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Neo-Soviet chess: Ukraine checked in drama starring Russian aggressors as victims

Armed Moscow supporters take over police station in the eastern Ukraine town of Slovyansk on April 12.  /Efrem Lukatsky/AP

UNITED NATIONS — The fate of Ukraine, one of Eastern Europe’s largest countries, hangs in the balance. On the one hand, ”spontaneous” political demonstrations and government building seizures by pro-Russian separatists, are bringing an air of deliberately planned disorder to the country’s eastern regions bordering Russia. On the other, rhetorical posturing by the United States [...]

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Syria hell: Fear and famine stalk a war-ravaged land

Hell: Food lines in February in Damascus await assistance by the UN’s Relief and Works Agency.   Daily Telegraph

UNITED NATIONS — Syria’s harrowing civil war has taken a new turn as the beleaguered Mid East country now faces a deepening drought and food crisis in the midst of an expanding conflict. UN relief agencies warn that the drought may cut food production thus adding to the country’s woes. With over nine million Syrian [...]

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New York’s World’s Fair remembered, 50 years later

New York’s World Fair in 1964.

John J. Metzler NEW YORK — Fifty years ago, the World’s Fair opened in New York. The Fair, a grand expo of technology, commerce, and cultures, was held in at a time when America’s fortunes were riding high in the post-war era. Now every time I pass the great Unisphere Globe, build by U.S. Steel [...]

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100 countries at UN rebuff Russia on Crimea; See below who backed Moscow

A monitor displayed the vote in the General Assembly on March 27. [CLICK ON IMAGE TO ZOOM] / NPR

John J. Metzler UNITED NATIONS — In a resounding rebuff to Russia, the UN General Assembly has reaffirmed Ukraine’s territorial integrity and has characterized the recent referendum which incorporated the Crimean peninsula into Russia as “invalid.” While President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty joining Crimea with Russia, the Kiev government has committed itself never to [...]

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Afghan countdown: As April elections near, only Karzai opposes U.S. security agreement

UN special envoy for Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš at the UN Security Council on March 17.

John J. Metzler UNITED NATIONS — The clock is ticking and the calendar counting down for Afghanistan as the embattled South Asian country heads for presidential elections in April and the pullout of foreign security forces by the end of the year. A credible electoral process would go a long way in paving a peaceful [...]

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Recalling Reagan’s scorned warnings against dangers of dependency on Russian energy

Pipeline passing through Ukrainian territory.  /Vincent Mundy/Bloomberg

John J. Metzler UNITED NATIONS — A deteriorating and dangerous diplomatic showdown continues over Ukraine as the United States and European Union rhetorically push back against Vladimir Putin’s power grab in the Crimea. In an emergency Security Council meeting, Ukraine’s embattled Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk made an impassioned plea for his country’s sovereign right “to [...]

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Putin’s Ukraine ‘reset’ gives Obama pointers on executing a foreign policy

Russian troops near the Ukrainian navy ship Slavutich in Sevastopol on March 5.  /Getty

John J. Metzler UNITED NATIONS — Less than a week after the spectacular closing ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics, Russian President Vladimir Putin decided for an encore and invaded the sovereignty of neighboring Ukraine. The chill winds of the Cold War have returned to Europe and the halls of diplomacy. Taking advantage of Ukraine’s [...]

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Syrian hell: Even Russia, China agree to ‘unhindered’ humanitarian aid

Syrian refugees at the Atmeh refugee camp, in northern Syria in April 2013. /VOA/AP

John J. Metzler UNITED NATIONS — Amid the continuing carnage from Syria’s civil war, there are small, if hard won, humanitarian victories which bring a tiny glimmer of hope to the battered and bleeding Mid East nation. Surprisingly, the UN Security Council unanimously agreed to a resolution which allows “unhindered humanitarian access” to cities, towns, [...]

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Now we know: UN report pulls back a communist regime’s shroud of shame

nkhell-300x217

John J. Metzler UNITED NATIONS — “How can we claim we didn’t know,” governments and media may soon be asking themselves as stunning new evidence of suffering and widespread human rights violations become glaringly obvious in communist North Korea? But now in a devastating and detailed indictment, the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council has stated [...]

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2013: A bad year for the free press and dangerous for working journalists

President Obama at a White House press briefing.  /AP

John J. Metzler UNITED NATIONS — Yes, the widening attacks on the press, and arrests and intimidation of journalists were disturbing and among the barriers to the free flow of information worldwide in 2013. But beyond the usual lists of suspects blocking and censoring news and the Internet, there’s a definite and deadly spike in [...]

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