• Burmese leadership decides to keep constitutional ban on Aung San Suu Kyi presidency

    In the two years since President Barack Obama last visited in Burma (click here for more) much has changed. Economic reforms have privatized some industries, the government has relaxed the censorship of the media, and even once-jailed political dissidents have been allowed to run for office.
    But in one important way – Burma has not changed. Burma’s military rulers have ruled out a pre-election change to the country’s constitution (click here for more). The Burmese constitution (clause 59f) bars Nobel Peace Prize winner and leader of the opposition party, Aung San Suu Kyi, from becoming president because her children were born in another country.
    President Obama has said, “The amendment process needs to reflect inclusion rather than exclusion. I don’t understand the provision that would bar somebody from running for president because of who [their] children are.”
    Suu Kyi told Obama that the constitution was “unfair, unjust and undemocratic” and warned that Burma’s much vaunted reforms were stalling.
    Discussion starters:
    1. What steps might the international community take to help promote democracy in Burma?
    2. Would the open election of Suu Kyi mean significant changes for the people of Burma?
  • The United States and China strike a deal on carbon emissions

    Today in Beijing, President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a historic agreement to reduce carbon emissions.

    After 2020, the United States will reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions to 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. This means the United States will be doing its part to contain global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.

    Chinese President Xi announced his state’s intention to peak Chinese CO2 emissions around 2030, and further committed to make best efforts to peak early. China also announced a target of expanding the share of zero-emission sources in primary energy, namely renewables and nuclear, to 20% by 2030.

    United States Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner each slammed the agreement in statements released shortly after the deal was announced today. Mitch McConnell said, "Our economy can't take the President's ideological War on Coal.”  John Boehner calls the deal "another example of the President's job-crushing policies."

    The U.S. and China are responsible for 40 percent of the world's carbon emissions and this is the very the first time China has agreed to any reduction.

    Discussion starters:

    1. Do you think that the Republicans who will be leading the United States Congress in January will block this agreement?
    2. Are American jobs more important than global warming?
  • Global Corruption and the G20

    The Group of Twenty (G20) is a forum for its member states to meet and discuss international economic cooperation.

    The G20 is made up of 19 countries plus the European Union (also each G20 president invites several guest states to participate in the meetings each year).

    The G20 leaders are holding their annual meeting this month and the NGO ONE is calling of those leaders to strengthen the global economy, reform international financial institutions, improve financial regulation by ending corporate money laundering, tax evasion, and embezzlement.

    ONE’s campaign tells us that one trillion dollars is siphoned out of developing countries every single year!

    In this video Colin Farrell explains global corruption in 164 seconds, with the help of zombies and a washing machine.

    Discussion starters:

    1. Will you add your name to ONE’s petition to urge the G20 leaders to help stop the Trillion Dollar Scandal?
    2. Do global leaders have incentive and or the means to stop global corruption?