As foreign ministers gathered in New York today to discuss ways to end Syria’s civil war, the fundamental problem was plain to see.
There was no agreement on which of the many militant opposition factions should be allowed to attend as legitimate parties to Syria’s future and which should be barred as terrorist organisations. Syria’s formal main opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, declined to attend. Nations represented include the United States, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia. Ministers from European and Middle Eastern countries involved in housing refugees or fighting ISIS will also attend.
The Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammah Javad Zarif called for “serious and inclusive” opposition representation but opposed allowing anyone associated with ISIS or al-Qaeda affiliates to attend. The removal of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad will be on the agenda, but Russia is opposed to the ouster of its ally.
Meanwhile, in Geneva, the UN refugee agency announced that vast numbers of people fleeing the war in Syria had pushed global refugee numbers to an all-time high in 2015, well in excess of 20 million.
Tobacco giant left gasping after court setback
Tobacco giant Phillip Morris has lost its bid to challenge Australia’s laws enforcing plain tobacco packaging. The company argues that the law constituted “an appropriation of its Australian investment” and constituted an unreasonable and discriminatory measure (which amounts, pretty much, to a complaint that the Australian Government destroyed a market PM spent money building up, and diminishing its profitability). A Singapore court ruled that it had no authority to hear the complaint.
Brain tumour cure a miracle for the marketing department
An Italian Catholic newspaper has reported that the Pope has recognised a second “miracle” attributed to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, clearing the way for the founder of the Missionaries of Charity to be declared a saint next year. A Vatican panel had found a Brazilian man was cured of brain tumours through the late nun’s heavenly intervention. She is tipped to be formally canonised in Rome next year, drawing thousands more believers to the city to mark the Pope’s Holy Year project.
What goes around come around
An opportunistic New York businessman who caused global outrage by exploiting desperate people was yesterday led away in handcuffs by FBI agents in New York, arrested on fraud charges. In September, Martin Shkreli bought a company marketing an obscure drug used to cure AIDS victims and babies suffering from a rare parasitic disease, then increased its price by 5500 per cent. The New Yorker magazine immediately posted a satirical report that lawyers were increasing their fees 5500 per cent as they awaited Shkreli’s call.
The day the music died…
Amid the fallout from the cancelled Soundwave music festivals, the only thing that is clear is that music lovers who booked early may have a long wait for their money. The company that marketed the events, Eventopia, is blaming promoter A.J. Maddah for delays, saying it will reimburse fans as soon as Maddah returns millions in ticket sales that Eventopia claims to have paid him. Consumer affairs legislation appears to hold the ticket vendors responsible, regardless of where receipts have been deposited.The Sydney Morning Herald reported that at least 50,000 tickets had been sold before Maddah cancelled the festival, suggesting fans were about $8 million out of pocket. – Compiled from web sources by The Newsroom Team