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HKS in the News May 8, 2012

1. U.N. talks on Rio agenda break off, but negotiators vow to resume (Stavins) ClimateWire

2. François Hollande – no more 'Mr. Pudding'? (Cogan) The Christian Science Monitor

3. A tragedy or merely tragic? (Kayyem) The Boston Globe

U.N. talks on Rio agenda break off, but negotiators vow to resume


May 8

Quoted: Robert Stavins, Belfer Center

Topic: The Rio+20 Summit

Negotiations over an official agenda document that will frame talks at the U.N.-backed Rio+20 summit in Brazil next month broke off last week without a focused agreement on how to proceed.

… Others who said they have no plans to attend expressed little surprise that the goals have been muddled. Robert Stavins, director of Harvard University's Environmental Economics Program, said he would hope the conference would provide a snapshot of how "things have progressed since Rio No. 1," but he wasn't sure an international conference is necessary to get there.

Otherwise, Stavins said he never really saw Rio as trying to advance concrete mandates such as how to cope with climate change. "Whereas it is understandable that there are many people -- including both some government representatives and [nongovernment organization] leaders -- who would like to see the Rio+20 event make progress on international climate negotiations, this is unlikely to happen," he said.

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François Hollande – no more 'Mr. Pudding'?

The Christian Science Monitor

May 7

Commentary by: Charles Cogan, Executive Education

Topic: France’s presidential election

The French presidential election, which ended in a rather close victory for Socialist François Hollande over Nicolas Sarkozy, was fought largely on personal terms. Despite rhetorical flourishes during the campaign and what may appear to have been a sharp divergence over Europe’s austerity path, the ideological differences between these two center-leaning candidates amount to only a few degrees.

Perhaps a general desire for change is one key to understanding what happened: The only way to effect regime change in France in modern times is at the very top, through the presidential election. Perhaps it was time for alternance: the Socialists hadn’t been in power since 1995. …

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A tragedy or merely tragic?

The Boston Globe

May 7

Commentary by: Juliette Kayyem, Belfer Center

Topic: Human rights

In the 1983 movie “Educating Rita,” aging British Professor Frank Bryant teaches his young, commoner student how to read Macbeth. Comparing Shakespeare’s character with someone who is killed by a falling tree, he notes coolly “we must not confuse tragedy . . . with the merely tragic.” Rita doesn’t buy the distinction. It’s a tragedy “for the poor sod under the tree,” she replies.

By the end of the scene, it is not entirely clear if an amused Bryant or an impassioned Rita is correct.

I’m finding myself in the same linguistic dilemma over the plight of China’s blind lawyer and dissident Chen Guangcheng. The messy and complicated negotiations that occurred between the United States and China to get him out of the American embassy and possibly to the United States suggest we need a new vernacular. Even regarding human rights, there may be a difference between a tragedy and the merely tragic. …

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This selection of media appearances is compiled by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs.

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