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Old 06-07-2005, 07:44 AM   #1
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US: dragging their feet on african aid

BBC says Bush is going to pledge $674 million. Everyone knows that is simply not enough. Britain might be partners in crime with the US in Iraq, but at least their conscience remains intact. If the administration doesnt step up to meet the challenge, the country so called leadership of the free world will be seriously questionable.

Bush 'to pledge famine aid cash'

US President George W Bush is set to pledge $674m (£350m) for famine relief in Africa as part of a joint initiative with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Mr Blair is in Washington to press for the president's support for his plans to get Africa back on its feet.

But Mr Bush's promise falls far short of what Mr Blair wants, analysts say.

The US has already rejected several of the elements of Britain's so-called "Marshall Plan for Africa", ahead of next month's G8 summit in Scotland.

Mr Blair hopes to use his chairmanship of the summit to gather support for Third World debt relief.

Mr Bush's $674m is destined largely for Ethiopia and Eritrea, to fight famine, and for humanitarian needs in other African countries.

This money is part of the US aid budget that had already been announced but had not yet been allocated to a country.

Britain is also expected to contribute money to the cause.

US opposition

The US has also set aside $1.4bn (£767m) requested by the United Nations to address emergency needs.

Nevertheless, Mr Blair recognises that he will not get support for crucial parts of his three-pronged attack on poverty in Africa - a package of debt relief, increased aid and fairer trade.

In an interview for the Financial Times newspaper on Tuesday, Mr Blair acknowledged: "There are certain things we know they are not going to do, that we are not asking them to do."

Mr Bush has already opposed UK treasury chief Gordon Brown's plan to use an international finance facility (IFF) to fund vaccinations, funded by borrowing on the bond market, saying he cannot commit the US to future debt repayments.

The US has also refused to agree to give 0.7% of its national income in international aid, a long-term commitment Mr Blair wants from all G8 countries.

"We are not asking them to sign up to the IFF or 0.7% in aid. They are not going to do that and they've made that clear right from the very beginning," Mr Blair said.

Washington's reluctance to join Mr Blair's crusade against poverty has angered some development experts.

"The US is not pulling its weight right now," said Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University's Earth Institute.

He said there was "a great myth in the US" that aid was ineffective because of inefficiency and corruption.

"It's a nonsense. Aid works - the problem is it's on such a small scale that it's not commensurate with the challenge," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"It's important for Prime Minister Blair to explain the truth to his American counterparts."

Mr Blair's spokesman acknowledged that battling poverty was "about more than throwing money at the problem".

He played down expectations for the meeting with the US president, saying the visit was part of the preparation for the summit at Gleneagles, Scotland, "not Gleneagles itself".

Stress positive

Mr Bush and Mr Blair are also expected to make a joint announcement on climate change - another British priority for Gleneagles.

The two countries also have different approaches to that issue.

The US favours a technology-based solution to global warming over targets to curb greenhouse gases.

Mr Blair told the Financial Times he was not asking the US "to reverse [its] position on Kyoto. There's no way the Americans are going to do that."

But he said he was still hopeful of a breakthrough.

The BBC's diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says the US and UK continue to have many differences. But they will stress the positive, and try to ensure that the differences do not cast a shadow over Gleneagles.
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Old 06-07-2005, 09:06 AM   #2
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At least it's something. It's a start. I know it's not enough, but maybe people can show the administration how the money is being used and then make their case for additional funds. I don't know. I am glad to see the UK taking charge.
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Old 06-07-2005, 09:31 AM   #3
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Go to the bottom of cnn.com and you can vote "yes" or "no" on whether the U.S. is doing enough to aid Africa.

I voted "no."
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Old 06-07-2005, 09:35 AM   #4
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Cool coemgen. I voted too.

Everyone should call the White House today and ask the President to do more. Everyone.... Everyone... EVERYONE!
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Old 06-07-2005, 09:50 AM   #5
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I'm with you BostonAnne. I'm calling him during my lunch break.
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Old 06-07-2005, 09:56 AM   #6
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Old 06-07-2005, 02:37 PM   #7
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Bush mentioned Bono during the press conference..the transcript will be out later

There are several questions about aid to Africa in today's press conference..seems like blahblah answers to me..

