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Blog Roundup #14

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary LEFT COASTER: "US computer billionaire Bill Gates yesterday accused rich countries of turning their back on deadly diseases affecting millions of poor people, as he announced an additional $250 million (BD94.5m) (euro198 million) ($A330.73 million) (NZ$639 million) contribution for health research in developing countries." FIRST DRAFT: "Paging Norm Coleman - Norm Coleman to the White Courtesy Phone Please: "U.S. officials are now unsure whether billions of dollars dispatched to Iraqi ministries to fund reconstruction projects ever reached their final destinations. Schools and hospitals refurbished with hastily issued contracts have again fallen into disrepair. The oil and power industries are in worse shape than during the Saddam Hussein regime." WARREN ELLIS: "More than half of all humans will soon be living in cities, according to a prediction by the United Nations. "Psychologically it is an important step for mankind," Hania Zlotnik, director of the United Nations Population Division, told the BBC. "It's an increasing trend that is becoming more obvious. People do not realise how rural the world was until recently. That is changing." In 1900, only 14% of humanity lived in cities. By the century's close, 47% of us did so. This change is revealed in the growth of the number of medium-sized cities. In 1950, there were 83 cities with populations exceeding one million; but by 2000, this had risen to 411."
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UN Ends East Timor Peacekeeping Mission

"The United Nations will end its peacekeeping mission in East Timor today, marking the country's transition to a viable and peaceful state, the international body said in a statement. East Timor President Xanana Gusmao and the UN's special representative Sukehiro Hasegawa held a ceremony in the capital, Dili, yesterday to bid farewell to the peacekeepers who have kept the country secure since 24 years of Indonesian rule ended in bloodshed and widespread destruction in 1999." More...
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Blog Roundup #13

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary ATRIOS: "Franken: Meanwhile, the Coalition Provisional Authority, which we ran, has lost 8.8 billion dollars. By lost, I mean it's totally unaccounted for. Not only has Congress not "looked into" this $8.8 billion and who might have it now, but it seems that some members are completely unaware that this staggering sum, which was supposed to go toward rebuilding Iraq, is missing." HUFFINGTON POST (Al Franken): "Right now Coleman is looking into the Oil-for-Food program, which was administered by the Security Council in the U.N., mostly by the U.S. and Britain. That didn't stop Coleman from demanding Kofi Annan's resignation without any proof of any wrongdoing on his part. There appears to be anywhere from one to two billion dollars stolen through the program - with most of that going to Saddam. Primarily the U.S. and Britain took it upon themselves to make sure that none of this money went toward making W.M.D.s. They seemed to have done a pretty good job. Meanwhile, the Coalition Provisional Authority, which we ran, has lost 8.8 billion dollars. By lost, I mean it's totally unaccounted for." MARTIN STABE: "The most interesting thing about George Galloway's performance in the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations yesterday was the way it highlighted the major differences in style between Westminster and Washington."
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Sen. Wirth Testifies on UN Reform

From the UN Foundation website: "United Nations Foundation (UN Foundation) President and former U.S. Senator Timothy E. Wirth testified before the House International Relations Committee at a hearing today on UN reform. Senator Wirth outlined five key points which will be essential to a constructive reform process that achieves meaningful and lasting results. He also urged Congress to support UN reform without the threat of withholding UN dues, an action which most often is cost-ineffective and counterproductive."