Who Could Have Imagined…

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After I moved my stuff out of D.C. last month, I stopped at a small gas station in New Rochelle, NY to fill up my truck before returning it. I didn’t realize that it was all full-serve until the attendant ran out to me. He had an unusual problem: the meter on his old gas pump was built incapable of recognizing gas prices higher than $3.99/gallon. As a result, the attendant explained, he now sets the meter for half the…

Thoughts on Beijing

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I was in Beijing just a little over a week ago. Steve isn’t kidding about the smog — on the bad days, visibility is about 10 blocks. On the very worst day, I couldn’t see clearly from one side of Tienanmen Square to the other. That was a Friday, which is important because, according to locals, that is the day of the week on which the clouds are seeded to clear out the pollution. I was told on a clear…

Candidates Offer Joint Statement on Darfur

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According to UVA’s Larry Sabato, quoted in the Save Darfur Coalition’s press release, it’s the most significant joint statement by rival presidential candidates since advisors to FDR and Dewey pronounced the shared resolve of their bosses to defeat the Axis powers in 1944. The statement is here. Of course, Darfur has generated tough talk all across the political spectrum, though only a few officials have actually committed substantial political capital to make things happen. Hopefully the candidates will offer specifics,…

Bolton: Israel Should Negotiate With Iran

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First, in this National Journal interview, John Bolton slams Barack Obama, arguing that negotiation is not a policy but rather a technique. Yet, most of the interview is dedicated to defending the pre-2006 Bush approach of non-negotiation as policy. Then, Bolton is asked about Israel’s recent decision to negotiate with Syria. Here’s his surprising response: I think they are making a mistake trying to negotiate with Syria now, because I don’t think Syria has any independent ability to make decisions….

Visa Complications

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No big surprise, but it turns out that many countries really don’t like having to jump through so many hoops in order to apply for a U.S. visa. In 2003, a consular officer in Moscow told me that when the Russian duo t.A.T.u. applied for a visa, they were asked to sing for the staff to verify their identities. Another consular officer recounted a story about a national champion youth martial arts team applying for visas to go to the…

Youth at the UN

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As it has done for the past eight years, SustainUS is sending all-star group of young leaders to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Their group blog is here, and it’s well worth a read. I’ve seen enough young people go through this process to be able to predict how this will read. At the beginning, everyone is pretty starry-eyed — very excited to be in the historic UN building, awed by their own access and impressed by their…

Changes On My End

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Last week I left Citizens for Global Solutions after a few years as an advocate there. I’m doing some personal travel through Russia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and China starting in about a week and probably won’t be up on this blog during that time, but I’ll share pictures when I get back. The other news: I’m leaving D.C. to start law school in the fall. It’s hard to look forward to three years of something so academic after being involved in…

Medvedev Pushes for Rule of Law

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Don’t believe anyone who says s/he knows exactly how much power Dmitriy Medvedev will wield as Russian President. My answer, for now at least, is: more than none, less than a whole lot. In his campaign and early days as President, Medvedev has invested a great deal of his time and political capital into a new campaign to reign in corruption and establish the rule of law. The campaign obviously won’t be ambitious enough to, say, keep government influence out…

Save the World, Now!

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In yesterday’s Washington Post, Fred Hiatt makes the case that the UN is at fault for suffering in Darfur and Myanmar. Yes, that’s Darfur, where the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations has been begging and pleading with member states to contribute essential equipment, weapons and supplies (much has been made of a critical helicopter shortage, but right now it seems that water is just as much a limiting factor), and Myanmar, where the UN is the only actor that has…