Wednesday, July 27, 2005

NEJM -- Making Antimalarial Agents Available in Africa

Recommendations to get the most effective antimalarial agents to Africa...

NEJM -- Making Antimalarial Agents Available in Africa: "The Africa Malaria Report 2003 prepared by UNICEF2 paints a grim portrait of the continent that bears most of malaria's burden at the beginning of the 21st century. Despite 'intensified efforts to control the disease,' the report states, 'the number of children dying of malaria rose substantially in eastern and southern Africa during the first half of the past decade. . . . In West Africa . . . there was little change.' No country in sub-Saharan Africa had a 'substantial decline' in the disease. The culprit: the slow but imperturbable advance of chloroquine-resistant malaria across Africa. After decades of silently saving millions of lives, chloroquine — inexpensive, safe, and effective — is becoming impotent. One new class of antimalarial drugs, the artemisinins, could take its place.

The artemisinins are widely used in Asia, where resistance to chloroquine first emerged in the 1960s. After Chinese government scientists confirmed the antimalarial properties of compounds extracted from Artemisia annua (a plant known for centuries for its medicinal properties), companies in China and Vietnam began producing artemisinin-based drugs. But the African market did not develop, even when chloroquine's days were indisputably numbered."

A major barrier was cost. At their cheapest, artemisinins cost at least 10 times as much as chloroquine...

To add to the complexity of the situation, by the late 1990s, the leading authorities on malaria had endorsed the concept of combination therapy as the new standard. The prime motivation was to preserve the effectiveness of the artemisinins and other still-effective antimalarial partner drugs in artemisinin-based combination therapies...

One artemisinin-based combination therapy, artemether–lumefantrine (Coartem, Novartis), is currently being produced and has a wholesale price of $2.40 per adult course (reportedly with little or no profit margin), as compared with 10 cents retail for chloroquine. Other formulations should enter the market soon, with an expected decline in price to less than $1 for an adult course. At the lower level, the global cost of the drugs in artemisinin-based combination therapies would be on the order of $500 million per year — barely noticeable in the budget of any major developed country. Nevertheless, this is an unmanageable cost for countries with per capita incomes of $2,000 per year or less. Subsidies are needed, but how can they best be applied?...

The solution is to allow subsidies to enter at a high international level — at the top of the distribution chain. This requires that the producers of artemisinin-based combination therapies sell directly to some international agency. Then the agency, in turn, can resell to distributors — governments and private wholesalers — at very low prices, the difference being the subsidy. The drugs would then flow down to the end users through the same pathways as chloroquine now does, with the requisite profit margins being taken where the private sector now operates. If these drugs start at a very low price when they enter the supply chain and if their supply is adequate, the price to consumers should be about the same as the current price of chloroquine...

As simple as the Institute of Medicine's concept appears to be, it requires management of a type that acts. The great need is fortitude on the part of leading development-aid organizations; they have to depart from standard operating procedures. The Institute of Medicine's recommendation has gained some currency as a centerpiece in the highest levels of discussions about the financing of malaria treatment (with more meetings planned), but no commitments have been made to adopt it.

All Ears for Tom Cruise, All Eyes on Brad Pitt - New York Times

"If only Michael Jackson's trial had been held in Darfur."
Please read Kristof's entire article which articulates well the maddening, indecipherable focus of American media coverage that consistently invokes emotions from utter confusion to rage within me...and which is the main reason for this little blog....

All Ears for Tom Cruise, All Eyes on Brad Pitt - New York Times: "Some of us in the news media have been hounding President Bush for his shameful passivity in the face of genocide in Darfur.

More than two years have passed since the beginning of what Mr. Bush acknowledges is the first genocide of the 21st century, yet Mr. Bush barely manages to get the word 'Darfur' out of his mouth. Still, it seems hypocritical of me to rage about Mr. Bush's negligence, when my own beloved institution - the American media - has been at least as passive as Mr. Bush.

Condi Rice finally showed up in Darfur a few days ago, and she went out of her way to talk to rape victims and spotlight the sexual violence used to terrorize civilians. Most American television networks and cable programs haven't done that much.

Even the coverage of Ms. Rice's trip underscored our self-absorption. The manhandling of journalists accompanying Ms. Rice got more coverage than any massacre in Darfur has.

This is a column I don't want to write - we in the media business have so many critics already that I hardly need to pipe in as well. But after more than a year of seething frustration, I feel I have to"...

Serious newspapers have done the best job of covering Darfur, and I take my hat off to Emily Wax of The Washington Post and to several colleagues at The Times for their reporting. Time magazine gets credit for putting Darfur on its cover - but the newsweeklies should be embarrassed that better magazine coverage of Darfur has often been in Christianity Today.

The real failure has been television's. According to monitoring by the Tyndall Report, ABC News had a total of 18 minutes of the Darfur genocide in its nightly newscasts all last year - and that turns out to be a credit to Peter Jennings. NBC had only 5 minutes of coverage all last year, and CBS only 3 minutes - about a minute of coverage for every 100,000 deaths. In contrast, Martha Stewart received 130 minutes of coverage by the three networks.

Incredibly, more than two years into the genocide, NBC, aside from covering official trips, has still not bothered to send one of its own correspondents into Darfur for independent reporting....

If only Michael Jackson's trial had been held in Darfur. Last month, CNN, Fox News, NBC, MSNBC, ABC and CBS collectively ran 55 times as many stories about Michael Jackson as they ran about genocide in Darfur.

The BBC has shown that outstanding television coverage of Darfur is possible. And, incredibly, mtvU (the MTV channel aimed at universities) has covered Darfur more seriously than any network or cable station. When MTV dispatches a crew to cover genocide and NBC doesn't, then we in journalism need to hang our heads.

So while we have every right to criticize Mr. Bush for his passivity, I hope that he criticizes us back. We've behaved as disgracefully as he has.

African Bullets & Honey: Yes, it's True, There are Slaves in Niger...

Slavery in Niger...

African Bullets & Honey: Yes, it's True, There are Slaves in Niger...: "So here we have it. The latest call for food aid to an African country is by Niger, which coming under the usual media spotlight has been revealed to be a country in which human bondage is alive and well. Anti-Slavery International, a London-based human group, reckons that there are 43,000 slaves in Niger. These slaves, even when freed, are part of a stigmatized and legally unprotected class to the extent that their former masters or parents' masters have often laid claim to their property.

Just two years ago, in 2003, Niger amended outlawed slavery, ruling it a crime punishable with up to 30 years in prison. The Economist reports that a chieftain in western Niger, faced with this jail term, offered to free 7,000 slaves held by him and his clansmen in a public ceremony. But the government in the week leading to the March 5th event feared that such a large release of slaves would draw international attention to the filthy trade's existence in Niger. It declared that slavery does not exist in Niger and the ceremony was cancelled.

The problem gets worse when you consider that slavery also exists in Chad, Mali, Sudan and Mauritania. Woe to those who believe that this trade is at an end as I had for many years. Most of us associate slavery with the transatlantic trade that fed the plantations of the Americas and ended in the 19th century. If only it were so. Slaves still exist and many never left on a ship but were enslaved in Africa."...

This issue depresses and infuriates me. What am I to do? Where are the Edmund Dene Morels of our time, the African versions especially? We have a Kenyan Nobel Prize winner running around decrying the cutting down of trees; an AU that says that Africa is ready to manage her own problems (with Western cash of course); billions of dollars in aid; Commissions for Africa; rock star concerts to Make Poverty History; a massive evangelical movement that announces to all and sundry that it is proof of a moral awakening; and yet here is slavery alive and well among us. - africa/east_africa

Britain pondering military intervention in Sudan... - africa/east_africa: "Britain's top military commander has said the country could muster 5 000 troops to send to Sudan if necessary to help tackle what the UN has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

'If need be, we will be able to go to Sudan. I suspect we could put a brigade together very quickly indeed,' Mike Jackson, chief of general staff, said."...

Britain has said it holds the Sudanese government responsible for ending the humanitarian catastrophe, and accused the United Nations of being too slow to respond.

Britain is the largest cash donor to Sudan. Earlier this month it pledged a further $276 million over the next three years once a peace deal is signed between its warring factions.

Aid agency Oxfam is sending 30 tonnes of water and sanitation equipment to Sudan on a flight expected to leave tomorrow. - Reuters...

Humanitarian hijinks

More from Sleepless in Sudan...

Humanitarian hijinks: "Another thing that struck me about Condoleeza Rice's visit was the emphasis that she put onto the issue of rape - or, more importantly, the effect this seemed to have on the Sudanese government.

In Darfur, rape continues to be one of the most highly charged topics of all and the government is doing its best to bully the international community (be they UN or NGOs) to stay the hell out of it."

We would, of course, except that it continues to take place at a daily rate. Anyone who claims that rape is not being used as a weapon of war here in Darfur is either lying through their teeth or just plain nuts. It is rare that I come back from a camp visit without having met a woman who has been raped recently...

