'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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Saturday, December 28, 2019

Pompadour & rooster cuts: Iraqi styles sculpt 'revolution'

Yahoo – AFP, Hervé Bar, December 28, 2019

Iraqi anti-government protesters are expressing their rebellion against the
existing social order via wild hairstyles (AFP Photo/SABAH ARAR)

Baghdad (AFP) - Elvis Presley may have been the advance guard, but young Iraqis own it -- protesters in Baghdad sport slicked styles and rockabilly haircuts, a testament to their unyielding rebel spirit.

"The revolution has changed everything," said Qassem, nearly three months into a popular movement that seeks to unseat Iraq's highly dysfunctional political establishment.

"Now, it is all so different -- we are free," the young protester added under a tent where he doles out tea and biscuits to peers in Tahrir Square.

"We also know how to let loose," Qassem continued, his face switching suddenly from serious to smiling.

"And so I invented a new style," he chuckled, glancing upwards towards his rectangular pompadour.

Outside his tent, thousands of students and young unemployed people thronged the iconic square, railing once more against "crooked" politicians.

Their enthusiasm has remained undimmed since the start of the revolt on October 1, despite clashes with security forces that have killed close to 460.

One thing strikes the eye perhaps above all else -- the unbridled hairstyles young men sport.

High quiffs, tight fades and loads of attitude -- it is quite the male beauty pageant.

Unorthodox hairstyles can be dangerous in Iraq, where in 2012 at least 15 young 
men were murdered for sporting the "emo" look (AFP Photo/SABAH ARAR)

'Why be scared?'

Exclusively male and in large part inspired by the fashionable cuts of football stars, the phenomenon is coursing through the Arab world.

And it is particularly exuberant in Tahrir Square.

"Here, we call it the rooster comb," explained a local journalist.

For 23-year-old actor and renowned activist Omar Dabbour, "the style began two years ago".

Then "it exploded with the revolution in Tahrir. The people feel increasingly free," he noted.

Dabbour himself sports an impressive, albeit more natural, style -- an afro worthy of the Jackson Five, which amounts to a radical departure, in what is otherwise an ocean of hair gel.

"In Tahrir Square, young people are daring -- it has become normal," added Dabbour.

"But in the rest of the city, it's a bit different -- more conservative. There is the army, the militiamen who can bother you at checkpoints," he continued.

"I don't care. Before, I had a short haircut. Now I have let it grow. Why be scared?"

Sporting yellow tinted glasses and maintaining a studious air, Karrar Riad, 20, pushed a hand through his long and deliberately disordered locks.

With a black leather bracelet, he has the air of a young Johnny Depp. "Today, everything is possible. We do what we want here," he said.

Here perhaps, but not in Riad's home district of Kadhimiya, which houses a key Shiite mausoleum.

Going home requires him to restore some conventional order to his unruly mop.

Other fashionistos don a cap to blend back in when they depart the protest hotbed.

Their caution is not without reason.

In 2012, at least 15 youths were stoned, beaten or shot to death in a spate of targeted attacks against people sporting the "emo" look -- tight-fitting black clothes and alternative hairstyles.

As new hairstyles are shared on social media in Iraq, the trend is towards ever more 
elaborate looks (AFP Photo/SABAH ARAR)

Voluminous proliferation

The range of styles is wide, but it is Iraq's take on the Elvis cut that rises head and shoulders above the rest: a towering pompadour with undercut back and sides.

"Adopted by celebrities, students and hipsters," the pompadour -- named after a mistress of French King Louis XV -- will transform you into a "sexy and trendy man", according to one website.

But this style itself unfurls into a multitude of sub-styles in Iraq, from classic rockabilly to even the mohawk.

And amid the proliferation of looks, cuts are becoming ever more voluminous.

"The idea is to do what you want to do," said Dabbour.

And probably also to attract the throngs of young women who frequent Tahrir Square, in a commingling that is unusual in Iraq.

The hair styles on display have "roots in the 1990s, in the hairdressing salons and male beauty parlours of Sadr City," explained Zahraa Ghandour, an Iraqi documentary film maker.

