Archive for the ‘AIDS’ Category

Obama’s Many “Number One” Priorities

December 3, 2008

Remember this simple catchphrase for priorities: “It’s the economy, stupid”?

Many think that should be the watchword for the new President Barack Obama.  But a confusing and dangerous miasma of foreign policy challenges lurks and lurches ahead. Without carefully applied wisdom, the United States could make matters worse on a wide range of international fronts and issues…

President-elect Barack Obama waits to get on his plane with ... 
President-elect Obama with his two Blackberris and some light reading.
(Jeff Haynes/Reuters)

Yesterday, two think tanks said the U.S. should move away from Iraq and work like the devil on the nuclear covetous Mr. Ahmadinejad and Iran.

The Brookings Institution and the Council on Foreign Relations said it is time to make peace in the Middle east as a “top priority.”  For the past six years under President George W. Bush, U.S. foreign policy in the region has been dominated by Iraq, said Martin Indyk, director of the Saban Center at Brookings, and Richard Haass, president of the Council.

Now the two agree the real problem is Iran.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives at the U.N. ... 
Nuclear aspirant: Mr. Ahmadinejad of Iran

One difficulty with this line of thinking is that, depending on the day, the think tank report one considers, and the newspaper headline, America faces stadium full of “top priorities.”

In Russia, Medvedev and Putin believe they should be tops on the Obama agenda.  Mr. Medvedev even threatened to deploy nuclear armed missiles in Eastern Europe unles and until the U.S. backed off of its missile defense ambitions with Poland and the Czech Republic.

And the Medvedev/Putin thrust cannot be overlooked: the two had no qualms about invading Georgia to get the attention of the U.S. and NATO: and it worked.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visits a ballistic missile ...
Russia’s Medvedev, in front of a startegic Russian missile, said his missile advances will overwhelm U.S. defensive measures in the next few years.
AFP/Pool/File/Dmitry Astakhov

Terrorism could be the number one priority.  Just yesterday the U.S. Director of National Security said in essence that the Pakistani Islamist radical militant group  Lashkar-e-Taiba  blew up Mubai, India, last week, killing nearly 200.

On the same day, yesterday, a group of wise men said the U.S. can expect to face a biological or chemical attack.

Is another 9-11 in America’s future?  And are we ready to defend or respond?

Pakistan itself might lay claim to Mr. Obama’s top priority.  Bankrupt, last weekend rioters ripped through the nations largest city, the Pakistani Army was pinned down by terrorists in the tribal areas, and the nuclear-armed government was under fire from all domestic and international sides over Mumbai.

A Pakistani newspaper wondered yesterday if the Army was about to break with the elected government of mr. Zardari and his Minister Mr. Gilani.

Then there are a few small matters with China, North Korea and you name it.

Oh and there are just a few domestic realities and campaign promises that need our next president’s attention: OPEC and oil, drill or not to drill, schools and education, tax relief, jobs and unemployment,health care, AIDS and the list goes on.

You won’t convince me for a second that the modern miracle of multi-tasking and several Blackberries will resolve this poisonous soup.

America needs to take a deep breath and close its eyes: too much Obama-mania could cause one not to think.

Mr. Obama, the United States, all Americans and all Western allies are in for some very hard work, sacrifices of an unknown nature, and difficult decisions.

Here’s a simple truth: The age of simplicity is over.

*****

From Wikipedia:

It’s the economy, stupid” was a phrase in American politics widely used during Bill Clinton‘s successful 1992 presidential campaign against George H.W. Bush. For a time, Bush was considered unbeatable because of foreign policy developments such as the end of the Cold War and the Persian Gulf war. The phrase, coined by Clinton campaign strategist James Carville, refers to the notion that Clinton was a better choice because Bush had not adequately addressed the economy, which had recently undergone a recession.

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India’s sex trade exposed

November 29, 2008

On the streets of Kamathipura young women stand ready and available, looking to lure their next customer. They pose, they smile, some wave. They look terribly young, their faces heavy with make-up. Many are dressed in Western clothes, others in traditional saris. In this red light district of Mumbai, they stand on the kerbside in front of grimy shacks containing the beds on which they do their work. There is the hustle and chaos of the traffic, the clogged roads, the constant noise. And there is terrible sadness too.

