We, the delegates of the Congress of the Syrian national dialogue, representing all segments of Syrian society, its political and civil powers, ethnic, confessional and social groups, have assembled at the invitation of the friendly Russian Federation, in the city of Sochi, with the intention to put an end to seven years suffering of our people, through the achievement of a common understanding of the necessity for the salvation of our homeland from armed confrontation, social and economic ruin, the restoration of its dignity on the regional and world stage, the provision of fundamental rights and liberties for all its citizens, and most importantly, the right to a peaceful and free life without violence and terror. The only way to achieve this particular goal is the political settlement of the problems of our homeland on the basis of the following principles:
1. Respect of and full commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and unity of the [Syrian Arab Republic / state of Syria] as a land and a people. In this regard no part of the national territory shall be ceded. The people of Syria remain committed to the recovery of the occupied Syrian Golan by all lawful means in accordance with the UN Charter and international law;
2. Respect of and full commitment to Syria’s national sovereign equality and rights regarding non- intervention. Syria shall take its full role in the international community and the region, including as part of the Arab world, in conformity with the UN Charter, and its purposes and principles;
3. The Syrian people alone shall determine the future of their country by democratic means, through the ballot box, and shall have the exclusive right to choose their own political, economic and social system without external pressure or interference, in line with Syria’s international rights and obligations;
4. The [Syrian Arab Republic / state of Syria] shall be a democratic and non-sectarian state based on political pluralism and equal citizenship irrespective of religion, ethnicity and gender, with full respect for and protection of the rule of law, the separation of powers,judicial independence, the full equality of all citizens, the cultural diversity of the Syrian society, and public freedoms, including freedom of belief, featuring transparent, inclusive, accountable and answerable governance, including before the national law, with necessary effective measures to combat crime, corruption and mismanagement;
5. A state committed to national unity, social peace, and comprehensive and balanced development with fair representation in local administration;
6. Continuity and improved performance of state and public institutions, with reforms where necessary, including the protection of public infrastructure and property rights and provision of public services to all citizens without discrimination, in accordance with the highest standards of good governance and gender equality. Citizens shall benefit from effective mechanisms in their relations with all public authorities in such a way as to ensure full compliance with the rule of law and human rights and private and public property rights;
7. A strong, unified, meritocratic and national army that carries out its duties in accordance with the constitution and the highest standards. Its functions are to protect the national boundaries and the people from external threats and terrorism, with intelligence and security institutions to maintain national security subject to the rule of law, acting according to the constitution and the law and respecting human rights. The use of force shall be the exclusive prerogative of competent state institutions;
8. Unqualified rejection of – and active commitment to combat – terrorism, fanaticism, extremism and sectarianism in all its forms and to tackle conditions conducive to their spread;
9. Respect and protection of human rights and public freedoms, especially in times of crisis, including non-discrimination and equal rights and opportunities for all without regard to race, religion, ethnicity, cultural or linguistic identity, gender or any other distinction, with effective mechanism for their protection, which give due regard to the political and equal rights and opportunities of women, including by the taking of active measures to ensure representation and participation in institutions and decision- making structures, with mechanisms aimed to achieve a level of representation of at least 30% for women, and the goal of parity;
10. A high value placed on Syria’s society and national identity, its history of diversity and the contributions and values that all religions, civilizations and traditions have brought to Syria, including the coexistence among its various components, along with the protection of the national cultural heritage of the nation and its diverse cultures;
11. Combatting and eliminating poverty and providing support for the elderly and other vulnerable groups, including persons with special needs, orphans and victims of war, which shall include ensuring the safety and refuge of all displaced persons and refugees, as well as protecting their right to voluntary and safe return to their homes and lands;
12. Preservation and protection of national heritage and the natural environment for future generations in accordance with environmental treaties and the UNESCO declaration concerning the intentional destruction of cultural heritage.
