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>>ZimbabwePartial results from the recount of the vote in the parliamentary election, released over the weekend, confirm that President Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party has lost control of parliament. Results from 18 of 23 constituencies have been retabulated and confirmed with no seats changing hands. Mugabe will now have to choose whether to appoint an opposition cabinet or attempt to run the country on presidential orders instead of parliamentary legislation. Representatives from Mugabe and opposition leadership will be invited to verify results from the presidential election today, prior to their release. It is possible that opposition leader Tsvangirai has won outright and will avoid a runoff but not likely.

>>Afghanistan – Suspected Taliban insurgents executed a well-coordinated, but unsuccessful assassination attempt against President Karzai during the Afghan national day military parade on Sunday. Three were killed in the attack — a tribal chief, a member of parliament, and a 10-year-old boy. Afghan security forces, which the government has pressed as a replacement for foreign troops guarding Kabul, prepared for weeks in advance of the event. The Taliban, claiming to have received help from within the security forces, worked in two teams, one working a mortar and the other guns, which were fired into the V.I.P stands.

>>Olympics – On Sunday the Olympic torch traveled to North and South Korea. In South Korea, it was greeted by protesters seeking better treatment for North Korean refugees in China and thousands of young pro-China demonstrators who subsequently attacked the others with rocks and steel pipes. Two North Korean refugees attempted to light themselves on fire in protest. North Korea on the other hand, was the least contentious stop on the torch’s world tour. Tens of thousands of North Koreans waving flags lined the 12-mile route. Meanwhile Chinese authorities are locking down Lhasa in advance of the torch’s visit.

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For Somalia, Trouble By Land and By Sea

As if the violence on the ground in Somalia were not enough — thousands of civilians have been forced to flee after renewed clashes in the capital, Mogadishu, recently — the coast of the country is facing increasing danger from — yep, you guessed it — pirates.

These are no fanciful swashbucklers, though. The pirates have recently captured various European cargo ships, luxury yachts, and fishing boats, holding their crews and passengers hostage for one goal — money. The attacks on the high seas, then, are not merely a re-enactment of the ancient art of piracy; rather, they are deeply connected to the instability and suffering that have long run rampant on the mainland.

Many of the pirates are formerly struggling fishermen fed up with the country’s situation — a fact that they did not hide from their captives. The BBC reports:

They frequently took the trouble to tell us that they hadn’t had a proper government for about 17 years, that there were no government agencies and, as a result, they were obliged to rob to survive,” says Captain Darch [of a captured Danish vessel].

Worse, though, these are not merely a few isolated fisherfolk looking to make a buck (or a euro) by, shall we say, expanding their business. Forces on land with the potential to further destabilize Somalia’s conflict have noticed that this piracy could provide them with a reliable source of funding.

“Businessmen and former fighters for the Somali warlords moved in when they saw how lucrative it could be. The pirates and their backers tend to split the ransom money 50-50,” [BBC reporter Mohamed Olad Hassan] says.

The UN is addressing both of these problems, fortunately. The Security Council is drafting a resolution to allow countries to pursue pirates into Somalian waters, and Spain — one of whose ships was recently captured — has pushed for creating a UN anti-piracy force. To deal with the persistent violence on land, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Somali, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has pledged that the UN will continue to work to bring the various warring factions together for peace talks.

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For Somalia, Trouble By Land and By Sea

As if the violence on the ground in Somalia were not enough — thousands of civilians have been forced to flee after renewed clashes in the capital, Mogadishu, recently — the coast of the country is facing increasing danger from — yep, you guessed it — pirates.

These are no fanciful swashbucklers, though. The pirates have recently captured various European cargo ships, luxury yachts, and fishing boats, holding their crews and passengers hostage for one goal — money. The attacks on the high seas, then, are not merely a re-enactment of the ancient art of piracy; rather, they are deeply connected to the instability and suffering that have long run rampant on the mainland.

Many of the pirates are formerly struggling fishermen fed up with the country’s situation — a fact that they did not hide from their captives. The BBC reports:

They frequently took the trouble to tell us that they hadn’t had a proper government for about 17 years, that there were no government agencies and, as a result, they were obliged to rob to survive,” says Captain Darch [of a captured Danish vessel].

