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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.

Setting Yourself Up For An Amazing Year.


 

Allison Vesterfelt

This blog post first appeared over at www.allisonvesterfelt.com – you can read more about Allison there! 

You never know how much stuff you have until you put it all in a box.

I say this (and write it) all the time, but it’s true. Most of us feel we’re packing pretty lightly, that our life doesn’t include a ton of excess, that we don’t own too much or buy too much or eat too much or socialize too much or criticize ourselves too much — until we see our life from an objective perspective.

Once we start pulling things out of the closet, once we begin organizing the drawers, once we try to pack it all into a cardboard box — that’s when we realize just how cluttered our life really is.

What we really need to do is take an inventory.

new-yearPhoto Credit: Amodiovalerio Verde , Creative Commons

If you’re like most people, this is the time of year when you start thinking about what you want next year to look like. You may have considered some New Year’s Resolutions, or you may be boycotting resolutions. Either way, I’m guessing you’ve spent at least a little time thinking about how you want 2014 to look differently from 2013.

The problem is, most of us spend a good portion of time thinking about what we want to add to our lives without first considered what already exists in them.

I thought about this recently while I was reflecting on the last year of my life.

The thought came to me accidentally, to tell you the truth. I was scrolling through my phone, looking at pictures, when all of a sudden I realized: the last 12 months of my life has been so full.

So much had happened, I realized. So much has changed.

I’ve published a book, moved to Nashville, been to Europe on vacation with my husband. I’ve made new friends, traveled through a dozen states (at least), turned 30 years old, raised $30,000 (with your help) to build a classroom in Uganda, spent time with family, visited Guatemala with Food for the Hungry, run a 10k, and watched people I love have babies and get married.

It’s been a full year; and I don’t say that to brag.

I say that because, my guess is, your year has been really full, too.

Something incredible happens when you just spend a little time taking inventory. You realize how much you had in the first place.
You never realize how much you have until you put it in a box.

There are a few reasons taking inventory is so valuable as we try to move forward into our next year.

First, we realize how “rich” we really are.

When I go through my closet to clear out old clothes, I realize the complaint that I have “nothing to wear” is really unfounded. I have so much to wear, I forget I have most of it.

The same is true for events and achievements in life. Next time you catch yourself thinking the last year of your life has been a waste, go through your Instagram profile. In the place we tend to record our most proud moments, chances are you’ll find memories of the most lovely, wonderful things that have happened to you in the past 12 months.

We are all more blessed than we realize. Our lives are really full.

Second, an honest inventory points to our priorities.

When I spend time to determine where I’ve invested my time, money and energy, I discover what matters to me most. Not what I say matters, but what really matters. I might not like what I find there, but if I’m willing to be honest about it, the information can be incredibly valuable.

Am I spending my time, energy or money on things that really matter?

Is there a disconnect between what I say matters to me; and what really does?

When we take an honest inventory of our lives, we’re able to see how we want to move ahead differently in the future. For example, in my own honest inventory, I realize I spent way too much time, energy and stress over my e-mail inbox. What a waste. I’m not going to do that again next year.

What would it look like for you to take an honest inventory of your last 12 months?

Genocidal Thinking By Dr. Peregrino Brimah.


“..let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear God”

Have you ever killed someone?

Have you ever gotten someone killed?

Do you think you will ever kill an innocent person or get them killed?
If 500 people come from a village and beat your family up, will you encourage a retaliatory attack on that village?

These rather giving questions are the necessary questions to ask in recognizing “Genocidal thinking.”

So what is genocidal thinking?

Genocidal thinking is an individual to collective mentality that directly or indirectly results in the death of a person or group of people.

Most of us, hopefully, immediately reject such association. We will never kill an innocent being. We are not killers. We do not get people killed, we quickly say, and reside in comfort zones within our minds, insulated from being genocidal thinkers. But how true is this?

Like you, probably, I used to reject being labelled a genocidal thinker. A great individual I respect, though I can’t claim I always agree with, Dr. Rotmi Adigun, used to tell me that my many statements were genocidal thinking. I strongly and vehemently rejected such ‘preposterous’ accusation.

“They do it to us.” “I am only giving them back a piece of their own medicine,” I used to say of my pronouncements against certain groups or societies.

“They,” is the underlining feature of genocidal thinking. It all starts with the “they,” “that group,” “those people.” The minute we as human beings separate ourselves from others, castigating “others,” as a different “they,” we have entered the realm of genocidal thinking.

The Latin expression, Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat which means: the burden of proof lies with who declares, not who denies. And is the foundation of the global legal, “presumption of innocence,” principle, which is crucial to appreciating how we get into genocidal thought by easily throwing in that “they.”

Can we with one hundred percent confidence, substantiate our accusation that all of them do so? That all of them would do such to us. Every last person? How we love to judge!

But we are ready to have them all punished for what, let’s say, just one of them crusades against, and what in most occasions, only few of them do. How do we feel that we led to the death of that single innocent person- who begged them at risk of his life – not to go out and ravage our community?

“Guilty beyond reasonable doubt,” and “innocent until proven guilty,” is the standard in law and the standard we should apply. Do we ever?

As genocidal thinkers, we have decided, without much thought, to sacrifice that one innocent person in our fulfillment of our anger towards the supposed majority.

But what of when we are “that innocent person,” in our community who tried our best to stop the majority from going out in ravage? How would it be for us when the “other people,” come over and possibly find “me,” alone, unfortunately, walking alone, and kill me for what I denied and discouraged?

None of us really wants the blood of innocent people on our hands. This is not what we wish to live the rest of our lives remembering. But unless we seriously train and condition ourselves to reject genocidal thinking, these things happen so fast – and we can be among the rioters who rush out to “revenge,” and in our chaos and commotion, get innocent people killed.

A Genocide of One

A verse preached by Muslims from the Quran goes: “whoever kills an innocent person, it is as though he has killed the entire human race.” This is very correct. Because for that one person, the world has ended. Armageddon has occurred. And while we go on with our business, and while the global community counts him as just one, or a few victims – not yet a genocide; for him, he is everyone. For his family, things will never be the same again. Biblical “thou shalt not kill,” is explicit.

Now, I know many of us are still feeling we are not partakers in Genocidal thinking, but have we really considered the impact of our utterances? Have we weighed the implication of the thoughts we spread? Dr. Rotimi cautioned me, “these things you say about them, do you realize that it reinforces the confidence of those who kill them?”

Thoughts Kill

I am still in the process of purifying myself of genocidal thinking. It has been a year since I got sensitized to my genocidal thinking and I can not yet boast of being non-genocidal in thought. But I am happy with my progress. I see beauty in it and recognize how important it is to sanitize ourselves of genocidal thought. Now, I refrain from promoting hatred based on grouping, ethnic categorization, religious affiliation. It is not until you promote murder directly that you are guilty; there is a build-up of negative thoughts towards a particular group, that reinforces the genocidal enactors to commit their atrocities. A Hermatic principle states that a stone thrown into a pond, generates a ripple that goes on -sets a vibration- to affect and change the entire galaxy. Meteorologists explain that hurricanes in the United States are set off by a mere kicking up of sand, by a girl playing at a beach in far off Africa. This is how interconnected our world is. Our words here, reinforce the reality somewhere else.

Every individual is ultimately responsible for his actions, but how do we feel knowing that we contributed to the death of a person or people?
Legendary Bob Marley made the following song of late Emperor Halie

Selassie’s words:

Until the philosophy which hold one race superior
And another
Inferior
Is finally
And permanently
Discredited
And abandoned -
Everywhere is war -
Me say war.
You Are the Prophet

This message is for you. Even though you may believe you will never be responsible for genocidal violence. What of your friends? Every genocide occurred and occurs in communities like ours. Yesterday two bombs exploded in Turkey, killing over 40 people. The Turks picked up sticks and went to beat Syrian refugees in Turkey. A day before, had you asked the Turks if they would participate in genocidal thinking, they probably would have said, never. Genocidal thinking happens all over the world, in Nigeria, China, even in the United States, where police are oft called “pigs.”
It takes much desensitizing to learn not to accidentally kill or punish innocent people in moments of anger. And if we have the spiritual development and the training to resist genocidal thinking, what of when tomorrow night one of your friends whispers to you in the quiet of the night that, “he just killed someone,” during a riot.

Could you have prevented this? Did you discuss genocidal thinking with him and encourage him to aspire for all the levels of restraint not to have had that possibly innocent blood on his shoulders? The headline quote, hopefully many Muslims would know of, is from Quran 5 verse 8.

Unfortunately so many act in direct contradiction of such standards. We get pushed by the perceived hate of others towards us to get unjust. And the cycle self-perpetuates.

Wise words: God put us together of different races on earth to “get to know each other,” and our being “better” “is only by our good actions.” Let our only reference to group, ethnicity, religion, culture or country, be for good and never brought up in bad things. These groups we belong to, even religion, are only meant to be institutions of good, for our benefit and the benefit of humanity. But too often we drag them into the bad within us and the bad thoughts we harbor for others. It is better to not have these groups than ever use them for bad.

