Antibiotic resistant superbugs ‘a global crisis’

The discovery of antibiotics had a huge impact on treating infections. They have saved many lives and contributed significantly to increased life expectancy.

But increased resistance to antibiotics, in part caused by overuse and misuse, has resulted in the growth of resistant ‘superbugs’. If solutions can’t be found a UN committee report warns that up to 10 million people may die annually by 2030 as a result of drug-resistant diseases – more than the combined deaths from all cancers.

Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance report to the Secretary-general of the United Nations:


NO TIME TO WAIT:
SECURING THE FUTURE FROM DRUG-RESISTANT INFECTIONS
April 2019

KEY MESSAGES IN THIS REPORT

Antimicrobial resistance is a global crisis that threatens a century of progress in health and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

  • Antimicrobial (including antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal and antiprotozoal) agents are critical tools for fighting diseases in humans, terrestrial and aquatic animals and plants, but they are becoming ineffective.
  • Alarming levels of resistance have been reported in countries of all income levels, with the result that common diseases are becoming untreatable, and lifesaving medical procedures riskier to perform.
  • Antimicrobial resistance poses a formidable challenge to achieving Universal Health Coverage and threatens progress against many of the Sustainable Development Goals, including in health, food security, clean water and sanitation, responsible consumption and production, and poverty and inequality.
  • Misuse and overuse of existing antimicrobials in humans, animals and plants are accelerating the development and spread of antimicrobial resistance.
  • Inadequate access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene in health care facilities, farms, schools, households and community settings; poor infection and disease prevention; lack of equitable access to affordable and quality-assured antimicrobials, vaccines and diagnostics; and weak health, food and feed production, food safety and waste management systems are increasing the burden of infectious disease in animals and humans and contributing to the emergence and spread of drug-resistant pathogens.

There is no time to wait. Unless the world acts urgently, antimicrobial resistance will have disastrous impact within a generation.

  • Drug-resistant diseases already cause at least 700,000 deaths globally a year, including 230,000 deaths from multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, a figure that could increase to 10 million deaths globally per year by 2050 under the most alarming scenario if no action is taken. Around 2.4 million people could die in highincome countries between 2015 and 2050 without a sustained effort to contain antimicrobial resistance.
  • The economic damage of uncontrolled antimicrobial resistance could be comparable to the shocks experienced during the 2008-2009 global financial crisis as a result of dramatically increased health care expenditures; impact on food and feed production, trade and livelihoods; and increased poverty and inequality.
  • In higher-income countries, a package of simple interventions to address antimicrobial resistance could pay for itself due to costs averted. In lower income countries, additional but still relatively modest investments are urgently needed.
  • If investments and action are further delayed, the world will have to pay far more in the future to cope with the disastrous impact of uncontrolled antimicrobial resistance.

https://www.who.int/antimicrobial-resistance/interagency-coordination-group/IACG_final_report_EN.pdf


Perhaps arms and war budgets should be redirected to dealing with this. Ten million deaths a year is a far bigger death rate than either of the World Wars.

Nikki Haley resigns as US ambassador to UN

In what appears to be a shock announcement Nikki Haley has resigned as US ambassador to the UN. She has been seen as very competent at the UN, standing out amongst Trump appointments. She has also been suggest as a good future political candidate, including for the presidency, but she has emphatically said she won’t be standing in the 2020 election. (Is that because Trump has told her he wants to stand again?)

Gezza has been doing some middle of the night coverage.


Aljaz TV reporting:

US PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS ACCEPTED RESIGNATION OF UN AMBASSADOR NIKKI HALEY.

TRUMP SAYS SHE WILL LEAVE HER POST AT THE END OF THE YEAR.

New York Times: Nikki Haley Resigned as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

A lot of head-scratching about why she has resigned at this time, just before the mid-term elections. Reasons unclear. Trump’s apparently told her he hopes she returns to the administration & can have pretty much any job she likes. Doesn’t seem to be a disagreement with Trump ?