Sadr City -- a huge working-class district of northeastern Baghdad -- was marginalised under the regime of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein.

"The residents wanted to mark themselves out. It was a means to express themselves, to protest," said Ghandour.

Baroque haircuts, meanwhile, "really started around two years ago, again in Sadr city."

Zouheir-al-Atouani, a local videographer who has gained nationwide fame, spread this style by posting wedding videos in which men sport ever more sculpted looks.

According to Ghandour, "in Tahrir, ever more frequented by young people from Sadr city, it's a way to rebel, to free oneself".

It is also most likely a way of defying the country's all-powerful militias, and social revenge for young people who feel despised, yet now find themselves at the forefront of fashion.

"They are especially creative," smiles Ghandour.

And the styles are "spread far and wide by social networks", where dandies love to showcase their ever crazier cuts.

India's protests: why now?

Yahoo – AFP, Ammu KANNAMPILLY, December 28, 2019

The new citizenship law has sparked two weeks of protests across India (AFP
Photo/Manjunath Kiran)

New Delhi (AFP) - Mumbai-based copywriter Sarah Syed says she was long alarmed by the Hindu nationalist direction of India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi but felt powerless to stop it -- until now.

Like many others taking part in the current wave of protests, the final straw was Modi's new citizenship law and then the images of students being tear-gassed when they demonstrated against it.

"It's not as if one didn't know that things were not right. But for many of us, politics was just too depressing to think about," said Syed, a Muslim married to a Catholic.

"Now though it feels criminal to sit out the protests and say nothing," the 27-year-old told AFP.

The law, which offers fast-track citizenship to non-Muslim nationals from three neighbouring countries, is the latest policy instituted by Modi's government that critics accuse of marginalising Muslims in the Hindu-majority nation.

During his nearly six years in power, Modi's party has renamed places with Islamic-origin names, rewritten history textbooks to diminish or discredit the role of Muslim leaders, and stripped the Muslim-dominated region of Kashmir of its special autonomy.

The new citizenship law offers fast-track citizenship to non-Muslim nationals from 
three of India's neighbouring countries (AFP Photo/NARINDER NANU)

Modi has insisted the legislation will have no impact on Indian Muslims, however his party's 2019 election pledge to conduct a nationwide survey to identify illegal immigrants has raised fears among Muslims of becoming stateless, with no fast-track naturalisation option available to them.

Mumbai-based lawyer Momin Musaddique, who has been providing free legal advice to people worried about the implications of the law, said years of pent-up anxiety among Muslims have finally found an outlet in the protests rippling across the country.

"People have been afraid for so long of this government's Hindu nationalist agenda that they now feel like they have nothing left to fear," he told AFP.

"Now that their very survival in India is under threat, they have no option but to protest," he added.

'We have woken up'

In addition to Muslims, the demonstrations have galvanised large sections of Indian society, from secular Hindus and members of other minorities to intellectuals and opposition politicians.

Historian Zoya Hasan of Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University told AFP the protests represented "the biggest challenge to the Modi government in the last six years".

The unrest is unlikely to derail Modi's Hindu nationalist campaign, said one 
analyst (AFP Photo/Manjunath Kiran)

Several local governments in opposition-ruled states such as Kerala and West Bengal have said they will not conduct surveys for the national citizens' register, responding to the public mood and undermining the prime minister's authority.

Although the protests began as a fight against the citizenship law, many of the demonstrators are now seeking a rollback of the government's push to remake officially secular India as a Hindu nation, said Hasan.

Nevertheless, she added that the unrest was unlikely to derail Modi's Hindu nationalist campaign and risk alienating his base which propelled him to a landslide re-election victory in May.

"The government may take a step back as a result of the protests but they are not going to move away from their core agenda," Hasan said.

For first-time protester Syed, participating in the demonstrations left her with "goosebumps" as she described her elation at seeing people from different communities come together.

"I used to feel so helpless before, like there was nothing I could do to change the way things were in this country," she said.

"The government's strategy has been all smoke and mirrors", she said.

"Now we have woken up."