We, the representatives of the proud people of Syria, having lived through terrible misery and having found enough strength to fight against international terrorism, herewith declare our determination to restore the well-being and prosperity of our homeland and to make life decent and comfortable for each and every one of us.
To that end we agreed to form a constitutional committee comprising the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic delegation along with wide-represented opposition delegation for drafting of a constitutional reform as a contribution to the political settlement under the UN auspices in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2254.
The Constitutional Committee would at the very least comprise Government, Opposition representatives in the intra-Syrian talks, Syrian experts, civil society, independents, tribal leaders and women. Care would be taken to ensure adequate representation of Syria`s ethnic and religious components. Final agreement is to be reached in the UN-led Geneva process on the mandate and terms of reference, powers, rules of procedure, and selection criteria for the composition of the Constitutional Committee.
We appeal to the United Nations Secretary-General to assign the Special Envoy for Syria for the assistance of the Constitutional Committee work in Geneva.
Source Article from http://www.voltairenet.org/article199559.html
We, the participants of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, express our collective wish to bring the ongoing conflict to an end as soon as possible. We have all suffered more than enough from violence, bloodshed, terrorism and devastation. Thousands of houses, schools and hospitals, factories and plants were destroyed during the war, railways, power stations, irrigation systems as well as religious and cultural heritage sites were severely damaged. We all share the same goal: To see peace and stability restored in our homeland and to live peacefully side by side free from violence and terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
As we progress with the political settlement on the basis of UNSCR 2254, we call upon the UN, international humanitarian agencies and international community at large to contribute to the post-conflict recovery and reconstruction of Syria by taking additional measures to ensure the continuous flow of rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to all our brothers and sisters who are in need as well as to provide our people with additional aid which would enable the restoration of basic infrastructure assets, including social and economic facilities, and with humanitarian mine action services.
We appeal to all friends of Syria to take all necessary steps with a view to helping our dear country reintegrate into the international community and restore its status as a distinguished member thereof.
Source Article from http://www.voltairenet.org/article199557.html
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election this year.
“Instead I will be returning to the justice system,” Gowdy, who previously worked as an attorney and prosecutor, said in a statement. “Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system.”
Gowdy was first elected to Congress in 2010. He has served as the chair of the House Oversight Committee since June, and chaired the House Benghazi Committee from 2014 to 2016, investigating the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic compound in Libya that left a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans dead. During that probe, Gowdy faced criticism for focusing the investigation on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was running for president at the time.
Gowdy is one of several high-profile Republican House members to announce their retirement ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. According to Cook Political Report, there are currently 32 open Republican seats in the House and 13 open Democratic seats.
On Monday, 12-term Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) said he wouldn’t run again, setting up a battle to take over his chairmanship of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. Other significant GOP retirements include Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (Va.), Financial Services Committee Chair Jeb Hensarling (Texas) and Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce (Calif.).
On the Senate side, Tennessee’s Bob Corker, Arizona’s Jeff Flake and Utah’s Orrin Hatch have said they will step down after this term.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
Source Article from https://www.yahoo.com/news/trey-gowdy-won-apos-t-172637583.html
Section 702 of the Foreign Surveillance Authorization Act (FISA) was reauthorized Jan. 18 with a Senate vote of 65-34. Originally enacted in 2008, Section 702 provided the authorization for the warrantless surveillance program “that allows the NSA to collect texts and emails of foreigners abroad without an individualized warrant, even when they communicate with Americans in the U.S.,” explains The Hill.
The Senate vote followed an affirmative 256-164 vote in the House on Jan. 11 reauthorizing the law with only minor changes. The House rejected new restrictions proposed by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) on how the information gathered can be used.
Section 702 was set to expire as 2017 ended but was temporarily extended into mid-January, as proponents claimed letting it lapse would take the nation backwards in time, to the pre-9/11 days, when surveillance shortcomings helped enable the 9/11 attacks. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the ability to continue spying on Americans is “essential” to national security and told his colleagues, “[W]e cannot let this capability lapse. The world remains dangerous.”
