Saturday, June 04, 2005

Thanks for nothing Clare Short: Most Britons think African aid is wasted: poll

Right now, my heart goes out to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and those on the UK's Commission for Africa. Trying to help Africa must seem like climbing the sheer face of the Eiger with a sack of rocks on your back. Africa sure is a lot of teeth gritting hard work for a great many people.

Why do we even care work so hard for Africa? If the situation were reversed, they wouldn't life a finger for us. They resent us and hark back to hundreds of years ago, blaming anyone else but themselves. If they go back any further looking for excuses, they may as well start blaming the Vikings. They come across as not appreciating help they get from the West. In fact they make clear their resentment at being told to get their house in order when it comes to corruption and spending their wealth on wars. This, I believe, is why many people in the West could be starting to tire of the decades of effort and billions of dollars that have gone into helping Africa.

It's not a matter of us doing it out of the goodness of our hearts. Or thinking we need to tell them what to do for their own good. It is in the whole world's interest that Africa - like an unruly, costly neighbour - sorts itself once and for all. We won't put up with it any longer. Africa has had plenty of time and opportunities.

Many people in the West must be sick of hearing about poverty in Africa while nothing much changes. Take Live Aid and Ethiopia 20 years ago as an example. Since that time, Asian countries like Singapore have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and worked extremely hard to make a living and fit in with the rest of the world. Millions of Africans leave Africa and come to the West to get an education and work but don't return home, leaving millions of Africans living in the dark ages without an education to pass on or the means to feed and raise healthy families. Now, we hear how many Africans and their fat cat leaders are sick of hearing the West portraying them as poor and in need. Today, I feel like telling them all where to get off and asking them why they think we should care.

The next post here below features a report that quotes the head of the African Union as saying that in 27 years time, the population of Africa will double. At least they are getting down to the maths. If Africa is not educated and sorted out by then it may become unmanageable.

Maybe the time has come for Africans and Arabs to get off their lazy irresponsible backsides and start convincing us here in the West why sending billions of hard earned taxpayers' money to Africa and risking the lives of international aid workers is worthwhile.

Maybe they ought to explain why we should care when they allow Africa's wealth to be spent on creating wars and destruction to maintain a handful of corrupt thugs who are adept at suppressing and culling millions of human beings. I include the word Arabs here because the regime in Khartoum are Arab and their militia are Arab [why Sudan is classed as an African and not Arab country is beyond me - it falls under the Arab League and African Union. The Sudan has been colonised by the Arabs for a long time. Surely it has an identity crisis. Maybe southern Sudan will have to break away from Arab Sudan]:

Here is a copy of an Agence France-Presse report from London June 4, 2005 via

The vast majority of Britons believe that sending billions of dollars in aid to Africa would be a waste of money at a time when their government is proposing such a plan, a poll showed Saturday.

The YouGov survey conducted for The Daily Telegraph newspaper showed that 83 percent of those questioned lacked confidence that additional aid would be well spent.

Some 79 percent of respondents thought African governments were responsible for their continent's plight, while 51 percent cited civil wars as a factor which had contributed to the problems of Africa.

The poll was conducted as Prime Minister Tony Blair tries to secure US support for his government's plan to ease poverty in Africa he wants to present at the G8 summit of leading industrial nations in Scotland next month.

Washington has been lukewarm to Blair's proposals calling for doubling aid with an extra 25 billion dollars (20 billion euros) annually until 2010 and then, following a review, an extra 50 billion dollars per year.

The G8 groups Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.
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Blair calls for action on crises in Africa

Following report source: Money Correspondent:

British Prime Minister Tony Blair - bedeviled by Iraq and in search of a more positive legacy - departed Ethiopia late Thursday after calling for a concerted international action to finally address the crises afflicting Africa, the only continent to have grown poorer over the last 40 years.