Showing Nikki speaking to press, sitting with Trump, in those yellow chairs now.

Doesn’t have any set plans. Reviewed all the US has achieved,including getting NATO pay more various other things Trump has pursued like Iran, making the US respected again – if not liked by everybody at least respected & is satisfied. Going out on a high.

She told the president earlier in the year maybe two years would be long enuf. Not leaving until the end of the year, plenty of time to hand over to next UN Ambassador. Thanks Mr President, it’s been an honour. No she’s not running for 2020. She’s campaigning for 2020 supporting the president.

Haley’s & Trump’s press conference.

(Nikki: Jared is a genius & Ivanka is a great friend they do a lot behind the scenes wishes more people knew about. 🙄 ? )

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le6eR5cSPsk

Interesting comments from Aljaz UN political editor. Word around the UN is that she is politically ambitious, very politically astute, gone along with Trump because his pro-Israel and other political positions match hers. Very well placed to run in the future as a Republican candidate for first woman President, should she choose to do so and should Trump not be in the running.


That last comment may be the key – ” should Trump not be in the running”. It could be a long political game by Haley.

Fox News:Haley abruptly steps down as UN ambassador in surprise decision, vows she won’t run in 2020

Haley called her time at the U.N. a “blessing,” but offered no reason for leaving other than a belief that government officials must know “when it’s time to step aside.”

Nikki Haley abruptly announced her resignation Tuesday as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, catching staff and lawmakers by surprise and leaving Washington guessing about the next move for one of the administration’s most prominent figures.
Speaking in the Oval Office alongside President Trump, who accepted the resignation, Haley said she would serve through the end of 2018. She preemptively sought to mute speculation she might run against her old boss, stressing that she will support Trump and will not campaign for the White House in 2020.
Haley called her time at the U.N. a “blessing,” but offered no reason for leaving other than a belief that government officials must know “when it’s time to step aside.”

Trump told reporters that Haley did “an incredible job” and is a “fantastic person.” He said she had told him six months ago that she wanted to take a break “maybe at the end of the year.”

Haley called her time at Turtle Bay the “honor of a lifetime” and said there was “nothing set on where I am going to go.” She also praised the work of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, particularly Kushner’s role in re-negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). She called Kushner a “hidden genius.”

“Now the U.S. is respected. Countries may not like what we do, but they respect what we do,” she said, citing a number of achievements of the Trump administration.

“The U.S. is strong again, it’s strong in a way that should make all Americans very proud,” she told reporters.

On why it’s time to leave, Haley said she’s a believer in term limits and believes it’s good to rotate new government officials in from time to time.

There may be a hidden reason, but sometimes people in high profile, demanding jobs just want to have a break from it.

Also from Fox:

Reuters: Trump’s U.N. envoy Haley quits, denies 2020 ambitions

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, is resigning “to take a little time off,” President Trump said, as she became the latest in a long line of high-profile departures from the administration.

Haley, 46, is the latest in a long line of high-profile departures from the administration, such as former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was fired in March, and Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, who left in August 2017.

So interest will now turn to who Trump replaces her with at the UN. Was she signalling a role for Jared Kushner?

 

Israel-Hamas truce talks ‘advanced’

Some hope of a de-escalation of ongoing hostilities between Israeli forces and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Reuters: Hamas says indirect Gaza truce talks with Israel ‘advanced’

U.N.- and Egyptian-mediated talks on a deal to tamp down tensions between Israel and the Gaza Strip are in “advanced stages”, a senior member of the Palestinian enclave’s dominant Islamist Hamas group said on Wednesday.

“We can say that actions led by the United Nations and Egypt are in advanced stages and we hope it could yield some good from them,” Khalil Al-Hayya, deputy Hamas chief in Gaza, told Al Jazeera television.

Neither Hamas nor Israel, which last fought a war in 2014, appears keen on another full-blown conflict. But public demands by either side for a detainee release by the other appear to have been a stumbling block in securing a long-term truce.

