the two major parties of the centre-right.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

UNICEF number two resigns after complaints of inappropriate behavior

Yahoo - AFPFebruary 22, 2018

Justin Forsyth, seen here at a UNICEF event September 18, 2017, has resigned
as deputy director of the UN children's fund (AFP Photo/Bryan Bedder)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - UNICEF deputy director Justin Forsyth on Thursday resigned from the UN children's agency following complaints of inappropriate behavior towards female staff in his previous post as head of British charity Save The Children.

He apologized again for his past "mistakes", but said his decision to step down from the top role was driven by concern that the scandal would hurt both organisations.

"I want to make clear I am not resigning from UNICEF because of the mistakes I made at Save the Children. They were dealt with through a proper process many years ago," he said in a statement.

"I apologized unreservedly at the time and face to face. I apologize again.

"There is no doubt in my mind that some of the coverage around me is not just to (rightly) hold me to account, but also to attempt to do serious damage to our cause and the case for aid.

"I am resigning because of the danger of damaging both UNICEF and Save the Children and our wider cause. Two organisations I truly love and cherish. I can't let this happen."

Forsyth joined UNICEF in 2016 after leaving his post as chief executive officer of Save the Children, where he faced complaints from three workers who said he had sent inappropriate texts and commented on what young female staff were wearing.

UNICEF on Wednesday said it was unaware that Forsyth faced those complaints when he was recruited.

"Executive Director Henrietta Fore today accepted Justin Forsyth's resignation from his position as Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF," said a UNICEF statement.

"We are grateful to Mr. Forsyth for his work over the past two years to advocate for the most vulnerable children and help advance UNICEF’s mission to save children's lives," it added.

"This mission is now more important than ever."

In the wake of the MeToo movement, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres this month announced a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment and vowed new stepped-up measures to address misconduct by staff at the world body.

A new helpline for UN staff will be set up and UN-wide rules put in place to ensure that claims are addressed in the same manner throughout the organization.

The complaints at Save The Children follow revelations that Oxfam was investigating 26 cases of sexual misconduct since a crisis erupted over its handling of a scandal involving prostitution in Haiti.

Three of Oxfam's senior leaders have apologized for the charity's handling of an internal investigation into the use of prostitutes by staff in Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Florida students turn up heat on lawmakers for gun action

Yahoo – AFP, Gilles CLARENNE, February 21, 2018

Hundreds of students from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia staged
walkouts and gathered in front of the Capitol in support of gun control (AFP Photo/
Olivier Douliery)

Tallahassee (United States) (AFP) - Student survivors of the Florida school shooting that saw 17 people killed in a hail of bullets last week descended on the state capital Wednesday to ramp up the pressure on lawmakers to enact tougher gun control measures.

Holding signs reading "Never Again" and "Be The Adults, Do Something," students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School rallied with thousands of supporters outside the imposing white stone-columned capitol building in Tallahassee.

"I am here to demand change from my government," student Lorenzo Prado told the crowd. "To let these victims lives be taken without any change in return is an act of treason to our great country."

"To let our fellow countrymen fall beside us without fighting back is to me equal to leaving a soldier to die in the battlefield."

Rallying in solidarity, students staged walkouts from other high schools in Florida and elsewhere vowing to make the tragedy a turning point in America's deadlocked debate on gun control.

In Washington, hundreds of local high school students gathered outside the White House chanting slogans against the National Rifle Association (NRA), the powerful gun lobby, and demanding action from President Donald Trump.

Faced with the massive outpouring of grief and outrage over the Parkland, Florida shooting, Trump was to meet with parents, students and teachers at the White House on Wednesday to discuss school safety.

Trump -- who received strong backing from the NRA during his White House run -- is also showing a new-found willingness to take at least some steps on gun control.

The president threw his support on Tuesday behind moves to ban "bump stocks" -- an accessory that can turn a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic one.

Students from Montgomery Blair High School in Maryland march in support of gun 
reform legislation (AFP Photo/WIN MCNAMEE)

Calls to ban bump stocks have been mounting since Stephen Paddock, a retired accountant, used them on several of his weapons to kill 58 concertgoers in Las Vegas in October 2017 in the deadliest mass shooting in recent US history.

Although the former student who shot dead 17 people in Florida last week did not have bump stocks on his gun, there has been a renewed focus on the devices because outlawing them is a rare point of agreement between Democrats, some Republicans and the NRA.

In Florida, more than 100 students from Stoneman Douglas travelled eight hours in buses on Tuesday to meet with state legislators and demand they action on gun laws.

