One million saved – 3×5 Glorious Failure
Posted on June 30th, 2005
The WHO announced in a press release on 29 June 2005, that it was unlikely to meet the target it set itself of treating three million people by the end of 2005. So it is official..3×5 will not succeed… And let the flood of stories begin. Hands up any of you who actually believed the target would be met? Anyone? Not me…
3×5 has failed to meet it’s target roared the global headlines. Cue the avalanche of stories trumpeting this fact…with some kind of triumphant crowing for the WHO bashers.. I don’t know why, they are acting all knowing… it was all too evident from the beginning that the target would not be achieved.
I’ll not join the WHO bashers, instead I proclaim “Long live glorious failure”. I actually read the report before writing this piece, and a very brave piece it is. Acknowledging the fact they would not meet the target, WHO/UNAIDS nonetheless started off on a very positive note pointing out the numbers of people on treatment has gone up to 1 million; still way short of the 3 million in need, but almost double what it was last year.
At long last a move in the right direction…..at long last some kind of “success” to report in the fight against AIDS. Curiously this story has cheered me up no end…if this is failure we need more of it…a million people on treatment is a million lives saved
Rock stars letting politicians off the hook…
Posted on June 29th, 2005
The recent metamorphosis of entertainment ‘stars’ into , unofficial(unelected) spokespersons for development has been much in the news lately…I promised to stop writing about Live8 (or did I), but it is almost unavoidable, given the way the number of concerts is mushrooming all over the place…Oh alright it’s also about Live8 (obliquely) because of the rise of the global superstar as self appointed crusaders…I just can’t get away from them… The BBC online reported that ..”…in an article “Why Africa needs U2″, Bono declared: “I represent a lot of people [in Africa] who have no voice at all… They haven’t asked me to represent them. It’s cheeky but I hope they’re glad I do….”
At first I was taken aback and truly amazed..thanks Bono…thanks for representing me (a Ugandan)…because I have no voice…such noble sentiments arouse in me such strong emotions I’m almost robbed for words, but knowing you (Bono) are now speaking for me…I’m so honoured…I’ll just have to continue as best I can…
I have a problem with this whole phenomenon. I’m not saying what they are doing or trying to do is totally wrong, in some cases it is actually useful…it’s the way it’s being done… I know Bono and Geldof mean well…but just who do think they are? Was Geldof the best person qualified person to be on the Commission For Africa because he held one fund raising event 20 years ago? Why not me, or maybe a farmer from Burkina Faso… remember this Commission boasted having 9 out of 17 African’s on the Panel…
The danger of course is that in declaring an event such as Live8 a success by attracting hundreds of thousands of fans to concerts will allow politicians to take credit for the success by association, and even worse make claims..to popular acclaim…that this is an endorsement of their policies even when they haven’t done very much… …in essence letting them off the hook.
This is already happening…in the cynical world today appearing to “do good” is worth valuable political capital…appearing compassionate can do wonders in the polls. So one need not wonder why Bob Geldoff was appointed (anointed) to the Commission on Africa. Tony Blair is a shrewd, extremely adept politician. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the suggestion of Live8 came from Downing Street, whispered in Bob’s ear as an aside at some tea drinking exercise…Bob Geldof many not care about politics, but politicians certainly do…
How much are we to trust the motives of the politicians, as well meaning as they seem? As two writers from Red Pepper noted “…Our response to the Africa Commission is to first point out that the report hasn’t been circulated in African civil society, and there has been almost zero input from ordinary people. The commissioners are all attached to capitalist-promoting institutions and are unrepresentative. …We also have no faith in the G8 countries helping us; they, their multinationals and their allies in African governments have been raping and plundering our continent for centuries. We question the underlying assumption of the ‘Blair Commission’ report: that lack of real development comes from lack of economic growth. There has been an increase in growth in the past 30 years but it has not benefited the people on the ground….” An Alternative African view
So before we all start cheering too loudly and signing on the dotted line, remember to read the fine print. The initial euphoria of the announcements for the so called $40 billion debt forgiveness has already turned to dismay as people read the conditions attached. And so called Aid hasn’t been much better; for all those who ask what is happening to the money being donated to Africa and elsewhere in the third world, all those who use corruption in Africa as an excuse for failures of funding should read the report on Phantom AID… And just this week another report came out to contradict George Bush’s claim that US aid to Africa had tripled when in fact it had gone up by only half…the truth is in short supply, much as money is.
By associating so closely with the politicians “naïve” rock stars such as Bono and Geldoff lay themselves open to charges of selling out and becoming official mouth pieces of the powers that be…note I put “naïve” in quotes because personally for all their protestations I believe Geldoff and Bono is more than are more than intelligent enough to know when they are being used…. Or perhaps they are willing participants… Bono reportedly “…called on other poor countries to meet the economic conditions that had led to the HIPC countries being relieved of debt: ‘If the other countries are prepared to do the same, they will also benefit’ … Bob Geldof apparently called for the ‘complete package demanded by the Commission on Africa’. So what does that make them? And what does this mean for Live8….
The real tragedy is of course for all the goodwill that is going to be wasted…the goodwill that is from all the “punters”, the protestors, the people who genuinely want to help…because when all is said and done they’ll be left asking, what was it all for? And the cynics like me on the sidelines will be saying it was just a huge PR exercise…a massive “spin offensive” spearheaded by rock stars … to mask the real intentions… The new scramble for Africa’s resources… Everyone knows that Africa is rich in resources, and has always been…for minerals, wildlife, tourism and of course people (the brain drain, remember that…with the worlds resources being rapidly drained elsewhere, that’s why the G8 is turning again to Africa…Africa as the New Black
If you think I’m being paranoid, I’m not alone in such views. The are many others with similar views…Lucy Michaels of Corporate Watch writing on Our Corporate Interest: “how the G8 summit was spiked by big business before it had even begun..” said “Business is pleased with the proposals of Our Common Interest, the report of Blair’s Commission for Africa. Haiko Alfeld, director of the group ‘Africa at the World Economic Forum’, put it this way: ‘Business has an enormous interest if $25bn per year is to flow into Africa… clearly, that will unleash enormous potential and business opportunities.’ The $25bn is a reference to addition annual aid the commission recommends rich countries give to Africa by 2010, with the proviso that most of it is used to build necessary infrastructure to liberalise Africa’s economies and create an environment conducive to private investment….”..it’s really about money…getting payback from Africa…
An article in the Guardian entitled (of course) Revealed: the new scramble for Africa wrote “…A new “scramble for Africa” is taking place among the world’s big powers, who are tapping into the continent for its oil and diamonds…. But while sub-Saharan Africa is the object of the west’s charitable concern, billions of pounds’ worth of natural resources are being removed from it….”
Of course investment in Africa is not a bad thing, when it is for the welfare of the people. But this has not been the case in the past and I fear the same exploitation of the African continent is about to happen again.. or continue at an even more ferocious pace…so it’s business as usual..what’s new..that’s what multi-national corporations do. No the worst thing about all of this is the willing participation of rock stars such as Bono (probably seeking a knight hood) and Geldoff (seeking saint hood) in the whole sorry enterprise…a massive “spin offensive” spearheaded by rock stars…this is what the world come to…
Other Live8 / G8 related blogs by me:
Hunger and GM Food (Reprise)
Posted on June 28th, 2005
Against the background of a slowly worsening food situation in Africa, the WHO recently made a statement on GM food, quoth they “New, genetically modified (GM) foods can contribute to enhancing human health and development, the World Health Organization (WHO) concludes in a new report on GM foods, issued today. However the report also stresses the need for continued safety assessments on GM before they are marketed, to prevent risks to both human health and the environment.”
This statement follows on the heels of claims by GM sceptics that “…genetically engineered maize planted in Canada and the United States, and sold in both markets, had an adverse affect on rats, according to secret Monsanto research released by a German court this week…The 2002 report found that rats fed genetically engineered (GE) maize called MON 863 for 90 days ended up with malformed kidneys and unusually high levels of white blood cells. Monsanto says the ”alleged” abnormalities in the rats were not the result of eating MON 863….”Monsanto allegedly tried to suppress the research….GM Sceptics Smell a Rat
Elswhere, Tewolde Berhan, chief of Ethiopia’s Environment Agency and a formidable opponent of GM foods, thinks organic farming could be the solution to Ethiopia’s famines saying that “…. that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) remove control from local farmers. He speaks for a growing number who believe that Africa should return to natural, sustainable methods of agriculture better suited to its people and environment…” Hungry for an alternative
The GM debate is like an iceberg 9/10ths of it is below the surface, simmering away, with opponents and supporters angrily staking out their positions. Depending on which side you are GM foods are going to save the world or be the death of us all. Franken-Rat is just the beginning…
But if you’re wondering why I called this Hunger and GM food (reprise)…then read what I wrote a year ago almost to the day:
“(6/19/2004 8:32:09 AM) – Hunger and food security regularly feature in the news headlines. A recent story caught my interest – NGOs Blast FAO Position On GM Food, Hunger Issues. Apparently for some reason the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organisation)has come out in support of GM food as “…a technological ‘fix’ of crops critical to the food security of marginalized peoples”…. (Read Full)…
Puts the WHO statement in a wholly different context doesn’t it….Plus ca change…
Posted on June 27th, 2005
Ever wonder what’s on my mind? Maybe not, but it’s my blog and I’ll blog if I want to…Anyway here’s stories I may or may not be blogging about in the near future… you’re only as good as your last blog, so I thought I’d get these in before they went stale…
1. Investing in looting Africa…
Africa lauded as good for investment, perhaps the headline should have added it is also good for looting. To listen to the CEO’s and heads of multinational corporations, the only reason they are in Africa is to develop Africa…yeah I believe it..
