Continued talks between Israel and Palestinians encouraging UN political chief says

25 November 2008The top United Nations political official today voiced regret that Israel and the Palestinians will probably not reach a peace agreement by the end of this year under the negotiating track launched last in the United States city of Annapolis, but noted that ongoing direct talks between the two sides are a positive sign. “The parties stated that negotiations would continue uninterrupted, and that their goals remain a comprehensive peace agreement addressing all their issues, without exception,” Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe told the Security Council in an open meeting.But he cautioned that domestic politics in both Israel and among the Palestinians could thwart the process. The inability of Prime Minister-designate Tzipi Livni to form a coalition government has prompted elections, which will be held next February, while the Palestinians “remain divided,” he said.“Unfortunately, recent developments in the occupied Palestinian territory and in Israel underscore that the gap between the political tracks and the situation on the ground remain large, posing considerable obstacles to the path that lies ahead,” Mr. Pascoe said.During the reporting period, 16 Palestinians were killed and 122 others, mainly civilians, were injured, with one Israeli being killed and 25 soldiers and civilians suffering injuries.For much of this month, Israeli authorities restricted humanitarian access, as well as the entry of commercial and relief supplies, into Gaza. This resulted in UN agencies suspending the distribution of much-needed food aid for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. Fuel shortages also forced power cuts and rolling blackouts.Crossings into Gaza remain closed today, and the lack of cooking gas has prevented nearly half of the area’s 71 bakeries from operating. Water-rationing is also impacting over half a million people, the official said.In today’s briefing to the Council, Mr. Pascoe expressed concern over reports of human rights abuses committed in Gaza under the “de facto Hamas regime,” which has also apparently consolidated its control, divorcing Gaza’s institutions from those of the Palestinian Authority.He noted that in spite of the Palestinian Authority’s security efforts in the West Bank, there has been no major reduction in Israeli military incursions or easing of closures there.“It is deeply regrettable that settlement activity in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is ongoing in the vast majority of settlements,” the Under-Secretary-General said, but added that in a positive development, the Israeli Government announced on 2 November that it immediately intends to cease funding for illegal settlement outposts in the West Bank.“There is a need for tangible improvements in the living conditions and security of civilians to give them faith in the political process,” he told the 15-member body, underscoring the need for the Middle East diplomatic Quartet – comprising Russia, the United States, the European Union and the UN – to keep up the momentum.Mr. Pascoe also said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged US President-elect Barack Obama to engage early in the region to push the peace process forward in line with the Quartet-sponsored Roadmap plan.“Our shared goal remains clear, an end to the occupation that began in 1967, and the achievement of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security with Israel,” he added, citing the Roadmap goal of Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace, originally slated for completion by the end of 2005. read more

