The UN Security Council unanimously approved on Thursday the creation of a UN peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic to try to stop violence between Christians and Muslims that has threatened to spiral into genocide.
The 15-member council authorized a UN force, to be known as MINUSCA, of up to 10,000 troops, 1,800 police and 20 corrections officers. It also authorizes French troops in the landlocked former French colony to support UN peacekeepers.
Increase in Cancer Unlikely following Fukushima Exposure - says UN Report
Low Risk of Thyroid Cancer Among Children Most Exposed
VIENNA, 2 April (UN Information Service) - Cancer levels are likely to remain stable in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power accident, according to a new UN report released today.
The report is titled Levels and effects of radiation exposure due to the nuclear accident after the 2011 great east-Japan earthquake and tsunami, by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR).
It finds that no discernible changes in future cancer rates and hereditary diseases are expected due to exposure to radiation as a result of the Fukushima nuclear accident; and, that no increases in the rates of birth defects are expected.
Nevertheless, it notes a theoretical possibility that the risk of thyroid cancer among the group of children most exposed to radiation could increase and concludes that the situation needs to be followed closely and further assessed in the future. Thyroid cancer is a rare disease among young children, and their normal risk is very low.
“People are rightly concerned about the impact on their health and their children’s health,” said Carl-Magnus Larsson, Chair, UNSCEAR. “Based on this assessment, however, the Committee does not expect significant changes in future cancer statistics that could be attributed to radiation exposure from the accident,” he said.
The findings are based on estimates of the exposure of various population groups - including children - as well as scientific knowledge of health impacts following radiation exposure.
According to the study, the expected low impact on cancer rates of the population is largely due to prompt protective actions on the part of the Japanese authorities following the accident.
The Committee analyzed reported worker doses and also independently assessed doses for some of the workers. The Committee’s assessments are broadly consistent with reported doses, but uncertainties remain for exposures during the early phase of the accident. “The Committee concluded that no discernible increase in cancer or other diseases is expected; however, the most exposed workers will receive regular health checks,” said Wolfgang Weiss, Chair of the Assessment.
The Committee also evaluated the effects of radiation exposure on both terrestrial and marine ecosystems, finding that any effects would have been transient.
For marine ecosystems, the possibility of effects on flora and fauna was limited to the shoreline area adjacent to the power station and the potential for effects over the long term was considered insignificant.
Fukushima Meltdown Unlikely to Lead to Large Number of Cancers
April 2, 2014
By Fredrik Dahl
VIENNA (Reuters) - Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster is unlikely to lead to a large number of people developing cancer like after Chernobyl in 1986, even though the most exposed children may face an increased risk, U.N. scientists said on Wednesday.
In a major study, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) said it did not expect “significant changes” in future cancer rates that could be attributed to radiation exposure from the reactor meltdowns.
The amounts of radioactive substances such as iodine-131 released after the 2011 accident were much lower than after Chernobyl, and Japanese authorities also took action to protect people living near the stricken plant, including evacuations.
Continue reading at Scientific American.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has given us the latest data on the greatest hoax in human history, and I suspect it won’t matter very much to a country that still allows Jim Inhofe to be one-one-hundredth of the upper chamber of its national legislature. Yes, climate change is getting worse. Yes, it is causing not only environmental damage, but also political turmoil.
The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that periodically summarizes climate science, concluded that ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying, and fish and many other creatures are migrating toward the poles or in some cases going extinct. The oceans are rising at a pace that threatens coastal communities and are becoming more acidic as they absorb some of the carbon dioxide given off by cars and power plants, which is killing some creatures or stunting their growth, the report found.
Which, of course, is going to make people cranky. And hungry.
According to the 2013 UNICEF Report on Improving Child Nutrition - The Achievable Imperative for Global Progress, one-third of the world’s under nourished children are in India and an estimated 61 million, half of the total child population in the country, are stunted due to chronic undernutrition.
While progress towards reducing child underweight in India has been made, it has been uneven. The 2010 UNICEF Report on Progress for Children: Achieving MDGs with Equity highlights that in India, the prevalence of underweight in children below five years in the richest 20 per cent of the households decreased from 37 per cent in 1992 to 25 per cent in 2006, whereas the corresponding reduction in the poorest 20 per cent households was negligible, from 64 per cent to 61 per cent.
A baby girl born today will still face inequality and discrimination, no matter where her mother lives. We have a common obligation to ensure her right to live free from the violence that affects one in three women globally; to earn equal pay for equal work; to be free of the discrimination that prevents her from participating in the economy; to have an equal say in the decisions that affect her life; and to decide if and when she will have children, and how many she will have.
During Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to the U.N. General Assembly meeting in September, a U.S. diplomat presented this griffin-shaped chalice to an Iranian counterpart. The chalice, thought to have been looted from an Iranian cave, dates to the 7th century BC, some experts believe. (Mehdi Moazen / Islamic Republic News Agency / November 30, 2013)
A gesture of respect will gain more ground than all the showing of teeth there is. Iran has a people and a histiry that truly deserve our attention and respect. It’s a shame that the countries have been so distant for so long. With all due concern for what has gone wrong, I welcome closer ties. The kind that reduce mistrust and anger.
WASHINGTON — Many paths led to the international agreement to temporarily curb Iran’s nuclear program: secret meetings in Oman, formal negotiations in Geneva, and a quiet encounter in New York involving two diplomats and an exquisite silver chalice in the shape of a mythical winged creature.
The latter session led in September to the return of the chalice to Iran, where officials hailed it as a gesture of friendship by the United States. The move was orchestrated by a mid-level diplomat at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations who devised a way to work around a 30-year absence in formal relations.
The United Kingdom has drafted a resolution to be put forward to the United Nations Security Council over Syria, British Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said Wednesday.
Downing Street said “Britain has drafted a resolution condemning the chemical weapons attack by (the regime of Syrian President Bashar) Assad and authorizing necessary measures to protect civilians.”
Downing Street said that the U.K. wanted the Security Council to “live up to its responsibilities on Syria.”
A draft text has not been released, but the resolution, drafted under the U.N.’s Chapter 7 mandate, will be put forward at a meeting of the five permanent members of the Security Council at a meeting in New York later Wednesday.
Four days have passed since Panamanian authorities discovered undeclared military weapons hidden aboard a North Korean ship, and the painstaking process of examining the entire vessel is crawling at a snail’s pace.
The ship has five cargo holds, only one of which has been emptied as of Thursday.
“The technicians on board have told us that this cargo was loaded in a way that makes it difficult to unload,” Panamanian Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino said.
The North Korean crew had resisted the Panamanian authorities and cut the cables to the onboard cranes. Panamanian investigators brought their own cranes, but removing the containers inside the cargo holds has been an “odyssey,” Mulino said.
The ship originated in Cuba, and the Cubans have admitted to owning the military equipment, claiming it was being sent to North Korea to be repaired and returned.
But many questions remain. If the weapons were not a secret, why were they hidden under sacks of sugar? Why the did the captain attempt to commit suicide?
A public prosecutor is charging the captain and 35 North Korean crew members with illegal possession of weapons and international arms trafficking, Panamanian government spokesman Eduardo Camacho said.
North Korean officials, meanwhile, asked for Panama to release the cargo ship and let the crew go.
Panama has formally asked the United Nations for guidance on how to handle the case.
“For us, it is important to finish this operation, wait for the United Nations to come, and they will decide” how to proceed, Mulino said. “Panama is completely transparent in this; we have no experience in dealing with this type of problem.”
A Pakistani teenager nearly killed by Taliban gunmen for advocating that all girls should have the right to go to school gave her first formal public remarks Friday at the United Nations. It also happened to be Malala Yousafzai’s 16th birthday.
“Today, it is an honor for me to be speaking again after a long time,” she said. “Being here with such honorable people is a great moment in my life.”
She looked out at an audience of hundreds of children from around the world and U.N. members, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and told them that she was wearing a pink shawl that once belonged to Benazir Bhutto, the two-time prime minister of Pakistan who was killed in 2007 in a suicide attack at a political rally.
“Dear sisters and brothers,” she said, “we realize the importance of light when we see darkness. We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way when we were in Swat, we realized the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns.
“The extremists were and they are afraid of books and pens,” she said.
“The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them.”
This fear is partly based on the Taliban’s own lack of education, Yousafzai said. And, she said, world leaders should “change their strategic policies” to press for peace and ensure that children’s and women’s rights are protected.
“We call upon all governments to ensure free, compulsory education — all around the world for every child.”
Yousafzai presented Ban, the U.N. secretary-general, with a petition signed by nearly 4 million people in support of the 57 million girls and boys around the world who are denied education.
In October, six men were arrested in connection with the attack on Malala and the other schoolchildren who were on the bus as they headed home from school.
All of the men were released from jail because of a lack of evidence against them.
The one named as the primary suspect, identified by police as Atta Ullah Khan, a 23-year-old man from the Swat district, remains on the run, authorities told CNN.
Khan was studying for a master’s degree in chemistry.
The United Nations welcomed the release on Saturday of 21 Filipino peacekeepers, who had been seized by Syrian rebels on the Golan Heights, as they crossed to freedom in Jordan after a three-day ordeal.
Philippine authorities also expressed relief at the release of the 21 members of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).
A Jordanian military official said the peacekeepers were greeted by border guards as they crossed from Syria in the afternoon and “underwent medical examinations.”
They then boarded an army bus and were given a military escort to the east Amman headquarters of the armed forces where they were “handed over to the UN representative in Jordan Costanza Farina in the presence of the Philippines ambassador,” the official added in a statement.