'Things are going to change'

"My classmates and I are probably the most determined group of people you will ever meet," said student Sofie Whitney.

"People are talking about how we aren't serious because we're children, but... we're serious."

The students' push for change hit a hurdle Tuesday when the Republican-dominated Florida House of Representatives declined to take up a debate on legislation that would have banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.

The US Congress is also deadlocked on the gun debate, accomplishing nothing since the shooting in Las Vegas.

"We must actually make a difference," Trump said Tuesday.

"We must move past cliches and tired debates and focus on evidence-based solutions and security measures that actually work," he said. "We must do more to protect our children."

A memorial for victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in
Parkland, Florida (AFP Photo/RHONA WISE)

"This includes implementing common sense security measures and addressing mental health issues," he said, "including better coordination between federal and state law enforcement to take swift action when there are warning signs."

Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz, 19, had a history of troubling behavior and a person close to him warned the FBI five weeks before the shooting that he was a threat -- but no action was taken.

Cruz legally bought the gun he used in the attack -- an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle -- and the White House said Tuesday it would consider raising the age for such purchases.

"I think that's certainly something that's on the table," spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

Students are planning a march on Washington next month and on Tuesday, they earned two million dollars in pledges from Hollywood A-listers George Clooney and his human rights lawyer wife Amal, Oprah Winfrey, director Steven Spielberg and film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg.

The "March for Our Lives" is scheduled to take place on March 24, with sister rallies planned across the country.

Americans support stricter gun laws by a 66 to 31 percent margin, according to a poll released on Tuesday by Quinnipiac University.

It described the margin as "the highest level of support" for stricter gun control since it began surveys on the question in 2008.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Emma Watson gives £1 mn to UK women's justice fund ahead of Baftas

Yahoo – AFP, Alice RITCHIE, February 18, 2018

Actress Emma Watson has made a £1 million donation to launch a new British fund
to help women facing harassement and abuse at work. (AFP Photo/CHRIS DELMAS)

London (AFP) - Actress and activist Emma Watson has donated £1 million to kickstart a new British fund to help women facing harassment and abuse at work, launched ahead of Sunday's Baftas and backed by hundreds of female entertainment stars.

The justice and equality fund was announced in an open letter supporting the US Time's Up movement, signed by around 200 women, including actresses Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Keira Knightley and Saoirse Ronan.

The letter is addressed to "dear sisters" -- as was a similar missive signed by Hollywood stars last month -- and calls for an international movement to stamp out a culture of abuse exposed by the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

The fundraising page for the new fund shows Watson, who won fame in the Harry Potter films and is now a UN Women goodwill ambassador, made the opening £1 million (1.13 million euros, $1.4 million) donation.

Knightley and British actor Tom Hiddleston have both given £10,000 to the fund, which will be used to set up a network of advice, support and advocacy projects to tackle abuse across all sectors of work.

It follows a legal aid fund set up by A-list stars in the United States to help both women and men abused at work.

"In the very near past, we lived in a world where sexual harassment was an uncomfortable joke; an unavoidable, awkward part of being a girl or a woman," the letter published in The Observer newspaper says.

"In 2018, we seem to have woken up in a world ripe for change. If we truly embrace this moment, a line in the sand will turn to stone."

Other stars, including Keira Knightley, have also made donations to 
new "justice and equality fund" for victims of sexual harassment 
and abuse. (AFP Photo/ANGELA WEISS)

'Imbalance of power'

The letter was published ahead of the British Academy Film Awards on Sunday night, when stars are expected to repeat the protest staged at last month's Golden Globes awards and wear black in a show of solidarity with victims.

Some are also expected to bring activists with them to highlight their work.

"As we approach the Baftas, our industry's time for celebration and acknowledgement, we hope we can celebrate this tremendous moment of solidarity and unity across borders by coming together and making this movement international," the letter says.

It emphasises that revelations about abuse in Hollywood have now spread across the world, saying the movement is about more than just the entertainment industry.

It highlights problems in Britain such as the gender pay gap and changes to work that often make it more insecure.

"This movement is intersectional, with conversations across race, class, community, ability and work environment, to talk about the imbalance of power," the letter states.

Around 160 activists and academics have signed a sister letter pledging support for the new fund, which will be administered by the organisation Rosa.

The signatories thank the high-profile stars for helping "push issues such as sexual harassment and rape into the public consciousness in an unprecedented way".

"We believe that this is a moment in time when we can harness our collective energies to dismantle the wall of silence that surrounds violence against women and girls," they say.