Not only that: women have also stopped seeking medical treatment after a rape, avoiding even NGO clinics. Clearly, the government's intimidation campaign has had some impact here: after seeing the government arrest foreign aid workers for publicising the huge number of rape incidences, women are simply too afraid that they will be beaten (or raped again) by security agents who suspect them of reporting cases...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

History News Network

History News Network: "The Failed States Index and Africa

Foreign Policy and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace have issued their disquieting first 'Failed States Index.' We need to pay serious attention to the index and its findings. More than a third of the countries are African nations, including seven of the ten most failed states. perhaps the most alarming fact is how deep the list goes. It is 60 deep, and I wouldimagine that most of you would have little interest in moving to a lot of those countries. Iran? Cuba? There are more than fifty-five countries considered to be failing worse than these authoritarian nightmares. Even more sobering? Niger, which is in danger of succumbing to a famine in which it is feared that death tolls might surpass a quarter million, is not even on the list.

It also seems germane to point out that Smith College Professor Eric Reeves gave the best overview I have seen of the Sudan crisis over the course of five days last week in The New Republic's '&c.' notes section. You'll need to scroll down (I am not hyperlinking separately because it comes in five parts), and the five lessons are long -- I printed them up after some reformatting and it comes to some fifteen single-spaced pages, but it is essential reading. And The Sudan only ranks third in the Failed States Index, which tells us much that we need to know about life in C'ote d'Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of the Congo."

Meskel Square: From Gonder to Niger

More on the difficulty of getting press coverage for starving African children...

Meskel Square: From Gonder to Niger: "That wasn't the only similarity between the two scenes. Half way through a BBC report on the Niger crisis, a worker for Save the Children UK appeared in front of the camera talking about how 'undramatic' the whole situation was. 'There is no war in Niger, no rebel groups, no despots, no problems getting the aid in, it is just poverty,' said Toby Porter, Save the Children’s Director of Emergencies in a press release. 'And kids are starving to death. It is simply because so many people in Niger are desperately poor, so many people living below the poverty line that a small shock creates a humanitarian disaster."...

And it is not just the "western world" that has grown hardened and uninterested. The Addis-based papers here hardly ever write about the ongoing nutrition crisis (up to 500,000 Ethiopian children die every year from preventable causes but apparently that is not a story). The last time I wrote about malnutrition on this website, I got loads of complaints from Ethiopian readers accusing me of trying to "ruin the image of the country". Someone else said "all you can think of covering is the same old recycled stories...". Which is actually close to the point that I am making. These stories of dying children are getting "old" and "recycled". And we are all getting used to them.

UPDATE: Save The Children UK has set up a special Niger Food Crisis appeal page.

Monday, July 25, 2005

With a Push From the U.N., Water Reveals Its Secrets - New York Times

Isotope on...
With a Push From the U.N., Water Reveals Its Secrets - New York Times: "Today, more than a billion people lack access to safe drinking water. Polluted water contributes, each year, to the death of about 15 million children under age 5. By midcentury, between two billion and seven billion people will face water shortages.

'No region will be spared from the impact of this crisis,' Koichiro Matsuura, director general of Unesco, recently warned. 'Water supplies are falling while the demand is dramatically growing.'

He estimated that in the next two decades the average amount of water available per person on the planet will shrink by a third.

But the United Nations is also working hard on solutions, helping poor countries learn a subtle art that lets them better manage their water resources to avoid tragedy."

Smile and the World Starves with You

Another person trying to reconcile different worlds and the media coverage thereof...
Smile and the World Starves with You: "So this morning I'm following my usual routine of a smoothie and the BBC and one of the first stories broadcast was about the current food crisis in the southern part of Niger. Heard about this? Maybe not... I just ran a search for “Niger“ on the New York Times site and the only hits that came back were related to the Rove buffoonery.

I'll admit that I haven't been following it as closely as I'd like, but the basics are this: drought ruins harvests and upwards of three million people are facing starvation. The images from the BBC report are essentially what you'd expect - lots of heart-rending shots of malnourished children, flurries of activity in aid sites that have been set up, etc. The BBC anchor, after listening to the reporter's description, asked “But food aid is arriving now, right?”. The reporter: “Actually, no. A few tons of World Food Program food aid arrived today but it's estimated that 19,000 tons of food aid are required”. (Not actual quotes, I'm paraphrasing from memory, but that was the gist of it)

The anchor sort of grunted and then moved on to the really important story of the day, the not-quite-successful attempted bombings in London... and the BBC then proceeded to spend easily triple the amount of time spent on the Niger situation on: a security consultant telling people on the London tube and bus systems to smile at each other on the train as a means of reducing the threat from terrorists.

Look, the bombings in London were really really bad. My sympathies go out to those injured and the families of those killed. And I know that I should no longer be surprised or shocked by the way the media and the Western world in general views crises in Africa - from a distance, with a wringing of hands, gnashing of teeth, possibly rending of garments, and then off to the cricket match. But something in those five minutes or so of TV viewing this morning really brought it home for me: when the BBC decides "

BBC NEWS | World | South Asia | Inmate's 50 years without trial

Two pennies and fifty years for "grievous hurt..."

BBC NEWS | World | South Asia | Inmate's 50 years without trial: "A villager in India's north-eastern state of Assam has been released from prison after spending more than half a century behind bars without a trial.

Seventy-seven year old Machang Lalung was arrested in 1951 from his native village of Silsang, 64km (40 miles) from the state's main city of Guwahati.

Police said that Mr Lalung, who is from the Lalung tribe, was booked for 'causing grievous hurt'.

The offence normally results in 10 years imprisonment.

But police said there were no evidence to support the allegation, so within a year of his arrest, he was transferred to a psychiatric institution.

'It seems the police just forgot about him thereafter,' says Assamese human rights activist Sanjay Borbora.

In 1967, the authorities at the institution certified Mr Lalung as 'fully fit' and said that they intended to release him.

But instead of being freed, police transferred him to another jail.

'Even at this point, the police did not send him to court to face trial, they just kept him in prison,' Mr Borbora said.

Strangely, even his relatives and family members forgot about Machang Lalung.

He was finally freed last week after paying a token personal bond of one rupee (two cents)."

After Mr Lalung's release, he was escorted back to his village, where only one villager, Benu Lalung, recognised him.

"We handed him over to the village headman but could not find his family or relatives," said B Das, a police official.

He said that Mr Lalung had almost forgotten about his past and does not remember anything about his village now.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

IOL: Africa moved me, says Laura Bush

"It's life-changing for me to see the real scope of what the problems are. But not only that, to be inspired by people who are dealing with these problems."...

That is exactly it ---you have to SEE what is happening there, and let that experience inform your views and politics...IOL: Africa moved me, says Laura Bush: "American First Lady Laura Bush heard a Rwandan girl tearfully describe raising her three young brothers, their father killed in the 1994 genocide and their mother dying of Aids.

She saw kilometres of South African shanty towns crowded in the shadow of Cape Town's wealth. She met women risking ostracism by flaunting their HIV-positive status as the only way to make inroads against the disease that is crippling Africa.

Moved by the orphans and many others she met on a weeklong trip, the First Lady said on Friday she would try to make sure the United States kept its promises to the world's poorest continent."

Free Ganji

Please visit this weblog of an Iranian journalist agitating for democracy in his country.He is close to death now from a prolonged hunger strike...

Free Ganji: "This is a weblog dedicated to Akbar Ganji, the Iranian journalist and leading dissident who has been in prison for the past 6 years for expressing his opinion. It includes translations of his writings and strives for his freedom"

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Do We Need a Referee?

Well, on the positive side,I guess there is at least some sort of debate going on here...

Do We Need a Referee?: "SCHOLARS, academics, imams — 118 of them — signed a petition opposing women driving, saying that in these times “westernized” voices are asking loudly for women to drive. The petitioners listed several points that to them seemed the main objections against women driving.

This is not the first petition concerning women driving. Last month another petition was presented to the human rights body asking for women to drive, and according to Al-Majallah magazine another petition was submitted to the same body asking for exactly the opposite. The debate is hot; each side is trying to show the advantages and disadvantages to support their arguments.

The interesting thing in the petition against women driving, referred to by Al-Majallah, was that the petitioners quoted a study of “unknown” source saying that in the UK 40 percent of women drivers suffer from psychological problems emanating from stress. It also added that a “big” number of these women die below the age of 40. Talk about concocted studies.

In one of the national dialogues that took place last year, an academic said that women should not be allowed to drive since women during their period become dyslexic and color blind which endangers them on the road!"...

Thursday, 21, July, 2005 (14, Jumada al-Thani, 1426)

Mail Article | Print Article | Comment on Article

Do We Need a Referee?
Abeer Mishkhas,

SCHOLARS, academics, imams — 118 of them — signed a petition opposing women driving, saying that in these times “westernized” voices are asking loudly for women to drive. The petitioners listed several points that to them seemed the main objections against women driving.

This is not the first petition concerning women driving. Last month another petition was presented to the human rights body asking for women to drive, and according to Al-Majallah magazine another petition was submitted to the same body asking for exactly the opposite. The debate is hot; each side is trying to show the advantages and disadvantages to support their arguments.

The interesting thing in the petition against women driving, referred to by Al-Majallah, was that the petitioners quoted a study of “unknown” source saying that in the UK 40 percent of women drivers suffer from psychological problems emanating from stress. It also added that a “big” number of these women die below the age of 40. Talk about concocted studies.

In one of the national dialogues that took place last year, an academic said that women should not be allowed to drive since women during their period become dyslexic and color blind which endangers them on the road!

But to go back to our recent petition, none of those dodgy theories were used, only reasons why they thought it is neither Islamic nor right for Saudi women to drive.

