Archive for October 8th, 2012


‘Of Bombs and Comics’

Human Wrongs Watch

By Uri Avnery*, TRANSCEND – My first reaction to Binyamin Netanyahu’s exhibition of comics at the UN General Assembly was shame.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/J Carrier

Shame that the supreme elected representative of my country would stoop to such a primitive rhetorical device, bordering on the childish.

(One Israeli commentator suggested putting him on a rug with a lot of paper and Indian ink, and letting him play to his heart’s content.)

He was speaking to a half-empty chamber (Israeli TV was careful not to show the entire hall during the speech), and the audience consisted of second-grade diplomats, but these were still educated people.

Even Netanyahu must have realized that they would despise this display. But Netanyahu was not talking to them at all. He was talking to the Jewish audience at home and in the US.

This audience was proud of him. He succeeded in touching their deepest emotions.

To understand this, one must recall the historical memories. Jews were a small, powerless community everywhere. They were completely dependent on the Gentile ruler.

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UN Proposes New Treaty to Protect Elephants, Polar Bears, Sharks, Medicinal Plants

Human Wrongs Watch

Several dozen species – ranging from elephants, polar bears, sharks and manta rays to medicinal plants and rare trees – will receive additional protection under a United Nations-backed treaty for the conservation of endangered species if new proposals are adopted at a world wildlife meeting next March.

A forest elephant in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo: UNESCO

More than 50 countries submitted 67 proposals for consideration under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) by the 4 October midnight deadline, and these will now be discussed at a meeting of treaty parties in Bangkok, Thailand, from 3 to 14 March, coinciding with its 40th anniversary, the UN reports.

“CITES is where the rubber ‘hits the road’ and the outcome of our world wildlife conference in 2013 will be of great significance to the future of many species of plants and animals,” said John E. Scanlon, the Secretary-General of the Convention, the secretariat of which is administered by the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) in Geneva.

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Migrants, Asylum Seekers Shift to Greek Islands

Human Wrongs Watch

By IRIN*, Mytilene, Greece – Just as Greece appears to have successfully stemmed the flow of undocumented migrants crossing the land border with Turkey, a new influx of migrants and asylum seekers has started arriving on its eastern Aegean islands.

**Police detain Syrian migrants on the Greek island of Lesvos. With nowhere else to accomodate them, migrants are kept in police station cells for several days or even weeks © Kristy Siegfried/IRIN

European border agency Frontex estimates the islands have been receiving about 200 migrants per week since the August launch of an operation that deployed an additional 2,000 police officers to the Greek-Turkish border.

“There is some displacement effect,” said Frontex press officer Ewa Moncure, who added that a smaller number of migrants was also attempting to reach Europe via Bulgaria.

Although Greek territories, the islands are just a few kilometres from the Turkish coast, and are reachable in the right weather conditions by smugglers in even flimsy inflatable boats. The route, however, is much more perilous than a land crossing and has already resulted in fatalities.

During just one incident in September, involving a boat that struck underwater rocks and sank just off the Turkish coast, 61 migrants died, including 31 children.

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Climate Change: Developing Nations to Spend Up to $300 Billion on Safe Bridges, Roads

Human Wrongs Watch

By IRIN* – Johannesburgo – Disaster reduction experts have been calling on countries to “climate-proof” infrastructure like roads, but until now, there have been no studies showing the scale or importance of these interventions.

**Photo: Majdoline Hatoum/IRIN

recent study by the Intergovernmental Group of Twenty-Four says developing countries will have to spend about US$200-300 billion per year by 2020 to construct public infrastructure – like bridges, power supplies and roads – that are not only environmentally friendly but can also withstand extreme changes in temperature and rainfall.

The study, co-authored by economist Nicholas Stern, says developing countries are spending $0.8-0.9 trillion per year on infrastructure, the majority of which is financed by domestic budgets. To keep up with population growth, cover existing gaps, and make infrastructure climate-resilient as well, countries will have to spend a total of $1.8-2.3 trillion per year by 2020.

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