'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.)


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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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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.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Archbishop Tutu quits Oxfam role over charity's sex scandal

Digital Journal – AFP, 15 February 2018


Retired archbishop and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu announced Thursday that he had quit his role as an ambassador for Oxfam after the British charity was hit by sexual misconduct allegations.

"The Archbishop is deeply disappointed by allegations of immorality and possible criminality involving humanitarian workers linked to the charity," said a statement from his office in South Africa.

"He is also saddened by the impact of the allegations on the many thousands of good people who have supported Oxfam's righteous work."

The statement said that Tutu, 86, was retiring as an Oxfam global ambassador as he withdraws from many of his public commitments.

Senegalese singer Baaba Maal and British actress Minnie Driver have also quit as Oxfam ambassadors after the scandal erupted early this month.

The charity has admitted to a lack of transparency over an internal investigation about the use of prostitutes by staff in Haiti, who were there to assist the country's recovery after a 2010 earthquake.

The investigation led to the dismissal of four employees and three others being allowed to resign.

Tutu became a globally-celebrated moral leader during his role in opposing white-minority apartheid rule in South Africa. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

Related Article:


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

MSF reveals sex abuse cases as Oxfam scandal widens

Yahoo – AFP, February 14, 2018

The scandal led to the resignation of Oxfam's deputy head and has thrown into
question government funding for the charity. (AFP Photo/Andy Buchanan)

Paris (AFP) - A scandal over sexual abuse in the foreign aid industry that began with Oxfam spread on Wednesday, as French group Doctors Without Borders revealed it had fired 19 staff last year for harassment or abuse.

The Paris-based group, known by its French acronym MSF, said it had received 146 complaints or alerts last year, of which 40 were found to be allegations of harassment or sexual assault.

It said in a statement that it had acted on 24 of these cases, firing 19 employees as a result.

With 40,000 staff around the world, MSF is one of the world's largest aid groups, best known for its work offering medical aid in conflict zones.

"Even though reports of abuse have steadily increased, MSF is aware that abuse goes under-reported," the charity said.

The revelations came as Oxfam grapples with allegations that it was not transparent about a scandal involving some of its staff for using prostitutes in Haiti following a devastating 2010 earthquake.

The scandal has led to the resignation of Oxfam's deputy head and has thrown into question British government funding for the charity, which amounted to around £32 million (36 million euros, $44 million) last year.

Britain warned on Wednesday it would cut off ties with foreign aid charities that cover up sex scandals.

"Unless you report every serious incident or allegation, no matter how damaging to your reputation -- we cannot be partners," Britain's International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt told a conference in Stockholm, according to extracts of her speech released by her ministry.

"The same message goes out to any organisation or partner which receives UK aid. We want procedures to change. We want leaders to lead with moral authority and we want staff to be held accountable," she said.

Mordaunt called the Haiti prostitution allegations "horrifying".

"Sexual abuse and exploitation is an issue the entire development sector needs to confront," Mordaunt said, calling for a culture that "ensures victims and whistleblowers can come forward without fear".

Oxfam has been accused of a lack of transparency over an investigation into the
use of prostitutes by staff members in Haiti. (AFP Photo/HECTOR RETAMAL)

An Oxfam spokeswoman on Wednesday said the aid agency had received 1,270 cancellations of donations by direct debit between Saturday and Monday -- compared to a normal monthly average of 600.

'Goes around the system'

The allegations revolve around Oxfam's then head of mission in Haiti, Belgian national Roland van Hauwermeiren, whose behaviour had already led to complaints when he worked for the charity in Chad.

After resigning from Oxfam, he went on to work for French charity Action Against Hunger in Bangladesh.

There were reports on Wednesday that there had already been complaints about Van Hauwermeiren and his use of prostitutes when he was working for the British medical charity Merlin in Liberia before joining Oxfam.

Swedish former aid worker Amira Malik Miller told the humanitarian news agency IRIN that she had made a complaint about him in 2004 when she was working alongside him in Liberia.

