The "Group of Eight" industrialized countries (G8) met last week, in Kananaskis, Alberta. $300,000,000.00 was spent on security, and Prime Minister Jean Chretien's goal of keeping aid for Africa on the agenda resulted in some shakey commitments for maybe twice that for AIDS. Billions were promised for Africa, but no one actually believes that the full amount will be delivered in any meaningful way.
The "New Partnership for Africa's Development" (which is referred to the grimly accurate acronym NEPAD) was pitched to the G8 as a way to solve all of Africa's problems (big promises for poverty reduction, health improvements, etc.). All that for only $64 Billion. Of course, for the African nations to get that far, they had to develop the plan in close consultation with the World Bank and IMF, and ignore many people and organizations who represent the actual concerns of their respective countries. All kinds of requirements have to be met before the money is made available, etc.
There are plenty of criticisms of NEPAD as too little, too late, but the most damning that I've heard was from Stephen Lewis, the UN special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, who spoke at the "Group of Six Billion" (G6B) people's summit in Calgary. His keynote speach is available from the Alberta Indymedia Centre, and is well worth listening to.
Notably, he quotes NEPAD itself: ""Unless these epidemics [AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis] are brought under control, real gains in human development will remain an impossible hope." And then notes that the G8 leaders and governments have been neglecting or simply ignoring the pitiful state that the The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria is in. He goes on to elaborate on just how big a problem AIDS is in Africa with some truly grim stories of how one out of every two people who are trained to treat AIDS die before their training is finished, how 2000 infants are infected every day. The statistics are all the more grim for their preventability.
If what Lewis said is remotely true (and there's little reason to doubt it), it seems clear that AIDS in Africa needs to be dealt with before anything else can happen. And yet, all the leaders can talk about is "economic development."
I made a cool poster (200k, pdf) which illustrates and describes the ways in which the G8 dictate economic policy to developing countries. I also made a globalization reading list (150k, pdf) that has some excerpts from good articles on globalization that I've read.
Indymedia Centres: Alberta. Protests were smaller than usual (between 10 and 20,000 total), spread out between Ottawa, Calgary, and Kananaskis, and peaceful. As a result, they were all but ignored by the press, which seems to have an allergy to actually asking people why they're protesting.
A print interview with Stephen Lewis (whose son, Avi Lewis, is married to Naomi Klein.. one big happy family of Canadian lefties).
I have recently gotten involved in a traditional Affirmative Action debate. For the purposes of which I dug up these articles, which are all quite good.
Reverse Racism, or How the Pot Got to Call the Kettle Black , by Stanley Fish (Atlantic Monthly)
White Privilege, by Robert Jensen
Being colorbind does not offset innate advantages of white privilege, Robert Jensen (Kansas City Business Journal)
Marcus Gee's recent column, "No interim state of Palestine", was not only blatantly inaccurate in ways that are trivial to determine, but made liberal use of racist double standards against the Palestinians.
I finally scanned some of my photos from Newfoundland.
A few highlights:
Since Kuro5hin ran out of cash, it has started doing some interesting things with fundraising. Pledge drives!
I forgot to mention that my once-roomate and future academic rock star, Matt, gave a rather brilliant Valedictory Address [text, mp3, photo] at Mount Allison's Convocation in May. Easily the best valedictory address ever, says me, with much bias and not many addresses to choose from. Still. It's good, go listen to it.
I went to Halifax last weekend for the G7 Finance Ministers' Meeting, got teargassed, went to dinner with Sylvia's grandparents, and came back to find that about one third of the protesters had been arrested. I spent the whole night standing outside the jail, "welcoming" people who had been locked up and had their things stol.. er, confiscated by the police. I took some photos. Indymedia Maritimes has the rest of the story in video, text, and photos, and lots of good background on the G8.
Looking for a quick, to the point criticism of the G8? Check out this pamphlet (pdf).
In her Counterpoint (Saturday, June 8), Margaret Wente remarked that union condemnations of Israel "says suicide bombings have to stop, but doesn't mention who directs them." But the reader is left hanging. Who does direct the suicide bombings? Arafat? Palestinians as a whole? More than likely, it's the same people who usually "direct" suicide bombings: extremist terrorist groups.
I was given a Mac LC with a 12" monochrome monitor today, which is fitting, because "LC", it is said, stands for "Low Cost". I stripped down the system to the minimum, and the little machine starts up in less than 20 seconds. I hadn't seen a computer start up that quickly since I last used the BeOS.
NYPress: An interesting feature on the unsightly innards of Maxim magazine, by a former editor.
Wired News asks whether MS paid for the really quite egregious claims about open source being pro-terrorist.
A fun article on the "Phantom Edit", that re-cut of The Phantom Menace.
CBC: Brazilian player Rivaldo gets fined for faking a face injury after getting hit in the leg with a ball. What I found rather embarrassing, though perhaps not surprising, was the other Brazilian player's defense of Rivaldo.
Many people think Rivaldo's attitude was incorrect. In my opinion, it wasn't. I myself have simulated many fouls and penalties that the referee called. It's moves like that that can make you world champion. You have to be intelligent. Brazilians have always managed to get other players ejected using their intelligence.
I can't say I'm much of a hockey fan, but I have managed to get sucked into the Stanley Cup playoffs this year. I was surprised, then, that Carolina pulled through to beat Detroit in overtime in Game 1 (Detroit being heavily favoured, and seemed to be dominating for the period that I watched).
Ted Rall talks about journalists in Afghanistan (via DailyChurn), and asks "Why didn't the truth about the extent of civilian casualties get out?":
A brilliant war reporter for a big American newspaper-he'd done them all, from Rwanda to Somalia to Kosovo-filed detailed reports daily from his room down the street from mine as I charged my electronic equipment on his portable generator. The next day we'd hook up a satellite phone to a laptop to read his pieces on his paper's website. Invariably every mention of Afghan civilians killed or injured by American air strikes would be neatly excised. One day, as a test, he fired off a thousand words about a 15,000-pound "daisy cutter" bomb that had taken out an entire neighborhood in southeastern Kunduz. Hundreds of civilians lay scattered in bits of protoplasm amid the rubble. His editors killed the piece, calling it "redundant."
The Open Content List has a bunch of links that I should read.
Tom Tommorrow's Guide to debating the Enron scandal.
Andrew Sullivan: The Overclass. Sullivan starts out making sense, but then degenerates into vague assertions that the uber-rich are an inevitability, culminating in this bit of incoherence:
Class warfare is tired and old and ineffective. Politically speaking, it's all but dead. Every single politician in America who has tried to rally working class resentment of the very rich in order to make it to the White House has failed. Tony Blair is very smart not to resort to it. For as the ranks of the very rich grow, the more it seems possible that the rest of us might eventually join them.Concentration of wealth among a tiny minority may be an "irresistible tide", but if it is, it's not for the reasons that Sullivan (sort of) gives. Explaining that would require analyzing the power, influence, and ideology that shapes the media, politics, etc.. A great example is Paul Hawken's story of the republican congressman who actually read a trade agreement and then decided for himself to vote against it. The fact that the media constantly spew forth wisdom about "irresistible tides" instead of actually thinking about what gives such an economic force so much momentum has as much to do with the problem as anything else.
Come to think of it, it is necessary not to explain why something is "irresistible". In explaining why, say, corporate globalization is irresistible through a rational account, one has already denied it's inevitability. If one explains that it is irresistable because of the enourmous power of the corporations, then the answer -- however unlikely its eventuality -- becomes "sieze the power from the corporations and replace their function with something more benevolent". At this point, it remains tremendously likely that globalization will continue to spread, but its "irresistibility" is denied by the very ability to imagine an alternative. The annoying irony is, of course, that the people who state it as an inevitability are themselves perpetuating and ideologically entrenching it as an inevitability, whatever "it" may be.