Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Conflict Potential in a World of Climate Change

Filed under: Environment — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 21:42 PDT

Climate change research has developed rapidly over the past decade, with findings resting on a much more robust and comprehensive set of data than ever before… The past year – with its big debates at the UN Security Council and in statements from EU and G8 states, all following on from the groundbreaking reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – has underscored the central position that climate change now occupies in international policy and strategic thinking.

A recurring theme in the debate – and certainly a staple in all the rhetoric associated with it – has been the potential impact of climate change as a cause of deadly conflict. It has to be said, however, that this dimension of the debate has not always been as nuanced as it might, and that some of the contributions to it might be more persuasive if they were a little more cautiously expressed.

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Canada’s ice shelves lost 23% of their area this summer

Filed under: Environment — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 21:31 PDT

A 19-square-mile (50 sq km) chuck of ice shelf broke off from Canada’s Ellesmere Island in the northern Arctic, reports the Associated Press. The Manhattan-sized ice shelf is now adrift in the Arctic Ocean. It is the largest of more than 83 sq mi (214 sq km) of ice shelf that has broken up in the Canadian Arctic this year.

“These substantial calving events underscore the rapidity of changes taking place in the Arctic,” said Derek Mueller, an expert in Northern and Polar Studies at Trent University. “These changes are irreversible under the present climate and indicate that the environmental conditions that have kept these ice shelves in balance for thousands of years are no longer present.”

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Global warming aside, southern Amazon forest cover may fall to 20% by 2016

Filed under: Environment,News Watch Blog — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 21:29 PDT

Forest cover in the “Arc of Deforestation” of southern Amazonia will decline to around 20 percent 2016 due to continued logging and conversion of forests for cattle pasture and soy farms, report researchers writing in the journal Environmental Conservation. The results are independent of impacts resulting from climate change, which some researchers say could dry the Southern Amazon and turn it into a tinderbox.

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International Mediation Institute honors mediation blogs from across the globe

Filed under: Dispute resolution and negotiation — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 21:25 PDT

The International Mediation Institute (IMI), a public policy initiative creating international competency standards for certifying mediators, has conferred a great honor upon a select group of bloggers…

Mediation Channel was among those included. I’m in the company of the likes of Geoff Sharp (New Zealand), Tammy Lenski (U.S.), Marcus Brinkmann (Germany), Sanjana Hattotuwa (Sri Lanka), and others who have contributed in significant ways to the quality of the conversation about ADR on the web. You can explore the complete list of mediation blogs at the IMI web site.

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Michelle Obama Has a Rabbi in Her Family

Filed under: News Watch Blog — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 21:20 PDT

While Barack Obama has struggled to capture the Jewish vote, it turns out that one of his wife’s first cousins is the country’s most prominent black rabbi — a fact that has gone largely unnoticed.

Michelle Obama, wife of the Democratic presidential nominee, and Rabbi Capers Funnye, spiritual leader of a mostly black synagogue on Chicago’s South Side, are first cousins once removed. Funnye’s mother, Verdelle Robinson Funnye (born Verdelle Robinson) and Michelle Obama’s paternal grandfather, Frasier Robinson Jr., were brother and sister.

Funnye (pronounced fuh-NAY) is chief rabbi at the Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation in southwest Chicago. He is well-known in Jewish circles for acting as a bridge between mainstream Jewry and the much smaller, and largely separate, world of black Jewish congregations, sometimes known as black Hebrews or Israelites. He has often urged the larger Jewish community to be more accepting of Jews who are not white.

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Iran women activists see victory on polygamy bill

Filed under: gender,Human Rights,Middle East,News Watch Blog — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 21:13 PDT

TEHRAN — Iran’s parliament has indefinitely delayed a vote on a bill on families, a move women’s rights activists say is a victory in their drive to block legislation they fear would encourage polygamy.

The conservative-controlled assembly had been due to vote on the government proposal known as the “Family Support Bill” August 31 but it was sent back to its legal committee for more work, an Iranian newspaper reported this week…

“It is a huge victory … but the threat still looms and it still exists,” Tahmasebi told Reuters.

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How the Georgia conflict impacts U.S.-Russian relations

Filed under: News Watch Blog — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 20:31 PDT

Georgia and the events surrounding it in the second week of August have marked a new and serious downturn in U.S.-Russian relations.

In the United States, there are two schools of thought about handling the issue. The majority view has tended to put most of the blame–and hence, responsibility–at Russia’s doorstep. They have sought not only to get Russia out of Georgia, but also to punish and castigate Moscow along the way. This group sees Russia’s presence in Georgia as merely the first step in a new and expansive Russia that’s seeking to establish its dominion over at least the “near abroad” space of the former Soviet Union and perhaps beyond.

The second group is more measured and sees both sides as having committed serious errors. But it would certainly seek Russian withdrawal from Georgia and the preservation of Tbilisi’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence. Thus, it would seek to exert multilateral pressure on Russia to achieve these objectives and for the time being, to limit pressures to those necessary and useful to achieve the implementation of the cease-fire agreement brokered by the European Union (EU).

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