Conseil des ministres décentralisé en Corse sous haute surveillance

October 31, 2007

Le deuxième conseil des ministres décentralisé du (premier) quinquennat Sarkozy s’est déroulé aujourd’hui à Ajaccio dans une préfecture de Corse-du-Sud transformée en camp retranché, afin d’en éloigner les nationalistes radicaux, hostiles à l’initiative, et les syndicats en colère.

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New UN Human Rights Council Report politically biased

October 31, 2007

In a letter to all UN Ambassadors, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) urged their rejection of the new UN Human Rights Council’s report making Israel a permanent agenda item.

Full text of the AJC letter:

October 29, 2007

Your Excellency,

In the upcoming week of November 5, the General Assembly’s Third Committee will be asked to approve and put into effect the report of the Human Rights Council titled “United Nations Human Rights Council: Institution-Building” (document A/HRC/5/21).

Regrettably, the package contained in the report is substantively flawed and politically biased. It makes Israel a permanent item on the Council’s agenda, while terminating the mandates to investigate human rights situations in countries known for their systematic violations of such rights. Thus, experts charged with investigating abuses in countries such as Belarus and Cuba, have been abolished. Israel – and Israel alone – is singled out for permanent indictment. Both Secretary General Ban and High Commissioner Arbour have criticized the Council for this discrimination.

Furthermore, the Council adopted this shameful resolution in violation of its own Rules of Procedure. Canada, a Council member, made formal and repeated requests to put the resolution to vote, but its requests were all denied.

In its Resolution A/60/251 of March 15, 2006, which established the Human Rights Council, the General Assembly stated that “the Council shall be responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner.” The report submitted by the Human Rights Council clearly violates these principles. We therefore call upon your delegation to vote against the resolution contained in that report.

Respectfully,

Richard J. Sideman & David A. Harris


Release of The Global Competitiveness Report 2007

October 31, 2007

The United States of America ranked first in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, a closely watched metric that combines economic statistics and surveys of business leaders and ranks 131 countries, after ranking sixth in 2006. The survey praised the U.S. economy for its efficiency and ability to innovate, but the ranking came alongside a drumbeat of negative economic news.

The Financial Times notes U.S. consumer confidence reached a two-year low in late October and says housing markets in many major U.S. cities suffered their worst drop in sixteen years. Meanwhile, surging oil prices are dampening investor confidence and a broadening credit squeeze is taking a toll on large U.S. financial firms.

Other countries in the top five of the Competitiveness index were Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, and Germany. China and India finished 34 and 48, respectively-representing a surge for China.

Check out also this article in The Wall Street Journal.


Protest over Chad child scandal

October 31, 2007

The BBC reports on claims that the French non-governmental charity organization Arche de Zoé smuggled Chadian children out of the country and into Europe, prompting anger from officials on both continents.

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U.K.-Saudi Meetings

October 31, 2007

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown meets today with Saudi Arabian King Abdullah with discussions expected on joint anti-terrorism efforts.

Abdullah’s trip to Britain, his first as king, drew controversy after he criticized Britain’s government for not heeding Saudi intelligence.

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Jewish community in the German city Essen to boycott “Kristallnacht” commemoration

October 30, 2007
Jews in the western German city of Essen have announced their boycott of the city’s commemoration of the Nazi pogrom often called “Kristallnacht“.

It’s the first time that the Jewish community of Essen will not participate in the annual memorial event in the city’s Old Synagogue.

At issue is a flyer that an employee in the city’s office for intercultural projects signed and circulated last year in which she called Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert “Adolf Olmert” and used the phrase “Holocaust in Lebanon.” Jewish leaders say that Essen’s mayor Wolfgang Reiniger had promised not to reinstate the employee to her post, yet she was back less than a year later.

The unnamed woman wrote and signed the leaflet in August 2006, at the height of Israel’s war against Hezbollah in Lebanon, and then distributed it attached to a municipal publication. She was cautioned and temporarily moved to a position in the youth department.

The employee, who is of Lebanese background, later said she regretted the statements in the flyer and in July was reinstated to her position in the integration office. She reportedly would have had to return to Lebanon if she were removed from her job.

Stephan Kramer, secretary-general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said he plans to meet with Reiniger this week to see if a compromise solution can be found.


Foreign fighters in Afghanistan

October 30, 2007

The New York Times reports on the increasing number of foreign fighters siding with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

It says the foreigners are not only boosting the insurgency but also can be “more violent, uncontrollable, and extreme than even their locally bred allies.”

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