|The Passing of Nelson Mandela|
|Friday, December 6, 2013|
With the death of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela the world has lost the last legendary figure of an epic age.
In remembering his life and times, it is important to recall clearly the circumstances that propelled him to greatness and note his global significance in a period of history's deepest depravities.
On 22 June 1990, newly freed from 27 years of imprisonment, Mandela himself noted the circumstances in his first speech at the United Nations.
“It will forever remain an indelible blight on human history that the apartheid crime ever occurred,” he said from the podium of the General Assembly.
“Future generations will surely ask: What error was made that this system established itself in the wake of the adoption of a Universal Declaration of Human Rights
? It will forever remain an accusation and a challenge to all men and women of conscience that it took as long as it has before all of us stood up to say: ‘Enough is enough.’ Future generations will surely enquire: What error was made that this system established itself in the aftermath of the trials at Nuremburg?
A “racist tyranny” had established itself in South Africa precisely at the time international human rights and values were being articulated. It had “claimed its own conclave of victims … established its own brutal worth by the number of children it has killed and the orphans, the widows, and widowers it can claim.”
He reminded the audience that even as he spoke the system “still it lives on,” with “strange and monstrous debates” continuing “about the means that its victims are obliged to use to rid themselves of this intolerable scourge.” Those “who choose not to act” continued to argue “that to do nothing must be accepted as the very essence of civilized opposition to tyranny.”
It was more than casuistry that he faced.
There are “many amongst our white compatriots … still committed to the maintenance of the evil system of white minority domination,” Mandela said. “Some are opposed because of their ideological adherence to racism. Others are resisting because they fear democratic majority rule. Some of these are armed and are to be found within the army and the police.” Outside the state agencies were other whites “working at a feverish race to establish para-military groups whose stated aim is the physical liquidation of the ANC, its leadership and membership ... We cannot afford to underestimate the threat that these defenders of a brutal and continuing reality pose to the whole process of working towards a just political settlement.”
Most people have now forgotten that brutal racist incidents did punctuate the talks between Mandela and the head of the racist regime F.W. de Klerk. Negotiations were suspended after 41 ANC members and their families were massacred at Baipatalong in June 1994, and it took great leadership for Mandela to resume them when feelings were again at fever pitch in the wake of another mass killing at Bishu in September.
Powering that leadership was a steely determination not to let the racists destroy the vision of a multiracial South Africa that he spoke of from the dock at his April 1964 trial for sabotage.
Explaining that he had turned to violence only after the regime had banned the African National Congress
(ANC) in the wake of the March 1960 Sharpeville Massacre
, Mandela said that it would have been abject surrender to do anything else. “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to the struggle of the African people,” he concluded. “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."
Mandela’s unique greatness lay in how he brought that ideal to life.
No one else could have engaged South Africa's morally odious White leadership in civil and amiable discourse while directing his Black compatriots not to harp on the past, to forgo recrimination and to look to the future.
It is entirely due to him that apartheid
did not collapse in a welter of blood and leave South Africans trapped in a civil war such as the one now involving India and Pakistan.
In a world all too used to the destruction of peoples at the hands of leaders without vision, Mandela’s infallible sense of proportion, equanimity and steady good will evoked universal wonder. How could a man unjustly deprived of freedom, family and every normal comfort for so long, his sight ruined by the stone quarry glare of Robbens Island prison and his sturdy strength reduced to quivering infirmities, be so without bitterness? How could he be so rich in dignity despite every effort to degrade his person?
The lessons Mandela set for his country, continent and the world were not just in opposing a system of gross injustice but in pursuing, achieving and relinquishing political power. He held and left the highest office of his land with the same effortless grace that had characterized him in misfortune and in his long walk to freedom.
At all times he had an innate granite integrity, and it could be said of him as it was of Mahatma Gandhi at his death: this was a man to hold against the world, a man to match the mountains and the sea.
See also Remembering Mandela
|Britain & Hinduism 10: Soul Science|
|Tuesday, November 19, 2013|
“The worlds to which a man goes by sacrificing barren cows are surely without blessings,” says the teenager at the sacrifice his father is conducting to win heavenly fortune.
Shamed and angered, the father commits all he has to the sacrifice.
The boy thinks himself included in that offering, and asks, “Dear Father, to whom are you giving me?”
