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Blog Roundup #67

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary 1_splashfinally.gif Overthrow: "Montreal Climate Summit, the first United Nations climate conference since the Kyoto agreement came to legal force in Feb. 16, 2005, is taking place against a backdrop of increasing concern about the speed of the changes to the global climate and its consequences." Treehugger: "Today in Montreal the United Nations Climate Change Conference begins, and it will end on December 9th. This event will bring together more than 10,000 people including delegates, official observers from government, industry, business, the scientific community, and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) interested in figuring out what to do for the post-Kyoto era. This thing will be big! Stay tuned this week for more, including the expected statement by the US that they aren't changing their position and that doing something about greenhouse gas emissions and efficiency is "bad for the economy." Politics in the Zeros: "Pay up to save rainforests: "A bloc of developing countries plans to make a radical proposal this week at the United Nations summit on climate change in Montreal: pay us, and we will preserve our rainforests. The group of 10 countries, led by Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica, argues that the rest of the world is benefiting from the rainforests' natural wealth without sharing the cost." They do have a point." Mojo Blog: "Sam Rosenfeld has a very good TAPPED post about aid to Africa, noting that while turning poor African countries into democracies with 10 percent GDP growth a year is very hard, spending a bit of money to provide them with bed nets for malaria is not. That's right. I think, though, he's attacking a straw man here. Very few "aid critics," even William Easterly, think that modest steps like sending malaria nets to Africa are useless. Easterly would probably laud it as the sort of thing we should be doing. But that's not what people like Jeffrey Sachs are proposing. Sachs argues that you can't solve one poverty problem without solving a whole host of others, and wants to send nations not just malaria nets but trees that replenish nitrogen in the soil, rainwater harvesting, better health clinics, etc. etc. The UN Millenium Project is very broad, and as such, is open to the usual criticisms. In fact, critics of Jeffrey Sachs sometimes cite the Gates Foundation's malaria net work as their preferred, more modest alternative." Stygius: "While I agree with John Bolton that -- theoretically -- unilateralism is not isolationism, an isolated unilateralist makes the two a distinction without a difference. Via Steve Clemons, it looks like Bolton's tactics at the United Nations are managing to alienate America's most steadfast partner. The Telegraph: "Britain has rebuffed a Bolton move to join him in refusing to pass the organisation's 2006 budget until member states approve wide-ranging management reforms."
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Sixteen Days of Activism: Sixteen Days of Hope

banner.jpg "Gender-based violence is one of the most pervasive of human rights abuses. It covers a range of injustices - from gender abuse to systematic rape and from pre-birth sex selection to female genital mutilation - that affect as many as one in three women. Ending gender violence will take action on many fronts every day of the year. But 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is a start..." [Read more]
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Global Warming ‘Equals WMDs’

"The impact of spiralling pollution on the planet poses a threat to civilisation just as catastrophic as much-vaunted weapons of mass destruction, Britain's top scientist warned today. Lord Robert May, president of the country's leading scientific body, the Royal Society, issued the warning as a 12-day conference was set to get underway today in Montreal to decide the fate of the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations' troubled treaty for curbing greenhouse gases. "The impacts of global warming are many and serious: sea-level rise ... changes in availability of fresh water ... and the increasing incidence of extreme events -- floods, droughts, and hurricanes - the serious consequences of which are rising to levels which invite comparison with weapons of mass destruction," Lord May said in an advance copy of a speech released today to coincide with the start of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on the same day. The Montreal meeting is the first by the convention since the UN's pollution-cutting Kyoto Protocol, signed by 156 countries, took effect on January 16. But a notable non-signatory of the pact committing industrialised nations to reducing or offsetting emissions of carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases is the planet's heaviest polluter: the US." [Read more]
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UN Confirms Agreement with Syria on Hariri Probe

"Detlev Mehlis, who heads the investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, has reached an agreement with the Syrian authorities on the United Nations office in Vienna as a venue for the questioning of five Syrian officials in the case, a UN spokesperson confirmed..." [More]
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Some Will Be Hungry This Thanksgiving

A thoughtful post from Carol Gee at South by Southwest: "How does it feel to be hungry, really hungry? It is not the kind of hunger that comes with having missed a meal. It is also not the kind of hunger one feels when doing a very purposeful "cleansing fast," or fasting on Fridays, in the old days of an observed liturgical holy week. This hunger is that which comes from not getting anything to eat, or very little to eat, on a regular basis for days, weeks, months or years at a time.... There are entire nations starving or desperately endangered today; right now. And there far too many people in these United States that are also hungry. This week, this coming Thanksgiving Day, the weekend following, millions are hungry. For many of the rest of us, we will be trying to figure out what to do with all our leftovers. A recent Reuters story focused on the just published United Nations report on hunger in the world which states that 6 million children a year die from hunger related causes." Read the rest, it's a great post. We'll see you on Monday...
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Hunger Kills 6 Million Children a Year

ibc_ethiopia_famine.jpg "No developing region is on track to meet the international goal of reducing the number of hungry people by half, a UN agency has warned. Nearly six million children die from hunger or malnutrition every year, the Food and Agriculture Organisation says. Many deaths result from treatable diseases such as diarrhoea, pneumonia, malaria and measles, the agency says. They would survive if they had proper nourishment, the agency says in a new report on world hunger." [BBC]
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Blog Roundup #66

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary Crooks and Liars: "Britain has angered John Bolton, America's combative ambassador to the United Nations, by breaking ranks with him over the need for reform. Britain has rebuffed a Bolton move to join him in refusing to pass the organisation's 2006 budget until member states approve wide-ranging management reforms: "Privately, British diplomats express surprise that he has not made greater efforts to cultivate them or build alliances. "You're either with him or against him," said one." That's the Bolton we all knew and the one Bush had to force on the UN. He doesn't have the necessary skills to bring reform to the table, but rather a heavy fist that divides and separates. Not a good tool as you can see." Tapped (Ezra Klein): "Gareth Evans, former prime minister of Australia and current head of the highly regarded International Crisis Group, has a welcome op-ed in this morning's Los Angeles Times about civil conflicts and atrocities. The reason for the drawdown in hostilities, Evans argues, is international peacekeeping, which has become vastly more widespread and efficient than ever before. Its reputation, however, has not improved commensurately with its record, largely because its successes have averted the sort of high stakes negotiation dramas that attract television cameras." Tiger Hawk: "President Bush believed that it was important for the United States to invade Iraq and replace its regime. There were a great many arguments in favor of this policy, most of which were made by the Administration in one form or another before the war. One of the arguments was a legalistic one -- that Saddam's government was, by virtue of its alleged present development and possession of WMD, in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. It was important to some people, including some Democrats and Tony Blair, that the UNSC endorse the war, or that it be unreasonably vetoed. Colin Powell went to the United Nations to make a legal case for a UNSC stamp of approval, not to make the best geopolitical case for the removal of Saddam Hussein. The geopolitical case did not depend on existing WMD, and still doesn't. But the intelligence that appeared to show Saddam's WMD programs were central to the administration's advocacy in front of the United Nations, so it is neither surprising nor shameful that it omitted all the various footnotes and hedges that have surfaced in the last thirty months or so. Do you want our President to share all our doubts and qualifications with the world? I certainly don't." Booman Tribune: "John Goetz has been working on the Curveball story for a long time now. It is published today in the Los Angeles Times. I am proud to say that I did what I could to help him and his partner Bob Drogin with this. This story is a massive piece of the jigsaw puzzle that only now is beginning to be solved for the benefit of the understanding of the American people as to why they are now at war in Iraq. Some samples from the article: "...On Feb. 8, three days after Powell's speech, the U.N.'s Team Bravo conducted the first search of Curveball's former work site. The raid by the American-led biological weapons experts lasted 3 1/2 hours. It was long enough to prove Curveball had lied. U.N. teams also raided the other sites Curveball had named. They interrogated managers, seized documents and used ground-penetrating radar, according to U.N. reports. The U.N. inspectors "could find nothing to corroborate Curveball's reporting," the CIA's Iraq Survey Group reported last year." Daniel Drezner: "The Financial Times reports that the United States has made a new concession over Iran's ambiguous nuclear program: "In a major concession towards Iran's nuclear programme, the US on Friday gave its public backing to a proposal by Russia and the European Union that would allow the Islamic republic to develop part of the nuclear fuel cycle on its own territory. The shift in US policy "revealed after talks between President George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader" came despite a report from the UN nuclear watchdog that lent credence to US and European claims that Iran is trying, or once had ambitions, to develop nuclear weapons." Dogooder: All Africa: "In a major volte face, President Robert Mugabe's government has accepted United Nations (UN) assistance for the provision of shelter to thousands of victims of its controversial Operation Murambatsvina scattered in and around the country. The government's change of heart, coming a month before the arrival of another special UN envoy to assess the humanitarian crisis triggered by the widely condemned clean-up exercise, follows this week's forcible removal of hundreds of people that had been sleeping in the open in Mbare after the demolition of slums six months ago." Uncooperative Blogger: "Iran Has Plans To Build a Nuclear Bomb - From an article in the News Telegraph: "Iran has admitted obtaining designs that could help it make a nuclear bomb, the United Nations nuclear watchdog said yesterday in a confidential report. The IAEA report said documents bought by Iran on the black market included designs "on the casting and machining of enriched, natural and depleted uranium into hemispherical forms." Experts said the casts are used in atomic weapons." What have I been saying folks? Iran plans on building the Islamic Bomb. This is not even open to debate any longer, they are enriching Uranium and they have purchased plans to build a bomb. Do we have to wait until they actually use it to do something about it??? That is the last straw. Bush has to act, and act soon. No more talking, or EU discussion the time to act is here!"
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Record New HIV Cases in ’05: UN

"Almost 5 million people were infected by HIV globally in 2005, the highest jump since the first reported case in 1981 and taking the number living with the virus to a record 40.3 million, the United Nations said on Monday. The 4.9 million new infections were fueled by the epidemic's continuing rampage in sub-Saharan Africa and a spike in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the UNAIDS body said in its annual report. "Despite progress made in a small but growing number of countries, the AIDS epidemic continues to outstrip global efforts to contain it," the report said." [Full article]