United Nations faces a sweaty August

Cue the "hot air" jokes.

The United Nations plans to go casual for the month of August in a bid to cut back on electricity use. The idea, inspired by a similar initiative in Japan called "Cool Biz," is that you can turn down the air conditioning when everybody isn't wearing wool and stuffy ties:

The campaign calls for raising the thermostats in most parts of the U.N. Secretariat building from 22.2 C to 25 C [77] and from 21.1 C to 23.9 C [75 F] in the world body's conference rooms.

The initiative would save some 2 million tons of steam during the month of August, or the equivalent of 300 tons of carbon dioxide in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, [a U.N. spokesman] said.

I love this quip from David Malone, a former Canadian ambassador:

If the rise in the temperature could cut back on the interminable negotiations running late into the evening for often disappointing results, then the outcome of the initiative would be a very good one."

If it works, the U.N. plans to ask its employees to bundle up in the winter. Now if they can just take care of that smoking problem...


Morning Brief: Exxon Mobil announces record profits

Top Story

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Oil giant Exxon Mobil announced record profits for the second quarter of 2008. The company's $11.68 billion windfall represents the highest profit ever reported by a U.S. company. Production, however, fell dramatically during the period. Exxon Mobil is now spending more than $50 million per day searching for new reserves, which are increasingly hard to find.

Decision '08

John McCain's new strategy: Define Barack Obama as an effete, out-of-touch elitist. But the candidate is having trouble hewing to the script.

Al Gore is likely to play a starring role at the Democratic convention.


The U.S. economy grew at a faster-than-expected 1.9 percent in the second quarter, but analysts expect it to falter as stimulus measures wear off.


U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates still sees terrorism as the top threat to the United States.

President George W. Bush approved a major overhaul of the U.S. intelligence community.

Brazil is having great success in reducing income inequality.


Al Qaeda in Iraq's leader may have fled to Afghanistan.

China unveiled emergency regulations aimed at improving air quality for the Olympics, which begin next week.

Renewed fighting is breaking out in Pakistan's northwest.

In Thailand, the wife of ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra has been convicted of tax fraud.

Middle East and Africa

With PM Ehud Olmert stepping down in September, Benjamin Netanyahu is the current favorite of the Israeli public, according to a new poll. No wonder Netanyahu wants early elections.

South African political leader Jacob Zuma has lost his bid to keep certain evidence out of his upcoming corruption trial.

McCain supporter Henry Kissinger comes out against a withdrawal timeline for Iraq.


Foreign Minister David Miliband refused to rule out a challenge to PM Gordon Brown for the leadership of the struggling Labour Party.

Some 3,000 blank British passports have been stolen.

Inflation in the Eurozone is up to 4.1 percent, a new record.

Today's Agenda

Radovan Karadzic is to be formally charged with war crimes.

Iraqis say they are close to a reaching a security arrangement with the United States. One would hope so: Today is the Bush administration's unofficial deadline.

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens faces an arraignment hearing in Washington.