When she saw an initial report about Van Hauwermeiren in The Times newspaper last week, she remembered thinking: "Oh my God, he's been doing this for 14 years."

"He just goes around the system... from Liberia to Chad, to Haiti, to Bangladesh. Someone should have checked properly," Malik Miller was quoted as saying.

She said Van Hauwermeiren and other staff members were "shameless".

- Actress 'devastated' by response -

Oxfam's internal investigation into the use of prostitutes in Haiti led to the dismissal of four employees and three others being allowed to resign, including Van Hauwermeiren.

"They let perpetrators go. They did not inform donors, their regulator or prosecuting authorities," Mordaunt said.

"It was not just the processes and procedures of that organisation that were lacking but moral leadership."

British actress Minnie Driver quit her role as an Oxfam ambassador late Tuesday, saying she was "devastated" by the charity's response to the scandal.

Several sponsors and partners of Oxfam including Visa and the retail chain Marks and Spencer have also said they are examining the situation.


Monday, February 12, 2018

Zijlstra admits faking story about Putin’s ‘greater Russia’ ambitions

DutchNews, February 12, 2018

Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl

Foreign affairs minister Halbe Zijlstra has admitted lying about being at a meeting where Vladimir Putin supposedly set out his plans for a ‘Greater Russia’. 

Zijlstra claimed that he had overheard the Russian president talking about his expansionist ambitions during a gathering of businesspeople at Putin’s dacha in 2006. At the time Zijlstra was working for Shell. But in an interview in the Volkskrant at the weekend he admitted that he had not been at the meeting, but ‘borrowed’ the anecdote from someone whose identity he wanted to protect. 

Prime minister Mark Rutte said Zijlstra’s decision was ‘not sensible’, but he would not be seeking Zijlstra’s resignation. Zijlstra and Rutte are colleagues in the right-wing Liberal (VVD) party. 

‘I made the decision that this is an important geopolitical story with serious implications,’ Zijlstra said. ‘I attributed the story to myself to make sure that the revelations weren’t about the person who was actually there. Because that could have had implications for him or his company.’ 

Rutte said it was ‘not a case of fake news, because he wanted to protect a source. I think he is credible because there is no dispute about the content of the story.’ 

In his original version of the story, Zijlstra claimed he had been a back room in the dacha when he heard Putin define ‘Greater Russia’ as ‘Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic states,’ adding that ‘Kazakhstan was nice to have’. 

Doubts about the veracity of the foreign minister’s claims came to light when former senior Shell executive Jeroen van der Veer told the Volkskrant that Zijlstra had not been at the meeting in 2006. Zijlstra admitted he was not present but insisted that the substance of the story was true.

‘Was it sensible to protect my source in the manner that I did? No, it wasn’t. But the information is correct,’ he said. He did not confirm whether Van der Veer was the source.

 The revelation comes at an awkward moment for Zijlstra, who is due to fly out to Moscow on Tuesday for his first official meeting with his Russian opposite number Sergey Lavrov. Geert Wilders’s PVV party has called for a debate so the minister can explain his actions to parliament before he leaves. 

The VVD’s spin doctors used the anecdote in October to counter claims that Zijlstra lacked experience of international affairs when he took office.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Rabobank settles US money laundering charge for €300m

DutchNews, February 8, 2018

Rabobank’s headquarters in Utrecht. Photo: Depositphotos.com

Rabobank has settled a long-running charge that one of its US subsidiaries – RNA – laundered money for Mexican drugs cartels and deliberately withheld information from the authorities. 

The settlement means Rabo will not have to undergo prosecution in the US, the Volkskrant said on Thursday. 

The bank has forfeited nearly $370m (€298m) for anti-money laundering funds that authorities say allowed untraceable money transfers on behalf of criminals and for hiding information from US regulators. That includes a $50 million fine the bank will pay to the US treasury. 