Three times, he asks, until his enraged father bursts out, “I give you to Yama!”
Yama is not at home when the boy arrives in the underworld, and for three days he waits in the house of Death without the least hospitality, not even water.
When Yama returns, he apologizes for that treatment and offers a boon to compensate for each day of waiting.
The boy asks, first, that his father be no longer angry with him.
Then he asks to be taught the Fire Sacrifice that transports one to heaven where there is no fear of death.
For the third, he wants to know what happens to a person after death.
Yama grants the first two wishes but is reluctant with the third. “On this point even the gods are in doubt,” he says; “it is not easy to understand. That subject is subtle. Choose another boon!”
The boy insists. “Surely no other boon is like this, with you as the teacher on a matter the gods themselves doubt!”
“Choose sons and grandsons who live a hundred years, herds of cattle, elephants, gold, and horses,” pleads Death. “Live yourself as many harvests as you want. Be king of the wide earth, enjoy all you desire, fair maidens, chariots, music, anything ... but do not ask me about dying.”
The boy remains adamant. “All these things last till tomorrow, O Death, for they wear out the vigor of all the senses. Life is short. Keep thou thy horses, keep dance and song for thyself. No man can be made happy by wealth. What shall we possess when we see thee? Shall we live, as long as you rule? What mortal, slowly decaying here below would delight in a long life, after pondering the pleasures from beauty and love? O Death, I do not choose another boon but that which enters into the hidden world.”
Thus begins the Katha Upanishad (with some tweaking on my part to clarify the initial the father-son interaction.)
The story of Naciketas, the boy who pried out Death's secret, has gripped the Indian imagination for many millenniums; it continues with Yama acceding to the third boon.
He begins by praising Naciketas for so firmly rejecting all objects of desire.
The paths of knowledge and desire begin in the same human heart but diverge enormously, he says.
Those who pursue their desires have no escape from the endless cycle of births and deaths.
“The path to truth is as difficult to cross as a razor’s edge, but one who travels it discovers the Self within, the Soul that never dies.”
When death takes the body, the magical Self lives on, "smaller than small, greater than great, hidden in the heart of every creature." Those aware of it can sit still yet travel far, be lying down but go everywhere. "Knowing the Self to be bodiless within bodies, changeless amidst transformations, great and omnipresent,” they do not grieve at death
“Knowledge of the Self cannot be gained from the Veda, nor by understanding, nor by much learning; it comes only to to those who have turned away from wickedness, possess a tranquil mind, and are chosen by the Universal Self.”
The solemn reality Yama unfolds is the polar opposite of the mechanistic world of Science. It is a Universe imbued with divine will and moral purpose, actively supportive of the powers of regeneration, growth and good.
During the colonial era Europeans came to look down on that Indian sense of reality as irrational, other-worldly and superstitious. Many still do, for they have not adjusted to two sets of scientific advances in the 20th Century that quietly validated the greater part of the Hindu perspective.
If we take those advances into account the immortal soul and its governing concept of karma become entirely rational and undeniable.
The Two Advances
The first scientific advance began with the laboratory observation that light exists simultaneously as both wave and particle. It led to the conclusion that energy and matter meld into each other at the sub-atomic level and, more surprisingly, that neither can be destroyed: they can only be turned into each other. (Hence Einstein's E=MC2.)
The second advance led to the discovery of the genetic code, the blueprint imprinted on the nucleus of the first cell at the moment of conception that determines the mature person in physical detail and potential.
Put these discoveries in the same frame and we can define the soul as an indestructible piece of unique code that determines identity.
When a person dies, his or her material body deteriorates, but the indestructible energy version of the code – the soul – floats free.
Just as a radio wave carrying the human voice can reproduce it at an antenna tuned to the right frequency, so the “soul wave” carries the imprint of the whole being to a new body at the moment of conception.
Scientists have not focused on any of this as yet. When they do, it is only a matter of time before they find out the logistics for the transmission of the soul; and once that happens, it will clarify how karma works.
We can surmise that Karma has the same role as radio frequency in determining which new body will be able to receive a particular incoming soul. It makes a moral match between the new and old life form.
