Today’s Headlines

August 31, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Who’s In the News

Ros-Lehtinen introduces U.N.-bashing bill ahead of Palestinian statehood vote (Josh Rogin, the Cable)

The bill would also withhold funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which aids Palestinian refugees, call for the United States to lead a high-level U.N. effort for “the revocation and repudiation” of the Goldstone Report, and pull the United States out of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which commissioned the Goldstone Report and has historically been critical of Israel. More broadly, the bill would shift U.S. contributions to the United Nations to a “voluntary basis,” rather than have them follow the compulsory assessed fees system that is in place now. If the United Nations doesn’t get 80 percent of its money from voluntary contributions, the bill would then require the United State to cut its contribution by 50 percent. The bill would also halt new U.S. contributions to U.N. peacekeeping missions until reforms are implemented, and institute a new regime of reporting requirements and auditing powers for examining U.S. contributions to the United Nations.

Romney blasts Obama’s “confused” foreign policy vision in speech to veterans (Lucy Madison, CBS News) Less than an hour before President Obama lauded veterans for their service at the annual American Legion conference in Minneapolis on Tuesday, Republican presidential Mitt Romney spoke at the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention in San Antonio, Texas – and blasted the president for being “confused” about America’s future. To win this fight for America’s future, we will have to rise above politics,” he continued. “I start with the fundamental conviction that America is the greatest nation in the history of the world and a force for good. And while we are not perfect, I will not apologize for America!”

Smart Power

IKEA giving UN $62 million to expand overcrowded refugee complex in Kenya (Associated Press)

The IKEA Foundation is donating $62 million (42.8 million euros) over three years to expand the world’s largest refugee complex in Dadaab, Kenya, the U.N. refugee agency announced Tuesday.  U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, in a statement, called it the largest private donation in the agency’s 60-year history, enough to help up to 120,000 people fleeing a crisis that “continues to deepen with thousands of people fleeing Somalia every week.”

Aid floods into Tripoli as fighting stops (Tom Miles, Reuters)

Tripoli’s hospitals have put the worst behind them after an end to the fighting in Libya’s capital opened the way to a flood of aid and enabled medical staff to get back to work, aid agencies said on Monday. In a rapid return to normality, even the notorious Abu Salim hospital, where 75 bodies were found after staff fled fighting in the area, is welcoming patients once again.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Romney, Perry criticize Obama’s foreign policy as weak (David Nakamura and Philip Rucker, Washington Post)  In a series of speeches, President Obama and his chief political rivals have presented dueling assessments of the administration’s record abroad, with Republicans offering an ominous view of a weak and uncertain America under Obama’s leadership. The clashing visions, which emerged in speeches Tuesday from Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney before gatherings of military veterans, highlighted what is sure to be a sharp point of contention during the 2012 campaign.

Affidavits of Peace Corps volunteers tell stories of assault and frustration (Lisa Rein, Washington Post)

These are among the accounts of about 30 current and former volunteers who were sexually assaulted overseas, told in graphic sworn statements provided to congressional investigators. Most of the attacks occurred in the past four years — and some as recently as the past year — during a time when the agency says it has improved how it responds to violent crimes.

Surge in Global Migration Expands Scale of an Aid Group’s Influence (Jason DeParle, New York Times)

As global migration has rapidly expanded, so has the influence of a little-known group whose eclectic work shapes migrants’ lives across six continents. Here in Bangladesh it has staged folk dramas to warn against sex trafficking, put solar panels on a remote border post and rescued tens of thousands of Bangladeshi workers caught in the Libyan war, at times with daring sea ventures that defied rocket attacks.