Tuesday, January 31, 2006

And Everybody Made Fun of Kanye

"Obviously, such research does not speak at all to the question of the prejudice level of the president," said Banaji, "but it does show that George W. Bush is appealing as a leader to those Americans who harbor greater anti-black prejudice." (Here's a link for ya.)

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Malaria Drugs & TIME's General Mastery of Excellent Blogs

I feel like I'm becoming a total TIME blogger (insert inappropriate word here), but Christine Gorman's blog on global health is truly after my own heart, despite its disturbing content at times.

On malaria drugs, their effectiveness, and companies that like producing ineffective drugs: Read this. Then this.

Davos, Red, & Disparagers

Everyone should know that the New York Times and International Herald Tribune are working together on a truly enjoyable blog on the World Economic Forum at Davos, and not just because there's at least one post talking about Angelina's pregnancy.

One item I'm particularly interested in is the announcement of the Red campaign. For those of you who haven't heard, it's a bunch of corporate partners, including Converse, GAP, American Express, who are going to be donating part of the proceeds of this "Red" brand to the Global Fund, etc. Brainchild of Bono and Bobby Shriver, it seems. Anyway, so I'm reading a blog post on it titled "Bono's Big Announcement" and find myself falling on this in the comments:

"Bono - still a corporate tool. No surprise there."

Apparently, there's a lot of people who agree with that comment, or at least there's enough for the comment-evaluators to keep posting them. Never failing to be amazed by humanity's ability to trod on something blatantly good, I fired off a comment in response which actually made it up:

"I guess the question I have is what all of the Bono disparagers really get from complaining about his motives. I've been on the ground in Africa, and I can tell you that the issues he's forcing the media to cover exist, are real, affect thousands of lives but maybe more importantly the lives of a few schoolchildren I personally know, and to an extent, it is discouraging to see people whose first instinct is to complain about his corporate partnerships and the "buy red" campaigns and what they view as somehow inferior activities. Say what you want about Bono, Angelina, Brad, Ashley Judd, Alicia Keys, and all the other celebrity activists: but start doing a tally of how many articles there were about Africa about two years ago. Ask yourself how often the thousands of deaths from preventable diseases came up in conversation and how often they come up now, if only because someone is wearing a 'stupid' white bracelet.

And there will always be people who complain: the corruption, the allegedly raw economics of it that reduce things to inevitability of failure, the people who somehow are activists in a more 'acceptable' fashion. Go to Africa, look into the eyes of a child, listen to or read Bono, and tell me you still want to spend time bashing him instead of helping."

(Now you know why I attached the picture of two of the kids in P1 at Arlington Academy of Hope Bumwalukani; I wish I could have thrown that to the Davos blog comment roll. The little girl on the right is named Faith. The name of the munchkin on the left is just escaping me. If you're interested, you can go here to find out information on sponsoring one of the kids.)

Note: for more on Red, you can visit http://www.joinred.com/, although be warned--it's flashy and has, well, not so much substance at present time. If you can wait through the music at the start, there's a waiting list and some links. For the time being, The Global Fund has a better summary page on the initiative at http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/partners/private/red/.

Remember When...

For kicks, another old post I stumbled across:

"our country is better than this. we're smarter than this. we should know that unless we act differently, our time will be no different than that of all people who ever lived. that our united states will not be an eternal, lasting good unless we rectify mistakes of the past and stop making them---until we actually subscribe to our constitution. we have to actually believe and act in accordance with the idea that all men are created equal. it's really this simple: if you wouldn't want a loved one tortured, then you can't support torture. because it is the nature of violating civil rights itself that is wrong, without regard to whose rights are being violated, and for what reason."

Good Morning, Current Architects of American Foreign Policy

1: Bob Woodruff and his cameraman were victims of a makeshift bomb; as I write, they're in surgery. To do something active: Committee to Protect Journalists.

2: I was watching the McLaughlin Group this morning and I'm not sure if it's my slightly hungover state or the crew was just more passionate than usual, but the debate on the recent political ascendance of Hamas in the Palestinian terrorities was eyebrow-raising. I found myself agreeing with Pat Buchanan, who said something suggesting that the inherent problem in the Bush "democratization" foreign policy is that in a democracy, the people elect who the people want, and those victors may not necessarily be ones that would best fit American interests. You can't praise democratic elections and then announce you just won't deal with the victor of the elections. Well, I guess you can, but only if you want to miss the point.

