By Sandy Fitzgerald Pope Francis’ visit to Washington, D.C., this fall is expected to include an address to a joint session of Congress, which one of the archbishops organizing the pontiff’s United States tour said would be a “highlight”…
U.S. President says the status quo in the Arab-Israeli conflict “is not sustainable” as he addresses the UN General Assembly. By Elad Benari, Canada “Too many Israelis are ready to abandon peace”, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday, as…
By Yossi Melman The rebel takeover of the Syrian Golan shows how changing events affect Israel’s security doctrine Twelve hours after Israelis sighed in relief as the ceasefire in the Gaza war appeared to take hold, they awoke Wednesday morning…
Eating more insects could help fight world hunger, according to a new UN report. The report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization says that eating insects could help boost nutrition and reduce pollution. It notes than over 2 billion…
Deputy Iranian foreign minister says alleged Israeli strike will have ‘serious implications’ for Tel Aviv while Syrian envoy threatens to launch ‘surprise attack’. Meanwhile Syria summons UN Golan commander to protest attack
Syria and Iran have threatened to retaliate for an alleged Israeli air raid near the capital Damascus.
Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul-Karim Ali says Damascus has “the option and the surprise to retaliate.” He said he cannot predict when the retaliation will be, saying it is up to relevant authorities to prepare for it.
“Israel, the Americans and the Arab regimes that have conspired together know that Syria will defend its sovereignty and its land,” he said. “The Zionist aggression exposes Israel’s part in the war against Syria.”
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By George Russell
One day after President Barack Obama won re-election, his Administration agreed to a new round of international negotiations to revive a United Nations-sponsored treaty regulating the international sale of conventional arms, which critics fear could affect the Constitutionally protected right of U.S. citizens to purchase and bear firearms.
Now, in the wake of the Newtown school massacre and the President’s January 16 promise to “put everything I’ve got” into a sweeping new series of gun control initiatives, the fate of that treaty, which enters a “final” round of negotiations this March, may loom as more important than ever, according to critics, some of whom argue that the U.S. should never have entered the talks in the first place.
Their concerns remain, despite the fact that President Obama repeated his support for the Second Amendment and “our strong tradition of gun ownership and the rights of hunters and sportsmen” on January 16. (The subject never came up in his second inaugural address.)
FM Lieberman says a UNHRC decision to establish a fact-finding mission to Judea and Samaria may lead to Israel severing ties with the body. By Gavriel Queenann Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Friday he may recall the Israeli ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council and cut ties with the body.
His remarks came after the 47-member council voted to establish a fact-finding mission to probe the “effects of settlements on Palestinian human rights.”
Lieberman also said Israel may choose not to cooperate with the council in its investigation, adding that he plans to ask the US to quit the council as well.
The resolution to “investigate the implications” of the settlements on “the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including east Jerusalem” was passed by a vote of 36 to 1, with 10 abstentions.
Europe was divided on the fact-finding mission, with Norway, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria and Russia voting for the measure. Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Moldova abstained.
Japan says it may cost $309bn to rebuild areas damaged by the tsunami in March Continue reading the main story
Some countries’ failure to pay into a UN disaster relief fund is leaving the world “dangerously unprepared” for future crises, Andrew Mitchell says.
The international development secretary said several countries had not donated to the Central Emergency Response Fund, aimed at speeding-up relief delivery.
Britain has increased its pledge for 2012 from £40m to £60m but the fund is expected to be £45m short next year.
The international community must “wake up” to the challenge, Mr Mitchell said.
The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) was set up in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami on 26 December 2004. It includes a grant element based on voluntary contributions from governments and private sector organisations and individuals.
The fund was designed by the United Nations to speed up relief in crisis zones with one central fund, though many countries still choose to give bilaterally.
Leo Rennert The United Nations has a terrible record when it comes to the credibility and objectivity of its reports on any number of issues on the globe. Its findings and recommendations tend to follow a heavily politicized, leftist, Third World agenda — a reflection of the ideological bent of the UN’s own bloated bureaucracy.
However, there is one notable exception — an annual UN report card that ranks countries on the basis of their performance in the areas of health, education and personal income. In UN-speak, the report card is known as the HDI — the human development index. Health is measured by life expectancy, education by average years of schooling, and income by gross personal income per capita.
For many years, the HDI has been an important treasure trove for statistical research — a spotlight on how countries treat their people’s basic human needs and aspirations. Also, whether their living standards are improving or retrogressing. And most importantly, the UN report card has maintained a high standard of credibility. Its rankings and findings have built an aura of professional credibility.
That’s why a statistical twist accompanying this year’s HDI causes concern. As in previous years, the UN Development Program, which publishes the report card, starts out by ranking countries — 186 at the latest count — on the basis of the usual criteria: health, education and personal income.
Leading this year’s rankings is Norway, followed by Australia, Netherlands, the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Germany and Sweden rounding out the top 10.
A bit farther down is Israel in 17th position, ahead of Belgium, Austria and France. Not a bad achievement for Israel, which unlike most top-rated countries, has to devote an unusually high portion of its budget to meet its security needs.
And this is where things get interesting. There’s not a single Arab country that comes close to matching Israel’s living standards. The closest are three oil-rich Persian Gulf sheikdoms: United Arab Emirates in 30th position, Qatar 37th, and Bahrain, 42nd. Saudi Arabia, with its enormous wealth, can do no better than 56th on the HDI rankings — nearly 40 rungs behind Israel.
For someone — or some countries — the HDI rankings appear to have been a bit too much to swallow. Envy of the U.S. and resentment of Israel are common in UN halls. Which may explain why this year’s report features a new
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