Thursday, December 30, 2010

From the United Nations to the Middle East, Obama Administration Faces a Difficult 2011

The lame-duck Congress may have delivered the Obama administration a major year-end foreign policy success in approving the arms-reduction treaty with Russia, but 2011 promises an accumulation of challenges that will test Obama’s mettle across the globe. Read

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gates’ Visit to China Comes As Beijing Tries to Limit U.S. Military Access to the Region

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China has invited Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Beijing in early January. His visit will come a year after China froze military contacts with the U.S. to protest arms sales to Taiwan, and it follows months of tensions over ship movements in northeast Asian waters. Read

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hezbollah TV Programs Prompt Call to Amend Broadcasting Rules in Australia

Australia’s media regulator has recommended that the country’s broadcasting regulations be amended to block terror-supporting programming, after an investigation into Hezbollah’s al-Manar television station found material that breached national codes on racism and fairness. Read

U.S. Denounces Verdict in Russian Political Trial, But Will It Affect ‘Reset’?

he Obama administration has condemned a Moscow court’s conviction of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the jailed former oil tycoon who ran afoul of then-President Vladimir Putin by bankrolling opposition parties. Read

Monday, December 27, 2010

Nigeria Roiled Again by Muslim-Christian Clashes

The season of good will brought little to celebrate in a city straddling Nigeria’s religious fault line, where Muslim-Christian clashes continued Sunday following a series of deadly bombings on Christmas Eve. Read

As U.N. Prepares for Anti-Racism Conference, U.S. Is Pressed to Say It Will Stay Away

A provocative plan to hold a United Nations anti-racism conference in New York City days after the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is moving ahead, after more than 100 U.N. member-states gave their approval in a post-midnight General Assembly vote late last week. Read

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Countries With Poor Human Rights Records Close Ranks Around Iran, North Korea

At the end of a year in which Tehran’s human rights record was widely criticized, more than half of the world’s 192 independent countries failed to support a resolution at the U.N. this week expressing “deep concern at serious ongoing and recurring human rights violations in Iran.” Read

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lame-Duck Senate Approves New START With Support of 13 Republicans

Thirteen Senate Republicans joined Democrats Wednesday as the lame-duck U.S. Senate approved the New START arms-reduction treaty with Russia. The pact, a key foreign policy priority for President Obama, has generated significant debate in recent weeks. Read

U.N. Passes Religious ‘Defamation’ Resolution Sponsored by Islamic Nations, But Support Dwindles

For the sixth consecutive year, the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday passed a controversial resolution on religious “defamation” sponsored by Islamic nations, but this time, the measure passed by a mere 12 votes. Read

At U.S. Insistence, U.N. Text on Unjustified Executions Includes a Reference to ‘Sexual Orientation’

Heavy lobbying by the United States and homosexual advocacy groups succeeded Tuesday in restoring language referring specifically to sexual orientation in a United Nations resolution condemning unjustified executions. Read

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Republican Objects to Russia Telling U.S. to Leave Arms-Reduction Treaty Alone

“Who is this guy telling us what we can do under our Constitution?” a Republican senator asked on the Senate floor Monday, after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that an arms-reduction treaty now under consideration cannot be amended. Read

Monday, December 20, 2010

Arms Reduction Pact Passes Two More Hurdles, But Top Republicans Will Vote 'No'

The lame-duck U.S. Senate on Monday morning will debate the New START arms reduction treaty with Russia, after two Republican amendments aimed at allaying conservatives’ concerns failed over the weekend. Read

U.N. Security Council Deadlocked Over Blaming N. Korea for Attack on South

Almost a month after a deadly North Korean artillery attack on its southern neighbor, the United Nations Security Council has failed to agree on condemning Pyongyang for the incident, amid fears that more aggression may be looming. Read

Friday, December 17, 2010

Democracies Urged to Vote Against U.N. Plan to Hold Racism Event in NYC

The United Nations General Assembly will vote Monday on whether to hold a controversial anti-racism event in New York next September, when America will mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. Read

In a Victory for Earmark Opponents, Dems Drop Their Trillion-Dollar Omnibus Spending Bill

Senate Democrats Thursday evening withdrew an earmark-laden omnibus spending bill, agreeing instead to work on a short-term, stop-gap funding bill – a “continuing resolution” – to keep the federal government running beyond midnight Saturday. Read

Thursday, December 16, 2010

As New START Edges Closer, Administration Cites ‘Legal Issues’ as Reason for Not Releasing Negotiating Record

Supporters of a new U.S.-Russia arms-reduction treaty moved a step closer to their goal of ratification Wednesday when a majority of U.S. Senators – nine Republicans among them – voted to open debate, despite objections to the pact being considered during the waning days of a lame-duck session. Read

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

From Peanut Research to Pig Waste, Pork-Laden Spending Bill Called a ‘Monstrosity’

Senate Republicans gave notice Tuesday evening of their intention to force a reading of all 1,924 pages of a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill laden with more than 6,000 earmarks, a development anti-pork critics described as “shameful” and “outrageous.” Read

