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Tuesday Morning Coffee

The longest ever Olympic torch relay began in Beijing yesterday under massive security. India’s football captain, Baichung Bhutia, in solitary with Tibetan demonstrators, has declined an invitation to carry the torch.

Starting 5

>>Zimbabwe – After three days the winners of 109 of the 210 parliamentary seats have been named, and, according to the count of the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC), President Mugabe’s ZANU-PF has pulled two seats ahead of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Many consider the vote to be rigged. Mugabe’s security cabinet met on Sunday night to discuss how to react to the election — impose a state of emergency, unilaterally declare victory, or rely on the ZEC to falsify the results. They reportedly chose the latter. There is a heavy police presence on the streets of Harare. The independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network has MDC standard bearer Morgan Tsvangirai besting Mugabe by almost 8 points.

>>NATO – Germany has declared that it will veto the U.S. plan to allow Georgia and the Ukraine to join NATO’s membership action plan (MAP), the path to eventual entry into NATO. This is a blow to President Bush, who received a mixed reception in Kiev today as he voiced his strong support for both Georgia and the Ukraine’s NATO bids. He will travel to the Romania for the opening of the NATO summit tomorrow. Russia has voiced strong opposition to the candidacy of both nations, but Germany has denied the existence of a “Russian veto.” France has also announced it won’t back the plan.

>>Iraq – A tenuous peace appears to be holding in Baghdad and Basra following a call on Sunday by Moqtada al-Sadr for his followers to stand down.  Shops and schools have reopened.  A New York Times reporter details his personal experience in Basra.  Meanwhile, the deathtoll in Iraq for March was 50 percent higher than in February.

>>Somalia – Two UN Food and Agriculture Organization workers, a Kenyan and a Briton, were captured by gunmen on the road between Bu’aale and Sikow in southern Somalia.

>>Uganda – LRA leader Joseph Kony has delayed signing a peace agreement with the government of Uganda until April 10. Two different reasons have been given for the delay: 1) he just needs more time to reach the meeting place (he was walking to the Congo-Sudan border), and 2) he is sick.

Yesterday in UN Dispatch

The Rest of the Story


Africa

  • href="http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/%7Er/wp-dyn/rss/world/index_xml/%7E3/261367045/AR2008033100899.html">Tanzania
    - Detainee Is Charged With Capital Murder in Embassy Bombing
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261612630/idUSL2350258020080401">Cameroon
    - Hungry crowds spell trouble for world leaders
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/01/france.internationalaidanddevelopment?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Chad
    - Chad president pardons French charity workers

Americas

  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/americas/7324000.stm">Brazil
    - Brazil army aids Rio dengue fight
  • href="http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/%7Er/wp-dyn/rss/world/index_xml/%7E3/261725289/AR2008033100703.html">Cuba
    - Cuba Repeals Ban on Its Citizens Staying in Hotels on Island
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/americas/7323715.stm">Ecuador
    - ‘Ecuador incursion’ into Colombia
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/01/internationalcrime?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Jamaica
    - Jamaica slums locked in violence, report says
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261405483/idUSN3141011820080331"> style="font-weight: bold;">Ecuador - Ecuador
    sues Colombia over anti-drug spraying
  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/ac547f4e-ff49-11dc-b556-000077b07658.html">Argentina
    - Argentina unveils plan to end farm strike
  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/f0db67d2-ff48-11dc-b556-000077b07658.html">Venezuela
    - Caracas eyes ‘dual currency’
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261467191/idUSN3132492920080331"> style="font-weight: bold;">Columbia - Colombia
    intercepts Ecuadorean military helicopter

Asia

  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261843450/idUSPEK640820080401">China
    - China says has evidence linking Lhasa riots to foreign groups
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7324155.stm">China
    - IOC warns China over web access
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/01/korea?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Korea
    - Pyongyang lambasts new South Korean president
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/europe/7323895.stm">Russia
    - Russian cultists ‘leave cave’
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/south_asia/7323791.stm">Afghanistan
    - Top Taleban leader ‘is arrested’
  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/28d3e6e6-ffa3-11dc-b556-000077b07658.html">Russia
    - Asian exports shifting to new markets
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261834119/idUSSP532420080401">China
    - China makes security top priority
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/sport1/hi/tennis/7323230.stm">Russia
    - Sharapova to miss Fed Cup semis
  • href="http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/%7Er/wp-dyn/rss/world/index_xml/%7E3/261725286/AR2008033102691.html">Russia
    - Bin Laden Took Part in 1986 Arms Deal, Book Says
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261720672/idUST707120080401">Japan
    - Japan opposition threatens to censure minister