The points included:

1. If women drive, they will be outside their houses much more often.

2. Women will be tempted to dress up.

3. Since women like to show off, they’ll change cars a lot.

4. Women are known to be less decisive than men and they are less capable of dealing with difficult situations.

5. Women drivers will have to be issued driving licenses and IDs with their photos on them.

6. Mixing with strange men will make women lose their shyness.

7. Corruption of morals will become easy.

8. Traffic police will have to have women sections, which places an economic burden on the government.

9. Men will lose their right to supervise women.

There Are Other Adnans Out There

Saudi judge gives custody of kids to wife (incredibly rare) because father owns satellite dish...
There Are Other Adnans Out There: "THE story published in Arab News on Tuesday about a judge who ruled that the custody of children should not go to the husband but instead to his runaway wife because the husband had a satellite dish at home, has earned the attention of our local press.

Several well-known columnists in Al-Watan, Al-Hayat, and Asharq Al-Awsat expressed their amazement that such a ruling could even be given in one of our courtrooms.

They warned against the consequences of “personal opinions” on the outcomes of decisions taken by some judges and the effect they would have on the lives of many in our society."...

A satellite dish is a very common thing in Saudi Arabia today; ownership of one should never be a yardstick to gauge a person’s moral values. A viewer has the right to choose what he wants to see and is responsible for that viewing. - Quake sounds reveal Earth 'ripping apart' - Jul 20, 2005

Ripping Earth... - Quake sounds reveal Earth 'ripping apart' - Jul 20, 2005: ".

'It's really quite an eerie sound to hear the Earth ripping apart like that. We hear it on smaller earthquakes quite frequently but something of this scale that goes on for eight minutes is very much unprecedented,' said Maya Tolstoy, a marine geophysicist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

'It really gave me the chills when I first heard it,' she said.

The dramatic soundtrack of the rupture of the Sumatra-Andaman Fault comes from a little known, and sometimes hard- to- access resource. The microphones that captured the sound are part of a global network of instruments that monitor compliance with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

The microphones that picked up this earthquake were located in Diego Garcia, an island more than 1,700 miles from the epicenter of the quake."

This is Zimbabwe: 07/17/2005 - 07/23/2005

The Mugabe Tsunami is rolling through the churches now...
This is Zimbabwe: 07/17/2005 - 07/23/2005: "Bulawayo. Baton-wielding police in full anti-riot gear descended on a number of churches across the city last night and into the early hours of this morning to forcibly remove several hundred homeless victims of Operation Murambatsvina still sheltering in the churches. The victims of this latest human rights outrage were awakened from sleep and bundled with their few pathetic belongings onto the back of police trucks believed to be headed for the holding camp recently established at Balu Estate just north of Bulawayo."

WorldChanging: Another World Is Here

Poor people can be innovative too...but who is going to fund them?

WorldChanging: Another World Is Here: "Some of the innovations featured :
Rural Innovations - India
Leapfrog Nations - Emerging Technology in the New Developing World
What can be more worldchanging than solutions creatively crafted by people who need them the most? Solutions that ease the burden of day-to-day life. Solutions that make use of limited resources available. Solutions that work, despite little encouragement, aid and 'technical' know-how. Solutions that are adapted to the environment and, in most cases, are eco-friendly.

While they are now starting to get recognition, I wonder why little is being done to nurture them and create micro enterprises out of them. Do they threaten large enterprises and governments by implicitly wresting away control and power? Are innovations from below just invisible to established leaders?
Some of the innovations featured :
# zero-head water turbines
# amphibious cycles
# gears in cycle rickshaws
# pedal washing machines
# convertible tractors
# water pumps operated through GSM mobile phones
# cow-milking machines
# electronic sticks for the visually impaired made from PVC pipes which even has a puddle detector Continue reading 'Rural Innovations - India'"

The New Republic Online: etc.

A historical analysis of the Darfur genocide from a professor at Smith College...
The New Republic Online: etc.: "EDITOR'S NOTE: This week, Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College and an expert on Darfur, will be guest blogging at &C. His contributions will add up to a sort of crash-course on the Darfur genocide--moving from posts today on the genocide's history, to posts in coming days on the inadequate response of the international community, to posts toward the end of the week on what it would realistically take to bring the genocide to a halt. Today: why the genocide started, how it is being carried out, and whether it is getting worse."

Humanitarian hijinks

This is a link to a 31 year old female Aid worker in Sudan describing a refugee camp there...Check it out...
Humanitarian hijinks: "As I read today's emails and speak to colleagues in South Darfur, my attention turns back to Kalma, Darfur's monster camp that is home to about 150,000 IDPs (that's internally displaced people to the jargon-challenged).

The government has been trying to break up Kalma for months after discovering that they can no longer comfortably control and monitor people in the camp with their regular level of spying and intimidation..."

Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth: Life in a Liberian Refugee Camp

A very well written account of a Westerner's visit to a Liberian Refugee Camp. This captures many of the same sort of experiences I had in West Africa. Recommended reading...

Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth: Life in a Liberian Refugee Camp: "'What I'm saying is that we want literacy skills around to empower them, to do their own thing,' Jeremiah said. 'Self businesses. Give them skills. And of course they can help themselves. Liberians are not really looking out for handouts. No - that's one thing I can tell everybody. They don't want handouts - they only want a push.'

'So they want to be self-sufficient,' I added.

'Self-sufficient,' Jeremiah repeated, gesturing to some of the buildings around us. 'Extremely self-sufficient. And that's why you can see from these structures that these are people who are not just beggars. They're not just beggars. They want to do a lot of things. Everything you see - they did it on their own. Nobody helped them; they did it own their own.'

'And they're not prepared to beg,' Jeremiah reiterated, emotion building in his voice. 'They're not prepared to beg, not at all.... Not prepared to beg....'"

Sudan Security Roughs Up Rice Delegation - Yahoo! News

'It makes me very angry to be sitting there with their president and have this happen,' she said. 'They have no right to push and shove."--think how the victims of the janaweed who have been raped, forced into slavery, mutilaited, and killed feel, Condi....

Sudan Security Roughs Up Rice Delegation - Yahoo! News: "KHARTOUM, Sudan - Security forces in the Sudanese capital manhandled U.S. officials and reporters traveling with Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice, marring her round of congratulatory meetings with leaders of the new unified government. Rice demanded an apology, and got it.

'It makes me very angry to be sitting there with their president and have this happen,' she said. 'They have no right to push and shove."

Monday, July 18, 2005

Indo-Asian News Service -> Germany-Wildlife/Tech-Birds -> Birds imitate mobile phone ring tones

Indo-Asian News Service -> Germany-Wildlife/Tech-Birds -> Birds imitate mobile phone ring tones: "Moessingen (Germany), July 18 (DPA) Birds have learnt to imitate the ring tones of the omnipresent mobile phones, say German ornithologists.

'The birds have an uncanny ability to mimic these ring tones. This has picked up in tandem with the boom in mobile phone ownership,' Richard Schneider of the NABU bird conservation centre near the university city of Tuebingen here said.

Jackdaws, starlings and jays were the best mimics, Schneider said adding that even practiced birdwatchers were being fooled by the birds.

One reason for the phenomenon was that these birds were increasingly common in the urban environment, even the relatively shy jay, he said. 'There is food and an increasing amount of green space in modern cities.'"

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Africa isn't poor because of corruption

It is too easy to blame all of Africa's problems on corruption...

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Africa isn't poor because of corruption: "The issue hung heavily over the summit but it is too simplistic to argue Africa is poor because of corruption or that all aid efforts are doomed because of it. The economist Jeffrey Sachs, an adviser to the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, discards the conclusion. The poor are poor, he says, because failing infrastructure, poor energy sources, geographic isolation, disease and natural disasters inevitably conspire to foil progress.

Transparency International ranks Mali fairly high in terms of honesty, yet it is still dirt poor, plagued by flash flooding, earthquakes and an ever-expanding desert. Perversely, there are some countries which have achieved economic growth while still having high levels of corruption. China only ranks slightly better than Mali for corruption and the burgeoning Indian economy ranks well below.

Tony Blair's Commission for Africa report challenges industrialised countries to take responsibility for their role in promoting corruption, such as giving bribes or ignoring corrupt deals. Industrialised countries must work to repatriate money and state assets stolen from the people of Africa by corrupt leaders.

Foreign banks must also be obliged by law to inform on suspicious accounts. Those who give bribes should be dealt with too; foreign firms must be more transparent and those that bribe should be refused export credits.

But African nations must be more accountable for the aid they receive"...

It must also be remembered that debt relief - provided through the World Bank/IMF debt relief programme - has reaped some rewards. Tanzania has harnessed the savings to end school fees for primary school children and expects to achieve universal primary education by 2006. By 2002-2003 there was almost a 50% increase in the number attending primary school since debt relief was granted in 2001.

Corruption is a serious issue but it is not insurmountable and it should not be used as a simplistic excuse to attack policy change aimed at reducing the debt burden and increasing aid to poor countries.

· Rudo Kwaramba is advocacy director of the charity World Vision.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Wired News: Human Feces Powers Rwandan Prison

Wired News: Human Feces Powers Rwandan Prison: "magine eating food that was cooked using natural gas generated from your own human waste. Thousands of prisoners in Rwanda don't have to imagine it -- they live it.

Prisoners' feces is converted into combustible 'biogas,' or methane gas that can be used for cooking. It has reduced by 60 percent the annual wood-fuel costs which would otherwise reach near $1 million, according to Silas Lwakabamba, rector of the Kigali Institute of Science, Technology and Management, where the technology was developed."

Last month, the Rwandan prison biogas facilities received an Ashden Award for sustainable energy. The award, which comes with a prize worth nearly $50,000, is given by the Ashden Trust, a British charity organization that promotes green technologies.

"It's turning a negative social situation in terms of the Rwandan genocide into something that can benefit local people in the local area," said Corrina Cordon, spokeswoman for the Ashden Awards....

The process requires putting a given amount of human or other animal waste into a "digester," which ferments it using bacteria to release methane gas that can be captured and then burned as fuel. Attached is a "compensating chamber" that replenishes the supply of bacteria to keep the operation self-sustaining.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Research Changes Ideas About Children and Work - New York Times

"they rarely picture girls fetching water or boys tending livestock..."
Every time I visit a third world country, it never ceases to amaze me how many people (often kids) I see walking along the freeway--often for miles, carrying water, vegetables, tending livestock I zoom along in my chauffered car...and to think how it easy it could have been for me to be "in their shoes..."
Research Changes Ideas About Children and Work - New York Times: "WHEN Americans think about child labor in poor countries, they rarely picture girls fetching water or boys tending livestock. Yet most of the 211 million children, ages 5 to 14, who work worldwide are not in factories. They are working in agriculture - from 92 percent in Vietnam to 63 percent in Guatemala - and most are not paid directly."
"Contrary to popular perception in high-income countries, most working children are employed by their parents rather than in manufacturing establishments or other forms of wage employment," two Dartmouth economists, Eric V. Edmonds and Nina Pavcnik, wrote in "Child Labor in the Global Economy," published in the Winter 2005 Journal of Economic Perspectives....

Recent research, however, casts doubt on the cultural explanation. "In every context that I've looked at things, child labor seems to be almost entirely about poverty. I wouldn't say it's only about poverty, but it's got a lot to do with poverty," Professor Edmonds said.

As families' incomes increase, children tend to stop working and, where schools are available, they go to school. If family incomes drop, children are more likely to return to work...

"Child labor does not appear to vary with per capita expenditure until households can meet their food needs, and it then declines dramatically," Professor Edmonds wrote. (His articles may be downloaded at

A Poverty of Dignity and a Wealth of Rage - New York Times

"This is about the poverty of dignity and the rage it can trigger." Good analysis by Friedman of the NY Times...
A Poverty of Dignity and a Wealth of Rage - New York Times: "Why are young Sunni Muslim males, from London to Riyadh and Bali to Baghdad, so willing to blow up themselves and others in the name of their religion? Of course, not all Muslims are suicide bombers; it would be ludicrous to suggest that.
But virtually all suicide bombers, of late, have been Sunni Muslims. There are a lot of angry people in the world. Angry Mexicans. Angry Africans. Angry Norwegians. But the only ones who seem to feel entitled and motivated to kill themselves and totally innocent people, including other Muslims, over their anger are young Sunni radicals. What is going on?"...

All Rock, No Action - New York Times

Another African calling for Political Reform...
All Rock, No Action - New York Times: "LIVE 8, that extraordinary media event that some people of good intentions in the West just orchestrated, would have left us Africans indifferent if we hadn't realized that it was an insult both to us and to common sense."...

We Africans know what the problem is, and no one else should speak in our name. Africa has men of letters and science, great thinkers and stifled geniuses who at the risk of torture rise up to declare the truth and demand liberty.

Don't insult Africa, this continent so rich yet so badly led. Instead, insult its leaders, who have ruined everything. Our anger is all the greater because despite all the presidents for life, despite all the evidence of genocide, we didn't hear anyone at Live 8 raise a cry for democracy in Africa.

We would have preferred for the musicians in Philadelphia and London to have marched and sung for political revolution. Instead, they mourned a corpse while forgetting to denounce the murderer.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Envisat captures the Great Barrier Reef, off Australia's Queensland coast, from space Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Cancer Drugs Offer Hope, but at a Huge Expense - New York Times

Cancer drugs will be the fastest-growing part of the drug market for the next five years, with costs rising 20 percent a year, more than double overall drug spending...We also see incredibly high costs for drugs in ophthalmology, with minimal real benefits to patients...

Cancer Drugs Offer Hope, but at a Huge Expense - New York Times: "Ten thousand dollars once seemed a lot to pay for a few months' supply of a drug.

No more. Avastin. Erbitux. Gleevec. Herceptin. Rituxan. Tarceva. These are among the first in a wave of new drugs giving hope to millions of cancer patients by treating the disease in new ways, like blocking the blood vessels that feed tumors.

But they are all highly expensive, up to $100,000 for a course of treatment that lasts a few months. That is hundreds of times the cost of older, more toxic cancer drugs, and several times the annual cost of AIDS drugs, whose prices caused widespread anger during the 1990's."...

If history is any guide, health care professionals say, patients, doctors and lawmakers will not want to confront questions about how the medical system should deal with the cost of the new drugs.

"There's not really any incentive in the system to be more rational,"
said Dr. John Hornberger, an adjunct clinical professor of medicine at Stanford University and a practicing physician who studies drug costs.

Policy makers in the United States, unlike those in Britain and some other countries, do not measure the cost-effectiveness of new drugs,
Dr. Hornberger said. The government does not control drug prices, and Medicare is prohibited from making coverage decisions based on cost; it must base its decisions solely on the drugs' performance. ...

While some of the new drugs are difficult to make, their prices are unrelated to their manufacturing costs, said Geoffrey Porges, a biotechnology analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company. Drug makers charge what they think the market will accept, he said.

"It's sort of one of those things where everyone looks over their shoulder at everyone else, says, 'He started it, it wasn't me,' and it builds," Mr. Porges said.

Advocacy groups for cancer patients have been mostly silent on drug prices because pressing drug makers might discourage them from making the billion-dollar investments necessary to find new drugs.

Doctors also do not want to consider cost, said Dr. Eric Nadler, a researcher at Harvard Medical School who has studied the attitudes of oncologists on the issue. In his study, about 80 percent of cancer doctors said they would prescribe a drug costing up to $70,000 if it would extend a patient's life just two months longer than the standard treatment....

s a result of these forces, drug makers have faced only scattered opposition to the rising prices of new cancer treatments. The upward spiral started in 1992, when Bristol-Myers Squibb began charging $4,000 a year for Taxol, a breast cancer treatment that was among the first so-called targeted drugs, which are aimed at destroying tumors without the side effects of traditional chemotherapy.

At the time, some lawmakers and patient advocates complained, noting that Taxol had been invented at taxpayer expense at the National Cancer Institute. But Bristol held firm.

Then in 1998, Genentech began charging $20,000 a year for Herceptin, another targeted therapy for breast cancer. The price attracted notice, but little criticism.

Four years later, Bristol and ImClone Systems began charging as much as $100,000 a year for Erbitux, a drug for advanced colon cancer. (Because different patients have different treatment cycles, these prices are averages, as computed by the companies or financial analysts.)

For drug makers, the high prices have been a boon. Shares of Genentech have quadrupled in the last two years. Dr. Hellman of Genentech noted that the company began researching Avastin in 1989, at a time when many scientists doubted it could work. Genentech spent hundreds of millions of dollars researching the drug, and decided to build a plant to manufacture it years before receiving approval to sell Avastin in 2004...

Considering the expense and risk Genentech incurred - as well as the costs of similar treatment - Avastin is fairly priced, Dr. Hellman said.

"It's a giant breakthrough therapy," she said. "The value to patients is very high."

...the gap between performance and cost is especially pronounced for the cancer treatments. A Genentech study of colon cancer patients showed that a combination of Avastin and standard drug therapy extended the life of the average patient less than 5 months - to 20.3 months from 15.6 months - compared with the standard treatment...

Some oncologists are beginning to question cancer drug prices publicly. Dr. Saltz of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center said doctors must consider drug cost when they discuss treatments with patients.

"We'd like to feel that it's wrong to put a value on human life and that we as a society won't do it," he said, "but we do it every day."

Monday, July 11, 2005

Chan�ad Bahraini � Blog Archive � Not in my name

Pictures of protests in Bahrain against the bombings in Britain...

Chan�ad Bahraini � Blog Archive � Not in my name Cobblestone therapy Politics: "July 11,2005 | PORTLAND, Ore. -- The path to better health and lower blood pressure may be paved with cobblestones. When people over 60 walked on smooth, rounded cobblestones for just a half-hour a day over four months, they significantly lowered their blood pressure and improved their balance, a study showed.

Behavioral researchers from the Oregon Research Institute investigated the health effects of cobblestones after observing people exercising and walking back and forth over traditional stone paths in China.

'We noticed in several cities we visited that people were walking on cobblestone paths, and people were standing on them, and sometimes dancing on them, doing weight-shifting,' said John Fisher, who led the study at the institute in Eugene.

'We thought if we could scientifically measure it, we could see if there were health benefits,' he said.

The results surprised Fisher and his fellow researchers, who expected to see some general improvement in health but also saw blood pressure drop measurably among the volunteers during the 16-week study.

'It's very provocative,' said Dr. David Ellison, the chief hypertension expert at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.

'If they had done it over two years and lost 10 pounds I might be less surprised,' Ellison said. 'To do it that quickly -- it's certainly dramatic.'

The researchers in Eugene simulated the rounded, river rock cobblestones with a specially designed mat that was 6 feet long and 1 1/2 feet wide. Some of the test subjects walked in their bare feet, others wore socks.

