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Programs on critical global issues will be presented by the Buffalo Council on World Affairs from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays, starting today and continuing through March 17. All sessions will be held in the Rich Renaissance Center, Niagara and West Ferry streets.

The program is free for members of the council; $10 for non-members.

The Great Decisions series will open with a discussion of U.S. foreign policy in the information age. Thomas Jacobson, chairman of the communications department at the University at Buffalo and an expert in international communications, will speak.

The other programs are:

Feb. 3: The International Monetary Fund's role in solving global financial crises will be taken up by Luis Clay, vice president-group liaison for Marine Midland Bank. He heads the development of business referrals between the HSBC banking group in the United States and 79 offices abroad.

Feb. 10: Jesse Poon of the UB Geography Department, who specializes in Southeast Asian international trade, will focus on Japan's trade status. His presentation will follow the Council on World Affairs' annual winter social, featuring chocolate desserts from around the world.

Feb. 17: Weapons of mass destruction will be explored by Jerry Slater of the UB Political Science Department, who has written extensively on American foreign policy and nuclear proliferation.

Feb. 24: Timothy Blauvelt of the UB Political Science Department will talk about the Caspian Basin and Iran, "the Central Asia pressure cooker."

March 3: The difficulty of enlarging NATO will be addressed by a speaker to be named.

March 10: A broad view of Latin America will be offered by Renee Delapedraja of the Canisius College History Department. He is a native of Cuba who has written several books about the region.

March 17: Dr. Claude E. Welch Jr. of the UB Political Science Department will discuss the U.S. role in the United Nations. His 1995 book on human rights in Africa has been recognized as one of the best works on Africa published in English that year, and as one of the year's outstanding academic books.

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