FDNY responders put out fire in United Nations basement

Firefighters responded to a fire in the basement of the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan on Sunday night, a Fire Department spokesman said. The fire started in a gift shop in the basement of the UN building around 6:45 p.m.and was quickly extinguished, according to the Fire Department. One person suffered a minor injury, according to the spokesman. Continue Reading

EXCLUSIVE: New United Nations skyscraper will have floating full-floor gardens

That deluxe apartment in the sky is nothing without Manhattan’s latest uber-amenity: A floating garden. A new 41-story skyscraper at 303 E. 44th St., will feature six 16-foot-high gaps in the façade — each filled with a full-floor, canopied green space that will wrap around the core of the tower. There will also be a private full-floor roof garden for residents of the penthouse. “To have an apartment at the top of the world is one thing, but to have a private garden at the top of the world is something we haven’t seen,” said Eran Chen of the architectural firm ODA, which is designing the slimline tower near the United Nations. It’s hardly unusual to have outdoor space at luxury residential towers, but this 600-foot East Side building is taking the concept of urban outdoor living to a whole new — and pricey — level by dedicating full floors to gardens. The concept represents a challenge for the engineers and architects, who plan to construct the building with limited structural support around the parimeters of the gardens, to avoid blocking the views. Instead, the structure will be held up almost entirely by the core. “I asked myself, ‘Can you live in a slender tower up 600 feet above the city and at the same time have access to a garden as big as one attached to a ground-floor home?’ ” Chen said. “You would think it would be counterintuitive, but we are making it happen.” Joseph Stavrach’s Triangle Assets and business partner Freddy Srour plan to start construction in September, pending approvals from the city, and to complete the building by late 2017, said Stavrach’s son, Benjamin Stavrach. The superskinny tower will have 2,600-square-foot floor plates, one-third the size of those of famed pencil towers such as 432 Park Ave. The lower floors will be divided into one- and two-bedroom apartments, with full-floor Continue Reading

United Nations peacekeepers gave Haitian women food, medicine in exchange for sex, report reveals

United Nations peacekeepers gave more than 225 Haitian women food and medicine in exchange for sex, according to an internal report on exploitation that The Associated Press obtained. The draft by the Office of Internal Oversight Services looks at the way UN peacekeeping, which has about 125,000 people in some of the world’s most troubled areas, deals with the persistent problem of sexual abuse and exploitation. Expected to be released this month, the report says major challenges remain a decade after a groundbreaking UN report first tackled the issue. Among its findings: About a third of alleged sexual abuse involves minors. “For rural women, hunger, lack of shelter, baby care items, medication and household items were frequently cited as the ‘triggering need,’ ” the report says. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

SEE IT: United Nations photo exhibit shows gruesome images of victims tortured in Syrian conflict (Warning: graphic content)

The shocking casualties from Syria's now 5-year long conflict are on full display at the United Nations. An exhibit that opened this week contains pictures of victims of brutal torture shot by a former Syrian military police photographer. The work is creating shocking awareness over the brutality of the current fighting. The United States, as well as Britain, France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey sponsored the New York exhibit with two dozen photographs taken of people between 2011 and mid-2013, Reuters reports. Images from the agency show the dramatic impact the stills, which document gory evidence of eye gouging, strangulation and long-term starvation, have on the onlookers who often cover their mouths in astonishment. The photographer that took the pictures, who is identified with the code name "Cesar," captured the images at a military hospital of people from three detention centers in the Damascus area. We hope that this exhibition will serve as a reminder of the imperative to pursue a political solution to the conflict. He took a total of 55,000 pictures and smuggled the items by hiding the memory cards in his shoe. The pictures serve as "clear evidence" of systematic torture and mass killings in the nation's three-year-long civil war former war crime prosecutors told the agency. Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said the exhibit's purpose is to raise awareness of the human rights abuses President Bashar al-Assad's troops have allegedly carried out against his own people. Roughly 220,000 Syrians have been killed and another 7.6 million have been displaced, Lyall Grant said. More than 3.8 million people have been forced to flee the country, he said. "We hope that this exhibition will serve as a reminder of the imperative to pursue a political solution to the conflict with utmost urgency to end the suffering of the Syrian people," he said. A U.S. official told the agency the pictures Continue Reading

