The world has dithered in putting together the necessary political response to the humanitarian catastrophe that has ensued in Darfur since 2003. The latest “breakthrough,” with the Sudanese government consenting to a hybrid U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, comes after years of stalling by Khartoum, and half-hearted efforts by the international community. In any case, the 20,000 troops will not get on the ground before 2008, and the peace agreement that they are meant to be enforcing remains a dead letter. So not much is likely to change for the traumatized people of Darfur anytime soon, despite French President […]

TORONTO — Credit the apostle of development aid, Bono, for his unbending consistency. In Heiligendamm, Germany, last week, He accused the G-8 countries of obfuscation and creative accounting in their $60 billion pledge to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. His criticism, shared by HIV/AIDS organizations and other development activists, is twofold: That money is not designated solely for Africa, nor does it have a timeline. “We are looking for accountable language and accountable numbers: We didn’t get them,” Bono said in a statement. “Clear year-by-year steps were needed but this labyrinthine language offers no path — it’s a maze designed […]

MELBOURNE, Australia — One Sydney gardener said he was as happy as a dog with two tails while in Melbourne three suburban blokes who sacrificed their beer brewing operation to save a drought-stricken veggie patch were tickled pink. The heaviest rainfall in years is finally hitting Australia, raising hopes the coming winter could spell an end for the “Big Dry,” which has crippled agriculture, reduced economic growth and imposed severe restrictions on life in the nation’s biggest cities. The rain started in late April and has continued to fall — with a routine unseen for at least six years — […]

Nicholas Burns, the U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, hastily ended a brief visit to India last weekend after failing to reach an agreement with Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon on the long-anticipated U.S.-India nuclear deal. Both countries, however, appear hopeful that the issue is going to get a renewed push from the highest political level this week when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and U.S. President George W. Bush meet on the sidelines of the Group of 8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany. The way the proposed deal is laid out now, the United States would ship nuclear fuel […]

The latest report by illegal logging watchdog Global Witness has received the highest accolade an investigative NGO’s work can receive from the Cambodian Government: It has been banned. The reason? It exposes the country’s largest illegal logging syndicate and its links to senior government officials, including the prime minister. Plus, it details the way the army has been used as a log courier service for the secret trade with Vietnam and China. Now, as Cambodia’s annual pledge-a-thon approaches, international donors are scrambling to react to accusations they haven’t done enough to protect Cambodia’s forests.Global Witness, the U.K.-based logging and blood […]

LAGOS, Nigeria — A key militant group in Nigeria’s troubled Niger Delta region announced a one-month ceasefire Saturday, giving the country’s new president an opportunity to make good on promises to bring an end to the crisis there. The Niger Delta is the center of the oil industry in a country that is the sixth largest producer in the world, but the region is also home to some of Nigeria’s worst poverty. Over the last year-and-a-half, militant groups seeking a share of Nigeria’s oil wealth have sprung up in the delta. The groups have kidnapped Western oil workers and bombed […]

State-sponsored censorship of the Internet has increased significantly in recent years, according to a study of 41 countries conducted during 2006 and 2007 by the OpenNet Initiative (ONI), a consortium of researchers from four major universities, including Harvard and Oxford. “The conclusions from this first year of global testing highlight that Internet filtering is growing in scope, scale and sophistication worldwide,” an ONI summary of its work states. “At least twenty-five of the forty-one countries ONI tested are engaged in some form of technical Internet filtering.”That’s up from just five states conducting systematic filtering five years ago, John Palfrey, executive […]

HONG KONG — As China grapples with the problem of producing enough electricity to meet the needs of its staggering economic growth, a pollution crisis is beginning to plume over Hong Kong. Power generation in China’s southern province of Guangdong has failed to keep pace with rapid economic development — forcing it to turn to Hong Kong for electricity. As a result, China Light and Power (CLP), Asia’s largest private power utility and the biggest polluter in Hong Kong, is attracting local political criticism for selling an increasing amount of excess electricity to mainland China for profit. In 2006, electricity […]