If there's one thing the world needs, it's a report:
• Violence has once again sparked in Tibet, with at least eight dead in the latest round of clashes between protesters and Chinese police. Apparently you can be arrested just for being found with the Dalai Lama's picture. The government is planning 1,200 show trials for protesters and organizing what they call study sessions for residents, essentially to indoctrinate them into Chinese propaganda. Clearly the Chinese fear losing control of the situation, and now is the time for the IOC and the world community to increase pressure for reform. See also Matt Browner Hamlin's must-read demolition of "serious" thinker Nick Kristof's prescription for Tibet.
• If Tibet is bad, Zimbabwe may be worse, and it feels like we're headed toward a civil war or a brutal repression there. The reports are conflicting. The Guardian says that Robert Mugabe is negotiating a release of power in exchange for immunity from prosecution for past crimes, which the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) may not be willing to give. Morgan Tsvangirai is announcing that he has won the Presidency outright and that there's no need for a runoff through which "Violence will be the new weapon to reverse the people's will." Meanwhile Mugabe's ZANU-PF party is challenging the results of Parliamentary elections which resulted in an MDC victory. Prospects for a peaceful resolution look dim, frankly.
• Between the French offering a new battalion for Afghanistan and the United States vowing to add troops as well, it looks as if NATO is finally getting serious about the problem in the country, about 6 years too late. Democrats and Republicans basically agree about the need to increase our capacity in Afghanistan, though the Bush Administration has been asleep at the switch and has made the situation extremely difficult.
• Earlier this week I mentioned the growing world hunger crisis as food prices skyrocket and richer nations retrench and lower exports. The World Bank has recognized the scope of the problem as well.
The World Bank has called on the international community to co-ordinate its efforts in a "new deal" to fight global hunger and malnutrition.
A move was needed because of soaring global food and energy prices, said the bank's president, Robert Zoellick.
Mr Zoellick said the top priority was to give the UN World Food Programme an extra $500m for emergency food aid.
The World Bank estimates 33 countries face potential social unrest because of rising food and energy prices.
Unless we do something legitimate and globalized about climate change these resource wars are going to continue. In the case of the food crisis it's not the only cause, but it will be a sustained cause going forward.
• The fallout from having a Musharraf policy instead of a Pakistan policy continues, as we may have alienated the new Parliamentary players and sidelined our efforts at engagement and even counter-terrorism. Just another way Bush has harmed national security.
• Fighting the right enemies:
Saudi Arabia remains the world's leading source of money for Al Qaeda and other extremist networks and has failed to take key steps requested by U.S. officials to stem the flow, the Bush administration's top financial counter-terrorism official said Tuesday.
Stuart A. Levey, a Treasury undersecretary, told a Senate committee that the Saudi government had not taken important steps to go after those who finance terrorist organizations or to prevent wealthy donors from bankrolling extremism through charitable contributions, sometimes unwittingly.
I remember when the 9-11 Commission report blocked out references to Saudi Arabian involvement, as if they could possibly cover up the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi Arabian. What could be more damning than "They did it"? Apparently this cover-up relationship with the Saudis continues, as they still fund terror and we still call them a great ally. How warped.
• Really interesting article on the Iranian blogosphere. The fact that an Iranian blogosphere is allowed at all shows that it is not quite the caricature our leaders would have us believe, though some topics are filtered (often in surprising and erratic ways). Many bloggers have been arrested and persecuted, but also many have thrived and criticized the official dictates of the Islamic Republic. Eventually, open-source communication does make an impact, and it's an honor to be working in the same medium as those in Iran.
• Finally, it appears that a liberal is a conservative who's been mugged by reality.
Conservative U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., joined some of his most liberal colleagues in the House of Representative on a recent trip to Africa. What he saw there changed him, at least a little.
Struck by the unrelenting poverty in a South African slum, Nunes this week joined Democrats in supporting a $50 billion global AIDS relief package. Most of his fellow Republicans opposed the bill.
“It’s one thing to hear about a problem,” Nunes said Thursday. “It’s another thing to see it for yourself. This was horrendous.”
Once you step outside that bubble, it's hard to ignore the truth and the suffering.