South Korea’s fate

The victory for democracy in South Korea, with the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, might herald it’s next disaster.

There will be three crucial elections in 2017.

In France, the election of Marine Le Pen could see the country leaving the European Union, signaling the beginning of the end of the European Union.

In Germany, Angela Merkel could be ousted, and liberal democracy would lose its last hope.

In South Korea, the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye will precipitate an election. Ban Ki-moon, the outgoing Secretary-General of the United Nations has ambitions to replace her.

Ban Ki-moon’s legacy at the United Nations provides evidence that his election as South Korea’s president would be a disaster.

The end of Kofi Annan’s tenure as Secretary-General was tainted by the oil for food scandal in Iraq. Annan instigated an investigation which culminated in the Volcker report making recommendations to ensure that the identified corruption at the United Nations could not happen again.

Part of this was the establishment of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) that reported directly to the Secretary-General. Ban tried to shut it down, and severely hampered the operation.

In 2010, the head of OIOS wrote a scathing 50 page memorandum to Ban, in which she accused him of undermining the office. In it she makes clear that he was also working against the specific direction of the USG through his efforts. There is a covering memorandum sets out her complaints.

The OIOS is the internal office that is quoted as being so ineffective in investigating the incidents that happened in Kosovo and Bosnia. The memorandum explains why that was the case, and that Ban is directly implicated.

More at:
Broken System: The Failure to Punish High Level Corruption at the UN
Corruption Rears its Head Again at the United Nations
End of Assignment Report Inga-Britt Ahlenius
Inga-Britt Ahlenius Confidential Memo Portrays UN Chief As Secrecy Obsessed, Against Accountability
Note to the Secretary General
South Korea’s parliament votes to impeach President Park Geun-hye
UNacceptable

0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes

Obama’s farewell speech (transcript)

It’s good to be home. My fellow Americans, Michelle and I have been so touched by all the well-wishes we’ve received over the past few weeks. But tonight it’s my turn to say thanks. Whether we’ve seen eye-to-eye or rarely agreed at all, my conversations with you, the American people – in living rooms and schools; at farms and on factory floors; at diners and on distant outposts – are what have kept me honest, kept me inspired, and kept me going. Every day, I learned from you. You made me a better president, and you made me a better man.

I first came to Chicago when I was in my early 20s, still trying to figure out who I was; still searching for a purpose to my life. It was in neighborhoods not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of closed steel mills. It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss. This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it.

After eight years as your president, I still believe that. And it’s not just my belief. It’s the beating heart of our American idea – our bold experiment in self-government.

It’s the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It’s the insistence that these rights, while self-evident, have never been self-executing; that we, the people, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union.

This is the great gift our Founders gave us. The freedom to chase our individual dreams through our sweat, toil, and imagination – and the imperative to strive together as well, to achieve a greater good.

For 240 years, our nation’s call to citizenship has given work and purpose to each new generation. It’s what led patriots to choose republic over tyranny, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad to freedom. It’s what pulled immigrants and refugees across oceans and the Rio Grande, pushed women to reach for the ballot, powered workers to organize. It’s why GIs gave their lives at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima; Iraq and Afghanistan – and why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well.

So that’s what we mean when we say America is exceptional. Not that our nation has been flawless from the start, but that we have shown the capacity to change, and make life better for those who follow.

Yes, our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard, contentious and sometimes bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.

If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history…if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, and take out the mastermind of 9/11…if I had told you that we would win marriage equality, and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens – you might have said our sights were set a little too high.

But that’s what we did. That’s what you did. You were the change. You answered people’s hopes, and because of you, by almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was when we started.

In 10 days, the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power from one freely elected president to the next. I committed to President-elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me. Because it’s up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face.

We have what we need to do so. After all, we remain the wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on Earth. Our youth and drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention mean that the future should be ours.

But that potential will be realized only if our democracy works. Only if our politics reflects the decency of the our people. Only if all of us, regardless of our party affiliation or particular interest, help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.

That’s what I want to focus on tonight – the state of our democracy.

Understand, democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders quarreled and compromised, and expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity – the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.

There have been moments throughout our history that threatened to rupture that solidarity. The beginning of this century has been one of those times. A shrinking world, growing inequality; demographic change and the specter of terrorism – these forces haven’t just tested our security and prosperity, but our democracy as well. And how we meet these challenges to our democracy will determine our ability to educate our kids, and create good jobs, and protect our homeland.

In other words, it will determine our future.

Our democracy won’t work without a sense that everyone has economic opportunity. Today, the economy is growing again; wages, incomes, home values, and retirement accounts are rising again; poverty is falling again. The wealthy are paying a fairer share of taxes even as the stock market shatters records. The unemployment rate is near a 10-year low. The uninsured rate has never, ever been lower. Healthcare costs are rising at the slowest rate in 50 years. And if anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we’ve made to our healthcare system – that covers as many people at less cost – I will publicly support it.

That, after all, is why we serve – to make people’s lives better, not worse.

