Tuesday, August 30, 2011

International day of the disappeared 2011

Relatives of people who disappear in connection with armed conflict or other violence suffer immensely as they struggle to find out what became of the missing person.

More needs to be done to help the thousands of families of missing persons. On 30 August, the International Day of the Disappeared, the ICRC is highlighting their plight, and explaining what the organization is doing to help.

By "missing person," we generally mean someone whose family has no news of them or someone who has been reported missing (on the basis of reliable information) in connection with an armed conflict – international or non-international – or of internal violence, internal disturbances or any other situation that might require action by a neutral and independent body (see the ICRC publication Missing persons: a handbook for parliamentarians (2009). More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Murky Anti-Semitism (Zionist Style)

August 25, 2011Can criticism of Israel, particularly a) criticism of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people and b) criticism of the state ideology of Zionism that justifies that treatment, be labeled anti-Semitic?

This is not a hypothetical query. An affirmative answer to this question is being advocated by influential Zionist lobbies in the United States. The question is of particular importance on the nation’s college and university campuses. In places like the University of California at Berkeley and Santa Cruz, and also at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Zionist students are now threatening to sue these institutions for failing to prevent an “atmosphere of anti-Semitic bigotry” allegedly created by the presence of pro-Palestinian student groups and faculty.
One might ask if it isn’t a stretch to assert that protesting Israeli and Zionist behavior is the same as anti-Semitism? Common sense certainly tells us this is so. Unfortunately, we are not dealing with situations that are ruled by common sense. What we are facing here is the issue of ideologues bred to a specific perceptual paradigm and their insistence that others conform to it.

Here is an example: Take an American kid from a self-conscious Jewish home. This kid does not represent all American Jewish youth, but does typify say 20% of them. He or she is taught about the religion and also taught about recent history and the near annihilation of the Jews of Europe. He or she is sent to Hebrew school, and maybe a yeshiva school as well. Most of our hypothetical student’s friends will be Jewish and of similar background. Between home, friends and school the student might well find him or herself in something of a closed universe. Throughout this educational process Judaism and its fate in the modern world is connected with Israel and its survival. The Arabs, and particularly the Palestinians, are transformed into latter day Nazis. In addition, Israel’s state ideology of Zionism becomes assimilated into the credos of the religion. Soon our hypothetical student cannot tell the difference between the two. Then, having come of age, our student goes off to college or university. Now he or she is no longer in a closed world. The result can be culture shock and an uncomfortable feeling that the student is on a campus where vocal and assertive debate about Israel and its behavior sounds like an attack on the Jewish religion. Our student complains to the ZOA, Hillel, AIPAC, or some similar organization and we are off down a road toward censorship and/or litigation. Lawsuits are lodged (particularly if the ZOA is involved), donors swear that they will no longer support the institution, legislators bang on desks at the state capital, and boards of directors want to know what is going on and what the institution’s president is going to do about it?
More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Syria unrest: UN rights body to investigate crackdown

The UN Human Rights Council has ordered an investigation into violations reportedly committed by Syrian security forces during the crackdown on dissent.

It passed a resolution to "urgently dispatch an independent international commission of inquiry" and demanded an end to the violence against protesters. The commission will "investigate violations of international human rights law in Syria since July 2011".

The UN says more than 2,200 people have died since protests began in mid-March. There were 33 votes in favour of the resolution on Syria, four against - reportedly including China, Russia and Cuba - and nine abstentions.

The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Navi Pillay, opened the emergency session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Israel kills five year old terrorist in Gaza

Gaza, (Pal Telegraph) – Many media outlets adopt the Israeli accounts without making sure about its validity.

The attack in Eilat which claimed the lives of 7 Israelis was vivid that it has targeted armed soldiers. Yet, Israeli media outlets led by Haaretz said “People” were killed, afterwards we have seen photos of the scene where military bags indicate it was a military target.

Sadly, all professional media outlets circulated that one side of the story without carrying out any journalistic efforts. BBC, CNN, AFP, Reuters and the key outlets said that civilians were attacked in Israeli resort in Eilat. Shortly, contradictions started to arise as Israeli army released photos of some of the killed soldiers. Haaretz, published a piece of news showing Israeli PM visiting some soldiers in the hospital.

Moving to the Palestinian side, Israel retaliated quickly and killed a number of Palestinian freedom fighters. A child has been killed in the area as the attack took place within a very densely populated area. However, no single Palestinian factions claimed the responsibility of the Eilat attacks.

In the same night, Israel launched further attacks and killed a number of civilians including a boy aged 13. We can’t really confirm if this boy was a terrorist or not!

