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Anti-Texting While Driving Goes Global

At the United Nations on Wednesday there will be an event with the Secretary General and U.S. and Russian representatives billed as a "global call to action on ending distracted driving."  Ban Ki Moon,  Susan Rice, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin and the founder of an anti-texting while driving advocacy group, Focus Driven,  are to attend. 

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Eight Former Secretaries of State Urge Congress to Pass Obama’s Foreign Affairs Budget

Eight former Secretaries of State serving both Democratic and Republican presidents signed a letter to members of congress today urging them to support President Obama's international affairs budget request.  Last week the Senate Budget Committee proposed stripping $4 billion from the budget.  Every living former Secretary of State apparently believes that is a wrong-headed move. 

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Members of U.S. Congress Circulate Anti-ICC Letter

Members of the U.S. Congress are circulating a "Dear Colleague" letter to oppose the Obama administration's decision to participate in a conference of the International Criminal Court. Next month, an American delegation will attend the International Criminal Court's first "Review Conference" in Kampala, Uganda. At the meeting, countries that have ratified the treaty that created the ICC -- called the Rome Statute --  will decide whether or not to make certain amendments to it. 

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US Congress Discovers Urbanization

Urbanization is going to be the next great challenge of international development. Over a billion people now live in cities, and most of those people live in slums. City dwellers face higher rates of obesity, malnutrition, communicable diseases, and chronic illness like high blood pressure and diabetes. Moving from a rural area to a city puts the migrant at an increased risk of violent crime and poverty.

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The “Decisive Dozen” of START Ratification

Obama and Medvedev will sign the new START treaty at a ceremony in Prague on Thursday.  But will the United States Senate ratify the treaty?  Doing so requires 67 votes and in the the current political environment that seems like a stretch. 

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Do North Korea, Myanmar, The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Guinea not Count?

Following up on my previous post on the UN Human Rights Council, it is worth noting that the top republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ileana Ros-Lehtinen misrepresents the most recent session when she suggests that Israel--and only Israel-- came up for criticism during its most recent meeting.  Here is part of a statement her office sent out via email last week.

“Stop the madness. Time for the U.S. to pull out of the UN Human Rights Council.

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One Senator is Blocking a Bill to Support Peace Efforts in Northern Uganda

Courtesy of Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky, millions of Americans have seen how a single United States senator can use procedural chicanery to prevent important legislation from moving forward.  By withholding his "consent" from a resolution extending unemployment benefits to out of work Americans last week, Bunning prevented social security checks from reaching many thousands of people in need. 

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The ACLU is Suing USAID

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing USAID, the US Agency for International Development, for refusing to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests. The ACLU is seeking documents from July and September 2009 that relate to abstinence education programs supported by USAID.