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Americans Rather Like The United Nations

American like the United Nations–and there is data to prove it.

A new poll from a bi-partisan polling team shows that nearly three quarters of likely American voters surveyed believe that the United Nations is still relevant and needed today. These voters overwhelmingly believe that the United States should work with the United Nations to solve common problems.

The survey released this week is the latest of an ongoing series of polls conducted by the bi-partisan team of Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research Associates on behalf of the Better World Campaign.  As you can see from the data below, the relevance of the United Nations to American voters is at an all time high. 

 

Why are Americans suddenly more supportive of the United Nations? The answer probably has to do with the ebola outbreak in West Africa. According to the poll, 92% of likely American voters believe that the United Nations has an important role to play in stopping the ebola outbreak in west Africa. The poll also found that voters are supportive of the WHO’s effort to stop the outbreak, and that Americans want the United States to work with the United Nations to help contain the outbreak.

Here’s the full polling data. It’s a bit of UN-day present from the American public to the United Nations.

October 2014 Poll Executive Summary

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Credit: UNFCCC

Why the Bonn Climate Talks Matter

Another round of UN climate change negotiations are taking place this week in Bonn. This is the third time countries are meeting in Germany this year to create a legally enforceable mechanism they all agreed was necessary following the 2011 summit in Durban, South Africa. The outcome of this week will be a draft text that countries will work to ratify at the major summit this December in Lima, Peru. What comes out of Lima will in turn set the stage for the final, binding agreement on climate change next year in Paris. In other words, the Bonn talks kick off a year of intense diplomacy on climate change–and there is a great deal at stake.

One of the biggest complaints about UN negotiations, and the climate change negotiations in particular, is a lack of accountability. Countries can agree to any measures in the presence of other UN members at a conference, but can easily claim politics and economic problems for not implementing any of those measures if there is no legal requirement to do so. The Bonn talks are intended to correct that problem.

In Bonn, national governments will agree to a draft text that contains the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), or the voluntary funds and actions, to which each country can commit by March 2015. Especially important are terms of emissions reductions and other chances to mitigate the effects of climate change like improving energy efficiency, increased use of renewable energy, efficient and resilient urban environment design, and land use improvement. These INDCs will be the basis of the decision on pre-2020 goals that will be ratified at the in Lima this December.

There is consensus among countries in Bonn that first drafts of INDCs will not be sufficient to keep global warming below 2º C — but that is where agreement ends.  Determinations of which countries can and should contribute what are the heart of the whole climate negotiations. Developing countries argue that developed countries need to make amends on the latter’s disproportionate lifestyles and manufacturing. Developed countries say they should not have to foot the bill for outsized populations or closed off economies not open to investment in innovation and technology.

Using 2020 as a marker is critical because whatever agreement text is worked on and ratified in Lima serves as the basis for the ultimate agreement to be ratified at in Paris next year, which — according to the plan — would becomes binding in 2020.  This doesn’t leave much time for countries to come together on two specific issues in Bonn this year: carbon capture and slightly raising emission reduction goals.

Carbon capture technology and storage (CCS) is often touted as a solution to the climate problem.  The technology allows emitters to catch and secure nearly 90% of their carbon emissions from fossil fuel use.  The carbon does not enter the environment as a result.  The issue is that, within the UN climate negotiations, many see the use of the technology as a stall tactic. Developed countries like the U.S., Canada, and Australia are able to keep using fossil fuels and could possibly divert mitigation or adaptation funds towards developing more advanced carbon capture and storage technology. Some feel it is used as a political crutch to avoid a real move towards fossil fuel independence and away from polluting fracking and oil sands projects.  Still, CCS technology development will likely lead to an overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and is probably more politically viable in developed countries given the power of oil and gas companies and manufacturers.  The companies will not have to drastically change their operations and governments can say they are reducing emissions.