The remarks were echoed by a top Israeli lawmaker, suggesting a possible breakthrough after four months of confrontations and clashes that stirred mutual threats of war.

Avi Dichter, the committee of the Israeli parliament’s foreign affairs and defense committee, struck a cautiously upbeat note on Wednesday. “I very much hope that we are on the brink of a new day on the matter of Gaza,” he told reporters.

In return for calm in Gaza, Israeli officials said on Sunday they would reopen a commercial border terminal that had been shuttered in response to the fire damage, and expand a Palestinian fishing zone.

Netanyahu called off a trip to Colombia this week to attend to the Gaza truce talks, and was due to convene his decision-making security cabinet on Thursday to discuss the negotiations.

So there’s efforts being made and some hope of a calming down of a volatile and violent situation.

This is a long way from solving all the problems in Israel, but it’s a positive move and shows a willingness by both sides to avoid all out war.

Neither the United Nations nor Egypt have publicly detailed their proposals for Gaza, beyond saying they should bring extensive economic relief for its 2 million Palestinians, many of them plagued by unemployment and failing public utilities.

Good to see the UN trying to bring opponents together and resolve problems there. They usually get a lot of criticism and little credit.

Also good to see Egypt helping.

Middle East escalation – Syria, Russia, USA, Israel, Iran…

Different situations in the Middle East are escalating concurrently. The most prominent is the alleged chemical attack in Syria, and related allegations that the US were responsible for a missile attack (Israel has now been blamed).

BBC: Suspected Syria chemical attack kills scores

At least 70 people have died in a suspected chemical attack in Douma, the last rebel-held town in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta, rescuers and medics say.

Volunteer rescue force the White Helmets tweeted graphic images showing several bodies in basements. It said the deaths were likely to rise.

There has been no independent verification of the reports.

Syria has called the allegations of a chemical attack a “fabrication” – as has its main ally, Russia.

The US state department said Russia – with its “unwavering support” for Syria’s government – “ultimately bears responsibility” for the alleged attacks.

BBC: Syria conflict: Russia says no evidence of Douma chemical attack

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said no evidence has been found of a chemical weapons attack in Syria’s formerly rebel-held town of Douma.

Mr Lavrov said Russian specialists and aid workers had visited the area, which rebel fighters have started leaving under a surrender deal.

 

The claim from Russia – which has intervened militarily in Syria in support of the government – came after videos shot by rescue workers on Saturday showed lifeless bodies of men, women and children with foam at their mouths.

The Syrian-American Medical Society said more than 500 people were brought to medical centres in Douma, in the Eastern Ghouta region, near the capital Damascus, with symptoms “indicative of exposure to a chemical agent”, including breathing difficulties, bluish skin, mouth foaming, corneal burns and “the emission of chlorine-like odour”.

Yahoo: ‘I don’t rule anything out’: Mattis on taking action in Syria

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Monday pointed toward Russia’s role in a suspected poison gas attack on the Syrian rebel-held town of Douma, and said he would not rule out a military response.

Russia was supposed to guarantee the disposal of Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons in September 2013, but President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is suspected of conducting repeated gas attacks since then.

“The first thing we have to look at is why are chemical weapons still being used at all when Russia was the framework guarantor of removing all the chemical weapons,” Mattis said at the Pentagon in a meeting with his Qatari counterpart.

“Working with our allies and our partners from NATO to Qatar and elsewhere, we are going to address this issue … I don’t rule out anything right now.”

Syria has been accused multiple times of using toxic weapons including sarin gas in the country’s seven-year war, which has killed more than 350,000 people.

Backed by Moscow, Assad has waged a seven-week assault on Ghouta that has killed more than 1,700 civilians and left Islamist rebels cornered in their last holdout of Douma, Ghouta’s largest town.

NY Times: Trump to Decide Soon Whether to Retaliate for ‘Barbaric Act’ in Syria

President Trump on Monday denounced the suspected chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of people in Syria over the weekend as a “barbaric act,” and said he will make a decision in the next 24 to 48 hours about whether to retaliate militarily as he did to a similar assault last year.