It will not be easy to adjust to the idea of one’s immortal soul as a scientific fact rather than a religious concept. For one thing, it will extend each thinking person's time-horizon far beyond his/her individual life, shriveling many petty considerations that might now loom large. On the other hand, people will be forced to take themselves very seriously indeed when considering the ever present choice: to ascend morally, enjoy the ride down, or coast and be at the mercy of others.
If most people determine to be actively good, it will transform society.
Consider the impact if large numbers of Indians begin spontaneously to take care of problems around them.
This is what Gandhi meant when he said “Be the change,” and it offers the only sure and swift way out of the current Kali Yuga.
We are at a critical juncture in our national and global development, and the positive engagement of ordinary people will be decisive in shaping the future.
That will be the focus of Part 11.
Read Part 1
, Part 2
, Part 3
, Part 4
, Part 5
, Part 6
, Part 7
, Part 8
, Part 9
|Create a Commonwealth Truth Commission!|
|Thursday, November 14, 2013|
As host and incoming chair of the Commonwealth summit Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse should establish a Commonwealth Truth Commission to build on the British bid to focus attention on the bloody end of the Tamil Tigers.
It should be empowered to look at the post colonial experience of deadly insurrection in every one of Britain's former colonies.
Most African and Asian members have experienced such subversion and should welcome the initiative; and London can hardly object after doing so much to draw international attention to the atrocities that occurred in Sri Lanka.
Of course, an impartial investigation would reveal much more than one of London's low-budget propaganda films; in the case of the Tamil Tigers, it would be impossible to hide Britain’s sinister role from the beginning to end.
Anton Balasingham, who became the power behind Tamil Tigers supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran, was an employee of the British High Commission in Colombo, and for three decades he was the key figure in everything the organization did.
First in Sri Lanka and then from London, Balasingham was billed as the Tigers’ “ideologue;” but clearly, he was in control of much more. With his Australian wife (who headed the feared Women’s Wing of the Tigers), he traveled the world on a British passport and took care of business while Prabhakaran served as the taciturn bogeyman in his jungle hideouts.
In 1999, when the Sri Lankan military first took the Tiger stronghold of Jaffna, Balasingham and wife relocated to London despite strenuous objections from Colombo. He died there in 2006 of cancer, and the obituary in The Times noted his importance:
“His influence over Prabhakaran was embarrassingly obvious at a packed press conference in Sri Lanka during the 2002 peace process.” Balasingham “was doubtless responsible for the image makeover of the Tigers leader. Eschewing his customary military fatigues and sidearm Prabhakaran attended the press conference in a safari suit and had even shaved off his moustache. After almost every question he would lean towards Balasingham to be primed with the reply, and for the most part Balasingham would do the replying for him. Which led one commentator to ask: So who is the real leader of the Tamil Tigers?”
Without Balasingham to guide MI 6 controllers, the Tiger command structure soon fell apart, and with the Sri Lankan government passing into the hands of the most ruthless of the island’s political groupings, the bloody end was predictable.
However, in acknowledging the lack of mercy on the government side, we must also recognize that there was no bloodthirsty “crime against humanity” decision to slaughter civilians at the end. According to Indian and Sri Lankan reporters, as well as NGO representatives in the area, the Tigers entered the agreed upon fire-free zones and used civilians as living shields.
The grim video footage the British have propagandized to tar the Sri Lankan government shows what followed. It is heart-rending and terrible, but the responsibility for what happened cannot be narrowly located. London is as covered in blood as anyone else, and perhaps more so because of its longstanding support for a terrorist organization.
As a reporter at the UN, I used to get a first hand account of the unbending attitudes in the British capital from Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, a Tamil who paid with his life for trying to make peace. Marksmen staked out a building under construction overlooking his villa in Colombo and shot the 71-year old statesman as he was doing laps in his swimming pool.
If President Rajapakse facilitates the creation of a Commonwealth Truth Commission to study Britain's murderously exploitative role in its former colonies, he will go down in history as a key figure in the transition out of the colonial era.
The relevance of his ideas to a world in crisis
|A century after Mahatma Gandhi wrote his seminal work Hind Swaraj, we make the case that his ideas and concepts offer the only means of escaping the disasters that are shaping up as industrial civilization careens towards its terminal crises. The following is the first chapter in a book exploring how to revive Gandhi's political legacy.
