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Charitable superpowers get it wrong

first_imgJeffery Sachs, who spoke at the  Oxford Union on Sunday, is the intellectual guru of the ‘Drop the Debt’ campaign and the world’s most famous development economist. He began his career as a hard-line free marketeer. As an advisor to Boris Yeltsin’s government in the early nineties he was responsible for the introduction of the disastrous “shock-therapy” of instant deregulation and privatisation which sent the Russian economy into freefall. A market Bolshevik no longer, Sachs has since turned his attention to Africa and the elimination of global extreme poverty within twenty years through a combination of debt relief, increased aid, and trade reform. For Sachs, democracy is not a part of this equation. He states bluntly in his new book, The End of Poverty, that “the links from democracy to economic performance are relatively weak” and that “the charge of authoritarian rule as a basic obstacle to good governance in Africa is pass”. Sachs’ fondness for railing against the neo-liberal “Washington Consensus” and the Bush administration might thus be explained by an enthusiasm for an earlier Republican ideologue, Henry Kissinger. Kissinger, who would be brought to the Hague on charges of war crimes if the US ever signed up to the International Criminal Court, did not care about democracy either. For Kissinger, monstrous dictators like Pinochet, Mobutu, Amin, and Papa Doc Duvalier may have been “bastards” but it didn’t matter because they were “our bastards”. Sachs, and his bleeding heart fellow travellers Blair, Bono and Bob Geldof, have their own set of “bastards”: rulers like Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Paul Kagame of Rwanda. None of these have been fairly elected and all are pumped full of praise and aid by Britain and the US. Until recently, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda would have been on this list. His attempts to rid Uganda of condoms no doubt still ingratiate him with the Americans. But now that he has decided to turn twenty years of dictatorial rule into a life presidency, he has been mildly rebuked. At the launch of the Commission for Africa report in Addis Ababa in March, Geldof declared, “Get a grip Museveni – your time is up, go away”. He has since apologised. Sitting alongside Geldof was fellow Commission member, Zenawi, who was returned to office in May courtesy of a rigged election. His security forces mowed down dozens who had the temerity to protest. These men are just the West’s presentable allies. In blatant contradiction with its avowed wish to see democracy flourish the world over, Washington embraces the vile dictator, Obiang Mbasago, of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea. Jacques Chirac, who wants to slap a fiver on every plane ticket to fund poverty reduction, described the brutal Gnassingbe Eyadema, deceased President of Togo, as a “personal friend” when he died in February after 38 years in charge. This may have been related to Eyadema’s generous funding of French political parties and the benevolence shown to individual French politicians who happened to be passing through his palace. Eyadema could afford this because he had amassed a fortune believed to be in the region of $3 billion; that is thrice Togo’s annual GNP.The example illustrates why Sachs’ view that dictatorship is no bar to economic development is false. The reason Africa is so poor is that kleptocratic dictators and elites, often with Western connivance, have looted their own countries. They are also inclined to be incompetent. The simple virtue of democracy is that it allows people to get rid of bad governments peacefully. The number of functioning democracies in Africa can be counted on two hands. Among them are Africa’s most prosperous and stable states: South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Senegal, Ghana, Benin and the Cape Verde islands. Sachs regards China as an example of how a ruthless dictatorship can prosper. However, he admits in The End of Poverty that poverty has increased in rural areas there because of the abandonment of the public health system. A democratic government would never have been able to disregard public welfare so heartlessly.        The triumvirate of Sachs, Bono, and Geldof is immensely powerful. Able to influence both governments and public opinion, they are right to attempt to combine high-level lobbying with mass politics. It is thus dismaying that such potential for real change has been squandered on fringe issues in the war on poverty. The only reason debt is a problem is that the money was stolen and dissipated. The torrent of criticism directed against them for endorsing the status quo of Western power is similarly misguided. It is the very Western status quo of democracy and human rights which is lacking in Africa. More than any amount of charity, this is how to make poverty history. ARCHIVE: 1st week MT 2005last_img read more

