Archive | International Relations & Treaties

Rome Explosions Injure Two in Possible Eco-Terrorist Threat

Two parcel bomb explosions at the Chilean and Swiss embassies in Rome have injured two people, officials said Thursday.

At about noon local time today, the blast from a package bomb injured a staffer at the Swiss embassy. The staffer received severe hand injuries but his condition was not life-threatening, the BBC reported.

Chief Francesco Tagliente told The Associated Press Thursday that one person was also injured in an explosion at the Chilean embassy, which occurred shortly after 3 p.m.

Italian police have notified all embassies about the incidents. There is currently no indication of who planted the devices, but Corriere della Sera, an Italian daily newspaper, reported that investigators were “targeting anarchistic circles of eco-terrorist extraction.”

“Detectives are assessing various hypotheses, including that of an attack planned by anarchist-insurrectionist movements connected with the jailing of several anarchist exponents currently held in Swiss prisons,” the newspaper said on its website, according to UPI.

“It will probably be a couple of days before more information emerges. But it doesn’t look like a typical jihadist thing. It looks more like the act of a leftist, fringe group,” said Stephan Bierling, professor of International Politics at Regensburg University in Germany, according to MSNBC.

The explosions come after widespread anti-government protests in Italy and the discovery of a suspicious device on an empty underground train in Rome Tuesday. Testing revealed that package lacked a detonator or any explosive material.

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START Treaty Passes in 71-26 Vote

The U.S. Senate cleared the New START treaty Wednesday in a 71-to-26 vote.

The U.S.-Russian nuclear arms treaty, one of President Barack Obama’s top priorities for the lame-duck Congress, will reduce the number of U.S. and Russian missiles by a third and implement on-site inspections of nuclear weapons facilities after a one-year suspension.

The agreement was signed by Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on April 8 last spring.

Vice President Joe Biden acted as Senate president during the final vote on the treaty, which will last 10 years.

“This is one of those rare times in the United States Senate where we have it within our power to safeguard or endanger humankind,” Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass, Foreign Relations Committee chairman and one of the floor debate managers, said prior to the ratification vote.

56 Democratic senators and two independents voted in support of the treaty.

13 Republicans also joined in voting to approve the treaty, including: Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Robert Bennett of Utah, Richard Lugar of Indiana, Olympia Snowe of Maine, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Susan Collins of Maine, George Voinovich of Ohio, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Mike Johanns of Nebraska and Scott Brown of Massachusetts.

President Obama said Wednesday that the arms control agreement will help the U.S. stop the spread of nuclear weapons.

The international community has also praised the Senate’s ruling. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the treaty “a firm and clear message in support of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation,” AP reported.

Posted in International Relations & Treaties, Laws & Regulations, Policies, Politics & Politicians0 Comments

Ivory Coast: Opposition Leader Calls for International Military Action

Ivory Coast opposition figure Guillaume Soro called on the international community Wednesday to intervene in the country’s presidential election dispute.

Soro is the prime minister candidate under Alassane Outtara, the opposition leader widely recognized by international observers to have won Ivory Coast’s Nov. 28 runoff election.

Incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo also claimed the victory and refuses to leave office. At least 50 people have been killed in the Ivory Coast in the recent political stalemate since the election, the U.N. said Sunday.

Soro urged the U.N., European Union, African Union, and other world leaders to consider ousting Gbagbo before more bloodshed occurs.
“It is obvious that there is one solution left – that of force,” Soro told France’s i-tele television channel, according to The Associated Press.

The United States and the EU are imposing sanctions on Gbagbo’s regime, and the World Bank said Wednesday that it has frozen lending and disbursing funds to the Ivory Coast.

According to CNN, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Wednesday that the United States and other countries were considering expanding the U.N. force currently in the Ivory Coast.

Meanwhile, French officials warned its citizens Wednesday of mounting dangers in the West African country. Government spokesman Francois Baroin urged the estimated 13,000 French nationals in the Ivory Coast to leave immediately if possible.

The United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany have issued similar warnings to their traveling citizens.

On Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon expressed his fears that the conflict will ignite another civil war.

“In the past week, there has been an alarming increase in the use of intimidation by elements of the national security forces loyal to Mr. Gbagbo against the civilian population, and in particular against supporters of President-elect Ouattara,” he said, according to CNN.

“The tactics include abductions and killings and the propagation of hate speech through the state broadcasting corporation,” he continued. “There is a real risk of a return to civil war.”