But for all the real progress we’ve made, we know it’s not enough. Our economy doesn’t work as well or grow as fast when a few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class. But stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic principles. While the top 1% has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many families, in inner cities and rural counties, have been left behind – the laid-off factory worker; the waitress and healthcare worker who struggle to pay the bills – convinced that the game is fixed against them, that their government only serves the interests of the powerful – a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics.

There are no quick fixes to this long-term trend. I agree that our trade should be fair and not just free. But the next wave of economic dislocation won’t come from overseas. It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes many good, middle-class jobs obsolete.

And so we must forge a new social compact – to guarantee all our kids the education they need; to give workers the power to unionize for better wages; to update the social safety net to reflect the way we live now and make more reforms to the tax code so corporations and individuals who reap the most from the new economy don’t avoid their obligations to the country that’s made their success possible. We can argue about how to best achieve these goals. But we can’t be complacent about the goals themselves. For if we don’t create opportunity for all people, the disaffection and division that has stalled our progress will only sharpen in years to come.

There’s a second threat to our democracy – one as old as our nation itself. After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. For race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society. I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 10, or 20, or 30 years ago – you can see it not just in statistics, but in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum.

But we’re not where we need to be. All of us have more work to do. After all, if every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hard-working white middle class and undeserving minorities, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves. If we decline to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don’t look like us, we diminish the prospects of our own children – because those brown kids will represent a larger share of America’s workforce. And our economy doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Last year, incomes rose for all races, all age groups, for men and for women.

Going forward, we must uphold laws against discrimination – in hiring, in housing, in education and the criminal justice system. That’s what our Constitution and highest ideals require. But laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change. If our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, each one of us must try to heed the advice of one of the great characters in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

For blacks and other minorities, it means tying our own struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face – the refugee, the immigrant, the rural poor, the transgender American, and also the middle-aged white man who from the outside may seem like he’s got all the advantages, but who’s seen his world upended by economic, cultural, and technological change.

For white Americans, it means acknowledging that the effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn’t suddenly vanish in the ‘60s; that when minority groups voice discontent, they’re not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness; that when they wage peaceful protest, they’re not demanding special treatment, but the equal treatment our Founders promised.

For native-born Americans, it means reminding ourselves that the stereotypes about immigrants today were said, almost word for word, about the Irish, Italians, and Poles. America wasn’t weakened by the presence of these newcomers; they embraced this nation’s creed, and it was strengthened.

So regardless of the station we occupy; we have to try harder; to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do; that they value hard work and family like we do; that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own.

None of this is easy. For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste – all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.

This trend represents a third threat to our democracy. Politics is a battle of ideas; in the course of a healthy debate, we’ll prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them. But without some common baseline of facts; without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent is making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, we’ll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible.

Isn’t that part of what makes politics so dispiriting? How can elected officials rage about deficits when we propose to spend money on preschool for kids, but not when we’re cutting taxes for corporations? How do we excuse ethical lapses in our own party, but pounce when the other party does the same thing? It’s not just dishonest, this selective sorting of the facts; it’s self-defeating. Because as my mother used to tell me, reality has a way of catching up with you.

Take the challenge of climate change. In just eight years, we’ve halved our dependence on foreign oil, doubled our renewable energy, and led the world to an agreement that has the promise to save this planet. But without bolder action, our children won’t have time to debate the existence of climate change; they’ll be busy dealing with its effects: environmental disasters, economic disruptions, and waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary.

Now, we can and should argue about the best approach to the problem. But to simply deny the problem not only betrays future generations; it betrays the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving that guided our Founders.

It’s that spirit, born of the Enlightenment, that made us an economic powerhouse – the spirit that took flight at Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral; the spirit that that cures disease and put a computer in every pocket.

It’s that spirit – a faith in reason, and enterprise, and the primacy of right over might, that allowed us to resist the lure of fascism and tyranny during the Great Depression, and build a post-World War II order with other democracies, an order based not just on military power or national affiliations but on principles – the rule of law, human rights, freedoms of religion, speech, assembly, and an independent press.

That order is now being challenged – first by violent fanatics who claim to speak for Islam; more recently by autocrats in foreign capitals who see free markets, open democracies, and civil society itself as a threat to their power. The peril each poses to our democracy is more far-reaching than a car bomb or a missile. It represents the fear of change; the fear of people who look or speak or pray differently; a contempt for the rule of law that holds leaders accountable; an intolerance of dissent and free thought; a belief that the sword or the gun or the bomb or propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what’s true and what’s right.

Because of the extraordinary courage of our men and women in uniform, and the intelligence officers, law enforcement, and diplomats who support them, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland these past eight years; and although Boston and Orlando remind us of how dangerous radicalization can be, our law enforcement agencies are more effective and vigilant than ever. We’ve taken out tens of thousands of terrorists – including Osama bin Laden. The global coalition we’re leading against ISIL has taken out their leaders, and taken away about half their territory. ISIL will be destroyed, and no one who threatens America will ever be safe. To all who serve, it has been the honor of my lifetime to be your Commander-in-Chief.

