Friday, December 28, 2012

U.S. Taxpayers Will Continue to Pay More Than One-Fifth of U.N. Budget

In one of its last actions of the year, the United Nations General Assembly on Christmas Eve agreed to extend for another three years the formula that has U.S. taxpayers contributing more than one-fifth of the world body’s regular budget. Read

China Wary As Japan’s New PM Hails Security Alliance with US

Closely watched by a wary China, Shinzo Abe’s return to the Japanese premiership gives him a second chance to pursue changes to Japan’s defense policies aimed at making it a more effective ally of the United States in a crucial region. Read

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Even Some Russians Oppose New Law Banning Americans From Adopting Russian Children

A controversial Russian law banning American families from adopting Russian children has generated enough opposition inside Russia to prompt a parliamentary committee’s unprecedented agreement to consider a petition against the move. Read

Syria, Afghanistan Among U.S. Foreign Policy Challenges in 2013

From Syria to Afghanistan to China, the coming year holds foreign policy challenges for President Obama’s second-term secretary of state at least as perplexing as those of 2012. Read

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

State Dep’t Avoids Direct Criticism of Egypt’s New Islamist Constitution

Reacting Tuesday to passage of Egypt’s divisive new constitution, the State Department chose not to directly criticize its Islamist character, noting only that “[m]any Egyptians have voiced deep concerns” and calling for peaceful dialogue. Read

More Christians Killed As Pope Decries ‘Savage Acts of Terrorism’ in Nigeria

Suspected Islamist terrorists killed 12 Nigerians celebrating Jesus’ birth, hours before Pope Benedict XVI, in his traditional Christmas Day message, spoke out against “savage acts of terrorism” mainly targeting Christians in Africa’s most populous country. Read

Friday, December 21, 2012

Kerry, Hagel Have Track Record of Wanting to Engage With America’s Adversaries

If speculation about President Obama’s likely nominees to head the departments of State and Defense proves correct, the next four years could see a renewed focus on his early drive to engage with hostile and repressive regimes. Read

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Inquiry into BBC’s Pedophile Scandal Spares NYT Co. CEO, Finds ‘Critical Lack of Leadership’ Under His Tenure

New York Times Company CEO Mark Thompson has been spared direct criticism in an independent review into the BBC’s handling of a child sex scandal while he was director-general of the British public service broadcaster. Read

Syrian Regime Bombs Palestinian Refugees; UN Condemns Israel

Two days after Syrian regime fighter jets bombed a Damascus suburb that is home to 150,000 Palestinians registered by the U.N. as refugees, the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday passed nine Mideast-related resolutions by large majorities – all critical of Israel. Read

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

As Islamists Rise, Christians Cower in Syria and Americans Oppose Arming Rebels

Amid concerns about the makeup of the U.S.-backed anti-regime opposition in Syria and the country’s future direction – including worries about minority Christians – a new poll has found that a majority of Americans don’t believe the U.S. has a responsibility to “do something about the fighting,” and they don’t want the U.S. to send arms to the rebels. Read

World Won’t End on Friday, Chinese State Media Assure Nation

Chinese authorities are trying to allay doomsday rumors that appear to be circulating quite widely in that county, and which police say were behind a frenzied knife attack on elementary school students last Friday. Read

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

British MP Says He Can't Get Answers From NY Times CEO Mark Thompson Regarding BBC Child Sex Abuse Scandal

As an independent review into the BBC’s handling of the Jimmy Savile child sex scandal prepares to release its findings, a British lawmaker says he has yet to get satisfactory answers from New York Times Company CEO Mark Thompson about what he knew of the abuse allegations before he left his BBC director-general post in September. Read

Monday, December 17, 2012

Turkey Co-Hosts U.S.-Initiated Counter-Terror Forum, Then Chats With Terrorist Leader

Hours after the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government co-chaired a meeting Friday of the Obama administration’s flagship international counter-terrorism initiative, he had a phone conversation with a top leader of Hamas, a group designated by the U.S. as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). Read

After Comeback Election Victory, Japan’s Next PM Says He Won’t Give Way on China Dispute

A landslide victory for Japan’s center-right Liberal Democratic Party in elections Sunday paves the way for the return of hawkish former prime minister Shinzo Abe at a time when regional territorial disputes have stoked nationalism and tensions on both sides of the East China Sea. Read

Iran: ‘No Difference’ Between Conn. Shooting Victims and Those in Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan

The 20 young victims of Friday’s school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut are no different than those “who fall victim to armed actions” in the Gaza Strip, Iraq or Afghanistan, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said at the weekend. Read

Friday, December 14, 2012

Obama Accepts ‘Saddened’ Susan Rice’s Withdrawal From Secretary of State Consideration

In a move aimed at defusing a potential showdown between President Obama and Senate Republicans, Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said Thursday she was withdrawing her name from consideration as Secretary of State. Read

Clinton’s Testimony on Benghazi Not Confirmed, Says State Dep’t

The State Department Thursday reined in expectations that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will share with lawmakers the findings of an inquiry into the Sept. 11 terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Read

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rep. Frank Wolf: Tunisia Won't Let FBI Interview Benghazi Suspect

As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepares to testify on Capitol Hill next week about last September’s attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, a Republican lawmaker is urging her to cut aid to Tunisia over its refusal to allow the FBI to talk to the only known detained suspect in the attack. Read

