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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

As the war in Afghanistan approaches its tenth year, women and girls worry that the peace they want will come at the price of the few freedoms they have gained since the Taliban was overthrown in 2001. From school closures to increased threats against working women, the rights women want seem to be slipping away. Read more about the difficult situations women are facing in Afghanistan in this article from the New York Times.

This month the Council will present two programs about strong women who are working to empower women. On August 11, the Asia Foundation will co-sponsor a program with Samar Minallah, the Asia Foundation Chang Lin Tien Visiting Fellow at the Global Fund for Women and the founder of Ethnomedia. Minallah is an anthropologist, writer, human rights activist and one of Pakistan’s few documentary filmmakers. She will share excerpts from her documentaries and discuss using video as an advocacy tool for women’s rights in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Asha Hagi, the co-founder and chairperson of Save Somali Women and Children, will speak on August 27 in a co-sponsored program at the Commonwealth Club. Hagi will describe the innovative creation of a women’s network, The Sixth Clan, to facilitate full participation in national politics and the peace process.

To register for either program, please visit the Council’s online calendar.

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The Council is pleased to host Ambassador Eric Goosby, United States Global AIDS Coordinator, tonight at 6 PM. His visit comes only days after the conclusion of the biennial International AIDS Conference, at which he led the US delegation. The biggest news at the conference was the announcement of the development of a successful, new microbicide for HIV/AIDS prevention. While this was heralded as a huge advance in the fight against HIV/AIDS, many are now wondering whether it can be produced inexpensively enough for it to gain wide use and whether or not it will even be approved by regulators.

Join us tonight to learn about the conference and what the Obama Administration is doing to fight HIV/AIDS around the world. Register for the program here.

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This week the European Union announced new sanctions against Iran. The sanctions are one part of the EU’s strategy to pressure Iran to resume negotiations on its nuclear program. The United Nations imposed a fourth round of sanctions on Iran last month, but the EU’s go farther, affecting the energy, transport and finance sectors. While American investment in Iran has decreased in recent years, the EU is Iran’s largest trading partner and the new sanctions could have a significant impact on many European economies.

The United States also imposed new sanctions on Iran this month, with the goals of halting financing for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps that oversees missile and nuclear programs as well as curbing even further investment in Iran’s energy sector. They also target federal contractors that do business with Iran.

Learn more about the sanctions on Monday, August 2 when the Council hosts Jillian Burns, the Acting Director of the Iran Office of the State Department. She will discuss U.S. policy towards Iran, offering insight into the effectiveness of current sanctions and exploring Iran’s role in the region.

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As policy-makers, scientists, and persons living with HIV/AIDS convene this week at the International AIDS Conference, some are taking a closer look at AIDS policy in the United States. Since 2004, when President George W. Bush created the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief program (PEPFAR), the US has spent $19 billion to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa. These funds have provided 2.5 million Africans with anti-retroviral treatment and have contributed to the decline in new infections. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in Tuesday’s New York Times opinion section, argues that President Obama is not living up to his campaign pledge to increase PEPFAR’s budget, nor is he doing well by other disease prevention programs. Read his full opinion here.

Learn more about the Obama administration’s AIDS prevention and treatment efforts on Wednesday, July 28 when the Council hosts Ambassador Eric Goosby, US Global AIDS Coordinator. Register for the program here.

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Less than a week after President Barack Obama introduced a new national HIV and AIDS strategy, the International AIDS Conference began in Vienna. UNAIDS Executive Director Michele Sidibe unveiled Treatment 2.0, an initiative that will try to bring down the cost of life-saving medicines, make drug regimens less complicated and simplify the process of HIV treatment.

On Wednesday, July 28 the US Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Eric Goosby, will be at the Council to outline Obama’s new AIDS strategy. To register for the program, visit our website here.

For more information about the AIDS Conference, read this article from Voice of America. To learn more about the new national plan, listen to this episode of KQED’s Forum.

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Imagine if countries competed with each other to create the best environment in which social innovation can occur. And imagine if social entrepreneurs were actively encouraged and supported in countries around the world.

Two consultative bodies affiliated with the World Economic Forum (WEF) – its Global Agenda Council on Philanthropy and Social Investing and the Global Agenda Council on Social Entrepreneurship – are aiming to make those ambitions a reality. These bodies are just two of 60 interdisciplinary entities part of the forum’s Global Redesign Initiative, which is seeking ways in which international institutions or arrangements should be adapted to meet contemporary challenges.

“Particularly in the wake of the global economic crisis,” according to WEF’s Klaus Schwab, “we need to rethink our values, redesign our systems, and rebuild our institutions to make them more proactive and strategic, more inclusive, more reflective of the new geo-political and geo-economic circumstances, and more reflective of inter-generational accountability and responsibility.”

Everybody’s Business: Strengthening International Cooperation in a More Interdependent World summarizes and reports on proposals from the WEF’s global councils, focused on specific challenges, from health to economic growth to poverty to sustainability. The Council on Philanthropy and Social Investing, chaired by The Economist’s Matthew Bishop, proposes development of a Social Competitiveness Index that would inspire countries to become more socially innovative. More broadly, the goal is to help analysts and policymakers catch up with the revolution that has been taking place in the social sector for the past decade or so – to “chart its evolution going forward and show countries how to make the most of this opportunity.”

