The Second Coming, Cartoon Bombs, and Angry New York Mobs: Mosaic's UNGA Roundup

 Press TV / United Nations

 

The UN General Assembly's yearly get-together is a time for high-flying international diplomacy between world leaders. The General Debate, in particular, allows all world leaders who participate in the United Nations to deliver a public address to the General Assembly. As such, it has been used as a highly-visible platform by many countries' representatives to push their views.

This year's debate theme was "Adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations by peaceful means," which seems a little tongue-in-cheek given the current situation in parts of the Middle East and Africa.

As BBC Arabic reported that Somali and African forces were closing in on the final al-Shabab stronghold of Kismayo, Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Ali gave his remarks at the Assembly, saying that there was no place in Somalia for the "few ideological extremists" in the Islamist group's ranks.

Barack Obama's appearance at the UN was brief, which some say was to avoid tough discussions with other world leaders on Iran and Syria. He honored Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in an attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi, and condemned the American-made film that criticized Islam's Prophet Muhammad and sparked anti-US riots across the Muslim world. Meanwhile, Libya's new president, Mohamed Yousek al-Magariaf, apologized for the attacks, and apologized to the world on behalf of Libya for Muammar Gaddafi's decades-long rule.

With regard to Syria, world leaders condemned the violence across the board, but their approaches to end the conflict varied greatly. According to IBA News, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Jordan's King Abdullah II both called for Bashar al-Assad to step down, saying that the Syrian president's ouster is vital to the success of peace efforts.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad supported the Syrian regime, and criticized the efforts by the Western world to interfere in what he sees as an internal conflict. Ahmadinejad, in his last speech to the Assembly as a world leader, also spoke of his belief in the imminent arrival of Jesus Christ and the twelfth imam, Imam al-Mahdi, whom Shiites believe will come at the end times with the prophet Jesus to help humanity. The United States and Israel were both absent from the General Assembly Hall when he gave his remarks.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also addressed the United Nations with a long-anticipated bid to join the UN General Assembly as an observer. The Palestinian Authority previously asked the UN for full member status last year, but had been rejected by the Security Council, which has the Israel ally, the United States, as a permanent member with veto power. Press TV reports that Abbas also lambasted Israel for its "ethnic cleansing" of Palestinians, as well as the ongoing occupation of Palestinian land. A UN report that came at the beginning of the week and before the General Assembly meeting echoed similar statements-- that Israel must do more to halt the abuse of Palestinian rights.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stole the show by using a prop, which has not been done in the General Assembly since the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi pulled out a copy of the UN Charter and threw it in the air in 2009. Netanyahu used a picture of a cartoon bomb and drew a red line through it to illustrate how far Iran has come in enriching uranium, and how the United Nations must draw a red line for the country before it acquires enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear bomb. Press TV analysts expressed concern over Netanyahu's mental health following this incident.

Outside of the Assembly Hall, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Rahmin Mehmanparast captured the attention of the American channel Fox News after he was attacked by a group of "about 100" Iranian dissident protestors on a New York City sidewalk. He managed to flag down an NYPD police car, but according to Dubai TV, the cops appeared "uninterested."

 

Image: Benjamin Netanyahu draws a red line on a bomb illustration at the UN General Assembly, September 27, 2012. Press TV / United Nations

 
 

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Egyptian President-Elect Takes Oath in Tahrir Square and More

Egypt's Islamist President-elect Mohamed Mursi (R) delivers a speech while surrounded by his body guards in Cairo's Tahrir Square, June 29, 2012. Mursi took an informal oath of office on Friday before tens of thousands of supporters in Cairo's Tahrir Square, in a slap at the generals trying to limit his power. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh


Egyptian President-Elect takes oath in Tahrir Square

New TV - Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi took an oath before the Egyptian people in Tahrir Square, and vowed to respect the constitution and the law. In the evening, he took an oath to begin his term under the eyes of the Military Council; and away from formalities and the usual protocol, the Egyptian president-elect chose to address his opponents before his supporters. He went to Tahrir Square, which is packed with Egyptians denouncing military rule. Morsi began his presidential term from al-Azhar al-Sharif Mosque, where he performed Friday prayers amongst thousands of Egyptians. The holy mosque was packed with Egyptians who welcomed him in their own way. Al-Azhar’s courtyard held a demonstration giving their allegiance to the president-elect, on a Friday that Egyptians named "The Friday of Handing over Power."