Urging senators to slow down and “consider the gravity of the issues at hand and to oppose reauthorization until we can have a real opportunity for debate and reform,” on the other hand, Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) argued, “The American people deserve better than warrantless wiretapping.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) expressed his intent to filibuster the Senate vote on Section 702 but was shut down by a 60-38 cloture vote Jan. 16 to end debate and prevent Paul from stalling the vote. An online account at libertarian Reason magazine’s website explains the cloture vote also “prevent[ed] any amendments prior to a formal [up-or-down] vote on the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017,” as the bill is formally named.
The act renews and expands “the snooping powers of Section 702 . . . for another six years,” Reason continues. “Though the law has the word ‘foreign’ in its name, the reality is that it has been used to collect and access communications from Americans, often without warrants and without our knowledge.”
Sens. Paul and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) led a bipartisan group of senators who tried “to amend the bill so that it would require the FBI and National Security Agency (NSA) to get warrants in order to query or access any communications records (like emails or phone calls) from American citizens when [Americans] get drawn into international surveillance,” Reason notes.
Thus, a populist-style impulse entered the fray when Paul stepped forward to oppose Section 702 on principle. This is the kind of bipartisan cooperation that could, if sufficiently focused on essential goals such as turning away from the endless “war on terror,” foil the pro-Zionist war-on-terror stratagem espoused by the neoconservatives that long ago hijacked the conservative movement and placed them in strategic positions to carry forth such a war.
“This bill doesn’t just renew Section 702 for six years,” Reason added. “It also codifies permission for the FBI to access and use data secretly collected from Americans for a host of domestic federal crimes that have nothing to do with protecting America from foreign threats.”
Furthermore, what are known as “about” searches—accessing communications that merely reference a foreign target, not just communications to and from that target—are revived under the reauthorization. These types of searches were said to have been voluntarily ended by the NSA when it became clear that communications were being accessed outside of federal authority. Yet, reauthorization restarts these probes unless Congress acts separately to curtail them.
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Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TheEuropeanUnionTimes/~3/kn1BgW1cw0g/
Sochi is hosting a forum on Syria’s future, bringing together representatives of the country’s various social strata. The Congress is expected to boost the peace process and kick-start efforts to draft a new constitution.
The Syrian National Dialogue Congress is to start in the Russian resort city of Sochi on Monday. The event is expected to last for two days, the main negotiations taking place on Tuesday.
The Congress is sponsored by Russia, Turkey and Iran, the leaders of the three countries having agreed to the all-Syrian Congress in November. The main goal of the meeting is to gather “delegates from various political parties, internal and external opposition, ethnic and confessional groups at the negotiating table,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the time.
Over 1,500 delegates, representing various groups of Syrian society, have been invited to participate in the talks. The aim is to lay the foundation for a peaceful future for the war-torn country; the delegates are expected to begin work on a new constitution and discuss reconciliation in Syria.
It will be a landmark event, the first to give voice to so many different groups from Syrian society, including the government and the opposition. While instant reconciliation is unlikely the Congress will get the ball rolling, the Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday.
“The work that is going on is extremely complex and thorny. But holding the congress itself is a significant step towards a political solution,” Peskov stated. “One should not expect that the political reconciliation will be achieved in Sochi.”
Sochi Congress to revitalize Geneva talks
The Congress in Sochi is not designed to replace, but rather to boost the Syrian peace process, namely the UN-sponsored Geneva talks, which have stalled for years, largely due to the insistence of some Syrian opposition representatives upon unrealistic preconditions before engaging in talks with the country’s government.
“We believe… that the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi will be able to create conditions for staging fruitful Geneva talks, taking into consideration that the part of the Syrian opposition that constantly makes preconditions, including for regime change, will be talked into sense by those who control it,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier in January.