Another issue that is critical in Bonn and will lead to progress in Peru and ratification in Paris in 2015 is ratifying the second commitment to the Kyoto Protocol.  The first round ended in 2012 and required a pledge to reduce emissions to 15% of 1990 levels.  The second round, which runs from 2013 to 2020, would require a reduction of emissions to 18% of greenhouse gas levels present in 1990. Really, all it would take are a few of the developed countries to sign on.  However, countries like the U.S. have a stance, the Byrd-Hagel resolution, that no international agreement would be agreed to that excludes large population centers like India and China from emissions reductions. Canada withdrew from the first round commitment citing the heavy burden of financial penalties should they stay committed.  It may not be a coincidence that tar sands and fracking projects went into full swing after their 2011 withdrawal.

A draft decision will be issued on October 25, from the Bonn talks. Then negotiators move to Lima in December, leaving about one year for intense and complex diplomacy before the Paris talks in November 2015. There is no option for negotiators but to make progress in each round at this point.

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mali

Ebola Comes to New York, But It’s Mali We Should Be Worried About

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With word of a doctor in NYC coming down with ebola, there’s a potentially much more worrying development: a two year old girl has tested positive for ebola in Mali.

In Mali:Speaking on state television on Thursday, Malian Health Minister Ousmane Kone said the infected girl was being treated in the western town of Kayes. She was brought to a local hospital on Wednesday and her blood sample was Ebola-positive, Mr Kone said. The child and those who have come into contact with her have been put in quarantine.The girl’s mother died in Guinea a few weeks ago and the child was then brought by relatives to Mali, Reuters news agency quotes a health ministry official as saying. Mali is now the sixth West African country to be affected by the latest Ebola outbreak – however Senegal and Nigeria have since been declared virus-free by the WHO. (BBC http://bbc.in/1thmX2m)

In New York. A physician working with MSF in Guinea has tested positive for the disease in New York City. This is the first imported case to the USA’s largest city. “The doctor, Craig Spencer, was rushed to Bellevue Hospital Center on Thursday and placed in isolation while health care workers spread out across the city to trace anyone he might have come into contact with in recent days. A further test will be conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm the initial test. While officials have said they expected isolated cases of the disease to arrive in New York eventually, and had been preparing for this moment for months, the first case highlighted the challenges surrounding containment of the virus, especially in a crowded metropolis.”  (NYT http://nyti.ms/1thmxsP)

From DAWNS Subscriber Mike R: “On October 25th activists in more than 35 countries will mobilize their communities for the first Global Day of Action for the Right to Health by holding marches, rallies, teach-ins, and candlelight vigils to raise awareness of health disparities across the globe and demand political action to address them. The Day of Action is being coordinated by the Article 25 Education Fund (http://join25.org/), and other groups focused on creating a social movement for the right to health and article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” http://bit.ly/1thmPjo

Ebola

Ebola has now reached every district in Sierra Leone and all but one district in Liberia, with “intense transmission” in these countries’ capital cities, according to the WHO. West Africa today is nowhere near goals set by the United Nations to get the outbreak under control, according to the WHO. (USA Today http://usat.ly/1thnOjM)

Why a proven ebola vaccine sat on the shelf almost a decade ago (NYT http://nyti.ms/1tho0iW)

Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul Allen said Thursday he was boosting his donations to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to $100 million. (AFP http://bit.ly/1thr26E)

Africa

Suspected Boko Haram militants kidnapped at least 25 girls in an attack on a remote town in northeastern Nigeria, witnesses said, despite talks on freeing over 200 other female hostages they seized in April. (Irish Times http://bit.ly/1thompC)

A group of South Sudanese women peace activists has suggested that men in the civil war-torn country be denied sex until they stop fighting. (News Vision http://bit.ly/1thr52m)

USAID has announced a $75 million food security program in Madagascar. (USAID http://1.usa.gov/1thrvG6)

MENA

Auditors and employees at the U.S. Agency for International Development say critical assessments of the agency’s work in Egypt were removed from a report before it was released by the agency’s inspector general he Washington Post reported on Thursday. (Reuters http://reut.rs/1thq5LS)

The UN has launched a $2.2 billion humanitarian appeal for Iraq. (OCHA http://bit.ly/1thqyxx)

Asia

China’s Communist leaders promised legal reforms on Thursday that could give judges more independence from interference by local officials but will leave the party essentially above the law, after a high-level meeting that had been billed as a pivotal moment in the country’s legal history. (WaPo http://wapo.st/1thoQw9)

