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At the United Nations Correspondents Association dinner, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon adopted the hip-hop persona, and busted a rhyme modeled on's YouTube sensation, "Yes, We Can." The chorus to this version, though, is "Yes, We Ban." The rhymes start around minute 5.If you want to see more of Ban Ki Moon's efforts at hip-hop stardom, check out his tribute to Jay-Z at the United Nations Association's 50th anniversary gala this year.
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40% of North Koreans in Danger of Going Hungry

From the UN News Center:
An estimated 40 per cent of the population of the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea (DPRK) -- almost 9 million people -- will be in need of urgent food aid in the next few months due to a shortage in cereals, according to a new United Nations report.A joint assessment by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) found that agricultural production will fall short of what is needed this year because of critical shortages of fertilizer and fuel, in spite of favourable climate conditions during the past growing season."DPRK will face a severe food situation over the coming months," said Henri Josserand, Chief of FAO's Global Information and Early Warning System..."The prospects for next year are bleak, with a substantial deficit of basic foods that will only partly be covered by commercial imports and anticipated food aid."
Read more.
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Susan Rice is from Bizarro World

Or so envisions the Los Angeles Times editorial board in a clever -- if geeky -- scenario:
If former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John R. Bolton went to Bizarro World, his counterpart there would be Susan Rice. Inhabitants of DC Comics' fictional planet are the polar opposites of their earthly doubles, and it's hard to imagine anyone who would represent a clearer break with the Bush administration's foreign policy strategies than Rice, whose selection as U.N. ambassador was announced Monday by President-elect Barack Obama.Rice is a liberal multilateralist, and Bolton, who spent a tumultuous year at the U.N. before resigning when it became clear that he wouldn't be confirmed by the Senate in 2006, is a conservative unilateralist. She would be warmly welcomed in New York if confirmed, and would be in a strong position to rebuild the bridges burned by Bolton, which current Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad has had a tough time doing, given that he represents a deeply discredited, lame-duck administration.
Fortunately, Turtle Bay is not that bizarre.And for those uninitiated into the contours of Bizarro World, Jerry Seinfeld explains:
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And the Security Council winners are…

Turkey and Austria will join Uganda, Mexico, and Japan as the newest members of the Security Council, defeating what was once considered a strong campaign by Iceland.
Iceland had lobbied hard, although its financial crisis had raised questions about its candidacy. Turkey won 151 votes and Austria 133, surpassing in the first round of voting the 128 votes required for the two-thirds majority out of 192 votes cast.
Reykjavik ultimately garnered only 87 votes, and, because of the anonymous voting procedure, we'll never know whether it was Iceland's financial crisis that undid its bid, or the fact that it contributes only two police officers to UN peacekeeping, compared to the 792 personnel provided by Turkey. Hopefully, though, no unsavory dried shark dishes made it onto the table where Iceland was touting its dessert pancakes.As for Iran's quixotic campaign, Tehran gained only 32 votes to Japans' 158, bringing the sort of resounding defeat that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad probably was not looking for.
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Iceland’s Sweet Campaign

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Mark forgot to mention another advantage that Iceland has going for it heading into tomorrow's Security Council election: dessert. The UN Delegates' Dining Room -- whose fare, particularly for those with a sweet tooth, can do wonders to bring countries together -- has been colonized by Iceland with gastronomical gusto. NYT's Neil MacFarquhar asks whether this will be enough for a country suffering a banking crisis.
Would two buffet tables groaning with delicacies exclusively from Iceland persuade any of the 192 member states that can vote this Friday that Iceland deserves their support? "Well, they have to try to convince people with pancakes because they don't have any money left," said one European diplomat walking past.
Sarcasm aside, a strong commitment to combating climate change will boost Iceland's credentials more than sweets, but crepes "Icelandic Pancakes Folded with Jam of Mixed Berries and Whipped Cream" certainly can't hurt.(Image from flickr user eaortmann using a Creative Commons license)
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On Peacekeeping in Georgia