The case involves a RNA branch in Calexco, a US city on the Mexican border, which US authorities had been monitoring since 2006. A formal investigation on laundering Mexican drugs money through three accounts at the branch was launched in 2013.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Uma Thurman details Weinstein 'attack'

Yahoo – AFP, February 3, 2018

Uma Thurman told The New York Times that disgraced movie mogul Harvey
Weinstein attacked her in London following the release of "Pulp Fiction"
(AFP Photo/Anne-Christine POUJOULAT , ROBYN BECK)

Los Angeles (AFP) - Actress Uma Thurman, who is indelibly linked to Harvey Weinstein's Miramax studio thanks to her iconic roles in "Pulp Fiction" and "Kill Bill," has broken her silence about the disgraced Hollywood mogul, accusing him of attacking her and threatening her career.

Dozens of Hollywood women -– including Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Beckinsale and Salma Hayek -- have accused Weinstein of acts ranging from sexual harassment to rape.

The scandal has touched off a deluge of allegations bringing down powerful men in entertainment, politics and the media, forcing many industries to re-examine workplace harassment policies.

Thurman, 47, told The New York Times in an interview published Saturday of two incidents in London that took place after the release of 1994's Oscar-winning "Pulp Fiction."

They followed an uncomfortable episode at a Paris hotel in which Thurman said Weinstein was dressed in a bathrobe and led her into a steam room during a meeting about a script.

In the first "attack," which took place in Weinstein's suite at London's Savoy Hotel, "he pushed me down. He tried to shove himself on me. He tried to expose himself. He did all kinds of unpleasant things," she said.

"But he didn't actually put his back into it and force me. You're like an animal wriggling away, like a lizard. I was doing anything I could to get the train back on the track. My track. Not his track."

A statement from Weinstein's publicist quoted in the Times read: "Mr Weinstein acknowledges making a pass at Ms Thurman in England after misreading her signals in Paris. He immediately apologized."

Thurman said she took a friend with her to confront Weinstein not long after that first incident. But his assistants pressured her to meet him alone in his room.

Thurman said she told Weinstein: "If you do what you did to me to other people you will lose your career, your reputation and your family, I promise you."

Weinstein told the paper "she very well could have said this."

'Don't deserve a bullet'

Thurman's friend Ilona Herman, who is Robert De Niro's longtime makeup artist, recalled in the Times that the actress came out of that one-on-one meeting "very disheveled and so upset and had this blank look."

Herman said Thurman told her that Weinstein had threatened to end her career.

Weinstein denied doing so and called Thurman "a brilliant actress." He noted, in his comments to the Times, they had "a flirtatious and fun working relationship" until the Paris incident.

Weinstein, who like other men accused of misconduct has been banished from the entertainment industry, is reportedly in treatment for sexual addiction. Until now, he has insisted all his sexual encounters have been consensual.

Thurman had suggested mistreatment by Weinstein in an Instagram post last November, in which she said she was "angry."

"Harvey, and all your wicked conspirators - I'm glad it's going slowly - you don't deserve a bullet -- stay tuned," she said at the time.

In the Times interview, Thurman also accused director Quentin Tarantino -- who has often referred to her as his "muse" -- of forcing her to drive an unsafe car during filming of "Kill Bill," leading to a serious crash.

In footage posted by the Times, the actress is seen speeding down an unpaved road before crashing into a tree. Thurman is jolted sickeningly and left dazed for several moments until crew members carry her away.

"I felt this searing pain and thought, 'Oh my God, I'm never going to walk again,'" she said. "When I came back from the hospital in a neck brace with my knees damaged and a large massive egg on my head and a concussion, I wanted to see the car and I was very upset.

"Quentin and I had an enormous fight, and I accused him of trying to kill me."

Tarantino did not respond to requests by the Times for comment.

Lambs to slaughter

Miramax told her at the time that she could see the footage of the crash if she gave up her right to sue, she said. She declined.

"When they turned on me after the accident," she said, "I went from being a creative contributor and performer to being like a broken tool."

Thurman said she has complex feelings about her experiences, on the one hand as a victim but on the other as an enabler.

"The complicated feeling I have about Harvey is how bad I feel about all the women that were attacked after I was," she told the Times.