India is set to sign a memorandum on Friday to be one of the 21 founding members of the newly established Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), an initiative by China. (Times of India http://bit.ly/1thptWu)

Nine members of the Hazara community were shot dead in what appeared to be targeted killings in different parts of Quetta, Pakistan. (Tribune–Pakistan http://bit.ly/1thoDZH)

Former U.S. government officials say the release of an American who had been detained in North Korea for nearly six months is not likely to significantly affect relations between Washington and Pyongyang. (VOA http://bit.ly/1thoGVD)

The Americas

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto renewed his pledge to punish perpetrators of alleged massacres by security forces as a state governor stepped down amid a crisis that’s overshadowing the Mexican president’s economic agenda. (Bloomberg http://bloom.bg/1thoyFD)

The U.S. government urged a federal judge on Thursday to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the United Nations by a group of Haitians who claim peacekeepers caused the devastating cholera epidemic that followed their country’s 2010 earthquake. (Reuters http://reut.rs/1thqgXo )

Opinion/Blogs

Americans don’t know much about African geography and that is undermining the fight against ebola…and US policy in Africa in general. Mark interviews Laura Seay in the newest episode of the Global Dispatches Podcast http://bit.ly/1nAI0er

America is losing influence in Latin America–and that’s great news. (The Week http://bit.ly/1thpp9h)

South Sudan peace deal offers glimmer of hope. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1thrbXR)

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The mercator projection of Africa

How Americans’ Lack of Understanding of African Geography is Undermining the Fight Against Ebola

The ebola outbreak and its importation to the United States has unleashed a wave of panic in the United States, revealing the paucity of Americans’ knowledge and understanding of Africa. I speak with Laura Seay of Colby College and the Washington Post who is one of America’s premier Africanists. She discusses how ignorance breeds discrimination and policy responses that undermine the effort to contain the ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Americans don’t know much about Africa or African geography–and that is hurting the country’s ability to stop ebola at its source.  

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credit UN

Some Money Finally Making It’s Way to UN’s Ebola Trust Fund

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Last week, it was revealed that only $100,000 was committed against a $1 billion UN trust fund to provide rapid and flexible funding to combat the outbreak in west Africa.Quite a bit more has been pledged in the past few days, including $50 million  to the trust fund and many millions to other funding mechanisms. Still not enough, but at least things are moving in the right direction. “The United Nations Financial Tracking Service showed on Tuesday that more than $410 million had been committed to Ebola response efforts, while another $225 million in non-binding pledges had been made. These figures include payments and pledges to the U.N. trust fund. Dujarric said Ban established the fund “to provide a flexible, accountable, strategic and transparent platform to finance critical unfunded priorities and help reduce the rate of Ebola transmission.”(Reuters http://bit.ly/10oNYFh)

Latest on the Canadian Parliament attack via the CBC http://bit.ly/1FEmxHm

Stat of the Day: Better reporting and Data on TB incidence — Recent intensive efforts to improve collection and reporting of data on tuberculosis (TB) are shedding new light on the epidemic, revealing that there are almost half a million more cases of the disease than previously estimated. WHO’s “Global Tuberculosis Report 2014″, published today, shows that 9 million people developed TB in 2013, and 1.5 million died, including 360 000 people who were HIV positive. (WHO.int http://bit.ly/1FEmI5I)

Ebola–The Good News

A top Red Cross official said Wednesday that he is confident the Ebola epidemic that has killed thousands of people in West Africa can be contained within four to six months. (AP http://yhoo.it/12deyBZ)

A US photojournalist has joined a Spanish nurse in being declared free of Ebola, as the United States tightened restrictions on travelers from the West African countries at the epicenter of the outbreak. (AFP http://yhoo.it/10oDbef)

Dozens of Ebola survivors have been discharged from a treatment center near Sierra Leone’s capital and told they were virus-free. (AFP http://yhoo.it/10oMtaa)

Johnson & Johnson will start safety testing in early January on a vaccine combination that could protect people from a strain of the deadly Ebola virus, to the tune of $200 million. (AP http://yhoo.it/1rhuZCH)