“We’re talking about humanity and it can’t be allowed to happen,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the start of a cabinet meeting at which he suggested that a response would be forthcoming soon. “We’ll be making that decision very quickly, probably by the end of today. We cannot allow atrocities like that.”

Calling the attack “heinous” and “atrocious,” the president suggested that Syria’s patrons in Russia and Iran may also be responsible, and seemed to imply that he would take action of some sort to punish them as well.

“If it’s Russia, if it’s Syria, if it’s Iran, if it’s all of them together, we’ll figure it out and we’ll know the answers quite soon,” he said. “So we’re looking at that very strongly and very seriously.”

Asked if President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, with whom Mr. Trump has sought to forge a friendship, bears responsibility, the president said: “He may and if he does it’s going to be very tough, very tough. Everybody’s going to pay a price. He will, everybody will.”

Big threats again from Trump, that are likely to escalate things further, especially if the US takes retaliatory action.

And Israel may also be involved. RCP:  Israel Blamed for Missile Strike in Syria; 14 Reported Dead

Russia and the Syrian military blamed Israel for a pre-dawn missile attack Monday on a major air base in central Syria, saying Israeli fighter jets launched the missiles from Lebanon’s air space. A war-monitoring group said the airstrikes killed 14 people, including Iranians active in Syria.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said two Israeli aircraft targeted the T4 air base in Homs province, firing eight missiles.

Israel’s foreign ministry had no comment when asked about the accusations.

Since 2012, Israel has struck inside Syria more than 100 times, mostly targeting suspected weapons’ convoys destined for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which has been fighting alongside Syrian government forces.

Back in Israel: Israel Strikes Hamas Target in Gaza in Response to Border Infiltration Attempt

The IDF attacked a military compound belonging to Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip early Monday morning, the Israeli army reported.

The attack was carried out in response to the attempted infiltration by Hamas with an improvised explosive device on Sunday.

In a statement Monday morning, the IDF said that they view Hamas’ attempts to turn the border fence into a combat zone and destroy Israel’s security and defense infrastructures with “great severity.”

And Iran is also in the fray: Iran Threatens to Restart Nuke Enrichment Program in Matter of Days

Iranian leaders are threatening to restart the country’s contested nuclear enrichment program in just a matter of days as the Trump administration and European allies scramble to address a range of flaws in the landmark nuclear accord ahead of a May deadline that could see the United States walk away from the accord, according to regional reports and administration insiders.

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization disclosed on Sunday that the Islamic Republic has maintained the ability to restart the full-scale enrichment of uranium—the key component in a nuclear weapon that was supposed to be removed from Iran as part of the nuclear agreement—in just four days.

The disclosure has roiled Trump administration insiders and nuclear experts who have been warning for months that Iran never fully disclosed the nature of its nuclear weapons work and progress as international leaders struggle to fix the deal by May, according to those who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon about the situation.

The UN is due to discuss the Syrian situation, but that is just reactive to am escalating situation and unlikely to do much – as usual. Both the US and Russia have veto rights at the UN which renders the international body fairly useless when both the major powers are at odds.

UN claim mass civilian deaths in Syria

The multi-faction civil war in Syria started in March 2011, seven years ago. It has resulted in massive damage and many casualties, with civilians often being the victims. And that is still happening in what seems to have become a war of attrition.

UN war crimes investigators: Russia and U.S. air strikes caused mass civilian deaths in Syria

Air strikes by Russia and a U.S.-led coalition killed civilians in Syria on a large scale last year, while the Assad government carried out unlawful chemical weapon attacks in rebel-held eastern Ghouta, U.N. war crimes investigators said on Tuesday.

Islamic State fighters and other insurgent groups committed war crimes including deadly attacks on civilians and using them as human shields, the investigators said in their latest report covering six months through January 15.

Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said that it came at a “very dark moment in this conflict” as fighting intensifies in Idlib, Afrin and Ghouta.

During the period, “victims of the Syrian conflict have suffered greatly as violence countrywide re-escalated to new heights,” the report said.

