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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Michael's Afternoon 7 - 27 May

UN Security Council presidency is conducted for one month according to the alphabetical order. Turkey will take over the presidency from Russia in June. Member states need to comply with the decision of the Security Council. During its term, the Security Council's agenda will be formed by Turkey. These rights will be used by finding a compromise. As the Security Council President, Turkey will make the press releases and inform the members. In this framework, Turkey will have the opportunity to bring issues that it considers important to forefront. UN Security Council has 15 members. The United Kingdom, China, Russia, America and France are permanent members, 10 countries including Turkey are temporary members for 2-years. All members have the veto power. Turkey's temporary membership of the UN National Security Council is to expire on 31 December 2010.

The Cyprus government said Wednesday it is opposed to any downgrading of the U.N. peacekeeping force - known as UNFICYP - that patrols the divided islands ceasefire line. Newspapers have reported that the government has protested to the U.N. against U.K.-U.S. moves to link UNFICYP's presence on the island with progress in peace talks. The implication has been that either the force will pull out or be transformed into a smaller police presence than its 860-strong soldiers.

"What this tells us is, at the end of the day, there are individuals, that if released, will again return to terrorist activities." Five percent of Guantanamo Bay detainees have participated in terrorist activities since their release from the U.S. Navy prison, the Pentagon said Tuesday. An additional 9 percent are believed to have joined — or rejoined — the fight against the U.S. and its allies, according to Defense Department data released amid a simmering political battle over where to send the detainees if the prison closes in January as planned. The Pentagon did not release the list of all 74 detainees, citing security concerns about classified information.
Others on the partially released list included: Said Mohammed Alim Shah, who was sent to Afghanistan in March 2004, where he was released. The U.S. says it has linked him to the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers, an Islamabad hotel bombing and an April 2007 suicide attack that killed 31 people. Mohammed bin Ahmad Mizouz and Ibrahim bin Shakaran, both released in Morocco in July 2004. They are accused of recruiting for al-Qaida in Iraq.

The European Union and Iraq expect to clinch a broad trade and political pact by the end of the year that will forge deeper energy ties between the two. The 27-nation bloc wants to wean itself off its dependence on Russian oil and gas, and sees Iraq as a long-term alternative energy supplier. An EU source at the negotiations said only technical issues remained to be resolved before the EU and Iraq could sign the PCA, setting out what will be the first contractual agreement between the two. "It will certainly lead to a significant improvement in trade between the EU and Iraq. Certainly oil and gas are areas for future development of the relationship." Earlier this month, the EU signed pacts with Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia towards creating a central EU gas-buying consortium and setting new terms for transporting Caspian gas.

Lebanon's divided Christians represent the swing vote in a legislative election in which the Hezbollah is vying to oust the faction which currently dominates parliament. Lebanon's Christians are a minority made up mainly of Catholics, Maronites, Orthodox and Armenians. 
Today, Christians is claimed to make up almost 35 percent of Lebanon's four million inhabitants and their political loyalty is deeply divided between the two camps facing off in the June 7 vote. One side, ironically identified in Lebanese circles as the "Shiite Christians," backs the Hezbollah alliance while the so-called "Sunni Christians" favour the current majority led by Saad Hariri, son of slain ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.

A cold-footed Italian bride made it through the ceremony and the traditional family photos but ran off with the driver of the wedding car before her reception in this north-eastern city. Her new husband and 30 guests were left waiting in vain at a restaurant for the bride who had made her escape after saying she wanted to change her clothes before the reception. She was accompanied by a friend of the couple with whom Andrea played football, and who had been tasked with driving the wedding car. After an hour and a half the chauffeur answered and passed his phone to the bride-on-the-run, who told her new husband she had ''made a mistake'', was ''sorry'', but that her ''heart belongs to someone else''. The bride and driver fled Italy for their 'honeymoon' in Greece.

He gazes at the world from an exalted place, much as earlier believers might have envisioned the Olympian gods looking upon human affairs. Yet he is in outward appearances a very human figure– albeit with a regal bearing and trappings, and at once peaceful, just and omnipotent. The image is of Christ as Byzantine artists imagined him – first, on the ceilings of hidden places of worship carved in caves, and later, adorning magnificent churches such as the Hagia Sophia of Emperor Justinian. Yet this depiction is about a millennium removed from Justinian’s time, the symbol of faith and ofa vibrant school of art that paralleled the western European Renaissance. He is “Christ in Majesty,” a 16th century icon symbolizing an effort to preserve the glory of Byzantine art, and his image is among more than 20 new icons included in a temporary exhibit at the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, Massachusetts.