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UN Food and Agriculture Organization: 1 billion people go hungry

 From the Food and Agriculture Organization

World hunger is projected to reach a historic high in 2009 with 1 020 million people going hungry every day, according to new estimates published by FAO today.

The most recent increase in hunger is not the consequence of poor global harvests but is caused by the world economic crisis that has resulted in lower incomes and increased unemployment. This has reduced access to food by the poor, the UN agency said.

"A dangerous mix of the global economic slowdown combined with stubbornly high food prices in many countries has pushed some 100 million more people than last year into chronic hunger and poverty," said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf. "The silent hunger crisis — affecting one sixth of all of humanity — poses a serious risk for world peace and security. We urgently need to forge a broad consensus on the total and rapid eradication of hunger in the world and to take the necessary actions."

 "The present situation of world food insecurity cannot leave us indifferent," he added.

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Navi Pillay speaks on the human rights of Iran protesters

Via Spencer Ackerman, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay just release a statement on the situation in Iran: 

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said Friday she is concerned about reports of an increasing number of arrests, which may not be in conformity with the law, and the possible illegal use of excessive force and acts of violence by some militia members in the aftermath of the recent presidential elections held in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

"The legal basis of the arrests that have been taking place, especially those of human rights defenders and political activists, is not clear," Pillay said. "What are the grounds for the arrests? Have proper warrants been issued in accordance with Iranian law? Why have some of those who have been arrested been denied access to lawyers and members of their families? And why is the whereabouts of others unknown? These are all troubling questions, and I urge the Iranian authorities to ensure that due process is followed, since to do otherwise may fan the feelings of injustice."

The High Commissioner noted that freedom of expression and freedom of assembly were fundamental human rights, and commended the largely peaceful and dignified conduct of the huge demonstrations that have been taking place in the Iranian capital, Teheran.

Pillay expressed particular concern about reported acts of violence by members of the Basij militia, which may also be in contravention of international and Iranian national law. "I strongly urge the authorities to ensure that official and semi-official forces act strictly in accordance with the law," she said. "It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that militia members and regular law enforcement agencies do not resort to illegal acts of violence. If they are perceived to be acting outside the law, it could provoke a serious deterioration in the security situation, which would be a great tragedy and is in nobody's interests."

The High Commissioner reminded the Iranian authorities of their international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that ‘no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention’ (Article 9), ‘everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression’ (Article 19), and ‘the right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized’ (Article 21).

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Gang Rape as a Form of Male Bonding

Forget athletics, endurance tests, etc...

One in four South African men questioned in a survey said they had raped someone, and nearly half of them admitted more than one attack.

The study, by the country's Medical Research Council, also found three out of four who admitted rape had attacked for the first time during their teens.

It said practices such as gang rape were common because they were considered a form of male bonding.

Is it any wonder I expected a more forceful defense of women's rights in President Obama's Cairo speech - granted it was delivered to the Mideast, but the audience was intended to be global.

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Beep Beep, Beep Beep, NO!

The World Health Organization has rightly garnered a lot of attention from the H1N1 pandemic (which, by the way is now up to 39,620 confirmed cases and 167 deaths). But there is something even more deadly than the deadliest flu outbreak to which the WHO wants is member states to pay greater heed. Something that kills 1.3 million each year and injures 20 and 50 million others: Roadway accidents. And like HIV/AIDS, Malaria and TB, roadway deaths disproportionately affect people living in lower and middle income countries (LIC's and MIC's).  To wit: