Friday, December 09, 2005

Grappling with the Harshest Question

I recently subscribed to a Google Alert on news about Africa. Since I signed up (about a week ago,) 95% of the stories have been about South Africa, and this when there was a major earthquake centered in the Congo with reverberations as far as Nairobi, Kenya. I'm no longer curious as to why trying to learn about different countries in Africa is such a trying task. Memories of trying to find a book about Uganda when I was going to travel there for the first time in 2004 are coming back to me. Even took a full four months to get me just three books, one of which is spiral bound and another which is out-of-print.

My guess is that there is a correlation between the reporting and the distinctive void in academia on this continent in general. The information you can actually find is usually on South Africa or Rwanda. I would say it's just American academia, but these news pieces in the alert are compiled from many sources, indicating that this may be a more widespread international issue. Does no one study central Africa? Are there no reporters in these countries? Is no one interested? Is the last one the harshest question?

For Uganda in particular, I think things might turn around when people start paying attention to what's going on in the north. Treastises on Gulu within the next five years. Just did a quick search on "darfur" on Amazon...look at that, all you need is a genocide and suddenly people are paying attention.

I know this post is a bit snippy so I apologize. I get frusterated by the lack of attention paid to these millions of people. There's only press now because Bono started looking around and called some celebrity do you keep the spotlight on this continent without Westerners feeling like they're hearing the same story from chicken little all the time---even if the blue is crashing down...?

Maybe it's starting to get better. "Darwin's Nightmare," a new documentary about the fishing industry, Tanzania, and more generally, the economic exploitation of Africa and its deriviative social ills, looks like it might be an interesting watch. I can't vouch for it because I haven't seen it yet, but at least someone dug in...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

just who is this american family association?

Some headlines about the ongoing battle to offend our friends and neighbors...

Interest Groups in a Tizzy about White House Holiday Card Not Mentioning Jesus

Ford Bows to Pressure from Homophobes

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Medicins Sans Frontieres brings up the quiet but important detail that HIV drugs are most helpful when actually taken in recommended doses. This is based on a recent study conducted in Lagos, Nigeria, where such drugs were given out free of cost:

"...Nigeria and other African countries needed to provide comprehensive care free of charge so patients avoid getting into a cycle of incomplete treatment that allows the HIV virus to build up a resistance to drugs."

But how much would that be?

"...the ARVs [anti-retroviral drugs] cost the government 1,000 naira ($7.8) per patient per month..."'s the full piece through Reuters.

On a related note: besides singing, take a look at a program Alicia Keys and Bono are working on in this area...

Like a Polaroid Picture

shake it kiddos...

let's see. it's been quite a long time, but i am back. looking for that fulfillment that only spouting off on the internet can provide.

so let's talk about this article in the post today. just because september 11th was in the year 2001, and just because countless government resources have been utilized in investigating that day and coming up with wise recommendations on how to prevent another such day, does not necessarily mean that our current elected officials will find it compelling enough to actually act quickly and decisively.

to move to a broader scale, past the emergency preparedness which katrina helpfully pointed out is woefully inadequate, one of the more interesting recommendations of the sep 11 commission (as published before the co-chairs had to go on meet the press and reiterate that we're struggling) can be found on page 378: the international youth opportunity fund. this idea of a group working together to help fund primary and secondary schools in poverty-stricken islamic areas is one has a lot of potential but is rarely discussed. "education that teaches tolerance, the dignity and value of each individual, and respect for different beliefs is a key element in any global strategy to eliminate islamic terrorism."there are a lot of questions: who controls the curriculum? how do you avoid these schools being considered pawns of the united states? how do you legitimize such an expense to an american public struggling with education in our own backyards?

nonetheless--it is the idea of making a more rational and deliberate paradigm shift, one from defense to protection through peaceful and meaningful action. through the planning ahead that is so lacking in all areas of our current government. there will always be time for guns and fumbling defense secretaries (or so it seems) and absurd defense contracts; can we divert some of that money to a consulting firm to outline how such an international youth opportunity program would even work?

the counterargument, i suspect, will circle around the fact that the hijackers were well-off, were well-educated in the united states, were familiar with our culture. the point, however, is not necessarily to directly intervene with such lunatics but to build public pressure in arab countries against such behavior and to lift the general socioeconomic status to a point where anything remotely resembling democratic debate can occur. (re: democracies do not go to war with other democracies.) as the commission said: "...when people lose hope, when societies break down, when countries fragment, the breeding grounds for terrorism are created." that is one thing we continue to ignore at our peril. (psst..neocons...please do not try to argue that this is exactly what we are working on in iraq. we can't even start to get into the fumbles at this hour.)