Category Archives: United Nations

WHO spends more on travel costs than fighting AIDS

margaret chan UN

Traveling large: UN Health Agency Director-General Margaret Chan

Your tax dollars at work.

From NY Post: The World Health Organization is spending more money on the travel bug than on fighting AIDS or malaria, according to a new report.

The UN health agency blows around $200 million a year on travel costs so its honchos can fly business class and stay in five-star hotels — more than what it reserves for battling some of the world’s biggest health crisis, the AP reports.

“We don’t trust people to do the right thing when it comes to travel,” the agency’s finance director Nick Jeffreys was caught saying at a 2015 seminar, according to the report.

WHO last year spent around $71 million on AIDS and hepatitis, $61 million on malaria and $59 million on tuberculosis, the wire service reports — although it does allocate a generous $450 million to polio every year.

Meanwhile, the agency’s director-general Dr. Margaret Chan racked up a $370,000 travel bill in one year, and recently stayed in a $1,008-a-night hotel in Guinea, the AP reports.

WHO is nevertheless asking for more moolah to fight disease — and taxpayers will be footing the bill.

UN member countries pay for the agency’s $2 billion annual budget, and the US is the largest contributor.

The agency defended itself by saying “the nature of WHO’s work often requires WHO staff to travel” and noting that it reduced travel costs by 14 percent last year — although that came after the particularly pricey 2014 Ebola outbreak, the AP notes.

And other aid agencies manage to fly staff around on much tighter budgets — the UN’s children’s agency UNICEF spends $140 million a year and has twice the staff, while Doctors Without Borders forbids business-class travel and spends on $43 million a year despite having more than five times as many staffers, the outlet reports.

DCG

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UN warned Trump that ObamaCare repeal could violate international law

United Nations

From Fox News: The United Nations warned the Trump administration earlier this year that repealing ObamaCare without providing an adequate replacement would be a violation of multiple international laws, according to a new report.

Though the Trump administration is likely to ignore the U.N. warning, The Washington Post reported the Office of the U.N. High Commission on Human Rights in Geneva sent an “urgent appeal” on Feb 2.

The Post reported that the confidential, five-page memo cautioned that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would put the U.S. “at odds with its international obligations.”

The warning was sent to the State Department and reportedly said the U.N. expressed “serious concern” about the prospective loss of health coverage for 30 million people, that in turn could violate “the right to social security of the people in the United States.”

Congressional Republicans failed in March to pass an ObamaCare replacement bill. A new proposal is emerging on Capitol Hill, but it’s unclear when it might be considered and how sweeping it may be.

A spokesman for the U.N.’s human rights office in Geneva confirmed the authenticity of the letter, which was sent by Dainius Puras, a Lithuanian doctor who serves the U.N. as “Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”

Xabier Celaya, a spokesman for the U.N., said Puras cannot comment on his ObamaCare letter until it becomes public in June.

Though the report calls out the Trump administration, there’s very little the U.N. can actually do. 

According to the report, the letter sent to the Trump administration also was supposed to be shared with the majority and minority leaders in both houses of Congress — but that did not happen.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer’s office said they never received the letter, as did officials in House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office. The letter from Puras did make its way to the Department of Health and Human Services, where an unnamed employee supposedly leaked it.

DCG

President Trump ends $75M funding of UN abortion agency

On his first full day of work in the White House on January 23, 2017, a day after the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, President Trump signed his first executive order reinstating the Mexico City Policy that bans U.S. funding of at least half a billion dollars to international organizations that perform abortions or provide information about abortion. (See “Trump fulfills 3 promises in first day of work as POTUS, including defund International Planned Parenthood”)

President Trump kept his word.

Reuters reports that on April 3, 2017, the State Department informed Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker in a letter that the U.S. is ending taxpayers’ funding of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) because the agency “supports, or participates in the management of, a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.”

In so doing, President Trump is saving taxpayers as much as $75 million — the amount the Obama administration had given UNFPA in 2015 in core budget and earmarked contributions, which made the U.S. the fourth largest donor to UNFPA.

In a statement on its website, UNFPA said it regrets the U.S. decision to end funding, which it said is based on an “erroneous claim” that the agency supports coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in China. UNFPA said its mission is “to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. The support we received over the years from the government and people of the United States has saved tens of thousands of mothers from preventable deaths and disabilities, and especially now in the rapidly developing global humanitarian crises.”

Blah, blah, blah.