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Global Trade: U.S. Challenges China’s Clean Energy Subsidies

The U.S. on Wednesday filed a case against China before the World Trade Organization, claiming that Beijing has unfairly provided hundreds of millions of dollars worth of subsidies to Chinese wind power companies.

The accusation follows a petition filed by the United Steelworkers in September, which claimed that China buoys its clean energy sector with subsidies, allowing Chinese businesses to sell wind and solar equipment at a lower rate on the international market.

The WTO request alleges that the funding is in violation of global trade rules.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Wednesday that the Obama Administration is targeting China’s wind power production grants, because they seem to require that Chinese manufacturers use only domestically-made parts.

“Import substitution subsidies are particularly harmful and inherently trade distorting, which is why they are expressly prohibited under WTO rules,” Kirk said in a statement. “These subsidies effectively operate as a barrier to U.S. exports to China.”

The case comes weeks before Chinese President Hu Jintao is scheduled to visit President Barack Obama.

U.S.-China relations are already tense: the two superpowers are arguing over a number of trade issues, including China’s currency policy and Chinese barriers against U.S. beef imports.

During trade talks last week, the U.S. persuaded China to loosen restrictions on foreign contributions to the booming Chinese wind power industry. Foreign suppliers will no longer require previous experience in the Chinese clean energy sector.

United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard expressed the union’s satisfaction with the Obama administration’s decision to submit the WTO request.

“Today’s announcement by the administration comes as an early note of holiday cheer for those workers in the alternative and renewable energy sector,” said Gerard in a statement. “The goal is not litigation; it’s to end their practices.”

Posted in Energy Industry, Energy Policy & Advocacy, International Relations & Treaties, Solar, Wind0 Comments

United Nations Building Evacuated Due to Suspicious Odor

The United Nations Security Council and General Assembly were forced to evacuate the U.N. building Tuesday because of a “suspicious” odor, Reuters reported.

Security officials first told the press that there was a gas leak in the Manhattan compound. But spokesman Farhan Haq said he could not confirm that was the case.

Haq said the evacuation was just a precautionary measure. “We are currently trying to identify the odor with local authorities,” he told reporters crowded outside the building.

The smell was later blamed on a sewage backup caused by high tides in the nearby East River.

“This is not a hazard, there were gases released by the sewage but it is not harmful,” Haq told reporters. “Public tours and General Assembly meetings should be able to resume by tomorrow.”

The U.N. compound is currently undergoing a $2 billion refurbishment. The Security Council has been meeting in the basement of the 39-story Secretariat building during renovations, and repairs have not begun for the adjoining General Assembly building, which is still being used.

Posted in Drinking Water, Groundwater, Springs & Aquifers, International Relations & Treaties, Organizations0 Comments

North Korea Doesn’t Retaliate After South Korean Drills

North Korea appears to be attempting to ease tensions with its neighbor.

Relations on the Korean peninsula have been strained ever since the South conducted military drills last month. The North shelled Yeonpyeong Island in response to the drills, killing two marines and two civilians.

Since then, the North has threatened to retaliate against the South for conducting more artillery drills. But on Monday, the country made no move after the South carried out a 90-minute series of drills.

According to the Associated Press, North Korea called the incident a “reckless military provocation,” but said it would not react because Seoul changed its firing zones so that the South Korean shells landed father south of the North’s shores.

South Korea launched fighter jets and evacuated hundreds of civilians along the border in anticipation of an attack, AP reported.

Posted in International Relations & Treaties, Military0 Comments

Nuevo Laredo: 140 Inmates Escape from Mexican Prison

About 140 inmates have escaped from a prison in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico Friday in the most significant Mexican prison break since President Felipe Calderon began his crackdown on drug trafficking four years ago.

The northern Mexico town is located across the border from Laredo, Texas.

Reuters reported that inmates exited through the main vehicle entrance of the prison. The country’s federal interior department is pointing the finger at local authorities for not providing adequate security of the facility.

Later in the day Friday, an SUV exploded outside a police station on the outskirts of the wealthy business hub Monterrey. Authorities have not yet commented on whether the two incidents may be linked.

The blast injured two people and knocked out power in the small town of Zuazua, a major battlezone in the war between drug gangs and police.

