Thursday, May 31, 2012

‘Israel-Bashing’ Event Puts UNESCO and ‘Palestine’ Back in the Spotlight

The U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is hosting three days of meetings relating to the “question of Palestine,” drawing fresh attention to its stance on an issue that has cost it the financial support of the United States, its biggest funder. Read

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pakistani Judges Convicting People of ‘Blasphemy’ Without Evidence, Says U.N. Expert

A visiting U.N. human rights expert has drawn fresh attention to the abuses arising from Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, reporting that fear of reprisals result in intimidated judges bringing convictions without evidence while lawyers avoid taking up cases. Read

As Syrian Deaths Mount, No Unified Response From U.N. Security Council

Kofi Annan, the U.N.’s special envoy to Syria, has described Friday’s massacre of more than 100 people as a “tipping point,” but another U.N. Security Council discussion of the crisis on Wednesday looks unlikely to produce any strong action while Russia continues to oppose a unified stance against Damascus. Read

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Internet Regulation Returns to the International Agenda

A long running debate over regulating the Internet is set to intensify in the coming months, culminating in a December meeting of a United Nations agency that some governments think should control what has been the most open and effective communications tool in history. Read

Friday, May 25, 2012

State Dept Opposes Senate Bid to Determine How Many Palestinians Are Genuine Refugees

After intervention by the State Department, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday reworked an amendment to a foreign operations appropriations bill, watering down language that sought to establish the actual number of Palestinians that could legitimately be called refugees. Read

Thursday, May 24, 2012

As Egypt Votes, Muslim Brotherhood Vows It Won't Bow to U.S.

The Muslim Brotherhood has unveiled the outline of the foreign policy its candidate will pursue if he wins the first competitive presidential election in Egypt’s modern history. Read

U.N. Summit Will Push for a More Powerful Global Environmental Agency

Ahead of a mammoth United Nations sustainability conference in Rio de Janeiro next month, the Brazilian government has signaled a new push to get the U.N.’s top environmental body upgraded – a push long opposed by the United States. Read

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Trio of Top U.S. Diplomats, Including Ambassadors to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Leaving Their Jobs

The United States is losing three top diplomats in the coming months, including those overseeing two of Washington’s most critical and challenging bilateral relationships. Read

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pakistani Terror Suspect Among Those Planning to Rally Against Reopening of NATO Supply Lines

As NATO’s Chicago summit ended without any agreement from Pakistan on re-opening supply lines for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan, radicals in Pakistan moved ahead with plans for a “long march” across the country to oppose any such concession by Islamabad. Read

Aspiring Members Still Knocking on NATO’s ‘Open Door’

Despite disproportionate troop contributions to NATO’s operations in Afghanistan, aspiring alliance members Georgia and Macedonia left NATO’s Chicago summit with further expressions of support, but nothing more – thanks to the continuing opposition of Russia and Greece, respectively. Read

Monday, May 21, 2012

Missile Defense Umbrella Is Operational, But ‘Limited,’ NATO Says

The early stages of the Europe-based ballistic missile defense system that has dogged U.S.-Russia relations for a decade are up and running, NATO announced Sunday. Read

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Megrahi’s Death Leaves Lockerbie Questions Unanswered

The death of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the former Libyan intelligence officer convicted in the Lockerbie bombing, closes one chapter in the 1988 atrocity but some victims’ families hope it will prompt a new investigation into an attack many suspect originated in Iran. Read

Friday, May 18, 2012

Egypt’s Copts Face Unappealing Choice in Looming Presidential Poll

As Egyptians await the results of expatriate voting ahead of next week’s presidential election, Copts who want their votes to count essentially face the choice of supporting an Islamist candidate – or one linked to the ousted regime which discriminated against the Christian minority. Read

Thursday, May 17, 2012

U.N. Human Rights Advocates Urge G8 to Take Up ‘Robin Hood Tax’ on Wealthy Nations

Ahead of the G8 summit in Camp David on Friday, a group of United Nations human rights “experts” are throwing their weight behind a longstanding campaign for a so-called “Robin Hood tax” on international financial transactions. Read

More People in Europe, Fewer in Russia and Latin America See U.S. as Positive Influence

As President Obama prepares to host back-to-back G8 and NATO summits, a survey tracking public opinion in 22 countries has found a slight drop over the past year in the number of people who view the United States as having a positive influence in the world. Read

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Administration Opposes Attempt to Bar Same-Sex Marriage on Military Property and Shield Military Chaplains

The Obama administration “strongly objects” to provisions in a House defense authorization bill that would prohibit the use of military property for same-sex “marriage or marriage-like” ceremonies, and protect military chaplains from negative repercussions for refusing to perform ceremonies that conflict with their beliefs, according to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Read

Veto Threat: Administration Issues 8 Pages of Objections to House Defense Bill

The Obama administration is threatening to veto a $643 billion defense authorization bill due to be debated in the U.S. House this week. Its objections range from missile defense at home to the president’s authority to conduct policy abroad. Read

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Iran Fumes As Six Arab States Consider Saudi Plan for a Closer Union

A proposal by six Arab Gulf states to explore a possible union drew an angry response in Iran, where lawmakers are painting it as part of a plot to “annex” tiny Bahrain to Saudi Arabia. Read

Looming U.N. Mega-Conference in Rio to Seek ‘More Sustainable Future’

