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Is the United States the new France?

In a panel discussion at the Brookings Institute on April 28, 2009 four experts spoke about the differences and similarities between the U.S. and France. To be specific, the topic of social democracy and Obama’s “revolution,” and how it is similar to what France has already implemented in their government.

This new idea of changing the current U.S. system into a social democracy has been called the “Obama revolution” and involves the popular topic of universal healthcare for all U.S. citizens. The panel had made a point to say that it was a good idea for the U.S. to implement a more universal healthcare system. In France, the average person lives longer and is also very happy with the high quality of healthcare. Although it was also pointed out that in recent polls taken, many people in the U.S. did not want to front the bill for such a system that would include those who would otherwise not be able to pay for healthcare. It seemed that when confronted with the idea of healthcare for all, many people were happy about the idea, but when asked if they were comfortable with paying higher taxes to make sure everyone could have this, less than 50% said they would like it.

In addition to talking about healthcare reform, the panel mentioned the fact that the French also have a free Pre-Kindergarten system for all children. This could be another possibility for the U.S. if it decided to continue with the idea of a social democracy since the schooling would also be funded by the state.

43 Organizations Send Letter to Protect Peacekeeping Dues

Yesterday, 43 international policy, humanitarian, and religious organizations sent a letter to the chair and ranking members of the House and Senate full appropriations and foreign operations sub-committees calling on them to support the $886,900,000 requested for United Nations and other peacekeeping accounts included in President Obama's FY 2009 Supplemental Funding request.

The IMF and Aid to Africa

Currently, 65% of the world is in recession, an amount greater than at any time since 1960. The International Monetary Fund [IMF] recently stated that the downturn is likely to be “unusually severe and long-lasting.” The recession is likely to starve developing countries of their resources and the Fund predicts that these fledgling economies may face shortages of investments for many years to come.

The Road to Zero Nukes

George Perkovich, the Vice President of Studies and the Director of the Non-proliferation Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, spoke on April 20, 2009 about the prospects of reducing global nuclear stocks to zero. He discussed the numerous issues that must be resolved in order to even begin a discussion on going to zero nukes, but focused on one central issue that needs to be the first step: Bilateral negotiations between the US and Russia and between the US and China.

Obama Requests $836M for U.N. Peacekeeping Operations was thrilled to see that in the recent FY 2009 Supplemental Appropriations Bill that was just released by the White House, President Obama requested $836,900,000 for U.N. Peacekeeping operations. By supporting U.N. peacekeepers, the United States is able to address regional instability throughout the world, prevent pandemics, reduce the spread of terrorism, and avoid refugee crises. The total debt that the United States owes the United Nations is $1.56 billion; therefore, $836 million represents extraordinary action to catch up on this debt. The $836 million, a mere 1% of the overall Supplemental request, includes the maintenance of current U.N. peacekeeping operations and the funding of an expanded mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Also, money from that fund will go to the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad [MINURCAT].

When the United States falls so deeply into arrears, the U.N. is not able to send as many troops on the peacekeeping missions. For example, the United Nations is authorized to send 31,569 personnel to Darfur but the actual number is 17,692 because of the low level of funds. insists that Congress maintain this level of funding in the Supplemental Appropriations Bill to U.N. Peacekeeping Operations and encourages you to express this same sentiment to your Congressperson. This significant contribution will help generate goodwill toward the United States and restore our financial standing at the United Nations.

ACT NOW to make sure the U.S. pays its peacekeeping dues

The Push to Ratify CEDAW

All over the world, millions of women are denied equal access to property, legal action, civic life and public participation on a daily basis. Seventy percent of the poorest people in the world are female. Of a total of 771 million illiterate adults, two-thirds are women. One out of three women will experience physical abuse or violence and one out of five will be the victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime.

The Build Up to Copenhagen: Bonn, Germany Meeting

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC] may not begin until December 7th but the preparatory talks are already underway. The Framework Convention on Climate Change consists of 192 countries, including the United States and China. All parties meet once a year in a Conference of Parties. Since the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol will end in 2012, a new Climate Change agreement will need to be negotiated immediately.

St. Louis Student Shares CGS Conference Experience

My Experience at the CGS Conference in Washington D.C., March 19-21, 2009

By Stefanie A. Hausheer

Before attending the (CGS) conference in Washington, D.C., I understood in an abstract way that by voting, I helped send representatives to the nation's capitol to speak for me, but the experience of lobbying on Capitol Hill marked a turning point in my experience of American citizenship. As we walked past the countless senators' and representatives' offices and as my group met with staff members inside some of these offices, I felt so close to the seat of legislative and political power. Never before have I felt so connected to the government, and never before have I felt that we, the people, have so much power to affect the actions of our elected officials.

In addition to the empowering experience of lobbying, the incredible array of speakers that presented on various topics provided me with a wealth of fascinating information. Gillian Sorenson of the United Nations gave me fresh evidence of the U.N.'s important role in the international system, but she also reminded me that we Americans must push our government to be far more involved in the U.N. so that we can take advantage of the multilateral initiatives that it offers us.

North Korean Nuclear Tests

North Korea tested a long range nuclear rocket over the weekend, following talks last Wednesday between President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev about reducing their countries' nuclear stockpiles. This act violates United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718, which prohibits North Korea from manipulating ballistic missile technologies. It was adopted unanimously in October 2006 as a result of claims that the country had performed successful nuclear tests in the beginning of the month.