Saudi women launch campaign to defy driving ban

BBC Arabic - The "My Right to Dignity" campaign, in which many Saudi women are active, continues to promote "The Friday of Women Driving". It is an attempt to urge the women in the kingdom, and those in solidarity with them, to drive in the streets of the kingdom today, in order to push for a lift of the driving ban imposed on them. It is a ban among many others, social and political, that are imposed on Saudi women. Advocates for women's driving rights insist that the key to the car may be the key to change in the kingdom.

Sudanese opposition fails to sign post-Bashir political charter

Dubai TV - International condemnation did not prevent Khartoum's government from waging a new arrest campaign targeting Sudanese opposition parties, especially since they started a new movement under the banner of "toppling the regime." But the meeting that was held to sign two proposed charters to manage the country during the transitional period following the regime's collapse, was postponed until next week after they failed to reach an agreement.

UN warns of rising sectarian killings in Syria as gunmen attack pro-Assad TV channel

BBC Arabic - Emad Sara, Director of the news channel Al-Ekhbariya, denounced the attack on the channel. He said the opposition has no desire to convey the opinions of others. He said "Three of our journalists were martyred, and of course, their only crime was conveying words; words that you all know well, words of truth, words that express the other point of view. They conveyed the message of their freedoms in their own way. As such, they were targeted". Human rights investigators in the United Nations released a report today that says the violence in Syria is spiraling out of control. According to the report, the Syrian government is using combat helicopters and artillery to shell residential neighborhoods. It points to the increasing number of sectarian attacks. The report adds that a number of Syrian regions have descended into civil war since the UN-backed ceasefire this past April.

Yemenis take to streets of Sanaa in a massive car rally

Al-Alam - The streets of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, witnessed demonstrations that were the first of their kind, in the form of a procession of cars. Protestors chanted slogans demanding the ouster and trial of those loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, stressing the importance of continuing to mobilize the revolutionaries. Revolutionary youths say that it symbolizes the beginning of a new revolutionary mobilization with the aim of protecting the revolution through various methods.

 

Image: Egypt's Islamist President-elect Mohamed Mursi (R) delivers a speech while surrounded by his body guards in Cairo's Tahrir Square, June 29, 2012. Mursi took an informal oath of office on Friday before tens of thousands of supporters in Cairo's Tahrir Square, in a slap at the generals trying to limit his power. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

 
 

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Developments in Libya and the Middle East


REUTERS/Ismail ZitounyLibyan court revokes law banning Gaddafi glorification


Al Jazeera - Libya's Supreme Court ruled that a law, passed by the National Transitional Council, was unconstitutional. The law criminalizes the glorification of Gaddafi and his ideas, and punishes with a prison sentence anyone who harms the February 17 Revolution. The court's ruling ended the debate between the law's opponents and proponents. Some viewed the law as a restoration of the former regime's tools of governance, while others considered it a rupture with the Gaddafi era.

Egypt's high court dissolves parliament two days before presidential elections

New TV - Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court dissolved parliament, and confirmed the presidential run-off elections will be held on time. the struggle between Egypt's judges and the dissolved parliament seems ongoing, after parliament insulted and defamed the Egyptian judiciary and Judge Ahmed Rifaat, who presided over Mubarak’s case. This led the chairman of the union of judges to respond in kind, as the battle continues between the legislative and judicial powers. The ruling also found the disenfranchisement law invalid, keeping Ahmed Shafiq in the presidential race.

A look at Gaza after five years of Hamas rule and Israeli siege

BBC Arabic - Tuesday marked the 5th anniversary of Hamas’ control of the Gaza Strip following an internal battle with its opponent Fatah, that lasted many months and shaped the beginning of the Palestinian political division. Attempts to remedy this division continue today. It also paved the way for an economic blockade by Israel on Gaza's crossings, the price of which is being paid by Gaza’s residents.

As rhetoric intensifies, the Syrian conflict nears global proxy

Al-Alam - In light of the on-the-ground developments of the Syrian crisis, and as clashes continue between armed groups and government forces while a political solution is still lacking, the positions of European and world capitals have differed on the situation in Syria. In contrast to the UN position expressing concern over the eruption of a civil war in Syria, France's position explicitly urged an escalation of the situation in order to topple the regime. It also threatened to impose harsh sanctions on Syria.

