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- 12/02/12--04:30: Suicide Bombers Attack US Base In Afghanistan Killing One
- 12/03/12--16:43: Pesticides Could Be Hurting Your Memory
- 12/05/12--08:54: Australian Researchers Just Created A Piña Colada Pineapple
- 12/05/12--14:18: How Serial Killers Flaunt Their Evil In The Open
- 12/05/12--14:22: The 10 Easiest Foreign Languages For English Speakers To Learn
- 12/05/12--15:25: Birds Are Using Cigarette Butts To Stave Off Pests
- 12/08/12--04:03: See What Happened When Angelina Jolie Met With Syrian Refugees
- 12/08/12--05:19: Hamas Is 'Beginning To Become More Accepted Internationally'
- 12/08/12--13:07: The Best Travel Destinations This December
- 12/09/12--14:23: These Are The World's Booziest Vacation Destinations
- 12/10/12--07:30: Wikipedia Has Figured Out A New Way To Stop Vandals In Their Tracks
- 12/10/12--15:29: The Best Places To Ride Out The Mayan Apocalypse
- 12/11/12--07:56: Teenager Almost Dies After Swallowing Magnetic Tongue Stud
- 12/11/12--09:23: A French Chef's Guide To The Best Pâtisseries In Paris
- 12/10/12--06:12: Men In Tights: 'Meggings' Are Taking Manhattan By Storm
- 12/14/12--07:36: Susan Rice's Departure Is A Blessing In Disguise For Obama
A spokesman for the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan says that a suicide attack on a major US base in Jalalabad had killed at least one other person.
Speaking in Kabul, Brigadier General Gunter Katz said that whilst the attack had been serious, the attacked had failed to breach the main part of the base.
"Our initial assessment is, our initial reporting shows that there was attack on Jalalabad airfield this morning. Again, initially what we found out was that there most likely three suicide attackers using vehicles to attack the base," he said.
"The pyramid of the base has not been breached so nobody was actually able to get inside the base. We got some ISAF troops who were wounded and, according to our reporting, one member of the Afghan national security forces has been killed during the attack," the general added.
A provincial government spokesman, Nasir Ahmad Safi, had said that three Afghan soldiers and two civilians had been killed in the attack.
Two suicide bombers died after blowing themselves up in their cars, he added.
Seven other attackers were killed in a gun battle with Afghan and coalition forces.
Local police officials said bodies in Afghan police and military uniforms were scattered around the entrance of the airfield in the eastern city of Jalalabad after a two-hour battle. A Taliban spokesman said the militant group had launched the 6am assault.
The Taliban, who have been fighting US-led Nato and Afghan forces for more than a decade, sometimes dress in uniforms for attacks.
The US and Afghan government are scrambling to stabilise Afghanistan before most Nato combat troops withdraw at the end of 2014 and hand over security to Afghan forces.
Some Afghans doubt government security forces will be able to defend the country against any Taliban attempts to seize power again after foreign troops withdraw. There are also growing fears that a civil war will erupt.
President Hamid Karzai's government say Afghan security forces have made good progress.
In February, a suicide car bomber killed nine people at the base, almost exclusively used by Nato and the U.S. military.
Exposure to even low levels of organophosphates in pesticides can cause lasting harm to the brain, scientists have concluded.
A review of 14 separate studies has shown that chemicals can reduce memory and the ability to process information quickly.
The findings, by researchers at University College London and the Open University, are the most comprehensive evidence yet that organophosphates can harm human health at low levels.
Doctors have long recognised that in high doses the chemicals, which are used to kill or repel insects and are also ingredients in aviation fuel and in some flame retardants, can be toxic, but the effects of lower doses have remained controversial.
Dr Sarah McKenzie Ross, a clinical psychologist and honorary senior lecturer at University College London, said that there now needed to be tighter safety rules for people exposed to the chemicals during their jobs.
She said: “The studies we looked at were in people who were exposed occupationally on a regular basis but were not getting ill from that exposure.
“The weight of evidence is that low level exposure is harmful. It targets memory, information processing speed, the ability to plan and have abstract thoughts. “
The report, which is published in the journal of Critical Reviews in Toxicology, examined evidence from 14 studies that had looked at the health of 1,600 participants.
Using statistical analysis, Dr McKenzie Ross and her colleagues concluded that low level doses could impact on memory and information processing, it did not impact on language or overall intellect.
Farmers are among those who are regularly exposed to organophosphates through sheep dips while aircrews are exposed from the additives in aviation fuel.
Veterans from the Gulf War are also known to have experienced the ill effects from pesticides they were exposed to during the conflict.
Dr McKenzie Ross added: “We have conducted our own study into UK farmers and those we interviewed said it was making it difficult for them to work at auctions where things happen fast.
“Aviation workers have also talked about struggling to retain information from air traffic control.
“We now need to be clear about what the risks are and make sure the correct safety measures are taken.”
Western Europeans have for the past ten years been 19 times more likely to be killed by a terrorist attack than Americans, a new study has found.
The first Global Terrorism Index showed that in the decade after the September 11 attacks, North America was the safest region in the world, suffering 127 incidents and 23 fatalities — statistics that will be treated by some as vindication of its draconian anti-terror regime.
Most terror in the US was perpetrated by environmental, animal welfare and anti-abortion activists, according to research by the Sydney-base Institute for Economics and Peace, and the vast majority of terrorist attacks were aimed at buildings and businesses, with minimal attacks on private citizens. Less than three per cent were attributed to al-Qaeda.
The survey underlined how al-Qaeda's original leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been nearly obliterated.
In the year that Osama bin Laden was killed, the core organization, despite its enduring notoriety, was responsible for only one terror incident out of 4,656 – a kidnapping. However, 11 of the most 20 active groups globally were al-Qaeda linked, and they carried out four of the most lethal attacks.
Western Europe suffered 910 incidents, and 439 fatalities, in the ten-year period, with Britain alone accounting for 236.
In 2011 Britain was in 28th place in a global at-risk league table, and was the third most at risk in its region, behind Norway, which suffered the massacre by Right-wing fanatic Anders Breving Breivik, and Greece.
Apart from high profile al-Qaeda attacks in London and Madrid, the vast majority of incidents in Western Europe were related to nationalist or separatist discontent. In Britain, Northern Ireland accounted for the majority of incidents.
"The difference between western Europe and the US was startling," said Steve Killelea, the founder of the IEP, whose report is the first to rank and compare 158 countries worldwide over a ten year period to shed light on the impact of terrorism.