“(Syrian) government forces continued to use chemical weapons against armed group fighters in eastern Ghouta,” it said.

Among other key findings, the panel said that an air strike by a “Russian fixed-wing aircraft” using unguided weapons last November hit a market killing at least 84 people and injuring 150 in Atareb, west of Aleppo, in a “de-escalation zone” declared by Russia, Iran and Turkey.

It found no evidence that the Russian strike had deliberately targeted the market, but said “this attack may amount to the war crime of launching indiscriminate attacks resulting in death and injury to civilians”, the first time it has explicitly implicated Moscow in possible war crimes.

Pinheiro, commenting on the Russian strike, said that under international humanitarian law, using certain weapons in civilian areas automatically amounts to the war crime of launching indiscriminate attacks because of the nature of the weapons used.

And three U.S.-led coalition strikes on a school near Raqqa in March 2017 killed 150 residents – roughly five times the toll acknowledged by the Pentagon, which said at the time that dozens of militants and not civilians were killed.

The U.N. investigators found no evidence that Islamic State fighters were at the school and said the U.S.-led coalition had violated international law by failing in its duty to protect displaced civilians known to be sheltered there since 2012.

The independent investigators called on all sides to allow access to besieged areas and all detainees. Justice must be served in any peace deal ending the conflict soon entering its eighth year, they said.

Syrian government forces used chemical weapons against insurgents in eastern Ghouta, including chlorine three times in July, and in Harasta on the western edge of the zone in November, the report said. The U.N. investigators had previously documented 33 chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

However the killing and destruction is unlikely to end, as Syria, Russia and the US try to wipe out remnants of the uprising and opportunistic ISIS occupation.

But the panel was “not a tribunal” and had no powers to take its investigations further, he told a news conference.

So use of illegal weapons and attacks on civilians, whether deliberate or collateral damage, is likely to continue.

Reaction to the UN vote on the US and Jerusalem

There has also been some predictable wailing at the Whale:

Curiously Whale Oil has not mentioned this reaction (1 News): Winston Peters backs NZ vote against US, calling for withdrawal of decision on Jerusalem

Foreign Minister Winston Peters has backed the United Nations vote calling for the United States to withdraw its decision to recognise Jersualem as the capital of Israel.

“The resolution reflects New Zealand’s long-held support for a two-state solution to the conflict.

“The resolution called for the acceleration of efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasing peace in the Middle East.

“This is something we all can support.”

Prime Minister Ardern’s reaction (NZ Herald): NZ votes against US over declaring Jerusalem as capital of Israel

“New Zealand has long supported the two-state solution. This is not about any other nations relative position be it Australia or be it the United States, it’s about maintaining our independent foreign policy and our position around support of that two-state solution so I don’t think it should be something that is framed that is for or against the US.”

When questioned why not, Ardern said anything that happened before it was resolved “would be premature”.

“Certainly any moves like those taken by the US don’t take us any further towards that resolution and that’s the argument that New Zealand has made and obviously a number of other countries have made that point as well so to sit alongside hundreds of other countries I think it’s fair to say that there’s a real sentiment there, but yes, ultimately we need to find a peaceful solution but that’s what needs to come first.”

This was repeated an an Al Jazeera Asia-Pacific report: Australia, Pacific nations sidestep overwhelming UN vote on Jerusalem

Australia and other Pacific nations did not join almost 130 countries in an overwhelming vote at the UN demanding the United States drop its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, reports RNZ Pacific.

A total of 128 countries — including New Zealand and Papua New Guinea — backed the resolution, which is non-binding, nine voted against — including Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau and Nauru — and 35 abstained.

Twenty-one countries, including Samoa and Tonga, did not cast a vote.

New Zealand supported the UN resolution calling for the US to withdraw a decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

New Zealand’s longstanding foreign policy position supports a two-state solution.