 

Tunisia arrests dozens of Salafi Islamists rioting over art show

BBC Arabic - Clashes in some areas of the densely populated capital continued until the early morning hours. According to the Interior Ministry, the clashes erupted overnight between security forces and groups affiliated with Salafi forces, and vandals in several neighborhoods of the capital Tunis. Vandalism, burning and looting affected security and judicial institutions, and syndicates. Protesters say the reason is the display of portraits they considered offensive to Islam.

 

Image: Judge Kamal Bashir Daham, head of Libya's Supreme Court, and members of the court panel meet to approve the constitutional invalidation of a law that will criminalise the glorification of ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi or any of his supporters in Tripoli June 14, 2012. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

 
 

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Friday on ViewChange: Starting Over

Starting OverEach year, Oxfam estimates that more than 500,000 people are killed due to armed violence with countless more left devastated, displaced, traumatized, and angry.  Armed violence destroys lives, drains government resources, undermines development efforts, and fosters a culture of violence, fear, and corruption. It is big business with huge ramifications. 
   
At the moment, there is no global arms trade treaty regulating the transfer of arms. Too often, cheap yet highly destructive weapons land in the hands of those who use them to assert power insidiously and further continue a vicious cycle of violence. For developing countries, particularly those in conflict or post-conflict situations, the low-cost accessibility of weapons wreaks havoc on efforts to achieve reconciliation and development. While decades of tensions slowly settle, an arsenal of cheap, available weapons remains—stunting efforts to move forward peacefully.  Families are left displaced and devastated by the loss or injury of a family member; their home may be destroyed or no longer safe to live in, and they may be left virtually income-less with no able-bodied workers or farmland. Already struggling health care systems are overburdened; schools are forced to closed or get by with meager support; access to food becomes limited. Anger, hopelessness, and fear grow. Any tensions that may arise or continue in communities—ethnic or religious conflicts, neighbor or land disputes—are resolved through violence. And when you are angry and disempowered with no job or education opportunities—no potentials to grow or support your family, when an AK-47 or grenade is as cheap and accessible as a pint of beer, as is the case in Burundi, it is easy to see how violence remains the preferred medium for conflict resolution. Violence infiltrates every aspect of the culture; it becomes a daily part of life.
   
“Weapons call out to other weapons,” says Teddy Mazina, a journalist in the documentary film Bang for your Buck. The huge supply of cheap weapons leftover from Burundi’s civil war has contaminated his country, he says, causing an intractable cycle of violence and corrupt power that undermines all development efforts. Underlying issues such as why violence is so easily resorted to are obscured by the sheer supply and availability of cheap grenades and Ak-47s. There needs to be regulation: a path towards disarmament.
   
Bang for Your Buck beautifully illustrates this need. As winner of Oxfam’s "Shooting Poverty” contest, the film was made to galvanize the Control Arms Campaign, a global civil society alliance, of which Oxfam is a part of, calling for a universal Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) would outline universal standards for arms exporters and importers, eradicating any loopholes or variance in regulation that could be used to evade responsibility and further fuel armed conflict, poverty, and human rights violations. The Campaign calls on members of the United Nations to secure this urgent treaty—one round of negotiation is underway this week in New York with the final conference scheduled for July 2010.  You can join the campaign and help ensure the government takes this opportunity to comprehensively regulate the deadly weapons trade.
   
Starting OverA universal Arms Trade Treaty is an important step towards ending irresponsible arms transfers that promote corrupt agendas and violate human rights, drain resources, and hinder development efforts in countries striving to rebuild, particularly in the aftermath of civil war. Much more needs to be done, however, in order to start over. To learn more about the struggle for new beginnings check out ViewChange.org’s new episode, Starting Over, where Bang for Your Buck is featured along with two other powerful films. In the episode you will meet Teddy Mazina as he walks you through the realities of daily grenade attacks in Burundi, learn about Rwanda’s Gacaca justice tribunals, and witness one ex-patriot’s dream to promote economic development through tourism in Sierra Leone. 

 

Starting Over airs on Direct TV Channel 375 and DISH Network Channel 9410 on:

Friday, July 15th 4 pm PST
Sunday, July 17th 12am PST
Tuesday, July 19th 8pm PST
Wednesday, July 20th 3am and 10am PST
Friday, July 22nd  5am PST
Saturday, July 23rd 11:30pm PST.

And can also be viewed online at LinkTV.org.