"We hear so much about violence of all sorts in the US and so much about individual terror incidents. But in Europe there tens to be less reporting unless there is a major incident."
The data shows the global impact of terrorism has increased significantly from 2002 to 2011, peaking in 2007 – the bloodiest year in Iraq - and then slightly falling to approximately 2006 levels in 2011.
Iraq and Afghanistan accounted for 35 per cent of the global total number of terrorist incidents from 2002 to 2011. Ten countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, accounted for 84 per cent of incidents.
The survey weighted the total number of terrorist incidents, and the total number of fatalities, injuries and estimated property damage from terrorism in compiling its table.
It drew on data compiled by the University of Maryland in the US, which has documented terror attacks since 1970. Gary La Free director, of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the university, said that the 9/11 attacks had distorted popular conceptions of terrorism.
"Contrary to the view of terrorism we commonly get from Hollywood, the vast majority of terrorist attacks rely on unsophisticated, readily accessible weapons," he said, and were the work of "
Only 31 of the 158 countries ranked have not experienced a terrorist attack since 2001.
In 2011 the rate was 91%.
"This indicates the continued importance of intelligence gathering services with the aim of preemptively disrupting the terrorist cells prior to them becoming operational," the report said.
Researchers in Australia have created a new "piña colada" pineapple that tastes like a coconut.
The scientists, from a government agency in Queensland, have spent ten years trying to develop a new variety of sweeter, juicier pineapple but did not actually intend to create the coconut flavour.
"It's sweet, low acid, very juicy," said Garth Sanewski, a senior horticulturalist at Queensland's department of agriculture.
"It has this lovely coconut flavour, which you won't find in any other pineapple in Australia."
The new pineapple, called AusFestival, has been dubbed the "piña colada pineapple" and will potentially – as local media noted – preclude people from having to mix fruits in the famous cocktail. It is likely to be commercially available in two years.
"When we are doing the breeding, we are not actually looking for a coconut-flavoured pineapple or any other particular flavour," Dr Sanewski told ABC.
"We are looking for a nice flavoured pineapple. We are looking for a variety that is sweet, low acid and aromatic."
Two years ago, scientists in Queensland, which has a warm climate and produces various tropical fruits, developed Australia's first home-grown pineapple, called the Australian Jubilee. Most Australian pineapples are Hawaiian-bred varieties.
Queensland produces more than 80,000 tons of pineapples a year but the government has been looking to create less costly and tastier varieties to compete with cheaper imports.
The 1984 presidential election was conservative America’s greatest triumph.
Ronald Reagan won every state except Walter Mondale’s Minnesota. Yet here is an astonishing fact.
If you break down the votes by ethnic group, and then apply them to the altered demographics of America in 2012, Mondale takes the White House.
US Republicans can’t win without – to be blunt – attracting many more Latino voters. Before the last election, they were sanguine enough about their chances.
It is not unusual for immigrants to vote for Left-of-Centre parties, and the calculation was that Hispanic Americans would abandon the Left as they became more established.
Reagan used to quip that Latinos were Republicans who just didn't know it yet, and George W Bush polled well enough among voters of Mexican descent.
Yet 71 per cent of Hispanic voters backed Obama last month. Republicans face the disquieting prospect that Democrat leanings might go with being Hispanic – rather than with being young, low-earning or a first-generation American.
Ethnic voting, after all, is not unusual. Jewish Americans lean two-to-one to the Democrats, in defiance of most of the rest of their demographic data. In the late Martin Himmelfarb’s famous lament, ‘Jews earn like Episcopalians, vote like Puerto Ricans’.
But Jews are less than two per cent of the US electorate. The real disaster for Republicans is that Puerto Ricans vote like Puerto Ricans – as do Colombians, Mexicans, Hondurans, Ecuadoreans, Nicaraguans and the rest.
The GOP faces a problem common to Right-of-Centre parties around the world. Immigrant communities, despite the initiative required to relocate to another country, and despite their often conservative values when it comes to enterprise, self-reliance, family and so on, tend to gravitate to the Left.
I can think of only one major contemporary exception to that rule, and it’s a telling one. At the last Canadian election, the Conservatives won more votes from immigrants than from people born in Canada. How? Not by changing their policies on immigration or multi-culturalism, but by sheer, grinding hard work.
Canada’s Tories grasped that most immigrants lived, at least initially, in areas represented by Left-of-Centre politicians. Because these politicians were the their first contact with Canadian politics, they tended to define the terms in which newcomers viewed the different parties. First impressions count.
The achievement of the Canadian Conservatives was to put themselves where the migrants were: in the community centres, in the mosques and temples, at the festivals. And to do so, not once or twice, but continuously over many years, until those communities began, in the phrase of the brilliant Immigration Minister, Jason Kenney, ‘to vote their values’.
It’s one thing to recognise what needs to be done. It’s quite another to get your party to put in the kind of long-term work needed. If I were a Republican strategist, I’d get started now on building up conservative Spanish-language news media: Noticias Zorro, but with soap operas.
I’d be thinking about a properly llamativo 2016 ticket: Rubio–Martinez, say. (And I’d be unembarrassed about using words like llamativo.) Above all, though, I’d be pouring resources at local level into making early contact with Spanish-speaking newcomers, offering tax advice, running language courses, setting up business support centres.
In Britain, my own party is starting from further behind, having already lost an entire generation of immigrant voters. All the more reason, then, to get cracking.
In 1978, a pretty young drama teacher named Cheryl Bradshaw found herself on an American TV show called The Dating Game.
You can watch the episode in the video below. Cheryl had to ask suggestive questions of three unseen bachelors and then pick one of them to take out on a date.
The contestant who stood out for his vivacity was a handsome fellow called Rodney Alcala, introduced by the game show host as, “a successful photographer who got his start when his father found him in the darkroom at the age of 13 … fully developed!”
His fellow contestants were less impressed. Bachelor #2 later said that he thought Alcala was a “very strange guy.”
Asked what his favourite time of the day was, Alcala replied, “Night,” slithering his tongue between his teeth. When Cheryl requested an impromptu response to the line “You’re a dirty old man!” he grunted and growled like an animal.
Game for a laugh, Cheryl said “I like bananas” and picked Alcala as her date. For Cheryl – "all teeth and curls", as they used to say -the decision came with careless giggles. But the look of Alcala’s face was pure triumph. He had won.