Weekend Herald editorial: Bid to sway vote with foreign aid threat was a disgrace to the United States

Every time it seems Donald Trump could not do much worse, he does. His crude attempt to sway a United Nations vote with United States foreign aid discredits his country on a worse level than the leadership it has lost in the world under his presidency. It is one thing to pull out of treaties on trade and climate change and the like, it is quite another thing to try to bully or bribe other countries to do his bidding.

The threat to “take names” of aid recipients who supported a resolution in the General Assembly against his decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was as foolish as it was disreputable.

Destitute places who defied him probably will not lose their aid, if only because better people far below the President in the ranks of US policy making can probably see that they keep it. At the end of its first year the Trump Administration is being described as chaotic and dysfunctional, leaving space for responsible office holders to work around the impetuous utterances and late-night tweets of the President. It has reached the point where other countries’ leaders seem not to take him too seriously.

Britain and other European allies went ahead and voted for the UN resolution, as did New Zealand.

Just as Trump can ignore world opinion, the countries of the world (apart from a handful of tiny nations who voted against the resolution) can ignore Trump’s threats.

After nearly a year under Trump the US is rapidly losing its claim to be any sort of model of human rights and democracy. Bullies and autocrats around the world are citing his attitudes and statements to justify their own treatment of opponents, critics, women and minorities. A presidency could hardly sink much lower than this but it probably will.

Unfortunately Trump and the US will probably sink lower.

New Zealand seems to have got little attention internationally on the vote apart from being listed amongst those countries supporting the resolution.

Israel Institute of New Zealand: New Zealand sided with the mob in yet another anti-Israel UN resolution

New Zealand has further entrenched UN discrimination against the only Jewish state by voting with the mob, against sovereign nations being allowed to declare their own capitals.

There are 193 member states of the United Nations. Of these, 125 – the Non-aligned movement, which includes the 57 member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation – are inherently anti-Israel and anti-democratic. It is little wonder that there are disproportionately more resolutions passed against Israel than any other country (by a ratio of 20:1) when countries like Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela dictate the agenda.

And New Zealand “joined the bullies” in voting for the resolution, as Israel Institute of New Zealand director, Dr David Cumin, told RadioNZ.

And talking to Te Karere, Dr Cumin said it was disappointing that New Zealand was not standing up to the bullies at the UN who push resolutions that “seek to deny Jews access to their most tapu sites” and to ignore the tangata whenua status of Jews in Israel.

However this is about more than “sovereign nations being allowed to declare their own capitals”.

The (draft) resolution states:


Status of Jerusalem

Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming, inter alia, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force,

Bearing in mind the specific status of the Holy City of Jerusalem and, in particular, the need for the protection and preservation of the unique spiritual, religious and cultural dimensions of the city, as foreseen in relevant United Nations resolutions,

Stressing that Jerusalem is a final status issue to be resolved through negotiations in line with relevant United Nations resolutions,

Expressing, in this regard, its deep regret at recent decisions concerning the
status of Jerusalem,

  1. Affirms that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council, and in this regard calls upon all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem, pursuant to Security Council resolution 478 (1980);
  2. Demands that all States comply with Security Council resolutions regarding the Holy City of Jerusalem, and not recognize any actions or measures contrary to those resolutions;
  3. Reiterates its call for the reversal of the negative trends on the ground that are imperilling the two-State solution and for the intensification and acceleration of international and regional efforts and support aimed at achieving, without delay, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet road map, and an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967.

 

 

 

Q & A – war crime?

This morning on Q & A: Human Rights lawyer Marianne Elliott worked for the UN in Afghanistan she joins us live. Did they commit a war crime?

Elliot is director of Action Station.


Statement from NZDF admitting there was a suspected civilian casualty after 2010 SAS raid in Afghanistan

Elliott: an ISAF assessment is not the same as an independent investigation. ISAF is a military assessment of a military operation.

She believes a new independent inquiry can be effective – the attacks took place in 2010.

Is the book politically motivated? Elliott says there has been a politically motivated cover up.

Corin Dann says that the politicians may not have been properly informed. Elliott says again the cover up is politically motivated.