By Andrew Buncombe
The Independent (UK)

“I was tricked here. I was in love with a man and I came here with him. But when I got here, he sold me,” says Simla, a 42-year-old prostitute, originally from Nepal. She has two children and she saves what little she earns to send them to school, desperate that they do not follow her into the sex industry. “I was fooled into this. I will not allow my children to do it.”

Sex costs little on the frenetic streets of India’s business capital, where people come and go all the time. New arrivals wash up from India’s poor rural hinterland, desperate for work, any sort of work. Men – who are used to a repressed, conservative culture – come and stand and stare. There is a near-constant flow. A young woman might be able to charge a customer 100 rupees (£1.30) a time, but an older woman might only get 30 rupees (40 pence). When a woman demands that a customer use a condom, the price is usually lowered as a result.

These women and their customers are at the forefront of India’s Aids crisis. The country has up to three million people living with HIV, the third-highest total in the world. Experts say that the most important danger in the spread of HIV comes from the relatively high numbers of men who go to sex workers, who do not use condoms and whose jobs involve them travelling. As a result, both sex workers and India’s legions of horn-blaring truck drivers are among the groups most persistently targeted by health workers and educators trying to push the message of safe sex.

Related:
The Insidious Nature of Human Trafficking: Vietnam

Read the rest:
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love-sex/sex-industry/
indias-sex-trade-exposed-1036578.html

Massive Funding Failing to Curb AIDS Epidemic in Russia

November 21, 2008

Greater investment in combatting AIDS is failing to slow its spread in Russia, the director of the Russian federal AIDS centre Vadim Pokrovsky said Friday.

“The AIDS epidemic is currently rising in our country,” Pokrovsky told a press conference in Moscow.

“We have a large amount of funding that is going to increase still further — but the number of HIV-positive people is growing faster than our ability to care for them.”

Nearly 37,000 Russians have contracted the HIV virus that leads to AIDS since the beginning of 2008 — a figure that could increase to 50,000 by the end of the year, he said.

That would represent an 11.8 percent increase from 2007, when 44,713 new cases were recorded, according to official figures. In 2006 and 2005, the number of new cases totalled 39,589 and 35,861 respectively.

The increase comes despite the Russian government earmarking 7.1 billion rubles (206 million euros, 258 million dollars) to fight AIDS, Pokrovsky said.

Some 5.1 billion rubles has been allocated for anti-retroviral drugs to help 30,000 HIV cases, but Pokrovsky criticised the government’s “delay” in buying medication and “shortages” of drugs available.

A particular “weak point” of the government’s programme is the allocation of no more than 200 million rubles for AIDS prevention, he said.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which since 2004 has helped 10,000 people, most of them migrants, with HIV in Russia, will stop operating in the country at the end of 2010.

“Russia is no longer considered one of the countries where its people earn low salaries, so it can no longer benefit from Global Fund money,” he said.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081121/hl_afp/
russiahealthaids_081121185007

Bono: World has a stake in upcoming US election

October 30, 2008

U2 frontman and activist Bono said Wednesday that next week’s presidential election provides a great opportunity to “relaunch Brand USA” amid worldwide scrutiny.

By BECKY BOHRER, Associated Press Writer

The whole world has a stake in how things turn out,” the Ireland native told thousands of Starbucks Corp. employees in New Orleans for a leadership conference. The coffee company and Bono’s (RED) label, which helps raise money for the Global Fund that pays for AIDS programs in Africa, also announced a partnership Wednesday.

The singer talked about brands and what they stand for. In Starbucks’ case, he said some might see it as a place to hang out and get coffee — but that brand can also signify social responsibility.

The way the U.S. is perceived — “Brand USA” — also means something, he said. And it’s never been so closely watched, said Bono, who didn’t endorse either candidate for president.