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/relea...0050607.html#e

Bush/Blair transcript

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/relea...0050607-2.html

Q You've talked of what you've hoped to do for Africa. Do you regard the phrase "make poverty history" as rhetoric from rock stars? Or do you really believe in your gut that this the year it could happen?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Let me address your first question. Talk about -- you said, I'm willing to talk about what we're going to do -- I want you to focus on what we have done, for starters. I mean, part of the -- part of this world, we've got a lot of big talkers. What I like to say is my administration actually does what we say we're going to do -- and we have. When I say we're going to make a commitment to triple aid in Africa, I meant it, and we did. When I said we're going to lead an initiative, an HIV/AIDS initiative, the likes of which the world has never seen before on the continent of Africa, we have done that, and we're following through. And so when I say we're going to do more, I think you can take that to the bank, as we say, because of what we have done. We have taken a leadership role.

Second question -- do I believe in my gut we can eradicate poverty? I do believe we can eradicate poverty. And, by the way, Bono has come to see me. I admire him. He is a man of depth and a great heart who cares deeply about the impoverished folks on the continent of Africa, and I admire his leadership on the issue. And so I do believe -- I don't view -- I can't remember how you characterized the rock stars, but I don't characterize them that way, having met the man.
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Old 06-07-2005, 03:15 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
Bush mentioned Bono during the press conference..the transcript will be out later



Second question -- do I believe in my gut we can eradicate poverty? I do believe we can eradicate poverty. And, by the way, Bono has come to see me. I admire him. He is a man of depth and a great heart who cares deeply about the impoverished folks on the continent of Africa, and I admire his leadership on the issue. And so I do believe -- I don't view -- I can't remember how you characterized the rock stars, but I don't characterize them that way, having met the man



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Old 06-07-2005, 03:25 PM   #9
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I called and asked him to do more.
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Old 06-07-2005, 05:47 PM   #10
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If you're ticked off with Bush and his mediocre response to increased assistance to Africa, please check this thread for several ideas of how to register your discontent in a constructive manner to hopefully change Bush's mind.

http://forum.interference.com/t129445.html

Simply stating your disgust with him won't get Bush to move into action. You gotta turn up the political heat on him!
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Old 06-07-2005, 05:53 PM   #11
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Someone needs to tell Bush that namedropping Bono doesnt count as African aid.
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Old 06-07-2005, 06:11 PM   #12
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This is true.
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Old 06-08-2005, 04:33 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by VertigoGal
Someone needs to tell Bush that namedropping Bono doesnt count as African aid.
But it makes him look oh-so-hip

But remember "we've got a lot of big talkers" " What I like to say is my administration actually does what we say we're going to do"

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Old 06-08-2005, 04:57 AM   #14
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Rolling Stone article, I wonder what his response to this would be

An Epidemic Failure

Whatever happened to Bush's pledge to combat AIDS in Africa?

By GERALDINE SEALEY

When President Bush introduced his global AIDS initiative in January 2003 -- calling it "a work of mercy beyond all current international efforts" -- the plan certainly sounded promising. Bush pledged to spend $15 billion over five years to provide life-saving drugs to at least 2 million people with HIV, prevent 7 million new infections, and care for the sick and orphaned in fifteen countries. Most of the money, the president declared, would go to sub-Saharan Africa, home to the majority of the world's 40 million people living with HIV and AIDS. In the hardest-hit countries, nearly forty percent of the population is infected, and 12 million children across the region have lost at least one parent to the disease. "I believe God has called us into action," Bush declared during a trip to Uganda in 2003. "We are a great nation, we're a wealthy nation. We have a responsibility to help a neighbor in need, a brother and sister in crisis."

Dubbed the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the ambitious agenda provided the administration with some much-needed PR at the very moment it was preparing to defy international will by invading Iraq. But from the start, Bush has failed to deliver on the funding he promised -- and what little money he has provided is being used to promote a right-wing agenda that undercuts international efforts and puts millions of people in AIDS-ravaged countries at greater risk of infection and death.

Thanks to the president's foot-dragging, his "emergency plan" took its sweet time getting going. Bush requested only $2 billion for PEPFAR in its first year -- a billion less than one would expect. Then, when Congress decided to approve $400 million more than the president asked for, Bush unsuccessfully fought to block the increase. By the time the first relief funds arrived in Africa, nearly a year and a half had passed since the president announced his plan -- a costly delay in fighting an epidemic that claims 8,500 lives every day.

The administration insists it will meet its goal by 2008, saying it planned all along to gradually "ramp up" the program. But public-health experts say it looks increasingly unlikely that Bush will fulfill his promise -- and that even if he does, the money will fall far short of what is needed. According to UNAIDS, a partnership involving the World Bank and nine other international aid groups, the world needs to spend $20 billion a year by 2007 to wage an effective war against AIDS. What Bush proposes to spend annually, if funding remains constant, is less than half the $6.6 billion that America would be expected to contribute based on the size of its economy. "The fact that the United States can spend $300 billion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but cannot find a relative pittance to rescue the human condition in Africa -- there is something profoundly out of whack about that," says Stephen Lewis, the secretary-general's special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa.