"I am one of the reasons that a young girl would walk into his room alone, the way I did. Quentin used Harvey as the executive producer of 'Kill Bill,' a movie that symbolizes female empowerment. And all these lambs walked into slaughter because they were convinced nobody rises to such a position who would do something illegal to you, but they do."

Friday, February 2, 2018

Memo alleging FBI abuse released on Trump's okay

Yahoo – AFP, February 2, 2018

US President Donald Trump authorizes the release of a Republican memo alleging
 bias in an FBI probe of Russian election meddling (AFP Photo/ANDREW
CABALLERO-REYNOLDS)

Washington (AFP) - The US Congress released a Republican memo Friday alleging bias in FBI investigations into his presidential campaign moments after US President Donald Trump authorized the explosive move.

"What's happening in our country is a disgrace," Trump said, announcing that he had declassified the memo drafted by Republican Congressman and former Trump transition team official Devin Nunes.

"A lot of people should be ashamed," Trump added.

White House sources said that despite a warning from Trump-appointed FBI Director Christopher Wray, whose future is now uncertain, Trump authorized the memo's release "in full" with no redactions.

Trump's decision rocked Washington, intensifying a fight that has raised questions about the political independence of federal prosecutors and whether the president is trying to obstruct justice.

Trump's critics allege the memo is designed to undercut special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of his campaign's ties with Russia, which US intelligence agencies unanimously agree tried to tilt the election in his favor.

The memo is believed to allege that an investigation into Trump campaign officials started with allegations from a Democrat-funded research.


Those allegations will heap pressure on the upper echelons of the FBI and Justice Department, who Trump has frequently attacked, including deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller's probe.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

MPs angry as Shell distances itself from NAM earthquake claims

DutchNews, January 29, 2018

A gas drilling site. Photo: Graham Dockery

There has been furious reaction after energy giant Shell distanced itself from possible claims for earthquake damages in Groningen province made against its subsidiary gas production company NAM. 

MPs are calling for an emergency debate to discuss the issue, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Monday. 

In addition, farmers in the earthquake-damaged province of Groningen are planning a demonstration Monday evening in Delfzijl, local paper Dagblad van het Noorden said. Farmers claim subsidence harms their crops and threatens their manure stores. 

Moreover, many claim NAM does not have the money to settle the escalating claims which are certain to reach billions of euros. 

The row was triggered on Saturday when Trouw said Shell was backing away from possible earthquake damages claims made again NAM, an assertion based on Shell Nederland’s annual report published in June 2017. 

In the report, Shell withdrew a clause regarding its responsibility for NAM. The clause is legally required to make companies responsible for debts of subsidiaries which do not publish their own annual reports. 

Experts told the paper this means Shell is probably not responsible for the escalating costs for earthquake damage by NAM in the northern province. NAM Is jointly owned by Shell and ExxonMobil. 

Provisions 

NAM published an annual report for the first time in 2017. In that report, the company said it had earmarked €3.4bn for provisions on its balance sheet – a small portion of this, 15% or €495m, is reserved for claims made against the company for earthquake damage. 

This, experts say, is likely to be well below the total needed. 

So far most of the damage caused to property in Groningen is paid for directly or indirectly by taxpayers, broadcaster NOS said earlier in January. The state has put €750m into damage compensation and preventing further subsidence, while NAM has invested €422m, the broadcaster said, quoting economic affairs ministry figures. 

Last week, NAM was ordered by judges in Leeuwarden to immediately start compensating home owners in Groningen for the loss of value caused by the earthquakes, rather than to wait until their houses are sold. 

NAM’s first annual report also revealed that Shell and ExxonMobil split €496m in dividend payments in 2016. This is the first time that it was made clear just how much the two oil giants earn from gas production in the Netherlands.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

China's #MeToo movement emerges, testing censors' limits

Yahoo – AFP, Joanna CHIU, January 25, 2018

While #MeToo has shaken artistic, media and political circles globally, in China
the discussion has focused on universities (AFP Photo/WANG ZHAO)

Beijing (AFP) - Former doctoral student Luo Qianqian was "amazed" that her sexual assault story went viral in China, inspiring other women to denounce rampant harassment on campuses and unleashing a #MeToo movement in the country despite censorship challenges.

