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.*
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.
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.
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.
THERE USED to be a joke about a sadist and a masochist.”
Hit me! Beat me! Kick me!” the masochist pleads with the sadist.
The sadist smiles a cruel smile and slowly answers: “No!”
THAT, MORE or less, reflects the situation on our northern border at this moment.
Two Israeli drones have bombed (or missiled) a small Hezbollah convoy, a few miles beyond the border with Syria on the Golan heights. 12 people were killed. One was an Iranian general. One was a very young Hezbollah officer, the son of Imad Mughniyeh, a very high-ranking Hezbollah officer who was also killed by Israel, some seven years ago, in a Damascus car explosion.
The killing of the Iranian general was perhaps unintended. Seems that Israeli intelligence did not know that he, and five other Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers, were in the convoy. An Israeli army officer admitted this in a roundabout way. A second officer denied the statement of the first.
Nairobi, 23 January 2015 (IRIN)* – The shocking satellite imagery of the destruction in the northeastern Nigerian town of Baga and nearby villages earlier this month provided graphic evidence of the extent of the crimes by the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram when they stormed in.
**Photo: Human Rights Watch | Satellite imagery of the destruction of Doro Gowon, 3km from Baga | Source: IRIN
It turned the spotlight back to the fact that something terrible had happened in Baga, and hundreds, if not as many as 2,000 people, may have died.
“It’s the power of the image,” Nigerian human rights lawyer Clement Nwankwo told IRIN.
“The reason people questioned whether 2,000 people were killed was because that level of brutality was unimaginable. But the images validate that claim, the number of fatalities could be in that vicinity.”
January 2015, Pressenza — For some it’s their God, for others Democracy. There are those for whom human rights are inalienable and for several others the most Sacred is found within human beings. That thing that cannot be conceded, or sold, or forgotten, something that gives Meaning to life and projects it beyond one’s own existence has without doubt a very special characteristic.
The Green-crowned Brilliant in Costa Rica Photo: UNEP GRID Arendal/Peter Prokosch | Source UN News Centre
Children are sacred for their mothers, love for those in love, big ideals for militants. There are certain things that you cannot blaspheme against because in them there is such a special communion between what is human and the ineffable thing that transcends it.
‘U.S., NATO and EU’s agenda at the moment is – “we kill people who kill people because it is wrong to kill people”and thus we bomb IS, fight terrorist groups we have nurtured to quite an extent ourselves and move from one crisis (mis)management to the next.’
**US Army soldiers in a firefight near Al Doura, Baghdad” by Sean A. Foley – . Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
Eleven points as a reflection on the terror in Paris and – not the least – the reactions to it*:
1. What was this an attack on?
Was that attack an attack on freedom of speech as such, on democracy, even on the whole Western culture and lifestyle, as was maintained throughout? Or was it, more limited, a revenge directed at one weekly magazine for what some perceive as blasphemy?