But protecting our way of life requires more than our military. Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear. So just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are. That’s why, for the past eight years, I’ve worked to put the fight against terrorism on a firm legal footing. That’s why we’ve ended torture, worked to close Gitmo, and reform our laws governing surveillance to protect privacy and civil liberties. That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans. That’s why we cannot withdraw from global fights – to expand democracy, and human rights, women’s rights, and LGBT rights – no matter how imperfect our efforts, no matter how expedient ignoring such values may seem. For the fight against extremism and intolerance and sectarianism are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism and nationalist aggression. If the scope of freedom and respect for the rule of law shrinks around the world, the likelihood of war within and between nations increases, and our own freedoms will eventually be threatened.

So let’s be vigilant, but not afraid. ISIL will try to kill innocent people. But they cannot defeat America unless we betray our Constitution and our principles in the fight. Rivals like Russia or China cannot match our influence around the world – unless we give up what we stand for, and turn ourselves into just another big country that bullies smaller neighbors.

Which brings me to my final point – our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions. When voting rates are some of the lowest among advanced democracies, we should make it easier, not harder, to vote. When trust in our institutions is low, we should reduce the corrosive influence of money in our politics, and insist on the principles of transparency and ethics in public service. When Congress is dysfunctional, we should draw our districts to encourage politicians to cater to common sense and not rigid extremes.

And all of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power swings.

Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power – with our participation, and the choices we make. Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.

In his own farewell address, George Washington wrote that self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and liberty, but “from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken…to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth;” that we should preserve it with “jealous anxiety;” that we should reject “the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties” that make us one.

We weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character are turned off from public service; so coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are not just misguided, but somehow malevolent. We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others; when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.

It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen.

Ultimately, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try to talk with one in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, and there will be times when the process disappoints you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America – and in Americans – will be confirmed.

Mine sure has been. Over the course of these eight years, I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates and our newest military officers. I’ve mourned with grieving families searching for answers, and found grace in a Charleston church. I’ve seen our scientists help a paralyzed man regain his sense of touch, and our wounded warriors walk again. I’ve seen our doctors and volunteers rebuild after earthquakes and stop pandemics in their tracks. I’ve seen the youngest of children remind us of our obligations to care for refugees, to work in peace, and above all to look out for each other.

That faith I placed all those years ago, not far from here, in the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change – that faith has been rewarded in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined. I hope yours has, too. Some of you here tonight or watching at home were there with us in 2004, in 2008, in 2012 – and maybe you still can’t believe we pulled this whole thing off.

You’re not the only ones. Michelle – for the past 25 years, you’ve been not only my wife and mother of my children, but my best friend. You took on a role you didn’t ask for and made it your own with grace and grit and style and good humor. You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. You’ve made me proud. You’ve made the country proud.

Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kind and thoughtful and full of passion. You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I’ve done in my life, I’m most proud to be your dad.

To Joe Biden, the scrappy kid from Scranton who became Delaware’s favorite son: You were the first choice I made as a nominee, and the best. Not just because you have been a great vice president, but because in the bargain, I gained a brother. We love you and Jill like family, and your friendship has been one of the great joys of our life.

To my remarkable staff: For eight years – and for some of you, a whole lot more – I’ve drawn from your energy, and tried to reflect back what you displayed every day: heart, and character, and idealism. I’ve watched you grow up, get married, have kids, and start incredible new journeys of your own. Even when times got tough and frustrating, you never let Washington get the better of you. The only thing that makes me prouder than all the good we’ve done is the thought of all the remarkable things you’ll achieve from here.

And to all of you out there – every organizer who moved to an unfamiliar town and kind family who welcomed them in, every volunteer who knocked on doors, every young person who cast a ballot for the first time, every American who lived and breathed the hard work of change – you are the best supporters and organizers anyone could hope for, and I will forever be grateful. Because, yes, you changed the world.

That’s why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than I was when we started. Because I know our work has not only helped so many Americans; it has inspired so many Americans – especially so many young people out there – to believe you can make a difference; to hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourselves. This generation coming up – unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic – I’ve seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, just, inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, something not to fear but to embrace, and you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result that the future is in good hands.

My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. I won’t stop; in fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my days that remain. For now, whether you’re young or young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your president – the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago.

I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours.

I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written:

Yes We Can.

Yes We Did.

Yes We Can.

Thank you. God bless you. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.

0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes

UNacceptable

Ban Ki-moon, the outgoing Secretary General of the UN wants to become South Korea’s next president. His legacy at the UN tells us why that’s UNdesirable.

The position of the United Nations Secretary-General is a difficult and sometimes impossible one. The United Nations is a political organization with the most senior management body, the five permanent members of the Security Council, philosophically divided.

Each of the five permanent members carries the right of veto, forcing either unanimity or inaction. This anachronism often prevents the United Nations from addressing humanitarian issues at their most desperate.

The disfunction goes deeper. The Secretary-General is frequently prevented from dismissing incompetent senior staff by member states1)Deliver Us From Evil: Peacekeepers, Warlords and a World of Endless Conflict.

