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News Roundup #61

Selected summary of United Nations related news and events

Iran to Propose Peace Solution to UN

Attack Shows Boldness of Somali Pirates

Experts Meet to Draw up Bird Flu Battle Plan

Bird Flu Pandemic May Have Worldwide Cost of $800 Billion

CONGO: Food Shortage Looming, FAO Official Says

Cocaine Smugglers Using High-Tech Boats

World Tourism Faces Growing Climate-Change Risk, UN Agency Says READ MORE

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Syria Says Keen to Cooperate Fully with UN Probe

From Reuters: “Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara said on Monday that Damascus was keen to cooperate with a United Nations probe into the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.” READ MORE

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U.S. Should Repay Millions to Iraq, a UN Audit Finds

An auditing board sponsored by the United Nations recommended yesterday that the United States repay as much as $208 million to the Iraqi government for contracting work in 2003 and 2004 assigned to Kellogg, Brown & Root, the Halliburton subsidiary. The work was paid for with Iraqi oil proceeds, but the board said it was either carried out at inflated prices or done poorly. [Full Story] READ MORE

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UN Officials Detail Priorities for Combating Bird Flu

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“Confronting the possibility of a potentially devastating human bird flu pandemic, the United Nations system – from Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to the UN health and agricultural agencies – laid out a blueprint for immediate preventive and mitigating action.

At the same time, a senior UN health expert said no one can predict the risk of a possible mutation of the virus into a pandemic, nor its potential death toll, which some estimates have put in the scores of millions. “The risk is there, it’s a true risk, but it can’t be quantified,” UN World Health Organization (WHO) official David Heymann said in New York. Declaring that merely stockpiling antiviral medicines does not constitute a strategy, Mr. Annan highlighted seven priorities to combat the threat of the H5N1 virus.” [Read more] READ MORE

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Blog Roundup #61

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary

Kinshasa on the Potomac: “The details on the measures taken to halt the latest outbreak of H5 in China are, in the words of Noureddin Mona, representative for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in China, “not a good signal.” Almost 370,000 birds were culled in the affected area, a 3km zone in Liaoning province. Similar massive cullings have been carried out in other countries. Even if H5N1 never makes it into the human population in a strain that can sustain human-to-human transmission, the amount of economic damage being done is considerable and will only grow.”

Paper Chase: “The US has circulated a draft UN Security Council resolution that would extend the UN mandate of 180,000 multinational force currently in Iraq for another year. The US-led multinational force was originally authorized in May 2004 under UN Security Council resolution 1546. The latest draft, which the US proposed on Wednesday, is expected to draw opposition from Russia and others on the Security Council, and it represents a departure from previous mandates, which have required renewal every six months. The current UN mandate expires following parliamentary elections on Dec. 15, but it would be extended under the US draft resolution to Dec. 31, 2006.”

Think Progress: “Earler this year, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said the United States was adhering to both U.S. law and treaty obligations outlawing torture. But the Washington Post reports today that the U.S. is keeping prisoners in a system of secret, “black-site” prisons around the world, where they can be treated to punishment which the U.N. Convention on torture and U.S. military law does not allow.”

Coalition for Darfur: “From the BBC: “Ethiopia and Eritrea have moved more troops and tanks towards their common border, a United Nations official says. The UN has revised its assessment of the border situation between the two countries from “stable” to “tense”. Ethiopia has not withdrawn its troops from land awarded to Eritrea by an international demarcation commission. The demarcation followed a border war in which 70,000 people died. Eritrea has recently restricted the operations of UN troops patrolling the border. A source at the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (Unmee) told journalists on Wednesday that both countries have moved more troops and tanks towards the border in the past two or three weeks.”

Disinformation: “The declaration last week by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that “Israel must be wiped off the map” has triggered diplomatic shifts about Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Ahmadinejad’s comments have angered the United Nations, Russia, and others who had given Iran tacit support. James Forsyth also examines UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s reaction, and his use of ‘reframing’ tactics to influence the subsequent debate.”

Informed Comment: “Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari asked the UN to extend the mandate for coalition troops in Iraq for up to another year. But the Iraqi government wants the UN to review the resolution 8 months from now, and at any time that the Iraqi government requests a review.”

Simon World: “Bates Gill is not just a spoonerism of the world’s richest man. He is a noted expert on China and amongst other things, the HIV/AIDS problem in China. Meanwhile China has a well-known penchant for fiddling statistics, especially as many public servants are measured by these statistics. But sometimes this can hide positive trends for fear of ridicule. The SCMP reports on Bates Gill’s observations: “Beijing may be keeping new estimates of the number of HIV infections on the mainland secret because they are lower than previously published figures and could undermine the government’s credibility… This could be the reason why the official HIV figure had remained at 840,000 for the past two years, said Bates Gill, a China expert at the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies. The estimate of 840,000 HIV-positive cases was arrived at using modeling techniques, and was the result of a co-operative effort between China, the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids.”

Thoughts From Kansas: “Dana Priest has a stunning article in today’s Post, CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons: “The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement. The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago … CIA interrogators in the overseas sites are permitted to use the CIA’s approved “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques,” some of which are prohibited by the U.N. convention and by U.S. military law.” READ MORE

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News Roundup #60

Selected summary of United Nations related news and events

Bird flu pandemic may force countries to shut down, says UN official

United Nations Launches Children’s AIDS Campaign

General Assembly designates International
Holocaust Remembrance Day

U.N. Agencies Say Quake Donations Lagging

Syria ‘will let Hariri death inquiry see Assad relatives’

Bolton on U.N. Demands for Syrian Cooperation

Escalating Climate Change Impacting Human Health

Drying Lakes ‘will soon be swamps’

JORDAN: The Fight Against Drug Addiction Reaches Women READ MORE

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