They were compared with a control group who simply walked for an hour, three times per week. The results were published recently in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Nearly all the 108 volunteers in the study said they felt better after the exercise. But only the half who walked the cobblestones showed significant improvement in balance, measures of mobility and blood pressure, Fisher said."

He said the cobblestone walking paths are common in China, where traditional medicine teaches that the uneven surface of the stones stimulate "acupoints" on the soles of the feet. The theory is much like acupuncture, suggesting that distant and unrelated areas of the body are linked together at certain points and can be stimulated to improve physical and mental health.

Our Women vs. Our Image!

Why women don't have equal rights in Saudi...
Our Women vs. Our Image!: "Women issues have always been hot buttons in Saudi Arabia, just as abortion is in America and immigration in Europe. You push a button and receive instant passionate responses. I wrote a couple of articles about women under stress and heard from so many."...

Take women driving, for example. Bedouin females do drive their cars, because their environment demands it. Urban women, on the other hand, are not allowed. No one claims Islam prohibits it. They do however cite fears and concerns that women driving may compromise Islamic and social values. Women, they say, need to be guarded all the time. Not only are they “treasures” and easy target that may be attacked by the wolves of this world, they are also weak creatures that can’t be trusted. The latter explains why many women are patronized at all stages of their lives. Like children, they maybe loved, adored and well taken care of, but not trusted to decide for themselves. Worse, some don’t trust a woman with emotions, ethics and character. They suspect that she would fall for all kinds of temptation, sexual, intellectual, material and otherwise...

My stand is: We should work on our problems without worrying about who thinks what of us. The fair and wise will know we are doing the right thing. The unfair and unwise will criticize us anyway. Meanwhile, half the population starves for justice.

Taipei Times - archives

It's a Nice Day for a White Wedding...
Taipei Times - archives: "Only 1.4 percent of Japan's 127 million people are Christians, but Christian-style ceremonies now account for three-quarters of Japanese weddings. To meet market demand, bridal companies in recent years have largely dispensed with the niceties of providing a pastor with a seminary education, keeping the requirements simple: a man from an English-speaking country who will show up on time, remember his lines, not mix up names and perform the ceremony in 20 minutes."

Wired News: A Drug to Eradicate Diarrhea

The possibilities of such an approach are discussed in an excellent book, "The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits," by C.K. Prahalad. I highly recommend it.

Wired News: A Drug to Eradicate Diarrhea: "Napo Pharmaceuticals is poised to launch the first Third World blockbuster drug.

It sounds counterintuitive -- drugs marketed to poor people don't typically lead to big profits. But Lisa Conte, Napo's founder and CEO, hopes not only to bring an affordable diarrhea medication to millions of people in developing nations, but also to reshape the pharmaceutical industry.

The current development model for drug companies is fizzling, she said. More and more prospective blockbuster medications are failing in the final stages of development, and companies will have to consider selling at a lower price to larger numbers of less affluent customers."...

The deals bypass the typical pharmaceutical approach: Target rich people and charge a high price. Under that model, drugs typically are available in the developing world about 15 years after they've been introduced in premium-price markets like North America and Europe, when patents have expired or companies can afford to distribute excess drugs at a loss.

This is one of the first times a drug will be introduced in poorer markets.

The strategy could lead to a profitable business, said Dr. Seth Berkley, president and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, and a Napo board member.

"The idea is to scale up production and lower the cost of goods," Berkley said. "If you do that, then sell in primary markets, you get a higher profit because you're selling a larger quantity of drugs." ...

Crofelemer has an advantage over other treatments such as Immodium. While drugs like Immodium are absorbed into the blood and distributed throughout the body, Crofelemer acts locally only in the gut, preventing interactions with other drugs the patient might be taking.

Also, "anti-motility" drugs like Imodium slow down flow of material through the intestine. While this stops diarrhea, it also allows whatever toxin is causing the diarrhea to linger in the body longer, giving it an extra opportunity to infect its host. That's why children, whose immune systems are not fully developed, as well as adult patients with immune problems like AIDS, can't take anti-motility medications.

Crofelemer instead stops the flow of excess water, which makes it possibly the first effective treatment for children and AIDS patients.

Over 1 million children die from diarrhea every year in developing nations where water is often contaminated. And it's the top complaint of many AIDS patients, Berkley said. Nigeria: Debt Relief Unnecessary - Okogie Nigeria: Debt Relief Unnecessary - Okogie: "CATHOLIC Archbishop of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie has described the debt relief granted Nigeria by the Paris Club of creditors as unnecessary, adding that proceeds arising from the relief will enrich those at the helm of affairs in the country.
He took this position in an interview with Daily Champion weekend during his Canonical visit to Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Isolo, Lagos, just as he warned Nigerian leaders to curtail their greed 'otherwise, they will be heading towards destruction.'
Reacting to the $18 billion or 60 per cent debt relief granted Nigeria by the Paris Club, Cardinal Okogie said 'the government is not sincere with the populace because the clauses embedded in the debt relief were not disclosed.
'Paris Club can not give 60 per cent debt relief just like that. There must be certain conditions tied to it,' the Bishop added.
According to him, bribery and corruption have eaten deep into the nation's fabric, pointing out that the only way the debt relief was got would be through lobby."...

He advised government officials to repent and amend their ways otherwise they will face the wrath of God.

"God is very merciful. He gives each of us time and chance to amend, if you don't amend, he takes you off."

He said the acquisitive nature of the country's leaders had made them not only to perpetuate themselves in office, but also to hand over leadership to their children.

Relevant Links

West Africa

The respected clergyman said that if he were not a priest, he would have joined other Nigerians leaving the country in search of greener pasture outside because of the prevailing bad governance and economy.

"If I am not what I am, I would have left the country like others," he said.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Liberty Blossoms in East Africa

James Shikwati--the Kenyan economist referenced below is a libertarian! (No surprise there)

Liberty Blossoms in East Africa

by Lawrence W. Reed

We are pleased to announce that James Shikwati Shikuku of Nairobi, Kenya, has become one of ISIL's newest Reps. – joining Agwu Amogu of Nigeria. After a century of socialist tyranny and terrible poverty and violence following on the heels of the colonial period, libertarian ideas and networks have suddenly begun to emerge and evolve throughout Africa – a development which may hold great promise for the Dark Continent.

Interestingly James, with Thompson Ayodele of the Institute of Public Policy Analysis (IPPA) in Lagos, Nigeria have attended ISIL correspondent Barun Mitra's seminars at the Liberty Institute in New Delhi, India. So the network expands in ways never anticipated.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Noise Can Help, Rather Than Hinder, People's Ability To Sense Things

Noise Can Help, Rather Than Hinder, People's Ability To Sense Things: "We usually think of noise as a bad thing — like the background sound of street traffic that makes it hard to hear a conversation or your favorite CD. Researchers know that such extraneous stimuli exist for other senses, too: Noise can affect your ability not only to hear, but also to see and feel.

Related News Stories

Babies Have A Different Way Of Hearing The World By Listening To All Frequencies Simultaneously (May 30, 2001) -- The world apparently sounds very different to infants than it does to adults. Sometimes it's filled with a cacophony of sounds that makes it difficult for babies to distinguish a single sound ... > full story

Patients' Favorite Music During Surgery Lessens Need For Sedative (May 27, 2005) -- Patients listening to their favorite music required much less sedation during surgery than did patients who listened to white noise or operating room ... > full story

Research On Nerve Cell Circuitry Reveals Clue About Schizophrenia (November 8, 2004) -- Animal research at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center has found how one of the genes linked to schizophrenia might function to cause the disease. The work was reported today at the annual ... > full story

When The Brain, Not The Ears, Goes Hard Of Hearing (March 10, 2005) -- Problems with the brain -- not just the ears -- cause a great deal of the age-related hearing loss in older people. Researchers are finding more and more subtle problems in the way our brain ... > full story

> more related stories
Related section:

Mind & Brain

But it's not always a bad thing, it turns out. Researchers from the University of British Columbia recently showed that noise can at times help, rather than hinder, people's ability to sense things. Researcher Lawrence M. Ward said that 'although counterintuitive ... noise can actually help us to see, hear or feel weak signals that would otherwise be imperceptible.'

Researchers Cari Wells, Lawrence M. Ward, Romeo Chua, and J. Timothy Inglis presented their findings in the study, 'Touch Noise Increases Vibrotactile Sensitivity in Old and Young,' in the April 2005 issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the American Psychological Society."

Old People See Big Picture Better

Old People See Big Picture Better: "One of the more frustrating things about getting old is growing slower. But a new study finds old people are quicker at one important task: Seeing the big picture.

Subjects looked at bars on a computer screen that appeared and moved either left or right. When the bars were small or varying shades of gray, young people processed the scene more quickly. But when the bars were large and had high contrast -- black and white -- older people consistently outperformed the younger ones by about 30 percent.

The results partly involve differences in vision. But scientists see a deeper meaning."

Smart People Choke Under Pressure

Smart People Choke Under Pressure: "People perceived as the most likely to succeed might also be the most likely to crumble under pressure.

A new study finds that individuals with high working-memory capacity, which normally allows them to excel, crack under pressure and do worse on simple exams than when allowed to work with no constraints. Those with less capacity score low, too, but they tend not to be affected by pressure.

'The pressure causes verbal worries, like ‘Oh no, I can’t screw up,’' said Sian Beilock, assistant professor of psychology at Miami University of Ohio. 'These thoughts reside in the working memory.' And that takes up space that would otherwise be pondering the task at hand.

'When they begin to worry, then they’re in trouble,' Beilock told LiveScience. 'People with lower working-memory capacities are not using that capacity to begin with, so they’re not affected by pressure.'

The findings are detailed this week’s issue of Psychological Science."

No Birdbrain, Parrot Grasps Concept of Zero - Yahoo! News

Animal Intelligence...

No Birdbrain, Parrot Grasps Concept of Zero - Yahoo! News: "A parrot has grasped the concept of zero, something humans can't do until at least the toddler phase, researchers say.

Alex, a 28-year-old African gray parrot who lives in a lab at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, has a brain the size of a walnut. But when confronted with no items on a tray where usually there are some, he says 'none.'

Zero is thought to be a rather abstract concept even for people. Children typically don't grasp it until age three or four, Brandeis researchers say. Some ancient cultures lacked a formal term for zilch, even as recently as the Middle Ages."...

Some animal intelligence is hauntingly familiar, like the male monkeys that pay to see female monkey bottoms. And studies show that monkeys, dogs and rats all know how to laugh.

There are obvious limits to animal intelligence, of course. Take the 450 sheep who recently jumped to their deaths for no apparent reason.

Faculty of Arts & Sciences: News and Events

I wonder if there is variability in "seeking visual novelty" between men and women...

Faculty of Arts & Sciences: News and Events: "Cambridge, Mass. - July 7, 2005 - Researchers at Harvard University have found evidence that the retina actively seeks novel features in the visual environment, dynamically adjusting its processing in order to seek the unusual while ignoring the commonplace. The scientists report in this week's issue of the journal Nature on their finding that this principle of novelty-detection operates in many visual environments.

'Apparently our thirst for novelty begins in the eye itself,' says Markus Meister, the Jeff C. Tarr Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology in Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences. 'Our eyes report the visual world to the brain, but not very faithfully. Instead, the retina creates a cartoonist's sketch of the visual scene, highlighting key features while suppressing the less interesting regions.'

These findings provide evidence that the ultimate goal of the visual system is not simply to construct internally an exact reproduction of the external world, Meister and his colleagues write in Nature. Rather, the system seeks to extract from the onslaught of raw visual information the few bits of data that are relevant to behavior. This entails the discarding of signals that are less useful, and dynamic retinal adaptation provides a means of stripping from the visual stream predictable and therefore less newsworthy signals."

Friday, July 08, 2005 - Ethiopia vs. Eritrea

A good analysis of the current conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea... - Ethiopia vs. Eritrea: "Here's a challenge for the G-8 leaders meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland: What do you do about an African nation that isn't weighed down by billions of dollars in debt, rejects the very principle of foreign aid, yet is full of hungry people and could well be the setting for the continent's next war?" - Who's Stingy?

Thanks to the for highlighting the most important components of the campaign and the G8 summit---a)restructuing of international trade to allow Africans to compete and b) the linkage of good aid and good governace... - Who's Stingy?: "n an interview broadcast in Britain on Monday, Mr. Bush said the U.S. would 'absolutely' drop its system of farm subsidies if the European Union eliminated its $40 billion a year Common Agricultural Policy. Now, that's a radical idea. It certainly trumps the calls by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and others to double official development aid to sub-Saharan Africa or to forgive more debt. Getting rid of U.S. and EU farm subsidies -- and the protectionism they entail -- would do far more to address what liberals like to call a 'root cause' of poverty.

Too many African exports, particularly farm commodities, are kept out of Western markets by tariffs, import quotas and price supports for domestic producers. Open those markets and encourage better African governance and, as history has proven over and over, you'll unlock the door for poor nations to generate wealth and free themselves from dependence on handouts"...

The Administration has already led the effort to cancel the multilateral debt of the 38 "highly indebted poor countries," or HIPCs. These countries owe $40 billion to international financial institutions such as the World Bank, and the G-8 agreement promises to make the debt payments as they come due over the next 40 years.

The debt-relief agreement also restructures the way aid is distributed. As the loans are paid off, the HIPCs will not automatically get additional lending. Instead, the new money available through the World Bank's International Development Agency and the African Development Bank can be disbursed to any developing country. The deciding factor will be measurable efforts toward good governance.

We would have preferred that the debt simply be canceled and the balance sheets of the international financial institutions not be replenished at all. And we're not confident that the World Bank will adequately screen for performance without an independent evaluation system in place. But it is encouraging that at least new funds will not automatically be disbursed in proportion to previous failures....

Fighting Terrorism at Gleneagles - New York Times

"Africa straddles the increasingly fraught divide between Islamic and Christian civilizations...."
Fighting Terrorism at Gleneagles - New York Times: "As the leaders of the richest nations carry on their annual conference despite the bombings in London, they have a chance to embrace what should be an essential element of any long-term global strategy against terrorism. By adopting a coherent plan to tackle the extreme poverty of Africa, the leaders of the G-8 countries will also take on the civil wars, governmental breakdowns and illicit financial flows of one of the world's most troubled regions.

For weeks, this page and people around the world have exhorted the leaders deliberating in Scotland to rise to the challenge of Africa for reasons of human compassion and economic fairness. But there are security reasons, too, starting with the way Africa straddles the increasingly fraught divide between Islamic and Christian civilizations. That schism has found expression in some of the continent's longest-running conflicts."

And with Africa now on track to be the source for 25 percent of this country's crude oil imports by 2015, Washington has a special interest in promoting the continent's peaceful development and avoiding the nexus between oil money and terrorism that has developed in the Middle East. That concern underscores the importance of the other main issue on the meeting's agenda: global climate change and the need to find alternatives to polluting fossil fuels.

If It's a Muslim Problem, It Needs a Muslim Solution - New York Times

Wisdom from Thomas Friedman of the NY Times on yesterday's bombings...

If It's a Muslim Problem, It Needs a Muslim Solution - New York Times: "But maybe the most important aspect of the London bombings is this: When jihadist-style bombings happen in Riyadh, that is a Muslim-Muslim problem. That is a police problem for Saudi Arabia. But when Al-Qaeda-like bombings come to the London Underground, that becomes a civilizational problem. Every Muslim living in a Western society suddenly becomes a suspect, becomes a potential walking bomb. And when that happens, it means Western countries are going to be tempted to crack down even harder on their own Muslim populations.

That, too, is deeply troubling. The more Western societies - particularly the big European societies, which have much larger Muslim populations than America - look on their own Muslims with suspicion, the more internal tensions this creates, and the more alienated their already alienated Muslim youth become. This is exactly what Osama bin Laden dreamed of with 9/11: to create a great gulf between the Muslim world and the globalizing West.

So this is a critical moment. We must do all we can to limit the civilizational fallout from this bombing. But this is not going to be easy. Why? Because unlike after 9/11, there is no obvious, easy target to retaliate against for bombings like those in London. There are no obvious terrorist headquarters and training camps in Afghanistan that we can hit with cruise missiles. The Al Qaeda threat has metastasized and become franchised. It is no longer vertical, something that we can punch in the face. It is now horizontal, flat and widely distributed, operating through the Internet and tiny cells.

Because there is no obvious target to retaliate against, and because there are not enough police to police every opening in an open society, either the Muslim world begins to really restrain, inhibit and denounce its own extremists - if it turns out that they are behind the London bombings - or the West is going to do it for them. And the West will do it in a rough, crude way - by simply shutting them out, denying them visas and making every Muslim in its midst guilty until proven innocent.

And because I think that would be a disaster, it is essential that the Muslim world wake up to the fact that it has a jihadist death cult in its midst. If it does not fight that death cult, that cancer, within its own body politic, it is going to infect Muslim-Western relations everywhere. Only the Muslim world can root out that death cult. It takes a village."

Thursday, July 07, 2005

AlterNet: Africans Can Do it for Ourselves

Another view from Kenya, from the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wnagari Maathia

AlterNet: Africans Can Do it for Ourselves: "There is a lot of poverty in Africa. Yet Africa is not a poor continent. It is endowed with human beings, sunshine, oil, precious stones, forests, water, wildlife, soil, land and agricultural products. So what is the problem?

First, many African people lack knowledge, skills and tools to add value to their raw materials so that they can take more processed goods into the local and international markets, where they would negotiate better prices and better rules for trade. In such situations, Africans find themselves locked out of productive, rewarding economic activities that would provide them with the regular income they need to sustain themselves.

They are either unemployed or underemployed — and they are certainly underpaid. They may wish to secure a well-paid job, but if they do not have the tools, nobody will hire them. Neither will they be able to take care of their housing, healthcare, education, nutrition, and other family and personal needs....

The G8 countries' cancellation of the debts of the eighteen HIPC countries is welcome, but I urge that other countries in Africa also be considered. They may be able to make debt repayments, but they do so at the expense of education and healthcare, thus sacrificing the realization of the Millennium Development Goals.

The British prime minister, Tony Blair, and his Commission for Africainitiative, deserve great credit. I hope that other G8 countries will support his and his finance minister Gordon Brown's recommendations, especially in the area of debt, doubling of financial assistance and better terms of trade.