These challenges make it essential that the Secretary-General is a distinguished diplomat, an extraordinary manager, and an accomplished leader with authority and undoubted integrity. The legacy of Ban Ki-moon, the recently retired Secretary-General, shows that he was ill-suited to the post.

The UN is bloated, seemingly unaccountable, dogged by bureaucracy and tangled in institutional rivalries. Its main aims—to make peace, to save the poor through economic development and to promote human rights—should reinforce each other, but are often opposed. Too many subsidiary agencies and programmes overlap and should be closed down. America and other rich countries pay more than they should. Countries that were once poor or supplicant, such as China and India, pay too little. Too many jobs, at the top and bottom, are handed out by regional bargaining rather than merit. Too few people are fired. Sexual abuse by peacekeepers and corruption in procurement have been dealt with too lightly. The secretary-general is, among other things, the “chief administrative officer”. The organisation needs a good kicking.2)Get the best

The organization Ban set out to reform 10 years ago, meanwhile, is in many ways in worse shape than when he started, handicapped by great power divisions that have thwarted peace efforts from Syria to Ukraine and raised the specter of a new Cold War between Russia and the West.

Ban’s U.N. has also been beset by self-inflicted wounds: a glacial personnel system that has confounded the efforts of United Nations peacemakers and staff missions. A broken patchwork of watchdog programs that could not dependably root out corruption, expose sexual misconduct by U.N. blue helmets, or protect whistleblowers3)With an eye on South Korea’s presidency, Ban Ki-moon seeks to burnish UN legacy

Rather than rooting out the evil, Ban was intent on covering it up.

Bosnia
While the crimes that took place in Bosnia preceded Ban’s tenure, the release of The Whistleblower, a film covering the events was not.

The Whistleblower spares you little. It is a film about that most depraved of crimes: trafficking women for enslaved sex, rape and even murder.4)Has the UN learned lessons of Bosnian sex slavery revealed in Rachel Weisz film?.

Prior to the film’s release, Ban stage a special screening at the UN and promised action. UN officials belittled the film and nothing was done to resolve the issues it exposed.

The film portrays the experiences of Kathryn Bolkovac, a former Nebraskan policewoman, while contracted to work on a UN mission in Bosnia. She discovers a nest of imprisoned young prostitutes who are so frightened that they refuse to talk to her. She reports it to her boss, who is dismissive. Further investigation reveals that her superiors already know, because they are involved. Her investigation exposes

a lucrative, far-reaching operation involving the police and United Nations peacekeepers, many of them protected by diplomatic immunity. The more noise she makes to United Nations higher-ups, the more apparent it becomes that she is viewed as a troublemaking nuisance, and her job is terminated.5)American in Bosnia Discovers the Horrors of Human Trafficking

Even in the face of Bolkovac’s meticulous evidence, nothing has been done. It is not an isolated case.

Kosovo

James Wasserstrom, a veteran American diplomat, was sacked and then detained by UN police, who ransacked his flat, searched his car and put his picture on a wanted poster after he raised suspicions in 2007 about corruption in the senior ranks of the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).6)UN tribunal finds ethics office failed to protect whistleblower

In 2006, while working for UNMIK, Wasserstrom uncovered evidence indicating that senior UN officials might have received bribes for awarding a contract to build a coal-fired power plant and mine. He passed on his suspicions to the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), the anti-corruption watchdog in New York.

Wasserstrom was fired.

Shortly afterwards the Kosovo government hired Wasserstrom as a consultant to advise on running the telecommunications ministry and Pristina airport.

In May 2007, on the grounds that the new job represented a conflict of interest, Wasserstrom, was detained by UN police on the Kosovo border on his way to his house in Greece, driven in custody to Pristina, where UN policemen searched his apartment and car without a warrant.7)UN tribunal finds ethics office failed to protect whistleblower

Wasserstrom brought his case to the UN dispute tribunal which ruled that the organisation’s ethics office failed to protect Wasserstrom against such reprisals from his bosses, and that the UN’s mechanisms for dealing with whistleblowers were “fundamentally flawed”, to the extent the organisation had failed to protect the basic rights of its own employees8)UN tribunal finds ethics office failed to protect whistleblower.

The dispute tribunal, was created in 2009 in an effort to improve the UN’s system of internal justice. It has challenged the power of the secretariat on several occasions, and forcing it to hand over evidence in Wasserstrom’s case. A higher court rejected the UN’s attempt to appeal.

Instead of fixing the problems, Ban sought to curb the tribunal’s jurisdiction.

The donor countries are pouring billions of dollars into a bottomless pit of incompetence.