Yesterday, a Palestinian medic, his 5-year-old child, Islam and his brother were killed in Gaza city. They were targeted by a drone while in a motorcycle. None of the media outlets presented their story with balance yet they continue their bias saying Israel is responding to the Palestinian terror.

The boy Islam Qaraqi is 5 years old. The photo above shows what happened to him. He was grilled like by the Israeli attack rockets.

More >>>


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Statement by Middle East Quartet

Voicing great concern at Israel’s recent announcements to advance planning for new housing in Ariel and East Jerusalem in occupied Palestinian territory, the United Nations and its partners in the search for Middle East peace today called the action contrary to international law.

“Unilateral action by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community,” the Quartet, comprising the UN, the European Union (EU), the United States and Russia, said in a statement. “Jerusalem in particular is one of the core issues that must be resolved through negotiations between the parties, which underscores the urgent need for the parties to resume serious and substantive talks,” it added. “This comes at a critical juncture with Quartet efforts ongoing to resume negotiations which are the only way to a just and durable solution to the conflict.” More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Sunday, August 14, 2011

On thin ice

The Arctic — a mosaic of oceans, glaciers and the northernmost projections of several countries — is a place most of us will never see. We can imagine it, though, and our mental picture is dominated by one feature: ice.

Yet the Arctic sea ice is changing dramatically, and its presence shouldn’t be taken for granted, even over the course of our lifetimes. According to new research from MIT, the most recent global climate report fails to capture trends in Arctic sea-ice thinning and drift, and in some cases substantially underestimates these trends. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report, released in 2007, forecasts an ice-free Arctic summer by the year 2100, among other predictions. But Pierre Rampal, a postdoc in the Department of Earth, Atmosphere, and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), and colleagues say it may happen several decades earlier. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Thursday, August 11, 2011


New York, Aug 11 2011 1:05PM
A senior United Nations envoy today called Israel’s announced plan to develop new housing units in East Jerusalem, if confirmed, a “provocative action” that undermines international efforts to foster peace talks between it and the Palestinians.

Voicing alarm, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry noted that the Quartet, the diplomatic group comprising the UN, the European Union, Russia and the United States that seeks a peace based on two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side, already condemned the plan when its initial planning stage was announced last year.

“If confirmed, this provocative action undermines ongoing efforts by the international community to bring the parties back to negotiations,” he said in a <"http://www.unsco.org/Documents/Statements/SC/2008/on%20new%20housing%20units%20in%20east%20Jerusalem%2011%20August%202011.pdf">statement after Israel today announced the plans to develop new units in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as capital of their future State, including 1,600 units in Ramat Shlomo.

Israel's refusal last September to extend a 10-month freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory prompted the Palestinians to withdraw from direct talks with the Israelis. Despite repeated calls by the international community to resume negotiations, the peace process has been in a deadlock since then.

East Jerusalem was captured by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967, when it also occupied the West Bank and Gaza, which the Palestinians seek as constituent parts of their State.

Mr. Serry noted that the announcement comes only one week after a separate Israeli decision to build 900 additional housing units in another settlement in East Jerusalem, which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, voicing concern at “provocative actions on the ground,” has already called contrary to international law.

Mr. Serry said he would take up the latest issue with the Quartet.

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

Follow us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/UN.News.Centre) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/UN_News_Centre)

Location: Cayman Islands

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

GDP IS DEAD: Will the world be happier without it?

Memo to politicians: Stop promising to grow GDP and start targeting social benefits you can actually deliver—or prepare to face angry mobs. Nothing grows forever on a finite planet, not even the US economy.

It’s not surprising that everyone from President Obama to Michele Bachmann is assuring the electorate that he or she can deliver more GDP growth. When GDP numbers are up, more jobs appear and investments reap higher returns. When GDP is down, economic mayhem ensues.

Yet there are signs that more GDP growth may not be in the cards, regardless whose economic remedy is chosen. In fact, the day may have arrived when GDP itself has outlived whatever usefulness it ever had.

GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is a number indicating the total spending occurring in a national economy annually. Since WWII, policy makers have used GDP as their primary index of national economic health. During the late 20th century, with the world awash in cheap energy to fuel ever more industrial output and transport-driven trade, the numbers kept going up—and most economists concluded they’d continue doing so forever.

A few contrarians (including Robert F. Kennedy, in 1968) suggested that relying on GDP wasn’t a good idea. Although soaring numbers lead to financial euphoria, they can hide social ills like growing inequality; moreover, GDP fails to distinguish between waste, luxury, and the satisfaction of basic human needs. Perversely, GDP often rises during wars or after environmental disasters, due to increased government spending.

Despite criticisms, economists and policy makers have stuck with GDP—perhaps because tracking a single number makes their jobs easier.

But now, the US may have reached its practical GDP limit. The bursting of a once-in-a-lifetime credit bubble, the maxing out of consumer borrowing and spending capacity, and tightening global resource constraints (showing up as stubbornly high oil prices) have caught national economic output in an undertow. Much of the rest of the world is being drawn in, with Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and Italy swirling ever closer to the drain. During the past two years, Americans bought an anemic recovery—a few hundred billion dollars’ worth of GDP growth—but at the cost of trillions in added government debt.

Now, as Washington descends deeper into partisan acrimony, efforts to generate further growth with yet more debt have become political orphans that no Republican and few Democrats will claim as their own. If the “recovery” was all smoke and mirrors, we’ve just run out of mirrors.
More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Small island faces huge threat from climate change

4 August 2011 - When the United Nations Security Council took up the issue of climate change for the first time in four years last month, the president of the world’s smallest island nation delivered a grim warning and impassioned appeal to the international community.

Marcus Stephen of Nauru described to the council how rising sea levels are threatening the eight-square-mile Pacific island and, in turn, the security and survival of its people. Climate change should be a Security Council priority, he argued, because of the security risks it poses, from the physical loss of territory to the pressure on human habitat to the increased demand on limited food and water resources.

Stephen’s speech fell on deaf ears for some, however, as entrenched divisions on the issue of climate change reemerged among member states. Countries such as China and Russia opposed the Security Council’s involvement, while the United States, Australia, Germany, and others voiced their support for it.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice called the council’s lack of leadership “more than disappointing.”

“It’s pathetic,” she said in her speech. “It’s shortsighted, and frankly it’s a dereliction of duty.” More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The World Needs a New Language

We know it is dangerous to cross a red light, so we wait until it turns green.

We do not go out sailing when the weather forecast promises a great storm. We accept it when a doctor tells us to take medicine to prevent hypertension.

We do not drink the water if there is sign saying that it is contaminated. We are constantly accepting different potential risks and manoeuvring to limit them.

But when it comes to climate change, our willingness to accept it as a potential great risk is missing - and so is our motivation to respond to it with our normal risk-behaviour.

97 percent of the climate scientists believe global warming is happening, that humans are largely responsible and that we need to take action now. From their perspective there is a mountain of evidence on the reality of climate change; the nearest thing to an open-and-shut case that scientist can produce. They are constantly trying to convince us -- the public -- of this fact.

But still the concern shared by almost every scientist is not concurrent with the general public opinion. 44 percent of Americans still believe that global warming is primarily caused by planetary trends, according to a poll from Rasmussen Reports conducted in April. And 36 percent do not believe climate change is a serious problem.

Thus we are currently witnessing an enormous reality gap between science and the public -- with very different perceptions of the risks posed by climate change.

If scientists could solve climate change on their own, the lacking public support wouldn't be a problem. But they can't. Without the endorsement from the general public, the fight against climate change does not stand much of a chance. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

UNGA Debate on Right to Water Highlights Impact of Climate Change

27 July 2011: The UN General Assembly (UNGA) held a debate on the human right to water and sanitation, during which a number of speakers highlighted that climate change constitutes an obstacle to the enjoyment of this right, stressing the particular situations of small island low-lying States.

The debate took place on 27 July 2011, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. In his opening address, Joseph Deiss, UNGA President, recalled that, in July 2010, the General Assembly adopted a resolution on the human right to water and sanitation, which he said was an important first step towards the explicit acknowledgment of that resource as a human right.

Egypt said States must take all necessary measures to extend human rights, including the right to clean water and sanitation. He added that Egypt’s efforts were challenged by funding, climate change, population growth and other factors, and indicated that his Government had adopted an integrated national plan to address these challenges. Senegal stressed the need to address climate change and drought in order to achieve the right to water, calling for increased assistance.

Cuba called for enhanced cooperation in the face of climate change, calling for the creation of mechanisms that are not dependant on the international financial institutions.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines expressed support for the UNGA resolution by which the Assembly had recognized the right to water and sanitation as a human right. He underlined that his country's achievements in terms of ensuring the realization of that right, considering its limited resources, illustrate the importance of political will. He emphasized the urgency of “looming threats” to achieving the right to water, namely climate change and desertification. He added that his country often resorts to transporting water by ship and said sea-level rise would have a disastrous effect. He concluded by calling for mainstreaming the issue in the global agenda.

Maldives explained that her country's main source of water is shallow groundwater, underscoring its extreme vulnerability to water scarcity. She called for considering the legally binding right to water in the context of sea-level rise, climate change, and other critical phenomena. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands