K.S. Rajan (1 Nov 2011)
"REPORT by BILL KOENIG"


 
 

The Obama administration cut off funding for the U.N. cultural agency on Monday, after its member countries defied an American warning and approved a Palestinian bid for full membership.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the vote triggered a long-standing congressional restriction on funding to U.N. bodies that recognize Palestine as a state before an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is reached. She said the U.S. as a result would refrain from making a $60 million payment it planned to deliver in November.
"Today's vote by the member states of UNESCO to admit Palestine as a member is regrettable, premature, and undermines our shared goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East," Nuland told reporters. "The United States remains steadfast in its support for the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state, but such a state can only be realized through direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians."
One of the first moves Palestinians are set to make is to apply for world heritage status for sites such as the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Associated Press news agency reports.
Obama Has Declared Record-Breaking 89 Disasters So Far in 2011
From Hurricane Irene, which soaked the entire East Coast in August, to the Midwest tornadoes, which wrought havoc from Wisconsin to Texas, 2011 has seen more billion-dollar natural disasters than any year on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center.
And as America’s hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and wildfires set records this year, so too has President Obama in his response to them.
During the first 10 months of this year President Obama declared 89 major disasters, more than the record 81 declarations that he made in all of 2010.
And Obama has declared more disasters — 229 — in the first three years of his presidency than almost any other president signed in their full four-year terms. Only President George W. Bush declared more, having signed 238 disaster declarations in his second term, from 2005 to 2009.