By Humberto Jaime and Jennifer Guralnick* | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis
PANAMA, Panama (IDN) - While in North America, cities such as New York and several others in the United States have witnessed the hottest Christmas on record and with extreme flooding and tornados resulting in more than 40 deaths in states such as New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Illinois, Mexico experienced unusual snowfalls whereas flooding is being faced in the United Kingdom as well as in South America where heavy rains and severe flooding have led to more than 170 thousand people being evacuated in Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.
By Veronica Nicolosi | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis
ROME (IDN) - The El Niño weather phenomenon is expected to be the fiercest in 18 years at the start of 2016 and threatens to adversely affect crop and livestock production prospects in Southern Africa, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
A reduced agricultural output would follow on 2015 disappointing season, which has already contributed to higher food prices and “could acutely impact the food security situation in 2016,” said to a special alert released on December 22 by FAO’s Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS).
By Jamshed Baruah | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis
BERLIN | NEW YORK (IDN) - An open-ended working group of the United Nations General Assembly for achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world is, along with the Sustainable Development Goals, an important agenda item that the year 2015 has bequeathed to 2016.
By J C Suresh | IDN-InDepthNews Feature
TORONTO | ABIDJAN (IDN) - The African Development Bank (AfDB) is upbeat about 2016 and hopes to build on unprecedented development in 2015 which in its view would go down in history as a year “when the world decided that the time had finally come to set aside individual differences and to forge a new development paradigm for the planet”.
By J Nastranis | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis
A wide view of the General Assembly. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas (file)
NEW YORK (IDN) - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is far from satisfied with a budget of $5.4 billion the 193-member General Assembly adopted on December 23 for the United Nations to carry out its vital work in 2016 and 2017. This two-year budget is less than 7% of the $77.7 billion preliminary budget New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed for 2016 in February 2015.
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”.
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.
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?
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.
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).
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.