United Nations bus bombed in northern Somalia, killing seven people; al-Shabab terror network claims responsibility

A car bomb exploded on a United Nations bus in northern Somalia on Monday morning, killing at least seven people, four of whom worked for the international agency. The blast, which also injured several others, occurred in Garowe, the administrative capital of the semi-autonomous Puntland region. The bomb, for which Islamist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility, was detonated as the van drove past a UN food center, police official Abdullahi Mohamed told Agence France-Presse. The van belonged to UNICEF, the U.N. operation that provides aid to children. Four of the dead worked for UNICEF, officials said. The dead included two Kenyans, one Ugandan, one Afghan and a trio of Somalis. At least eight people were wounded, including one American. Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud called it an attack on the country's future. "This attack is not just targeted at the United Nations, but in attacking UNICEF, al-Shabab has also attacked Somali children. It is an attack against the future of our country and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” Mohamud said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. Al-Shabab, which is linked to the Al Qaeda terror network, claimed responsibility for the bombing in a radio broadcast, the Associated Press reported. Earlier this month al-Shababmassacred 147 civilianson a college campus in Kenya. Disturbing photos posted on social media showed decapitated bodies inside the bombed-out van, and witnesses told the AP that limbs were strewn about at the blast site. "I am shocked and horrified by what took place today in Garowe," UN special representative of the secretary-general for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, said in a statement. "The complete disregard for the lives of people working on the humanitarian and development needs of the people of Somalia is despicable." Bombings are not common in northern Continue Reading

Pharrell Williams spreads ‘Happy’ message about climate change during United Nations address

What does happiness mean to Pharrell Williams? Taking a stand against climate change. The Grammy winner addressed the United Nations on Friday – designated by the UN as the International Day of Happiness – to bring awareness to the hot-button issue. But he didn’t speak to global leaders at the General Assembly Hall, but students of all ages, ranging in age from kids to teenagers. “I’m staring at the future right now,” the "Happy" singer told the room. “Hello to the future.” It was definitely no ordinary United Nations event, not with a deejay wearing glittery headphones spinning MixRadio's specially curated “World’s Happiest Playlist,” featuring the likes of Bob Marley and Beyonce. The festive atmosphere led a UN official to joke to the crowd, “You can dance – but not on the tables.” Williams wove the theme of his Oscar-nominated song in his speech urging the youngsters to take care of their planet. “Music brought me happiness,” Williams said during his short speech. “Happiness is your birthright.” “If you don’t take care of your home, you don’t have a life,” he added. “We have to move from climate change to climate action.” Joining Williams at the event to speak about the topic were noted environmental advocates Philippe Cousteau, grandson of famed underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau, and oceanographer Sylvia Earle. The event was held to raise awareness ahead of the UN conference on climate change being held December in Paris. The aim is to collect 1 billion signatures for the Live Earth petition, which will urge global leaders to adopt a new climate accord at the summit. As part of the International Day of Happiness festivities, Williams invited fans to join a “Global Happy Party” in which Continue Reading

United Nations commemorates grim anniversary of Boko Haram mass kidnapping of children as report reveals 800K displaced

Two-hundred and twenty ribbons were tied to railings and trees outside the United Nations on Monday — one for each of the Nigerian schoolgirls who remain the clutches of Boko Haram. The mass kidnappings one year ago horrified the world but were just the start of a brutal war on children being waged by the bloodthirsty Islamic fanatics. “What was their crime?” asked Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Queens/Manhattan) at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. “They were getting an education.” To mark the one-year anniversary of the abductions, the top of the Empire State Building will be lit up red and purple “for the girls who cannot speak for themselves," Maloney said. Maloney was joined by dozens of teenage girls from St. Joseph High School in Brooklyn. “My mother was horrified when she learned about what happened,” said 17-year-old Damaris Hammon, a senior. "These girls are the same age as us." Consolee Nishimwe, a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, said she ached for the captive Nigerian girls. “My heart breaks every time I think about these girls,” Nishimwe said. “I know the pain they are going through. I was the same age as them 21 years ago.” More than 800,000 kids have been forced from their homes by the Boko Haram brutes. The youths make up more than half of the 1.5 million Nigerians who have been displaced by the fighting, a UNICEF report published Monday revealed. "Children have become deliberate targets, often subjected to extreme violence — from sexual abuse and forced marriage to kidnappings and brutal killings," the report said. "Children have also become weapons, made to fight alongside armed groups and at times used as human bombs." UNICEF released the report on the eve of the anniversary of the terror group’s abduction of the school girls — some as young as 9 years old — from the town of Chibok. Continue Reading