Afghanistan
In Afghanistan, the UN was tasked with building the voters’ register. The voter register compiled in 2004/2005 was found to fail all four primary requirements for a voters’ register. In conjunction with the International Community, the Afghanistan government determined to create a new voters’ register based on a biometric national ID.9)The Afghanistan Compact A 2007 UNDP report10)Evaluation Report – Civil And Voter Registration Pilot Project Ministry Of Interior And The Independent Elections Commission Of Afghanistan set out the urgency of the project. Failure to take heed made it impossible to register the entire electorate in preparation for the 2009 Afghanistan Presidential election. The UN decided to perform an update to an already useless voter register, wasting hundreds of millions of US$. The administration of the registration cards was poorly handled, resulting in 19 million valid cards for an electorate of just 14 million. The election was a shambles.11)Mid‐Term Evaluation of the Project – Enhancing Legal and Electoral Capacity for Tomorrow

There was widespread electoral fraud. It was discovered that the results had been changed after having been entered into the database.Who Controls the Vote? The hacking had been internally perpetrated. The UNDP officials providing guidance at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) refuted the allegations of fraud, saying that a system of “blind double entry”12)Who Controls the Vote? made differences between the results published at the voting center and those published by the IEC virtually impossible.

The waste of taxpayer dollars continued with another update to the voters’ register in 201013)The author was a contractor to the US government in 2008, 2009, and 2010. At the time, he advised the UNDP in writing that updates to the voters’ register were a waste of money..

Six years later, Afghanistan still does not have a usable voters’ register.

Syria
Syria is another of Ban’s failures. In his final news conference on December 16, 2016 he admitted:

“We have collectively failed the people of Syria. Aleppo is now a synonym for hell.14)With an eye on South Korea’s presidency, Ban Ki-moon seeks to burnish UN legacy

The war crimes in Syria, instead of being prevented by the UN, are being perpetrated by a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia15)Russian aircraft are targeting hospitals, a war crime under the Geneva Convention.16)Syria airstrikes claim over 20 in Aleppo; planes from Russia target Islamic State.

Ban, whose job is was to uphold the Geneva Convention, said nothing.

Ebola
The World Health Organization, at the center of the failures that exacerbated the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, is a specialized agency of the UN. Thousands died. As the outbreak started, WHO exerts in the field failed to send reports to WHO headquarters in Geneva.17)Ebola crisis: WHO accused of ‘failure’ in early response. Faced with a potential pandemic of a disease, at the time known to kill 75% of people who contracted it, WHO dithered.

It took WHO five months and 1,000 deaths before the agency declared Ebola an international health emergency in August.18)UN: We botched response to the Ebola outbreak

Disaster was averted as Barack Obama, America’s President stepped in, sending personnel, equipment and money.

Afterwards, the World Health Organization produced a report detailing it’s mistakes.19)Report of the Ebola Interim Assessment Panel The Secretariat’s response admitted that improvements were required, outside of their own failings.20)WHO Secretariat response to the Report of the Ebola Interim Assessment Panel

The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has been far more pro-active21)Bill Gates’ Biggest Fear: Epidemic Far Worse Than Ebola, begging the question: who needs WHO?

The Gambia
P1020026On December 1, 2016, The Gambia, the smallest country in continental Africa and home to the world’s largest protected chimpanzee colony, was surprised by the election result.

Yahya Jammeh, the country’s longtime dictator had been defeated. On December 2, Jammeh conceded defeat. A week later he recanted.22)Gambian President Yahya Jammeh rejects election defeat

The Independent Electoral Commission chairman, Alieu Momarr Njai, who stands by the election results has gone into hiding.23)Gambia’s election chief flees the country after threats ECOWAS, the West African regional body, and the United States are pressing Jammeh to stand down fearing a repetition of the civil conflict that engulfed Cote d’ivoire in 2010 when Laurent Gbagbo, that country’s defeated president, refused to accept his dismissal at the hands of the voters.24)Fears of civil war in Cote d’Ivoire

The silence from the UN is deafening.

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
DRC is a study in the UN’s failures, and the way the organisation is hamstrung by politics.25)Never-ending mission

In April 2012 a group of defectors, most of them Tutsi, formed an armed group, M23. This seized Goma, a city of 1m on the Rwandan border that is home to most of the UN’s operations in Congo. Without firing a shot, Congolese soldiers fled to nearby towns, where they raped and pillaged. UN soldiers stood by, and when, days afterwards, M23 agreed to leave, the UN’s headquarters were stoned and many of its vehicles torched.26)Never-ending mission

The conflict has been termed Africa’s world war, with as many a six million people having died.27)DR Congo country profile

Peacekeeping is lucrative for poor countriesWho fights, and who pays, provided the troops don’t suffer casualties.

DRC is rich in mineral wealth28)DR Congo country profile, and President Kabila, who succeeded his father in 2001, has been clinging onto power after his mandate expired on December 19, 2016. His refusal to stand down sparked demonstrations, which security forces quelled, killing 40 of the demonstrators in the process.29)Kabila to step down after elections in new deal On December 31, an agreement between the political parties was announced, setting the terms for new elections in which Kabila will not participate30)Kabila to step down after elections in new deal. Kabila’s views on the agreement are unknown, and there are fears that he will continue to hold on.31)Congo ruling party, opposition sign deal for Kabila to step down

There is evidence that some of the UN’s peacekeepers are more interested in self-enrichment than fulfilling their mandate. Worse yet, they have been supplying the warring factions with arms. The BBC ran a series of articles exposing the corruption. The UN did nothing.32)UN: Hold Peacekeepers Accountable for Congo Smuggling

Haiti
Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere.33)Central America snd Caribbean – Haiti In January 2010 a massive magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti with an epicenter about 25 km (15 mi) west of the capital, Port-au-Prince.Haiti devastated by massive earthquake

Estimates are that over 300,000 people were killed and some 1.5 million left homeless.34)Central America snd Caribbean – Haiti

On October 22, 2010, the first cholera case in a century was confirmed in Haiti.Mortality Rates during Cholera Epidemic, Haiti, 2010–2011 Now, at epidemic proportions, the disease brought in by Nepalese UN peacekeepers35)Haiti cholera epidemic ‘most likely’ started at UN camp – top scientist has killed in excess of 9,000 Haitians.36)Cholera Deaths in Haiti Could Far Exceed Official Count

After more than five years of high level denial and faced with litigation, Ban recently acknowledged the UN’s responsibility in the initial outbreak.37)U.N. Admits Role in Cholera Epidemic in Haiti.

Not surprisingly, the WHO’s Haiti country profile makes no mention of the cholera outbreak.38)Haiti: Country profile

South Sudan
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan on 9 July 2011 as the outcome of a 2005 agreement that ended Africa’s longest-running civil war.39)South Sudan country profile Independence did not bring conflict in South Sudan to an end. The 2013-2015 civil war displaced 2.2 million people and threatened the success of one of the world’s newest countries. South Sudan faces the specter of genocide.With an eye on South Korea’s presidency, Ban Ki-moon seeks to burnish UN legacy

Hundreds of thousands of refugees are collected in overcrowded UN camps, where the UN peacekeepers are failing to protect them.40)MSF Internal Review of the February 2016 Attack on the Malakal Protection of Civilians Site and the Post-Event Situation

The shadow of United Nations failures in Rwanda in 1994 and in Srebrenica in 1995, during the Bosnian war, still looms large.

Ban’s response has been to request an arms embargo. The security council members argue that the country is awash with weapons. An embargo will not end the conflict.41)Action needed now to prevent South Sudan genocide, says UN chief They have a point.

The UN has an $8.3 billion peacekeeping budget42)What Can the United Nations Do When Its Troops Can’t, or Won’t, Protect Civilians?, and the peacekeepers have a mandate to use their weapons.

They should stop hiding under their blue helmets, and do their jobs.

Sudan
More than 300,000 people have died in the ongoing conflict in Darfur43)Darfur: The Statistics, Sudan. Together with Syria, they are ranked as the world’s most serious humanitarian crises.44)World’s worst humanitarian crisis unfolding in Darfur, Sudan – UN official

Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the president, has ruled with an iron fist for more than 25 years. Bashir faces two international arrest warrants – issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague – on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.45)Sudan country profile

In a stinging critique46)Darfur and Ban Ki-moon’s Bid for a Second Term, Eric Reeves, a specialist on Sudan, lists Ban’s failures in Sudan and Darfur in particular. His well document polemic details how Ban has built a facade47)Ban Ki-moon in Sudan: Vacuous Diplomacy and Specious Declarations that has successfully diverted the world’s attention away from the growing tragedy.

That Ban was elected for a second term is an indictment of the International Community.

North Korea
North Korea is a nuclear power with a lunatic at the helm. The country has conducted a series of successful nuclear tests, and has made clear that it’s intention is to produce a means of intercontinental delivery, whether by submarine48)North Korea Developing Ballistic-Missile Submarine, Seoul Says or ICBM49)Inter Continental Ballistic Missile.50)Pentagon Warns North Korea Over Its Latest Threat to Test a Long-Range Missile

The technical challenge is to create a missile capable of navigating the distance, and creating a device small enough to fit the size limitations of an ICBM or an SLBM51)Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile. North Korea is actively pursuing both options, and has continued to defy the UN’s admonitions.

Seoul, South Korea’s capital is less than 200km from the border with North Korea. The two countries are still at war, no peace agreement having been signed after the conflict in the 1950s.

Adding to the instability, South Korean President Park Geun-hye is being impeached. Ban Ki-moon has plans to replace her.52)With an eye on South Korea’s presidency, Ban Ki-moon seeks to burnish UN legacy In the face of the the threat from the north, the last thing that the world needs is Ban as South Korea’s president.

The world is looking as it did in 1914.53)The Rhyme of History

More at:
Afghanistan
The Afghanistan Compact
Mid‐Term Evaluation of the Project – Enhancing Legal and Electoral Capacity for Tomorrow
Evaluation Report – Civil And Voter Registration Pilot Project Ministry Of Interior And The Independent Elections Commission Of Afghanistan
Who Controls the Vote?