Lame-Duck Senate Expected to Take Up Divisive Arms-Reduction Treaty Wednesday

The U.S. Senate looks poised to begin debate Wednesday on the Obama administration’s controversial nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia. Critics say a vote on New START, if successful, would be the first time the Senate has given its advice and consent to the ratification of a major treaty during a lame-duck session. Read

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Iraqi Christians Seek Western Help Amid Wave of ‘Religious Cleansing’

Iraqi Christian leaders are lobbying European lawmakers Tuesday as part of an international campaign aimed at getting Western governments to take the minority’s predicament seriously. Read

Monday, December 13, 2010

Clinton Aims to Launch Mideast ‘Final Status’ Negotiations

In a bid to effectively kick start negotiations on the final status of the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is calling on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to declare their positions on the “core issues” in the conflict and to “make the difficult decisions that peace requires.” Read

Swedish Creator of Mohammed Sketch Shrugs Off Blame After Stockholm Bombing

The Swedish artist who stoked controversy in 2007 with sketches portraying Mohammed as a dog responded to Saturday’s apparent suicide bombing in Stockholm, the first ever in the Nordic country, by shrugging off claims that he was to blame. Read

Friday, December 10, 2010

Clinton Promises ‘Review’ of Procedures After TSA Pat-down of Indian Envoy Causes Stir

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday the administration would be “reviewing the policies” after an airport pat-down of India’s ambassador to the U.S. brought a rebuke from New Delhi. Read

Hamas Leader Urges Resumption of Terror As Obama’s Peace Initiative Founders

As the Obama administration’s Mideast peace initiative crumbles, Hamas is calling on all Palestinian factions, including its Fatah rival, to resume an armed campaign aimed at seizing control over all of what it terms “historic Palestine.” Read

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Incoming Chair of House Foreign Affairs Committee Wants to Isolate Enemies, Make U.N. Accountable

The incoming Republican chairwoman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday identified U.S. funding of the United Nations as a target. The comments are likely to send a chill through supporters of the Obama administration’s policy of deeper engagement with the U.N. Read

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Iran’s Gulf Neighbors Stress ‘Peaceful’ Settlement of Nuclear Issue After WikiLeaks Disclosures

Iran’s Arab neighbors used a summit in Abu Dhabi this week to reiterate the need for a peaceful resolution to the Iranian nuclear standoff, after recently leaked U.S. diplomatic cables revealed a deep distrust of Tehran among Gulf states – and some appeals for military action. Read

China Declares Christian ‘House Churches’ a ‘Cult,’ Advocacy Group Reports

China reportedly has launched a new crackdown on “house churches,” Protestant congregations that do not belong to the country’s state-sanctioned, “patriotic” church organization. Read

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Iran Will Lead Developing Nation Bloc at U.N. Nuclear Agency

Iran was handed another U.N. leadership position on Monday, when its ambassador in Vienna was appointed chairman of the group of developing nations interacting with U.N. agencies, including the nuclear watchdog. Read

U.N. Human Rights Chief to Skip Nobel Ceremony; Accused of Caving In to China

When the Nobel Committee awards its peace prize to an imprisoned Chinese dissident on Friday in Oslo, the U.N.'s top human rights official will not be there. Read

Monday, December 06, 2010

Threats, Protests Surround Pakistani Christian Woman Convicted of ‘Blaspheming’ Mohammed

Thousands of Islamists gathered in the Pakistani capital on Sunday, warning the government not to touch the country’s blasphemy laws or to pardon a Christian woman on death row for allegedly blaspheming Mohammed. Read

As Nobel Ceremony Looms, Calls Grow for China to Free Peace Prize Winner

Ahead of this week’s Nobel peace prize award ceremony, supporters of this year’s winner, imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, held demonstrations in Hong Kong and elsewhere on Sunday calling for his release. Read

Friday, December 03, 2010

British Christian Group Raises Concerns About Shari’a-Compliant Food

A Christian organization in Britain has launched a petition campaign aimed at defending the right of those who for religious, moral or other reasons do not want to eat meat slaughtered according to Islamic law (shari’a). Read

Leaked Cable May Prompt Iran to Demand Resignation of Nuclear Watchdog Chief

Amid rumors that Iran will demand his resignation, the head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency denied any wrongdoing Thursday, following reports that leaked U.S. diplomatic cables indicated he sided with the U.S. on the Iranian nuclear standoff. Read

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Obama Administration Linking Arms Control Treaty With Russian Cooperation on Iran

Pushing to get the New START arms reduction treaty through the lame-duck Senate, the Obama administration and Democrats are looking to pro-Israel organizations, arguing that delaying ratification will jeopardize Russian support for international pressure on Iran. Read

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Leaked Cable Highlights Issue of Payment for Pacific Island Sanctuary for Gitmo’s Uighurs

Secret diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks show that the Bush administration tried unsuccessfully to get a small Pacific nation to take a group of Uighurs detained at Guantanamo Bay in return for a $3 million “incentive package.” Read

U.S. Diplomats Are Not Spies, State Department Says, After Leaked Cable Raises Questions

Following disclosure of an apparent State Department directive to U.S. diplomats to collect information on top United Nations figures, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on all member states to comply with conventions on protecting U.N. “immunities and privileges.” Read