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New UN chief urges New Year’s resolution: ‘Put Peace First’

Sun, 2017-01-01
ID: 
1483255217236532300

UNITED NATIONS: Antonio Guterres took the reins of the United Nations on New Year’s Day, promising to be a “bridge-builder” but facing an antagonistic incoming US administration led by Donald Trump who thinks the world body’s 193 member states do nothing except talk and have a good time.
The former Portuguese prime minister and UN refugee chief told reporters after being sworn-in as secretary-general on Dec. 12 that he will engage all governments — “and, of course, also with the next government of the United States” — and show his willingness to cooperate on “the enormous challenges that we’ll be facing together.”
But Trump has shown little interest in multilateralism, which Guterres says is “the cornerstone” of the United Nations, and a great attachment to the Republicans’ “America First” agenda.
So as Guterres begins his five-year term facing conflicts from Syria and Yemen to South Sudan and Libya and global crises from terrorism to climate change, US support for the United Nations remains a question mark.
And it matters because the US is a veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council and pays 22 percent of the UN’s regular budget and 25 percent of its peacekeeping budget.
Immediately after the United States allowed the Security Council to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank on Dec. 23 in a stunning rupture with past practice, Trump warned in a tweet: “As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th,” the day he takes office.
Trump followed up three days later with another tweet questioning its effectiveness. “The United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!“
John Bolton, a conservative Republican and former US ambassador to the United Nations, said in an interview with The Associated Press that Guterres would be well advised “especially given the incoming Trump administration” to follow the model of his predecessor, Ban Ki-moon, and do what member governments want.
If he tries to follow what Ban’s predecessor, Kofi Annan, did as secretary-general and try to be the world’s top diplomat and what some called “a secular pope,” Bolton said, “I think especially in the Trump administration, he would run into big trouble very quickly.”
Guterres has made clear that his top priority will be preventing crises and promoting peace.
In the first minute after taking over as UN chief on Sunday, Guterres issued an “Appeal for Peace.” He urged all people in the world to make a shared New Year’s resolution: “Let us resolve to put peace first.”
“Let us make 2017 a year in which we all — citizens, governments, leaders — strive to overcome our differences,” the new secretary-general said.
He has said there is enormous difficulty in solving conflicts, a lack of “capacity” in the international community to prevent conflicts, and the need to develop “the diplomacy for peace,” which he plans to focus on.
Guterres has said he will also strive to deal with the inequalities that globalization and technological progress have helped deepen, creating joblessness and despair especially among youth.
“Today’s paradox is that despite greater connectivity, societies are becoming more fragmented. More and more people live within their own bubbles, unable to appreciate their links with the whole human family,” he said after his swearing-in.
Guterres said the values enshrined in the UN Charter that should define the world that today’s children inherit — peace, justice, respect, human rights, tolerance and solidarity — are threatened, “most often by fear.”
“Our duty to the peoples we serve is to work together to move from fear of each other, to trust in each other, trust in the values that bind us, and trust in the institutions that serve and protect us,” he said. “My contribution to the United Nations will be aimed at inspiring that trust.”
Guterres won the UN’s top job after receiving high marks from almost every diplomat for his performance in the first-ever question-and-answer sessions in the General Assembly for the 13 candidates vying to replace Ban, whose second five-year term ends at midnight on Dec. 31.
In an interview during his campaign with three journalists, Guterres said the role of secretary-general should be “an honest broker, a consensus builder” who engages as much as possible, in many circumstances discreetly.
“It’s not just to have a personal agenda, because it would be regrettable or ineffective, or to appear in the limelight. No. On the contrary, it’s to act with humility to try to create the conditions for member states that are the crucial actors in any process to be able to come together and to overcome their differences,” he said.
Whether the Trump administration will join Guterres and UN efforts to tackle what he sees as “a multiplication of new conflicts” and the myriad problems on the global agenda remains to be seen.
Trump’s choice as US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley who is the governor of South Carolina, has a reputation as a conciliator, which could be very useful especially in dealing with the Security Council and the four other permanent veto-wielding members — Russia, China, Britain and France, all of whom have their own national agendas. 
But she will be taking instructions from the president.
Richard Grenell, who served as US spokesman at the UN during President George W. Bush’s administration and has been working with Trump’s transition team, downplayed the prospect that Trump will withdraw from or even disregard the United Nations.
He said in an AP interview earlier this month that Trump is talking about reforming the UN and other international organizations so “they live up to their ideals.”
Guterres also wants to reform the United Nations to make it “nimble, efficient and effective.” He said “it must focus more on delivery and less on process, more on people and less on bureaucracy,” and ensure that the more than 85,000 UN staff working in 180 countries are being used effectively.