The Council on Social Entrepreneurship, chaired by J. Gregory Dees of Duke University, proposes development of a Global Alliance of Social Entrepreneurs, guided by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. This alliance, among other things, would establish a Consultative Group for Research to Advance Social Entrepreneurship (CGRASE) similar to the World Bank-hosted Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP), which has become world-recognized for its role in advancing microfinance. CGRASE’s mission would be to conduct research on and promote policies supporting social entrepreneurship, including working to have the UN designate 2011 the “Year of the Social Entrepreneur.”

Beyond philanthropy and social entrepreneurship, other ideas proposed include: creation of a global financial risk watchdog; development of a strategy to improve the diet of the poor; establishment of a new business model for humanitarian assistance with better coordination among all sectors; and establishment of an Ocean Health Index to strengthen information available about marine life. The report authors are currently seeking public debate and refinement about the many ideas contained. And this fall they will convene meetings to further discuss and develop these proposals, culminating in the forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, next January.

The report concludes that today’s global challenges require a more integrated and proactive approach, with new or upgraded international institutions and greater international cooperation: “No network exists that is sufficiently interdisciplinary, interactive and international to overcome these barriers to collective intelligence and action.”

— Jane Wales

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Starting tonight, PBS will air a new documentary about Secretary George Shultz, Turmoil & Triumph: The George Shultz Years. Shultz served in both the Nixon and Reagan administrations and now co-chairs the World Affairs Council’s Advisory Committee. In his many years of service, Secretary Shultz has taken on numerous challenges, most recently the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI). He spoke at the Council last month about the Initiative before a screening of The Nuclear Tipping Point.

To learn more about the PBS series, which will air tonight on KQED at 10 PM, read this article from the San Francisco Chronicle and visit the film’s website. More information about the NTI can be found on their website here.

Watch a short segment from Turmoil & Triumph below:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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On Sunday, voters went to the polls in Mexico to decide state and local races across the country. Despite some election-day violence, voter turnout was relatively stable, and power changed hands in six of twelve states. To learn more about Mexico’s current state of affairs and the relationship between the United States and Mexico, join the Council on July 22 for a program and reception with His Excellency Arturo Sarukhan, Ambassador of Mexico to the United States. Register for the program here.

For analysis of this weekend’s elections, read the articles in today’s Los Angeles Times and Washington Post.

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Last Thursday’s guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Jere Van Dyk,  will be at the Council on Wednesday, July 14. He is a journalist and author who is currently a consultant on Afghanistan, Pakistan and al-Qaeda for CBS News. In 2008, Van Dyk was captured and imprisoned by the Taliban along the boarder between Afghanistan and Pakistan. His new book, Captive: My Time as a Prisoner of the Taliban, chronicles this experience.

To register for the event, visit the Council website. Watch Van Dyk’s Daily Show appearance below.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Jere Van Dyk, posted with vodpod
Van Dyk was also featured on NPR’s Talk of the Nation last week. Listen to the story here.

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This week’s firing of General Stanley McChrystal and his being replaced by General David Petraeus, comes at a time when the World Affairs Council and the Marines’ Memorial Association are preparing to host the Honorable Robert Gates, United States Secretary of Defense. Secretary Gates will speak on August 12 as part of the George P. Shultz lecture series, which brings distinguished leaders from the US Armed Services to speak in San Francisco, most recently General Petraeus and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki. To register for this event, visit the MMA’s website or call 415.673.6672, ext.229.

To learn more about the changes at the Defense Department, read this article about Secretary Robert M. Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen’s thoughts on General McChrystal in the New York Times. For more about the American leadership in Afghanistan now that General Petraeus is slated to take over for McChrystal, read this article from the Economist.

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This Monday, June 28, the Council is honored to host His Excellency Batu Kutelia, Ambassador of Georgia to the United States, for a discussion of the state of bilateral relations and importance of Georgia as an ally in the Caucasus. The visit follows the Council of Europe’s Parliament overwhelming approval of a draft resolution condemning Russia’s policy in the North Caucasus, the same week that the Russian president is touring the United States. To register for the program with Ambassador Kutelia, visit the Council’s website.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, at the invitation of President Obama, traveled to the US on Tuesday to meet with business and political leaders in California and Washington, DC. Medvedev, who hopes to create a new technology mecca in Russia, made stops in San Francisco and Silicon Valley where he met with industry executives. Tomorrow he will travel to Washington to discuss the expansion of the economic relationship between Russia and the United States, which has largely been on hold since Russia’s war with Georgia in 2008. To learn more about Medvedev’s trip to Washington, read this article in the New York Times.

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“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.” This famous quote from Albert Einstein is the best way of describing US foreign policy in the Middle East, according to author and journalist Stephen Kinzer. He believes that our approach to the Middle East is stuck in a Cold-War mentality and that the US must find a new set of partners in the region. Kinzer feels that when Americans can put aside their emotions, and look for countries that have similar long-term goals and societies, “we see that [Turkey and Iran] are the two countries that are our logical partners going forwards.”

To listen to the entirety of Stephen Kinzer’s June 18 program at the World Affairs Council—‘Reset: Turkey, Iran and America’s Future’—please visit our online audio archive.

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