It is understandable that governments may sometimes wish to give conditional aid. But a patronizing approach to sovereign states undermines their authority, and the respect and trust they can receive from their people. An improvement of governance in Africa means that it would be more appropriate to give aid that is not tied so as to allow governments to address priorities identified by them and their citizens.

Second, there is economic injustice, which must be addressed not only by the rich industrialized countries, but also by African leaders. Africans have been poorly governed. This misgovernment continues to allow the exploitation of resources in Africa, without much benefit to African citizens."

Print - SPIEGEL Interview with African Economics Expert: "For God's Sake, Please Stop the Aid!" - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Strong words from a Kenyan Economist...This article resonates with an email I recently received from a friend who is a Doctor in Nigeria:
"I honestly belief that this campain for debt relief is not necessary.Our own people have stolen so much of our money which are stacked in foreign account.A genuine campain should be to return these monies and we will be able to pay our debt.Secondly after debt forgiveness what next? Will this reflect on the quality of life of a common man?The same rogues are still around to return the money back into western banks.This is a big windfall for them!
Print - SPIEGEL Interview with African Economics Expert: "For God's Sake, Please Stop the Aid!" - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News: "The Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati, 35, says that aid to Africa does more harm than good. The avid proponent of globalization spoke with SPIEGEL about the disastrous effects of Western development policy in Africa, corrupt rulers, and the tendency to overstate the AIDS problem."

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

BBC NEWS | Magazine | Music blogs close ears to Live 8

BBC listing of blogsites pertaining to Africa, some by Africans...

BBC NEWS | Magazine | Music blogs close ears to Live 8: "And in a comment replying to The Thinker's Room post quoted above, blogger Kenyan Pundit is one of those remaining hopeful:

'All its misdirection etc. aside, at the very least, Live 8 has produced some of the most cogent discussion on Africa that I've ever seen and has demonstrated the power of technology to connect the dots and bring a wide range of voices to the table.'"

Africa Leaps Forward - Newsweek: International Editions -

It is important to have articles like these which prove that Africa is a thriving place with greater potential, as opposed to a cesspool of misery and corruption as it is often portrayed in the media.
The Africans I have met are incredibly kind, noble, hardworking, and great friends...

Africa Leaps Forward - Newsweek: International Editions - "Behind the headline chaos, however, there is a more promising reality. Democratic elections have swept Africa. Thirty years ago the continent had only three elected heads of state; now there are 30. The International Monetary Fund says a core group of 25 nations representing three quarters of the continent's population has been steadily moving ahead economically, and asks, 'Is Africa turning the corner?' The IMF predicts overall growth this year of 5.4 percent (chart), driven by often painful economic reforms that began more than a decade ago in South Africa and have since spread widely among its neighbors. 'We've got a critical mass of countries, and we need to concentrate on that,' says Trevor Manuel, South Africa's Finance minister.

In short, Africa is not sitting still, waiting for the West to help"

Tuesday, July 05, 2005 Arts & Entertainment | The Fix Arts & Entertainment | The Fix: "Disclaimer on the bottom of a new Web site called 'Our use of the term 'nuts' is meant, as defined in Webster's, as a reference to an 'eccentric' person. That's all. We do not mean to in any way denigrate or belittle anyone with mental illness. In fact, we take mental illness very seriously, which is why Mr. Cruise's ill-informed rant inspired us to create this website. We don't have anything personally against Mr. Cruise, either. We think he's a first-class actor and a humanitarian. We did used to worry that he was a misguided zealot, but that's all. Now we think he's a dangerous, misguided zealot.' ("

Women’s Department Stores: A Solution With Problems

More problems in Saudi....

Women’s Department Stores: A Solution With Problems: "Most shopowners and salespeople are not overly enthusiastic about establishing shops staffed by Saudi women that sell women’s clothing and personal items. They say the Labor Ministry’s new directive which mandates hiring Saudi saleswomen in women’s shops will create problems rather than bringing about a solution to the cultural issue of making women’s wear the exclusive domain of women — for and by women"...

The labor minister’s announcement caught nearly everybody by surprise. Many shop owners termed this unheard of idea as impractical for both technical and cultural reasons. Even men and women — professionals and nonprofessionals — agreed, saying that in trying to solve one problem, the ministry introduced many new ones.

“Women replacing my salesmen?” exclaimed Saleh Al-Jihaini, manager of Laylaty for Fashion, a women’s clothing store. “Impossible! Such an idea is easy for the minister to expound but is it practical when it comes to carrying it out? It is going to cost us and cause so much trouble. I’ve personally trained the men in my shop. I’ve never dealt with women, let alone having them work for me. What a headache that will be!...

“Why didn’t they let women take part in the elections? Why aren’t they letting them drive?” continued Al-Ghamdi. “Let’s be honest — they didn’t and they don’t because it’s all about Saudi women being out in the open, in public. People don’t want it, the culture won’t accept it so what’s the difference between letting women drive or having them working in shops that are on the public streets?”...

“And what about men who shop with their wives?” asked Suhail Mohammad, Fayez’s brother and business partner. “Not all women shop on their own with drivers, you know. Will women be going into the shops while their husbands wait outside?

(Uh yeah..that's pretty much what happens in the rest of the world..)

Woman Bank Employee Steals From Customers

I found the title of the article a bit strange...why the emphasis on "Woman employee?"
Woman Bank Employee Steals From Customers: "RIYADH, 6 July 2005 — Police have arrested a Saudi female bank employee who is believed to be responsible for embezzling about SR4 million from customers’ accounts. The woman who allegedly embezzled the money was working in a managerial position at a ladies’ branch of a leading Saudi bank in Dawadami town, about 250 km west of Riyadh."

Telegraph | Opinion | What rocks is capitalism... yeah, yeah, yeah

More criticism of Live8 from the U.K....

Telegraph | Opinion | What rocks is capitalism... yeah, yeah, yeah: "And that's why the Live8 bonanza was so misguided. Two decades ago, Sir Bob was at least demanding we give him our own fokkin' money. This time round, all he was asking was that we join him into bullying the G8 blokes to give us their taxpayers' fokkin' money."

Wired News: Giving Genetic Disease the Finger

Zinc fingers...

Wired News: Giving Genetic Disease the Finger:

Scientists are closing in on techniques that could let them safely repair almost any defective gene in a patient, opening the door for the first time to treatments for a range of genetic disorders that are now considered incurable.

The breakthrough, announced in the journal Nature in June, relies on so-called zinc fingers, named after wispy amino acid protuberances that emanate from a single zinc ion. When inserted into human cells, the fingers automatically bind to miscoded strands of DNA, spurring the body's innate repair mechanism to recode the problem area with the correct gene sequence.


"This doesn't just deliver a foreign gene into the cell," said Nobel Prize winner and CalTech President David Baltimore, who with a Sangamo paper co-author Mathew Porteus proposed this method to cure genetic diseases. "It actually deletes the miscoded portion and fixes the problem."

At the heart of the breakthrough is the concept of "if it's broke, break it some more." Cells have a method of DNA repair called homologous recombination, which fixes breaks in the double helix of our chromosomes. But the process only repairs places where the DNA has been cut, not where genes have been miscoded.

Using a package of synthesized zinc fingers, cells can be tricked into doing nano-surgery on their own genes, Sangamo researchers found. The zinc fingers home in like a guided missile on the exact spot in the genome doctors are trying to target and then bind to it. DNA-devouring enzymes then cut through the double helix of DNA at the exact beginning and end of the targeted gene, and a template of donor DNA helps rebuild the deleted strand.

With a song in their heart and not much at all in their heads - Sunday Times - Times Online

This is the most balanced critique I have read of Live 8. However, I still maintain that the event focused world awareness on a crisis, that most people would not even think about on a daily basis. Of course a well thought out program is needed, not just "blindly throwing money," and hopefully policy makers will start doing just that....

With a song in their heart and not much at all in their heads - Sunday Times - Times Online:

How is a sensible person to react to last night’s Live 8/G8 extravaganza? It defies hyperbole. It steamrollers scepticism. The money swilling, the masses migrating, the greenhouse gases combusting, the publicity bingeing, are beyond all reason.

Live 8 claims political status, but the politics is totalitarian, using celebrity to mobilise a crowd. The crowd has a noble place in politics, but it is a transient one. Tomorrow it is gone and its punch leaves no bruise. Small wonder Tony Blair is playing Pope Innocent to Bob Geldof’s Francis of Assisi. He co-opts him into power.

Geldof is to fast politics what McDonald’s is to fast food. He is simply good at it. How can you do nothing, he screams, “watching people live on TV, dying on our screens!”. Fill up on McCartney and Madonna and you will feel much better.


Targeting the G8 is in truth a hangover from 1960s left-wing agitprop, which held that the evils of the world were due to capitalism and colonial exploitation. Conventional wisdom was to dump the West’s surplus savings and produce on Africa, and then to wail when the continent was predictably corrupted. At a rough estimate some $500 billion was tipped into Africa over the past 40 years. Most observers maintain this contributed to political instability and a negative growth rate.

Geldof disagrees. He is a big-time interventionist. He claims legitimacy not by democratic mandate but by the dubious franchise of rock concert attendances. He tells his audiences that they do not need to give money or think. They can feel better just by chanting a mantra like monks. Awareness is self-defining. It accepts no responsibility for any political outcomes. Blame is transferred to elected politicians. ...