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Trump sends New Year wishes to all, even his ‘many enemies’

Author: 
Associated Press
Sat, 2016-12-31
ID: 
1483216643922282600

PALM BEACH, Florida: President-elect Donald Trump has an unusual New Year’s message for his Twitter followers.
He is wishing a “Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly.”
Trump adds, “they just don’t know what to do,” ending his message with the word, “Love!“
The president-elect will be spending his New Year’s Eve at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.
He’ll be throwing a private party that is expected to draw hundreds of guests, including action star Sylvester Stallone.

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Trump sends New Year wishes to all, even his ‘many enemies’

Author: 
Associated Press
Sat, 2016-12-31
ID: 
1483216643922282600

PALM BEACH, Florida: President-elect Donald Trump has an unusual New Year’s message for his Twitter followers.
He is wishing a “Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly.”
Trump adds, “they just don’t know what to do,” ending his message with the word, “Love!“
The president-elect will be spending his New Year’s Eve at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.
He’ll be throwing a private party that is expected to draw hundreds of guests, including action star Sylvester Stallone.

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Trump’s praise of Putin could signal a new day for US policy

Author: 
JOSH LEDERMAN | AP
Sat, 2016-12-31
ID: 
1483216486862255100

HONOLULU: Moscow is hoping Donald Trump will reconsider the sanctions the US is levying in response to its finding of election hacking, a wait-and-see strategy bolstered by the American president-elect’s own approving words for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin has essentially put relations with the US on hold until Trump replaces President Barack Obama on Jan. 20. Though his foreign minister encouraged him to slap back at Washington for the sanctions imposed by Obama, Putin decided that Russia wouldn’t immediately retaliate.
“Great move on delay (by V. Putin),” Trump wrote Friday on Twitter. “I always knew he was very smart!”
Praise for a longtime adversary at odds with a sitting American president is remarkable for a president-elect — and the latest signal that US-Russia relations, among other policies, could be getting a makeover from Trump.
Whether he steers the US toward or away from Russia is shaping up as the first major test of his foreign policy disposition and his willingness to buck fellow Republicans, who for years have argued Obama wasn’t being tough enough on Russia.
In response to the election hacking he blames on Russia, Obama ordered sanctions on Russian spy agencies, closed two Russian compounds and expelled 35 diplomats the US said were really spies. Brushing off Obama, Putin said Russia would plan steps to restore US ties “based on the policies that will be carried out by the administration of President D. Trump.” Not only would Russia not kick Americans out, Putin said, he was inviting the kids of all US diplomats to the Kremlin’s New Year’s and Christmas parties.
“At this point, they’re trolling Obama,” said Olga Oliker, who directs the Russia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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Trump’s praise of Putin could signal a new day for US policy

Author: 
JOSH LEDERMAN | AP
Sat, 2016-12-31
ID: 
1483216486862255100

HONOLULU: Moscow is hoping Donald Trump will reconsider the sanctions the US is levying in response to its finding of election hacking, a wait-and-see strategy bolstered by the American president-elect’s own approving words for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin has essentially put relations with the US on hold until Trump replaces President Barack Obama on Jan. 20. Though his foreign minister encouraged him to slap back at Washington for the sanctions imposed by Obama, Putin decided that Russia wouldn’t immediately retaliate.
“Great move on delay (by V. Putin),” Trump wrote Friday on Twitter. “I always knew he was very smart!”
Praise for a longtime adversary at odds with a sitting American president is remarkable for a president-elect — and the latest signal that US-Russia relations, among other policies, could be getting a makeover from Trump.
Whether he steers the US toward or away from Russia is shaping up as the first major test of his foreign policy disposition and his willingness to buck fellow Republicans, who for years have argued Obama wasn’t being tough enough on Russia.
In response to the election hacking he blames on Russia, Obama ordered sanctions on Russian spy agencies, closed two Russian compounds and expelled 35 diplomats the US said were really spies. Brushing off Obama, Putin said Russia would plan steps to restore US ties “based on the policies that will be carried out by the administration of President D. Trump.” Not only would Russia not kick Americans out, Putin said, he was inviting the kids of all US diplomats to the Kremlin’s New Year’s and Christmas parties.
“At this point, they’re trolling Obama,” said Olga Oliker, who directs the Russia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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Ban Ki-moon buoyed by climate accord but laments conflicts