Twenty years after a U.N. gathering in Rio de Janeiro hiked environmental concerns higher up the global agenda and laid the early groundwork for the Kyoto Protocol, tens of thousands of U.N. officials, government representatives and activists will head back to the Brazilian city this summer in an attempt to advance the “sustainability” cause. Read

Monday, May 14, 2012

Israel Won’t Be at ‘Biggest Summit in NATO History’

NATO’s summit in Chicago this month – the first on U.S. soil in 13 years – will be the biggest in its history, with some 60 countries and organizations represented, but Israel will not be among them, the alliance has confirmed. Read

Egyptians Want to Ditch Peace Treaty With Israel, Poll Shows

As Egyptians prepare to vote for their first post-Mubarak president next week, the antipathy towards Israel espoused by the frontrunners aligns with the findings of a new survey, in which 61 percent of Egyptian respondents favor abandoning the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, up from 54 percent a year ago. Read

Friday, May 11, 2012

Don’t Burn Qur’ans in My Name, Pleads Iranian Pastor on Death Row for ‘Apostasy’

From his Iranian prison cell, an Iranian pastor sentenced to death for “apostasy” has written to thank people around the world for advocating on his behalf, while expressing dismay at actions “insulting” to other religions. Read

China Threatens the Philippines After U.S. Reaffirms Commitment to Mutual Defense Treaty with Manila

A month-long standoff between China and the Philippines over a disputed area in the South China Sea has worsened, with Chinese state media raising threats of military action while Beijing warns that its citizens in the Philippines may be at risk because of nationalistic sentiment there. Read

Thursday, May 10, 2012

House Panel Cuts Obama’s Foreign Aid Budget, Targets United Nations Funding

Firing a shot over the Obama administration’s bow, a congressional subcommittee has marked up a foreign appropriations bill that lops 12 percent off the administration’s budget request for fiscal year 2013, and applies conditions on funding for the administration’s cherished $770 million “Arab spring” reform initiative. Read

Rep. Ron Paul Votes Against ‘One-Sided' Bill to Boost US-Israel Ties

Reinforcing his standing as a political maverick, Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul was one of just two House members to vote Wednesday against a bill to strengthen the relationship between the U.S. and Israel. Read

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Biden Ignores The Fact That Bush, Not Obama, Secured Unanimous U.N. Measures Against Iran

Vice President Joe Biden claimed Tuesday that when President Obama took office, “there was virtually no international pressure on Iran” and that the U.S. was diplomatically isolated. But the situation he described differs from the historical record. Read

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Pakistan Bristles at Clinton’s Claims That Terrorists Are Hiding There

Pakistan’s government dismissed as conjecture Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s assertions that al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, like his late predecessor Osama bin Laden, is believed to be hiding in Pakistan. Read

Bush, Cheney Face Torture and War Crimes ‘Charges’ in Mock Trial

Six months after finding President George W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair “guilty” of crimes against peace, a “tribunal” in Malaysia is now hearing torture and war crimes charges against Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney and six others. Read

Monday, May 07, 2012

Clinton: Obama Has Sent Message of Respect For All Religions--‘in Particular of Islam’

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday disputed charges that the United States is “anti-Islam,” telling an audience in Bangladesh that the perception was deeply hurtful. Read

France’s New Socialist President Gets Swift Invitation to the White House

President Obama wasted no time inviting French President-Elect Francois Hollande to the White House, suggesting a meeting in Washington just days after France’s first socialist leader in 17 years takes office next week. Read

Friday, May 04, 2012

After Russia Threatens Pre-emptive Strike on NATO Missiles, U.S. Stresses ‘Cooperation,’ ‘Common Ground’

Hours after Russia’s top general threatened pre-emptive strikes on proposed NATO missile defense facilities in Europe, the State Department said Thursday the U.S. would “redouble our efforts to seek common ground” with Moscow over the deepening dispute. Read

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Concerns Grow for Chinese Activist’s Missing Rescuer

The U.S. State Department says it has “urged” Chinese authorities not to punish the friend who helped Chen Guangcheng travel to Beijing. Read

State Dept. Praises Chinese Cooperation in Negotiations Involving Chen

Obama administration officials are playing down China’s demands for a U.S. apology for sheltering a blind human rights activist, saying that behind the complaints, Chinese officials cooperated closely in an effort to resolve the diplomatic crisis. Read

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Sen. John Kerry Expected to Meet With Muslim Brotherhood Presidential Candidate

Three weeks before Egypt’s crucial presidential election, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry will meet in Cairo Wednesday with the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, whom the Islamist party is confident will win, despite lagging in opinion polls. Read

Obama Campaigns From Kabul: ‘The Tide Has Turned’

Campaigning from Kabul, President Obama early Wednesday ticked off the foreign policy achievements that he hopes will give him a second term – an end to the war in Iraq, the phased withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, and the killing of Osama bin Laden. Read

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

A Year After Bin Laden’s Death, Poll Finds Little Change in Muslims’ Views of Al-Qaeda

A new poll gauging Muslims’ views on al-Qaeda a year after Osama bin Laden’s death shows small increases in support in Turkey and Pakistan since the spring of 2011, but small declines in support in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. Read

Iranian Lawmaker Criticizes Saudis for Remaining Silent on Qur’an-Burning by American Pastor

Iran is demanding an apology from the U.S. government for the latest Qur’an burning by a Florida pastor who gained notoriety in 2010 for threatening to burn the Qur’an on the ninth anniversary of the 9-11 terror attacks. Read