Worse, though, these are not merely a few isolated fisherfolk looking to make a buck (or a euro) by, shall we say, expanding their business. Forces on land with the potential to further destabilize Somalia’s conflict have noticed that this piracy could provide them with a reliable source of funding.

“Businessmen and former fighters for the Somali warlords moved in when they saw how lucrative it could be. The pirates and their backers tend to split the ransom money 50-50,” [BBC reporter Mohamed Olad Hassan] says.

The UN is addressing both of these problems, fortunately. The Security Council is drafting a resolution to allow countries to pursue pirates into Somalian waters, and Spain — one of whose ships was recently captured — has pushed for creating a UN anti-piracy force. To deal with the persistent violence on land, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Somali, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has pledged that the UN will continue to work to bring the various warring factions together for peace talks.

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Harold Pollack Says, “Send a Net, Save a Life”

Over at the Huffington Post, the University if Chicago health care economist Harold Pollack gets into the spirit of World Malaria Day.

headshot.jpg

One of the few brights spots these days is that millions of Americans finally realize the importance of global health. Today is world Malaria Day. If you’re reading this, you probably already know that this is a huge killer, particularly of kids in sub-Saharan Africa. I was hoping to party with Brad and Angelina to celebrate the occasion. That probably won’t happen since my daughter has soccer.

Instead, to honor the occasion I am buying bednets for some African kids. You should too. These cost maybe $7 each, and are among the most gloriously cost-effective things you can ever do to save lives and improve health. The charity link is [here.]

This is a great organization.

Oh, buy buy a mosquito net in honor of your actual or hoped-for significant other. The UN Foundation will send him/her a cool email. Your love object wil receive this missive, and believe you are way cooler than you actually are.

As my wife will attest, it works for me. You can see my picture. So this must be working.

Don’t sell yourself short, Harold! And thanks for plugging Nothing But Nets.

nbn.gif

Send a Net, Save a Life.

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Harold Pollack Says, “Send a Net, Save a Life”

Over at the Huffington Post, the University if Chicago health care economist Harold Pollack gets into the spirit of World Malaria Day.

headshot.jpg

One of the few brights spots these days is that millions of Americans finally realize the importance of global health. Today is world Malaria Day. If you’re reading this, you probably already know that this is a huge killer, particularly of kids in sub-Saharan Africa. I was hoping to party with Brad and Angelina to celebrate the occasion. That probably won’t happen since my daughter has soccer.

Instead, to honor the occasion I am buying bednets for some African kids. You should too. These cost maybe $7 each, and are among the most gloriously cost-effective things you can ever do to save lives and improve health. The charity link is [here.]

This is a great organization.

Oh, buy buy a mosquito net in honor of your actual or hoped-for significant other. The UN Foundation will send him/her a cool email. Your love object wil receive this missive, and believe you are way cooler than you actually are.

As my wife will attest, it works for me. You can see my picture. So this must be working.

Don’t sell yourself short, Harold! And thanks for plugging Nothing But Nets.

nbn.gif

Send a Net, Save a Life.

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A Building Made of States

In an interview with Campus Progress, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Samantha Power asks a very pertinent question — and provides an impressively on-the-mark answer that bears repetition:

What is the United Nations? The United Nations is going to reflect the priorities of those 192 [member] countries. We’ve got to get some number of those countries to take 21st century challenges seriously. Then you’ll see the United Nations as an organization follow suit.

It won’t work to start by saying, “Oh, the United Nations needs to take failing states, repression, and genocide seriously.” That’s like saying a building needs to take certain things seriously. The United Nations will start taking those thing seriously when the member states within it reallocate resources appropriately.

One of those member states, of course — and the one best positioned to provide resources for the UN’s ambitious endeavors — is the United States. Yet the U.S., instead of providing the support that would help the UN achieve its goals, deeply underfunds the world body and even chastises it for not taking stronger action on crises like Darfur.

If you haven’t read Power’s new book yet — which, as she describes it, is about not just the United Nations, but about how citizens and governments address complicated global challenges — then I strongly urge you to check it out.

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