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Thursday Morning Coffee

Happy Valentine’s Day. Hamas is in love with its gunmen. I’m in love with the UN Investor Summit on Climate Risk.

Top Stories


>>Malaysia – Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia has dissolved parliament, setting in motion a process that will result in new elections on March 8 (good overview of the stats). The elections will test the popularity of PM Abdullah and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, as well as likely stoke ethnic tensions festering between the majority Malay ethnic group (about 60 percent of the populace) and the minority Chinese (about 25 percent and in control the business sector) and Indians. Reuters gives a nice rundown of the possible outcomes.

>>Iraq – Iraq’s parliament passed three landmark bills, setting a budget (which pleases the Kurds), providing limited amnesty for detainees (which pleases the Sunnis), and setting the stage for provincial elections (which pleases the Shia). This legislation package had been a source of rancor, threatening to paralyze parliament, and represents 1 of the 18 political benchmarks set by the U.S.

>>Pakistan – The NY Times is reporting that, contrary to conventional wisdom, religious parties are losing influence in the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan, specifically the Northwest Frontier Province and Baluchistan, and that this represents a national trend. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for February 18, and the violence continues. The Guardian offers some color on electioneering in the tribal areas.

Yesterday in UN Dispatch
  • href="">Better
    World Campaign Statement on Budget Request for UN Peacekeeping
    - by Mark Leon Goldberg
  • href="">Child
    Soldiers Active in 13 Countries – by Mark Leon

The Rest of the Story




Middle East


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UN Investor Summit Webcast

If you’re looking for an unfiltered view of the Summit, check out the webcast.

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Stark Analysis

Professor Holdren gave an incredibly stark, complex, and truly amazing presentation. I won’t do it a disservice by boiling it down to a paragraph here. (I’ll publish the full text when it becomes available online). The one fact that shocked me: We previously thought that Arctic sea ice would be completely gone by 2050 if we failed to act. It now looks like it will be gone by 2013…FIVE years from now. He says, “We are already experiencing dangerous consequences of human interference in the climate system. The only question is whether that will be catastrophic.” He also mentions the Sigma Xi-UN Foundation report, which he led and would give you a pretty good view of what he’s presenting on now.

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Wirth opens Investor Summit on Climate Risk

Former Senator Tim Wirth, and UN Foundation President, is now opening the UN Investor Summit. His message: we are on schedule to finish negotiations on a successor regime to Kyoto in Copenhagen in 2009, and a big part of that process is understanding and making the economic case. He says, “Industry groups tends to be way out in front of the political leadership, and a big help in bringing that leadership along.” He’s now introducing climate scientist and Harvard professor John Holdren to give the lay of the land on climate change and set the stage for the summit.

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My apologies…

for the tardiness of Morning Coffee. We’re having technical difficulties, and I’m over at the UN early to live blog the UN Investor Summit on Climate Risk. Stay tuned…

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UN Forum Urges End to Wall of Silence on Human Trafficking

First, watch this brief video on Russian efforts to stamp out human trafficking, from Russia Today

Meanwhile, in Vienna, Human Rights activists, UN Officials and delegates from member states met to pursue universal ratification of the UN’s anti-trafficking protocol. From Reuters

Human rights activists, entertainers and U.N. officials said on Wednesday a “wall of silence” surrounding many victims of human trafficking was frustrating efforts to stamp out the global scourge.

Speakers at the start of the first United Nations forum on human trafficking called for victims to be de-stigmatised and suspect businesses to be boycotted.

“The most effective way is to break the wall of silence around it,” Suzanne Mubarak, wife of Egypt’s president, told the assembly of 1,200 government and NGO representatives, lawmakers, business leaders and trafficking victims from 116 countries.

“A lot of people don’t want to know about it, a lot of them are in denial, a lot of people don’t frankly care,” British Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson told a news conference. “We can all do something by talking and communicating about it.”

Read more.

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