Thus one speaker last week demanded that debt relief — aid by another name — should depend upon monitored elections, anti-corruption courts and “green” audits. All this would need the revival of Africa’s old ruling class, the unemployed offspring of Europe’s rich. The Lugard tradition of Britain’s indirect imperialism returns as expatriate NGOs in white 4x4s....

I hear Geldof screaming again, “So what would you do? Just let them effing die?” I reply that, if I know of people dying, I will try to save them through charity. But if Geldof and his friends want to play politics, showing demagogic muscle means nothing. His revellers must join in the democratic debate and engage with a complex argument. The exploitation of “just in time” protest is no alternative to formal democracy. A Live 8 ticket is not a vote. Make poverty history is a cliché, not a programme.

Relieving debt is a mixed blessing for poor countries since it damages their access to new investment. I would certainly cancel much of it, since its giving was as corrupt as its receiving. But debt relief has been progressing with no need of four-letter words or a heavy drum-and-bass line. Cancellation should not now be a back door for political intervention.

I have no trouble giving private charity at the point of need. Live Aid was at least an honest, if politically naive, response to disaster. Today Geldof’s head has been turned by politics. He makes no appeal for Darfur relief in Sudan. He has not even selected a “quick-win” objective such as Aids. ...

Nor do I have trouble with reforming western trade to make it fair and less a sanction on African economies. But this requires complex bilateral deals with individual states. It means treating them as autonomous partners who can accept sovereign responsibility, not as Geldof’s lumpen mass of starving blacks.

Yet there is no Live 8 concert in Brussels or on the sugar beet prairies of East Anglia.

Nor will Live 8 plead with the NHS to stop its most vicious sanction, the poaching of a third of Africa’s qualified doctors and nurses. Such action is too close to reality for Geldof’s musicians. The politics Live 8 does not do is the politics of painful choices.

What we see is another chapter in an old story, glibness triumphing over thought and the rich yearning for excuses to impose their values on the poor. We know we cannot “make poverty history”. This week we are trying to make it geography. Perhaps, just for once, we should make it economics.

Bush, a Friend of Africa - New York Times

A good analysis of the liberal vs. conservative approach to aid in Africa, and the pros and cons of each. Please read the whole article by Nicholas Kristof...
Bush, a Friend of Africa - New York Times: "Those who care about Africa tend to think that the appropriate attitude toward President Bush is a medley of fury and contempt.
But the fact is that Mr. Bush has done much more for Africa than Bill Clinton ever did, increasing the money actually spent for aid there by two-thirds so far, and setting in motion an eventual tripling of aid for Africa. Mr. Bush's crowning achievement was ending one war in Sudan, between north and south. And while Mr. Bush has done shamefully little to stop Sudan's other conflict - the genocide in Darfur - that's more than Mr. Clinton's response to genocide in Rwanda (which was to issue a magnificent apology afterward)."

Monday, July 04, 2005

Tech Steps Up to Back Bono

Here is an example of a positive result from Bono's campaign...Tech Steps Up to Back Bono: "It looks like a still black-and-white photo of Brad Pitt on your Web browser. And then he starts talking about how people step forth, one by one, to save lives. It's the launch of slick antipoverty video ads featuring Pitt and fellow actors George Clooney, Cameron Diaz, and Tom Hanks, and even conservative preacher Pat Robertson. These ads have played more than 100 million times on thousands of Web sites since June 1. The goal is to run 1 billion of them this month alone"...

WIRING A NATION. His message struck a chord. And now, less than four months later, tech companies including Sun Microsystems (SUNW ), Cisco Systems (CSCO ), and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD ) are busy organizing antipoverty ad campaigns and mapping out fiber-optic plans for Ethiopia.

Oprah, Come and See for Yourself

I have no idea what the incidence of spousal abuse is in Saudi vs. anywhere else, I think the writer makes a valid point about media stereotypes...

Oprah, Come and See for Yourself: "I received an e-mail entitled "Thank you Oprah, But We're Proud to be Saudi." The e-mail dealt with a petition from a group of Saudi girls who went online to register their disappointment with the negative presentation of Saudi women on Oprah's show.
Last week, MBC broadcast one of Oprah's programs about women around the world; it featured women from many countries, each talking about something in her country that was different from American culture. Most women talked about society, culture, fashion, food and friendships. When it came to Saudi women, however, it moved to the issues Saudi women face.
The issues were: Not being able to drive, having to have male legal guardian and having to cover their faces. So far, so good; these are all issues Saudi women face and we've had endless discussions in the Saudi press about them.
The program featured an interview with Rania Al-Baz, the Saudi TV presenter who was battered by her husband several months ago; the Saudi press presented her case to the world. Every Saudi who watched the program was dismayed that the image of the Saudi woman, in contrast to all the others, was negative, as if to say, "Hello Everybody. I am a Saudi woman and I come from a country where the national sport is wife-beating!" - Views - Straight Talk - Globalization, Culture & Freedom

I completely agree with the potential for technology in Africa... - Views - Straight Talk - Globalization, Culture & Freedom: "But perhaps the world�s greatest reservoir of wasted human talent -- that is, ability that never gets to the world at the level it deserves -- is Africa. And, because of that, it is probably Africa that has the most to gain from the communications revolution.
Africa has been exporting music to the world for centuries, of course. Almost every musical form of the past century -- from gospel, to ragtime, to blues, to jazz, to rock and roll, to reggae, to techno -- has its roots in African musical styles. And African art has influenced Western artists from Picasso to Modigliani to Renee Stout.
The world has gotten a lot from Africa. Africa, however, has gotten much less from the world. But that may change now that Africans are working in media that can make money, and now that the Internet and other communications technologies make it easier to get their work out, and other people�s money in. In fact, it�s already happening."...

Given that there are as many Africans with talent and ambition as you’ll find anywhere else, these lowered barriers are likely to mean that African musicians, actors, producers and directors will enter the global market at a growing rate. And given that -- historically -- African culture has been very appealing to the world at large, the growth of inexpensive communications technologies is likely to mean a greater Africanization of world culture in general.

The consequences are likely to be interesting. The rap against American culture from many anti-globalization types has been that it spreads Western ideas that corrupt "traditional" cultures. Yet, if you look at the lists of African songs, you find more religious influence than you find in similar American charts, including many Christian-influenced songs. (The song Virgin, by Kenyan band Born Twice, extols the value of virginity.)

Likewise, the Nigerian film industry, based in Christian southern Nigeria, is heavily Christian-influenced, producing works that make the "Left Behind" films look downright secular by comparison. Its continental rival, the Ghanaian film industry, has a similar orientation, with a heavy inclination toward Pentecostalism.

If these industries grow, the result will likely be a far more Christianized Third World. It will be interesting to hear what the anti-globalization folks say if the growth of Third World entertainment industries leads to a far more conservative media climate around the world.

Regardless, new technologies have produced jobs and prospects for many in Africa that were almost unimaginable back in 1985. Which raises a question: The rock stars who gave of their time to perform at Live Aid received much public praise for their selflessness. But what of the engineers and scientists whose work made these new technologies possible? Will they get similar praise?

I doubt it. But you might pause a moment as you make your Christmas videos to recognize the work of those technologists and engineers who -- far more than rock stars, however selfless -- have by their efforts made the world a better place, with more opportunities for all. They don’t get noticed enough. - USAID chief defends Bush's Africa plan - Jul 3, 2005 - USAID chief defends Bush's Africa plan - Jul 3, 2005: "WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Too much aid to Africa without corresponding economic and political reform could cause relief efforts for the continent's poorest countries to fail, the head of the U.S. international aid agency said Sunday.
'You have to make changes to the capacity of governments to manage programs, to write the right laws, to have the rule of law,' U.S. Agency for International Development Director Andrew Natsios told CNN.
'If you don't have those other conditions, you can put huge amounts of money into aid programs and they'll be ineffective.'"...

On Thursday, President Bush previewed his plans for the G8 summit, presenting three new initiatives for Africa, including a $1.2 billion effort to combat malaria. (Full story)

Bush said he had tripled aid to Africa during his presidency and planned to ask Congress to double it again by 2010.

A report last week from the Brookings Institution said, however, that U.S. aid to Africa did not triple from 2000 to 2004, but instead increased by 56 percent in real dollars.

Bush has been unwilling to endorse key elements of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's proposal for donor nations to increase aid to Africa by $25 billion annually by 2010. A second stage in Blair's plan would add another $25 billion per year by 2015.

In a compromise announced during Blair's June visit to Washington, Bush pledged an additional $674 million for "humanitarian emergencies" in Africa. (Full story)

Bush's response to Blair's push for more aid received a mixed response, with aid agencies saying the amounts promised were inadequate....

With an $11 trillion economy, the United States currently contributes about .16 percent of its gross domestic product to international aid programs -- about $19 billion. Norway, with a gross domestic product of about $183 billion, contributes .87 percent -- about 1.6 billion.

But Natsios said that comparison is skewed by the fact the United States has the world's largest economy, calling the proportion "a standard that Europeans created basically for their own purposes."

"If we did .7 percent, the aid budget would go from $19 billion to $91 billion. We couldn't spend that money if we wanted to," he said.

He said if the United States did provide that level of assistance, it would be criticized as "imperial aid."

Natsios said U.S. foreign aid totaled $10 billion in 2000 when Bush took office, rising to $19 billion last year and with further increases planned to about $25 billion.

Bush also said Thursday he would support easing the debt burden on many of Africa's countries and push for the completion of free trade negotiations

Related Posts with Thumbnails