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UN Offers Help to US in Aftermath of Katrina

UN News Service: "The top United Nations emergency relief official has offered the United States the world body's help in "any way possible" following the loss of life and large-scale destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina along the US Gulf Coast. The offer was made in a letter from Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland to US Ambassador John Bolton."
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Annan Expresses Sympathy for Hurricane Katrina Victims

"United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today expressed his sympathy for victims of Hurricane Katrina in the United States and extended condolences to those affected by the storm. In a statement issued by his spokesperson, the Secretary-General said he is deeply saddened by the loss of life and large-scale destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina along the United States Gulf Coast. He also extended condolences to all the victims and their families, it added." [Read more]
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Wild Birds Likely to Spread Bird Flu Far and Wide

birdflu10.jpg Duck farm in Thailand with newly installed net to keep ducks and wild birds apart, a measure against spread of the avian flu virus. "The deadly strain of bird flu that has hit several countries in Asia is likely to be carried over long distances along the flyways of wild water birds to the Middle East, Europe, South Asia and Africa, with the potential to trigger a global human pandemic, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today. "Avian influenza is an international problem that definitely needs a strong international response," FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Joseph Domenech told a news conference at the agency's headquarters in Rome." [Read more]
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Blog Roundup #44

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary UPDATE: Booman Tribune: "The United Nations announced that the United States Government has accepted the world body's offer of help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina." ======== Melancholy ID: "Judy Cannon argues the United Nations can boast a remarkable list of achievements over the last 60 years." Echidne: "Remember how the radical cleric Pat Robertson said that he wants to see Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, assassinated? Now Chavez has said this in return: "I announce that my government is going to take legal action in the United States ... to call for the assassination of a head of state is an act of terrorism." Chavez said in a televised speech. The fiery left-wing critic of Bush's foreign policy who frequently charges the U.S. government is plotting to kill him, called Robertson "crazy" and a "public menace." He said Venezuela could seek Robertson's extradition under international treaties and take its claim to the United Nations if the Bush administration did not act." Demlog: "Iraqi negotiators finished the country's new constitution Sunday without the endorsement of Sunni Arabs who helped prepare it, dealing a blow to the Bush administration and setting the stage for a bitter campaign leading up to an October referendum. The 15 members of the Sunni panel said they rejected the document because of disagreements over such issues as federalism, Iraq's identity and references to Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated Baath Party. Sunni Arab negotiators also said in a joint statement that they had asked the United Nations and Arab League to intervene." Martin Stabe: "Canada flexes Arctic muscles - For those who have missed it, the NATO allies Canada and Denmark are in a border spat over a tiny, remote island off Greenland north of the Arctic Circle. The RCN has been conducting "Arctic sovereignty patrols" in the nippy region. In July, the RCN planted a flag on Hans Island, and the Canadian defense minister Bill Graham later made an unannounced visit, prompting protests from Copenhagen, which dispatched its own naval ships to region. Before things got ugly, the two countries decided to settle the dispute at the United Nations." Clarity and Resolve: "Jihad In the Balkans - I get the feeling that things may once again get very ugly in the Balkans when the U.N. leaves." TPM Cafe (Steve Clemons): "The End of Diplomacy? - This from a thoughtful piece by Anne Penketh in The Independent: "Mr Bolton is at the UN with a mission. At the end of the Cold War, Francis Fukuyama famously decreed the end of history. We could be witnessing the end of diplomacy." America in the past has generally demonstrated capacity to be a great leader of others -- a planning nation, a strategic nation, a complex systems integrator in war and peace -- but now the obsession with doing things alone is a rejection of leadership and guarantees future weakness."
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No Silver Bullet for Africa’s Hunger – Annan

"LONDON (Reuters) - There is no silver bullet to eradicate the food shortages afflicting Africa, but more money and a better early warning system could help speed aid to people in need, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said. A ten-fold increase in the U.N.'s Emergency Fund and greater emphasis on prevention through debt relief, trade reform and encouraging better agricultural practices were also crucial to fighting hunger, he wrote in the Financial Times on Monday. There is no silver bullet, but there is much we can do," he said, warning that the mass hunger in Niger could still be repeated in southern Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and southern Africa, affecting 20 million people. "If the world acts now, this need not happen," he said." [Read more]
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UNICEF-Sponsored Photo Exhibit by Children of Beslan

beslan_schoolinterior_opt.jpg A hallway is filled with rubble at School No. 1 in Beslan. This photo was taken by Vano Vazagov, 17. "BESLAN, Russia, 26 August 2005 - Photos taken by children from Beslan go on display in the town's Cultural Centre today - the result of a photography and journalism workshop for the children organised by UNICEF (22-28 July). The exhibition, entitled Children Are the Most Precious Thing in the World, will run until 9 September. Thirteen children aged 13 to 18 - five of whom were hostages during the siege of School No. 1 last September - took part in the workshop. They learned about photography and writing from UNICEF photographer Giacomo Pirozzi and journalist John Varoli before going out into Beslan to produce their own photos and stories." [Read more] VIEW PHOTOS and HEAR AUDIO
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Blog Roundup #43

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary Stygius: "In what is, frankly, a brilliant essay, nadezhda mounts a "defense of John Bolton," in the wake of my and others' reaction to Bolton's undercutting of the draft proposal at the center of the upcoming UN Summit. It's a long piece, but the central point seems to be that--beyond the sheer quantity of proposed US changes--the document had so many proposals so utterly incompatible with US positions (on, say, the ICC and the Kyoto Treaty) that it is unbelievable it survived so long in its current form. It's more than possible that the document, apparently shepherded by UN General Assembly President Jean Ping, was designed to highlight faultlines between the developed and developing world when it comes to development policies." Think Progress: Just three weeks after his recess appointment, Bolton is reversing the work of U.S. negotiators and is seeking to "scrap much of a draft plan for comprehensive UN reform just weeks before it is to be adopted at a world summit." Policy Busters: "The 2005 World Summit, to be held from 14 to 16 September at United Nations Headquarters in New York, is expected to bring together more than 170 Heads of State and Government: the largest gathering of world leaders in history. It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take bold decisions in the areas of development, security, human rights and reform of the United Nations. The agenda is based on an achievable set of proposals outlined in March by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his report In Larger Freedom (www.un.org/largerfreedom)." Dogooder: "Poor countries to miss 2015 health goals - WHO - "Most poor countries will miss global targets to reduce child mortality, improve maternal health and reverse the toll of AIDS and other diseases by 2015, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned on Monday. Health is at the heart of the U.N. Millennium Declaration, adopted by 189 heads of state in September 2000, which set out a roadmap of eight goals to be reached by 2015. Using 1990 data as baselines, they aim to reduce poverty and hunger, tackle gaps in health services, education and boost access to clean water." In the Bullpen: "How the free world gets rid of Iran's nuclear threat though is the question of the decade. If they choose to go after Iran militarily, with what army will they do so and how will they attack targets in which they do not have certainty where they are in Iran. Russia and China have already stated they are not in favor of war in Iran (no kidding as both nations are providing Iran technology and engineering expertise) and would then veto any such action in the United Nations Security Council. Both nations could very well veto any sanctions proposed by the Security Council. Fine mess we're in boys." Sudan Watch: "UN news service via ReliefWeb reports Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is in Khartoum and plans to visit some of the camps which now house hundreds of thousands of the more than 6 million refugees and internally displaced people who fled Sudan's civil strife."