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Mubarak in Dire Health as Election Results Expected to Be Announced. Big Moment for Egypt.
Hosni Mubarak is said to have suffered a stroke and is seriously bad shape. His sharply deteriorating health is very sensitively timed: the results of the first post-Mubarak election are meant to be released this week. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi is expected to win…unless the Mubarak era Military Council cooks the books. In a rare show of unity, Egyptians across the political spectrum gathered en mass in Tahrir square to pressure the military council to stop messing with the electoral process. “’We learned a very hard lesson this week that the military believes we are divided and will allow them to exert their will on us,’ said Shadi Abdel Rahim, 35 years old. ‘I don’t love Morsi and I don’t love Shafiq but I love democracy and that’s why I’m here.” In the past two weeks, the interim ruling military leadership has restored martial law, dismissed parliament, cut down the powers of the president and claimed authority over the drafting of the country’s next constitution. The turnout on Tuesday, in the tens of thousands, marked a dramatic increase in the strength of the anti-military opposition and its power to corral the Islamists and secular-minded activists who have spent much of the past year at odds. ‘No Salafi, no liberal, no Brotherhood, today it’s only Egyptian,’ sang one large group of protesters who arrived shortly before sunset in Tahrir Square, which was the focal point of the uprising that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak.” (WSJ http://on.wsj.com/LiYJhj)
Tentative Agreement Reached on Rio Plus 20 Summit Outcome Document
The Brazilian hosts forced agreement to diplomats bickering over the summit outcome, and now it looks like agreement has been reached on a document that has the Europeans and civil society groups rather miffed. “’It was adopted and it will be endorsed by the heads of state and government,’ a diplomat told AFP. The agreement emerged after host country Brazil shepherded overnight negotiations that stumbled over objections from Europe…The lengthy draft outlines steps to tackle Earth’s worsening environment problems and ease poverty by spurring greener growth. The European Union had pressed for stronger commitments, notably on changes to the world’s governance of the environment and on a “Sustainable Development Goals” plan that will succeed the UN Millennium Development Goals after they expire in 2015. But environmentalist groups Greenpeace and WWF voiced strong skepticism about the summit outcome. ‘We were offered a common vision of inaction and destruction,” Daniel Mittler, political director of Greenpeace International, told AFP following the deal on the draft. ‘There’s absolutely nothing there for people and the planet,’ he added.” (AFP http://bit.ly/LiZ6Zq)
WFP Cuts Food Rations Due to Funding Gap
A funding shortfall is causing the World Food Programme to cut food rations for refugees living in camps in at least four African countries. “According to WFP, another 100,000 refugees in Tanzania saw their maize rations cut by 50 percent starting from last week, and rations for some 54,000 refugees living in Rwanda are expected to be cut in August unless donors come forward with more funding…A protection officer with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Malawi, Gavin Lim, said his agency planned to carry out an assessment in the coming months to determine the full impact of the ration cuts but that reports of more women in the camp turning to survival sex were already coming in.” (IRIN http://bit.ly/MumrTu)
Nigeria: Armed Gunmen, an Explosion and a Curfew
Sectarian violence continues in Kaduna State, Nigeria with Muslims taking to the streets armed with guns in response to Monday’s Christian violence. “Multiple gunshots were heard across the city where at least 52 people were killed on Sunday in retaliatory violence after suspected Islamist suicide bombings of three churches in Kaduna state that killed 19 Christians.” (Reuters http://bit.ly/MDLEP7) Residents report an explosion in the Panteka market which ignited a fire and set shops ablaze. (AlertNet http://bit.ly/Ngw119) As a result, the Nigerian government imposed a state-wide curfew. (BBC http://bbc.in/LAfYJp)
Unity of the G-77: No matter what the UN meeting, debate over specific issues tends to be broken down by “blocs.” These are groups of countries with similar agenda banding together to speak with a single voice. So, for example the EU is a single bloc, advocating for issues as one. The USA tends to have its own agenda, but by and large (and depending on the US administration) tends to work closely with the Europeans. The largest single bloc is the group of developing countries, mostly from the global south called the G-77. In some conferences, G-77 unity breaks down when the various regions band with the USA or EU to promote their own agenda. So, for example the “Africa Group” will sometimes join with the EU to oppose China or the Middle Eastern countries, which is how negotiations sometimes reach breakthroughs. But here in Rio word is that the G-77 is very, very unified. Brazil, China, India the Africans are all sticking together as one to pursue common interests, which is partly why negotiations are so stuck. ( Mark Leon Goldberg, From Rio+20)
A Rio+20 explainer post from Moses Shaha. (Think Africa Press http://bit.ly/Kg7ep7)
Gro Harlem Brundtland, the former prime minister of Norway, warns that Rio+20 is “backsliding” on women’s issues. (IRIN http://bit.ly/MqFxvU)
The Bangladeshi government is advocating for a “green economy” approach to the SDGs. (AlertNet http://bit.ly/LxVROU)
Jeffrey Sachs offers his Rio report card. (Al Jazeera http://aje.me/LxY90w)
“Global leadership has failed to develop answers or institutions capable of charting a just route through the global jungle” (Guardian http://bit.ly/L2Ixwc)