Ebola–The Bad News

Tensions surrounding the Ebola epidemic raging in west Africa sparked a deadly riot in Sierra Leone as the World Health Organization prepared Wednesday to coordinate clinical trials of an experimental vaccine against the killer virus. (AFP http://yhoo.it/10oIzxR

Ebola is now believed to have killed 4,877 people globally and that the spread of the lethal virus remains “persistent and widespread” in West Africa, the World Health Organization said Wednesday. (AP http://yhoo.it/10oNcYJ)

Africa

Hundreds of Rwandan rebels in eastern Congo are defying a six month ultimatum to disarm, ratcheting up pressure on regional powers and U.N. peacekeepers to eliminate, once and for all, a force at the heart of two decades of conflict. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/12de0vC)

A Ugandan judge dismissed the case Wednesday of two men accused of having homosexual sex, the first since tough laws were repealed, their lawyer said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1rhtmF3)

East African leaders met South Sudan President Salva Kiir on Wednesday in the latest push to end over 10 months of a civil war that has devastated the young nation. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1rhtAw7)

Military observers from up to nine countries will be deployed across Mozambique later this month, to ensure post-election tensions do not spell a return to violence. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1rhuvwn)

Nearly a week after Nigeria announced a ceasefire deal with Boko Haram, which it said would include the release of more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamist group, there is still no sign of the girls being freed. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/10oNiQi)

Two Somali journalists from a major radio station have been released on bail after two months in jail but two others remain behind bars accused of inciting violence, colleagues said Wednesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/10oM9Z2)

Tanzania will hold a referendum in April on a new constitution, its Attorney-General said on Wednesday, angering opposition parties which boycotted the drafting process and reject the draft charter. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1rhAgKH)

MENA

Around 1,000 people took to the streets in Iran on Wednesday to demand action after four women were maimed in acid attacks reportedly linked to them not wearing the veil. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1rhztt6)

Officials in Iraq are diverting and delaying payments earmarked for displaced families, leaving some families unable to afford food. (IRIN http://bit.ly/10oOsev)

Asia

Special Report: Testimonies from Bangladeshi and Rohingya survivors provide evidence of a shift in tactics in one of Asia’s busiest human-trafficking routes. In the past, evidence showed most people boarded smuggling boats voluntarily. Now people are being abducted or tricked and then taken to larger ships anchored in international waters just outside Bangladesh’s maritime boundary. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/12ddiPg)

Indonesian President Joko Widodo failed to finalize his cabinet on Wednesday after the country’s anti-corruption agency rejected eight candidates, underlining the challenge he faces in fulfilling election promises of a government free from graft. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1woZuKv)

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said he expects Malaysia’s top court will dismiss his final appeal against a sodomy conviction next week and that he will be sent to prison for the second time in a decade. (AP http://yhoo.it/12d2i4b)

About 200 Hong Kong protesters marched to the home of the city’s Beijing-backed leader on Wednesday to push their case for greater democracy a day after talks between student leaders and senior officials failed to break the deadlock. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/12dd4aT)

Asia-Pacific economies need to recalibrate financial policies in the face of slowing global growth, U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin said Wednesday, following a meeting of regional financial officials to prepare for next month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (AP http://yhoo.it/1rhwbpG)

The Americas

Cuba’s contribution of hundreds of doctors and nurses to fight Ebola puts the island at the forefront of the international response and is even thawing relations with a sworn enemy the United States. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1woSSvE)

A Mexican human rights body accuses eight soldiers of killing 12 suspects in cold blood and tampering with the evidence to make it look like a shoot-out. (BBC http://bbc.in/1rhIvGq)

Opinion/Blogs

Let’s Talk About Sex: why sexual satisfaction & pleasure should be on the international development agenda (From Poverty to Power http://bit.ly/10p2ooN)

Twenty years of making microfinance, or whatever you want to call it, work (Humanopshere http://bit.ly/10p2Bsb)

Analysis: The state of state-building in Somalia (IRIN http://bit.ly/1rhGA4V)

The Global Trade in Deforestation and Associated Emissions  (CGD http://bit.ly/10oV9NE)