Regardless of who wins, “it’s a great chance to relaunch Brand USA,” he said.

Bono has been a leading advocate for Africa, drawing attention to issues ranging from poverty and hunger to AIDS.

(RED) aims to partner with private companies to sell products such as coffee drinks, with some proceeds going to the Global Fund. More than $112 million has been raised in the two years since (RED) launched. (RED) helps pay for medication and other services for people in Africa suffering from AIDS and HIV, according to its Web site.

Zimbabwe’s Ruling Party Created Economic “Disaster,” Now Considers Defeat

April 1, 2008

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe was hailed then for his policies of racial reconciliation and development that brought education and health to millions denied those services under colonial rule. Zimbabwe’s economy thrived on exports of food, minerals and tobacco.The unraveling began when Mugabe ordered the often-violent seizures of white-owned commercial farms, ostensibly to return them to the landless black majority. Instead, Mugabe replaced a white elite with a black one, giving the farms to relatives, friends and cronies who allowed cultivated fields to be taken over by weeds.

Today, a third of the population depends on imported food handouts. Another third has fled the country as economic and political refugees and 80 percent is jobless. Life expectancy has fallen from 60 to 35 years and shortages of food, medicine, water, electricity and fuel are chronic.

Today the ruling party may be facing ouster by the voters, if the election is honest….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080401/ap_on_re_af/zimbabwe_elections;_
ylt=ArW7x7Pw7Mv.GJWLARZdy9es0NUE

It’s Not Compassion — It’s Wright-Wing Racism

March 22, 2008

By Michael Reagan
March 20, 2008
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Most of the media and their fellow liberals were positively giddy over Barack Obama’s speech Tuesday, all but comparing it to the Sermon on the Mount.

I won’t deny it was a masterful piece of oratory — the man can be spellbinding — but when you stop to consider what Sen. Obama was really doing up there on the podium, invoking the specter of slavery and Jim Crow and the era of “whites only,” it becomes clear that it was a con job designed to make the voters as giddy as he knew his worshippers in the submissive media would be.

The speech was meant to be an explanation and expiation of his guilt for his years of remaining mute in the face of the outrageous anti-Americanism spewed by his pastor and bosom buddy, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Until Tuesday, Barack Obama (you can’t use his middle name, which has now become the “H-word,” allegedly a code word for anti-Muslim rhetoric) had steadfastly denied he ever heard his friend and pastor make his hateful remarks. In the speech, however, he just kind of mentioned that… well, yes … he guesses he was aware of the Reverend Wright’s offensive rhetoric after all. Mea Minima Culpa.

He then launched into a defense of his friendship with the man he credited for bringing him to Christianity, and helping to form his social and political philosophy and set him on the path to a life of public service. Admirably, while denouncing Wright’s extremism, he refused to denounce the man himself.

Nobody expected him to declare Wright anathema and cast him into the outer darkness where there is weeping and wailing and the gnashing of teeth — one simply doesn’t do to that sort of thing to a longtime friend, benefactor and mentor even if he has been shown to have slipped the rails time after time.

What was not expected was Barack H. Obama’s use of a litany of America’s past racist offenses to justify not only Wright’s blatant hatred of white America but his suggestion that it was a sentiment shared by most African Americans. And that is simply not true.

Nor was it true, as Obama charged, that the Reagan coalition was created out of white resentment for affirmative action or forced busing.

He charged that “anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime… talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.”

Poppycock! These are not only outright falsehoods, but echoes of what Obama learned at the feet of Jeremiah Wright and now preaches as his own beliefs. He learned his lessons well.

When he suggested that my father’s coalition was based on anger over affirmative action and welfare he was peddling a blatant falsehood as egregious in its falsity as Wright’s charge that whites created AIDS to wipe out the black population.

Read the rest:
http://www.gopusa.com/commentary/mreagan/2008/mr_03201.shtml

Worsening polls reveal Obama’s pastor problem

March 20, 2008
By Jitendra Joshi

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Democrat Barack Obama suffered in the polls Thursday after a much-acclaimed speech on race that, pundits said, had failed to defuse voters’ anger over rage-filled sermons by his former pastor.