Ohio State football announces 2013 season captains

For The LanternThen-junior Christian Bryant celebrates during a game against California on Sept. 15 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 35-28.The Ohio State football team announced Tuesday that they will have eight game captains for the 2013 season.The players voted redshirt-senior safety C.J. Barnett, senior wide receiver Corey “Philly” Brown, senior safety Christian Bryant, redshirt-senior quarterback Kenny Guiton, redshirt-senior offensive lineman Corey Linsley, redshirt-senior offensive lineman Jack Mewhort, junior quarterback Braxton Miller and junior linebacker Ryan Shazier as the leaders for this year’s team, which hopes to repeat its undefeated 2012 season.According to a press release, the team will decide at the end of the year which of the eight players should be recognized as the season’s official team captains. Meyer said in the press release that the eight players each received “a lot of votes” and were all within 12 votes of one another.“It’s the first time I’ve done something like this,” Meyer told the team before announcing the eight game captains, according to the press release.Mewhort, one of the Buckeyes who attended Big Ten Media Days in Chicago over the summer, has been a part of 35 games for the Buckeyes, including starting for 25 consecutive games heading into this season. He helps to anchor an offensive line that returns four starters from 2012.In his first three seasons, Mewhort was asked to play multiple positions on the offensive line, starting at left and right guard during his sophomore season before spending all of last year at left tackle.After a long offseason, Mewhort said Monday he is ready for the season to get underway.“I think it’s nice just knowing that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and this Saturday we get to go out and play against somebody other than ourselves,” Mewhort said.Miller was the 2012 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year after breaking a school record with 3,310 yards of total offense last season. He completed 58.3 percent of his passes during the Buckeyes’ undefeated season for 2,039 yards and 15 touchdowns, while he also ran for 1,271 yards, 13 touchdowns and 227 rushing attempts.Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman said last week that Miller is “head and shoulders better” than he was last year and the Buckeyes expect him to be a leader this season.“The trust level that he has in the guys around him has certainly grown and allowed him to take a little bit off his shoulders,” Herman said of Miller. “The trust level he has in himself allows him to be a little bit more relaxed and calm back there and understand when everything looks chaotic.”Guiton will be Miller’s primary backup at the quarterback position for the second consecutive year this season. He appeared in nine games last season, with his most significant action coming in the Buckeyes’ eighth game of the season versus Purdue. After Miller was knocked out of the game with a third-quarter head injury, Guiton came into the game and led the Buckeyes to game-tying and game-winning drives for a 29-22 overtime win that preserved the Buckeyes’ undefeated season.Although he does not start, Guiton said last week he tries to take on a leadership role with the offense. He also said he expects to see the field again this season and is prepared to play a crucial role again if needed.“My mentality is just whenever I get a shot, I want to come out on top,” Guiton said. “I want to be able to go out there and keep the offense’s tempo up and do the things that can keep this offense going.”Shazier is the Buckeyes’ only returning starter in the defense’s front seven, and one of the team’s top defensiveplaymakers. Last year, Shazier led the Big Ten with 17 tackles for loss, the 10th best for a Buckeye in a single season all-time and totaled 115 tackles, good for second in the conference.He was named the Big Ten defensive player of the week twice in 2012 and finished fourth in the conference with three forced fumbles. He was also named first-team all-Big Ten last year.Shazier said he’s continually looking to improve.“I’ve just been trying to focus on some of the things I did last year to continue to keep pushing me this year and even on the things I messed up on last year so I can fix those mistakes and be better,” Shazier said.Bryant returns to help a defense that has undergone a plethora of changes in the offseason. He started all 12 games last season, and has started a total of 22 games during his time at OSU.The Cleveland-native tallied 70 total tackles in 2012, good for second on the team. He also recorded his only career interception during a game against California last season. His performance as a junior was enough to earn him second-team all-Big Ten honors.Bryant has 149 total tackles over his career at OSU and has forced three fumbles, both of which are second-best among current players.Barnett is another returner at the safety position, and comes into the year as the defensive player with the most starts in his career with 24. Although he missed three games in 2012 due to an ankle injury, he still managed to total 56 tackles on the year.In each of the last two seasons, Barnett has recorded two interceptions, including one against Michigan last season on the Wolverines’ final drive, which clinched the undefeated season for OSU.With seven new starters on defense this season, Barnett says the pressure on him will be higher.“A little bit, just to lead. I think they’re a little inexperienced but they’re great players. With Noah (Spence), Mike (Bennett) leading andAdolphus (Washington) I have a lot of confidence in them that they’ll get the job done,” Barnett said.Brown was OSU’s top receiver in 2012, leading the team with 669 yards and 60 catches and finishing third with three touchdowns. He was awarded the Paul Warfield Award, given to the team’s best receiver, in each of the last two years. Coming into the year, Brown is22nd on OSU’s all-time receptions list, and was named second-team all-Big Ten last season.Quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Tom Herman said Brown is a versatile receiver who can help the offense this year.“Philly (Brown) is kind of a swing guy, if you will. He can play outside receiver and he can play some inside receiver,” Herman said.Linsley is a second-year starter at center for the Buckeyes. He started all 12 games for OSU last season and was an honorable mention all-Big Ten selection.Linsley has been battling back from a foot injury this offseason, but Meyer said Tuesday his center is “90 to 95” percent healthy, and will be ready to play and start for the Buckeyes when they open their season Saturday against Buffalo.Kickoff for Saturday’s game at Ohio Stadium is scheduled for noon. read more