No one in Western corporate media will tell you why US President Barack Obama is hitting Riyadh with a high-powered delegation to “pay his respects” to the new House of Saud potentate, King Salman.
**”Coat of arms of Saudi Arabia” by Anuskafm – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
Talk about a who’s who – including CIA head John Brennan; General Lloyd Austin, head of US Centcom; Secretary of State John Kerry; leading House Democrat Nancy Pelosi; and even senile Senator John “Bomb Iran” McCain.
It must have been heart wrenching for most in this crowd to skip a visit to the Taj Mahal in India so they would be part of the last-minute, “unscheduled” stop in Riyadh.
This is how the astonishing mediocrity that doubles as US Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, spun it; “Principally, I think this is to mark this transition in leadership and to pay respects to the family and to the people of Saudi Arabia, but I’m sure that while we’re there they’ll touch on some of the leading issues where we cooperate very closely with Saudi Arabia.”
The number of international tourists reached 1.13 billion in 201, 4, 51 million more than in 2013, on trend for the fifth consecutive year of above average growth since the 2009 economic crisis, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announced on 27 January 2015.
“Over the past years, tourism has proven to be a surprisingly strong and resilient economic activity and a fundamental contributor to the economic recovery by generating billions of dollars in exports and creating millions of jobs, said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai at the opening of the Spain Global Tourism Forum in Madrid.*
A time machine set on the long haul backward may be useful to understand the present in the light of the past. For instance Iberia, the peninsula, today with two states, Spain and Portugal.
**Roman conquest of Hispania | Author: HansenBCN | Wikimedia Commons
The time machine operator is Vigdis L’Orsa, Norwegian journalist, a pillar in the Norwegian community on Costa Blanca with incredible small towns like Alfaz with above one hundred nations living peacefully together.
She runs seminars on Spanish history inviting Norwegians, professionals and amateurs, to explore the Spanish past.
‘A rebel attack six years ago drove Célestine from her home. Last month she was uprooted again, when hundreds of shelters were set ablaze. This is Célestine’s story.’
By Céline Schmitt*
Rain pours down on the scorched ruins of what was, until just a few weeks ago, a refuge for thousands of people displaced inside the volatile North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Dozens of former inhabitants, mainly women and children, gather around us to recount their latest experience of fear and flight.
Congolese women return to see what little is left of Kiwanja settlement. | UNHCR/Frederic Noy
Among them is a woman I’ll call Célestine, a 48-year-old mother of three. Seeking respite from the rain here in Rutshuru, a 70-kilometre drive north of Goma, she holds a small piece of plastic tarpaulin above her head.
Célestine tells us she lived here at the Kiwanja site for six years – ever since the FDLR, a Rwandan rebel group operating out of eastern Congo, forced her from her home in Nyamitwitwi, across the mountains to the west. “The FDLR were raping women, beating up men,” she says. “People fled, and the village was abandoned.”
“On India’s Republic Day, Jan 26 2015, Barack Obama will be in Delhi. What is his agenda? As America’s salesman-in-chief he needs to get rid of inventories of defence material, nuclear technology, and other build-ups hurting profit. He will return from India half satisfied with what he achieves, but he has never aimed, nor has been permitted to aim, for much more.”
On India’s Republic Day, Jan 26 2015, Barack Obama will be in Delhi. He is simultaneously a visionary black American leader, and the President of the United States of America, and hence the most powerful man on earth. What can India expect from this last visit of his before he demits office in two years time?
Well, the world looked up to him with moist eyes after he published The Audacity of Hope and wished him all success. He did better than many had hoped for and became the American President. His very success turned him into a two-faced man.
By Tom Westcott, Bin Jawad, 27 January 2015 (IRIN)*
Six weeks ago, Bin Jawad was a sleepy coastal town, home to a community of oil workers, shepherds and fishermen.
**Photo: Tom Westcott/IRIN | Two soldiers from forces operating under Libya’s Tripoli-based government walking through the deserted streets of Bin Jawad.
Today there is no fishing. The town’s entire population – over 11,000 according to a 2006 census – has left. Houses stand deserted and the streets of this ghost town are littered with the spent shells of anti-aircraft guns. The residents have sought refuge in remote desert encampments or cramped village accommodation nearby.
Myanmar’s slow Rohingya genocide is a brilliant strategy that kills several birds with a single stone – as far as the country’s ruling military Bama regimes.
**Mae La camp, Tak, Thailand, one of the largest of nine UNHCR camps in Thailand where over 700,000 refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons have fled | Author: Mikhail Esteves from Bangalore, India | Wikimedia Commons
Myanmar’s great commercial opening, talked up as “reforms”, triggered Rakhine nationalists and democrats’ loud demands and agitations for 3 things – up until the state’s manufacturing of the Rohingya-raped-Rakhine woman story (the body of the victim Ma Thida Htwe had absolutely no trace of having been assaulted sexually – according to the medical doctor who performed the medical examination of her body – ask Mr Maung Thura (a.k.a Zargana. He is not telling the country or world, the real truth he knows for a fact because he interviewed the medical examiner on video camera)
Bonn, Germany – The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which was created to provide policymakers with reliable, independent and credible information on the status of biodiversity, on 19 January 2015 agreed to initiate a set of regional assessments in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, and Europe and Central Asia. These assessments will be a vital contribution for a planned global assessment to be completed by 2019.
Around 700 delegates from over 270 governments, scientific organizations, civil society and the private sector attended the Platform’s third meeting, which was held from 12 to 17 January in Bonn, Germany.
IPBES Member States present at the meeting adopted a conflict of interest policy and a stakeholder engagement strategy that will support the implementation of the Platform’s work programme and approved the guidance on strategic partnerships and other collaborative arrangements. Continue reading →
Agriculture and food security must be treated as essential components of peace building and conflict resolution, the head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said during a special meeting of the UN Peacebuilding Commission held at Headquarters on 26 January 2015.
Quinoa – a highly nutritious crop from the Andes has become popular globally. Photo: FAO/Alessia Pierdomenico
“Food security is an important foundation for peace, political stability and sustainable development. In the history of humanity, time and time again we have seen vicious circles linking violence and hunger – and these are conflicts that are not restricted by national borders,” FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said to participants.