Before she accused her professor of assaulting her, under the pretence of asking for help watering his plants, #MeToo had been slow to catch on in China.

Activists say efforts to unmask sexual abuse have faced government apathy or even resistance. This time however, Luo's New Year's Day post on the Twitter-like Weibo platform received three million views within hours.

Ten days later, Beijing's Beihang University stripped computer scientist Chen Xiaowu of his position as vice-director of the graduate school after an investigation established he had sexually harassed multiple students.

The hashtags "Me too" and "Me too in China" quickly became trending topics on Weibo, with many more people speaking about their assaults.

But while Communist authorities have allowed the movement to emerge, they have done so within limits -- as they often do with hot social issues -- censoring some content as the topic spread on social media.

Collective action is risky in China, where courts have sentenced signatories of petitions calling for legal reform to years in jail for crimes like "subversion".

But in a rare show of solidarity among intellectuals, more than 50 professors from over 30 colleges have signed an anti-sexual harassment manifesto.

Amid the uproar, the education ministry said it had a "zero tolerance" policy and will establish a new mechanism to prevent sexual harassment.

"The ministry's response was really a surprise, because it's a commitment from our country. I'm very glad my country is finally making this move," Luo told AFP.

It was also a far cry from the harsh response in 2015, when Beijing police detained five feminist campaigners planning to distribute leaflets against domestic violence, releasing them a month later.

Since then, women's rights groups have been forced to suspend operations and several feminist activists told AFP police have suggested they tone down their activity.

'Soft censorship'

There is no legal definition of sexual harassment in China and no national regulations on how to handle sexual assault cases in schools and workplaces.

Sexual harassment is a sensitive topic in China, where political leadership is a man's world with only one woman in the Communist Party's elite 25-member Politburo.

Dozens of senior politicians netted in an ongoing anti-corruption campaign have been accused of paying for sex or engaging in "power for sex" trades, and several officials have been convicted of raping underage girls.

"It is well documented that many Chinese officials treat women like playthings to use for pleasure," human rights lawyer Guo Jianmei told AFP.

"The whole fabric of Chinese society disadvantages women. It's nearly impossible to sue about sexual harassment because courts have no framework on how to process cases."

As the #MeToo movement gains momentum, authorities have begun to censor online posts to ensure they don't move in the "wrong" direction, observers say.

In the past week, censors deleted hundreds of social media posts with the tag "Me too in China" and closed related topic forums.

While many people are still scared to speak out, #MeToo has made huge strides 
in raising awareness in China (AFP Photo/WANG ZHAO)

"Determined users can still have discussions in new channels. That is what I call 'soft censorship'," said Sandra Fu, who tracks Chinese internet trends at the US-based China Digital Times.

Some online petition signers have been called in for questioning, according to Chinese feminist activists.

"Students who signed my open letter on sexual harassment were questioned by their professors," said Xiao Meili, who penned a letter to her alma mater, the Communication University of China.

"They were asked, 'Why write to the school? What was the point?' They also asked students whether they were influenced by foreign forces," Xiao told AFP.

#Workplace#Too

Official state media often uses the term "foreign forces" to discredit criticism. Beijing has long argued that human rights should be defined in Chinese terms.

Yet state-run media has continued to report about the movement, with the Global Times newspaper running a piece last Friday titled, "The #MeToo Hush-up" about harassment victims encountering censorship and threats.

While #MeToo has shaken artistic, media and political circles globally, in China the discussion has focused on universities. Activists are pushing to extend the dialogue to the workplace, with training on how companies can deal with harassment.

Many people are too scared about losing their jobs to speak out, but #MeToo has made huge strides in raising awareness, said Zhang Yajun, a Beijing podcast host.

"When I was young, I had no concept of sexual harassment so when a boss knocked on my hotel room in the middle of the night during a business trip, it didn't occur to me to report to anyone," she said.

"I definitely feel more optimistic now than last month because suddenly this broad conversation is happening."