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U.S. Senate rejects false choice between supporting veterans and UN Funding

Yesterday afternoon the Senate defeated an amendment to the Veterans Affairs funding bill that would have taken money U.S. contributions to UN peacekeeping and other UN programs to offset costs for extended benefits to U.S. Veterans. The amendment, which was sponsored by Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn, was defeated by a 66-32 vote.  Nine Republicans voted to defeat the amendment, and one Democrat (Evan Bayh of Indiana), voted in favor.  

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Happy 20th Birthday, Convention on the Rights of the Child

The most ratified treaty in the world turns 20 years old today.  On November 20 1989, the Convention on the Rights of Child entered into force.  Today only two countries remain outside the treaty: Somalia...and the United States.  (Somalia is without a functioning government.  The United States is without a functioning Senate.) To mark the anniversary, UNICEF  released a report today, "State of the World's Children, 2009" and UNICEF director Ann Venemen

Head of UN Iraq mission, live from D.C.

At 4 PM (EST) The New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. will be hosting a conversation with Ad Melkert, the head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq.  I'll be there in person, but everyone can follow the action live via The Washington Note. 

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Rumors and neglected tropical diseases

It’s nice to see a mystery solved. We just saw some major panic in Indonesia about a treatment for a neglected tropical disease. The Jakarta Post reported this morning that, after a mass administration of drugs to fight lymphatic filariasis, “those treated by the drugs started to die or fall ill by the hundreds.” They ran the story under a headline that said “Did Disease-Fighting Drugs Do More Harm Than Good?”


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“Cash for Caulkers” and Beyond

Part of the reason that progress leading toward a binding international climate change agreement has been so halting is that President Obama has said that he will not commit the United States to emission reduction goals unless congress gives him a path by which those goals can be met.  

Well, today, a new group launched that could be a big step toward helping the United States meet its international responsibilies on climate. 

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Swine flu and panic in Ukraine

There are a lot of rumors coming out of Ukraine right now about a new form of swine flu, a brand new illness, or some kind of virulent pneumonia. I suspect it’s no more than swine flu with complications, but it’s causing some major panic in Kiev.