In the green room afterwards, Alcala’s personality changed. The game show host remembered that he was “quiet, but at the same time he would interrupt and impose when he felt like it. And he was very obnoxious and creepy – he became very unlikable and rude and imposing as though he was trying to intimidate. I wound up not only not liking this guy … not wanting to be near him … he got creepier and more negative.”
Cheryl agreed with the host and politely declined the date. It was a lucky break. Before his arrest in 1979, Alcala would murder at least five people. Bachelor #1turned out to be one of the worst serial killers in US history.
Earlier this year Malcolm Gladwell wrote an attention-grabbing piece about the predatory tactics of paedophiles. Bucking the trend towards seeing child molesters as sad loners, Gladwell argued that they often hunt out in the open.
Jerry Sandusky, he contended, got away with his crimes with a mix of care and candour, all the while encouraging others to think of him as a loveable goofball. Sandusky was repeatedly accused of sexual misdemeanours, yet the complaints were dismissed as misunderstandings — as just “Jerry being Jerry.”
That some molesters can be so open and get away with it says something chilling about the way our children are protected by public institutions. To quote Gladwell, “When monsters roam free, we assume that people in positions of authority ought to be able to catch them if only they did their jobs. But that might be wishful thinking.”
Some serial killers follow a similar pattern. They can be extroverted, even attention-seeking. In the case of Rodney Alcala, it’s not only his behavior in the green room that was creepy. His very appearance on this TV show – by a man who had already served time for raping a child – is an extraordinary instance of a psychopath testing his skills at acting in public, and getting away with it.
Crime profiler Pat Brown says that Alcala “was aware that he could say things that were considered sexy and funny and the girl would like that. He watched the game and he gave those answers and he won, so he learned some tricks.” But in the green room, once the performance was over, he had no need to be nice to poor Cheryl anymore. “He wasn't acting at that time. [The other contestants] were his enemies, and he had to beat them to get the girl and he wanted to win. This guy probably literally hated them. This guy was going on the show to prove how special and wonderful he was. And his ego was riding on it.”
John Wayne Gacy was another killer who was happy to share his fantasy life with the outside world. A successful builder and a popular neighbour in Norwood Park, Chicago in the 1970s, Gacy was active in Democratic Party politics and even got himself photographed with First Lady Rosalynn Carter. He joined a local “Jolly Joker” club and developed a clown character that he would perform at kids' parties called Pogo.
Gacy applied his own make-up with distinctive sharp cornered lips that made him look like a grinning shark. He was often spotted in full makeup at his local bar – Gacy would claim that he had just been performing around the corner. It can’t have gone unnoticed that his construction company was staffed with dozens of attractive teenage boys.
Again, we’re treated to a surprisingly public performance, a performance that almost teases us with the awful truth. In Alcala’s case, The Dating Game was a proxy for what he might actually do to women: win their confidence and then rape them.
In Gacy’s example, the terrifying Pogo character and his indiscrete relationships with adolescents “disguised” a private penchant for strangling young men to death and then burying their bodies in the crawl space beneath his house.
He confessed to around 30 murders in 1978, although he later retracted. In a subsequent TV interview Gacy swore that he was 100 per cent totally innocent but then, when invited to by the interviewer, he cheerfully demonstrated his proficiency at the very knot that bound the hands of his victims. Again, he couldn’t help advertising his monstrosity.
Another disturbing similarity between Gacy and Alcala is that both were men with pre-existing criminal records, yet this didn’t impede them nearly as much as it should. In the 1960s, Gacy convinced several adolescent boys to perform oral sex on him under the guise of conducting a “public health” survey, and he was sentenced to 10 years.
He was a model prisoner and a capable politician; Gacy successfully lobbied to have a miniature golf course installed in the prison recreation yard. He was released after 18 months. In the next few years he narrowly escaped prison twice on the grounds of sexual assault. Throughout this career of molestation, he sustained two marriages and even had kids.
Alcala’s is also a tragic story of near misses perpetuated by a hopelessly liberal justice system. In 1968, he raped a child. The police pursued him but he escaped to New York where he joined the film school at NYU and even worked as a counselor at an arts camp for kids.
Two children at the camp noticed him on an FBI wanted poster and he was extradited back to California. The girl he raped refused to testify at his trial and he was given a lesser sentence for assault. Like Gacy, he was a model prisoner and got out after just 3 years. Upon release, he assaulted a 13-year old. Yet again, he was arrested, imprisoned and released early. It was around this time that Alcala stared calling himself a photographer, and he liked to show his photos to friends.
Most of them were of naked women, often underage. It’s possible that some were victims. The lines between normality, performance and public confession were blurry – but no one called the cops.
The incompetence didn't end after Alcala's arrest in 1979. In 1980, he was tried, sentenced and convicted to death. But the California Supreme Court overturned the conviction because the jurors had been improperly informed about his prior sex crimes.
In 1986, he was tried again and, again, convicted to death. Incredibly, an appeals court – again! – threw out the verdict because a witness had not been allowed to support Alcala’s argument that the park ranger who found the body of one of his victims had been “hypnotised” by the cops. It wasn't until 2010 that he was successfully and finally sentenced to death.Now he shall die with his constitutional rights intact.
The takeaway from all this is that Gladwell’s thesis about the way that monstrous perverts live semi-openly extends even to those who kill. Of course, where and how they communicate their evil differs from case to case. Henry Lee Lucas's outrageously prolific career as a murderer escaped attention because it was conducted on the margins of society where aberrant behaviour was less unusual (the same goes for prostitute Aileen Wuonoros).
By contrast, Gacy and Alcala were relatively well-presented and even middle-class (Alcala held down a job as a typesetter at the Los Angeles Times.) Yet both moved in and out of criminal society with shocking ease. One year, Gacy might be in jail for raping a boy. A little while later, he was meeting the First Lady of the United States. As Gladwell emphases that the paedophile is capable of adaptation and exploiting others, so it goes with killers.
It is rare that they skulk in basements, only coming out at night. And they usually give plenty of opportunity for the police to catch them much earlier than they eventually do.
A difficult question to ask is, what does it say about the rest of society that these men could tease us with their crimes and not be noticed? To return to Alcala’s appearance on The Dating Game, his answers might be sexually aggressive but they are germane within the context of the show and the era.
Watch the clip again and notice how Cheryl is introduced: "Here is a young lady with a wealth of experience! She once earned a living massaging feet, but she quit when her boss suggested that she work her way up…"
In a parallel with the case of TV host Jimmy Savile (who even assaulted women on camera), Alcala perhaps benefited from an era in which rules about sexual discourse were in a state of flux. What was and what wasn’t acceptable behavior in the public sphere was still in the process of being negotiated.
Much as the appalling leniency of the courts consistently favoured them, Gacy and Alcala also enjoyed some degree of cover in a decade where predatory sexual behaviour was more tolerated. Thank goodness for feminism.
More and more Brits are finding their first job abroad.
But how difficult is it to pick up the language?
Anne Merritt reveals the 10 easiest to learn from scratch.
Like English, Afrikaans is in the West Germanic language family.
Unlike English, its structure won’t make your head spin. A great feature of Afrikaans, especially for grammar-phobes, is its logical and non-inflective structure.
Unlike English, there is no verb conjugation (swim, swam, swum). Unlike Romance languages, there is no gender (un homme, une femme in French).
Another feature of Afrikaans is its vocabulary, which shares many Germanic-derived root words that are familiar to English speakers.
Vocabulary-building is as easy as pointing to an object and asking, “Wat is dit in Afrikaans?”
We can thank William the Conqueror for excellent, colour, identity, and about 8000 other French-derived English words left over from the Norman occupation.
Linguists estimate that French has influenced up to a third of the modern English language, from the language of the courts in the 11th century to modern terms like je ne sais quoi, après-ski, and bourgeois.
For language learners, English has more in common lexically with French than any other Romance language.
This means that French vocabulary is more familiar, recognisable, and easy to comprehend.
Advanced French learners may struggle with its gendered nouns and 17 verb forms, but for conversational learning, it’s relatively facile.
For language learners, a great feature of Spanish is its shallow orthographicdepth – that is, in most cases, words are written as pronounced.
This means that reading and writing in Spanish is a straightforward task.
Pronunciation is also fairly easy for native English speakers, with only ten vowel and diphthong sounds (English has 20), and no unfamiliar phonemes except for the fun-to-pronounce letter ñ.
Grammatically speaking, Spanish has fewer irregularities that other Romance languages.
Spanish is also an attractive second language for English speakers because of its international status.
Spanish is an official language on three continents, and with growing economies in Latin and South America, it’s a valuable professional skill.
In a Telegraph survey,37 per cent of employers rated Spanish as a useful language to know.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Birds are lining their nests with cigarette butts to repel pests and keep themselves warm, according to research.
Wild birds have long protected their nests from mite invasion by importing chemical-emitting plants.
But now birds living in cities seem to have adapted similar behaviour, filling their nests with up to 48 cigarette buts to make use of the repellent properties of tobacco.
The nicotine and other chemicals in discarded filters act as a natural pesticide that repels parasitic mites.
At the same time, the cellulose butts provide useful nest insulation.
Scientists in Mexico City studied nests of house sparrows and house finches that each contained, on average, about 10 used cigarette butts.
Birds who stored larger numbers of butts saw their nests significantly less infested by mites.
To test the parasite-repelling effect, the researchers attached cellulose fibres from smoked and non-smoked filters to thermal traps placed in nests.
The battery-operated traps attract mites by generating heat. Fewer parasites were drawn to traps laced with nicotine-laden smoked butts.
Dr Constantino Macias Garcia, from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and his team wrote in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters: "We provide evidence that urban birds incorporate cellulose from smoked cigarette butts into the nest and that this behaviour entails a reduction in the number of nest-dwelling ectoparasites.
"It appears that this effect may be due to the fact that mites are repelled by nicotine, perhaps in conjunction with other substances, because thermal traps laced with cellulose from smoked butts attracted fewer ectoparasites than traps laced with non-smoked cellulose.
"This novel behaviour observed in urban birds fulfils one of the three conditions necessary to be regarded as self-medication: it is detrimental to parasites."
Nicotine is a natural defence chemical used by the tobacco plant to ward off plant-eating insects, the researchers pointed out.
It had been used to protect crops from pests and also to control parasites in poultry.
The scientists said it was possible the anti-mite nest protection was a happy coincidence. Birds might only be lining their nests with discarded butts because they provide good insulation.
Further studies could reveal if this is the case by offering the birds a choice of smoked and non-smoked butts. Either would do for insulation, but only filters from smoked cigarettes can effectively repel mites.
"Birds could distinguish smoked and non-smoked butts from their scent, just as some birds that use the chemical compounds of plants as defence against parasites appear to rely on olfaction to collect those with effective chemicals," the scientists wrote.
Climate change: Anger is growing against the host country of Qatar, which has the largest carbon footprint in the world per person, for failing to take action on climate change and cut its emissions.
U.N. climate change talks are at risk of collapse tonight as developing nations object to the refusal of Arab nations to cut carbon emissions and to the failure of Western nations to come forward with money for adaptation to global warming.
Britain could be forced to dramatically increase its cuts to carbon emissions in order to secure a deal if other countries are unwilling to compromise.
Two activists were thrown out of the United Nations talks in Doha, the capital, after attempting to hold up a banner outside the main meeting hall. It called on the tiny oil state to show leadership and cut its emissions.
Developing nations are also angry that the rich world has not come forward with money for climate change adaptation.
They want $60bn (£37bn) over the next three years to switch to greener forms of energy and protect against floods and drought.
Although the U.K. has pledge £2bn over the next two years, other countries, including the United States, have not put any money on the table beyond 2013.
Environmentalists are angry that the world has made no further progress on agreeing on targets to cut carbon emissions.
The EU has said it will sign up targets as part of a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. But this is impossible until the bickering group of countries decide how to divide up cuts in carbon.
One option on the table would mean the U.K. may have to up its current emissions targets from 34 per cent by 2020 to 42 per cent.
Meanwhile most of the rest of the developed world has not even put forward any new targets to cut carbon emissions.
There is particular anger towards the countries in the Arab world, that many believed would come forward with ambitious targets during the first U.N. conference to be held in the Middle East.
However, Qatar has only announced a new research centre on climate change and no new targets. While it emits a large amount of carbon dioxide due to gas flares from oil extraction, it is treated as a developing nation and has not been subjected to curbs on emissions as developed nations have.
Ali Fakhry, of the Arab Youth Climate Movement, an organisation set up in the wake of the Arab spring, said it will be a “disgrace” if the talks fail to reach an agreement in Doha.
“We are starting to believe that hosting the meeting was green wash and PR,” he said.
“It is time for Qatar to take the lead and ensure the negotiations do not collapse.”
The talks, which are scheduled to finish this Friday, are widely expected to go into the weekend. They may have to reconvene in months if a deal is not struck.
As ministers take over from negotiators in an attempt to drive a deal, Greg Barker, the U.K. Climate Change Minister, said pressure is growing on Qatar.
“Clearly now is the time for the Arab regions to step up to the plate and show leadership to bring this meeting to a successful conclusion. The clock is ticking and there are concerns in the least-developed countries about finance and mitigation. We desperately need more countries to take action.”
It will be a severe embarrassment to Qatar, which is attempting to grow its stature in the world and which will host the World Cup in 2022, if the talks fail.
Naderev Sano, chief negotiator for the Philippines, joined a civil society protest against a weak deal after reportedly bursting into tears during a plenary in frustration.
He said hundreds of thousands of people in his own country are already suffering from floods and storms caused by climate change.
“Based on what we have seen so far and with less than 48 hours to go, a successful ambitious outcome is not in sight," he said.
Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid's senior climate change adviser, said he had never seen such outrage at a U.N. meeting.
“The Doha outcome must be both responsive to the scientific need for action and fair to developing countries which didn't cause this problem but are suffering the most severe effects.”
The two activists led out of the conference centre by U.N. police were believed to be from Libya and Algeria and part of the League of Independent Activists.
Angelina Jolie meets with Syrian refugees in Jordan who had fled from conflict in their home country.
The Hollywood actress met a family who moved from Damascus to their home town of Daraa four months ago but decided they should flee to Jordan.
This family is joining tens of thousands of others who have already fled to Jordan and surrounding country.
Jolie returned to the camp on December 6 to meet more refugees and the family she talked to before.
Nearly half a million Syrians fleeing intensified fighting have been registered in neighbouring countries since the conflict began.
Hundreds of thousands more are unregistered, but are expected to come forward for help in the next few months as their resources are depleted.
Since the UNHCR special envoy's last visit in September, the number of registered Syrian refugees in the region has increased by more than 200,000 and in Jordan alone by nearly 50,000.
The sprawling Za'atri refugee camp north of Amman has doubled in size.
Angelina Jolie and her partner, Brad Pitt, made a donation of $50,000 dollars for the purchase of family tents for refugees.
Contains video from Reuters
The return of Khaled Meshaal, Hamas's exiled leader, to Gaza is a sign that the organisation is becoming more accepted by the world, says Diplomatic Correspondent Alex Spillius.
The Islamist group's leader, who has not visited the Palestinian Territories since leaving the West Bank at age 11, emerged emboldened from the eight day conflict which ended in a ceasefire he negotiated under Egypt's auspices.
Khaled Meshaal drove through the Rafah crossing into Gaza and then got out and kissed the ground before embracing Gaza's Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya.
"I hope God will make me a martyr on the land of Palestine in Gaza," Mr Meshaal said.
Hundreds of police and security forces were on duty at the Rafah crossing, some of them wearing black masks and riding in open trucks, with heavy machineguns attached to the rear.
The Telegraph's diplomatic correspondent, Alex Spillius, says that the visit is a "sign that Hamas is beginning to become more accepted internationally."
Israel, which once tried and failed to assassinate Meshaal, rejects Hamas's assertion that it won the recent conflagration, that killed some 170 Palestinians and six Israelis. There was little mention of his visit in the Hebrew press.
Mr Meshaal will stay for a little more than 48 hours in the Gaza Strip, which his Islamist group has ruled since a 2007 civil war against its secular rival Fatah that runs the nearby West Bank.
Mr Meshaal, 56, left the West Bank with his family after the 1967 Middle East war, when Israel took control of the territory along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. He has never set foot in Gaza, home to some 1.7 million Palestinians.
Hamas plans an open-air rally on Saturday to celebrate last month's fight with Israel, and at the same time commemorate the 25th anniversary of the group's founding.
Mr Meshaal ran Hamas from exile in Damascus from 2004 until January this year when he quit the Syrian capital because of Iranian-backed President Bashar al-Assad's war against Sunni Muslim rebels. He now divides his time between Qatar and Cairo.
Good excuses for a December break, from migrating butterflies in Mexico to Santa spotting in Lapland.
Edinburgh - for Hogmanay
No city parties quite like Edinburgh on New Year’s Eve.
It’s very much a public event and easy to feel part of it.
Events get going on December 30 with a torchlit procession and an opening party in Revolution Square starting at 5pm, and continue until January 2. Full details of timings and tickets are on www.edinburghshogmanay.org.
Vienna - for New Year
Edinburgh does New Year in style, but not quite the style of Vienna with its spectacular balls, concerts, operas and operettas.
The most useful guide to the different events, including details of how to book tickets to one of the balls, is found at the tourist board website.
Germany - for the festive spirit
No country does Christmas markets quite like Germany, from the sausage and gluwein, to the toys and picturesque settings, and the majority have already opened their doors.
The best places to go are Nuremberg, one of Europe's most enchanting medieval cities, Munich, or — for something more contemporary — Berlin.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
This week a judge in Toronto ordered a travel agency to refund 19 holidaymakers after their trip to the Riviera Maya in Mexico was ruined by urinating Canadian students celebrating spring break.
The March holiday is traditionally a time of excessive merriment for North American scholars, and Mexico's Caribbean coast attracts thousands of revellers.
Here we look at other sozzled spots you might want to avoid on your next wedding anniversary.
This purpose built resort town ("Established in 1972" quip the souvenir baseball caps) to the north of the Riviera Maya is a haven for cocktails and debauchery.
Most of the big hotels sit between sea and lagoon on a narrow, 15-mile strip known as the Zona Hotelera.
It's not all about drinking your weight in tequila, however.
The resort can be used as a gateway for trips to deserted beaches and Mayan ruins, as Telegraph Travel's Nigel Tisdall discovered last year.
Unless you're a spotty teenager, there's very little to like about Magaluf (or Shagaluf, as it's often called).
Expect greasy spoons, football fans, and streets lined with the detritus from the night before.
It's a shame really, because much of Mallorca (especially towns like Valldemossa, in the interior) is well worth exploring.
Germans are the world's second-biggest beer drinkers (only the Czechs knock back more), so any holiday there is likely to be punctuated with large jugs of frothy goodness.
The country is renowned for its beer festivals, of which Oktoberfest is by far the most popular.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
In a small but fundamental change to Wikipedia, a tool which protects articles from malicious vandalism while simultaneously permitting good-faith edits has gone live on the English Wikipedia.
When a page under 'pending changes' protection is edited by a new user or a user without an account, the edit does not go live until it has been reviewed by a more experienced editor.
Edits made to Wikipedia articles are normally visible immediately.
