Today’s Headlines

October 31, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

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Despite Budget Crisis, Bill Gates Pushes Continuing Foreign Aid (Imtiyaz Delawala, ABC News)

Despite economic crisis rippling around the world, Microsoft Co-Founder and Chairman Bill Gates is pushing countries to continue foreign aid efforts to poor and developing nations, saying that every dollar of aid “makes a huge difference.”  Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, traveled to Capitol Hill last week to make his case to members of Congress, who are grappling with major budget cuts while debating greater investments to spur job creation

Gender Equality and Social Justice: Why Foreign Assistance Matters (Rep. Jim Moran, Huffington Post)

Three women awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this month demonstrate the lessons our Congress needs to recall as we debate issues of foreign policy and national security.  These three leaders — President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and peace activist Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Yemeni democracy advocate Tawakul Karman — have changed our world. We in the United States should be thrilled by the Nobel Committee’s choice, because their success demonstrates core values animating our foreign policy: that local, grassroots participation — including women — is a foundation of social progress, and that the demand for human rights can overcome even the most entrenched corruption.

Smart Power

Fate of Bush-era program a matter of life or death (Julian Zelizer, CNN)

The stakes in the current budget battles are enormous. As the super-committee deliberates over how to reduce the deficit and other congressional committees struggle to cut spending, the fate of important programs hangs in the balance.  While the American public tends to focus on the highest profile issues such as Medicare and defense, some of the smaller, off-radar issues are also vital and can’t be ignored. The combination of rising deficits, hyper-partisanship, and tea party conservatism has put numerous policies at risk.

U.S. Agency Says Iraq Will Need Oversight (Nathan Hodge, Wall Street Journal)

The U.S. mission in Iraq will still require continuing and “robust” oversight after American military involvement in Iraq draws to an end, the watchdog agency that oversees reconstruction work there said.  The Obama administration earlier this month announced plans to bring all U.S. forces home from Iraq by the end of the year. But that will leave the State Department in charge of a sizable diplomatic mission and thousands of private security contractors to protect U.S. government employees. Meanwhile, a small cadre of U.S. military personnel and contractors will help oversee arms sales and training for the Iraqi military.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Obama to pitch economic program at Group of 20 summit (David Nakamura, Washington Post)

President Obama, who has struggled to advance his vision for economic renewal at home, will take his pitch overseas this week to an audience of world leaders who could prove equally skeptical of his message at a time of global anxiety…Obama is scheduled to depart Washington late Wednesday for a two-day trip to Cannes, France, where the heads of the world’s 20 largest economies will gather for the Group of 20 summit. Organizers said the meetings will focus on how to contain Europe’s debt crisis while also trying to forge consensus on a path to stimulating worldwide economic growth, even as many countries, including the United States, wrestle with painful budget cuts.

“7 billionth” babies celebrated worldwide (CBS News)

Countries around the world marked the world’s population reaching 7 billion Monday with lavish ceremonies for newborn infants symbolizing the milestone and warnings that there may be too many humans for the planet’s resources.  While demographers are unsure exactly when the world’s population will reach the 7 billion mark, the U.N. is using Monday to symbolically mark the day. A string of festivities are being held worldwide, with a series of symbolic 7-billionth babies being born.

Chemical weapons sites found in Libya, officials say (Jomana Karadsheh, CNN)

Libya’s new authorities found chemical weapons about a month ago and asked for international aid in securing them, a top military spokesman for the National Transitional Council told CNN Monday.  “We found mustard gas missiles in Jufra and we asked our friends to come and help us,” Col. Ahmed Bani said.  He was adding details to the announcement Sunday by the National Transitional Council’s outgoing prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, that two chemical weapons sites had been discovered.  Jibril, speaking to reporters in Tripoli, said the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Hague and the United States were notified.