Britain is preparing to use its upcoming chairmanship of the G-8 group of industrialized nations to spearhead the effort, and at a conference to discuss African's future, Blair pressed the international community to raise $150 million to help those caught up in violence in Sudan's Darfur region.

Blair also said Britain plans to train 20,000 African peacekeepers over the next five years to boost the continent's ability to respond to conflicts like that in Darfur - where pro-government Arab militia have been raiding African villages, killings tens of thousands and pushing more than one million from their homes.

The British prime minister was in Ethiopia to chair a meeting of his Africa Commission, which he says will spell out what Africa needs to develop and explain what has held it back. The commission's findings are expected in time for Britain's G-8 presidency and the leadership of the European Union later in 2005.

"Next year will be the year of decision for Africa and the international community," Blair told the commission, whose members include Band Aid star Bob Geldof, Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. "The time for excuses will be over."

But Blair acknowledged that Africa likely will still need outside help.

"There will be times when Africa cannot stop a conflict on its own," he said, suggesting a EU rapid-reaction force being set up could respond to a crisis in Africa if African peacekeepers fail to stem future problems. The EU force could be on the ground and ready to go in 10 days, he said.

Slashing farm subsidies

Troops may help provide peace, but prosperity will depend on the United States and Europe giving Africans the chance to earn their way out of poverty and slashing farm subsidies would be a good start, experts said.

Western countries spend about $1 billion a day supporting their farmers, subsidies that African countries argue undercut the competitive advantage of one of their main revenue sources and effectively cut them out of markets they could dominate.

Gikanga Hezron of Heinrich Boll Foundation, a German-based political group, said Blair must lead by opening up the lucrative British market to African farmers.

The subsidies "are very serious as they threaten the livelihoods of millions of African producers. If they are stopped, the lives of millions of Africans would change dramatically," African Union Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare said through a spokesman.

Africa's population will double in 27 years

Even if "its debt is canceled and foreign aid is doubled, Africa would still be far from approaching the $67 billion dollars it needs annually to develop," Konare said.

In 27 years, Africa's population will double, which could be an opportunity if the continent prospers - but could pose a risk to the entire planet if poverty persists, he added.

Blair expressed the same concerns.

"We know that poverty and instability leads to weak states which can become havens for terrorists and other criminals," Blair said. "Even before 9/11, al-Qaida had bases in Africa. ... They still do, hiding in places where they can go undisturbed by weak governments."

In the past 50 years, 186 coups and 26 major wars have killed more than seven million people and cost Africa $250 billion. Half a dozen African nations are still troubled by serious conflicts, the United Nations says.

African countries are also saddled with $305 billion in debts, and their products account for barely two percent of world trade. Investment in the continent has shrunk to $11 billion a year.

HIV complicates efforts to spur economic growth and development in Africa. More than 26 million Africans are infected with HIV and an estimated 15 million have died from AIDS, including many people from the continent's relatively small educated and business class.

"The problems are multiple, we know them all," Blair said. "The difference is this time we have to put together a plan that is comprehensive in its scope and has at its core a real partnership between Africa and the developed world."
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Clare Short uses Darfur and Africa as a political football for own gain

Mathaba.Net News publishes a report today by James Lyons, Press Association Political Correspondent about Clare Short a left wing British MP who resigned her post in the current British Government over the war in Iraq.

Clare Short is known for speaking out loudly and unintelligently against the US and British Government and the war on Iraq. Now, since the run up to the general election last month, she is pushing for the British and other Western governments to wage war on Africa by invading Darfur militarily without a UN resolution.

Ms Short's attitude and behaviour is an embarrassment to this country. Before and after her resignation was accepted, she aimed to bring down democratically elected Tony Blair and used Darfur as a political football with which to kick at him before the general election, even enlisting American lefties who use Darfur as an issue with which to bash Bush.

Note, Ms Short does not care to mention the world's worst/most neglected humanitarian crises in northern Uganda and DR Congo - neighbours of Sudan - where at least four million people have perished. Far worse things are happening in those countries where there is little or no outside help: anarchy, cannibalism, child soldiers and horrific violence, mutiliation and rape is used as a weapon of war. Neither do the cronies who band with Clare Short mention the poor, oppressed the suffering in N Uganda and DRC. Instead, they spring up online and get on the Darfur bandwagon with campaigns to garner support, followers and donations using American style activism that, like cults, indoctrinate people into believing if they took action on this, that and the other they could "make a difference" and change the world or whatever. Rubbish. Bah. Puke.

Look beneath the surface of what these people portray and you will find they are seeking opportunites to further themselves through their campaigns turning issues into a full time business funded by donations ala Human Rights Watch or International Crisis Group that do very well for themselves thank you very much. I would like to see anyone in the UK who is involved in political or religious campaigning online to make clear what it is they are truly about and what is the real story and motivation behind their "take action NOW" zeal. And when their propaganda infiltrates mainstream media, I want their organisation to be named as religious and/or political campaigning and for whom. Too many people are getting away with spreading propaganda in mainstream media, worldwide and the public seem to be swallowing it.

Take Oxfam for instance. We know when we donate to Oxfam why we are donating and what the money will be used for. When they issue a Press Release or are the source of news in the press, we have a good idea of their motives. But there are websites springing up online that give the impression they are trying to make a difference for "the greater good", when in fact they are using issues to fight political battles and score points maybe (and probably) to gain influence and power for their own self interests. Sort of like Mother Theresa going around the world and taking on the voice of the poor, cap in hand, when really her motive is to create opportunities and a job for herself to make a living and further ambitions through networking, PR and back scratching.

Bear in mind, when reading the following Press Association report, that Clare Short has sour grapes because her resignation was accepted by the Government which resulted in her not being in Cabinet as part of one of the greatest initiatives ever tried by a British Government: namely, to help the world's poorest nations whilst holding presidency of the G8 and European Union. Whether they fail or succeed is a matter of opinion. Blair and Brown have worked on this for several years. At least they have tried their very best, which is more than can be said for the US Government right now, who say that helping Africa any further does not fit their budgetary process. [Oh Yeah buddy, supporting the US through thick and thin over Iraq didn't fit with things here either. Thanks for nothing America]. Here is a copy of the report:

Organiser Bob Geldof wants to highlight the plight of the continent as world leaders meet in Britain at the G8 summit.

But the former International Development Secretary said the "jolly and vacuous" events made her "very queasy".

The original Live Aid, which raised cash, was a success but the aims of the summer shows were simply too vague, she told Channel 4 News.

"To have a big pop concert to say 'let's make the world a better place, let's make poverty history' but you don't have to do anything in particular, I think starts to demean the seriousness of the suffering of those who are extremely poor and oppressed and suffering," she said.

"This general concert, it almost becomes an insult to the reality of the complexity of the needs of Africa, the harm that Europe has done Africa, the struggles of some of the people in the continent for reform from their own oppressive governments.

"Just being so jolly and vacuous like this, I don't know, it doesn't feel right to me. It makes me feel very queasy."

Outspoken Ms Short, who eventually quit the Cabinet over war with Iraq also poured scorn on Tony Blair's efforts.

The Prime Minister has made African development and global warming key priorities at next month's summit.

However, Ms Short predicted that despite "hype and spin" during the build-up little would be achieved.

"We'll get very generalised statements of good intent," she said.

"The thing that I think most glaringly says people don't care about Africa - whatever they say - is the situation in Darfur."

Ms Short is no stranger to controversy. She caused fury while in office by suggesting that the inhabitants of the stricken island of Montserrat were seeking "golden elephants".

After threatening to resign if Britain went to war with Iraq without a second UN resolution she was persuaded to remain in the Cabinet.