Partial opposition boycott & UN approval
The Saudi Arabia-based High Negotiations Committee (HNC), an umbrella body created back in 2016 to represent some of the Syrian rebel groups at the Geneva talks, has decided to boycott the Congress, just days before its launch. The group claimed it was supporting “credible political transition” in the Geneva format instead.
Comment: What would Saudi Arabia know about credible political transitions?
The HNC, however, has not demonstrated unity in boycotting the Sochi congress as part of the group, namely the so-called Moscow and Cairo opposition platforms, voted to attend the event and are expected to take part.
The decision to boycott was allegedly supported by 24 members of HNC, while 26 votes were needed for a decisive result, the leader of the Moscow platform, Qadri Jamil, told TASS on Saturday. The participation of some HNC members is therefore possible and would not violate the decision, according to Jamil, although they will not represent the group as a whole.
While the decision of the HNC is unlikely to harm the Congress, it definitely harmed the opposition body itself, which will now miss the chance to be heard at a large international meeting, a source in Russia’s Foreign Ministry told TASS on Saturday.
“No, it won’t affect [the Congress]. We’ve invited everyone eager to participate, who doesn’t want to does not participate. The Congress will be held without them, unfortunately, and that’s all,” the diplomatic source said.
Despite the claims of parts of the Syrian opposition that the Sochi Congress would somehow jeopardize the international peace process, it was embraced by the main sponsor of the Geneva talks – the UN. The Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, will take part in the Congress after accepting Moscow’s invitation days before the event.
“The Secretary-General is confident that the Congress in Sochi will be an important contribution to a revived intra-Syrian talks process under the auspices of the United Nations in Geneva, based on the full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué (2012) and Security Council resolution 2254 (2015),” spokesman for the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement on Friday.
About the author: Mike Adams (aka the “Health Ranger“) is a best selling author (#1 best selling science book on Amazon.com called “Food Forensics“), an environmental scientist, a patent holder for a cesium radioactive isotope elimination invention, a multiple award winner for outstanding journalism, a science news publisher and influential commentator on topics ranging from science and medicine to culture and politics. Follow his videos, podcasts, websites and science projects at the links below.
Mike Adams serves as the founding editor of NaturalNews.com and the lab science director of an internationally accredited (ISO 17025) analytical laboratory known as CWC Labs. There, he was awarded a Certificate of Excellence for achieving extremely high accuracy in the analysis of toxic elements in unknown water samples using ICP-MS instrumentation. Adams is also highly proficient in running liquid chromatography, ion chromatography and mass spectrometry time-of-flight analytical instrumentation. He has also achieved numerous laboratory breakthroughs in the programming of automated liquid handling robots for sample preparation and external standards prep.
The U.S. patent office has awarded Mike Adams patent NO. US 9526751 B2 for the invention of “Cesium Eliminator,” a lifesaving invention that removes up to 95% of radioactive cesium from the human digestive tract. Adams has pledged to donate full patent licensing rights to any state or national government that needs to manufacture the product to save human lives in the aftermath of a nuclear accident, disaster, act of war or act of terrorism. He has also stockpiled 10,000 kg of raw material to manufacture Cesium Eliminator in a Texas warehouse, and plans to donate the finished product to help save lives in Texas when the next nuclear event occurs. No independent scientist in the world has done more research on the removal of radioactive elements from the human digestive tract.
Adams is a person of color whose ancestors include Africans and American Indians. He is of Native American heritage, which he credits as inspiring his “Health Ranger” passion for protecting life and nature against the destruction caused by chemicals, heavy metals and other forms of pollution.
Adams is the founder and publisher of the open source science journal Natural Science Journal, the author of numerous peer-reviewed science papers published by the journal, and the author of the world’s first book that published ICP-MS heavy metals analysis results for foods, dietary supplements, pet food, spices and fast food. The book is entitled Food Forensics and is published by BenBella Books.