Author: 
EDITH M. LEDERER | AP
Sat, 2016-12-31
ID: 
1483216340792237000

UNITED NATIONS: Ban Ki-moon ends 10 years at the helm of the United Nations lamenting the “fires still burning” from Syria to South Sudan but buoyed by a global agreement to combat climate change and new UN goals to fight poverty and inequality.
As a final act before his term ends at midnight on New Year’s Eve, the secretary-general will push the button starting the descent of the glittering 11,875-pound ball in New York’s Times Square in the countdown to 2017’s arrival. At that moment, former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Guterres will start his tenure as United Nations chief for the next five years.
Looking back at his stewardship of the United Nations at a farewell news conference earlier this month, Ban told reporters “this has been a decade of unceasing test.”
While he has seen collective action improve millions of lives, Ban expressed frustration at the failure to end Syria’s war, now in its sixth year, and conflicts in South Sudan, Yemen, Central African Republic and Congo, to name a few.

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Ban Ki-moon buoyed by climate accord but laments conflicts

Author: 
EDITH M. LEDERER | AP
Sat, 2016-12-31
ID: 
1483216340792237000

UNITED NATIONS: Ban Ki-moon ends 10 years at the helm of the United Nations lamenting the “fires still burning” from Syria to South Sudan but buoyed by a global agreement to combat climate change and new UN goals to fight poverty and inequality.
As a final act before his term ends at midnight on New Year’s Eve, the secretary-general will push the button starting the descent of the glittering 11,875-pound ball in New York’s Times Square in the countdown to 2017’s arrival. At that moment, former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Guterres will start his tenure as United Nations chief for the next five years.
Looking back at his stewardship of the United Nations at a farewell news conference earlier this month, Ban told reporters “this has been a decade of unceasing test.”
While he has seen collective action improve millions of lives, Ban expressed frustration at the failure to end Syria’s war, now in its sixth year, and conflicts in South Sudan, Yemen, Central African Republic and Congo, to name a few.

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South Koreans rally to demand ‘Park-free’ 2017

Author: 
Agence France Presse
Sat, 2016-12-31
ID: 
1483215969422197900

SEOUL: More than half a million South Koreans marked New Year’s Eve with a massive protest Saturday calling for the immediate arrest and ouster of impeached President Park Geun-Hye.
Candle-carrying and banner-waving protesters marched toward key buildings in Seoul including the presidential Blue House and the prime minister’s office.
Police figures were unavailable but organizers estimated crowd numbers to be more than 600,000.
“Park Geun-Hye step down. Go to prison now,” they chanted.
Parliament voted on December 9 to impeach Park over a corruption scandal in which she allegedly colluded with her friend, Choi Soon-Sil, to wrest donations from large conglomerates to two dubious foundations.
The case is now being considered by the Constitutional Court, which has up to 180 days to rule on the impeachment.
“I came here to help usher in a new year that has no Park Geun-Hye,” Kang Jae-Chun, who was at the protest with his two children, told AFP.
Demonstrators also planned to take part in a midnight ceremony in which a large bronze bell in the city center is rung to herald in the new year.
It was the tenth protest calling for Park’s immediate departure from office.
But Park, who has been suspended from her duties since the impeachment vote, has remained defiant, declaring she will wait until the Constitutional Court arrives at a decision.
Earlier on Saturday, former health minister Moon Hyung-Pyo was arrested under a court order in a widening probe to determine whether Park and Choi took bribes from businesses including Samsung.
Moon, who is now head of the National Pension Service (NPS), admitted to pressuring the state-run fund to back a controversial merger of two Samsung units — Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T — last year when he served as health minister.
The acquisition was seen as a crucial step to ensure a smooth father-to-son power transfer to Lee Jae-Yong, scion of Samsung’s founding family.
Critics said it undervalued Samsung C&T stock but NPS — the world’s third largest public pension fund and a major Samsung shareholder — backed the deal, allegedly incurring hundreds of millions of dollars in losses for NPS subscribers.
Investigators reportedly plan to question Lee next month to determine whether he told Samsung Electronics executives to funnel millions of dollars into questionable foundations and companies controlled by Choi in return for NPS’ backing.
Lee said at a parliamentary hearing this month he was not aware of the money transfers.