The new tool is in contrast to the typical means of page protection on the online encyclopaedia, which, in the case of a flurry of vandalism to an article, completely locks it from being edited at all by new users.
Pending changes is already used on the second largest Wikimedia Foundation project, the German Wikipedia, but unlike the English one, on which pending changes can be assigned to and removed from pages that are frequently subjected to unconstructive edits, it's applied to all articles by default.
This is a significant and long-awaited development. Wikipedia cannot remain the resource that it is if its four million-plus articles – the product of enormous amounts of volunteer time – are fair game.
At last, the burden for dealing with problematic edits is being shifted away from good-faith editors constantly having to challenge them, and onto those who make drive-by and contentious edits, who may now find themselves arguing the case for why their changes should even appear, let alone remain once already published, as they otherwise would.
There is already plenty of evidence within the project that suggests this is the only way forward. More and more experienced editors are inserting FAQ sections in the discussion pages of articles to save themselves from constantly dealing with the same questions and disputes, and at the top of the dispute resolution ladder, the Arbitration Committee has a large list of sanctions for various articles and topics, which can be applied to editors who don’t follow the rules.
But some might argue it’s much too little, much too late. Wikipedia has regrettably served as an anonymous platform to libel people, one which appealed to Johann Hari when he used it to describe people he didn’t like as alcoholics, anti-Semites, or homophobes.
Pending changes would not only have made it much more difficult for such edits to get through, but might even have diminished the incentive to make them in the first place if they didn’t appear immediately after submission.
And then there’s the matter of simply getting things right. If pending changes was enabled on all articles, would Lord Justice Leveson have inadvertently labelled a 25 year old Californian student as a founder of The Independent newspaper?
The fact that Wikipedia can be edited by anyone is arguably both the site’s best and worst aspect: without it, it wouldn’t be what it is. But with September 2012 seeing the lowest monthly level of new editors since September 2005, a laissez-faire attitude to content is no longer sustainable. Sharing knowledge is a worthy and appealing undertaking; baby-sitting its potentially fleeting presence in a digital no-man’s land, not so much.
Sir Richard Branson has thrown down a £1m challenge to Willie Walsh about the future of Virgin Atlantic.
He has been spurred into action by suggestions from Mr Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines, the BA and Iberia group, that Virgin Atlantic could soon be consigned to history if a planned deal involving Delta Airlines goes through.
Sir Richard strongly denied the Virgin name will be dropped and has offered to pay BA staff £1m if the brand name has disappeared within five years. If he wins he wants BA to make a £1m payment to Virgin staff.
Delta is at an advanced stage in talks to buy the 49pc stake held by Singapore Airlines in Virgin Atlantic and an announcement is expected shortly.
Mr Walsh said the Virgin Atlantic name was likely to be ditched by Delta once the deal is finalised. “I can’t see Delta wanting to operate the Virgin brand because if they do what does that say about the Delta brand?”
But Sir Richard, stung by Mr Walsh’s comments, has hit back, using a blog on the Virgin website to reject the suggestion that he is ready to see the brand name disappear.
He wrote: “This is wishful thinking and totally misguided. Will BA never learn? Let’s see how much they believe this. Let them put their money where their mouth is.”
He says he will hand over £1m to BA staff if Virgin Atlantic disappears within five years and “if not BA pays our staff £1m.”
Sir Richard and BA have a long history of soured relations and legal action. Virgin won the last legal encounter in a case involving ‘dirty tricks’ and Sir Richard split the money awarded to the company among his staff.
But rather than suing BA over Mr Walsh’s comments he is putting his money where his mouth is. He said: “Virgin Atlantic was my baby 28 years ago when we set up with just one plane. Like all children, they never really stop being your babies and Virgin Atlantic is still very much cherished.
"It has grown into a wonderful airline which has punched above its weight for almost three decades, giving much larger airlines a real run for their money.
“We intend to carry on doing so for many years to come and contrary to Mr Walsh’s hopes we have no plans to disappear. But since they are so confident will BA accept our challenge?”
IAG, BA's owner, would not comment on Monday.
So the apocalypse is nigh, according to some.
With the end of the world approaching, as predicted by the Mayan calendar, there has been panic candle buying in Sichuan, China, reassurances issued from Sydney to Moscow, and plenty of tourist dollars made in Mayan parts of Central America as visitors gather for a front row seat of the cataclysm.
Here we round up other apocalypse-themed places and trips around the world...
Of course if you really want to scare yourself, then head to this French village in the Pyrenean foothills, which the apocalypse will somehow bypass, internet rumour-mongers would have you believe.
The problem is, it will apparently be closed on December 21, when the alleged end of the world is scheduled to occur.
The flat top mount that is supposed to be the only place left standing will be out of bounds, if the village authorities have their way...
Those going to the nearby Copan on the Guatemala and Honduras border will realise apocalyptic endings are nothing new to Central America, at least when it comes to this beautiful expanse of abandoned temples, once the biggest city state in all of the Americas.
At its busiest and most thriving, the city is thought to have been over farmed and been hit by disease, suffering a rapid demise during the ninth century AD.
Luzon, the Philippines
Apart from its title, the film Apocalypse Now was fraught with a sense of doom.
It was shot on a Philippine island, which doubled as Vietnam.
It was hit by typhoons, and the stars did their best to create an apocalyptic atmosphere, with some of the lead actors strung out on drugs.
The stress of the shoot even led to Martin Sheen having a heart attack.
“The horror, the horror,” as Kurtz says.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
A schoolboy was just hours from death after swallowing magnetic tongue studs designed to look like a piercing.
Michael Delaney, 15, needed life-saving surgery after accidentally swallowing the studs, which are a new fashion craze sweeping Britain.
The powerful magnets - which look like ball-bearings - ripped through his intestines and acid from the metal also caused serious damage to his bowel. His injuries could result in lifelong problems.
Michael was one of four pupils at St Matthew's RC High School in Moston, Manchester admitted to hospital after swallowing the products.
Teenagers are now being warned of the dangers of the potentially-fatal fashion craze.
Michael initially attended North Manchester General Hospital complaining of a stomach upset two weeks after swallowing the tiny metal balls on a bus journey.
Surgeons had to cut into his bowel in three places to retrieve the accessories and later told him he had been just four hours away from losing his life.
After discovering what had caused the horrific internal damage, the school urged any other pupils who had swallowed the ball bearings to go straight to hospital - and circulated a warning letter to parents and other schools.
