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Posts tagged ‘Ecuador’

Report: US Press Freedom Declines Under Obama.


Image: Report: US Press Freedom Declines Under Obama

By Melissa Clyne

Freedom of the press in the United States has plunged during the Obama administration, according to the 2014 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index.

“The U.S. under President Obama, who once promised to run the ‘most transparent’ administration in the country’s history, fell from 32nd to 46th in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index, a drop of 13 slots,” The Washington Times reports.

The report reviews the state of media freedoms in 180 countries. Major declines occurred in the United States, the Central African Republic, and Guatemala, while marked improvements took place in Ecuador, Bolivia, and South Africa, according to the index compiled by the press advocacy group.

Finland, the Netherlands, and Norway continue to lead the index for press freedoms and government openness, while Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea “continue to be the biggest information black holes, again occupying the last three positions.” Syria also ranked near the bottom.

The rating was based on seven criteria: the level of abuses, the extent of pluralism, media independence, the environment and self-censorship, the legislative framework, transparency, and infrastructure, according to Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Christophe Deloire.

“It makes governments face their responsibilities by providing civil society with an objective measure, and provides international bodies with a good governance indicator to guide their decisions,” Deloire said in a statement.

The report cited the handling of three events as major contributors to the declining rating for reporter freedoms the United States, according to The Washington Times.

• Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosure of top secret information related to U.S. spying programs;

• Army Pvt. Bradley Manning’s leak of classified documents to WikiLeaks;

• The Justice Department’s handling of a probe of The Associated Press and other media organizations suspected of receiving leaked data.

Freedom of the press is increasingly under siege as governments around the globe are targeting journalists — to get to their sources and those people who leak sensitive information, according to the report.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Assange: US Owes Snowden a ‘Debt of Gratitude’.


SYDNEY — Americans owe U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden a debt of gratitude because he prompted President Barack Obama to promise an overhaul of secret surveillance, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said.

Australian-born Assange said the U.S. President had “validated Edward Snowden’s role as a whistleblower” by announcing plans which promised greater oversight and transparency.

“Today was a victory of sorts for Edward Snowden and his many supporters,” Assange said Saturday in comments published on his Australian website.

“As Snowden has stated, his biggest concern was if he blew the whistle and change did not occur.

“Well reforms are taking shape, and for that, the President and people of the United States and around the world owe Edward Snowden a debt of gratitude.”

Weeks after former U.S. contractor Snowden leaked details of massive U.S. snooping on private Internet and telephone usage, Obama stood firm in denying any abuse but acknowledged that he needed to address growing concerns.

Snowden, who has fled to Russia, revealed some of the more sweeping aspects of U.S. surveillance on Internet searches and telephone records.

Obama, who canceled a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in part over Russia’s decision to grant asylum to the 30-year-old, insisted that he has always tried to prevent abuse of surveillance programs.

“I don’t think Mr. Snowden was a patriot,” Obama said.

But Assange said had it not been for Snowden’s disclosures, no one would have known about the programs and no reforms could have taken place. He went on to criticize the Obama administration’ handling of whistleblowers.

Assange has been holed up at the Ecuador embassy in London for over a year after claiming asylum from that country to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations of sexual assault against two women.

 

© AFP 2013
Source: NEWSmax.com

Face Up – Jesus on Forgiveness (3 of 3).


Series: The Relationship Principles of Jesus
Pastor Kerry Shook

This sermon includes the sermon outline and the full sermon transcript. Below you will see a preview of the outline and a portion of the full sermon.

1. Recognize the Damage of Resentment

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)

Forgiveness is not about…

• performance

• pretending

• projecting

—-

In the 1950s, anthropologist called the Waodani tribe in the rainforest of Ecuador the most vicious and violent society on the face of the earth. The Waodanis had this culture of revenge that had passed down for generations. In the Waodani tribe if you were wrong it was considered your right to spear the person who wronged you. They were killing each other at such a rate that by 1955 they were almost extinct.

Now we look at that and we think that is crazy, a culture of revenge? That is insanity that it is okay to spear the person who wronged you. But, think about it. We live in a culture of resentment and it’s just as crazy. It may not be the proper thing to do to spear the person who hurt you.