China bans 'custody and education' punishment for sex workers

Yahoo – AFP, 28 December 2019

China's 'custody and detention' system for sex workers will cease from December 29

Chinese lawmakers Saturday voted to abolish the "custody and education" punishment system, which allowed police to hold sex workers and their clients without charge for up to two years, state media reported.

Critics say the nearly three-decade-old system has little to do with education.

"Sex workers are subjected to police violence... forced labour, compulsory testing for sexually transmitted disease... humiliation and physical violence at these centres," said Shen Tingting, director of advocacy and policy at Asia Catalyst, an NGO working with marginalised groups in the region.

Abolishing this system is a "significant positive step," she said.

The arbitrary detention system will cease from December 29, and those held at "education centers" should be released immediately, state news agency Xinhua reported.

There has been a public push to close the centres ever since China's top legislative committee abolished its system of "re-education through labour camps" in 2013.

Shutting the labour camps -- introduced as a speedy way to handle petty offenders -- ended a practice long criticised by human rights groups.

Yet authorities retained the right to detain sex workers and their clients, and in 2014 police announced that popular actor Huang Haibo would be held for six months for having solicited a prostitute.

That prompted a rare instance of dissent from state media, which questioned the system.

Although illegal, prostitution remains widespread in China, with an estimated several million sex workers.

Under current laws prostitutes and their clients can be fined up to 5,000 yuan ($714) and face up to 15 days of administrative detention.

"Sex workers' issues seldom sits on the agenda of the government," said Shen, adding that abolishing detention centers is only a small step towards safeguarding the rights of prostitutes.

"Chinese law and policies focus on prohibition and cracking down on sex work rather than providing a framework to ensure the health and safety of sex work as a profession."

Friday, December 27, 2019

Year of trials and tribulations for Britain's royals

Yahoo – AFP, Dmitry ZAKS, December 24, 2019

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II has been troubled by a series of scandals and misfortunes
in a year she described as "quite bumpy" in her Christmas Day message (AFP Photo/
Paul Edwards)

London (AFP) - It was a year of trials and tribulations for Britain's royals that Queen Elizabeth II called "quite bumpy" in her Christmas Day message.

Here are some of the scandals and misfortunes to have troubled Britain's 93-year-old monarch.

The ailing prince

The year began with the queen's husband Prince Philip overturning his Land Rover after crashing it into an oncoming car.

It ended with the 98-year-old undergoing hospital treatment for what Buckingham Palace described as a "pre-existing condition".

The January accident left a woman with a broken wrist and the prince "shocked and shaken", according to a witness.

The prince was forced to undergo a routine breath test -- which he passed.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, who is undergoing hospital treatment 
for what Buckingham Palace described as a "pre-existing condition" (AFP Photo/

He blamed the accident on glare from the winter sun and was soon seen driving around the private grounds of one of the royal mansions, but later voluntarily surrendered his driving licence.

Yet time has taken its toll on the queen's companion of 72 years.

He retired from public life in 2017 and had a hip replacement operation the following year.

"Once you get to that age things don't work as well," his son Charles told a reporter on Monday.

The 'favourite son'

The queen's children and grandchildren have frequently been caught up in mischief, but few of their problems have approached the one now facing Prince Andrew -- the man often referred to as the queen's "favourite son".

Andrew was dogged throughout the year by allegations that he had sex with one of the victims of US paedophile Jeffrey Epstein when she was a teenager.

Andrew's attempts to clear his name in a BBC interview in November could have hardly gone worse.

Britain's Prince Andrew, Duke of York, was dogged throughout the year by allegations
he had sex with one of the victims of US paedophile Jeffrey Epstein when she was 
a teenager (AFP Photo/Lillian SUWANRUMPHA)

The prince looked stiff and unapologetic -- a performance akin to "watching a man in quicksand", according to PR consultant Mark Borkowski.

Andrew's lines of defence included a bizarre claim that he never sweated -- his accuser said he perspired profusely -- and that he only stayed at Epstein's home because it was the "honourable" thing to do.

"There is concern in Buckingham Palace," a royal source told The Sunday Times after the interview was aired.

The prince promised to "step back from public duties" a few days later.

The bickering grandchildren

Princess Diana's sons William and Harry found comfort in each other following their mother's death in a 1997 Paris car crash.

But the two princes found themselves dragged into a tabloid scandal involving rumours of a growing rift.

Britain's Prince William (L) and Prince Harry(R) have found themselves dragged 
into a tabloid scandal involving rumours of a growing rift (AFP Photo/Tolga AKMEN)

Prince Harry admitted in October that the two were "certainly on different paths".

"Inevitably stuff happens," he said in an ITV interview that was treated as a sensational revelation by some of the newspapers.

Both Harry and his American actress wife Meghan Markle spoke about their struggles living in the public eye.

Harry took legal action against two newspapers over the alleged illegal interception of voicemail messages around the same time.

Meghan filed a separate lawsuit against a paper that published excerpts of letters her estranged father had sent to her.

The queen became embroiled in the Brexit saga after she approved the suspension 
of parliament requested by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in August (AFP Photo/

The Brexit mess

The bitter divisions over Britain's future that have accompanied its exit from the European Union have also given the queen some grief.

She became embroiled in the saga after she approved the suspension of parliament requested by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in August, amid accusations he was trying to stop lawmakers discussing Brexit.

The Supreme Court subsequently ruled that Johnson's request was unlawful as it stopped parliament from carrying out its duties.

The queen herself holds only symbolic power -- in practice she has to follow the advice of her ministers.

But the BBC's royal correspondent Jonny Dymond called it "a hideous moment for the palace".

Thursday, December 26, 2019

From Algeria to Hong Kong, a year of anti-establishment rage

Yahoo – AFP, Loïc VENNIN,  December 26, 2019

A small spark can ignite a protest, such as metro ticket increase (AFP Photo/

Paris (AFP) - Angry citizens have swelled the streets of cities across the globe this year, pushing back against a disparate range of policies but often expressing a common grievance -- the establishment's failure to heed their demands for a more equitable future.

While street protests are nothing new, experts say the intense 2019 flare-ups reflect a growing sentiment that the social contract between governments and citizens has broken down, with voters paying the price but unable to affect meaningful change.

"What unites the protests is that all are responding to a sense of exclusion, pessimism about the future, and a feeling of having lost control to unaccountable elites," said Jake Werner, a historian at the University of Chicago.

The financial crisis of 2007-08 in particular, he said, exposed systemic failings and induced years of austerity and insecurity for millions of people.

It also produced an acute sense of unfairness, in particular among young people who see their prospects of earning a decent living slipping away with every price hike or benefit cut.

"What was previously experienced as proper or natural is now increasingly experienced as a form of domination and injustice," Werner told AFP.

Parisians brought the city to a standstill in a demonstration against pension 
overhauls (AFP Photo/Alain JOCARD)

As a result, it often takes only a small move to spark a protest -- in Chile it was a metro ticket increase, in Iran and France it was higher fuel costs, in Lebanon a "WhatsApp tax" -- that balloons into a wider revolt demanding better living standards.

Elsewhere, as in Hong Kong, Algeria and India, calls for greater political freedom have become a potent rallying force.

In Iraq, fury over corruption and unemployment boiled over into fiery clashes which have left hundreds of people dead and forced the prime minister to resign.

"The belief in democracy's capacity to change people's lives is undoubtedly eroding," said Erik Neveu, a sociologist at the Sciences Po political science university in Rennes, western France.

'Rejection of neo-liberalism'

For Olivier Fillieule, a specialist in social movements at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, this year's protests built on the same dynamics which produced movements as diverse as Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring, or the Russian opposition to President Vladimir Putin.

"Don't forget that Time magazine named 'the Protester' its person of the year in 2011," Fillieule said.

Algerians have also been protesting for greater political freedoms (AFP Photo/

"The rejection of neo-liberalism is the main driver of most of these movements," he said, noting that "the state's abdication of some of its responsibilities leaves people alone against the market".