The whole exchange reminded me of my rantings on this blog about two years ago, and I remembered I had said something about democratic elections not necessarily being what we need. It was in the context of Iraq:

"if we do withdraw and actually allow democratic elections, the iraqis will elect an ayatollah, which is clearly not exactly in line with our national security needs, unless said ayatollah is from some reformist line of political islam (doubtful, obviously,). the violence won't stop, either, and the accusations that will come from generations and generations of the world about neglecting the mess that we created will start.

if we stay, the violence will continue and we will give more credence to the radical islamists simply by staying there. we also won't be able to allow democratic elections in this case either, unless they're rigged. the world will still view us as complete morons for starting the whole thing with no clear way to get out. the word quagmire is more than appropriate."

Curious as to who is resolving this whole democratization is okay no matter what question. Some logic is required somewhere. There must be a memo, probably similiar to John Yoo's insane torture memos. (About halfway through the article you'll get some idea of what we're working with here.)

In general, though, I hate to say it, but it makes me think about an article I read many moons ago, I think from the New York Review of Books, on Bush's religious beliefs and how he believes God has chosen him to lead etc etc. Which is fine. Except that this entire foreign policy appears to be geared towards a legacy as opposed to protecting and advocating for the United States, which I'm pretty sure is what W's primary responsibility should be. I hope he starts talking to some different people on foreign policy soon, because this election of Hamas is a wake-up call if I've ever seen one.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Singing Out Loud When the Sun Came Up

Back from my quick jaunt off to see relatives and recovering from New Year's Eve. It's a bright new year. We can all eat a little better, exercise more, and work on our time management. It's another opportunity.

I'm hoping that this new year will bring even more coverage of Africa, but specifically, of the solutions, not just the problems. More cover stories about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Save the Children, our own Arlington Academy of Hope, etc. We're all in it together and here's to us all making our actions congruent with that awareness...

Plug: check out these guys: Invisible Children

Friday, December 23, 2005

Education, Education, Education: AIDS

The Kaiser Family Foundation has an incredible online learning center for anyone interested in issues surrounding public health policy. It has powerpoint-based tutorials where you can download the slides and/or watch the presentation and a collection of syllabi on various topics. Wonderfully helpful, even email spammed a bunch of friends about it.

Anyway, there's on on the Global AIDS Pandemic. Some highlights:
  • It's on track to be the worst epidemic in history. (Even worse than we originally projected!)
  • HIV is leading cause of death worldwide among the ages 15-59. (World Health Organization)
  • At the end of 2004, Sub-Saharan Africa had 10% of the world's population. It had 64% of people worldwide living with AIDS.

If you watch it, you might want to pause on Figure 5 and just ponder. It also has a great breakdown on President Bush's HIV/AIDS initiatives.

Little Earthquakes

Impact of Menstruation on School Attendance: The Girls Drop Out for a Week or So

The hygiene issues at African schools prove troublesome for girls entering (and throughout, of course) puberty. The article, focusing on Ethiopia, talks about the lack of water and latrines.

"Researchers throughout sub-Saharan Africa have documented that lack of sanitary pads, a clean, girls-only latrine and water for washing hands drives a significant number of girls from school. The United Nations Children's Fund, for example, estimates that one in 10 school-age African girls either skips school during menstruation or drops out entirely because of lack of sanitation."

That's an awfully high number if it's accurate....

Breakdown of the African Family due to AIDS, War Leads to Homeless Children in Urban Centers

"Africa once prided itself on its traditional systems of extended family, which sheltered children even in dire circumstances. But over the past 25 years, a variety of problems -- including drought, wars, AIDS and economic collapse -- have broken families apart and left hundreds of thousands of children to survive on their own.

The problem first became noticeable in the 1980s, when coffee prices crashed and Western subsidies undercut other export crops such as corn and cotton, according to studies by Street Child Africa, a British organization. Many children in large rural families were asked to go out and earn money or simply left home." [emphasis mine]

A large focus in this piece is the glue-sniffing so prominent amongst the youngsters the reporter followed in Khartoum, Sudan.

Trade with Africa: Most Farming is Subsistence, so What Will be Sold?

Mugasi makes a plug for agricultural modernization:

"Due to high subsidies, farmers from the rich nations are able to export to the world market at prices below the actual production costs, so farmers without support are thrown out of the market. It is unfair playing ground that casts serious doubt about the rich nations’ commitment to end poverty. Analysts say that ending farm subsidies and all forms of domestic support by the rich nations would increase competitiveness and thereby boost world trade by $280b, theoretically to the benefit of poor countries.

However, for this thinking to hold, a number of questions must be answered. If the developed countries opened their markets wide today, what would African countries have to export?"

Well, there's that...

We need to start framing this conversation in terms of human capital. Africa needs to flip economic trade by looking very carefully at India's success.