US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) ...
US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) speaks to supporters during a campaign stop at the University of Charleston in Charleston, West Virginia, March 20, 2008.REUTER/John Sommers II (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA)

Waging an acrimonious battle against Hillary Clinton for the Democrats’ White House nomination, Obama confessed to being bruised by the controversy surrounding his longtime Chicago preacher, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

“In some ways this controversy has actually shaken me up a little bit and gotten me back into remembering that, you know, the odds of me getting elected have always been lower than some of the other conventional candidates,” the Illinois senator told CNN in an interview that aired late Wednesday.

“As a practical matter, in terms of how this plays out demographically, I can’t tell you. And the speech I gave yesterday (Tuesday) obviously was not crafted to hit a particular demographic,” he said.

Obama, the first African-American with a viable shot at the presidency, used his landmark address on race and politics to try to blunt the Wright controversy but also to elevate the debate to a higher plane.

On endless television replays of his sermons, Wright has been shown assailing US and Israeli “terrorism,” calling on blacks to sing “God damn America,” and alleging that AIDS in Africa was spread by the US government.

Many conservative commentators have fastened on Obama’s refusal to disown Wright….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080320/ts_alt_afp/
usvoteobama_080320160022

UN Expert Critical of India, Cambodia, Thailand For Sex Tourism, Endangering Children

March 15, 2008

GENEVA (AFP) – India, Cambodia and Thailand are not doing enough to protect children against the risks associated with sex tourism for fear of damaging their economies, a UN human rights expert charged on Friday.

Sex workers wait for clients in front of bars in Patpong street ...
Sex workers wait for clients in front of bars in Patpong street in central Bangkok in 2006. India, Cambodia and Thailand are not doing enough to protect children against the risks associated with sex tourism for fear of damaging their economies, a UN human rights expert charged on Friday.
(AFP/File/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)

Juan Miguel Petit, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of children, said authorities in these countries are often not willing to tackle the issue of children’s sexual exploitation for tourists’ benefit.

“Sometimes there are big pressures on governments, explicitly or implicitly, when there are enormous touristic activities going on, making millions of dollars,” he told journalists.

“Some interests see the limitation on the sexual market as a limitation for their earning of money,” he added.

He denounced this “insane tourism that puts at risk the lives of hundreds and hundreds of children,” saying it was against the public interest in such countries.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080314/wl_asia_afp/unrightschildsex
tourismasia_080314181257

Bush cited for aid to Africa

February 17, 2008

By Jon Ward
The Washington Times
February 17, 2008

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania — Africans showered President Bush with praise yesterday for the billions of U.S. dollars spent to help fight disease and poverty, while administration officials threatened sanctions against Kenya if its president does not compromise in that nation’s political crisis.
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Mr. Bush, who will send Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to meet tomorrow with leaders in Kenya, said during his first stop, in the small West African nation of Benin, that the U.S. desires “that there be no violence, that there be a power-sharing agreement that will help [Kenya] resolve its difficulties.”
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A Bush administration official said on the condition of anonymity yesterday that Miss Rice would tell Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki that continued U.S. support for his regime is contingent on whether he agrees to a power-sharing arrangement.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080217/NATION/723980080/1001

Provinces Undermine Beijing’s Goals on AIDS

September 19, 2007

 By Maureen Fan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, September 19, 2007; Page A16

MIANCHI, China — Twice a week, just after school lets out in this small county in Henan province, a 13-year-old girl with a short bob and wide smile holds her parents’ hands and walks two blocks down the street into the harsh fluorescent light of an emergency medical station.

There, she pulls back the waistband of her pants while a nurse dabs disinfectant, prepares a syringe and gives the girl’s right buttock a quick jab. “It doesn’t hurt,” the girl said after a recent visit. “I’m used to it.”

(The article is about how the provinces in China are somewhat behind in AIDS treatment and doctors have, in the past, refused to treat or been reluctant to treat AIDS.)

Read the rest at:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/18/AR2007091802083.html