2. Brown approves vat for Live8
Alright, just one more crack at Live8, allow me this please….but just to show how the Church of St Tony led by arch rival new evangelist Archbishop Gordon Brown protects its own.. GB waived vat on BishBob’s Live8 concert. Apparently BishBob couldn’t be bothered to register as a charity…hmmm isn’t Live8 supposed to be about charity…
WATER: war against terrorism
4. Good news mixed with bad news
Nutrition and Food security experts found that AIDS is not the cause of the food scarcity in Southern Africa….this is actually good news paradoxically because it means something can be done about it unlike AIDS a battle we seem to be losing…
5. The Wolf at the Door…
Wolfwitz took the helm of the World Bank this week pledging increased focus on Africa…Dubya said he does not support increased funding or support for Africa… so what should one expect from this.. Wolfwoitz is a Bush man…so should one say Whitehouse man speak with forked tongue? Either way it’s not good for Africa….. between Blair, Bush and Wolfowitz, it seems these days only the most economical with the truth are championing Africa’s cause…
6. Is it time to head for the hills?
The Marburg virus epidemic exploded onto the headlines and then faded away…but there’s another potential; outbreak that could dwarf it…for the last few months experts have been warning about the potential of a flu outbreak….now the WHO has got in the act….actually to be sure WHO experts have been warning us for months…but so convinced are they. The WHO has taken steps to start stockpiling millions and millions of doses of an experimental antiviral drug to save at least some few of humanity should this biological calamity strike…is it time to head for the hills to some really remote region? The deepest darkest part of Africa doesn’t work…there’s red plague in them parts! Perhaps the desert…Where would one be safe?
7. HIV in India
So the war on HIV/AID statistics is not confined to African nations alone…why do officials do it? Actually it is not the statisticians or analyst who lie, it is usually the bosses, the policy makes who force them to lie…There’s a saying “ Lies, damned lies and statistics…” To this should have been added politicians.. I should know having been more than once asked to interpret figures – to put it in a kind way – some would have called it massaging and here I used the MS Word Thesaurus English (U.S.) to find terms for what I was requested (ordered to do): distorting, deform, twist, warp, alter, misrepresent, interfere with, garble, change, falsify….. never once was I asked to straighten (atonym) any of the views…
Blogging is fun…I love it…it’s some kind of way to getting obscure fame…if your blog is good anonymous strangers will read it… but what happens when something happens to the blogger, some unfortunate demise and they die, become kaput….are no longer part of this world? Sometimes such thoughts come to me as I lie in my bed.. what will happen to Medilinks after I’m gone? The Bill Gates Foundation will fund vaccines but does not think it is worthwhile to fund websites like mine…actually I don’t know if that’s really true cos I haven’t asked him, but some of the people I’ve asked to help me keep this going said just that, and they do the same sort of thing (as the Gates Foundation I mean)…that’s a good thing I think….anyway when I started Medilinks it was because I felt there was a gap in the web world…there were no Africans visible on the web…and no African health.. so I just did it…and four or five year later… there are still almost no Africans….actually what I was really talking about was African commentary, the sort of discussions one would have in a “kafunda” at Kabalalgala near Muyenga or Lugogo, or a booker in Ibadan, or a pub in Brixton..the sometimes frank, considered view of Africans about the world…and we are not shy…except on the web….so I started blogging and I’m hooked….I don’t who reads it…and I confess I don’t care…not absolutely sure…but I don’t care enough to stop… however I’d like the site to continue after I’m gone…i.e. in the next five decades…but who’ll do it? Do bloggers ever think about such? I wonder…..
drug Induced Confusion
Posted on June 22nd, 2005
There seems to be some fog of confusion in the AIDS world again…what’s new I hear you mutter….A dispute over generics is stalling treatment efforts in Africa… (I had to read this story twice just to be sure I was getting this right).. African nations are refusing to accept US Food and Drug Administration approval of generic AIDS drugs, delaying the delivery of the less costly medicine to patients, according to US, UN, African, and drug company officials….What strange brew of policy and politics has been cooked up this time? Maybe it’s just me, but have the AIDS czars been od’ing on their rhetoric…certainly it’s not their beliefs or principles…
For once the US is taking the moral high ground claiming that the lack of coordination between parallel US and UN drug regulators, is frustrating US efforts to rapidly expand treatment in regions hardest-hit by the deadly virus. Let’s not mention the US administrations long held intransigence over generics…their foot dragging on the WTO vis a vis patents…
Some blame the US for the current problems… “If US officials ”started a regulatory system that everyone could have agreed to more than a year ago, we would have been much farther along,” said Paul Zeitz….
No one is coming out of this looking any good…the WHO have suffered drug induced confusion in the recent past when they delisted 18 drugs that previously had been approved. Dr. Mark Dybul, deputy coordinator of the US global AIDS program lamented on the irony of the US being blamed in the past for delaying procurement of drugs by going through a stringent regulator before we make the drugs available. One should note this takes place against the backdrop of previous rows involving big pharma, it’s cosy relationship with the FDA, even cosier relationship with the US government and adversarial position to generics and all who are in support of generics.
This whole about turn on generics now begins to make sense…a trojan horse by big pharma….with the FDA already in their pocket, making it the defacto (worldwide) regulator on all ARV’s would be the first step in their plan to have all generics delisted and banned for all time…am I being to paranoid….maybe…maybe not…The unseemly crowing of US officials given the administrations former stance leaves a bad taste in the mouth, but they are not alone…just what are all these officials thinking?
So this is the situation as it stands: FDA-approved generic ARVs are not (yet) WHO pre-qualified. USA did not recognize WHO pre-qualification as stringent enough to certify the quality of ARVs….now African countries do not recognize the FDA registration but recognize WHO…African countries want to have the drugs registered in their own countries, but this registration is not enough to convince the GFATM to pay for them, as it considers African Drug Regulatory Authorities as “not stringent” enough….
How has such an extraordinary situation arisen? It is bureaucracy run amok… the officials should be ashamed of themselves. In an ideal world heads would roll, but of course no one is answerable. While everyone is making claim or counter claim..millions wait for life saving treatment…the only ones suffering are those with infected with HIV/AIDS who will just die silently…..
Posted on June 20th, 2005
Cornered!: A threatening or embarrassing position from which escape is difficult: “got myself into a corner by boasting.” A stratagem for catching or tricking an unwary person.
A confining or undesirable circumstance from which escape or relief is difficult: fell into poverty’s trap.
Example: Blair flies to US and corners Bush who pledges six hundred million dollars for Africa…..
Slippery customer: A person(s) from whom it is difficult to get anything definite or fixed is a slippery customer. Also one who manages a Houdini like escape when cornered (see above)…
Phantom Pledge: Funds pledged by one backed into a corner (see cornered). These are usually monies that are part of a Phantom Aid package, and are related to money that has already been donated, or was previously pledged often more than once….
Phantom Aid: International Donations paid by rich countries to themselves as a reward for supporting poor countries….
“Gotcha!” was the infamous news headline by that British Tabloid that came to typify xenophobic, bloody-minded, triumphalist press coverage in the parlance of a Guardian. News columnist. Africa gets nothing, and the press coverage is pretty much the same.
Rat: Any of various long-tailed rodents resembling mice but larger, especially one of the genus Rattus. Slang: To betray one’s associates by giving information: ratted on his best friend to the police
Rats deserting a sinking ship: Artists performing at Live8 who will fade away as soon as the G8 summit is over…
Day of the African Child.
Posted on June 16th, 2005
June 16th is the Day of the African Child, and Unicef have dedicated it Africa’s forgotten emergencies. “Midway through the year some of Africa’s most intractable emergencies are seriously under funded. Only two out of ten countries with recurring emergencies are on track to reach UNICEF funding targets, but most will barely make it half way…. As G8 prepare to meet, UNICEF urges rich nations to increase funding to silent emergencies…
Live8 as some may know is purportedly an event setup to also urge the G8 nations to increase their funding… Alright this is the last time (I promise) I’ll write about Live8….. I just visited their site and the first thing it says tells you “Every single day, 30,000 children die, needlessly, of extreme poverty….” Further down the page it goes on to tell you “We don’t want your money – we want you!”… The Live8 line up will made up of millionaire musicians… there will be 5 concerts at various venues around the world attended by tens of thousands…2.5 million people signed on for a lottery to purchase tickets.