On 13 November 1909, a few weeks after his 40th birthday Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi boarded the S.S. Kildonan Castle to return to South Africa from Britain. He had been in London for more than four months, lobbying parliament entirely without success to protect the rights of Indians as it authorized a blatantly White supremacist constitution for the new Union of South Africa... Read More
Britain and the Opposition to Gandhi's Legacy
Mahatma Gandhi was one of a hundred Heroes and Icons TIME magazine celebrated in a special issue marking the end of the 20th century. An article by India-born British novelist Salman Rushdie explained his place in history. Rushdie began his piece with a riff on the Apple Corporation’s “Think Different” advertising campaign. “A thin Indian man with not much hair sits alone on a bare floor, wearing nothing but a loincloth and a pair of cheap spectacles, studying the clutch of handwritten notes in his hand. The black-and-white photograph takes up a full page in the newspaper. In the top left-hand corner of the page, in full colour, is a small rainbow-striped apple. Below this, there's a slangily American injunction to Think Different. Once, a half-century ago, this bony man shaped a nation's struggle for freedom. But that, as they say, is history. Now Gandhi is modeling for Apple.” Gandhi today is “up for grabs” Rushdie declared. “He has become abstract, ahistorical, postmodern, no longer a man in and of his time but a freeloading concept, a part of the available stock of cultural symbols, an image that can be borrowed, used, distorted, reinvented to fit many different purposes, and to the devil with historicity or truth.“ As if to validate that last phrase he then served up the following reprise of colonial era British propaganda: Read More
|Sidelight to History: Mother Theresa
Mother Theresa's Letter
click to enlarge
As a young reporter in Calcutta I was assigned to write about Mother Theresa and spent several days following her around the city, from early morning prayers at the Mother House on Lower Circular Road, to Nirmal Hriday, the house for the dying destitute she ran in one corner of Kalighat Temple, to the home for unwed mothers and abandoned children, to the rural refuge for lepers. It was the first time I really looked at the plight of the poor of Calcutta, and it left me shaken – and vastly impressed with the work she was doing. (There was already talk about her performing miracles but when I asked about them she waved the question away and directed my attention elsewhere.)
|A few years later I was working for the United Nations, and had the bright idea of inviting Mother to speak at the UN at the first observance of International Women’s Day (7 March). She declined the invitation, saying in a handwritten note torn from a notebook that she would be a “misfit” at the UN. Without thinking, I showed the note to a colleague from the secretariat, a priest who had been seconded by the Vatican to help with the first World Population conference (Bucharest 1972); it was only when he asked if he could make a copy that I began to consider the consequences.
In the years that followed Mother attended a number of events at the UN, and each time I saw her it was with regret; she had been entirely right in wanting to avoid the place. Her simplicity did not fit. It made people uncomfortable. No one seemed to know what to say to her. She herself was strained, and each time hurried away as soon after speaking as she was able to do without giving offense. Needless to say, she was a huge irritant to those espousing birth control as essential to development.
|Inside the United Nations
Some items below are from previous years but they continue to be relevant to current realities.
China Human Rights: An expert UN human rights panel has called on the government of China to release Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo from prison immediately. One of the authors of Charter 08, a manifesto calling for fundamental rights for the people of China, Liu was convicted of “subversion” at a two hour trial in 2009 during which he got to speak for 14 minutes; he was given a 11-year prison sentence. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention also called for the release of Liu’s wife from house arrest; she was confined for speaking to Western reporters about the condition of her husband in prison. The panel said in a written opinion sent to the authorities in Beijing that Liu’s criminal trial and imprisonment violated norms set by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 5-member body also called for reparations for the 55-year old Liu who earlier spent two years in prison for his role in the June 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations. The award of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Liu infuriated the Chinese government, which blanked out news of the honour from its mass media and suspended trade talks with Norway, where the presentation was made. Liu was unable to attend the presentation ceremony, during which an unoccupied chair on stage stood mute witness of his repression. In a rebuke to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the UN panel asked him to support the call for Mr. Liu’s release. Fearing to offend China, Mr. Ban has maintained a total silence on the issue (see below).