Bosnia
American in Bosnia Discovers the Horrors of Human Trafficking
Has the UN learned lessons of Bosnian sex slavery revealed in Rachel Weisz film?
What the UN Doesn’t Want You to Know

Democratic Republic of Congo
Congo ruling party, opposition sign deal for Kabila to step down
Congo spotlight on India and Pakistan
DR Congo country profile
Joseph Kabila: DR Congo’s president in profile
Kabila to step down after elections in new deal
Never-ending mission
A phone call from Barack Obama to Joseph Kabila saying, “It’s over; you lost; time to step down,” could probably stop a bloodbath in the heart of Africa.
UN: Hold Peacekeepers Accountable for Congo Smuggling

Ebola
Bill Gates’ Biggest Fear: Epidemic Far Worse Than Ebola
Documents shed new light on WHO’s slow Ebola response
Ebola crisis: WHO accused of ‘failure’ in early response
Experts Criticize World Health Organization’s ‘Slow’ Ebola Outbreak Response
Report of the Ebola Interim Assessment Panel
UN: We botched response to the Ebola outbreak
WHO Secretariat response to the Report of the Ebola Interim Assessment Panel
World Health Organisation admits botching response to Ebola outbreak
World Health Organization’s Ebola Response Draws Criticism

The Gambia
Fears of civil war in Cote d’Ivoire
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh rejects election defeat
Gambia’s election chief flees the country after threats

Haiti
Central America snd Caribbean – Haiti
Cholera Deaths in Haiti Could Far Exceed Official Count
Haiti cholera epidemic ‘most likely’ started at UN camp – top scientist
Haiti’s Cholera Outbreak Tied To Nepalese U.N. Peacekeepers
Haiti country profile
Haiti: Country profile
Haiti devastated by massive earthquake
Lawmakers Urge John Kerry to Press U.N. for Haiti Cholera Response
Mortality Rates during Cholera Epidemic, Haiti, 2010–2011
U.N. Admits Role in Cholera Epidemic in Haiti

Kosovo
Human Rights Advisory Panel Report 2015/16
UN tribunal finds ethics office failed to protect whistleblower
United Nations Assailed in Report by Kosovo Rights Panel

North Korea
Guessing who is the most unpredictable is not a good idea
North Korea Developing Ballistic-Missile Submarine, Seoul Says
North Korea’s nuclear programme: How advanced is it?
Pentagon Warns North Korea Over Its Latest Threat to Test a Long-Range Missile
South Korea’s Park Geun-hye Refuses to Testify in Impeachment Trial

South Sudan
Action needed now to prevent South Sudan genocide, says UN chief
Can the African Union Save South Sudan from Genocide?
MSF Internal Review of the February 2016 Attack on the Malakal Protection of Civilians Site and the Post-Event Situation
South Sudan country profile
What Can the United Nations Do When Its Troops Can’t, or Won’t, Protect Civilians?

Sudan
Ban Ki-moon in Sudan: Vacuous Diplomacy and Specious Declarations
Darfur and Ban Ki-moon’s Bid for a Second Term
Darfur in the Shadows
Darfur: The Statistics
Departing U.N. official calls Ban’s leadership ‘deplorable’ in 50-page memo
Sudan: As South Split Looms, Abuses Grow in Darfur
Sudan country profile
Sudan’s invasion of Abyei: Is it ethnic cleansing or isn’t it?
World’s worst humanitarian crisis unfolding in Darfur, Sudan – UN official

Syria
Syria airstrikes claim over 20 in Aleppo; planes from Russia target Islamic State
War crimes prosecutions are rare in cases of hospital bombings

United Nations
Congo ruling party, opposition sign deal for Kabila to step down
Deliver Us From Evil: Peacekeepers, Warlords and a World of Endless Conflict
Get the best
Master, mistress or mouse?
Release of the Supplemental Report of the Independent Inquiry Committee into the United Nations Oil-for-Food Program
The Rhyme of History
The Unfinished Global Revolution
The Volcker Interim Report on Kofi Annan: Issues of Concern for Congress
Who fights, and who pays
With an eye on South Korea’s presidency, Ban Ki-moon seeks to burnish UN legacy

0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes

Footnotes

   [ + ]