In Swaziland, “the path to freedom goes through prison (A View From the Cave http://bit.ly/10oVsbj)

Zero poverty? The Sustainable Development Goals aren’t quite there yet (ODI http://bit.ly/1s9DEGI)

Which countries are driving global growth? (The Interpreter http://bit.ly/1s9DJdr)

Forcing Nonprofits To Lie About Data (Markets for Good http://bit.ly/1s9DQpe)

Coverage of the Ottawa shooting, in one very revealing screenshot (Vox http://bit.ly/1s9DRK3)

The World Bank’s 100% citizen feedback agenda: a daunting challenge and an amazing opportunity (Feedback Labs http://bit.ly/10p1zMW)

Research/Reports

The United Nations is unable to effectively assess the state of violations in detention centres around the world due to a lack of resources, said Malcolm Evans, Chairperson of the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture. (IPS http://bit.ly/1rhKwm1)

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8001293026_f2bf6a6263_z

Developing Story: Canadian Capital Under Attack

A disturbing incident is unfolding this morning in the Canadian capital of Ottawa. At least one shooter unleashed mayhem on Parliament Hill this morning, mere days after an incident in Quebec where two members of the Canadian Armed Forces were mowed down by a car. The Globe and Mail is reporting that the Ottawa police are investigating three shootings: one at the War Memorial, one on Parliament Hill and one near the Rideau Centre – all located in the nerve center of the Canadian capital (Update 1:45pm ET: Police only confirm two incidents – one at the National War Memorial, and the other on Parliament Hil; no shooting incident at Rideau Centre). As of noon ET, one shooter is confirmed dead following a gun battle inside the Parliament building, while at least one other is on the loose (Update 9am ET, Oct 23: The lockdown in downtown Ottawa was lifted more than 12 hours after it began, though police operations continue on Parliament Hill. No additional information on potential other suspects.). The astounding video below shows what unfolded in the building:

While Canada – like most other Western nations – has been watchful of the threat of terrorism in the post 9/11 world, the country had not seen terror attacks – until, apparently, this week. Moments after the Quebec incident on Monday, where the two members of the military were hit by a car, a Conservative backbencher – a low-ranking Member of Parliament (MP) – was given a scripted question about the attack to ask Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who immediately spoke of (unconfirmed reports of) a terror attack, before the details of what had transpired had fully emerged. While reports have emerged that the perpetrator had recently become radicalized, the Canadian media have been cautious in reporting on this issue as “possible” terrorism. Today’s attack, which is still unfolding as this is being written, is of a much different nature and will certainly cause Canadians to rethink their analysis of what happened on Monday.

Canada, under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, just recently joined the growing international coalition fighting ISIS in the Middle East. Harper believes that Canada has a duty to participate in the fight against ISIS, and has made it clear where Canada stands on the issue of radical Islam. The Harper government has a “tough on crime” agenda, and has been pushing for increased surveillance powers for Canadian police and intelligence for years.

These new attacks – and the daunting reality that Canadians are now a target for terrorism – will support the government’s position that these domestic and foreign policies are necessary and justified. Of course, many will ask whether the decision to join the fight against ISIS and the posturing against radical Islam will have created the conditions for radicalized individuals to commit these crimes. When the guns quiet down, there will be a very important debate in Canada about how to handle the delicate balance between civil liberties and the – now very real – threat of terror in the country.

Update 1:30pm ET: Media confirms death of soldier shot at the National War MemorialThe soldier was a reservist serving in Hamilton from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada.

Update 2:40pm ET:  During a press conference, Ottawa police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police say situation is still fluid, and that it is unclear whether it was the same gunman who killed the soldier and who was firing rounds inside the Parliament building. Mostly, we are told it is too soon to confirm most details at this early stage.

Update 5pm ET: Soldier shot and killed at National War Memorial identified as 24 year old Nathan Cirillo. The deceased gunman has been identified as Michael Zehef-Bibeau.

Update 7:30 pm ET: Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird tweets “Just spoke to @JohnKerry. My message: “This is why we’re with you. This only makes our resolve stronger.”” This is the first senior Canadian official to link the combat operations in the Middle East with the shooting. 

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