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.