It is you that must take the message of genocidal thinking to all the people in your life. This is why God put us together on this planet, and not a person -per-world. We are the prophets in our communities. The world is at a time more than ever where we need to aggressively look for the good within us and gather good together to be stronger to challenge the unfortunate evil. This is what ENDS.ng promotes, this is what I am doing and so also many others.

Shall we put an end to genocidal thinking?

God bless
Dr. Peregrino Brimah
www.ENDS.ng
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Former Dictator’s Trial Links Guatemalan President to War Crimes.


GUATEMALA CITY — A former member of Guatemala‘s armed forces implicated President Otto Perez in civil war atrocities as he testified on Thursday at the genocide trial of ex-dictator Efrain Rios Montt.

Hugo Reyes — who was stationed as an army engineer in a violent region of Guatemala under Rios Montt’s 1982-1983 rule — said Perez commanded soldiers who burned down homes and shot and killed civilians during the civil war, which pitted leftist insurgents against a series of right-wing governments.

Perez, a retired army general who was elected president in 2011, also known as major Tito Arias during the civil war, has previously denied involvement in war crimes.

Reyes, speaking to the court by video link from an undisclosed location, said he witnessed the killing of farmers on an army base near the village of Nebaj in northwestern Guatemala by troops under the command of Perez and another officer.

“The soldiers under the orders of Major Tito Arias, known as Otto Perez Molina, Francisco Marin and the officers they were in charge of, and the commander of the company of engineers, coordinated the burning [of homes] and pulling people out so they could execute them,” Reyes, 47, told the court.

There were gasps in the court as he spoke, and people who had been chatting fell silent. Throughout his testimony, Reyes kept his face hidden with the peak of the baseball cap he wore.

Before Perez took office in 2012, Reuters asked him about testimony linking him to war crimes during the 1960-1996 war in which around 200,000 people died and another 45,000 disappeared. Perez said the allegations were “completely false.”

As president, Perez is protected by amnesty granted to public officials and cannot be subpoenaed.

Rios Montt, who left Congress last year, was ordered to stand trial in January when a judge found sufficient evidence linking him to the killing of more than 1,700 indigenous people in a counterinsurgency plan carried out under his command.

RETRIBUTION

Prosecutors allege Rios Montt turned a blind eye as soldiers used rape, torture, and arson against leftist rebels and targeted indigenous people in a “scorched earth” offensive that killed at least 1,771 members of the Mayan Ixil group.

Rios Montt, 86, has yet to take the stand in the trial, the first in which a country has prosecuted one of its former heads of state for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Reyes, now a mechanic, related how soldiers took kidnapped civilians to a military base where they were tortured, killed and dumped in mass graves.

“Some had their tongues cut out and their fingernails removed and other injuries,” he said. “The army officers said to them: ‘Sons of bitches, talk or we’ll cut out your tongues.'”

Many of the victims of the conflict were ethnic Maya.

Indian seen, Indian dead. That was the motto they had,” said Reyes, the only former member of the armed forces prosecutors have lined up for the witness stand.

Perez, a conservative, was the first military man to take the Guatemalan presidency since the end of the war.

He won election not long after Guatemala began sentencing military officials for crimes committed during the war, and human rights activists raised concerns that Perez might obstruct efforts to bring army officials to justice.

Perez sought to allay those fears, and there was jubilation among victims’ families when Rios Montt went to trial.

But when Reyes was asked by a lawyer working for the prosecution if he feared he had put his life in danger by testifying, he said he was afraid of retribution from Perez and his former military comrades.

“I’m totally sure that they feel nothing in their soul torturing and disappearing someone,” he said.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Missionaries Battle Prince of Darkness in Guatemala.


guatemala pastor
Guatemalan pastor and OMer Nathan Schmutz (Debbie Meroff )

A quarter of Guatemala‘s population call themselves evangelicals, and churches are as plentiful as tortillas. But for many of the indigenous population of this Central American country, ancient Mayan beliefs lie just below the surface. Jesus and Mary are equated to the Sun God and Moon Goddess. Shamans or witches wield great power as healers and casters of spells in rural communities, and it’s not uncommon to see individuals wearing protective amulets against the “evil eye.”

When four Operation Mobilization (OM) volunteers were assigned to work with the pastor of a tiny church in the mountains of Guatemala this past November, they had little idea of what they’d be up against.