Obre Los Ojos: Verdict Expected Soon in Tourist Slaying in Ugandan Gorilla Preserve
(Keep an Eye on the "Liberation Army of Rwanda" i.e. Rwandan Genocidaires)

"A judge said Wednesday he would rule Jan. 9 in the trial of a Rwandan rebel accused of killing eight foreigners, including two Americans, and their guide in a famed Ugandan gorilla reserve.

Rwandan rebels hacked and bludgeoned the tourists from the United States, Britain and New Zealand in a remote rain forest near Uganda's borders with Congo and Rwanda. The rebels said they were targeting English-speaking people in a bid to weaken U.S. and British support for the Rwandan government.

...Bizimana is a former member of the Rwandan army, which played a key role in the country's 1994 genocide. He was first arrested in 1999 in Uganda and was detained until 2001 on suspicion that he was involved in the killing of the tourists, his defense lawyer said.

He was then deployed with Ugandan troops who were backing rebels operating in eastern Congo. He worked with the army until Uganda withdrew its soldiers from Congo in 2003.

...The victims were Rob Haubner and his wife, Susan Miller, of Portland, Ore.; Rhonda Avis, 27, and Michelle Strathern, 26, of New Zealand; Martin Friend, 24, Steven Robert, 27, and Mark Lindgren, 23, of Britain; Joanne Cotton, a driver for the London-based outfitter that organized the trip; and Ugandan guide Ross Wagaba.

...[other rebels were] members of the Liberation Army of Rwanda, formed in 1996 in refugee camps in neighboring Zaire, which is now Congo, by members of the former Rwandan army and the extremist Hutu militia known as Interahamwe." [emphasis mine]

Thursday, December 22, 2005

...This Old World Must Still be Spinning Round

Sometimes you've just got to be quiet and look.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Check, Check, Is this Thing On? Can Someone Please Balance This?

"I cannot accept, your canon that we are to judge pope and king unlike other men, with a favorable presumption that they do no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way against holders of power ... Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
-- Lord Acton

"The papers offer no proof of PETA's involvement in illegal activity. But more than 100 pages of heavily censored FBI files show the agency used secret informants and tracked the group's events for years, including an animal rights conference in Washington in July 2000, a community meeting at an Indiana college in spring 2003 and a planned August 2004 protest of a celebrity fur endorser.

...The FBI also kept information on Greenpeace and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the papers show."


This is like a bad dream. Congratulations to the ACLU; you'll be getting some cash from me on payday.

Where are the leaders? Stand up, stand up.

I Don't Know Where to Start

This was breaking news on CNN today: "President Bush defends eavesdropping program in U.S., says he'll keep using it as long as terrorists threaten nation."

Read: President Bush defends violations of civil rights, says he'll continue such appalling behavior as long as he's in power, Congress is fairly inept,* and the sky is blue.

When people read that breaking news, do they actually think: The President is keeping us safe. ?

Miranda? Miranda, where are you? Probable cause? Help? Lawyers? (Preferably not from the Justice Department at this point, unless you happen to be one of the individuals whose opinions have been officially written off because they didn't correspond to the party line.) Any lawyers interested?

*Special exception granted for the anti-torture amendment. (Which is still about four years past due.)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Observations on a News Cycle

11-Year-Old Arlingtonian Way Ahead of Me

"To collect the bikes, Winston set up a nonprofit group called Wheels to Africa, and he contacted Bikes for the World, an Arlington-based organization that ships bicycles to developing countries, including some in Africa. To defray shipping costs, Winston collected $10 from each donor."

Much Better than the Year They Picked Hitler

Bono, Melinda, and Bill...

no is a co-founder of the DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) organization, which fights poverty and HIV in the developing world. From that organization was spawned the ONE Campaign to Make Poverty History."

"In January, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation committed $750 million to improving access to child immunizations, accelerating introduction of new vaccines and strengthening vaccine delivery systems.

The foundation focuses on education, global health, improving public libraries and supporting at-risk families, according to its Web site. The Gateses awarded grants to schools in Texas, Colorado and Massachusetts, as well as the Lutheran World Relief program, which received $640,000 to help nomadic communities in Niger avert food crises."

Bob Geldof Wants Dubai to Start Sending Aid to Africa

"Geldof says the Middle East, as a region, does "very little" to help alleviate African poverty."


P.S. On the President's address tonight: I just want to say that I think he would be hard-pressed to find someone who thinks we shouldn't stop terrorism. I also want to point out the poll numbers to the President and let him know that we aren't really buying what he's selling anymore, and that I think a good portion of Americans wish his sudden comments about taking responsibility for things were more than just comments. Johnson didn't run for a second term. That's all I'm saying.