 
 

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Rebels and Troops Eye-to-Eye in Misurata

(Euronews: 0421 PT, May 11, 2011) Anti-Gaddafi fighters in Misurata are engaged in trench warfare against Libyan government forces. Euronews has exclusive pictures from the fluid frontline as the rebel army make slight gains against a better-trained and well-equipped foe.

 

Government forces are deploying snipers to keep the rebels pinned down and then hit their positions with shells and mortars. Those opposed to Gaddafi say they are expecting NATO air strikes to target government troops at any time.

 

 

EU to Open Office in Rebel Stronghold Benghazi

(Euronews: 0726 PT, May 11, 2011) The European Union says it will open an office in the rebel-held Libyan city of Benghazi. However, this is not a sign of recognition for the rebel administration. The aim is to help with security and getting aid to where it is needed. The office will also assist with health and education.

 

 

 
 

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NATO Night Strikes Blast Targets in Tripoli

(Euronews: 0742 PT, May 10, 2011) NATO aircraft conducted raids over Tripoli overnight with government buildings bearing the brunt of the attacks. Libyan officials escorted journalists to the High Commission for Children, which suffered extensive damage. Witnesses in the capital say NATO planes were trying to hit Gaddafi's compound.

 

 

NATO Launches Airstrike on Libyan Capital

(Al Jazeera English: 2352 PT, May 9, 2011) NATO warplanes launched a new round of airstrikes in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, witnesses said. They told Al Jazeera the attacks targeted several sites, including Muammar Gaddafi's compound. Earlier, the United Nations humanitarian chief called for a break in fighting to allow medical aid into the country. Al Jazeera's Monica Villamizar reports.

 

 

 
 

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Algerians Mark May Day and Libyans Celebrate Death of Gaddafi's Son

Algerians Mark May Day Amid Tight Security
(Press TV: May 2, 2011, 1200 PST) Following on the success of the students march in April, members of the "Unemployed Rights Defense Committee" gathered at Civil Harmony Square in the Alegrian capital, to proclaim the rights of thousands of unemployed youth:

 


Libyans Jubilant: Gaddafi's Son Killed
(Press TV: May 2, 2011, 1130 PST) Press TV reports on the latest developments of the Libyan revolution:

 

 

Protests Continue as Saleh Refuses to Exit
(Press TV: May 2, 2011, 1130 PST) For the third month running, anti-government protesters took to the streets of Yemen's capital Sanaa calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh's immediate ouster, as he refused to sign a Persian Gulf-brokered agreement:

 

 

 
 

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Tunisia Demands End to Libyan Incursions

(Euronews: 2313 PST, April 28, 2011) Fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi has provoked an angry response from Tunisia. The storming of the Dehiba-Wazin crossing by government troops saw artillery shells land on the Tunisian side of the border.

 

Tunis strongly condemned the incursions demanding an immediate halt. Nevertheless, the offensive appeared to be a wider move by Gaddafi's men to weed out opposition in the west of the country. Though the rebels rapidly countered, one anti-Gaddafi fighter desperately demanded international help.

 

 

'Fierce Fighting' Along Libya-Tunisia Border

(Al Jazeera English: 0147 PST, April 29, 2011) Reports are coming in of fresh fighting at a Libyan border crossing with Tunisia. Al Jazeera's Sue Turton has this update from near the Libyan border.

 

 

 
 

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Gaddafi Arms Civilians

(ITN News: 0114 PST, April 28, 2011) Libya trains a volunteer army for possible Nato ground invasion.

 

 

 
 

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Rebels Make Progress in East and West of Libya

(Al Jazeera English: 0506 PST, April 26, 2011) A short while ago, Al Jazeera's Sue Turton sent this report from the West Gate of Ajdabiya, where rebel fighters are beginning to receive foreign military equipment and training.

 

 

Libyan Rebels Gain Ground in Nafusa Mountains

(Al Jazeera English: 2246 PST, April 25, 2011) In western Libya's Nafusa mountains, an area that has remained largely inaccessible to journalists, pro-democracy fighters have been under siege from Muammar Gaddafi's forces for two months.

 

The Nafusa mountain area is home to Libya's Berber minority. The fighting in the mountain region has sent thousands fleeing into nearby Tunisia. Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught has traveled there and met a community that says it is gaining ground against Libya's long-time leader.

 

 

 
 

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