Courtesy of Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky, millions of Americans have seen how a single United States senator can use procedural chicanery to prevent important legislation from moving forward. By withholding his “consent” from a resolution extending unemployment benefits to out of work Americans last week, Bunning prevented social security checks from reaching many thousands of people in need.
Steve Clemons lands a really great interview with Kenyan Vice President Kalonzo “Steven” Musyoka, who was in Washington, D.C. this week for the National Prayer Breakfast. Anyone interested in Somalia and the politics of East Africa should spend the next 8 minutes watching this video.
Somalia has long been one of the most dangerous places in the world for UN-affiliated aid workers. Beyond the general lawlessness of the place is the fact that one of the main insurgent groups, al Shabaab, has specificily targeted aid workers and UN agencies as enemies.
Six months ago, I predicted that Eritrea was on its way to becoming the newest pariah state on the international scene. Later today, that status may be officially confirmed as join the ranks of Sudan, North Korea, and Iran when the Security Council votes on a sanctions resolution on Eritrea and its political leadership. How did it come to this? I’ll refer back to my original post.
Five Republican members of Congress penned a letter to Ugandan President Yoweri Mouseveni urging him to do everything within his constitutional authority to stop legislation that would criminalize homosexuality, sometimes under the penalty of death, from being enacted in Uganda. The signatories, Representatives Chris Smith, Frank Wolf, Joe Pitts, Trent Franks and Anh “Joseph” Cao are conservative, members of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and self-proclaimed “men of faith.”
The Ugandan government is currently debating a new law against homosexuality. Regular homosexuality is punishable by seven years in prison. Being HIV positive and having gay sex – even with a condom – would be punishable by death. I don’t think it is culturally insensitive to say that this is a very bad law.
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”.