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OAS Assembly Adopts Social Charter of the Americas

OAS approves Social Charter of the AmericasCochabamba, June 4.─ The ministers of foreign affairs of the Hemisphere adopted the Social Charter of the Americas today, by acclamation, at the second plenary session of the forty-second regular session of the Organization of American States (OAS), being held in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

The Bolivian Foreign Minister and President of the Assembly, David Choquehuanca, applauded the adoption of the Social Charter of the Americas in his country. He said, "my people and my Government are especially pleased that the Social Charter of the Americas is being adopted here, in Tiquipaya, in Cochabamba." He said the document would serve to strengthen "existing OAS instruments on democracy, integral development, and fighting poverty."

The Social Charter is based on the recognition that "the peoples of the Americas legitimately aspire to social justice and their governments have a responsibility to promote it. Development with equity strengthens and consolidates democracy, since the two are interdependent and mutually reinforcing."

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The future of the European Union

  • A limited version of federalism is a less miserable solution than the break-up of the euro
  • Even if this break-up were somehow executed flawlessly, banks and firms across the continent would topple because their domestic and foreign assets and liabilities would no longer match


May 26.─ What will become of the European Union? One road leads to the full break-up of the euro, with all its economic and political repercussions. The other involves an unprecedented transfer of wealth across Europe's borders and, in return, a corresponding surrender of sovereignty. Separate or superstate: those seem to be the alternatives now.

For two crisis-plagued years Europe's leaders have run away from this choice. Read more ...

The Climate Threat - What It Is and How to Deal With It

  • As climate science has progressed, researchers have become aware of more warming agents
  • In February, the United States announced that it would lead a group of countries including Bangladesh, Canada, and Sweden in a new strategy to reduce short-lived pollutants

Atmospheric pollution in citiesMay 14.─ For more than two decades, diplomats have struggled to slow global warming. They have negotiated two major treaties to achieve that goal, the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. And last year, at the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, they agreed to start talking about yet another treaty. A small group of countries, including Japan and the members of the European Union, now regulate their emissions in accord with the existing agreements. But most states, including the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, China and the United States, have failed to make much progress. As a result, total emissions of carbon dioxide, the leading long-term cause of global warming, have risen by more than 50 percent since the 1980s and are poised to rise by more than 30 percent in the next two to three decades.

The ever-increasing quantity of emissions could render moot the aim that has guided international climate diplomacy for nearly a decade: preventing the global temperature from rising by more than two degrees Celsius above its preindustrial level. In fact, in the absence of significant international action, the planet is now on track to warm by at least 2.5 degrees during the current century -- and maybe even more. The known effects of this continued warming are deeply troubling: rising sea levels, a thinning Arctic icecap, extreme weather events, ocean acidification, loss of natural habitats, and many others. Read more ...

China's imperialist seaward expansion is mildly challenged

China claims 90% of the South China Sea trumping claims from Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam, while America's navy riles China in its backyardChina's maritime claim

Manila, Apr.30.─ Philippine and American troops charged ashore from the South China Sea on April 25th in an exercise to show they could jointly recapture a small Philippine island from hostile forces. It was all make-believe, of course: just another round of a game in which China pretends it owns almost all the South China Sea, and the Philippines and four other East Asian countries pretend otherwise.

America says it does not take sides in the squabble embroiling China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines over ownership of all or parts of the South China Sea. The sea has (or had) a rich marine life, and oil and gas. But America does play chicken. It has a mutual-defence treaty with the Philippines, which an American general this month described as "self-explanatory". However, the treaty fails to spell out whether America would help defend Philippine-claimed territory if it was also claimed by China.


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Dalai Lama wins Templeton Prize in science & religion

The announcement was made this morning online at and carries a US$1.7 million award

Pennsylvania, Mar. 29.─ The Dalai Lama, possibly the globe's most famous contemporary voice for non-violence and compassion, was named the winner of the 2012 Templeton Prize today.

The announcement comes three days after Tibetan exile Janphel Yeshi set himself on fire Monday to protest China's control of Tibet. Beijing blamed the Dalai Lama for the incident. Chinese President Hu Jintao is visiting New Delhi this week.

Last year, the Dalai Lama, who served as both spiritual and political leader of Tibetan Buddhists in exile since 1959, relinquished his political role. That seems to cut no ice with Beijing, however.

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