We may not spear them physically but we spear them by holding onto our hurt, holding onto our bitterness and holding onto our resentment. We hold onto the spear of resentment when we refuse to forgive and it’s just as insane as what the Waodanis were doing because resentment never works. Resentment never rights a wrong.

Resentment never solves the situation and it doesn’t make me feel any better. We think when we hold onto our hurt we are getting back at the person who hurt us. We think when we hold onto our bitterness we are getting revenge of the person who wronged us. We think when we hold onto the spear of resentment then we are spearing the person who hurt us but whenever I use the spear of resentment it doesn’t hurt the person who wronged me. It only hurts me.

How we need to realize that. We think we are spearing that person who wronged us but we are just spearing ourselves and some of you have been hurt by someone in your past and you are refusing to forgive and you think about holding onto that hurt and you are getting back at them but they are not even thinking about you.

Ecuador Hires DC Lobbyists Amid Snowden Asylum Fight.


Ecuador has hired lobbying group Van Scoyoc Associates to represent its interests in Washington, as the nation faces intense criticism from the United States for its willingness to consider an asylum offer to National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden.

Ecuador’s embassy agreed to a $300,000, six-month contract earlier this month for the firm to lobby Congress and the Obama administration on its behalf, according to Justice Department records, The Hill reports.

Van Scoyoc “will provide counsel to the Embassy of Ecuador on strengthening the Embassy’s ties to the United States government and relevant U.S. institutions,” which “will involve contact with officials of the executive branch and members and staff of the U.S. Congress where the Republic of Ecuador has a direct interest or need for advocacy and consulting assistance,” the records state.

Van Scoyoc’s work will focus on issues, such as “bilateral dialogue, foreign affairs, trade, economic development, migration, and security/defense,” the records say.

The U.S. government has expressed its outrage with Ecuador for refusing to rule out an asylum offer to Snowden, who now resides in the Moscow airport while awaiting developments.

Several high-powered congressmen have threatened to sever trade relations with Ecuador if it accepts Snowden, and Vice President Joe Biden has personally urged Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa to refrain from doing so, The Hill reports.

Following the congressional threats, Ecuador canceled its trade agreement with the United States and offered $23 million to finance “human rights” education for Americans.

A day after that cancellation, lobbying titan Patton Boggs cut off its work for Ecuador, according to The Hill.  So the nation moved its business to Van Scoyoc.

As for Snowden, he applied for temporary asylum in Russia Tuesday, according to a variety of news sources. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he might allow Snowden to remain in Russia if he agrees to “cease his work aimed at inflicting damage on our American partners,” according to The New York Times.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Dan Weil

Snowden Applies for Asylum in Russia.


Image: Snowden Applies for Asylum in Russia

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden has applied for political asylum in Russia, a Russian immigration source close to the matter said on Monday.

The source, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said a Wikileaks activist who is traveling with Snowden handed his application to a Russian consulate in the transit area at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport late on Sunday.

On Monday Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said Snowden will have to stop leaking U.S. secrets if he wants to get asylum in Russia, which he claimed Snowden doesn’t want to do.

“He must stop his work aimed at damaging our American partners, as odd as it may sound from me,” Putin said, according to USA Today.

Putin, speaking at a news conference, insisted that Snowden isn’t a Russian agent and that Russian security agencies have not contacted him.

Putin continued to refuse President Barack Obama’s demands that Snowden, who leaked details about the NSA‘s surveillance efforts both in the United States and Europe, be returned back to the United States to face espionage charges.

“Russia has never extradited anyone and is not going to do so,” Putin said. Russia has traded foreign exchange employees for those detained, arrested and sentenced in Russia, but doesn’t extradite people back to their native countries to face charges there.

Undersecretary William Burns, who is working with Russia on the Snowden matter, and Secretary of State John Kerry have sent a message to Russia, saying the country can’t expect the same level of support on counterterrorism and other matters if it doesn’t cooperate, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Kerry noted that the United States has extradited seven people wanted for crimes in Russia to Moscow.

But Putin still isn’t officially welcoming Snowden into Russia, and the fugitive remains trapped in a transit area at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, where he been since last week, after the U.S. State Department revoked his passport and traveling privileges.

Putin said Snowden should pick where he wants to go, and then leave. However, that’s easier said than done, since other countries have been rejecting Snowden’s pleas for asylum.

