Friday, July 08, 2005

The Bastards Did it Again

First off, respect to our British friends for being so damned plucky in the face of horror and adversity. Lauren said it best yesterday in her post - the Brits stiff-upper-lip it like no one else. And thanks to WNYC for letting the BBC World Service stay on the air longer than usual so that we could get our news from the best possible source.

I am naturally upset and concerned about what happened yesterday. But unlike September 11th, or even the Madrid train bombings, I found myself with an entirely different, and somewhat disturbing thought. "Great. Africa finally starts to get some attention and that's going to end now. It'll be back to 24-7 War on Terror." And then, of course, el presidente's going to do more fear-mongering and sabre rattling. It'll be great.

I don't mean to be glib, or write off what happened in London, or the injuries and loss of life, as if they do not matter or should not be taken very seriously. That being said, the statistics show that 30,000 children die every single day in the poorest countries from the effects of preventable illness and a grinding poverty the likes of which we could never know. 6,300 Africans die from AIDS every day. Despite that, the New York Times doesn't even have a story on the G-8's decision on Africa. CNN and MSNBC both have articles underneath all the London coverage. And even more disturbing to me - CNN's poll asks what the best method is to combat global terrorism. The majority (37%) say "military action." Military action where exactly? But that's for another post and another day.

As I listened to BBC World Service this morning, I was surprised to hear a very long story, complete with interviews, about the G-8's decision to increase aid to $50 billion in Africa. Despite the increase, proponents of the campaign to end African poverty were disappointed - there were no changes in the trade agreements that African nations had hoped for.

And Tony Blair's hope that he could get the group of eight to promise 0.7% of their national incomes by 2015 also fell by the wayside, as the U.S. (which already gives less of a percentage than any of the other countries) dug in its heals and refused. It's also our fault, along with France's Jacques Chirac (who's clearly having a stellar week of douchiness), that the crippling trade subsidies that prevent developing nations from competing were not lifted or changed at all.

Nicholas Kristof, a real cheerleader for our president when it comes to Africa, wrote an op-ed this week that read like a love letter. But he was quick to point out that more needs to be done. Clearly, Africa can forget about getting any more help anytime soon.

So now all eyes are back on the terrorists. Just like they wanted.

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