The president's AIDS initiative, like his invasion of Iraq, is a go-it-alone affair that ignores the clear global consensus on how to fight AIDS. In launching his own initiative, Bush has shifted the bulk of U.S. money away from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, an international organization that has funded projects in 128 countries and is widely recognized as the best way to distribute AIDS funds. "Bush is starving the fund," says Dr. Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance. "It's despicable, frankly."

In addition to shortchanging international relief efforts, Bush is using AIDS funds to place religion over science, promoting abstinence and monogamy over more effective measures such as condoms and sex education. Before overseas groups can receive U.S. funding, for example, the Bush administration requires them to take a "loyalty oath" to condemn prostitution -- a provision that AIDS workers say further stigmatizes a population in need of HIV education and treatment. Brazil recently became the first country to rebel against the oath, announcing in May that it was rejecting $40 million in AIDS grants from the administration. "What we're doing is imposing a really misguided and ill-informed ideology on top of a public-health crisis," says Jodi Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Health and Gender Equity in Takoma Park, Maryland.

Bush's plan calls for an "ABC" approach to HIV prevention -- which stands for abstinence, "be faithful" and condom use -- but the administration is stressing the "A." In its first year, PEPFAR spent more than half of the $92 million earmarked to prevent sexual transmission on promoting abstinence programs. Studies show that such programs actually increase risk by discouraging contraceptive use. What's more, focusing on abstinence and monogamy ignores the reality facing young women and girls in Africa and other impoverished regions, who are often infected by wandering husbands or forced to have sex in exchange for food or shelter. Among fifteen- to twenty-four-year-olds in sub-Saharan Africa, studies show, more than three times as many young women are infected with HIV as young men.

"It's only a matter of time before the impact of abstinence-only programs can be measured in needless new HIV infections," says Jonathan Cohen, an HIV/AIDS researcher with Human Rights Watch.

The emphasis on morality is being driven by social conservatives, who have made spreading the gospel of abstinence and monogamy to Africans their primary mission. "Condoms promote promiscuity," says Derek Gordon of the evangelical Christian group Focus on the Family. "When you give a teen a condom, it gives them a license to go out and have sex." At a congressional hearing in April, Rep. Henry Hyde threatened to cut funding for organizations that promote condoms. "The best defense for preventing HIV transmission is practicing abstinence and being mutually faithful to a non-infected partner," Hyde declared.

Nowhere is the effort by conservative Republicans to turn back the clock on sex education more pronounced than in Uganda. By aggressively promoting condom use and sex education, Uganda has managed to cut its HIV rate from fifteen percent of the population to barely six percent during the past decade, making it Africa's biggest success story. But under pressure from the Bush administration, Uganda has taken a dangerous turn toward an abstinence-only approach. In April, the country's Ministry of Education banned the promotion and distribution of condoms in public schools. To make matters worse, the government has even engineered a nationwide shortage of condoms, issuing a recall of all state-supplied condoms and impounding boxes of condoms imported from other countries at the airport, claiming they need to be tested for quality control. As of this year, a top health official announced, the government will "be less involved in condom importation but more involved in awareness campaigns: abstinence and behavior change."

The Bush administration is supporting the shift by pumping $10 million into abstinence-only programs in Uganda. "One can put a dollar figure on the political pressure," says Cohen, who has closely studied the initiatives in Uganda. "Groups know the more they talk about abstinence, the more they'll get U.S. funding. And they fear that if they talk about condoms they'll lose funding -- or, worse, get kicked out of the country."

Ambassador Randall Tobias, who serves as Bush's global AIDS czar, issued written guidelines in January that spell out the administration's agenda. Groups that receive U.S. funding, Tobias warned, should not target youth with messages that present abstinence and condoms as "equally viable, alternative choices." Zeitz of Global AIDS Alliance has dubbed the document "Vomitus Maximus." He says, "I get physically ill when I read it. It has the biggest influence over how people are acting in the field." And under a proposal being pushed by Republicans on Capitol Hill, Tobias would be given the power to divert even more money toward promoting abstinence. "All Republicans can think about is making Africans abstinent and monogamous," says a Democratic staffer involved in the negotiations. "It's the crassest form of international social engineering you could imagine."

The anti-condom order issued by Tobias is already having a chilling effect among the groups most effective at combating AIDS. Population Services International, a major U.S. contractor with years of experience in HIV prevention, says it can no longer promote condoms to youth in Uganda, Zambia and Namibia because of PEPFAR rules. "That's worrisome," says PSI spokesman David Olson. "The evidence shows they're having sex. You can disapprove of that, but you can't deny it's happening."

