HEADLINES -- February 18, 2010 at 9:01 AM ET
Thursday's Headlines: U.N. Climate Chief Resigns; Dalai Lama Visits White House
Two months after world leaders failed to agree on a legally binding global warming pact at the Copenhagen Climate Summit, Yvo de Boer, the top U.N. climate change official, has announced his resignation.
De Boer denied to the Associated Press that his decision to step down was influenced by Copenhagen, however, he did admit the summit "wasn't what I had hoped it would be."
His resignation takes effect July 1, five months before world leaders meet in Mexico for another attempt at a new accord on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. De Boer told the AP he believes talks are "on track," but that he was unsure whether an agreement can be reached in Mexico. Speaking with the NewsHour's Margaret Warner in September, de Boer said there was no "plan B" for failure at Copenhagen.
Despite objections from China, President Barack Obama will welcome the Dalai Lama to the White House on Thursday.
The meeting with Tibet's exiled spiritual leader comes amid simmering tensions between the United States and China over a host of issues, including America's recent $6 billion arms sale to Taiwan and concerns over Chinese cyber-attacks on American companies.
"The squalls are increasing in number, and the world's most important bilateral relationship is getting stormy," according to the Economist. However, as far as the United States is concerned, the magazine believes, "Making room for a new superpower should not be confused with giving way to it."
Straight after his meeting with a spiritual leader of the east, President Obama will head west to help bolster the reelection efforts of two of his party's most vulnerable candidates. The trip will kick off with a pair of fundraisers in Denver for Sen. Michael Bennet. The president will then head to Nevada where he will appear alongside embattled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at a town hall meeting.
Meanwhile, back in Washington, conservatives will convene beginning Thursday for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. Politico sees the meeting coming at an interesting moment for conservatives, as "a jolt of anti-Obama populist energy has upended the movement's traditional hierarchy, lifting some new or previously low profile groups to unprecedented heights while leaving traditional powers struggling to adapt."
In Pakistan, two Taliban leaders and up to nine al-Qaida militants have been arrested as part of a stepped up effort by U.S. and Pakistani intelligence forces. The arrests follow the capture earlier this month of the Taliban's top military commander.
Separately in Pakistan on Thursday, a bomb blast at a mosque in the country's northwest tribal region killed 29 people. The bombing occurred as U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke was in the capital, Islamabad, meeting with Pakistan's prime minister.
At the Winter Olympics, U.S. snowboarder Shaun White rode his signature "Double McTwist" 1260 spin to a second gold medal in the halfpipe competition; Scott Lago of the U.S. earned the bronze. U.S. skiers Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso came in first and second, respectively, in the women's downhill, and Shani Davis took home the gold in the 1,000 meter speedskating competition.
For those of you keeping score, the U.S. now leads the medal count with 14, followed by Germany with 10 and France with seven.