Kofi Annan, Who Redefined the U.N., Dies at 80

Kofi Annan, the first black African to lead the United Nations, has died at age 80.  He served as Secretary-General at a time when worries about the Cold War were replaced by threats of global terrorism, his efforts to combat those threats and secure a more peaceful world brought him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for his extraordinary humanitarian work to revitalize the international body, and his efforts against the HIV/Aids pandemic.

“He provided people everywhere with a space for dialogue, a place for problem-solving and a path to a better world. In these turbulent and trying times, he never stopped working to give life to the values of the United Nations Charter. His legacy will remain a true inspiration for all of us.”  — United Nations

Annan, who was born in Ghana in 1938, served as the seventh UN Secretary-General, from 1997 to 2006, and was the first to rise from within the ranks of the United Nations staff.

Annan was descended from tribal chiefs on both sides of his family. After studying in Ghana and at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, he joined the United Nations in 1962 as a low-ranking officer with the World Health Organization in Geneva.  On taking the helm as Secretary-General in 1997, Annan became a high-profile figure who championed human rights and urged the United Nations to protect civilians if their own governments turned on them.

In February 2012, the United Nations appointed Annan the UN and Arab League joint special envoy to Syria. Only six months later, he quit, citing increasing militarization in Syria and “the clear lack of unity” at the UN Security Council.

He was the founder and chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation,  an independent, not-for profit organization that works to promote better global governance and strengthen the capacities of people and countries to achieve a fairer, more peaceful world. It was founded and legally incorporated in Switzerland in 2007.  He had also been a member of The Elders, a humanitarian group of a dozen leaders and activists of worldwide stature formed by Nelson Mandela and in 2013, Annan became its chairman.

Kofi’s legacy will also live on in the work of the United Nations, the institution he led so ably as secretary-general from 1997 to 2006. As the current secretary-general Antonio Guterres said so warmly in his own tribute, in many ways Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He was the consummate diplomat, listening with respect and attentiveness to all interlocutors but firm in his commitment to the UN’s values.

“He was the consummate diplomat, listening with respect and attentiveness to all interlocutors but firm in his commitment to the UN’s values.”

Never was this more apparent than in the period around the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Kofi was adamantly opposed to what he viewed as an illegal act of military aggression, and rightly fearful of the consequences of invasion and occupation not just in Iraq but across the wider Middle East. He maintained this opposition despite sustained and often personal attacks from the administration of then-US president George W Bush, which persisted for many years afterwards.

I know that Kofi took no pleasure in being right about the wisdom of invading Iraq. He was never motivated by vindictiveness. Instead, he was profoundly distressed by the war’s disastrous aftermath, the sectarian bloodletting that so scarred Iraq, the systemic violation of human rights and the rise of ever more vicious strains of extremism.

Yet thanks to his determination and refusal to compromise his independence, the UN retained its integrity and is still in a position today to work for peace and justice in Iraq and across the Middle East.

After a long life exposed to some of the worst aspects of humanity, one might easily have expected Kofi Annan to lapse into despondency or fatalism. Yet the opposite was true; he constantly declared himself to be an optimist, however challenging the environment in which he was working.

“Annan embodied the mission of the United Nations.” “His integrity, persistence, optimism, and sense of our common humanity always informed his outreach to the community of nations,”Former US President, Barak Obama

Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo on Saturday August 18, 2018, hailed the late former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as a consummate international diplomat who had brought immense pride to his country.  He ordered Ghana’s national flag to be flown at half-mast across the country and in all of the country’s diplomatic missions from Monday for the entire week.

 

 “To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.”  — Kofi Annan

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David Buckel’s Suicide Note: A Grisly Protest

Attorney David Buckel

 “Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels, and many die early deaths as a result — my early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves.” — David Buckel

 

NEW YORK (AP) — A well-known gay rights lawyer and environmental advocate burned himself to death in New York City on Saturday (April 14, 2018) in a grisly protest against ecological destruction.

The charred remains of 60-year-old David Buckel were found by passers-by in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Police said he was pronounced dead at about 6:30 a.m.

Buckel was the lead attorney in in a lawsuit involving Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was murdered in Nebraska. Hilary Swank won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Teena in the 1999 movie “Boys Don’t Cry.”

Buckel also served as marriage project director at Lambda Legal, a national organization that fights for LGBT rights, where he was the strategist behind same-sex marriage cases in New Jersey and Iowa.

The suicide note left by Buckel in a shopping cart near his body said he hoped his death was honorable and might serve others as he disclosed the difficulty of improving the world even for those who make vigorous efforts.

[As it stands, the complete suicide note has not yet been released. And will be made available here upon release]

Suicide Note details:

“Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water and weather.  Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels, and many die early deaths as a result – my early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves.”

“Many who drive their own lives to help others often realize that they do not change what causes the need for their help,” Buckel wrote, adding

Mr. Buckel, noting that he was privileged with “good health to the final moment,” wanted his immolation (self-sacrifice) to lead to increased action; expressly stating that “donating to organizations was not enough.”