Three girls from St Matthew's aged between 13 and 16 were also admitted to hospital as a precaution but were given the all-clear by doctors.
Now Michael, of Rochdale Road, Harpurhey, has sent out a warning to other youngsters experimenting with the fake piercings.
He said: "It was a really frightening experience. I couldn't walk, talk or even move and the thought that I could be dead if I hadn't gone into hospital is really scary. "
They couldn't figure out what was wrong with me and found the studs when they put a camera inside me and the magnets stuck to the camera.
"I just had a really intense stomach ache but it never occurred to me that it might have been the studs. I'd swallowed them two weeks before but just thought they'd pass through.
"I thought they were safe but now I know how serious magnets can be and I'd say to anyone who uses these studs that you're putting yourself in real danger by putting them in your mouth."
Michael spent almost a week in hospital after being admitted last Monday with suspected appendicitis.
He now faces an agonising four-week wait to find out if damage sustained to his bowel will be permanent.
His dad, also called Michael, said: "Michael's a 15-year-old lad but if he'd been a seven or eight-year-old it could have killed him.
"It's really important that people are made aware of the dangers."
It is believed the studs had been distributed around the school by a pupil who had bought them on holiday. It is not yet known who produced them.
The packaging defined the product as 'facial studs' and showed a cartoon picture of a boy wearing the accessory on his tongue.
The products are designed to sit on either side of the tongue with the magnetic connection between the two studs holding them in place.
Rob Wall, deputy headteacher at St Matthew's, said: "As soon as we were aware of what had happened to Michael, we immediately circulated warnings to the parents and the teachers and we also made other schools in the area aware of what had happened.
We also urged any pupils who thought they may have swallowed anything magnetic to go straight to hospital as a precautionary measure.
"Our thoughts are with Michael and his family at what has been a very distressing time and we are glad to see the message is getting out there of the potential dangers."
The fashion accessories have previously been flagged up as a potential health risk in the US following similar cases.
Last year, Colorado schoolgirl Lauren Garcia, 13, required life-saving surgery after magnetic studs burned several holes in her intestines. And in January, two-year-old Jericho Monteith, from Nevada, needed nine inches of intestine removed after magnets burrowed their way through his system.
For fans of cakes and confectionery, Baking Mad pastry chef Eric Lanlard gives his guide to the best patisseries in Paris.
I don’t have a sweet tooth but, for me growing up, the most exciting part of the week was going to the patisserie because it was so glamorous and exciting.
Any village in France will have at least one or two patisseries and, mostly on Sundays, people will go and buy some cakes for the family or for guests.
The patisseries are like jewelery shops, with beautiful interiors, and when you go to a patisserie in France it’s almost like going to Louis Vuitton or Prada to buy an expensive handbag or jewellery.
Service is sophisticated, everyone’s smartly dressed; it feels special.
And that atmosphere is expected – people are prepared to spend a lot of money on cakes and they understand how much work is involved. It’s a highly rated profession.
In France, the people behind the patisserie counter do an apprenticeship for two years to sell cakes. They’re not students doing it part time or just doing it for pocket money – that’s their career. People sometimes call me a baker but I’m a pastry chef and they’re completely different disciplines.
There’s a rivalry between bakers and pastry chefs. Pastry chefs consider themselves alchemists and think bakers just mix flour and water. When I was an apprentice if I created a cake and it wasn’t a good job my boss would say: “That’s the work of a baker.”
In my shop, Cake Boy in London, I see British customers are more hesitant to spend that much on cakes and they’re not as open-minded as the French are. It can be tempting to just choose a cheesecake but there are lots of options out there.
Paris is a good place to discover patisseries at their best because it’s where the most innovative and glamorous brands are based. The interiors can be incredibly beautiful and the experience feels so indulgent but it’s not inaccessible.
Going to a patisserie in Paris is more relaxed than going to a restaurant and usually it’s very relaxed and friendly – it’s not like going to a restaurant or brassiere.
La Patisserie des Réves, 93 rue du Bac & 111 rue de Longchamp
This is the most innovative patisserie in Paris. It’s a totally different patisserie concept to what’s come before it. The cakes are beautiful and avant-garde, so even if you buy something traditional, like an éclair, the shape and topping will be different. It’s not an éclair as you know it – it’s special.
Many Parisian patisseries have huge displays of cakes but in La Patisserie des Réves there’s just one table on show, with a small selection of maybe six to eight individual cakes placed on it. They’re all stored under glass domes that are lifted by pulleys and a staff member is positioned by the table so they can tell you about the cakes you’re looking at.
If you want a closer look they can lift up the domes by using the pulleys and the effect is dramatic and extravagant and theatrical. Once you choose a cake you’re given a receipt and you go to a counter in the back of the shop.
There’s a shutter door there and your cake is delivered from the kitchen – they keep just one cake in the display area and the others are stored in a special freezer so they’re as fresh as can be. It's quite cool.
Ladurée, 75 avenue des Champs Elysées
Ladurée has branches all over the world now but the original one is still the best one. It doesn’t matter if you open in Harrods or wherever and you try to recreate the original décor and atmosphere – you can’t beat the real one on the Champs-Élysées.
If you’re shopping in the area it’s the best place to stop to have a tea or a coffee and it’s what you expect from an old patisserie – quite dark, all wood; it looks like something which has been for 100 years, which is the case. Once inside you have to queue to choose your cakes and the staff members spend hours explaining everything to you.
Then you join another queue and have to pay to get your cakes, then you have to queue again to collect your cakes, which have been wrapped beautifully. The whole experience is time-consuming but fantastic and they’ve got a salon de thé, a modern bar and upstairs there’s a private dining room.
Despite its age and heritage the patisserie is still very innovative. It’s got an old location but with very modern cakes. It shows what a patisserie should be and it’s a good place to stop for champagne and cakes.
Patisserie Stohrer, 51 rue Montorgueil
L'Antares from Patisserie Stohrer, a cake made of pistachio macaron, pistachio mousseline cream and fresh raspberries
Patisserie Stohrer is the oldest patisserie in Paris. It’s tiny and the cakes they do there are very classic, almost to the point of being baker-style cakes. If you’re French their cakes bring back memories of childhood because they sell the kinds of cakes we used to have years ago.
Their specialty has always been the Rum Baba. There isn’t too much going on in terms of how they’re decorated and so on, but they’re very, very good. In contrast, the interior of the shop is decorated like Versailles. It’s full of paintings and it’s all gilded. The ceiling looks like a ballroom ceiling and it’s all a bit flamboyant.