God had led Pastor Noé Godoy to the town of Trapiche 10 years before. He was aware that the territory had already been claimed by the Prince of Darkness. Violence, drinking, sickness and death oppressed the residents. A number of young people were using insecticides to take their own lives. During his first years there, local witches performed supernatural “miracles” and incited people to attack the pastor with boiling water and machetes. Evangelism was forbidden. And even though the roof of the tiny building he used for a church was ready to collapse, it wasn’t until after his main opponent’s death that he was allowed to make repairs.

“Yet,” affirmed Pastor Noé, who has elected to remain single rather than bring danger upon a wife and children, “our church has seen great miracles of healing and protection as well. And as our people shared the evidence of God’s power with other families, they too came to Christ.”

Although church members owned very little, they actively began to help some 200 widows and single mothers, as well as 225 orphans. “We have the vision and even the plans for a dormitory, kitchen and dining room to help these women and children but so far, no way to make it a reality. Meanwhile, we do what we can in the midst of the difficulties and keep trusting that God will accomplish His purposes here.”

For OM’s four “Love Guatemala” volunteers, Trapiche provided a dramatic first exposure to spiritual warfare. At night villagers threw stones at the house where the girls were trying to sleep. And while going house to house during the day, one of the men, Otto, found himself in the home of two witches. What could he say to them? After silently asking God for help Otto opened his Bible. His eyes immediately fell on Revelation 22:14-15, a passage condemning those who practice magic arts. Otto boldly delivered God’s message.

The Lord had a very different message for the team: “Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—the Most High who is my refuge—No evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.” (Ps. 91:9-10)

Swiss team member Nathan Schmutz was one of the few non-Guatemalans to take part in the outreach. He admitted, “I wasn’t prepared for such a confrontation with evil! But I learnt a lot about the power of prayer.”

Guatemala’s 10 million people suffer the highest chronic malnutrition rate in Latin America and the fourth-highest rate in the world. On average, about one out of two residents are malnourished. Concerned by the obvious poverty of Trapiche church members, OM Guatemala staff made an extra trip to deliver used clothing, shoes, food parcels and even toys for Christmas. The pastor couldn’t hide his personal delight at finding a suit that fit. A young mother named Nora had given her life to the Lord through the team’s visit a few days before. She had five children and they were barely subsisting in a nearby hovel. The unexpected provision of food, clothing and toys gave the family new courage.

At the end of the outreach Pastor Noé voiced his gratitude. “Some unbelievers opened their doors to the OM team, and we hope they have helped to change the mind of this community. They have been a big blessing to us. We have no way to pay them back, but God will!”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

McAfee Returns to US, Grateful to Be Home.


John McAfee‘s month-long international run from police through two Central American nations ended with a flight to Miami, where the businessman who says he abandoned his fortune admitted to playing the “crazy card.”

As a gaggle of media waited near several exit doors at the airport Wednesday night, federal authorities whisked the founder of McAfee anti-virus software off the plane and into a van.

“They said, ‘Mr. McAfee, please step forward,'” McAfee, 67, later told ABC News exclusively overnight at a Miami Beach hotel. “I was met by a dozen or maybe fewer officers. I said, ‘Am I arrested?’ They said, ‘No, sir, I am here to help you.’ That felt the best of all.”

He eventually snuck out of the airport in a cab and headed to South Beach. After walking down famed Ocean Drive to the bewilderment of tourists and eating sushi, his first meal in three days, he sat down with ABC News and admitted to playing the “crazy card” and says he is broke.

“I have nothing now,” McAfee said. He claims he left everything behind in Belize, including $20 million in investments and about 15 properties. “I’ve got a pair of clothes and shoes, my friend dropped off some cash.”

Just hours earlier, the self-made millionaire was deported by Guatemalan police who forced him aboard his U.S.-bound flight away from the home and the two women he said he loves. After he arrived on South Beach, he said, a mysterious “Canadian friend” ordered another man he’d never met to drop off a wad of fresh $5 bills that McAfee later displayed to ABC News, pulling them from his coat pocket.

He says he left his fortune, including a beachfront compound, behind after his neighbor Greg Faull was found shot to death in Belize on Nov. 10.

Belize officials said he isn’t a suspect, but when they asked to question him, McAfee disguised himself and ran.

After three weeks ducking authorities in Belize, by hiding in attics, in the jungle and in dingy hotels, he turned up in Guatemala Dec. 3.

