Tag Archives: United Nations

Current Event Cat of the Day: Syria Peace Conference

Current Event Cat - Syria Peace Conference

Wednesday marked the beginning of a long-delayed peace conference on Syria, but things are off to a rough start.

The peace conference, set in the lakeside Swiss city of Montreux, marks the first time the Syrian regime has sat down at the negotiating table with the opposition since the conflict began in March 2011. But on the first day of the conference things got a little testy between Syria’s government and the main political opposition, casting some doubt on the whether or not the peace talks will be able to ease the ongoing violence or even open up emergency aid corridors to help displaced civilians.

The main source of conflict was what to do with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Assad has already stated that he will not step down, but the opposition and US said the Syrian dictator had no legitimacy and must resign from power.

US Secretary of State John Kerry insisted that Assad “will not be part of that transitional government”.

“There is no way, not possible in the imagination, that the man who has lead the brutal response to his own people could regain legitimacy to govern,” Kerry added.

Apparently slaughtering your own citizens and showering them with chemical weapons isn’t as popular with the international crowd as it used to be.

The Syrian foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, who led his country’s delegation, struck back at Kerry saying only the Syrian people could decide their president.

“No-one in the world has the right to confer or withdraw the legitimacy of a president, a constitution or a law, except for the Syrians themselves,” he told Kerry, adding that the Syrian insurgents were evil traitors who had “Syrian blood on their hands” and accusing the U.S. of supporting terrorist groups in the opposition.

After the UN’s Ban Ki-moon warned him his speech was running far over the allotted 10-minute slot, Moallem snapped back at him too.

“You live in New York. I live in Syria,” Moallem told the UN secretary general. “I have the right to give the Syrian version here. After three years of suffering, this is my right.”

Huh. Well, it’s only the first day. And look at the bright side – at least Iran didn’t show up.

Via: The New York Times

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Saudi Arabia Thinks It’s Too Good For The United Nations Security Council

Saudi Arabia UN

Just hours after it was elected to one of the 10 non-permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council, Saudi Arabia gave the U.N. a slap in the face and rejected their seat.

Apparently Saudi Arabia has better things to do with its time than deal with an ineffective international body incapable of resolving the world’s conflicts. Their words, not mine.

In its long list of U.N grievances, Saudi Arabia criticized the Security Council for failing in its duties towards Syria and other Middle Eastern conflicts, condemned what it called “international double standards” on the Middle East, expressed anger over the Obama’s new cozy relationship with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and accused the U.N. of allowing the Syrian government “to kill its own people with chemical weapons... without confronting it or imposing any deterrent sanctions”. Ouch. However, if you’re declining a seat on the Security Council because you’re angry the U.N didn’t authorize a war in Syria, then maybe you don’t belong on the Security Council to begin with…

Regardless of whether or not they should be there, the Saudi foreign ministry said the U.N. needs to be reformed before it will join.

“Saudi Arabia … is refraining from taking membership of the UN Security Council until it has reformed so it can effectively and practically perform its duties and discharge its responsibilities in maintaining international security and peace,” said a Foreign Ministry statement issued on state media.

The unprecedented move left diplomats a little surprised. Who would reject such a coveted seat? But no one was more shocked at the decision than Russia, who holds a permanent, veto-wielding seat:

“We are surprised by Saudi Arabia’s unprecedented decision,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement from Moscow, “The kingdom’s arguments arouse bewilderment and the criticism of the U.N. Security Council in the context of the Syria conflict is particularly strange.”

Russia and Saudi Arabia have never been the best of friends but their traditionally testy relationship has taken a turn for the worse in recent years over the Syrian conflict. Maybe Saudi Arabia figured if they ever tried to become more assertive in resolving the Syrian war and further their support for the Syrian rebels, Russia would just veto them into oblivion.

Via: BBC News

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Dilma Rousseff

Current Event Cat - Dilma Rousseff

If there’s one person who hates the NSA more than Edward Snowden, it’s Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

Dilma Rousseff used her position as the opening speaker at the United Nations General Assembly as an opportunity to yell at the U.S for violating human rights and international law through espionage – including spying on her email. Those must be some pretty racy emails if she’s U.N angry (i.e super angry) … perhaps some love notes to her hero Fidel Castro?

Dilma Rousseff wasn’t just putting on an angry show for the U.N. – last month she canceled a planned visit to Washington at the last minute after the NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that the United States had monitored her phone calls, as well as Brazilian embassy calls and spied on the state oil corporation, Petrobras.

But since robbing Washington of her presence wasn’t enough to get the message across, the Brazilian president took to the UN stage to protest America’s love of spying. Rousseff told the assembled leaders that Brazil had been a target of intrusions and intercepts and there was no excuse for this kind of behaviour – not even to protect nations from terrorism!

“The arguments that the illegal interception of information and data aims at protecting nations against terrorism cannot be sustained. Brazil, Mr President, knows how to protect itself. We reject, fight and do not harbour terrorist groups,” Dilma Rousseff said to the crowd.

“In the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of expression and opinion, and therefore no effective democracy. In the absence of the respect for sovereignty, there is no basis for the relationship among nations.”

She’s totally hiding something…

Via: The Guardian & Current Event Cats

U.N: Syria Death Toll at 93,000

U.N Syria Death

At least 93,000 people have been killed in Syria since the bloody conflict began nearly two years ago, according to the U.N.

Syria’s been a bloody mess for a while now and things seem to be getting worse. The killings related to the country’s uprising against President Bashar al-Assad have risen sharply as the fighting turns increasingly sectarian. According to U.N’s human rights body, the death toll of 93,000 represents a rise of more than 30,000 since the U.N last issued figures covering the period through November 2012. So on average, people are dying in Syria at a rate of 5,000 per month.

