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Linked Up: What Iran Wants, Women in Congo, Dead Sardines, and Stratfor on Sri Lanka

Writing in The Argument, former UN Development Program representative in Iran Francesco Bastagli emphasizes that the most important dynamic in U.S. policy toward Iranian nuclear capacity is to understand why, particularly domestically, Iran is pushing for nukes. From reading this Michael Crowley post, I'd recommend taking into account the stances of neighboring Arab nations as well.

Commentary on the devastating use of femicide in DR Congo from "Vagina Monologues" author and V-Day founder Eve Ensler, adapted from her recent testimony before a U.S. Senate subcommittee.

To the under-accounted potential global warming-related disasters (I'm thinking along the lines of ruined artwork, not entire island nations being swallowed up by the ocean) add mysteriously dying penguins, sardines, and baby flamingos in Chile. A study of this morbid mystery has not yet confirmed suspicions that global warming is the culprit, but for the sake of beachgoers who do not want to smell millions of dead sardines, precautionary measures can only help.

Stratfor agrees with me that the Tamil Tigers won't necessarily need a territorial base to re-group and re-terrorize the population, and that Sri Lanka's solution will ultimately have to be political, not military.

(image from flickr user quiplash! under a Creative Commons license)

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Linked Up: Virtual Nukes, Megadisastrous Slums, and Krugman’s Compromise

A doubling of nuclear states in just a few years? Even if they're "virtual nuclear states," this is something we should be working to control.

The growth of slums worldwide evidently makes the risk of "megadisasters" even higher. The least well-off getting hit by the worst, yet again...

And Paul Krugman, not one for compromise on, say, health care, argues that we gotta take the best bill we can get through Congress when it comes to climate change.

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Linked Up: Good Panic?, Eco Vocab, and Bondof

Remember that whole swine flu H1N1 virus thing?  Well, it's still around -- with a few thousand cases, according to the WHO.  Might the ridiculous panic that surrounded the disease actually have been a net positive?  Well, it's good to know the WHO was prepared (even "excessively" prepared), but on balance, no, I don't think irrational fear-mongering was a beneficial idea either.

Joe Queenan eagerly mocks environmental messaging, but doesn't seem to make a point beyond the fact that it would be silly to start calling the ozone layer "that awesome thing in the sky."  Not far below his sarcasm is a telling reality -- that WSJ readers can laugh contentedly at environmentalists' rebranding efforts only shows that they too believe that the fight for what to call something is one of the most important in the anti-environmentalist's crusade.

And a case against Bono and Bob Geldof -- or "Bondof," as one confused taxi driver in Ethiopia offered -- as stereotype-perpetuaters and usurpers of African voices.  Fair point, and "Do they know it's Christmas in Africa?" still always makes me cringe.

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Linked Up: Ahmadinejad, Wall Souvenirs, and Nigerian Rappers

Might Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's antics at the Durban Review Conference have helped Israel's cause more than they hurt it? So argues Rasool Nafisi in, of all places, the Jerusalem Post.

Want a piece of the Berlin Wall? This guy's still the one to go to.

Nigeria: petrol shortages, but a host of aspiring rap stars. And we already know about its film industry.

(image of the Berlin Wall, from flickr user siyublog under a Creative Commons license)

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Linked Up: Cyprus, Israel, Kerry on Georgia, and A U.S.-UN Progress Report

Three heavyweights -- Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, and Lakhdar Brahimi -- team up to focus attention on the divided Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Now may be the last, best hope for reunification, they argue, which would bring, among other benefits, raised incomes, improved infrastructure, and the ability of Cypriots to send text messages across the dividing Green Line.  Maybe even road signs in both Turkish and Greek?

To this propagandistic denunciation of the UN report on Israeli actions in Operation Cast Lead, I'll add only this: the report does acknowledge the role of inexcusable Hamas tactics to endanger civilians; Israel has not fully cooperated with UN investigations, and Ban Ki-moon is not distancing himself from the entire report, even if he is regrettably not following up on one of its recommendations to create a further commission.

Senator Kerry and Rep. David Dreier explain how signing a free trade pact with Georgia will help improve relations with both Tbilisi and its larger neighbor to the north.  Not sure Russia will see it that way, but this may be one of those things that Moscow will just have to get over.

And Citizens for Global Solutions points to this "progress report" issued by the United States Mission to the UN. They've been busy enough, that's for sure.

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Linked Up: Mellow, Hope in Haiti, Trash, and Tigers

Roger Cohen praises Barack Obama's "mellow doctrine" -- but don't call him Mello Yello; he's a "Kansan-Kenyan cat."

The Wall Street Journal reports a positive "starting over" for Haiti -- optimism tempered with problems, though I'm not as convinced that Bill Clinton is one of them.

And some in Senegal are using a creative building material -- trash -- to ward off flooding. Wonder if they're getting any of it from Ghana's "illicit trade" in the stuff.

UPDATE: Aravind Adiga, author of The White Tiger (a book recently read by me), has a great piece about the Tamil Tigers in The Daily Beast.  Adiga gives a coherent summary of the evolution of Sri Lanka's anti-terrorist/anti-Tiger campaign, and identifies an overlooked victim in the country's military onslaught -- journalists.

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Linked Up: Top 100, an A-, and (hopefully) Bayefsky’s last rant

The National Security Network has compiled an impressive list of Barack Obama's top 100 foreign policy achievements in his first 100 days in office. We at UN Dispatch are particularly partial to #56.

UN expert Stephen Schlesinger zeroes in on the smaller foreign policy universe of Obama's interactions with the United Nations and, citing accomplishments like paying back peacekeeping debt, restoring funding to UNFPA, and pushing to ratify important nuclear non-proliferation treaties, gives the Prez a solid A-.

And, the indefatigably anti-UN Anne Bayefsky has a nearly 2000-word anti-Durban screed (I know, the topic is surprising, huh?) in Forbes. Her attempts to capture the history of the conference seem to be growing ever more desperate and more personal, such that she needs to cite her own writings as a martyred example of the propaganda that the UN human rights commissioner praised the less partisan press for resisting. Hopefully this will be her last such tirade, though I seriously doubt it (my thoughts on the memorialization of the conference here and here).

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Linked Up: Slaps, Airships, Yawns to North Korea, and Anticipation in Kurdistan

Eugene Robinson argues that, instead of a handshake, a slap might have been more appropriate for an encounter that Hugo Chavez was clearly trying to use as a bit of theater. (A literal slap, of course, would only play right into Chavez's hands face).

The Guardian editorializes in praise of airships (at least airships not named "Hindenburg") as an efficient low-carbon method of transporting cargo.

Continuing in the vein that ignoring North Korea will be a much more prudent policy than taking the bait of its provocationg, Doug Bandown, of the Cato Institute, proposes "bored contempt" as the appropriate response to Pyongyang's missile-waving attempts to attract attention.

And a couple good recent articles, in the Post and on RealClearWorld, on the fragile and uncertain Kurdish democracy. The UN is preparing reports on Kirkuk and other areas, and the decisions of where to grant greater Kurdish control -- and, perhaps more importantly, of how Iraqi political parties will react -- will determine whether or not the region continues to be a model, or ignites a new conflagration.

(image from flickr user Liqueur Felix under a Creative Commons license)