The boy's club that is the U.N. General Assembly has chosen a woman to lead them

The United Nations General Assembly has a new President: Ecuador’s Foreign Minister, Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces. Every year, the U.N. votes to choose a new ramrod for its General Assembly. Potential candidates for the position are chosen, partially, based on a regional rotation. This time around, the U.N. was looking for someone from Latin America or the Caribbean. As such, Espinosa Garces stepped up to the plate and whacked it right out of the park: of the 192 nations voting on the matter, 128 gave the thumbs up to her taking the position.

As Yahoo News points out, the position of President in the General Assembly is largely ceremonial, especially given that a large percentage of what the General Assembly does is create non-binding resolutions. But still, a win is a win, and the newly-minted President Espinosa Garces is definitely a winner.

In her home nation of Ecuador, Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces is a frigging HUGE political noise. She worked as the nation’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Integration from January 2007 to December 2007, before moving on to a new position as Special Adviser to the President of the Constituent Assembly, Alberto Acosta, from December 2007 to February 2008, before moving on, in October 2009, to become Ecuador’s Coordinating Minister of Heritage – a post she held until 2012. In November of that same year, Espinosa Garces was called upon to become the country’s Minister of National Defense. In October 2014, she was named Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations in Geneva. Read the rest

Alabama is home to the worst poverty in the developed world

In a country that has so much, it should be a crime to leave the less fortunate with so little. But it isn't, so here we are: As part of a United Nations study on poverty and human rights abuses in America, researchers have stated that rural Alabama is home to the worst poverty in the developed world.

According to Advance Local,  the U.N. Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, was shocked at the level of environmental "degradation," economic inequality and systematic racism in the state:

Of particular concern to Alston are specific poverty-related issues that have surfaced across the country in recent years, such as an outbreak of hookworm in Alabama in 2017—a disease typically found in nations with substandard sanitary conditions in South Asia and Subsaharan Africa.

You should know that economic inequality and racial discrimination lend themselves to civil rights abuses. That makes poverty a human rights issue.

A lot of us, including myself, live comfortably enough. I know where my next meal is coming from. Too many of our fellow citizens aren't as fortunate. The fault for this, according to Alston, can be laid at the feet of our governments:

“The idea of human rights is that people have basic dignity and that it’s the role of the government — yes, the government! — to ensure that no one falls below the decent level,” he said. “Civilized society doesn’t say for people to go and make it on your own and if you can’t, bad luck...

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Vitaly Churkin, Russian ambassador to the United Nations, dies suddenly, age 64

The Russian Foreign Ministry reports today that Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, died suddenly today in New York. He died on Monday age 64, just one day before his 65th birthday. Read the rest

Lithium batteries should be banned as cargo on passenger planes, says UN aviation watchdog

Planes that carry passengers should be prohibited from carrying large quantities of lithium batteries in cargo, a United Nations aviation watchdog says. Read the rest

More evidence that Haiti's cholera epidemic started with UN Peacekeepers

Haiti has been battling a massive cholera outbreak since, roughly, around the time international aid groups arrived in the country following the 2010 earthquake. Now, genetic evidence links the strain of cholera in Haiti to a rare strain native to Nepal — further proof that it was Nepalese UN Peacekeepers who brought cholera to Haiti. This news comes two months after the UN claimed immunity from any financial liability relating to the outbreak, writes Stacey Singer at the Palm Beach Post. Read the rest