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No Picture

South Koreans rally to demand ‘Park-free’ 2017

Author: 
Agence France Presse
Sat, 2016-12-31
ID: 
1483215969422197900

SEOUL: More than half a million South Koreans marked New Year’s Eve with a massive protest Saturday calling for the immediate arrest and ouster of impeached President Park Geun-Hye.
Candle-carrying and banner-waving protesters marched toward key buildings in Seoul including the presidential Blue House and the prime minister’s office.
Police figures were unavailable but organizers estimated crowd numbers to be more than 600,000.
“Park Geun-Hye step down. Go to prison now,” they chanted.
Parliament voted on December 9 to impeach Park over a corruption scandal in which she allegedly colluded with her friend, Choi Soon-Sil, to wrest donations from large conglomerates to two dubious foundations.
The case is now being considered by the Constitutional Court, which has up to 180 days to rule on the impeachment.
“I came here to help usher in a new year that has no Park Geun-Hye,” Kang Jae-Chun, who was at the protest with his two children, told AFP.
Demonstrators also planned to take part in a midnight ceremony in which a large bronze bell in the city center is rung to herald in the new year.
It was the tenth protest calling for Park’s immediate departure from office.
But Park, who has been suspended from her duties since the impeachment vote, has remained defiant, declaring she will wait until the Constitutional Court arrives at a decision.
Earlier on Saturday, former health minister Moon Hyung-Pyo was arrested under a court order in a widening probe to determine whether Park and Choi took bribes from businesses including Samsung.
Moon, who is now head of the National Pension Service (NPS), admitted to pressuring the state-run fund to back a controversial merger of two Samsung units — Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T — last year when he served as health minister.
The acquisition was seen as a crucial step to ensure a smooth father-to-son power transfer to Lee Jae-Yong, scion of Samsung’s founding family.
Critics said it undervalued Samsung C&T stock but NPS — the world’s third largest public pension fund and a major Samsung shareholder — backed the deal, allegedly incurring hundreds of millions of dollars in losses for NPS subscribers.
Investigators reportedly plan to question Lee next month to determine whether he told Samsung Electronics executives to funnel millions of dollars into questionable foundations and companies controlled by Choi in return for NPS’ backing.
Lee said at a parliamentary hearing this month he was not aware of the money transfers.

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Indian coal mine death toll rises to 16, some still trapped

Author: 
Reuters
Sat, 2016-12-31
ID: 
1483215826602182400

BHUBANESWAR, INDIA: The death toll in an Indian coal mine collapse rose to 16 on Saturday and could rise further, officials said, as some people are still feared trapped at a coalfield run by state-owned Coal India Limited.
The accident occurred in Jharkhand state on Thursday evening at the Lalmatia mine, one of the country’s largest, which is owned by Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL).
“At night (on Friday), the rescue operation was slow due to fog,” R.R. Amitabh, a senior officer at ECL, told Reuters, adding that about 30 percent of the collapsed mine waste had been removed.
Coal India has a poor safety record, with 135 accidents reported last year, killing 37 people and injuring 141, the company said in a report.
Operations at the mine in Godda district, about 280 km (175 miles) from the state capital, Ranchi, have since been stopped, Amitabh said.
The state police spokesman R.K. Mullick said the number of people still trapped may be less than the nearly two dozen assumed earlier, based on the number of families who were searching for their kin.
The mine has an annual capacity of 17 million tons and accounts for about half of ECL’s coal production. Last month, ECL accounted for about 9 percent of Coal India’s total production of 50 million tons.
The federal coal ministry has ordered an investigation and announced some cash compensation to the families of miners who died in the accident.

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