Pierre Hermé, throughout Paris
Foie gras macarons
Pierre Hermé revolutionised the traditional French patisserie, he was one of the first young chefs to give a breath of fresh air to the industry. The French can be a bit stuck in their ways but he challenged how things were done. He used to be the head chef of Fauchon patisserie and that’s where he built his reputation.
Now he’s famous worldwide and he’s still very edgy in what he does. He has a few shops in Paris and they’re definitely edgy too; they’re scary to visit because they’re quite sterile and clinical and the girls behind the counter are immaculate and wear four-inch stilettos.
You’d never dare to say a bad word in that patisserie because you know you’d be told off. It feels special there and people pay a premium for that – you could spend €100 on one cake there.
Fauchon, Place de la Madeline
Fauchon is a French institution – it’s the best food hall in the French capital. The patisserie department is fantastic, with very innovative cakes that come in weird shapes and flavours. It’s all about luxury and indulgence there and the service is out of this world.
I am quite happy sitting outside and watching the world pass by; the area’s quite chic and there’s plenty to see. My favourite thing to order is the chocolate éclair with an imprint of Mona Lisa’s eyes on it. Fabulous!
Lenôtre, throughout Paris
The late Gaston Lenôtre was the Godfather of French patisserie and started a big cookery school. His innovative style and his desire to share his passion made him a respected chef in France and abroad and, after his death in 2009, there are still a number of his shops to be found all over Paris. If you want to buy some good-quality cakes the selection isn’t as extreme as some of the others, in terms of decoration, but the quality is excellent. He has left a wonderful legacy.
Inspired by Parisian patisseries, Eric Lanlard's I Love Paris afternoon tea is available at Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotel at Cadogan Place, London until December 31. As part of his ongoing partnership with the property, Eric Lanlard will man a pop-up Cake Boy cake shop in the hotel's GILT cocktail lounge from 11am-4pm on December 14 and 15.
Men’s tights, for so long the preserve of ballet dancers and runway models, are taking Manhattan by storm and could soon be seen on the street of Britain.
When trendsetters speculated what would be the defining men’s fashion movement to sweep New York this winter, few opted for the male legging.
But “Megging”, as the male legging is known, is now all the rage in sartorial circles. Celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Russell Brand and Lenny Kravitz have all been spotted wearing leggings, while fashion stores Uniqlo, Barneys and Nordstrom are selling tights for men.
The bad news is they are on their way to Britain: Uniqlo is already selling them on its British website, and their success in New York is seen as an indication they will also prove popular here.
They are expected to follow on from the trend for “skinny jeans” on men, which have become a staple of the British high street.
One proud “megger” is Mark Dorosz, 34, an English internet entrepreneur who lives on the Upper East Side in Manhattan.
“Male tights are so much more comfortable than skinny jeans,” he said. “I’ve always had good legs and it’s nice to show them off all year round.
“There are so many people wearing exotic clothes in New York that nobody cares about a man wearing leggings if it works for him.
“Perhaps people will be laughing around this in 12 months’ time but for now they come up to me and say, 'You look awesome.’”
Some New Yorkers, however, see the “megger” as an affront to masculinity. Gabriel Cru, 35, from the Bronx, said: “Men in tights? Get out of here. We don’t do men in tights in New York. That’s European!”
New York-based British fashion designer Lucy Sykes warned that 'megging’ is a hard look to pull off. “The only guy I’ve seen that looks good in a legging is my friend Neil who works with me at Rent the Runway," she said. "But he’s young, dark and handsome and used to perform ballet at Lincoln Centre.
“Frankly any other man I have seen [in tights] looks a bit of a wally.”
Susan Rice’s decision to step aside as an unofficial Secretary of State candidate is a political blow for President Barack Obama, but one he should not rue.
Ms Rice wasn’t only felled by her handling of the Benghazi crisis, when she thoughtlessly recycled CIA talking points on Sunday talk shows, claiming that the attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others US diplomats sprung from a protest against an anti-Islamic film.
She made her case her typical stridency, which often served her well, but on this occasion came back to bite her, not for the first time.
Rice will not be missed in European capitals, where officials found her talented and super-smart but abrasive and a touch sharp-tongued. Some felt she was simply not diplomatic enough to be America's top diplomat.
The death knell of her ambitions was probably sounded by a New York Times story on Monday, which detailed how she failed to put pressure on President Paul Kagame of Rwanda to stop fomenting violence in Congo.
The liberal establishment's favourite paper also ran an opinion peace by an Ethiopian activist criticising Rice’s fulsome tribute to the late Meles Zenawi.
In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal recalled how Rice, an Africa specialist, had invested faith in young, progressive-seeming leaders such as Kagame, Zenawi and Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, but stuck by them when they turned out to be not so progressive after all.
Other pieces recalled how in the Clinton administration she had reportedly asked what effect the Rwandan genocide might have on Democrats’ prospects in the 1994 mid-term elections.
The NYT reported that Rice had watered down a UN resolution condemning Kagame’s support for Congo’s M23 rebels, whose recent invasion of Goma, the major eastern city, provoked international condemnation. It emerged that Kagame had been a client of Intellibridge, a Washington consultancy Rice worked for during George W Bush’s presidency.
Senator John McCain, who threatened to block her nomination, and other Republicans would have had plenty of material to make her confirmation hearing very uncomfortable, besides Benghazi.
Rice is not the only Western politician to suffer from links to Kagame, of course. Andrew Mitchell’s last act as Britain’s international development minister was to r estore £16 million in aid to Rwanda, a decision which was rescinded by his successor after the Goma invasion.
With Rice no longer in the picture, the overwhelming favourite is Senator John Kerry. Not only would he a safe choice, but a good one.
As chairman of the senate foreign affairs committee, the Vietnam war veteran has vast relevant experience. He has the trust of foreign capitals in Europe and the Middle East, and acted as Obama’s envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, cleaning up a mess left by the late Richard Holbrooke, like Rice a brilliant person whose uncompromising style didn’t work well in certain parts of the world. He also has great hair, which should be irrelevant but somehow isn't.
If Kerry replaces Hillary Clinton, who is determined to leave her job, Obama would have a much better chance of securing the foreign policy legacy he surely craves – a two-state solution in the Middle East. It is hard to imagine Susan Rice picking her way through the minefield of that region’s diplomacy.
Obama was a friend of Rice and praised her work as UN ambassador. He wanted to reward her for supporting him early on in his White House bid. He is likely to do so by making her national security director, a job that doesn’t require senate confirmation.