What's more, conservatives are attacking PSI for promoting condoms -- a campaign that prevented an estimated 800,000 cases of HIV last year. Focus on the Family recently denounced PSI as a "shady" and "sordid" organization that is leading Africans into immorality by promoting condoms. And in April, conservative Republicans in the House invited Martin Ssempa, a Ugandan minister, to Capitol Hill, to berate PSI and other public-health groups for "promoting promiscuity and condoms" in his country. This year, for the first time, U.S. funding for PSI has been reduced.

Groups that support the president's religious agenda, meanwhile, are beginning to receive money that has traditionally been devoted to more experienced organizations. The Children's AIDS Fund, a well-connected conservative organization, received roughly $10 million last fall to promote abstinence-only programs overseas -- even though the group was deemed "not suitable for funding" by an expert review panel. FreshMinistries, a Florida organization with little experience in tackling AIDS, also received $10 million. "Bush has enacted policies that will redirect millions of dollars away from groups that have experience fighting HIV and AIDS and toward groups that don't but are members of his religious constituency," says Cohen.

In the end, say public-health experts, the administration's diversion of funds away from tried-and-true HIV prevention methods is more than a misguided experiment -- it's a deadly game of Russian roulette that could mark a calamitous turn in Africa's attempts to get a handle on the AIDS epidemic. As Bush fails to make good on his promises, Africans continue to contract HIV and die from AIDS in the same numbers as they did during the worst phases of the epidemic.

"People will look back and say, 'Why didn't they stop the dying?' " says Zeitz. "Why don't we show our compassionate selves? What kind of country are we?"
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Old 06-08-2005, 05:29 AM   #15
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crumbs..


Not enough, say aid agencies


LONDON, England -- Aid agencies and media in Britain criticized the $674 million aid pledged to Africa by President George W. Bush as inadequate.

Jonathan Glennie, a senior policy analyst from Christian Aid, said: "The sum of $674 million is a drop in the ocean compared to what Africa really needs."

"Once again the Bush administration seeks to promote a 'compassionate conservative' image by repackaging old money for Africa, and once again greater scrutiny reveals this image to be disingenuous," Salih Booker, executive director of the lobby group Africa Action, told Reuters.

Glennie told the UK's Press Association the deal on debt was "very good news for some of Africa's poorest countries and it is definitely a move in the right direction."

But, he said, it was "important to be clear about what is on the table and what isn't on the table."

Said Glennie: "The president's scheme currently only applies to 14 African countries leaving 34 other sub-Saharan African countries without any immediate prospect of debt relief."

He added: "Christian Aid is calling for debt relief for all of the world's poorest counties immediately and without economic policy conditions."

Glennie hoped that Bush would improve on the $674 million pledge when he attends the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, next month.

"Let us hope this is only his opening gambit and that he comes to Gleneagles with a realistic and proper offer that will begin to match some of the expectations in Tony Blair's Africa Commission."

ActionAid policy officer Romilly Greenhill told PA: "Africa deserves more than crumbs from the richest country's table.

"An extra $674 million geared solely towards famine relief will do nothing to tackle endemic poverty.

"In the UK we spend more than that every year on anti-aging creams, whilst in Africa average life expectancy is 46."

Blair said Britain had made "significant" progress towards a deal with the U.S. after his talks in Washington with Bush. (Full story)

Criticism by aid agencies were echoed by sections of the media in Britain.

Under a headline "The Tight House," the Blair-supporting Daily Mirror said Bush had "thrown crumbs" to the British prime minister over aid for the world's poorest nations.

The biggest-selling British paper, the tabloid Sun, said Bush had given Blair "an embarrassing public lecture" over African aid.

"Blair fights to save Africa aid deal after brush-off by Bush," said a headline in the Daily Mail.

"Tony Blair was last night struggling to save Britain's £27 billion deal on African aid after George Bush refused point-blank to support it."

Kevin Watkins, director of the Human Development Report Office at the U.N. Development Program, said that "on debt at least it sounds encouraging, it seems there has been some progress."

"It is also good news that more aid has been announced for Africa, but all of this stops an awful long way short of where we need to be," he told BBC radio.

Watkins agreed with Bush that corruption should be high on the agenda.

"There is no way of short-circuiting bad government. If you have a government that is corrupt, it clearly undermines efforts to reduce child deaths and reduce poverty.

"The problem is that often you have governments that are putting in place the plans that could make a difference, to get child deaths down, to get children into school, to give people an opportunity in life, and those plans are not financed."
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