The impression that big companies and the wealthy seem to get a free pass -- despite calls to force multinationals to pay more taxes -- only further inflames the sense that the game is rigged.

"Society is fed up with paying and paying. They've squeezed us like a lemon," Marcela Paz, a 51-year-old teacher, said during a protest in Santiago, Chile in October.

And if the traditional rungs for climbing the social ladder are out of reach, experts say more people will feel that protests, and potentially violence, are the only recourse.

In France, for example, the "yellow vest" anger over high costs of living quickly spiralled into rioting and clashes with police -- and eventually forced the government to pledge billions of euros in tax cuts and wage boosts.

Then in December French unions backed by the "yellow vests" called a nationwide strike to protest against pension reforms, which brought the country to a virtual standstill for several weeks.

Hong Kong has been battered by months of mass rallies and violent clashes pitting 
police against protesters who are agitating for direct popular elections of the 
semi-autonomous Chinese territory's government (AFP Photo/Philip FONG)


Experts say the multitude of long-running protests, some of which have carried on for weeks or even months at a time, could provide mutual energy while also inspiring new movements.

"It is clear that protests and other forms of movement activity have been very much on the rise in recent years, and perhaps this year in particular," said Doug McAdam, a sociologist at Stanford University in California.

And reflecting the distrust of top-down democracy, most movements have rejected leadership, embracing instead a "horizontal" organisation facilitated by social media or as in Hong Kong by secure message apps.

In some countries like Iran and Egypt, authorities have tried to curtain the social movements by cutting off the internet -- India this month cut mobile access in parts of Delhi amid protests against a citizenship law deemed anti-Muslim -- but without much success in the long term.

These are not only "Facebook revolutions", says Geoffrey Pleyers, a sociology professor in Belgium and France. These are profound movements where young people often take the lead, but then become intergenerational, he adds.

France's 'yellow vest' movement eventually forced the government to pledge 
billions of euros in tax cuts and wage boosts (AFP Photo/Alain JOCARD)

The "horizontal" organisation makes it harder for authorities to single out someone to negotiate with, or to arrest, in a bid to quell protesters' anger.

"This demand of dignity is central in the movement since 2011," Fillieule said.

"The question of structuring a movement, and how it will be represented, comes second."

Even if governments give in to certain demands, they risk facing more protests unless they address the anger that sent people to the streets in the first place.

"It's not that the nature of authority changed -- elites are just as unaccountable today as they were ten years ago," Werner said.

"What changed is that elite unaccountability has been exposed, because popular forces are no longer aligned with elites as they once were."

2019: a look back at a year of turmoil

France24 – AFP, 26 december 2019

Paris (AFP) - The year 2019 saw an explosion of demonstrations across the world as people demanded an overhaul of entrenched political systems and action on climate change.

Here is a look back at these and other events that marked the year.

Protests sweep Latin America

On January 23, Venezuela's opposition chief Juan Guaido declares himself interim president, escalating a long-running political and economic crisis.

He is recognised by more than 50 countries, including the United States. But the army backs President Nicolas Maduro and he remains in his post.

In mid-September major demonstrations erupt in Haiti after fuel shortages, demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise. Violence claims more than 40 lives.

A metro ticket hike in Chile's capital mid-October is the trigger for protests that claim more than 20 lives before a referendum on reforms is agreed.

Bolivia is gripped by three weeks of demonstrations after President Evo Morales claims to win a fourth term on October 20. Dozens are killed. Morales resigns on November 10 and flees into exile as the government works on new elections.

Ecuador is paralysed by nearly two weeks of protests in October and in Colombia strikes and demonstrations against the right-wing government begin mid-November.

North Africa/Mideast fury

On February 22, unprecedented protests break out in Algeria against a fifth term for frail President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power for 20 years.

He loses the army's backing and resigns on April 2. But demonstrations continue, demanding an overhaul of the entire political establishment and rejecting new president Abdelmadjid Tebboune, elected on December 12 in polls marked by record abstention.

In Sudan, the military on April 11 ends Omar al-Bashir's three decades in power, a key demand in four months of nationwide protests.