Navi Pillay, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, said “The constant flow of killings continues at shockingly high levels” and the number 93,000 “is most likely a minimum casualty figure. The true number of those killed is potentially much higher.”

And who is bearing the brunt of the killings? Civilians! 80 per cent of the deaths were men and the U.N has documented 1,700 children under the age of 10 killed. Hold on – it gets worse. The U.N also reports that children are being used as sniper targets and human shields by booth Assad’s army and the rebels. The UN special representative on children in conflict said it had received “verified reports that Syrian children are killed or injured in indiscriminate bombings, shot by snipers, used as human shields or victims of terror tactics.” And to top it off, there are reports that the main rebel group is recruiting child soldiers between the ages of 15 and 17 and child detainees as young as 14 were tortured like adults.

Pillay said the killings of at least 6,561 minors, including at least 1,729 children under 10 years old were documented, and that there were “well-documented cases of individual children being tortured and executed, and entire families, including babies, being massacred — which, along with this devastatingly high death toll, is a terrible reminder of just how vicious this conflict has become.”

The solution?

“The only answer is a negotiated political solution. Tragically, shamefully, nothing will restore the 93,000 or more individual lives already lost.” Pillay said, urging the international community to help end the conflict.

And Pillay isn’t the only one nudging Obama to act. At a private event with Senator John McCain on Tuesday night, Bill Clinton called Barack Obama a total wuss for not intervening. Comparing Obama’s inaction with his own choice to intervene in Kosovo, Clinton said:

“You just think how lame you’d be… suppose I had let a million people, two million people be refugees out of Kosovo, a couple hundred thousand people die, and they say, ‘You could have stopped this by dropping a few bombs. Why didn’t you do it?’ And I say, ‘because the House of Representatives voted 75% against it?’ You look like a total wuss, and you would be.”

I guess now that Obama is no longer his wife’s boss, the bromance between them is over.

Via: The New York Times

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United Nations: Eat More Bugs!

Eat More Bugs

The United Nations is urging everyone (including you) to eat more bugs to combat world hunger.

Over two billion people already include insects in their daily diet (this doesn’t include spiders that crawl into your mouth while you’re sleeping), but the U.N Food and Agriculture Organization wants more people to get on board and eat more bugs.

According to their new report, eating bugs could help boost nutrition and reduce pollution. The report suggest that grasshoppers, ants and other members of the insect world are an underutilized food that more people should take advantage of.

The most commonly consumed bugs are beetles, caterpillars (a delicacy in South Africa!) and bees, wasps and ants (14 percent). Less popular are termites, dragonflies, flies.

The pros of the “Eat More Bugs” campaign:

  • Nutrition: Insects contain “good fats”, can be rich in calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and zinc, and are a source of fiber. Yum!
  • Environment: Most insects produce fewer environmentally harmful greenhouse gases, and also feed on human and food waste, compost and animal slurry. Double yum!
  • Economic: The insect farming industry could hit it big if demand grows. Job creators!

And the cons?

Mainly consumer disgust.

If the United Nations really wants to set a good example, they should switch to a bug catering service. After enjoying a warm caterpillar salad with a side of termites they might be a bit more reluctant to encourage eating bugs. Or maybe they’ll love it – if people can stomach baconnaise, can bugs really be that far behind?

Via: BBC News

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Gun Control United Nations Style… And Other News.

United Nations Arms Treaty

What do Kim Jong-un and the NRA have in common (besides being a little nuts)? Both oppose the United Nations Arms Treaty. The United Nations passed the first-ever treaty to regulate the global trade in conventional weapons, which include tanks, helicopters, and guns. The treaty passed in a landslide vote. Those opposed? Syria, Iran and North Korea. 23 others abstained from the vote, most notably Russia and China. The treaty aims to bring about more transparency in global arms sales and requires states selling weapons to develop criteria to avoid exporting to countries with human-rights abuses, terrorism and organized crime. No wonder Syria opposed it. New York Times

BieberNorwegians really love Justin Bieber. Five schools in the Norwegian town of Aalesund have moved their exam dates because they clashed with Justin Bieber’s concert schedule. The headmasters feared students would rather skip their exams than miss out on an evening with the Biebs. And that’s not even the worst part – the concerts are in Oslo, a 7 hour drive from Aalesund!  I guess Norwegians still have Bieber fever. Raw Story

Obama BrainObama wants inside your brain. The president announced that he plans to fund a brand new research initiative to map the human brain. Starting with $100 million dollars of federal funding, the project is designed to invent and refine new technologies to understand and treat brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury. President Obama said initiatives like the Human Genome Project had transformed genetics; now he wants to do the same with the brain. New York Times

March in SyriaThe brutal civil war in Syria was a little more brutal than usual in March. A report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims that March was the bloodiest month since the conflict began a little more than two years ago. Roughly 6,000 people were killed in the war-torn country last month, but the report says the number could be even higher, given how many deaths have gone unreported in the chaos. And apparently things aren’t looking up: “This will become the new normal, and the death toll figures will continue to rise,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the observatory. CNN

Ban Ki-MoonHas North Korea gone too far? According to United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon: YES. Ban Ki-moon thinks the crisis has gone too far now that North Korea has announced plans to restart its nuclear reactor. “Things must begin to calm down, there is no need for the DPRK [North Korea] to be on a collision course with the international community. Nuclear threats are not a game,” Mr Ban said. Fun fact: Ban Ki-moon is South Korean. So North Korea probably won’t listen to him…. BBC News

kohlantaReality shows kill. Following the death of ‘Buckwild’ star Shain Gandee, a French reality TV show doctor has committed suicide. The doctor, who worked on the show Koh Lanta (the French version of Survivor), was upset that his name was “sullied in the media” after he failed to save a contestant who suffered heart failure during filming. National Post

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