Monthly Archives: June 2009
Jacob Heilbrunn and I take our disagreements to the small screen. In this diavlog, we discuss Heilbrunn’s recent criticism of Ban in Foreign Policy and my explanation of why that criticism is unfair. We then venture into a few other topics, like Republicans’ detachment from their realist roots and, of course, the untimely death of Michael Jackson. Enjoy!
The UN really needs to get some new reading material for its buildings in central Liberia…
Dresden chooses reducing traffic over remaining a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Let us return to Boltonland, shall we? With yet another ridiculous op-ed in a major paper, former U.S. ambassador to the UN (*shudder*) John Bolton gives us the current state of the Battle for Iran (war has already begun!): the people are longing to rise up, but they only need a helpful American hand to help them overthrow their government (not that we haven’t tried that before…); a feckless and “empathetic” Barack Obama is so eager to sit down and sip tea with Iran’s hardest hardliners that he can’t understand that Iran is going to nuke everyone and everything no matter what we do; and if we just poke a stick into Iran’s complicated ethnic politics, everything will be hunky-dory.
As vehement as his hatred for diplomacy may be, Bolton’s chief target here is, quite simply, the Obama Administration. The op-ed, like many others on Iran, is written for baldly partisan purposes. Nowhere does Bolton actually suggest how the United States could “support” his desired goal of regime change; he is able to get away with such ambiguous criticism because, were his preferred policies of strict belligerence and hawkish interference to actually be pursued, his party would bear the inevitable political fallout. As it is, though, even when he admits that “we’re not really in a position now to offer much concrete assistance” (h/t ThinkProgress), his criticism will emerge unscathed. And whenever something violent or unsavory happens in Iran — imagine that! — he will undoubtedly reclaim his mantle as the right wing’s favorite bullish prognosticator.
That is, swine flu the H1N1 virus doesn’t look like it’s mixing with its avian counterpart to form some sort of volatile, death-defying H1N1+H5N1 (H5N2?) super-pandemic.
The World Health Organisation said on Thursday that the H1N1 virus was stable and there was no sign yet of it mixing with other influenza viruses.
Some health officials have raised concerns that if H1N1, known by many as swine flu, combined with the much deadlier H5N1 bird flu virus then the pandemic could claim many more lives.
“The virus is still very stable,” WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan told reporters at a news briefing in Moscow when asked if there were any signs of the virus mixing with other strains such as avian flu.
A stable pandemic is still a pandemic, sure, but it befits the calm way with which the virus should be treated to make note of this relative stability.
(image from flickr user ittybittiesforyou under a Creative Commons license)
Yesterday evening at about 7 pm, some two hundred demonstrators took to the streets in Washington, D.C. in support of the Iranian supporters of Mir Hussein Mousavi. I ran into the group as they were walking down Wisconsin avenue in Georgetown. Tellingly, photos of Neda featured prominantly in the protests. She truly has become a world-wide symbol of this Iranian reform movement.
And here is a demonstrator with a photo of Mousavi.
Middle East: During the last 48 hours of the continued ceasefire, humanitarian workers have delivered food to hundreds of thousands of people, repaired water and sanitation infrastructure, re-stocked medical supplies, and some of the 520,000 displaced Palestinians have returned to their homes. However, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator remarked the scale of needs remains “unprecedented in the Gaza Strip.”
Middle East: At today’s informal session of the General Assembly on Gaza the SG remarked that the most recent ceasefire has held since yesterday at 8 a.m. local time. He noted that a durable ceasefire is necessary and UN shelters must continue to remain safe zones. The SG thanked UN staff in Gaza and will fly the UN flag at half-mast tomorrow in memory of those who died in the conflict.
Middle East: The SG commended Israeli and Palestinian parties for committing to a 72-hour ceasefire that took place at 8 a.m. local time today. He urges all parties to abide by the ceasefire and commence peace talks in Cairo to address underlying issues and agree on a durable ceasefire to sustainably stop the violence. The UN lends its full support toward these efforts.
Middle East: The SG condemned yesterday’s shelling outside of an UNRWA school in Rafah that killed at least 10 Palestinian civilians. The SG stated that the attack violated international humanitarian law and UN shelters must continue to be safe zones and not combat zones.
SG: Last night the SG spoke at a joint press conference with the Foreign Minister of Costa Rica where he repeated his call for an unconditional and extendable humanitarian ceasefire. Speaking about yesterday’s shelling of a UN shelter he said: “Nothing – nothing – justifies such horror” and demanded “that all parties immediately respect UN premises”.
SG: The SG met with President Ortega yesterday in Nicaragua where he visited a wind farm and praised the country’s commitment to renewable energy. The SG arrived in Costa Rica today where he is expected to lecture about “Costa Rica and the United Nations: Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century”.