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The UN Security Council yesterday extended the mandate of the small, unarmed UN observer mission in the Abkhazia region of Georgia, where violence between Russia and Georgia in early August has created an unclear situation for the future of the province. This ambiguity is the reason that the Security Council's reauthorization of UNOMIG, as the mission is known, is for a provisional four months, instead of the customary twelve. And while the 134 UN military observers can continue to play a small role, it is as yet uncertain who will be doing the actual peacekeeping.
Mr. Ban noted that it seemed unlikely that the Russian-led Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peacekeeping force in the Abkhazia region would have any role in the separation of forces between the two sides, and it was still unclear what arrangement, if any, would fulfil this function."Under these circumstances, it is too early at this stage to define the role that UNOMIG may play in the future," he told the Council. "But as long as international involvement in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict is seen as helping to prevent future conflict, UNOMIG may be called upon to make a contribution. In this respect, I have received formal indications from the Georgian and Abkhaz sides that they support the continuation of the Mission."
Since the outbreak of conflict in Abkhazia some 15 years ago, the principal peacekeepers have been Russian and Georgian troops. Why, one might legitimately wonder, was a more robust United Nations peacekeeping presence not established early on in this tense stand-off? I wrote this piece about a month and a half ago to answer that question -- and to point out why a little bit of foresight, along with more consistent support for UN peacekeeping, can go a long way in preventing fragile scenarios like the one in Georgia today.
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What’s my country’s name again?

While the speeches of many other countries' leaders before the UN General Assembly focused on important global issues like the financial crisis, terrorism, and poverty, the main topic for the President of Macedonia the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was...the name of his own country.The reason that President Branko Crvenkoski's small Balkan state must officially go by such a cumbersome name is that Greece, its neighbor to the south, objects to using the name of its northernmost province, "Macedonia," for an independent country. Athens senses an implication of irredentism in Macedonia's use of the name, a worry that is particularly acute for the Greeks given the substantial "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonian" population in the province of Macedonia.
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The dispute may seem silly, but it is serious -- earlier this year, Greece torpedoed Macedonia's EU and NATO bids because an acceptable compromise over the latter's name had not yet been reached. President Crvenkoski, in his speech to the GA, acknowledged the "obvious absurdity of the issue," but pledged gamely to work "actively and constructively" in negotiations with Greece, which have been moderated since 1999 by UN Special Envoy (and American) Matthew Nimetz. Tensions over the name, however, date back to Macedonian independence in 1992, as well as even to the time of Alexander the Great, who was...well, from one of the Macedonias, anyway.Let's hope the issue is resolved at least by the next Olympics, so that the Macedonian delegation no longer has to march between those of fellow "f" countries Finland and France.(Image from flickr user Thomas Roche using a Creative Commons license)
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Paul Collier on the MDGs

The Bottom Billion author writes a New York Times op-ed:
The Millennium Development Goals have been a major improvement on the unfocused agenda for poverty that preceded them, but the world has changed radically since they were announced in 2000. And the assumptions on which they are based need to be rethought.The World Bank has just raised the bean count of global poverty to 1.4 billion people, from just under a billion. It had previously overestimated the level of Chinese and Indian per capita incomes, so the count now shows that the number of poor Chinese and Indians far exceeds the number of poor Africans. But this is misleading because Chinese and Indian incomes are rising far faster and more surely than African incomes. The big difference between a poor Asian household and an equally poor African one is hope, not necessarily for the present generation of adults but for their children.Hope makes a difference in people's ability to tolerate poverty; parents are willing to sacrifice as long as their children have a future. Our top priority should be to provide credible hope where it has been lacking. The African countries in the bottom billion have missed out on the prolonged period of global growth that the rest of the world has experienced. The United Nations' goal should not be to help the poor in fast-growing and middle-income countries; it should do its utmost to help the bottom billion to catch up. Anti-poverty efforts should be focused on the 60 or so countries -- most of them in Africa -- that are both poor and persistently slow-growing.
Read the rest.