Since its birth in the aftermath of World War II, the United Nations has faced innumerable crises. The eternal messiness of global affairs is, of course, exactly why the UN was created. But perhaps never in its 71 years of existence has the biggest of global institutions been faced with so many simultaneous fires — and seemed to struggle so hard to be heard above both the hostilities and cries for help.
After what was largely considered an unremarkable tenure by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, it is time for somebody new to take over one of the toughest jobs in the world. The choice announced yesterday of António Guterres, 67, has been a cause for some degree of optimism. Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister, proved his worth during 10 years as the head of the UN's refugee agency, demonstrating what The New York Times called a wealth of "experience, energy and diplomatic finesse." Officials in Portugal also lauded his appointment, with President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa writing in Diário de Notíciasthat Guterres was "the best candidate" for the job. Former President Anibal Cavaco Silva, meanwhile, declared that "all the world listens to him."
He will need all ears indeed to help stem the killing in Syria, avoid escalation in Ukraine and North Korea, solve a series of refugee crises, reset the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, hold countries to their promises of last year's Paris Agreement on climate change ... and the list goes on and on.
Writing in the Portuguese paper Público, Jorge Almeida Fernandes sums up the challenge: "There are always more crises to control and always fewer means to do so," he writes. "Guterres knows he won't be the leader of the world. He only knows that the UN is in the eye of the storm."
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY
- European Border and Coast Guard Agency begins operations on Bulgaria-Turkey border.
- Prince's Paisley Park opens.
U.S. EVACUATIONS AS HURRICANE NEARS
Some two million people in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida were ordered to evacuate with Hurricane Matthew, described as the most powerful Caribbean storm in almost a decade, expected to reach Florida's east coast tonight, ABC reports. In Cuba and Haiti, at least 350,000 people are in need of immediate assistance, according to the UN, and 15 people have been reported killed in the past two days.
DEADLY BOMBING AT SYRIA-TURKEY BORDER
At least 20 people, most of them rebels fighters from the Free Syrian Army, were killed this morning in an explosion at the rebel-controlled Atmeh crossing between Syria and Turkey, CNN Türk reports. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.
— ON THIS DAY
Yugoslav President Slobodan MiloševiÄ‡ resigned 16 years ago on this day. That, and more, in your 57-second shot of history.
"This gives us the best possible shot to save the one planet we've got," U.S. President Barack Obama said yesterday, as the climate accord reached in Paris last year passed above the 55 % threshold needed for implementation with the backing of the EU, Canada and other nations. Obama added that "history may well judge it as a turning point for our planet."
AL-SHABAAB ATTACK KILLS SIX IN KENYA
Six people were killed early this morning in Mandera, a Kenyan town on the border with Somalia, in an attack carried out by al-Shabaab terrorists, Daily Nation reports.
— MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD
Parisian Prestige — Paris, 1958
BRAZIL ALLOWS FOREIGN INVESTMENTS IN OIL FIELDS
Brazilian lawmakers voted yesterday to open up the country's pre-salt oil fields to foreign investment, meaning state-owned Petrobras will no longer be the sole operator of Brazil's vast oil reserves, Folha de S. Paulo reports. Bloomberg describes the move as a "major policy shift," as part of the new government's strategy to reduce state interventionism.
Global debt has reached an all-time high of $152 trillion, according to the International Monetary Fund. That's more than twice the size of the global economy.
Behind a facade of luxury hotels for the Kim Kardashians of this world and its picture-perfect Haussmannian buildings, Paris also hides a gloomier reality with about 7,000 people living in micro-apartments, Caroline Piquet writes in Le Figaro.
"Albert is sitting on his single bed on the sixth floor of a typical Haussmann-style building in the 13th arrondissement in south Paris. It is a sweltering late July day, and the 56-year-old keeps the door of his flat open. "Here you are. This is where I live," he says of the 6.5-square-meter (70-square-foot) apartment. The cramped room is poorly ventilated, with only a narrow transom that provides natural light. On the right, a small water spigot is located at the foot of the bed. On the other side, a mound of suitcases, bags and other boxes cover the entire wall. "What you see here is my whole life," Albert sighs."
Read the full story, Micro-Apartments, Not The Paris You Always Dreamed Of.
NSA CONTRACTOR ARRESTED
The FBI arrested an NSA contractor and charged him with stealing classified information from the U.S. government, The Washington Post reports. The arrest, which was kept secret until now, took place in late August. The suspect, Harold Thomas Martin III, 51, was a contractor for the consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton, where Edward Snowden had also worked.
MORE STORIES, BROUGHT TO YOU BY WORLDCRUNCH
- Argentine Pope Meets Argentine President, Awkward Again? — Clarín
- The Day That Changed Polish Women Forever — Gazeta Wyborcza
- Beyond Bad Food, Malnutrition Plagues Brazilian Hospitals — Folha de S. Paulo
If you thought Pokémon Go was lost on anybody over 30, the example of the 55-year-old Norwegian prime minister should convince you otherwise. She was caught playing during a parliamentary debate.