Yemen’s United Nations envoy warns that country is on ‘the edge of civil war’ as rebels gain ground

The United Nations special envoy for Yemen warned an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Sunday that events appear to be leading the Arab country “to the edge of civil war.” Jamal Benomar urged all parties to step back from the brink, stressing repeatedly in a video briefing from Qatar that “peaceful dialogue is the only option we have.” That view was echoed by the Security Council in a presidential statement that reaffirmed the readiness of the UN’s most powerful body to take “further measures” against any party impeding the road to peace in Yemen. That could mean new sanctions or other actions. Benomar said “it would be an illusion” to think that Houthi Shiite rebels — who control the capital Sanaa, much of the north, and are moving farther south backed by some members of Yemen’s armed forces — could succeed in taking control of the entire country. On Sunday, the Houthis seized Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest city. “It would be equally false,” Benomar said, to think that embattled President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled earlier this month to the southern city of Aden, could assemble sufficient forces “to liberate the country from the Houthis.” Continue Reading

United Nations report finds Israel, Palestinian militants may have committed war crimes during 2014 Gaza war

JERUSALEM — A much-awaited United Nations report into the 2014 Gaza war released Monday found that both Israel and Palestinian militant groups may have committed war crimes during the conflict. The commission said it gathered “substantial information pointing to serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law” by both sides. In some cases, it added, these violations may amount to war crimes. “The extent of the devastation and human suffering in Gaza was unprecedented and will impact generations to come,” said Mary McGowan Davis, the chair of the commission. “There is also ongoing fear in Israel among communities who come under regular threat.” The war started July 8, 2014, after a series of events that began with the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, as well as the subsequent kidnapping and killing of a Palestinian teenager in an apparent revenge attack. Israel responded to the teens’ kidnapping by arresting hundreds of Hamas members in raids in the West Bank, prompting militant groups in Gaza to step up their rocket attacks. More than 2,200 Palestinians, including hundreds of civilians, were killed during the fighting, according to U.N. and Palestinian officials, while 73 people, including six civilians, died on the Israeli side. Israel, which long has had a contentious relationship with the United Nations, preemptively criticized the report as biased. In particular, Israel took issue with the U.N. Human Rights Council that commissioned the inquiry, saying it is stacked with countries that focus disproporiate attention on Israel while having poor human rights records themselves. Palestinian officials and Hamas had no immediate comment. Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it was studying the full U.N. report, but noted “it is well known that the entire process that led to the production of this report was Continue Reading

Serial pervert busted for attacking teenage girl outside United Nations International School

A serial pervert was arrested and charged with attacking a teenage girl in broad daylight outside the United Nations International School in Manhattan, police said Thursday. Garrick Morgan, 25, forced the 16-year-old to the ground and placed his hand on her crotch over her clothing at 8:10 a.m. Tuesday at E. 25th St. and the FDR Dr., cops said. The teen, who was on her way to the school where she is a student, was treated at Bellevue Hospital and released. Morgan, of East New York, Brooklyn, was grabbed by school safety officers immediately after the attack. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound suspect was charged with attempted rape, forcible compulsion and forcible touching. Just five minutes earlier, a 30-year-old woman was walking to work when Morgan touched the back of her dress at 21 First Ave. She turned around and said “Please don’t walk so close to me,” police said. That’s when he pounced, touching her privates before running off. She reported the incident to police, but by then they had already captured Morgan. He was charged with forcible touching. Morgan has been charged two other times with groping women recently, police said. Morgan also allegedly followed a 35-year-old woman in the 47-50th Sts.-Rockefeller Center station in Midtown on April 7 at about noon. He grabbed the woman and forced her down to her knees, but a good Samaritan saw and stopped Morgan, who was charged with reckless endangerment, cops said. Police said he also stalked a 30-year-old woman on a southbound G train going into the Jackson Ave. station near Court Square in Queens on Marcy 29. He cornered the woman against a door and then grabbed her below the waist. Morgan was apprehended a short time later and charged with forcible touching. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading