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>>Russia – Vladimir Putin has confirmed that he will accept the reigns as head of United Russia, the nation’s dominant political party, as well as become prime minister of Russia, at the end of his presidency. Putin, however, will not become a member of that party. Some analysts see these developments as an important step toward Russia becoming more of a parliamentary democracy.

>>Olympics – The Olympic torch began its journey through Asia yesterday in Pakistan. It will continue on to India. Both nations “trimmed” their torch routes in fear of interruptions by protesters. The New York Times reports on the interesting history of the torch relay.

>>Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe’s Joint Operations Command, including the military, police, and intelligence agencies, took complete, though some say “temporary,” control over the national decision-making process in the days following the presidential election, according to a remarkable story in the Washington Post. That includes decisions of the electoral commission, which still refuses to release results from the election. According to sources in the article, the apparatus intends to relinquish control to Mugabe when it is no longer threatened by Tsvangirai, an individual with no military background. Also, a protest called by the opposition yesterday failed to take off.

>>Gaza – Jimmy Carter will meet with two senior Hamas officials in Cairo on Wednesday. Both the U.S. and Israel have called on the former president to shun the group. Government ministers refused to meet with him during his stay in Israel this week. Carter has billed his trip as a “study” mission.

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Wednesday Morning Coffee

Top Stories

>>Russia – Vladimir Putin has confirmed that he will accept the reigns as head of United Russia, the nation’s dominant political party, as well as become prime minister of Russia, at the end of his presidency. Putin, however, will not become a member of that party. Some analysts see these developments as an important step toward Russia becoming more of a parliamentary democracy.

>>Olympics – The Olympic torch began its journey through Asia yesterday in Pakistan. It will continue on to India. Both nations “trimmed” their torch routes in fear of interruptions by protesters. The New York Times reports on the interesting history of the torch relay.

>>Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe’s Joint Operations Command, including the military, police, and intelligence agencies, took complete, though some say “temporary,” control over the national decision-making process in the days following the presidential election, according to a remarkable story in the Washington Post. That includes decisions of the electoral commission, which still refuses to release results from the election. According to sources in the article, the apparatus intends to relinquish control to Mugabe when it is no longer threatened by Tsvangirai, an individual with no military background. Also, a protest called by the opposition yesterday failed to take off.

>>Gaza – Jimmy Carter will meet with two senior Hamas officials in Cairo on Wednesday. Both the U.S. and Israel have called on the former president to shun the group. Government ministers refused to meet with him during his stay in Israel this week. Carter has billed his trip as a “study” mission.

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Bush Warming Up to Climate Legislation

The Washington Times reported this yesterday:

President Bush is poised to change course and announce as early as this week that he wants Congress to pass a bill to combat global warming, and will lay out principles for what that should include.

“This is an attempt to move the administration and the party closer to the center on global warming. With these steps, it is hoped that the debate over this is over, and it is time to do something,” said an administration source close to the White House who is familiar with the planning and who said to expect an announcement this week.

An interesting development, especially given that the President has opposed legislative attempts by Democrats to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The question, then, is why would the Administration push for the Congress to do something about the climate crisis? The answer is in the article:

The administration also is trying to head off what it sees as a regulatory disaster. Environmentalists say greenhouse gases can be regulated under existing rules under the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act or the National Environmental Policy Act, and have filed lawsuits to try to force action. The Bush administration and others want to avoid a web of rules and regulations for businesses.

This makes perfect sense, and is the oft hidden nexus of environmental and private sector interests. International Business and Industry have long been saying that policies on global warming need to be coordinated across jurisdictions, because if not, the regulatory disaster mentioned by the Bush Administration would become a massive hassle and a cost to the private sector. Even on a strictly American level, having differing regulatory regimes in different states is hugely problematic for firms operating trans-continentally.

It’s good to see the Administration pushing for regulation on greenhouse gas emissions, and it’s great to see them finding common ground between two sides of what need not be such a polarizing debate. If we can get some effective, acceptable legislation through the Congress, we may be able to convince other developing major emitters to sign onto future global deals on warming, which is the ultimate U.S. goal in the United Nations process. It may sound trite, but it’s true: global problems require global solutions.

Andrew C. Revkin of the New York Times Dot Earth Blog posted White House Secretary Dana Perino’s responses to questions on the Washington Times article, for those who are interested in more background on this story.

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Bush Warming Up to Climate Legislation

The Washington Times reported this yesterday:

President Bush is poised to change course and announce as early as this week that he wants Congress to pass a bill to combat global warming, and will lay out principles for what that should include.

“This is an attempt to move the administration and the party closer to the center on global warming. With these steps, it is hoped that the debate over this is over, and it is time to do something,” said an administration source close to the White House who is familiar with the planning and who said to expect an announcement this week.

An interesting development, especially given that the President has opposed legislative attempts by Democrats to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The question, then, is why would the Administration push for the Congress to do something about the climate crisis? The answer is in the article:

The administration also is trying to head off what it sees as a regulatory disaster. Environmentalists say greenhouse gases can be regulated under existing rules under the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act or the National Environmental Policy Act, and have filed lawsuits to try to force action. The Bush administration and others want to avoid a web of rules and regulations for businesses.

This makes perfect sense, and is the oft hidden nexus of environmental and private sector interests. International Business and Industry have long been saying that policies on global warming need to be coordinated across jurisdictions, because if not, the regulatory disaster mentioned by the Bush Administration would become a massive hassle and a cost to the private sector. Even on a strictly American level, having differing regulatory regimes in different states is hugely problematic for firms operating trans-continentally.

It’s good to see the Administration pushing for regulation on greenhouse gas emissions, and it’s great to see them finding common ground between two sides of what need not be such a polarizing debate. If we can get some effective, acceptable legislation through the Congress, we may be able to convince other developing major emitters to sign onto future global deals on warming, which is the ultimate U.S. goal in the United Nations process. It may sound trite, but it’s true: global problems require global solutions.

Andrew C. Revkin of the New York Times Dot Earth Blog posted White House Secretary Dana Perino’s responses to questions on the Washington Times article, for those who are interested in more background on this story.

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Kony Stays in the Jungle

Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony revealed the answer my question from last week, namely by choosing not to reveal himself. Hopes for peace in northern Uganda were dashed over the weekend, as Kony opted to stay put in his remote Congolese jungle hideout, instead of venturing to the Sudanese border to sign a long-anticipated peace deal with the Ugandan government. Despite the buildup, Kony’s nonappearance was ultimately unsurprising, as his commitment to the bedraggled peace process was always undermined by his powerful antipathy to the prospect of facing ICC prosecution. Nonetheless, this comes as an unfortunate blow to the people of northern Uganda, many of whom, even including Kony’s victims, have even been willing to drop ICC jurisdiction in the interest of peace.

While the Ugandan delegation officially remains committed, and cautiously hopeful about, the stalled peace process, the Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, has also branded Kony as “not serious.” Museveni is likely engaging in a bit of spin, taking advantage of Kony’s defection to play up his own image as the one committed to peace, but there is a good deal of truth in his characterization of the rebel leader. The LRA’s own top negotiator, David Matsanga, an admitted opponent of Museveni, resigned out of frustration with Kony’s tactics, which he described to Voice of America.

“I have decided that I can no longer tolerate the type of tricks that are involved in the LRA by the leadership. When general Joseph Kony tells me that I want to sign this agreement on this date, and then he doesn’t turn up. He doesn’t even call me to tell me that he is not going to be in such and such a place, so that I can tell the world and other people not to come.”

An even more ominous sign coming out of the LRA camp — and a fate that Matsanga has thus far avoided — is the killing of nine rebel leaders in an apparent conflict over whether or not to sign the agreement. The idea of suspending ICC indictments becomes increasingly distasteful when a group — a listed terrorist organization, mind you — is willing to kill its own members in a debate over peace.

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Kony Stays in the Jungle

Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony revealed the answer my question from last week, namely by choosing not to reveal himself. Hopes for peace in northern Uganda were dashed over the weekend, as Kony opted to stay put in his remote Congolese jungle hideout, instead of venturing to the Sudanese border to sign a long-anticipated peace deal with the Ugandan government. Despite the buildup, Kony’s nonappearance was ultimately unsurprising, as his commitment to the bedraggled peace process was always undermined by his powerful antipathy to the prospect of facing ICC prosecution. Nonetheless, this comes as an unfortunate blow to the people of northern Uganda, many of whom, even including Kony’s victims, have even been willing to drop ICC jurisdiction in the interest of peace.

While the Ugandan delegation officially remains committed, and cautiously hopeful about, the stalled peace process, the Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, has also branded Kony as “not serious.” Museveni is likely engaging in a bit of spin, taking advantage of Kony’s defection to play up his own image as the one committed to peace, but there is a good deal of truth in his characterization of the rebel leader. The LRA’s own top negotiator, David Matsanga, an admitted opponent of Museveni, resigned out of frustration with Kony’s tactics, which he described to Voice of America.

“I have decided that I can no longer tolerate the type of tricks that are involved in the LRA by the leadership. When general Joseph Kony tells me that I want to sign this agreement on this date, and then he doesn’t turn up. He doesn’t even call me to tell me that he is not going to be in such and such a place, so that I can tell the world and other people not to come.”

An even more ominous sign coming out of the LRA camp — and a fate that Matsanga has thus far avoided — is the killing of nine rebel leaders in an apparent conflict over whether or not to sign the agreement. The idea of suspending ICC indictments becomes increasingly distasteful when a group — a listed terrorist organization, mind you — is willing to kill its own members in a debate over peace.

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