Demonstrations continue until a hard-won agreement in August sets up a joint governing council to oversee a transition to civilian rule. More than 250 people are killed, according to protesters.

In Iraq, mass demonstrations erupt on October 1 against unemployment, corruption and poor public services, degenerating into violence that claims more than 460 lives.

On December 1, parliament accepts the government's resignation.

In Lebanon, rolling mass protests start on October 17, triggered by plans for a messaging app tax and turning against the political elite. They continue even after Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigns on October 29, with protesters rejecting new premier-designate Hassan Diab, an engineering professor backed by Hezbollah chosen on December 19 to form a government.

Iran sees an explosion of riots on November 15 after a fuel price hike. Authorities crush the unrest but Amnesty International says more than 304 people were killed, most shot by security forces, a toll denied by the authorities.

IS leader killed

After a five-year offensive to seize vast Islamic State (IS) territory in Iraq and Syria, the jihadists were driven out of their last bastion in March by Kurdish-led forces.

On October 27, President Donald Trump announces that IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a US special forces raid in Syria, blowing himself up as he was pursued.

Boeing MAX grounded

A March 10 Ethiopian Airlines crash leads to the global grounding of Boeing 737 MAX planes. It follows a Lion Air crash involving the same model six months earlier, with 346 lives lost in the two incidents.

Boeing faces investigations and lawsuits, and is forced to upgrade its systems, in a crisis that costs it billions of dollars.

In mid-December production of the plane is suspended. On December 23, Boeing chief Dennis Muilenburg resigns.

Brexit saga

Britain's March 29, 2019, deadline for leaving the European Union following a 2016 referendum is postponed three times, with the British parliament unable to agree to the divorce terms negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May with Brussels, nor a second accord negotiated by her successor Boris Johnson.

After widely winning early elections on December 12, Johnson gets support at the first reading by the lower house for his accord. He seeks final adoption on January 9, and to leave the EU on January 31, 2020.

First black hole photo

On April 10, astronomers unveil the first photograph of a black hole, a phenomenon they were convinced existed even if it had never been seen before.

Drawn from mountains of data captured two years earlier by telescopes across the world, it shows a supermassive black hole 50 million lightyears away.

Notre Dame burns

On April 15, flames destroy the spire and roof of Paris's beloved Notre-Dame cathedral, but firefighters manage to save the gothic building, while many of its arts, relics and other treasures are rescued.

Amid a global outpouring of emotion, nearly one billion euros ($1.1 billion) is pledged for its reconstruction, which will take years. For the first time since 1803, Notre-Dame does not celebrate Christmas mass.

Iran escalation

On May 8, Tehran announces its first step back from the 2015 nuclear accord -- exactly a year after the United States quit the deal and reimposed sanctions.

Over the next months Iran re-engages components of its nuclear programme that it had halted, including uranium enrichment.

Tensions mount when Washington blames Tehran for a series of attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf from mid-May.

On September 14, Iran is again blamed when major Saudi oil facilities are attacked by Yemen's Huthi rebels, which it supports. It denies involvement.

In six months Tehran has surpassed the stock of enriched uranium, the level of enrichment and heavy water reserves fixed by the accord and modernised its centrifuges.

Hong Kong erupts

June 9 sees the start of the biggest crisis in the former British colony of Hong Kong since it returned to Chinese rule in 1997, with almost-daily pro-democracy protests.

Demonstrations are initially sparked by a now-abandoned attempt to allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland but develop into a popular revolt against Beijing's rule.

On November 24, pro-democracy campaigners win a landslide victory in local elections.

Hottest month ever

July temperatures were the hottest ever recorded, US and European Union authorities announce in August.

Temperature records rise in Europe and the North Pole, and in August, Iceland loses its first glacier to climate change.

Fires ravage Brazil's Amazon and Australia, while Venice is swamped by flooding not seen in decades.

The extreme weather raises climate concerns, and rallies for action, initiated by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg, spread worldwide.

US disengagement

On August 2, the US officially quits the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF) with Russia.

Trump's "America First" regime also strikes out alone by pursuing trade wars with China and the EU. It also withdraw from the Paris accord on climate change and its troops from northeastern Syria.