Europe

  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/apr/01/theairlineindustry?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">France
    - French authorities find evidence of EADS insider trading
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261751232/idUSL0130611620080401">Finland
    - Texting scandal forces Finland foreign minister out
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/entertainment/7323746.stm">Greece
    - Film director Jules Dassin dies
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/01/world/europe/01cats.html?ex=1364702400&en=5fbaf64081b743f6&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Switzerland
    - Lucerne Journal: A Push to Stop Swiss Cats From Being Turned Into
    Coats and Hats
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/article3655976.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">Germany
    - The Red Baron flies back into role of the hero in Germany
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article3656349.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">France
    - Jean Sarkozy promoted to party chief of UMP, Neuilly-sur-Seine
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261383701/idUSMAT00802620080331"> style="font-weight: bold;">Italy – Italian
    city of Milan to host 2015 Expo
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261326794/idUSL3120426920080331"> style="font-weight: bold;">Serbia – Serbia
    says will hold May elections in Kosovo

Middle East

  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/7323910.stm">Iraq
    - Iraq UK troop reduction delayed
  • href="http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/%7Er/wp-dyn/rss/world/index_xml/%7E3/261725287/AR2008033102330.html">Iraq
    - SEAL Killed in Iraq To Get Medal of Honor
  • href="http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/%7Er/wp-dyn/rss/world/index_xml/%7E3/261725290/AR2008033102375.html">Israel
    - Israel Planning to Build Hundreds of New Homes
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261619358/idUSL3164657920080401">Israel
    - Rice says Mideast talks on track, despite settlements
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/01/israelandthepalestinians1?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Israel
    - Nomadic bedouin fight to survive in the village which does not exist
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/01/world/middleeast/01diplo.html?ex=1364702400&en=91e4a68fad59d54c&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Israel
    - Pressed by Rice, Palestinian Leader Agrees to Return to Peace Talks
    With Israeli
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Next Round of Climate Change Talks Underway in Thailand

From the UN News Center:

The Secretary-General urged attendees to build on the momentum generated by the breakthrough in Bali, Indonesia, in last December’s landmark UN Climate Change Conference, where 187 countries agreed on the so-called “Bali Roadmap” — including bolstered action on mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance — to tackle global warming.

The Bangkok meeting is expected to lay out a work plan for the negotiations which will conclude in 2009 at a major summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. Mr. Ban has emphasized in the past that a successor pact must be ready for ratification three years before the Kyoto Protocol expires to allow countries to make it law in time.

It is also anticipated that this gathering — attended by delegates from 163 nations — will further efforts regarding emission reduction targets for developed countries.

Also speaking at the opening of the talks, the top UN climate change official pointed out that three months have already elapsed since the close of the Bali conference.

“This leaves us with around one and a half years — a very short time-frame within which to complete negotiations on one of the most complex international agreements that history has ever seen,” said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Read more.

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Next Round of Climate Change Talks Underway in Thailand

From the UN News Center:

The Secretary-General urged attendees to build on the momentum generated by the breakthrough in Bali, Indonesia, in last December’s landmark UN Climate Change Conference, where 187 countries agreed on the so-called “Bali Roadmap” — including bolstered action on mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance — to tackle global warming.

The Bangkok meeting is expected to lay out a work plan for the negotiations which will conclude in 2009 at a major summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. Mr. Ban has emphasized in the past that a successor pact must be ready for ratification three years before the Kyoto Protocol expires to allow countries to make it law in time.

It is also anticipated that this gathering — attended by delegates from 163 nations — will further efforts regarding emission reduction targets for developed countries.

Also speaking at the opening of the talks, the top UN climate change official pointed out that three months have already elapsed since the close of the Bali conference.

“This leaves us with around one and a half years — a very short time-frame within which to complete negotiations on one of the most complex international agreements that history has ever seen,” said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Read more.

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For the Record

The Undersecretary General for Management responds to last week’s front page Washington Post article on rising costs at the U.N.

The March 21 front-page story “Expenses at U.N. Balloon 25 Percent; U.S. Demands on Body Help Drive Up Budget” suggested that the United Nations recently “presented its top donors with a request for nearly $1.1 billion in additional funds.” The implication is that spending is out of control and member states are saddled with the consequences.

But the General Assembly approved the $4.1 billion budget. All additional costs reflect new demands from members, notably the United States, particularly in peace and security. The United Nations does not “present” bills to its members; it acts upon their instructions.

A “doubling” of “administrative costs” is stated as part of the problem. The budget includes mounting costs of special political missions, including Iraq and Afghanistan. By no stretch can these be considered “administrative costs.”

The costs of U.N. operations are spiraling upward because they have never been more in demand.

ALICIA BARCENA
Undersecretary General
Department of Management
United Nations
New York

| Leave a comment

For the Record

The Undersecretary General for Management responds to last week’s front page Washington Post article on rising costs at the U.N.

The March 21 front-page story “Expenses at U.N. Balloon 25 Percent; U.S. Demands on Body Help Drive Up Budget” suggested that the United Nations recently “presented its top donors with a request for nearly $1.1 billion in additional funds.” The implication is that spending is out of control and member states are saddled with the consequences.

But the General Assembly approved the $4.1 billion budget. All additional costs reflect new demands from members, notably the United States, particularly in peace and security. The United Nations does not “present” bills to its members; it acts upon their instructions.