The organizers, performers and people attending Live8 should consider this…On the day that Live8 concerts are held, more than 3000 African children will die of malaria… a million people a year die of malaria, 90% in Africa, 90% of them children… a bed net that could save a life costs $5.00 per year….if all the people attending Live8, all the performers and organizers, all the people who signed up for the lottery reached in to their pockets and instead of just purchasing concert tickets gave 1-2 dollars each on that day, they could collect enough money to buy a million bed nets and save hundreds of thousand of lives….wouldn’t that be something to behold..
Live8 is a noble gesture, but nothing more than that if it only consist of singing, chanting, dancing…the organisers may say to people we don’t want your money…but I know some people who do…African children…Please remember them.
No more Live8
Posted on June 15th, 2005
Dear Live8er, I pledge (false) not to write another word about Live8. Since Live8 was announced, I’ve been writing about it as if anyone cared…they don’t at least not in Africa…Of 8 African newspapers I perused today, not one mentioned Live8. I realize of course that Africans have better things to do, getting on with life etc… but you’d think that they’d at least acknowledge a gathering of faded rockers in far off Europe singing in honor of their poverty…alas African’s care not a whit…not about eBay and the electronic pimps… not about the Live8 guitar (logo?)in the shape of Africa and here I had to put my fist in my mouth, I was so overcome with emotion…not about Boat8 or was it Sail8… none of it…I realize now that I was sucked into the heady promise of being part of a glorious failure and who wouldn’t want to be part of that…Apparently not Africans, who naturally are not being represented by anyone at Live8, at least not during daylight…I thought it really meant something that the line-up was all white…all those critics just don’t get it…it’s because they care…unfortunately no one else does…so I’m packing it in…no more links to Live8 stories…in fact I’m going to auction off all Live8 related links…not on eBay, I may bring down the wrath of Sir Bob and we don’t want that….contact me here for all my Live8 links (at a reasonable price and all proceeds to be donated)…to the rest of you a thousand apologies for wasting so much time and promise to concentrate on more important stuff…
Live8, Pimping Aid
Posted on June 15th, 2005
Live8 was supposed to be about African poverty, though recent headlines could make you think otherwise. “Electronic pimp!” thundered BishBob at eBay. Pimping, eBay… was this something to do with trafficking and auctions of people, livestock, drugs? And what did it have to do with Africa? It turns out that Bishbob was taking issue with a few of the million punters supposedly trying to cash in on their Live8 tickets by auctioning them on eBay….
Bishbob not keen to see anyone profit from Live8 other than himself and his fellow performers urged supporters to put to make “impossible” bids of £300m to stop the tickets being sold…BishBob supporters responded by making bids of $10 million plus to a total of $ 1 billion. eBay withdrew the tickets and banned the bidders forever.
So as Live8 descends into farce, I’ll ask again BishBob what’s it all about eh? I thought it wasn’t about money, so why do you care if people are trying to profiteer from it? And excuse me why go after eBay and not the actual ticket sellers….In the meantime more and more people including “musicians, teachers, black rights campaigners, police and an international aid charity” are “questioning the logic” of Live8 (myself included)…the latest being Damon Albarn frontman of Blur.
As an event Live8 is becoming a spectacle or a circus, I’m not sure which…it’s certainly getting headlines, but Africa is only being mentioned peripherally…prompting Peter Hitchens to write in the Mail on Sunday “Once again, the hungry, terrorised, children of Africa are pooling their efforts to help others…they will perform on our TV screens to help rescue the sagging reputations of that needy and deprived group of balding, clapped-out rock stars who still long for the crowds that once listened to them.”
All that’s left is for BishBob to take a leaf from the German town of Augsburg which decided the best way to give the goods towns folk a taste of Africa was to hold a festival in the local zoo between the baboons and the zebras . In the same vein Black performers could perform “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” ….All together now
In the jungle, the mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
In the jungle, the mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
Posted on June 9th, 2005
Ousmane Sembène, the Senegalese-born ‘father of African cinema’ in a Geldof expects ‘glorious failure’…Perhaps Bob’s suffering from some form of pre-senile dementia or smoking his trousers….which leads me to ask what ‘s the point BishBob? What’s it all for eh? For those of you who are new to this blog, BishBob is Sir Bob Geldof… Bishop in the Church of St Tony….
Meanwhile in Brussels, another would be cleric in the Church Of St Tony, “Poverty Apostle” Bono was quoted as saying “he was offended by the “stupidity” of the situation in Africa…..This is not wide-eyed, misty-eyed Irish nonsense – these are achievable goals. I am excited by that. That is what turns me on.” Yeah, tell it to the leprechauns playing the fiddles and violins in the background… time to dance for joy, perhaps a jig of some sort… as we travel the road to Gleaneagles … what will one do when G8 is over?..
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