The Drug Scene 2012: With an estimated 154,000 hectares growing poppy in 2012, Afghanistan remained by far the largest source of opiates worldwide. Despite the 18 per cent increase over the 2011 poppy acreage, opium production fell 36 per cent to 3,700 tons because of a crop disease and adverse weather conditions. Meanwhile, South-East Asia, mainly Laos and Myanmar, had over 58,000 hectares growing poppy.
Bolivia, Colombia and Peru had about 155,600 hectares growing coca in 2011 and cocaine production is uncertainly estimated at between 776 and 1,051 tons.
Cannabis, the world’s most widely used illicit substance, is not widely trafficked internationally because local production meets most demand. However, production of cannabis resin is concentrated in Morocco and Afghanistan, and it is widely trafficked.
The figures relating to “illict drugs” are all extremely slippery estimates by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), based on a wide variety of “lies, damn lies and statistics.” The latest version can be found in the freely downloadable UN document A/68/126
At present some 16.5 million people use opiates worldwide; about 13 million are heroin addicts, putting away 375 tons of it every year. Europe accounts for 150 tons of heroin consumption.
Security Council: The main UN organ responsible for maintaining international peace and security continues its ineffective course in 2013, so I leave unaltered below a 2011 comment which is as valid in 2013 as when it was written.
The SC has admitted its own craven ineffectiveness by deciding to expand the "name and shame" list of groups using child soldiers. Since receiving the first formal report on this situation in 1999, the Council has done little more than hyperventilate periodically on the matter. Its primary "action" has been the "name and shame" list. Those who abduct, abuse and brutalize children in order to use them as killers and sex slaves are supposed to be "shamed" by having their groups named in a UN document. While the Council has been thus occupied, an estimated 2 million children have been killed in armed conflicts and 6 million left disabled. Around 300,000 children now serve as soldiers. Little girls fare the worst. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, told the Council last month that "sexual violence is becoming systemic and across the world, classrooms and the kids sitting in them are increasingly seen as legitimate targets."
UN Reform: Efforts to improve the performance of the United Nations were briefly energized after the Obama administration signalled its intention to seriously engage in multilateral diplomacy, but they are now back to normal. That is to say they are like a Noh drama. The action is glue-like, the plot incomprehensible, and the whole thing of interest only to afficianados. There is need for a radical change of focus and approach, but UN member States are so reluctant to give up the devil they know that it is impossible to entertain the slightest hope of real change. (For what is necessary to bring about real UN reform see our Discussion Paper; this is a topic on which we need to get a global conversation going.)
Signs of a New Era: Developing countries in 2012 accounted for nearly half of world gross domestic product (GDP); by 2020, just three of them, Brazil, China and India, are projected to have more of the world output than Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the United States of America combined.
By 2025, the South is likely to have 600 million people with household incomes over $20,000 and an overall annual consumption of $30 trillion. All regions of the South are growing and they have done so during the most severe recession in the North since the Great Depression.
High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development: At the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable development in June 2012 member States agreed to replace the ineffective Commission on Sustainable Development with a 30-member High Level Forum. Consultations since then have led to the Forum being thrown open to participation by all States, including the Holy See and Palestine. Its first meeting was on 24 September 2013. Unesco will convene an expert scientific body to support the work of the Forum, which will meet at the summit level every four years under the aegis of the General Assembly and at the ministerial level annually at the level of ECOSOC. (This straddling of deliberative and policy review functions could have got things moving with a well-chosen and focused membership; with all "stakeholders" dipping their oars into the process, it is unlikely to result in anything meaningful.) Delegates at the Rio+20 Conference thought they were creating a purposeful high-level body that would straddle the deliberative and policy review functions of the General Assembly and ECOSOC; the way things are going, the HLPF seems to be going the way of the body it replaced, towards endless ineffective talk.
Sustainable Development Board: Note one more step in the continuing saga of the UN’s ineffectual efforts to deal with global environmental problems: the President of the General Assembly has just communicated to member States the membership of the governing Board of the projected “10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns.” Each Regional Group in the Assembly nominated two members to serve for two years; where they have named two States to a single slot, each will have a one-year term. The following States will serve on
the Board: Tanzania; South Africa; Japan/Republic of Korea; Bangladesh/Indonesia; Romania; Russian Federation; Chile; Mexico; Finland/Germany; Switzerland.