A “doubling” of “administrative costs” is stated as part of the problem. The budget includes mounting costs of special political missions, including Iraq and Afghanistan. By no stretch can these be considered “administrative costs.”

The costs of U.N. operations are spiraling upward because they have never been more in demand.

ALICIA BARCENA
Undersecretary General
Department of Management
United Nations
New York

| Leave a comment

Monday Morning Coffee

Dith Pran, a New York Times photojournalist, chronicler of the devastation wrought by the Khmer Rouge, and basis for the The Killing Fields, died on Sunday.

Top Stories

>>Zimbabwe – The results from Saturday’s presidential election in Zimbabwe have not been officially released, however the opposition is claiming a landslide victory over Robert Mugabe, who has held power for 28 years. A government spokesman responded by saying that such a claim “is called a coup d’etat and we all know how coups are handled.” Delayed reporting by the Zimbabwe Election Commission, which election monitors say should already have the results, has raised concerns that the ruling party would engage in underhanded tactics to fix the election. In the limited results that have already been announced, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, a member of Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF, has already lost his seat.

>>Iraq – Yesterday Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for his followers to cease hostilities and demanded concessions from the Iraq’s government after six days of fighting in Basra, which, according to some calculations, has claimed more than 240 lives. Iraq’s government has announced that it will not stop its attack, and British troops previously stationed at Basra airport have entered the battle for the first time. Plans for a drawdown of British troops will be postponed in light of the new insecurity in Basra.

>>Korea – A North Korean military commander has been quoted as saying, “Our military will not sit idle until warmongers launch a pre-emptive strike … Everything will be in ashes, not just a sea of fire, if our advanced pre-emptive strike once begins.” This statement is the most recent escalation in a war of words that began when South Korea’s new president threatened to halt new aid and speak out on human rights abuses should the North not abandon its nuclear program. The new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in South Korea said last week that the South would strike North Korean nuclear bases in response to a North Korean attack but said that he had no plans for a pre-emptive attack.

>>Uganda – LRA commander Joseph Kony is walking to the Sudan-Congo border to sign a final peace agreement with the government of Uganda.

Yesterday in UN Dispatch

The Rest of the Story

Africa

  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/audio/2008/mar/31/chris.mcgreal.harare?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Audio:
    Chris McGreal reports from Harare
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/audio/2008/mar/31/guardian.daily.podcast?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Guardian
    Daily podcast: Zimbabwe moves for change
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/260902411/idUSL2373136820080330">WITNESS:
    Running in Kenya’s land of the champions

w:st="on">Americas

  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/americas/7322173.stm">Venezuela
    bombs drugs airstrips
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261003931/idUSN3034370520080331">Costa
    Rican minister steps down over FARC comments
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/mar/31/biofuels.energy?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Letters:
    Brazil sugars the pill on biofuels
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/31/argentina?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Farmers
    meet president as strike grips Argentina
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/americas/7321168.stm">Chavez
    ‘stifles Venezuelan media’

Asia

  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article3648894.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">Nicolas
    Sarkozy to lay out Afghan troop plans as class=SpellE>Nato struggles
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/mar/31/military.afghanistan?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Two
    British marines dead in Afghan blast
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261161332/idUSISL7451920080331"> class=SpellE>Musharraf swears in 24 members of Pakistan cabinet
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261195112/idUSBKK27768020080331">Proposed
    Myanmar charter bars Suu Kyi
    from office
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/europe/7322179.stm">Dutch class=SpellE>MP’s film angers Indonesia
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261114970/idUSPEK3617020080331">China
    arrests suspect in schoolgirl rapes
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261077896/idUSPEK1211120080331">China
    blasts Dalai Lama as Olympic torch arrives
  • href="http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/%7Er/wp-dyn/rss/world/index_xml/%7E3/261036041/AR2008033001835.html">Bush
    to Meet NATO Allies Divided Over Adding Troops in Afghanistan
  • href="http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/%7Er/wp-dyn/rss/world/index_xml/%7E3/261036046/AR2008033001844.html">New
    Joint Effort Aims to Empower Afghan Tribes to Guard Themselves
  • href="http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/%7Er/wp-dyn/rss/world/index_xml/%7E3/261036049/AR2008032902033.html">British
    Troops, Taliban In a Tug of War Over Afghan Province
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/31/world/asia/31flirt.html?ex=1364616000&en=50fe4463696383b0&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Flirting
    by Text Message, Indians Test Social Limits
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261021375/idUSPEK20334520080331">Security
    tight as Olympic flame arrives in China
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261006008/idUST2844920080331">Japan
    PM in pinch as voters favor cheaper gasoline

Europe

  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261178140/idUSL3149391120080331">Czech
    PM says U.S. radar deal almost ready: paper
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261114969/idUSL3106082420080331">Split
    looms in Hungarian coalition after sacking
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article3648953.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">‘Le
    scrapbooking‘ takes France by storm
  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/10f40df2-fea5-11dc-9e04-000077b07658.html">Iceland
    counters alleged attacks
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/260869467/idUSN2931222120080330">France
    offers plane if Betancourt released
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