Barely a day later he was detained for entering the country illegally. As Guatemala officials grappled with how to handle his request for asylum and the Belize government’s demand for his deportation, McAfee fell ill. The mysterious illness, described by his attorney alternately as a heart ailment or a nervous breakdown, led to a scene with reporters chasing his ambulance down the narrow streets of Guatemala City and right into the emergency room, where McAfee appeared unresponsive.

He now says it was all a ruse: “It was a deception but who did it hurt? I look pretty healthy, don’t I?”

He says he faked the illness in order to buy some time for a judge to hear his case and stay his deportation to Belize, a government he believes wants him dead. When asked whether he believes Belize officials where inept, he didn’t mince words.

“I was on the run with a 20-year-old girl for three and a half weeks inside their borders and everyone was looking for me, and they did not catch me,” he said. “I escaped, was captured and they tried to send me back. Now I’m sitting in Miami. There had to be some ineptness.”

The man who many believe only wants attention answered critics who called his month-long odyssey and blog posts a publicity stunt by simply saying, “What’s a better story, millionaire mad man on the run. You [the media] saved my ass. Because you paid attention to the story. As long as you are reporting, it is hard to whack somebody that the world is watching.”

He denies any involvement in his neighbor’s death but adds that he is not particularly concerned about clearing his name. He is focused on getting his 20-year-old and 17-year-old girlfriends out of Belize and says he has no idea what he’ll do next, where he’ll live or how he’ll support himself.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By MATT GUTMAN and SENI TIENABESO | Good Morning America

McAfee Lands in Miami: I’m Free.


PHOTO: Software company founder John McAfee is pictured after being arrested for entering the Guatemala illegally, Dec. 5, 2012, in Guatemala City.
John McAfee Collapses at Detention Center After Arrest
AUTO START: ON | OFF

Software mogul John McAfee has been released from detention in Guatemala City and has landed in Miami.

Immediately upon landing, according to passengers on the plane, McAfee’s name was called and he was whisked off the aircraft. Federal officials escorted the 67-year-old Internet antivirus pioneer through customs spirit him out a side door, out of the view of reporters, according to Miami International Airport‘s communication director, Greg Chin.

It was not clear whether officials intended to help McAfee avoid the inevitable media circus or wanted to question him. However, he has not been charged with committing a crime in Guatemala or Belize, where the authorities have sought to question him about the murder of his neighbor.

McAfee’s departure from Guatemala came earlier today.

“They took me out of my cell and put me on a freaking airplane,” he told ABC News. “I had no choice in the matter.”

McAfee said, however, that Guatemalan authorities had been “nice” and that his exit from the Central American country was “not at all” unpleasant.

“It was the most gracious expulsion I’ve ever experienced,” he said. “Compared to my past two wives that expelled me this isn’t a terrible trip.”

McAfee said he would not be accompanied by his 20-year-old Belizean girlfriend, but is seeking a visa for her. He also said he had retained a lawyer in the U.S.

PHOTO: Software company founder John McAfee is pictured after being arrested for entering the Guatemala illegally, Dec. 5, 2012, in Guatemala City.
Guatemala’s National Police/AP Photo
Software company founder John McAfee is… View Full Size
John McAfee Arrested in Guatemala Overnight Watch Video
John McAfee Arrested in GuatemalaWatch Video
Software Founder Breaks Silence: McAfee Speaks on Murder Allegations Watch Video

When he was released earlier today, McAfee told the Associated Press, “I’m free. … I’m going to America.”

McAfee, who had been living in a beachfront house in Belize, went on the run after the Nov. 10 murder of his neighbor, fellow American expatriate Greg Faull. Belize police said they wanted to question McAfee about the murder, but McAfee said he feared for his life in Belizean custody.

He entered Guatemala last week seeking asylum, but was arrested and taken to an immigration detention center. He was taken to the hospital after suffering a nervous collapse and then returned to the detention center. The U.S. State Department has visited McAfee, who is a dual U.S.-British citizen, several times during his stay in Guatemala.

During his three-week journey, said McAfee, he disguised himself as handicapped, dyed his hair seven times and hid in many different places during his three-week journey.

He dismissed accounts of erratic behavior and reports that he had been using the synthetic drug bath salts. He said he had never used the drug, and said statements that he had were part of an elaborate prank.

Investigators in Belize said that McAfee was not a suspect in the death of Faull, a former developer who was found shot in the head in his house.

McAfee told ABC News that the poisoning death of his dogs and the murder just hours later of Faull, who had complained about his dogs, was a coincidence.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By  (@mattgutmanABC)

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