Trump impeachment bid

On September 24, the Democrats in Congress launch an impeachment enquiry into Trump after claims he pressured Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, a rival in his 2020 reelection bid.

Trump is impeached in a historic rebuke by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on two counts of abuse of office and obstruction of Congress, but conviction is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate in a trial expected to begin in January.

Turkey moves into Syria

On October 9, Turkey launches an offensive into northern Syria to push back from the border Kurdish fighters it considers "terrorists".

Two days earlier Trump had announced the withdrawal of US troops in the area, leading to charges that Washington had abandoned Kurdish allies who were vital in the battle against Islamic State jihadists.

Turkey halts its operation on October 23 after the US and Russia agree in separate deals to ensure the fighters leave the border region.

Big Tech tackled

On July 24, US regulators fine Facebook a record $5 billion for data protection violations amid mounting concerns about the dominance of it and other internet giants Apple, Amazon and Google.

Criticised for failing to protect consumers as well as over tax and advertising issues, the tech titans come under pressure to reform, with threats of investigation, fines and even dismantlement.

Social crisis in France

France is confronted from December 5 by a three-week standoff between French transport workers and the government over pension reforms, which causes havoc to Christmas travel.

Workers at the national SNCF and Parisian RATP rail and public transport companies walk off the job to protest at the government's plan to meld France's 42 pension schemes into a single points-based one, which would see some public employees lose certain privileges, including early retirement.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Pope lifts 'pontifical secret' for sex abuse cases

Yahoo – AFP, Ljubomir MILASIN, Alexandria SAGE, December 17, 2019

The decision by Pope Francis was the latest move to improve transparency in
the handling of cases of clerical child abuse (AFP Photo/Tiziana FABI)

Vatican City (AFP) - Priests can no longer cite papal secrecy in abuse cases, the Vatican said Tuesday, the latest move by Pope Francis to combat silence surrounding paedophilia in the Roman Catholic church.

The Church has been rocked by thousands of reports of sexual abuse around the world by priests, and accusations of cover-ups by senior clergy.

Francis' latest instructions regarding Vatican law on sexual abuse say that the pontifical secret no longer applies "to accusations, trials and decisions" involving such cases.

Pontifical secrecy is a rule of confidentiality designed to protect sensitive information related to Church governance, such as diplomatic correspondence, personnel issues and alleged crimes.

Critics say the secrecy laws have prevented priests and victims from reporting abuse, as well as hindered national justice systems prosecuting cases.

The Vatican also announced on Tuesday that it was raising the age at which sexual images of a person were deemed child pornography from 14 to 18.

In May, the pope passed a landmark measure to oblige those who know about sex abuse to report it to their superiors, a move expected to bring even more cases to light.

In Tuesday's statement, issued on the Argentine pontiff's 83rd birthday, Francis spelt out the new obligations.

"The person who files the report, the person who alleges to have been harmed and the witnesses shall not be bound by any obligation of silence with regard to matters involving the case," he wrote.

An 'all-out battle'

Archbishop of Malta Charles Scicluna, the Vatican's chief sex crime investigator, called Francis' move an "epochal decision that removes obstacles and impediments."

He told the official Vatican News website that "the question of transparency now is being implemented at the highest level."

The pope has vowed an "all-out battle" against sex abuse within the Church, but some victims' groups have said concrete measures have been slow in coming.

Marie Collins, a child sexual abuse survivor who in 2017 resigned from a Vatican committee she said was failing to adequately tackle paedophilia, welcomed the pope's latest move.

"Excellent news," Collins wrote on Twitter, saying the committee had recommended the step. "At last a real and positive change."

Despite the lifting of papal secrecy, Francis qualified that discretion in sexual abuse cases was still required.

Information pertaining to such cases should be treated, "in such a way as to ensure its security, integrity and discretion... for the sake of protecting the good name, image and privacy of all persons involved," the pope wrote.

But that should not obstruct the law, the obligation to report abuses and the carrying out of requests by law enforcement, the instructions said.