Margaret and Denis Thatcher (photo credit: Martin Cleaver/AP)

There is a scene in the new movie “Iron Lady” which made me cry. When Sir Denis Thatcher asks Margaret Roberts, the daughter of a grocer to marry him, she tells him that she cannot be a typical wife who stays home washing tea cups. His immediate response was that her passion for a political life is exactly why he wanted to marry her. This unusual proposal took place in 1950 Britain, when few women were working, let alone in Parliament.

This historic partnership, which began when Margaret and Denis married in 1951, enabled Margaret to become a barrister and Britain’s first female Prime Minister. Throughout her political career, Denis remained fully supportive as both Lady Margaret’s husband and full-time father to their twins. The movie portrays Denis as a man well before his times, one who was comfortable being married to a strong, successful woman.
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Rick Santorum and his family (credit: Santorum for President website)

The new year certainly kicked off with a bang as Rick Santorum surged in the Republican primaries. His “faith, family and freedom” (in that order) platform translates into his party’s retro view that America can avoid decline only by returning to the days when religion (think Christian prayers in school) was central, families (think Mom home with many kids) were the cornerstone of society, and freedom (think heterosexual GI Joe) kept America “strong.”

What Santorum and his followers fail to grasp is that change is inevitable and happening, here and around the world. The rise of the Millenials, those 50 million American twenty-somethings born after 1980, is profoundly changing our global society, and there is no going back.
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I asked my daughter, Caroline Behringer, to write an update to my last post entitled “How do we get beyond Kyoto?”.  Caroline’s report provides an insider view on what occurred in Durban and is  posted below.

*Disclaimer: Title borrowed from a reporter at ClimateWire, who wrote what I believe to be the best account of the drama that unfolded during the final hours of the Durban climate negotiations (“How a Belligerent, Sleep-Deprived Crowd in Durban Arrived at Consensus”).

Sunday morning in the closing plenary (credit: AFP)

It’s 4:00am on Sunday morning, and I’m sitting on the floor in the back of a giant conference room in the International Convention Center in Durban, South Africa. We’ve been here for more than two weeks for the UN COP17 climate change negotiations. The space is filled with delegates from nearly 200 countries seated in rows facing the front of the room. I am fighting fatigue so that I can send updates to the media as quickly as possible, but my colleagues and dozens of others are spread out across the floor sleeping for the first time in three days.
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Caroline (left) marching with WWF in Durban

My 25-year old daughter, Caroline, is in Durban, South Africa for the Climate Change Conference.  Caroline is covering this 17th annual UN Conference, known as “COP 17”, as a media specialist with the World Wildlife Fund.  Caroline has been communicating with us daily on what’s happening in Durban, including her participation in the Global Day of Action march.
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Esraa Abdel Fattah (photo credit: Vital Voices)

I had the honor of introducing Esraa Abdel Fattah at the Middle East Institute’s 65th annual banquet dinner this week.  Esraa, 33, now famous as Egypt’s “Facebook Girl,” helped mobilize the January 25th demonstration in Cairo which sparked the Egyptian revolution that brought down President Mubarak.  In recognition of her efforts, Esraa was considered for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.
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Canvasback duck

We are all feeling the impacts of declining economies in Greece and Italy. These two member countries of the 17-member “Eurozone” are impacting global stock markets as they struggle to service their debt with declining revenues. These defaulting countries are risking the survival of the Euro, the common currency of Eurozone members. To avoid a “catastrophic collapse,” Germany has taken the lead to offer solutions which if successful, will save the Euro at the expense of the citizens of Greece, Italy and other struggling European countries who will be forced to accept a more austere lifestyle. So what does this have to do with ducks?
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Occupy DC photo credit: Molly Riley/Reuters

The “Occupy Wall Street” movement excites me. I have seen Occupy DC protesters peacefully march down K Street and camp out in the heart of our nation’s capital. I read the op-ed commentators who search for a “message” and try to distill the protestors’ demands. Up to now, the media coverage has been largely dismissive by characterizing the Occupiers as “unemployed folks with nothing better to do.”(My stomach churns as these well-paid TV anchors try to marginalize young people who have come together for social change.) Continue Reading »