Posted in International Relations & Treaties, Laws & Regulations, Military, Politics & Politicians0 Comments

Mexican Drug Wars Killed 12,000 in 2010

Mexican drug wars have killed at least 12,000 people this year, officials said Friday.

The Los Angeles times reported that as of Nov. 30, 12,456 people lost their lives to drug-related violence in Mexico, making 2010 the country’s deadliest year since President Felipe Calderon launched an effort to eradicate drug activity in 2006.

Mexican attorney Gen. Arturo Chavez said Thursday that over 30,000 people have been killed in the drug wars since Calderon’s crackdown against cartels four years ago.

Chavez and federal authorities said Thursday that La Familia, one of Mexico’s most dangerous drug cartels, was critically weakened by the recent deaths or arrests of some of its key members.

“The systematic weakening of this criminal group due to the actions of the federal government has forced some of its members to adopt false rhetoric about helping the people of Michoacan, when in fact their operational methods are to terrorize and rob them,” Mexican officials said in the statement.

Officials maintained that they would not negotiate with drug cartels. “The only option that remains for these criminals to hand themselves over to the authorities,” the government said.

Posted in International Relations & Treaties, Politics0 Comments

Conference Raises $850 Million for Darfur

CAIRO, March 22 (UPI) — The Organization of the Islamic Conference says it has raised $850 million to help resettle 2.7 million people displaced by war in Sudan’s Darfur region.

The group, which has 57 member nations, raised the money Sunday at a conference in Cairo headed by Egypt and Turkey. The group ultimately aims to raise $2 billion overall to help the war-ravaged region, The Voice of America reported Monday.

“Stability and development in Darfur is the only guarantee that will lead to the voluntary return of refugees and displaced Sudanese back to their homes,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit said.

Two dominant rebel groups recently signed cease-fire agreements with the Sudanese government. The agreements should allow the building of roads, schools and homes that would make Darfur self-sustaining, said United Nations envoy Ibrahim Gambari.

The building needs to be done quickly to avoid “the breeding of social vices” that occur when displaced people are forced to live for too long in refuge camps, Gambari said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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U.N. Climate Chief Resigns

BERLIN, Feb. 19 (UPI) — The resignation of the U.N.’s top climate official, Yvo de Boer, is a severe blow to ongoing climate negotiations.

His resignation, announced Thursday, takes effect July 1, five months before world leaders are to convene in Mexico to hammer out a binding global treaty aimed at combating climate change. And it comes as the United Nations is battling a public relations disaster related to its climate change science.

“It’s a setback for the process,” the Irish Times’ Frank McDonald, the journalist in Europe who probably knows most about the climate circus, told United Press International in a telephone interview Thursday. “Yvo was very much part of this. He knew where the bodies were buried.”

De Boer, 55, takes his hat after organizing a rather disappointing climate conference in Copenhagen, where 120 world leaders failed to agree to more than vague promises to limit carbon dioxide emissions.

Experts have blasted the so-called Copenhagen Accord, a text patched together in the final hours of the Copenhagen meeting. The non-binding text was merely noted but not adopted by the conference parties.

It sets the limit of global warming to 3.6 degrees F and provides short- and long-term finance to help poor nations cope with climate change; it also set 2015 as a review year to see if global action needs to be more urgent to meet the challenge. But it remains a voluntary text, and even if nations commit to it, they are not legally bound to honor their pledges.

Observers say time is running out for a binding deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which runs out in 2012, to be agreed in Mexico — so de Boer’s resignation doesn’t come at a good time.

The Dutch diplomat during the past years jetted from capital to capital in a bid to bridge the trust gap between rich and poor nations. He was often frustrated by the pace of negotiations but never vented his frustration publicly, observers say.

The son of diplomats from the Netherlands, de Boer joined climate negotiations in the 1990s and has headed the United Nations’ climate brief since 2006.

He put in his most memorable performance at the Bali talks, when he broke down on the podium after being accused by China of mishandling negotiating arrangements, which he strongly denied.

The Bali Action Plan, which for the first time united the world on post-Kyoto climate change efforts, elevated climate protection to the global stage.

Experts, including McDonald of the Irish Times, point to John Ashe, the Antigua and Barbuda diplomat and an expert of the climate talks, as a possible successor.

De Boer will leave politics to advise the Dutch audit and consulting firm, KPMG, on climate change and sustainability.

“I have always maintained that, while governments provide the necessary policy framework, the real solutions must come from business,” he said in a statement. “I now have the chance to make this happen.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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