UN Condemns Destruction of World Heritage Sites as ‘War Crimes’

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By Jaya Ramachandran | IDN-InDepthNews Feature

Ancient City of Bosra, Syrian, World Heritage site. Photo: ©UNESCO/Véronique Dauge

PARIS (IDN) - With extremist assaults continuing unabated on striking symbols of Syria’s cultural diversity, the United Nations has condemned archaeological devastation of yet another major World Heritage site. Earlier, in October, it had declared such acts as “war crimes” and assured that those responsible “would be tried and punished”.

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Doha Can Survive A Severe Blow If Developing Nations Unite

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By Chakravarthi Raghavan | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis


GENEVA (IDN | TWN) - When the WTO's Nairobi Ministerial Conference (MC10) ended on December 19, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo and Kenya Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed were beaming that they had pulled off a coup of sorts in a successful Conference, with a Declaration and decisions – with the U.S. and the EU, acclaiming both of them.

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The Fuel Economy of Santa’s Sleigh

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By Michael McDonald* | IDN-InDepthNews Feature

LONDON (IDN) - Every year around the world, hundreds of millions of children wait anxiously for Santa Claus to arrive and bring presents and good cheer. But what if Santa never came? What if this year the reindeer all fall ill, perhaps due to Crazy Reindeer disease (the analog to Mad Cow) and Santa is forced to cancel Christmas? The result would be devastating.

Fortunately, for any children reading, official word from the North Pole is that Santa’s sleigh has some new upgrades this year that allow it to run on good old fashioned jet fuel if the reindeer fail. And with the current glut of oil around the world, fuel prices are so affordable that even if the reindeer are feeling up to their usual task, Old Saint Nick might just give them the night off and choose to fly with fuel nonetheless.

So how much oil does Santa need for his rounds on the night of the 24th?

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Celebrating the Victory of Light over Darkness

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By Firouzeh Mirrazavi* | IDN-InDepthNews Feature

TEHRAN (IDN | Iran Review) - Iranians around the world celebrate Yalda, which is one of the most ancient Persian festivals. The festival dates back to the time when a majority of Persians were followers of Zoroastrianism prior to the advent of Islam.

On Yalda festival, Iranians celebrate the arrival of winter, the renewal of the sun and the victory of light over darkness.

Considered the longest night of the year, Yalda eve is the night when ancient Iranians celebrated the birth of Mithra, the goddess of light.

Yalda, which means birth, is a Syriac word imported into the Persian language. It is also referred to as Shab-e Chelleh, a celebration of winter solstice on December 21 – the last night of fall and the longest night of the year.

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Developing Countries ‘Bite the Bullet’ in Nairobi

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By Devendra Kamarajan | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis

NAIROBI (IDN) - If India and other developing countries, including the 79-nation African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of states had insisted that the World Trade Organization (WTO) Conference – the first on African soil – must reaffirm the focus on development and the ‘Doha Development Agenda’ (DDA), it would have concluded without an outcome document.

However, despite disappointment and strong reservations expressed by India and by representatives of the ACP Group, the conference endorsed the Nairobi Ministerial Declaration (NMD).

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Asian Scholars Crafting A Non-Adversarial Approach To Journalism

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By Kalinga Seneviratne* | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis


BANGKOK (IDN) - While a ‘Mindful Communication’ fad is currently sweeping across the United States, a group of Asian scholars and media practitioners gathered here to examine how this traditional Asian way of communication could be adopted to train 21st century journalists to create a media that would promote harmony rather than conflict.

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IMF Does Not Trigger ‘Bread Riots’ But Sticks to Old Policies

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By Ronald Joshua | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis


BERLIN (IDN) - Hundreds of thousands of poor people joined spontaneous “bread riots” in most major cities in Egypt back in 1977, protesting termination of state subsidies as dictated to the country’s government by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Those uprisings, which were crushed by the army, underlined the callousness with which the two organizations enforced their aggressive policies of liberalization, turning a blind eye to the sufferings of the people.

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Trillions Needed to Help Countries Deliver on Climate Commitments

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By J C Suresh | IDN-InDepthNews Report


WASHINGTON (IDN) - Trillions, not billions, are required to transition to a low carbon and resilient economy and to prevent more than 100 million people, particularly in Africa and South Asia, being pushed back into poverty over the next 15 years, says the World Bank.

The World Bank Group has committed to increasing the share of its portfolio devoted to climate finance, from the current 21 percent, to 28 percent, over the next five years.  “When including financing generated from other partners and associated private sector financing, such financing would amount to a potential $29 billion a year by 2020.”

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Holding the Mirror for Obama’s Real Gun Policy

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By Emad Mekay* | IDN-InDepthNews Viewpoint


WASHINGTON (IDN) - President Barack Obama's argument that a ban on gun sales to people on the no-fly list is disingenuous. The U.S. is the biggest seller of arms to people much worse than those on that list. Washington sells weapons to tyrants on the most abusive dictators list – which the State Department certifies repeatedly in its annual account of global human rights abusers.

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ACP Keen on a Development Centred Outcome of WTO Conference

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By INPS* | IDN-InDepthNews Report

NAIROBI (IDN) - Trade ministers of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of countries have emphasized the importance of securing a development centred outcome at the Tenth Ministerial Conference (MC10) of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

This is the first ever WTO conference to be held in Africa – from December 15 to 18, 2015 in Kenya’s capital Nairobi. At a strategic preparatory meeting a day ahead of the conference, WTO members of the 79-nation ACP Group reaffirmed their declaration on the WTO 10th Ministerial Conference, which was previously endorsed in October by trade ministers meeting in Brussels.

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Build a Dike Against the Middle-Easternization of Turkey

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By Emiliano Alessandri* | IDN-InDepthNews Viewpoint

WASHINGTON (IDN | GMF) - Ongoing developments in EU-Turkey relations are as significant as they are worrying. In an exceptional summit in November, the EU committed itself to massive financial aid in exchange for Turkey bearing the brunt of a refugee crisis that has sent it over 2 million Syrians since 2011.

Despite the direct threat posed by the self-proclaimed Islamic State group (ISIS) after the Paris terrorist attacks, the summit’s focus was only partly on the transit of foreign terrorist fighters across the porous Turkish-Syrian border that Turkey has recently been working to block.

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