N. Korea's Apparent Launch Success Advances Quest to Bring the US Within Ballistic Missile Range

If confirmed, North Korea’s claim to have successfully placed a satellite in orbit is a major technological achievement which – despite its declarations of peaceful intent – will advance its quest for intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capability, experts say. Read

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Obama Ends His ‘Engagement’ Policy With Syria by Recognizing the Opposition

President Obama’s announcement Tuesday recognizing the Syrian opposition movement as the sole “legitimate representative” of the Syrian people marks the most drastic policy shift yet in relations between Washington and the 41 year-old Assad regime, and buries finally a policy in which Obama’s administration initially tried to engage with Damascus. Read

British Census: Islam Fastest-Growing Faith in England; Christians Drop to 59% of Population

New census data released in Britain show that Islam is the fastest-growing religion in England and Wales, as the number of people identifying with no religion has almost doubled over the last 10 years, and the number of those describing themselves as Christian has dropped to 59 percent, down from 72 percent in 2001. Read

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

U.S Condemns N. Korean Rocket Launch; Japan Calls for Urgent Security Council Meeting

Japan called for an urgent U.N. Security Council meeting after North Korea early Wednesday fired a long-range missile, apparently placing a satellite in orbit. Read

U.S. Intelligence Report Says Islamist Terrorism ‘Could End by 2030’

The wave of Islamist terrorism is receding and “could end by 2030,” according to a new long-term assessment by the U.S. intelligence community. Read

Democracies Silent as U.N. Human Rights Council Elects Country Where Slavery Exists to Leadership Post

The U.N.’s top human rights body marked Human Rights Day on Monday by electing three countries with poor human rights records as vice presidents for the coming year – including one of the last remaining countries where slavery exists. Read

Monday, December 10, 2012

Russia, U.S. Tussle Over Internet Control at U.N. Conference

As a conference on international communications enters its final week Monday, the issue of whether the current system of Internet governance needs revamping remains unresolved, as blocs led by the United States and Russia dig in to mutually incompatible positions. Read

Administration Will Ask Partners in Counter-Terror Forum to Involve – But Not Admit – Israel

At a meeting of its new international counter-terrorism initiative this week, the Obama administration will raise the possibility of Israel contributing -- but it is not pushing for the Jewish state to join the forum, more than a third of whose members are Islamic nations. Read

Friday, December 07, 2012

Violence Against Christians Moves Nigeria to No. 7 on List of Terror-Affected Nations

Boko Haram’s violent jihad against Christians in Nigeria pushed the West African country into seventh place in annual rankings of countries impacted by terrorism, lending weight to calls for the State Department to reconsider its decision not to designate the group as a “foreign terrorist organization.” Read

UN Sets Aside One Hour for Syria Crisis – and Syrian Delegate Is the Only One to Speak

An estimated 40,000 people have been killed in Syria’s civil war, but when the United Nations General Assembly held a meeting on the issue last Friday, it set aside one hour – and then not a single delegate took the floor except for Syria’s, who spent 22 minutes defending the Assad regime. Read

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Israel Still Excluded from Obama Administration’s Touted Counter-Terror Forum

Six months after the Obama administration said it was “committed” to involving Israel in its flagship international counter-terrorism initiative, there has evidently been little progress, and the State Department indicated Wednesday it was still trying. Read

Passing Comment by Clinton Sheds Light on Earlier U.S.-Israel Settlement Dispute

Amid a new controversy between Israel and the Obama administration over the issue of building in disputed territory, a largely-unnoticed comment by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offers fresh insight into an earlier dispute. Read

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Concerns About Sovereignty Lead Senate Conservatives to Nix U.N. Treaty on Disabled

Conservative groups welcomed the U.S. Senate’s failure on Tuesday to ratify a United Nations disabilities treaty, which they view as an infringement of U.S. sovereignty. But Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), a leading proponent, called it “one of the saddest days I’ve seen in almost 28 years in the Senate.” Read

Polling Firm: ‘Values Gap’ Between Young Americans and Europeans Is Narrowing

There are significant differences between Europeans and Americans on values issues ranging from the use of force in foreign policy to religion, despite four years under President Obama, the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project said Tuesday. Read

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Iran: Talks With U.S. Up to Supreme Leader, Who Calls America ‘Disgusting’

Iran’s foreign minister said Monday any direct talks with the United States – something the Obama administration badly wants -- would require the approval of supreme leader Ali Khamenei. But judging from the anti-American content of some of the ayatollah’s recent speeches, direct talks look remote at best. Read

Unhappy Egyptians Given 2 Weeks to Consider Divisive Constitution That Elevates Shari’a

Given just two weeks to consider the merits of a draft national constitution that will affect their lives for the foreseeable future, Egyptians were taking to the streets in large numbers on Tuesday to protest the latest development in their country’s chaotic political transition. Read

Monday, December 03, 2012

Another N. Korean Rocket Launch Will Test U.N. Security Council’s Pledge to ‘Take Action’

If North Korea goes ahead with its declared attempt to launch a rocket into space this month, the U.N. Security Council’s pledge eight months ago to take unspecified “action” if it does, will be put to the test. Read

Emails Raise New Questions About When NY Times CEO Learned of BBC Child Sex Scandal

New information published in a British newspaper Sunday raised fresh questions about New York Times Company CEO Mark Thompson’s assertions that he knew nothing about a child sex scandal before his tenure as director-general of the BBC ended in September. Read