It is anyone’s guess how a membership so unrepresentative of the world’s economic realities can be effective in helping to reorder global consumption and production patterns.
|Books, Reports & Stuff
The following information is taken from reports before the 2013 session of the United Nations General Assembly
6.6 Million Child Deaths a Year: Unicef reports that an estimated 6.6 million children under the age of 5 died last year. Nigeria, Congo, India, Pakistan and China account for more than half those deaths. The top killers are malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea, all preventable and treatable. Malnutrition is a factor in half of under-5 deaths. The only bit of good news in the report is that the rate of childhood deaths has been halved since 1990; West and Central Africa are the only regions that have not done so.
Post-2015 Development Goals: In one of the most dishonest reports I have seen in four decades of covering the United Nations, UNDP sets out what it says are the results of "consultations" with over a million people globally on what international development goals should be after 2015. (The Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000 are set for renewal in 2015.) According to UNDP, the world’s people want the following (in order of priority): “A good education. Better healthcare. An honest and responsive government. Better job opportunities. Access to clean water and sanitation. Affordable and nutritious food. Protection against crime and violence... It goes on for 159 colorful pages. There is not a mention of real world problems that developing countries have repeatedly declared to be high priorities. For instance, African countries called specifically in 2012 for an end to what the UN diplomatically calls “reverse transfer of resources.” That refers to the thievery that moves money from poor countries to rich ones. Over the last decade, 33 sub-Saharan countries had over $1 trillion stolen from their economies and transferred to offshore banks, which channel them to the wealthy of the world.
Women in Politics: While the status of women in politics has improved somewhat over the past three decades, they remain marginalized in political decision-making in every region of the world. Few Member States achieved the target agreed upon by member States in 1990 to have 30 per cent women in decision-making positions by 1995. Only 35 national parliaments have 30 per cent or more women as at June 2013. Details here.
World Food Situation: A joint report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome and the Brussels-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) warns of a 30 per cent increase in food prices -- by 2021. The causes? Slower growth in major food crops and continued growth of world population, expected to reach 9.2 billion by 2050. (Note the use of different time horizons.) The report wants action against speculators, and "strict rules" to govern factors that "distort" world food trade. The next meeting of the G-20 is expected to take those matters in hand and bring "regulation" to the world food market. No mention of the fact that the existing "global market" for food is a highly energy-intensive and wasteful system driven by corporate profits. Corporate farming of mega tracts is environmentally destructive and always less productive than family run farms. The treatment of animals subjected to "factory farming" is cruel beyond belief and also environmentally disastrous because so much consumption and waste are concentrated in such small areas. The report ignores the obvious: that if we cut out the big corporations the "world food economy" would quickly resolve into much more productive and "green" local, national and regional food economies. They would employ millions more workers and could easily feed the projected world population and more. Especially if we reduce the wastage that now accounts for one-third of the world's agricultural production. Decreasing that percentage should take care of inflation.
Illiteracy: The World Literacy Decade the General Assembly declared in 2003 ended on 31 December 2012. In a period that saw a 40 per cent increase in world population, the number of illiterate young people declined from 168 million in 1990 to 123 million in 2011. The number of those who remained illiterate above the age of 15 fell from 881 million in 1990 to 774 million in 2011.
UN Secretary General
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (the last name is Ban), was given a second 5-year term on 21 June 2011. It began on 1 January 2012.There were no other contestants for the post.
Ban's reappointment is not seen anywhere as a reward for good performance. He has been a general embarassment in the post, dragging the Organization into near total irrelevance with his hamhanded diplomatic incompetence. For a sampling of his feats check out our blog at undiplomatictimes.blogspot.com. Ban's first term is also described under the SG section (link below)
The uncontested reappointment was widely seen as recognition that the currenly rancorous relations among the five permanent members of the Security Council (Britain, China, France, Russia, United States), will preclude agreement on anyone new. Ban is the special favourite of China because he has said not a word about the 2010 Nobel laureate languishing in a Chinese prison.
In New York, the media gave the reappointment minimal coverage. The New York Times gave it three lines; The Wall Street Journal noted it at the bottom of its column of snippets on page one. Ban himself celebrated the event with a 7 minute UN video set to rock music. It shows him talking, walking, shaking hands with celebrities, hugging a baby ... .
Former Secretary Generals