March 21st, 2008 by Rightsideup

It seems President Bush’s failure to exert much downward pressure on spending at home applies to the UN too. Thanks mostly, it seems, to various Bush-inspired initiatives, the UN’s administrative budget for the coming year is going to be 25% higher than the previous year. A lot of the additional spending flows from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, although some of it is also going to various typical UN projects, including a conference on racism in South Africa which Canada has already decided to boycott because of anti-semitic themes.

The UN headquarters is also getting a makeover, which reminds me of the John Bolton quote that “if the UN secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference” – I wonder if it might be best and cheaper all around to do that than renovate the place? Might cut down on some of that massive spending too.

Hopefully our next president will take the rampant spending both domestically and at the UN more seriously, and take actions to reduce that spending rather than allowing it to continue to balloon at the current alarming rate…

March 22nd, 2007 by Rightsideup

Many news outlets covered the story about the attempted attack on the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon – including CNN, which had both an article and video.

So, it appears that even the UN is a target for Al Qaeda – it doesn’t make (to them) subtle distinctions between Westerners who favour the removal of dictators and Westerners who want to talk dictators down. Much as Democrats and other liberals want to suggest that the way to success in the Middle East is a UN-type approach, this is a useful reminder that Al Qaeda doesn’t think so.

Separately, Ban did remarkably well to regain his composure after the explosion hit, although even more impressive was Al-Maliki, who appeared barely to flinch.

January 29th, 2007 by Rightsideup

A CNN report this week on the soon-to-be-released IPCC report on climate change has the headline, “Experts slam upcoming global warming report”. The first paragraph of the report states:

Later this week in Paris, climate scientists will issue a dire forecast for the planet that warns of slowly rising sea levels and higher temperatures.

So presumably, the experts (scientists and others with a commitment to the scientific method) have criticised the forthcoming report as alarmist? Not a bit of it. See the second and third paragraphs of the report:

But that may be the sugarcoated version.

Early and changeable drafts of their upcoming authoritative report on climate change foresee smaller sea level rises than were projected in 2001 in the last report. Many top U.S. scientists reject these rosier numbers.

So it turns out that the critics are concerned that the report is not alarmist enough. CNN is here playing the game reporters occasionally do, whereby they seek to shift the centre of debate towards the left by presenting as opposing viewpoints more or less extreme versions of the same position, from the left of the political spectrum. This allows them to act as if the debate is not whether global warming is real, is caused by human action, or even is problematic, but on exactly how bad it is and how quickly we’re all going to die. The article focuses on the melting of large ice sheets, which some “critics” say has not been taken into account in the report.

Others believe the ice melt is temporary and won’t play such a dramatic role.

That debate may be the central one as scientists and bureaucrats from around the world gather in Paris to finish the first of four major global warming reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The panel was created by the United Nations in 1988.

Luckily, however, the IPCC is known for playing it safe and under-stating the risks:

Rahmstorf, a physics and oceanography professor at Potsdam University in Germany, says, “In a way, it is one of the strengths of the IPCC to be very conservative and cautious and not overstate any climate change risk.”

Thank goodness for that, then. At least it’s not like the last IPCC report has been used as the basis for every hysterical bit of news reporting about the environment for the last five years.