 

 “Privilege is derived from the suffering of Others” – David Buckel

 

Susan Sommer, a former Lambda Legal attorney who is now the general counsel for the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice in New York City, told the Times that Buckel “was all about justice, but he was also all about what it means to be human.”

Sommer added, “He was a very smart and methodical lawyer. He knew his craft and his trade and was strategic in how to build the blocks toward a sweeping victory.”

Sources:  Associated Press, New York Times

 

 

 

King Tut’s Meteorite Dagger: an Extraterrestrial Stone

Tutankhamun, the Egyptian king who is said to have died at 19 — and whose body exploded in its sarcophagus after a crappy mummy job — was buried with a knife made of space iron. In a study published in Meteoritics & Planetary Space, researchers ran tests on an iron dagger found in King Tut’s sarcophagus. Using […]

via King Tut’s Dagger Was Made From A Meteorite: — redlegagenda

59,000 Haitians have 18 months to Deportation: — redlegagenda

As of July 2019, Haitians living in the US — often for more than a decade — will lose humanitarian protections to stay here. Joe Raedle/Getty Images The Trump administration is telling 59,000 Haitians, currently living legally in the United States, to self-deport. But it’s giving them until July 22, 2019, to do it. On […]

via Trump to 59,000 Haitians- you have 18 months to pack your bags: — redlegagenda

Republicans Finally Set a Date to Kill Net Neutrality:

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING!!! Companies like Verizon now have broad authority to control which websites its customers can access as “restoring” the internet to its former glory BECAUSE the Trump FCC is choosing to ignore the public and push forward with a harmful plan to kill net neutrality and destroy the internet as we know it!

redlegagenda

The FCC on Tuesday finally rolled out its plan to kill off net neutrality. There’s a strong chance that doing so will screw over millions of American consumers and lead to a rise in online censorship across the US.

But on the other hand, it will make internet service providers and mobile carriers a shitload of money.

The vote to repeal net neutrality will be held by the commission on December 14th, according to a statement from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Pai has painted his efforts to grant companies like Verizon broad authority to control which websites its customers can access as “restoring” the internet to its former glory.

Republicans control three of the commission’s five seats, giving them the majority needed to pass the new rules.

Since being appointed chairman by President Donald Trump in January, Pai has been determined to roll back the Obama-era net neutrality rules, which…

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Amazon Offers Prime Membership Discount to EBT Recipients

Amazon now offers discounted Prime service for people who receive government assistance! 
People who access their benefits with an electronic benefit transfer card can register for a monthly membership that costs $5.99 per month, instead of the typical $10.99 per month or $99 per year. The discounted membership is only available on a monthly basis and can be canceled at any time. It includes free two-hour delivery with  Prime Now, Amazon Family’s discount on diaper subscriptions and Amazon’s full library of streaming movies, TV shows and music.
While 90% of Americans live fewer than 15 minutes away from a Walmart store by car, Amazon’s program eliminates the need for transportation to get to the store.  Benefit recipients who have difficulty securing transportation or finding time to shop for their household needs might find it’s worth spending the $6 per month to have everything delivered to their doorstep.
The discounted membership option is designed to make Amazon’s everyday selection and savings more accessible for customers receiving government assistance, including the many conveniences and entertainment benefits of Prime. (The only exception is that “household sharing” of the account is not available with this type of Prime account.)
How to Get an Amazon Prime Membership Discount if You Receive Government Assistance:

To sign up, you must provide a valid EBT number. Your EBT funds can’t be used to pay for your membership; your EBT number only qualifies you for the discount.  You can qualify every 12 months for up to four years. “Amazon will add other ways to qualify in the future for customers participating in government assistance programs that do not utilize EBT,” an Amazon press release noted.

 In addition to unlimited fast, free two-day shipping on more than 50 million eligible items, Prime members also receive unlimited access to the following benefits at no additional cost:
  • Prime Video: Unlimited access to tens of thousands of movies and TV shows
  • Prime Music: More than two million songs and thousands of playlists and stations
  • Prime Photos: Unlimited photo storage to preserve family memories
  • Prime Reading: A rotating selection of free e-books and magazines
  • Audible Channels for Prime: Premium original podcasts, audio series and audiobooks exclusively from Audible
  • Kindle First: A free pre-release e-book each month
  • Twitch Prime: In-game loot on Twitch and 20 percent off pre-release digital games
  • Early Access: Exclusive early access to select Lightning Deals
  • Savings: Discounts on select products including 20 percent off diaper subscriptions
  • Prime FREE Same-Day Delivery: One million products, order by noon and get them today in eligible zip codes
  • Prime Now: Free two-hour delivery on tens of thousands of items in eligible zip codes

And as usual, you can kick off your Prime membership with a free 30-day trial.