SEPTEMBER 15 2018

ULTIMATE SACRIFICE:

"Sergio and Nadia lived lives of sacrifice and substance. Their death shames and mocks the armchair warriors, the television show 'Mud Wrestlers', and the simplifiers. And their lives are a reminder that it is just possible to do some small good in this sorry, blood-drenched world."
Steve Erlanger in the New York Times August 24, 2003.

HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF:

Beginning September, Michelle Bachelet, will take over as U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, succeeding Prince Zeid Ra'ad. A survivor of torture under the military rule of Chile, Ms. Bachelet earned her way to become president of her own country and serving as a first leader of "U.N. Women" team which she politely quit in frustration when she discovered obvious limitations. She takes over at a significant time as the Declaration of Human Rights will be ceremonially celebrated at Palais de Chaillot, where the Declaration was first made in December 10, 1948. French President Macron and UNESCO Director General, Ms. Audrey Azoulay will be co-hosting an international event. Someone with the status of Ms. Bachelet will make a difference in UN presence, particularly of course, if the Secretary-General Guterres would also plan to attend.

ELEPHANT DAY:

World Elephant Day was on August 12. Those who would not know, will certainly celebrate it in their own way as they approach the elephant in the room.

TWIST:

"Let's twist again as we did last summer." - Elvis Presley

SEPTEMBER SONG:

Oh, it's a long, long while from May to December
But the days grow short when you reach September
And the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
And I haven't got time for the waiting game
And the days dwindle down to a precious few
September, November
And these few precious days, I'll spend with you
These precious days, I'll spend with you
And the days dwindle down to a precious few
September, November
And these few precious days, I'll spend with you
These precious days, I'll spend with you.

UNIFIL COMMAND:

Problems for UNIFIL in South Lebanon are not limited to a drastic cut down in its budget, like other operations. The outgoing commander, Irish General Barry, has antagonized Lebanese authorities to the point that parliament speaker, Nabih Berri, who is from South Lebanon, indeed from the Headquarters of the Irish battalion in Tibnin, refused to receive General Barry (similarity in name coincidental) while he was making farewell calls. A new commander from Italy, Stefano Del Col, just took over and will be attempting to arrange for smoother relations despite recent additions to the Security Council resolution on UNIFIL renewal.

"YA RAYEH":

That song of nostalgic migration is known to every North African, it was played regularly in every resort from Marrakech to Tangier. "Traveler why are you leaving, when you will long for us all the time?" It was by Rachid Taha, an Algerian singer, born in Oran who came to France as a ten-year-old and then established a group entitled "Carte Sejur" meaning residence permit. Another famous song in Algerian lingo, was "Hasboohom" urging people to take corrupt politicians to task. He was part of a group of Algerian "Raï" singers like Cheb Khaled and Cheb Mami, who together gave a memorable concert to present their genre in a Monte Carlo festival.

THREE-FOUR:

A British musician invited the public to listen to his latest work of art, entitled "Three-Four". He stood at the podium, for three minutes and four seconds, in total silence, then thanked his public for listening to his latest work of art.

SHAKIRA'S CEDARS:

Columbian-Lebanese artist, Shakira Mebarak, visited her ancestors' room to plant a cedars tree in the forest of the Northern Lebanese town of Taurine in her name. It was reported in a welcoming Lebanese media that her grandfather "Thanyos Chadid Harb" immigrated to Columbia at the turn of the last century. She stayed at the home of her cousin, Maya Mebarak.

UYGUR:

A rarely mentioned group of Islamist fighters in Syria, belong to the Uygur minority in China. Reports about China's involvement in Northern Syria, indicated an interest in sharing reconstruction projects, which may be likely, yet one direct interest by Beijing government is a rarely mentioned presence of the Uygur group, fighting with other Islamists in Idlib. Who else remains?

MAALOULA:

The town of Maaloula, built in rocky mountains, close to Damascus, since the days of St. Paul was destroyed by ISIS fighters during one of their surges, and is gradually being restored. Historic relics, including its ancient church, is regaining its bells which had been destroyed. Syria's rich identity has been a fusion of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, into one cohesive society, which is reflected in the collective interest in reviving Maaloula.

OIL OIL OIL :

Competition between the governments of Italy and France to propose solutions for the crisis in Libya are actually delaying a consensus rather than helping it. Both governments apparently are competing for oil exploration of various areas, in Tripoli, Fezzan, and Benghazi regions. It's not just the governments that are competing, but also companies like Total and Ene.

NO FREE LUNCH:

Apparently there is a free lunch offered by certain member states. Just before the opening of the assembly, staff lined up outside the Vienna Café basement, to enjoy food offered by certain member states like Finland. By now, host food is subject to staff taste, some prefer a regular sandwich from the counter, others waiting patiently in line. As the general debate starts, there was no more free lunch.

CHATEAU 49:

A favorite hangout for UN Staff in the neighborhood closed earlier in the summer. It reopened as Chateau 49. There are no more tables on the street outside but has more open space on the avenue. The vibrant Matisse receptionist is back as one of the co-owners, making every effort to welcome old customers and make new ones. Incidentally, another French restaurant on Second Avenue, Mangeoire, opened since 1957, also popular with Francophone staff, has just closed down.

TIMES TALKS:

For fifty dollars, you can watch three TV announcers exchanging compliments and a New York Times reporter repeatedly referring to his presumed column. Bret Baier of Fox News, Andrea Mitchell of CNBC, and Norah O'Donnell of CBS, appeared with Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times on stage, under the title of "One Nation, Divisible by Media." The topic was hardly discussed. The reference to President Trump's Twitter comments notwithstanding, Bret Baier explained his own program, Nora O'Donnell received some applause stressing that the public was interested more in news than egos. Andrea Mitchell was constantly looking at her watch, indicating the need to leave to catch a train. Let's hope other Time Talks have more substance.

PRAYER SERVICE:

A traditional prayer service on the vigil of the Opening of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly was in the Church of the Holy Family. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, President of the new session of the General Assembly, made statements and prayer convocations were made in Russian, French, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish. Reverend Gerald E. Murray, a pastor from the Church of the Holy Family, welcomed the audience who joined in a choral response of "Da Pacem, Domine, in diebus nostris" which means "Give peace, O Lord, in our time."