It is very important any inquiry has credibility with the Afghan people affected.

“What the people wants is the truth”. Action Station have surveyed their community.

Was it a possible war crime? Is that an appropriate claim?

Elliott: Yes.

No intention to kill civilians – but that doesn’t  rule out carelessness or error of judgement – errors of judgement will frequently happen in wars.

She feels strongly that “our troops deserve an inquiry”.

 

UN endorses Syrian ceasefire

The UN security Council has unanimously endorsed the Syrian ceasefire deal as well as peace talk plans, but tensions around the ceasefire remain.

BBC: Syria conflict: UN endorses Syria ceasefire deal

The resolution, drafted by Russia, also calls for rapid access for humanitarian aid to be delivered across the country.

The ceasefire, which began just over a day ago, has mostly held.

But Syria’s main rebel alliance had threatened to abandon the truce by 18:00 GMT if the government continued to attack areas under its control.

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) issued the ultimatum to Russia – Syria’s key ally – amid reports of intense bombardment by government forces on the rebel-held Wadi Barada area of Damascus, which the rebels say is in breach of the truce.

Shelling on the area concerned ceased just minutes before the deadline, the group’s legal adviser, Ousama Abou Zeid, said.

If they agreed to a ceasefire why would they keep bombing? That doesn’t seem a good way of working towards a peace agreement.

The UN resolution comes against a backdrop of deadlock among the veto-wielding members of the Security Council, with Russia supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the US, UK and France insisting he must step down as part of any deal to end the war.

Russia and Turkey also back opposite sides in the conflict, with Turkey supporting the rebellion against Mr Assad.

While Syria, Russia, Turkey and the UN appear to be working in the right direction the highly factionalised civil and international war looks to be far from over.

It applies across Syria but does not cover certain rebel groups including the jihadists of so-called Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS), and the Kurdish YPG militia.

They are a significant part of the Syrian problems.

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It’s going to take a lot of resolve and probably quite a lot more fighting to sort that mess out.

I wonder if Russia is moving on peace agreements now while the US is trapped between the Obama and Trump administrations.

David Shearer to leave Parliament?

It is being reported that David Shearer is likely to quit Parliament and work for the UN gain.

This will excite the left of Labour who considered him right wing. It will further deplete the Labour’s moderate.centrist wing, with Shane Jones and Phil Goff already gone and Clayton Cosgrove going.

It may also mean another by-election, in Shearer’s Mt Albert electorate. That could be a challenge for National and the new Prime Minister.

Or some are saying it could sort of justify an early election.

Stuff: David Shearer reportedly to lead UN mission in South Sudan, quit Parliament

Labour MP David Shearer is reportedly close to resigning from Parliament to take on the tough assignment of leading the United Nations mission in strife-torn South Sudan.

A recommendation for Shearer’s appointment has been put before the UN Security Council by outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, NZME reported.

The appointment is expected to be approved this week, after which the Security Council’s 15 members have two days to object.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said Shearer had the Government’s strong support: “It’s a huge deal”.

“This is the toughest peace-keeping assignment on the planet. It is a difficult and dangerous place.”

So it looks likely but not confirmed.

McCully promoting this story now, before it’s a done deal? The timing is very suspicious.

There was a report yesterday that John Key could head the IMF but that was old and debunked – Key says he isn’t interested.

 

More ‘discourage’ for Clark in latest UN poll

Helen Clark has edged up the rankings but has changed little in the 5th Security Council straw poll on the next UN Secretary General

Clark received the same number of ‘encourage’ votes, 6, the same as she got in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th polls (she got 8 in the 1st poll).

Her 2’no opinion’ votes in the last poll switched to ‘discourage’ in this poll, which must be a bit discouraging for Clark.

RNZ: Helen Clark seventh in latest UN poll

Former Portuguese prime minister António Guterres remains in first place with 12 votes, and former Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremić moved up to second place with eight votes.

Guterres looks to be well ahead, but a candidate only requires one veto from one of the five permanent members to hit a brick wall.

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