1. Deliver Us From Evil: Peacekeepers, Warlords and a World of Endless Conflict
2. Get the best
3, 14, 52. With an eye on South Korea’s presidency, Ban Ki-moon seeks to burnish UN legacy
4. Has the UN learned lessons of Bosnian sex slavery revealed in Rachel Weisz film?
5. American in Bosnia Discovers the Horrors of Human Trafficking
6, 7, 8. UN tribunal finds ethics office failed to protect whistleblower
9. The Afghanistan Compact
10. Evaluation Report – Civil And Voter Registration Pilot Project Ministry Of Interior And The Independent Elections Commission Of Afghanistan
11. Mid‐Term Evaluation of the Project – Enhancing Legal and Electoral Capacity for Tomorrow
12. Who Controls the Vote?
13. The author was a contractor to the US government in 2008, 2009, and 2010. At the time, he advised the UNDP in writing that updates to the voters’ register were a waste of money.
15. Russian aircraft are targeting hospitals, a war crime under the Geneva Convention.
16. Syria airstrikes claim over 20 in Aleppo; planes from Russia target Islamic State
17. Ebola crisis: WHO accused of ‘failure’ in early response
18. UN: We botched response to the Ebola outbreak
19. Report of the Ebola Interim Assessment Panel
20. WHO Secretariat response to the Report of the Ebola Interim Assessment Panel
21. Bill Gates’ Biggest Fear: Epidemic Far Worse Than Ebola
22. Gambian President Yahya Jammeh rejects election defeat
23. Gambia’s election chief flees the country after threats
24. Fears of civil war in Cote d’Ivoire
25, 26. Never-ending mission
27, 28. DR Congo country profile
29, 30. Kabila to step down after elections in new deal
31. Congo ruling party, opposition sign deal for Kabila to step down
32. UN: Hold Peacekeepers Accountable for Congo Smuggling
33, 34. Central America snd Caribbean – Haiti
35. Haiti cholera epidemic ‘most likely’ started at UN camp – top scientist
36. Cholera Deaths in Haiti Could Far Exceed Official Count
37. U.N. Admits Role in Cholera Epidemic in Haiti
38. Haiti: Country profile
39. South Sudan country profile
40. MSF Internal Review of the February 2016 Attack on the Malakal Protection of Civilians Site and the Post-Event Situation
41. Action needed now to prevent South Sudan genocide, says UN chief
42. What Can the United Nations Do When Its Troops Can’t, or Won’t, Protect Civilians?
43. Darfur: The Statistics
44. World’s worst humanitarian crisis unfolding in Darfur, Sudan – UN official
45. Sudan country profile
46. Darfur and Ban Ki-moon’s Bid for a Second Term
47. Ban Ki-moon in Sudan: Vacuous Diplomacy and Specious Declarations
48. North Korea Developing Ballistic-Missile Submarine, Seoul Says
49. Inter Continental Ballistic Missile
50. Pentagon Warns North Korea Over Its Latest Threat to Test a Long-Range Missile
51. Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile
53. The Rhyme of History

In war, truth is the first casualty

We live in a world where the courage of conviction has gone missing in action. Today misinformed public opinion holds more sway than professional advice.

To make things worse, western bureaucrats have adopted the soviet belief that knowledge is power. The Snowden leaks exposed that “top secret” classification sometimes has more to do with an author’s sense of self-importance than the responsibility to permit voters to make informed decisions.

The government agencies fail to inform the American public.

To make it worse, America has been at war with itself for the last 170 years. It’s a big surprise to any new visitor to the country. The visceral hatred between the former slave states and those that prevailed in the civil war appears undiminished.

A group of enterprising Macedonian teenagers created a series of money making fake news, and the polarized public lapped it up.1)fake news

The incredible intellect and integrity of America’s founding fathers is what made America great. Washington, Franklin, Madison, Jefferson and Hamilton created the foundation. Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt continued that tradition of leadership with integrity. With the exception of Barack Obama, today’s American leaders disgrace that legacy.

The brilliance of the founding fathers was born in a time when having an opinion was the result of deep thought, and caring. Opinionation is an expectation of democracy. Debating politics (or religion) is not the start of a conflict – it is the openness to exchange views, and to understand thinking that differs from our own. The founding fathers did not always agree. Often they argued vehemently, but usually to the point of agreement, with imaginative solutions, rather than compromise.

An open mind is not an empty mind.

Democracy places a huge intellectual responsibility on ordinary people. A thoughtless member of a democracy is a delinquent member of a democracy.

Anti-intellectualism has been one of the regular features of populism, but in this respect populism is an offense against the people….Anti-intellectualism is always pseudo-democratic. In enshrining prejudices and dogmas, it robs the citizen of his exacting and proper role.

Democracy’s strength is the will of the people – when they are talking to each other.

More at:
The biggest fake news stories of 2016
The city getting rich from fake news
Obama is worried about fake news on social media – and we should be too
Reason and the Republic of Opinion
A reflection on Barack Obama’s presidency
The rise and rise of fake news
The scourge of the U.S. election: Fake news, exploding on social media, is seeping into the mainstream
This is a real news story about fake news stories
This Photo Of A Trump Billboard In Mumbai Is Real, And So Is The Dark Irony

0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes

Footnotes

   [ + ]

1. fake news

The Electoral College is a good idea

The are many people who question the need for the Electoral College. After all, the popular vote lost.

Hamilton originally proposed the idea in 1788. He offered it as a safeguard against the election of populists and demagogues, who having hoodwinked the voters, might prove unsuitable to be President of the United States of America.

His idea was that electors be citizens

“most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.”

Hamilton argued that the

“electrical college affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.”

It was a time when civil intellectual debate about politics was common, and opposite views were encouraged, so that differing opinions could be fully understood. That time is gone. The debate is no longer intellectual nor civil.

Worse, many states legally bind the electors to the voters’, and the choice of electors is constrained more by who they should not be, rather than their eligibility to make an informed decision about the suitability of the voters’ choice for President of the United States of America.

The idea is a good one. It is sabotaged by the people implementing it who didn’t see how important it might be.

Trump is about to conduct the lesson.

More at:
About the Electors
The Mode of Electing the President
State Laws Regarding Presidential Electors

0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes