July, 2012

President Obama Honors Early-Career Scientists and Engineers

Posted on 31 Jul 2012 at 5:23pm

Today, the President met with a group of leading American scientists and engineers in the East Room of the White House to thank them for their research and encourage them to keep up the good work. Before meeting with the President, in an award ceremony today at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Science and Technology Advisor John Holdren conferred the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) to the 96 outstanding researchers.

Last week, President Obama announced this year’s winners of PECASE, an honor bestowed upon independent researchers in the early stages of their careers….

Ban names high-level panel to map out ‘bold’ vision for future global development efforts

Posted on 31 Jul 2012 at 5:07pm

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced the members of a High-level Panel to advise on the global development agenda beyond 2015, the target date for achieving the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“I have asked my High-level Panel to prepare a bold yet practical development vision to present to Member States next year,” Mr. Ban said in a news release.

The Panel will hold its first meeting at the end of September, in the margins of the annual high-level debate of the General Assembly. It is expected to submit its findings to the Secretary-General in the first half of 2013, and those findings will inform his…

Number of Syrians displaced by conflict continues to rise, UN refugee agency reports

Posted on 31 Jul 2012 at 5:03pm

With armed violence continuing unabated in parts of Syria, thousands of people are fleeing their homes on a daily basis and seeking refuge in schools, mosques and public buildings, as well as in neighbouring countries, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported today.

Violence continues to rage in Syria’s most populous city, Aleppo, with local organizations registering each day about 300 displaced families in need of urgent assistance, a UNHCR spokesperson, Melissa Fleming, told reporters in Geneva.

“In the 32 schools identified, between 250 and 350 people were packed inside while some 7,000 people are taking refuge in university dormitories,” she said.

UNHCR’s Aleppo office is severely…

UN envoy urges Iraq to avoid violence in relocating Iranian exiles from camp

Posted on 31 Jul 2012 at 4:58pm

At a meeting with the Iraqi Government, the United Nations top official in the Middle Eastern country today urged the authorities to avoid violence in resolving the situation of more than 1,000 Iranian exiles currently located in a camp in Iraq.

“The relocation has come a long way since February and the situation has remained peaceful so far,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Martin Kobler, said. “This should not be endangered. The UN went every extra mile and will continue to leave no stone unturned to fulfil this humanitarian mission.”

According to a news release from the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) – which Mr. Kobler also heads –…

Man and Woman Stoned to Death in Northern Mali

Posted on 31 Jul 2012 at 4:54pm

Executions Part of Widespread Imposition of Fundamentalist Islamic Law

(New York) — Amnesty International today condemned the “gruesome, horrific” stoning of a man and woman in Mali.

“Amnesty International condemns this gruesome and horrific act of stoning,” said Paule Rigaud, deputy director for Africa. “This killing is yet another human rights abuse committed by the combatants who control the north of Mali, and illustrates the climate of fear that armed opposition groups have created within the areas they control.”

Amnesty International has documented incidences of abuses carried out by armed groups in Mali in an attempt to change behavior in accordance with a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam.

The new behaviors being enforced include…

Malaysia: Cartoonist Case Tests Freedoms

Posted on 31 Jul 2012 at 4:35pm

Civil Court Ruling Affects Free Expression

(Bangkok) – A Malaysian civil court ruling in the case of a prominent political cartoonist has set back the right to freedom of expression in the country, Human Rights Watch said today. The verdict finding the initial arrest and detention of Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque, better known as Zunar, was lawful under the Sedition Act and Printing Presses and Public Act was a disturbing rejection of the right to freedom of expression in all its forms, including cartoons.

However, in a positive development, the court ruled that the authorities’ continued holding of books and artwork seized from Zunar was unlawful after the prosecutor decided to not…

First Lady Michelle Obama Leads Presidential Delegation to the Olympics

Posted on 30 Jul 2012 at 5:30pm

First Lady Michelle Obama was in the stands on Saturday as Team USA scored its first gold medal in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. In her unofficial capacity as First Fan, Mrs. Obama had the chance to cheer on swimmer Ryan Lochte as he won the men’s 400 meter individual medley.

That afternoon, the First Lady took in the tennis competition from Wimbledon, watching Serena Williams knock off Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 6-1 from a seat beside Oracene Price, Serena’s mom.

On Sunday, the First Lady gave each member of Team USA – up to and including the coaches – a hug after they moved past France in the…

Extra-Judicial Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and Sexual Abuse Documented in Mali Counter-Coup

Posted on 30 Jul 2012 at 4:45pm

Human Rights Organization Report Based on Interviews with Dozens Who Were Held in Official Detention in Junta Headquarters

(New York) – In a new report today based on interviews with survivors, Amnesty International said soldiers in Mali loyal to the military Junta are committing brutal abuses against soldiers imprisoned after an attempted counter-coup in April, including dozens of cases of enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings and torture and sexual abuses. The human rights organization documented the abuse during a ten-day mission to Mali this month.

Gaetan Mootoo, Amnesty International’s West Africa researcher, said: “These vengeful acts fly in the face of Mali’s international human rights obligations. Action must be taken to ensure…

Ban urges end to Syria fighting as number of people affected reaches two million

Posted on 30 Jul 2012 at 4:03pm

With as many as two million people affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today renewed his call on all parties to put an end to armed violence and prevent further bloodshed.

“More fighting is not the answer. Further militarization of this conflict will only perpetuate the devastation and prolong the suffering. A sectarian civil war would also gravely imperil Syria’s neighbours,” Mr. Ban told reporters at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

He said the “tragic and intolerable” situation in Syria was foremost on his mind during his just-concluded visits to China, south-eastern Europe and London, where he met with the Joint Special Envoy for the UN…

Syria: in wake of field visit, head of UN observers voices concern over Aleppo

Posted on 30 Jul 2012 at 4:00pm

In the wake of his first field visit, during which he witnessed heavy shelling, the acting head of UN observers in Syria today met with Government officials and called for an end to the fighting that has wracked the Middle Eastern country, in addition to voicing concern about ongoing combat taking place in the city of Aleppo. “It was a good opportunity for me to discuss UNSMIS activities in the coming 20 days. I stressed the need for all sides to end the bloodshed – Syrians killing Syrians – and for all sides to commit to political dialogue,” the UN Military Adviser, Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye, told a press conference…

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