Ecuador backed away from allowing Snowden political asylum, and left him “under the care of the Russian authorities” at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said.

Senior U.S. officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, apparently scared the Latin American country away by suggesting it could lose trade with the United States if it accepts Snowden. Ecuador relies on the United States for nearly half of its exports, including oil, fish and seafood, bananas and flowers, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Before his request for asylum in Russia was known, Snowden met with Russian diplomatic officials and gave them a list of 15 countries where he had applied for political asylum, a Russian Foreign Minister told The Los Angeles Times.

“It was a desperate measure on his part after Ecuador disavowed his political protection credentials,” the official, who spoke anonymously, said. ”In the document Snowden reiterated once again that he is not a traitor and explained his actions only by a desire to open the world’s eyes on the flagrant violations by U.S. special services not only of American citizens but also citizens of European Union including their NATO allies.”

The official declined to name the countries on the list, but Kirill Kabanov, a member of the Presidential Council on Human Rights said he believed Russia is included.

“Russia has two workable options: Firstly is to provide Snowden with some refugee-status papers so that he could buy a ticket and leave for some other country, or secondly to grant him political asylum,” Kabanov said. “Snowden’s actions were motivated by a desire to protect human rights and freedoms and now many rights activists in Russia are talking about him as a human rights advocate who deserves to be granted asylum, although this measure is fraught with some political inconveniences for Russia.”

Monday, Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro was to arrive in Russia for an already scheduled visit, reports USA Today, after he said over the weekend that Snowden was “almost sure” to get asylum in his country if he formally requests it.

But Snowden’s limbo at the airport was the end product of too-quick decisions made in his last 24 hours in Hong Kong, to where he fled after disclosing the NSA’s secrets.

Part of his legal team there believed Hong Kong was the best place to protect Snowden’s safety, reports the Wall Street Journal. But Snowden got a different message from WikiLeaks, the WSJ reports. Through an intermediary, he asked WikiLeaks to help him seek asylum in Iceland, and WikiLeaks asked other governments about asylum possibilities.

Sunday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called Snowden a hero, but denied his organization was behind the disclosures.

Assange said the WikiLeaks legal team has been in contact with Snowden, and called the United States’ move to revoke his passport a “disgrace.” Assange himself is under the protection of the Ecuadorian government, staying at the nation’s embassy in London, where he has been granted protection from a Swedish extradition connected to an alleged sex crime.

Latest: Is Snowden a Hero or Traitor – Vote in Urgent Poll 
© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Ecuador President: Snowden Can’t Leave Moscow.


PUERTO VIEJO, Ecuador — Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has told The Associated Press that National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden is “under the care of Russian authorities” and can’t leave Moscow‘s international airport without his U.S. passport.

In an interview with the AP Sunday morning, Correa said he had no idea Snowden’s intended destination was Ecuador when Snowden fled Hong Kong for Russia last week. He said the Ecuadorean consul in London committed “a serious error” without consulting any officials in Ecuador’s capital when the consul issued a letter of safe passage for Snowden.

Correa said “the case is not in Ecuador’s hands” and said Snowden must assume responsibility if he broke U.S. laws. But Correa said the broader legitimacy of Snowden’s action must be taken into consideration and Ecuador would still consider an asylum request.

Correa told Reuters news agency his government cannot begin considering asylum for Snowden, wanted by Washington for leaking confidential information about a surveillance program, until he reaches Ecuador or an Ecuadorean embassy.

The 30-year-old former National Security Agency contractor has not been able to leave the Moscow international airport.
“It’s up to the Russian authorities if he can leave the Moscow airport for an Ecuadorean embassy,” Correa said in an interview with Reuters in the coastal city of Portoviejo.
“He will be treated just like any other citizen even though he does not have a passport. We are clear that this is a special situation.”
Correa said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, granted asylum last year in Ecuador’s London embassy, has not lost the country’s support despite contributing to confusion over a travel document issued to Snowden by Ecuador’s government.
“In these crises when there is need to respond with urgency, it’s also possible to make mistakes, but Mr. Assange continues to enjoy our support, respect and appreciation,” he said.
Correa said he sent his best regards to Snowden and told him to “keep his spirits high” as he seeks to escape his limbo.

© 2013 NewsmaxWorld. All rights reserved.
By Newsmax Wires

Biden Asks Ecuador’s President to Nix Snowden Asylum Request.


Vice President Biden personally asked Ecuador to reject the asylum request of NSA leaker Edward Snowden, the president of the small South American country said on Saturday.

“The moment that he arrives — if he arrives, the first thing is we’ll ask the opinion of the United States, as we did in the Assange case with England,” Correa said in his weekly television address. “But the decision is ours to make.”

Julian Assange, founder of the anti-secrecy group, WikiLeaks, has been given asylum in Ecuador’s embassy in London.

The Friday telephone conversation with Biden represented the highest-level talks between the U.S. and Ecuador since Snowden began seeking asylum.

It also comes as asylum options appear to be dwindling for the former NSA contractor, who disclosed the agency’s broad telephone and Internet surveillance programs, as he seeks to avoid U.S. charges of espionage and theft of government property.

Biden’s call followed President Barack Obama’s remarks on Thursday that he had not telephoned world leaders on Snowden because he “shouldn’t have to” — and because he did not want to begin “wheeling and dealing” with other nations to extradite a “hacker.”

National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said on Saturday that Biden and Correa spoke the day before, but provided no further details.

“The vice president spoke with President Correa on June 28,” Meehan said in a statement published by The Associated Press. “They engaged in a broad conversation regarding the bilateral relationship.

“They did discuss Mr. Snowden, but we are not going to provide details on their discussion,” Meehan said.

Correa called his conversation with Biden “friendly and very cordial,” telling the vice president that Ecuador had not sought to be put in the situation of deciding whether to harbor an American fugitive.

He added that Ecuador could not consider the asylum request until Snowden was in the country.

“The really grave thing is what Snowden has reported,” Correa said in his address. “He will have to assume his responsibilities, but the grave thing is his reporting of the biggest massive spy operation in the history of humanity, inside and outside the United States.”

Ecuador is among several countries where Snowden is seeking help to avoid U.S. prosecution.

He also has sought asylum in Iceland, according to WikiLeaks — and he remains holed up in a transit zone at the Moscow airport after Russian President Vladimir Putin called Snowden “a free man” and refused to send him back to the United States.

Snowden, 30, had fled to Russia to evade an extradition order in Hong Kong.

Further, The Guardian newspaper of London reported that Correa recently nullified a travel document that could have helped Snowden come to Ecuador. Snowden’s U.S. passport has already been revoked.

Correa said on Saturday that he did not authorize a letter of safe passage to Snowden that was apparently issued by an Ecuadorean diplomat in London, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The Ecuadorean president said anyone who issued such papers would face discipline.

Without those documents, Snowden’s options for leaving the Moscow airport further diminished.

Additionally, Venezuela’s new president, Nicolas Maduro, has spoken favorably about possibly granting Snowden refuge — though he has taken no action in the matter.

And even if Ecuador or Venezuela decided to take Snowden, there is no guarantee that communist Cuba, the likely transit point for any flight from Moscow to those South American countries, would let him pass through and further complicate its own uneasy relations with the United States.

In his television address, Correa rebuked the Obama administration for hypocrisy, invoking the case of brothers Roberto and William Isaías, bankers whose extradition from the U.S. Correa said Ecuador has been seeking.

The brothers were convicted of fraud in 2012 by Ecuador’s top court. The extradition request by Ecuadorean authorities has been rejected by U.S. courts, the Journal reports.

Although Ecuador has presented a case for the extradition of the bankers, U.S. judges have ruled Ecuador hasn’t been able to prove probable cause against the bankers, and so far have ruled against extradition.

“Let’s be consistent,” Correa said in his television address. “Have rules for everyone, because that is a clear double-standard here.”

As for Biden, Correa suggested it wasn’t personal. He praised the vice president for being more courteous than “those badly behaved and confused ones in the Senate who threaten our country.”

Earlier this week, Ecuador preemptively renounced its tariff benefits on hundreds of millions of dollars in trade. The move came after Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey threatened to block the benefits.

Ecuadorian officials blasted the possible trade move as “a new instrument of blackmail,” the AP reports.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Todd Beamon

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