Tag Archives | United Nations

Debating Poverty At The United Nations: Do The Media Hate The Poor?

United Nations, New York: One is always proud to be invited to speak at the United Nations, one of the few global institutions that is still taken seriously, and that can generate international resolutions and shape programs free of total domination by the big powers.  

When you are an outsider like I am, it’s a bit of an ego boost to think that the world might be listening to little old you, and that, at least for one session, you are among the chosen to hold forth on something serious in what critics deride as ‘The House of Babble.’

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I have been around the world body for years, even as recipient of a prize for a TV documentary from the UN Correspondents Association  (UNCA). In that case, the film offered a strong critique of the UN cockup in Bosnia, but then, the award was presented to me by the then (and sixth) UN  Secretary General Boutros-Boutros Ghali, who clearly hadn’t seen it

So, yes there is pretense and hypocrisy,  but there are also sincere and dedicated people—diplomats and international civil servents– working to improve the world.… Read the rest

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America’s Plan to Kill Online Privacy Rights Everywhere

Dilma Roussef graffitiThe United States of America is shaping up as the evil totalitarian state of the 21st Century if this report from Foreign Policy‘s The Cable is correct:

The United States and its key intelligence allies are quietly working behind the scenes to kneecap a mounting movement in the United Nations to promote a universal human right to online privacy, according to diplomatic sources and an internal American government document obtained by The Cable.

The diplomatic battle is playing out in an obscure U.N. General Assembly committee that is considering a proposal by Brazil and Germany to place constraints on unchecked internet surveillance by the National Security Agency and other foreign intelligence services. American representatives have made it clear that they won’t tolerate such checks on their global surveillance network. The stakes are high, particularly in Washington — which is seeking to contain an international backlash against NSA spying – and in Brasilia, where Brazilian President Dilma Roussef is personally involved in monitoring the U.N.

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United Nations to Adopt Asteroid Defense Plan

Ssc2005-01bThe Hollywood adaptation of this story is no doubt already in the works. In the meantime, Scientific American has the details of the UN’s plan to defeat an asteroid attack:

When a meteor exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia in February, the world’s space agencies found out along with the rest of us, on Twitter and YouTube. That, says former astronaut Ed Lu, is unacceptable—and the United Nations agrees. Last week the General Assembly approved a set of measures that Lu and other astronauts have recommended to protect the planet from the dangers of rogue asteroids.

The U.N. plans to set up an “International Asteroid Warning Group” for member nations to share information about potentially hazardous space rocks. If astronomers detect an asteroid that poses a threat to Earth, the U.N.’s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space will help coordinate a mission to launch a spacecraft to slam into the object and deflect it from its collision course.

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Documents Reveal NSA Bugged The United Nations

united nationsPerhaps most disturbing is how chipper they are about it. TechCrunch writes:

The NSA has been spying on the goings-on at the United Nations’ New York headquarters for nearly a year.

German news magazine Der Spiegel cites a multitude of documents that “stemmed” from Edward Snowden which purport (among other things) that the NSA first managed to crack the UN’s video conferencing system during the summer of 2012.

Some of the documents speak nicely to the sort of banality those involved ascribed to their actions — “The data traffic gives us internal video teleconferences of the United Nations (yay!),” one of them reads.

Also on that list of targets is the International Atomic Energy Agency and the European Union, though at this point it’s unclear what exactly the NSA has managed to dig up on either of those bodies. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Der Spiegel notes that [the NSA's activity] “has little or nothing to do with warding off terrorists.”

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UN: Colorado, Washington Pot Legalization Must Stop

Colorado and Washington – which voted to legalize marijuana in November – haven’t started (legal) sales of the drug yet and already the measures appear on precarious ground. There have been ambiguous signals from the Obama administration as to a future federal response and a public letter signed by former DEA chiefs demands the new state laws be quashed. Now, the United Nations is piling on.

The International Narcotics Control Board, a UN body charged with implementation of international drug treaties, has issued a demand to the U.S. government to “ensure full compliance with the international drug control treaties on its entire territory,” the Seattle Times reports.  Specifically, drug liberalization laws in Washington and Colorado violate international drug agreements, the board contends. Attorney-General Eric Holder says he is continuing to review the Washington and Colorado laws as he works to formulate a response.

In an unrelated editorial, Daniel Wolfe of the Open Society Foundations, has compiled a list of “the 5 Ways the UN’s Drug Watchdog Fails on Health and Human Rights,” which was published yesterday at The Huffington Post.… Read the rest

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Craziest Conspiracy Theories Of The Year

Although billed by PolicyMic as 2012′s top 5 crazy conspiracy theories, I’m not sure it was in this year that most of these “theories” started, or that we won’t be hearing about them again in 2013 (except maybe the Mayan end times meme), but for the record their list is:

  1. Obama cooked the books.
  2. Obama continued to not be born in America.
  3. The Mayan apocalypse brought us to an end.
  4. The UN disarmed America as part of a “new world order.”
  5. The U.S. government re-armed as part of a “new world order.”

Read for yourself the reasons why at PolicyMicRead the rest

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The Time That UNICEF Bombed the Smurfs

In the mid-nineties the Belgian arm of the United Nations Children’s Fund engaged in a publicity campaign to bring attention to the plight of child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Burundi – both former Belgian colonies. Perhaps the most infamous part of that campaign was a PSA depicting the smurf village being bombed into smithereens, complete with dead and dying smurfs and even a howling, infant smurf deprived of its caregivers. The Smurfs was one of Belgium’s most beloved children’s cartoons, but the video was aimed at parents, not their kids. Thus, it was only shown after nine PM.The shock tactics worked: According to the United Nations, visits to the campaign website and calls to the organization increased when the video aired.

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United Nations Intellectual Property Group Denies Pirate Party Observer Status

Picture: Pirate Party (PD)

Via Ars Technica:

The United Nations’ World Intellectual Property Organization, a body that sets rules for trademarks, copyrights and patents as well as settles some disputes over internet domains, has denied observer status to members of the Pirate Party International. The PPI is an organization that represents chapters of the Pirate Party throughout Europe. While the Pirate Party isn’t a mainstream party, they’re hardly the lunatic fringe: Sixty countries throughout the world have active Pirate Parties, all of whom are independent but hold common cause on issues of copyright and intellectual property reform. It’s hardly in the interest of the multinational corporations that the organization serves to allow the Pirate Party to have a presence during their little shindig.

Read more at Ars Technica.

 

 … Read the rest

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United States Challenged At United Nations Over War On Drugs

Reuters reports that U.S. allies in Latin America are applying the pressure:

The presidents of Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala all called for a vigorous global debate of anti-narcotics laws at the United Nations on Wednesday, raising new questions about the wisdom of the four-decade-old, U.S.-led “war on drugs.”

Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who leaves office on December 1 after spending much of his presidency locked in a bloody battle with drug-smuggling gangs, called on the United Nations to lead a global debate over a less “prohibitionist” approach to drugs.

Guatemala’s President Otto Perez Molina echoed Calderon’s call and went even further, saying that “the basic premise of our war against drugs has proved to have serious shortcomings.”

The speeches, which were a few hours apart, constituted some of the most public challenges to date of anti-drug policies that have been mostly unchanged since the 1970s. Obama has ruled out any major changes to drug laws, but some U.S.

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