She subsequently resigned and quickly became a fierce critic of Mr Blair, repeatedly suggesting he should go.
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Shame on you Becky Tinsley for using Darfur to score political points

Here is a copy of a post I drafted on March 5, 2005 but kept in my drafts folder. It was never published at this blog. I am publishing the draft copy here today for future reference.

If I were a Tory supporter and an article entitled Darfur disgrace ought not to win votes for Tories appeared in today's Scotsman I'd be dismayed at the author and the Scotsman for publishing blatant propaganda. As it is, the piece in the Scotsman is entitled: "Darfur disgrace ought not to win votes for Labour" and is published several weeks before Britain's general election.

Where has Rebecca Tinsley been this past year when the death toll in Darfur was reported as 10,000? Up until recently, I don't recall seeing a single report of hers right through the year when the death toll was reported as almost half Rwandan genocide proportions.

Note how she and the other protestors outside Downing Street kept their demonstration for the last week of the General Election campaign. Tinsley and her do-good friends have orchestrated a political campaign on the backs of Darfurians.

Shame on you Becky Tinsley for using the starving and dead people of Darfur as a political football.

Having said all of that, the Scotsman's so-called "news" report is rubbish anyway. Facts are not straight and perspective is twisted and biased. I am not giving the report any more time of day. I am only mentioning it here as some readers may already have come across the Scotsman report and not realised it is political propaganda.

By the way, if anybody is wondering what happened to the dear old Scotsman: we have a General Election in this country - and (too long to go into details here) the Scotsman appears to be anti Blair. Over the past year the Scotsman has done some great reporting on Darfur - award winning stuff - but notice how they've cooled down - put Darfur lower on their agenda - but during the election campaign given great space to activisits using Darfur for political gain. Shame on the Scotsman too. I've gone right off them for their propaganda.
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P.S. Note Becky Tinsley's site Waging Peace states:

"Waging Peace is a mainstream, progressive, non-partisan political advocacy group, based around the Internet.

At a time when faith in old political structures has collapsed, we aim to influence decision-makers on such matters as war and peace, defending and extending democracy, the environment and human rights.

We also seek to help elect Members of Parliament who share our values."

[Ahem. "We also seek to elect Members of Parliament who share our values". What does that mean? Sounds to me like they are undermining democracy. Seems their game in the run up to the election is to target MP's who were anti the war in Iraq and get votes for them - or something - I don't really recall and cannot be bothered to look into the site again.

I just don't like the look of what Waging Peace are doing. I may be naive, and there many be many more groups like this - but the more stuff that goes on and the more Americanised politics here in Britain become, the more of a turn-off it will be for voters. Political campaign workers scratch their heads wondering why so many people float or do not vote. I think people are getting sick and mistrustful of politics and simply do not care anymore, one way or another because it all turns out the same, no matter which way it goes.
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UN peacekeepers needed for Darfur, northern Uganda and DR Congo says GOAL chief

In a report at today's Guardian, John O'Shea, chief executive of the international aid charity GOAL (great work in the Sudan) raises four ultra important issues: Darfur, DR Congo, northern Uganda - and corruption. Excerpt:

"The fact that Geldof is doing something that brings the third world into focus has to be good. However, you have got to maximise the publicity the involvement of someone like Geldof brings in a very focused way and I think harping on about the same thing is not as effective as it should be."

Like others, he is concerned that the aims of Make Poverty History - more and better aid, dropping the debt burden and easing trade restrictions - do not address the bigger problems facing the continent.

"The two biggest issues are not being addressed. If Geldof was to really maximise the effect of these concerts, and I am sure he wants to, he has got to look at the two things which Africa needs," Mr O'Shea said. "One is an army provided by the UN, a peacekeeping army that will go into Darfur to protect the people, that will go into the Congo to protect the people, that will go into northern Uganda to stop the fighting and protect the people - that is what these concerts should be addressing. There is a fire raging, we need someone to put out the fire, not to hand out chocolate." The other big issue being overlooked, he added, was the corruption of some African regimes.

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