New faces at the United Nations

There will be some new faces at the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly this week. Some of them, like Egyptian president Mohamed Morsy, are  headliners, while others, particularly those who blandly won elections without revolutions, not so much. Here are a few of the freshmen in the U.N.'s Class of 2012 speaking on day one.

Immediately following Brazilian president Dilma Roussef and President Barack Obama, the podium will go to Tomislav Nikolic, the new president of Serbia. Elected and inaugurated in May, Nikolic has tried to rebrand himself from his previous persona as an ultranationalist politician, an effort that has worked with hardliners -- Nikolic was ousted from the Serbian Radical Party in 2008 over fundamental differences over Serbia's candidacy for the European Union. However, neighbors have chafed at his statements, particularly his denial that the massacre at Srebenica was genocide and his insistence that Vukovar, a town in Croatia, is actually Serbian. Croatian, Bosnian, Slovenian, and Macedonian leaders boycotted Nikolic's inauguration, and if Nikolic veers into sensitive subjects on Tuesday at the General Assembly, may be the first walk-outs of the session.

Later in the morning, Sauli Niinistö, the president of Finland, who took office in March, will speak. Finland is currently vying for a non-permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

Medina will be followed by François Hollande, the president of France who succeeded Nicolas Sarkozy in May. Hollande has scaled back some of his more ambitious proposals to try to generate new momentum in France's economy, but announced new taxes just before leaving for New York and will present his budget when he returns to Paris. In his remarks to the General Assembly, Hollande is expected to discuss threats to North Africa, including drought, famine, and radicalization.

Senegal will be represented by President Macky Sall, whose election and peaceful succession of President Abdoulaye Wade has been touted as a model for developing African nations. Last month, facing catastrophic flooding, Sall proposed shuttering the upper house of Senegal's bicameral legislature to pay for disaster relief.

Janos Ader will be representing Hungary. The first president elected under Hungary's new constitution came to power when the previous president stepped down amid revelations that he plagiarized his doctoral thesis. Ader's ardent nationalism has troubled others in the European Union.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain will be one of the day's closing speakers. He assumed office in December of last year, and while he has spoken at other U.N. events, when he speaks on Wednesday evening, attention will be squarely on Spain's financial crisis.

And that's just the first day. For a full list of speakers, U.N. Dispatch has an annotated schedule for today.



As global pork shortage looms, will China open its strategic pork reserve?

Get your Baconators while you still can. There's some disturbing news out of Europe, reports the FT:

Data showing the EU pig herd is declining “at a significant rate” in a trend mirrored around the world means a world shortage of pork and bacon “is now unavoidable”, according to Britain’s National Pig Association.

In the 12 months to June, sow herds have fallen by between 1 and 10 per cent. Poland has seen the steepest drop, down 9.6 per cent, followed by Sweden and Ireland. In the UK the NPA reckons output could fall by as much as 20 per cent, based on surveys of farmers.

The LA Times adds: 

In U.S. warehouses, pork supply soared to a record last month, rising 31% to 580.8 million pounds at the end of August from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The surge came as farmers scaled down their herds as feeding the animals became increasingly expensive.

But of course, with 446 million pigs -- one for every three people -- China is the world's undisputed porcine superpower. The Saudi Arabia of pork if you will. Fluctuations in pork prices have the power to drive the country's inflation rate and analysts joke that CPI actually stands for "China Pork Index". As Reuters reported earlier this month, China has been moving away from backyard pigpens to industrial scale farms largely as a means of minimizing price variations and keeping inflation rates more stable.

As FP noted last year in our food issue, after a disease outbreak forced millions of pigs to be slaughtered in 2008, driving prices through the roof, the government established a "strategic pork reserve," maintaining "icy warehouses around the country stocked with frozen pork that can be released during times of shortage."

For now, China's pork supplies are ample, but if global pig prices start to rise during China's politically sensitive leadership transition, could we see Beijing releasing reserve pork onto the market? 

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