The end in U.S. funding of UNFPA is President Trump’s first move to curtail funding for the United Nations, to which the United States is the top donor.

There is a bill in Congress, H. R. 193, to end membership of the United States in the United Nations. The bill was introduced by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Alabama) and referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on January 3, 2017. Tell your Congress critters to support HR 193!

And so the next time someone — as Red State and Vigilant Citizen did — says you shouldn’t bother to vote because Trump is no different than Hillary Clinton, show them this post.

Note: It is noteworthy that Vigilant Citizen (VC) has since taken down its post of September 23, 2016, “Why the Trump vs. Clinton Election is a Complete Sham,” instructing VC‘s readers not to vote in the upcoming Nov. 8 presidential election. But the post is reproduced on many websites, including The Seeker.

I had read the post when it was first published on Vigilant Citizen and was utterly disgusted by VC‘s grandiose know-it-all and plain irresponsibility. I wrote a comment questioning how he knows Trump is no different than Hillary, and proposed that the only way to verify his claim is precisely to  vote for Trump. If President Trump turns out indeed to be no different than Hillary, that proves VC to be right; if President Trump turns out to be different than Hillary, that proves VC to be wrong. My comment was never published. Instead of admitting he is wrong, Vigilant Citizen chose the coward’s way out by deleting his “Why the Trump vs. Clinton Election is a Complete Sham” post from his website. This is why I no longer read Vigilant Citizen.

~Eowyn

Two transgender Pakistanis ‘tortured to death’ in Saudi Arabia

transgender-pakistani

Not allowed in Islam.

Just about what you would expect when Islam demands criminal punishment of LGBT people.

From The Independent UK: Two transgender people were packed in sacks, thrashed with sticks and tortured to death, according to human rights activists. Police allegedly killed 35-year-old Amna, and Meeno, 26, both Pakistanis, after raiding a house in Saudi Arabia and arresting 35 transgender people.

Activists in Pakistan are demanding clarification from Saudi Arabia over the deaths and the 22 people reportedly still in custody. “We want information because right now this is a very confusing situation and many in the transgender community in Saudi Arabia are feeling delicate and scared,” said Qamar Naseem, a feminism and social rights activist from the Blue Veins group, speaking to The Independent.

They are not treated fairly even by criminal law in Saudi Arabia, and it’s not just people from Pakistan, it’s people from different parts of the world. Gender fluid people are treated badly, sometimes flogged, and if someone is arrested on the same law for a second time they can be executed.”

Mr. Naseem said he and TransAction Pakistan president Farzana Jan were told by a transgender contact in Saudi Arabia about the raid.

They were allegedly arrested for cross-dressing and for having same-sex relationships in the capital of Riyadh. Homosexuality is punishable by death while any sex-change surgery is illegal.

Mr. Qamar said the group were hosting a Guru Chela Chalan gathering, a Pakistani ceremony celebrated in the transgender community, in which they choose their ‘guru’ leader. Eleven were reportedly arrested after paying a 150,000 riyals fine (£33,000) while 22 were kept in custody.

He said the two victims, from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in Parkistan, were “kicked and beaten in bags”.

The Travel Agents Association of Pakistan was reportedly told last year not to grant visas to transgender people planning the Hajj or Umrah pilgrimage. Saudi Arabia last year insisted the United Nations keeps LGBT rights out of its development goals.

“Amnesty International has been unable to verify this information, but urges the Saudi Arabian authorities to comply with their duty to conduct a thorough and independent investigation into any allegation of torture and extra-judicial executions and bring those suspected of criminal responsibility, including state agents, before ordinary courts in proceedings that meet international standards of fair trial and without the recourse to the death penalty,” said an Amnesty International spokesman.

“The authorities must diligently investigate any possible discriminatory motive in these crimes, including discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression.”

The Independent has contacted the House of Saud and Pakistan’s Ministry of Human Rights for further comment.

DCG

Women cancel their accounts to protest Nordstrom dropping Ivanka brand

In response to Nordstrom ditching the Ivanka Trump brand early this month, a group of women walked into a Nordstrom in Chandler, Arizona, with handfuls of cash to settle and cancel their accounts. The women say they will now shop at Dillard’s because Dillard’s continues to sell Ivanka’s brand.

One of the women, Laurie Ray posted the video on Facebook which went viral quickly, with more than 422,000 views as of Thursday afternoon, a day later. (Daily Mail)

One woman in the video says, speaking into her phone, “I’ve been shopping at Nordstrom for 30 years. Because of your decision to drop Ivanka Trump, I will no longer shop at your store, nor will my husband or our nine children or our eight grandchildren.”

Alas, these and other women’s boycott of Nordstrom doesn’t seem to have an effect on Nordstrom’s stock performance, as seen in this graph below:

nordstrom-stock-performance

~Eowyn

United Nations says U.S. should pay reparations to blacks for slavery

Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington was right on the money (sorry for the pun).

Look under the rock of any liberal cause, you’ll find a slimy snake. The end game is always money.

As an example, a year ago, representatives of “developing nations” (Third World countries) to a UN Conference on Climate Change demanded more than $100  billion a year in “climate change” reparations.

Now, a UN panel has issued a report saying that the U.S. owes “African Americans” reparation for the history of slavery and “contemporary police killings”.

As reported by Ishaan Tharoor for the Washington Post, September 27, 2016, the UN panel is the United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, a body of human rights lawyers and law professors who  report to the international organization’s High Commissioner on Human Rights.

On Sept. 26, the group presented their findings to the UN Human Rights Council. The report says:

“In particular, the legacy of colonial history, enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the United States remains a serious challenge, as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent. Contemporary police killings and the trauma that they create are reminiscent of the past racial terror of lynching.”

Citing the past year’s spate of police officers killing unarmed black men, the panel warned against “impunity for state violence,” which has created, in its words, a “human rights crisis” that “must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

Ironically, the same UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent conducted a fact-finding mission in the United States just this year in January, and hailed the strides that have been to make the U.S. criminal justice system more equitable.

Now, however, the Working Group has changed its mind. It said in a statement:

“Despite substantial changes since the end of the enforcement of Jim Crow and the fight for civil rights, ideology ensuring the domination of one group over another, continues to negatively impact the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of African Americans today. The dangerous ideology of white supremacy inhibits social cohesion amongst the US population.”

The reparations could come in a variety of forms, according to the panel, including “a formal apology, health initiatives, educational opportunities … psychological rehabilitation, technology transfer and financial support, and debt cancellation.”

un-working-group-of-experts-on-people-of-african-descent

The members of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent are:

  1. Ricardo A. Sunga III (Chairperson, Philippines): a human rights lawyer and law professor.
  2. Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France (France): a professor at the University Paris V- Descartes in France; currently a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley in international law and conflict resolution.
  3. Sabelo Gumedze (South Africa): head and senior researcher of the Research and Development Unit of the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) of South Africa.
  4. Michal Balcerzak (Poland): professor of international human rights law at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Poland.
  5. Ahmed Reid (Jamaica): assistant professor of Caribbean History at the City University of New York

See also “Attn: Useful Idiots! There’s a website for you to pay reparations to blacks“.

~Eowyn

Someone is learning & practicing how to take down the Internet

This is serious and genuinely alarming.

Bruce Schneier is the Chief Technology Officer of Resilient, an IBM Company, a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center, and a board member of Electronic Frontier Foundation — an organization defending our rights in the digital world.

In a blog post, Schneier sounds the alarm that in the past year, the websites of major companies that provide the Internet’s basic services repeatedly have been attacked, each time more sophisticated than the last, which suggests “someone” is practicing how to take down the Internet by learning from the companies’ defensive moves.

cyberwar

Below is Bruce Schneier’s blog post of Sept. 13, 2016, “Someone is Learning How to Take Down the Internet“:

Over the past year or two, someone has been probing the defenses of the companies that run critical pieces of the Internet. These probes take the form of precisely calibrated attacks designed to determine exactly how well these companies can defend themselves, and what would be required to take them down. We don’t know who is doing this, but it feels like a large nation state. China or Russia would be my first guesses.

First, a little background. If you want to take a network off the Internet, the easiest way to do it is with a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS). Like the name says, this is an attack designed to prevent legitimate users from getting to the site. There are subtleties, but basically it means blasting so much data at the site that it’s overwhelmed. These attacks are not new: hackers do this to sites they don’t like, and criminals have done it as a method of extortion. There is an entire industry, with an arsenal of technologies, devoted to DDoS defense. But largely it’s a matter of bandwidth. If the attacker has a bigger fire hose of data than the defender has, the attacker wins.

Recently, some of the major companies that provide the basic infrastructure that makes the Internet work have seen an increase in DDoS attacks against them. Moreover, they have seen a certain profile of attacks. These attacks are significantly larger than the ones they’re used to seeing. They last longer. They’re more sophisticated. And they look like probing. One week, the attack would start at a particular level of attack and slowly ramp up before stopping. The next week, it would start at that higher point and continue. And so on, along those lines, as if the attacker were looking for the exact point of failure.

The attacks are also configured in such a way as to see what the company’s total defenses are. There are many different ways to launch a DDoS attack. The more attack vectors you employ simultaneously, the more different defenses the defender has to counter with. These companies are seeing more attacks using three or four different vectors. This means that the companies have to use everything they’ve got to defend themselves. They can’t hold anything back. They’re forced to demonstrate their defense capabilities for the attacker.

I am unable to give details, because these companies spoke with me under condition of anonymity. But this all is consistent with what Verisign is reporting. Verisign is the registrar for many popular top-level Internet domains, like .com and .net. If it goes down, there’s a global blackout of all websites and e-mail addresses in the most common top-level domains. Every quarter, Verisign publishes a DDoS trends report. While its publication doesn’t have the level of detail I heard from the companies I spoke with, the trends are the same: “in Q2 2016, attacks continued to become more frequent, persistent, and complex.”

There’s more. One company told me about a variety of probing attacks in addition to the DDoS attacks: testing the ability to manipulate Internet addresses and routes, seeing how long it takes the defenders to respond, and so on. Someone is extensively testing the core defensive capabilities of the companies that provide critical Internet services.

Who would do this? It doesn’t seem like something an activist, criminal, or researcher would do. Profiling core infrastructure is common practice in espionage and intelligence gathering. It’s not normal for companies to do that. Furthermore, the size and scale of these probes — and especially their persistence — points to state actors. It feels like a nation’s military cybercommand trying to calibrate its weaponry in the case of cyberwar. It reminds me of the US’s Cold War program of flying high-altitude planes over the Soviet Union to force their air-defense systems to turn on, to map their capabilities.

What can we do about this? Nothing, really. We don’t know where the attacks come from. The data I see suggests China, an assessment shared by the people I spoke with. On the other hand, it’s possible to disguise the country of origin for these sorts of attacks. The NSA, which has more surveillance in the Internet backbone than everyone else combined, probably has a better idea, but unless the US decides to make an international incident over this, we won’t see any attribution.

But this is happening. And people should know.

A reader of Schneier’s blog-post, Random Guy 17, wrote this interesting comment:

“An attack on a service is best done by an attacker that doesn’t need that service. You don’t pull the plug on the power company that supplies your own home/business.

With that in mind, a closed, not highly Internet enabled country makes the most sense- like China.”

Other commenters warn that it may be the U.S. government, e.g., the NSA, doing the attacks — to find the Internet’s weaknesses (in order to better defend it), or more malevolently, as bargaining chip for more money allocated to cyber-security.

It doesn’t help that in two weeks, on October 1, control of the Internet — specifically, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) — will pass from U.S. administration to a multilateral body, most likely the United Nations International Telecommunications Union (ITU). (Breitbart)

H/t ZeroHedge and FOTM’s Will Shanley

UPDATE (Sept. 20, 2016):

Rhett Jones reports for Gizmodo, Sept. 11, 2016, that two 18-year-old Israelis — Itay Huri and Yarden Bidani —  have been arrested “in connection with an FBI investigation into vDOS, a cyberattack service that has been credited with perpetrating ‘a majority’ of the DDoS attacks over the last few years.

The following evidence pointed to the Huri and Bidani as the perpetrators:

  1.  Their vDOS service refused to attack Israeli sites in their “home country”.
  2. vDOS was hosted on a server that was traced back to Huri.
  3. SMS notifications pointed to both men.
  4. Huri and Bidani had co-authored a technical paper about DDoS attacks that was published in Israeli security magazine Digitals Whispers.

According to security blogger Brian Krebs, the vDOS site has reportedly raked in $618,000 (£465,835) for its services in two years.

According to Israeli news site The Marker, both men were arrested, then released on $10,000 bonds and placed under house arrest. Their passports have been taken away and they are forbidden from accessing the internet or any other telecommunications equipment for 30 days. It’s unclear if the two men will be extradited to the U.S and formally charged.

It is also unclear if Huri and Bidani are the perpetrators of the increasingly sophisticated DDoS attacks addressed in this post.

H/t FOTM‘s TPR.

~Eowyn