In his laboratory research, Adams has made numerous food safety breakthroughs such as revealing rice protein products imported from Asia to be contaminated with toxic heavy metals like lead, cadmium and tungsten. Adams was the first food science researcher to document high levels of tungsten in superfoods. He also discovered over 11 ppm lead in imported mangosteen powder, and led an industry-wide voluntary agreement to limit heavy metals in rice protein products.
In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Through the non-profit CWC, Adams also launched Nutrition Rescue, a program that donates essential vitamins to people in need. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.
With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource featuring over 10 million scientific studies.
Adams is well known for his incredibly popular consumer activism video blowing the lid on fake blueberries used throughout the food supply. He has also exposed “strange fibers” found in Chicken McNuggets, fake academic credentials of so-called health “gurus,” dangerous “detox” products imported as battery acid and sold for oral consumption, fake acai berry scams, the California raw milk raids, the vaccine research fraud revealed by industry whistleblowers and many other topics.
Adams has also helped defend the rights of home gardeners and protect the medical freedom rights of parents. Adams is widely recognized to have made a remarkable global impact on issues like GMOs, vaccines, nutrition therapies, human consciousness.
In addition to his activism, Adams is an accomplished musician who has released over fifteen popular songs covering a variety of activism topics.
Click here to read a more detailed bio on Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, at HealthRanger.com.
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Tech giants Facebook, Google and Twitter testified to Congress this week about extremist content appearing on their platforms. In an odd admission, the companies promised to suppress extremist ideologies online by distributing their own “counter-propaganda.”
Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of global policy management told Congress on Wednesday that the site plans to take matters into their own hands.
“We believe that a key part of combating extremism is preventing recruitment by disrupting the underlying ideologies that drive people to commit acts of violence. That’s why we support a variety of counterspeech efforts,” Bickert said.
Meanwhile, representatives from Google admitted during the testimony that they use an algorithm to send anti-terror messages to people who they suspect of viewing seditious material. The use of this algorithm is known as the “Redirect Method,” and was developed by a team at Google called the Jigsaw research group
Juniper Downs, YouTube’s head of public policy, also said that the company has plans to implement censorship on videos that they deem to be extremist.
“Our advances in machine learning let us now take down nearly 70% of violent extremism content within 8 hours of upload and nearly half of it in 2 hours,” Downs bragged during the testimony.
Meanwhile, Twitter has set up over 100 “training events” all over the world including at elite locations like the White House or United Nations.
Twitter’s Carlos Monje Jr., director of public policy and philanthropy in the U.S. and Canada, said the company has participated in more than 100 training events since 2015 on countering extremist content.
While countering terrorism is certainly a noble cause, as TFTP has reported at length, these tactics are also used to snub out peaceful views that simply challenge the status quo.
In recent months, social media organizations have come under fire for the negative impact that they have had on human interactions and society at large. These groups have taken the blame for the recent divisions that have been tearing friends and family apart along political lines, and that blame is well placed for the most part.
Much of this problem has been created by the algorithms that curate and select the content that we see online, not the platforms themselves. These problems did not exist when social media had free-flowing timelines that were unrestricted and in chronological order. Unfortunately, these companies do not want to give up the control they have on the content that you consume, so they are doubling down on their algorithms and will undoubtedly make the problems that they seek to solve much worse.
As we also reported this week, YouTube alienated a large portion of its audience this week by demonetizing all of their smaller content creators. In an email sent out to millions of independent artists, musicians, and journalists, YouTube informed them that they were no longer eligible for advertising revenue on the site because their channels were simply not big enough. The site now requires a minimum of 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours of viewed content, automatically disqualifying a large chunk of their creators from monetization.
These companies have become so far removed from their customers that they are no longer concerned with delivering a product that people actually want, which is the inevitable outcome of monopolies.
These organizations may have a stranglehold on the social media market for now, but it is only a matter of time before more free platforms are widely adopted. For example, a blockchain social media website called Steemit has been growing in popularity by the day. On that site, users get paid in cryptocurrency for posting, commenting and even “liking” other posts. You can find The Free Thought Project on Steemit @tftproject.