More fish test positive for Sr-90, but not due to Vermont Yankee

first_imgNew fish samples taken from the Connecticut River on April 23 and analyzed by Vermont Yankee’s contract laboratory have tested positive for strontium-90 (Sr-90). Concentrations of Sr-90 detected in the inedible portions of these fish are in the range of what would be expected as a result of fallout from nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s, and the Chernobyl release in 1986.Specifically, the laboratory results for Sr-90 were 70 pCi/kg from fish taken near the plant in the Vernon Pool, and 100 pCi/kg from fish taken about 5 miles upstream, near the Route 9 bridge as it crosses the river north of Brattleboro. A New York study found background levels of Sr-90 in fish to be in the range of 120 to 360 pCi/kg (see New York Fish Study below).Vermont Yankee reported these latest test results to the Health Department on June 30. The first samples of fish to be analyzed were taken in February 2010 from the same locations, and these fish also tested positive for Sr-90. In both cases, concentrations are within the expected range. Sr-90 has not been detected in edible parts of the fish. Like calcium, strontium accumulates almost entirely in bone.Because the Sr-90 results are all within what is considered to be the normal “background” range, and because no Sr-90 has been measured above the lower limit of detection in groundwater on site at the plant, the Health Department considers it unlikely that these findings in fish are a result of recent events at Vermont Yankee.Fish caught from the Connecticut River are among the many samples being analyzed for radioactive materials by the Vermont Department of Health, Vermont Yankee, and by contract laboratories employed by both.So far, soil samples analyzed by the Health Department’s contract laboratory for hard-to-detect radionuclides are the only samples to be positive for Sr-90, or for any other radioactive materials, that can associated with Vermont Yankee operations. Should other radioactive materials such as cobalt-60 or cesium-137 be detected in groundwater or fish, this would be evidence that the strontium in fish was strontium from Vermont Yankee.To date only tritium, which moves easily through the soil as tritiated water, has been detected in groundwater samples, and only in groundwater on site at Vermont Yankee. No drinking water on site or off site, nor any river water has been found to be contaminated with tritium above the laboratory’s lower limit of detection.New York Fish StudyThe amount of Sr-90 in fish as a result of nuclear weapons testing and Chernobyl is in the range of 120 to 360 pCi/kg, according to a study published by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation in November 2009: http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/materials_minerals_pdf/sr90fnlrprt.pdf(link is external)   (exit VDH)The New York study results were published after radioactive materials leaked from the Indian Point nuclear power station on the lower Hudson River. These levels, presumed to be background, are based on Sr-90 results from more than 150 fish caught about 70 miles north and upstream from the Indian Point plant.Groundwater ExtractionVermont Yankee officials have indicated that another extraction well will be in operation soon. This will be either be a new extraction well, or modification of an existing monitoring well such as GZ-15, which is located in the area of the plume that now has the highest tritium concentration. Vermont Yankee has set a goal of pumping out 300,000 gallons of tritium-contaminated groundwater. The original extraction well has so far pumped out about half that volume, and tritium concentrations in groundwater still being pumped from the original extraction well are now approaching the lower limit of detection.Monitoring Well Test Results – as of July 2, 2010For the first time, groundwater samples from well GZ-20, which is located near the condensate storage tank and northeast of the Advanced Off-Gas (AOG) pipe tunnel and drain line, are showing measurements for tritium below the lower limit of detection (This means that GZ-20, along with other wells no longer located within the plume of contamination from the AOG leak, can now serve to detect any new leaks that may occur. At the height of the AOG leak investigation, as many as 12 groundwater monitoring wells were showing tritium contamination. This week, only seven wells are showing tritium contamination above the level of detection, and only three of them–all located next to the Connecticut River–have increasing tritium concentrations. The other wells that are still contaminated have decreasing tritium concentrations. The results that follow are as reported by Vermont Yankee for tritium. To date, gamma spectroscopy and special analyses for hard to detect radionuclides have not identified any other nuclear power plant related radioactive materials in groundwater, drinking water or river water. Note that well GZ-6 which had not been sampled for about 6 weeks, is back on a weekly sampling schedule.All results are expressed in terms of picocuries per liter (pCi/l), or below the lower level of detection (GZ-1: Source: Vermont Health Department. 7.2.2010last_img read more

Johnson to participate at CONCACAF Targeted Advanced Referee Programme

first_imgGLADWYN Johnson will be Guyana’s representative at the May 11-14 CONCACAF Targeted Advanced Referee Programme (TARP), scheduled for Dallas, Texas.A release from the GFF states that Johnson will be among nine participating referees; four of whom will be from the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) region (Cuba, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago).“It’s a blessing for me to be a part of this prestigious course and to be around all the top assessors, instructors and referees in CONCACAF. It’s always a great learning experience towards my becoming the best referee I can be. Upon my return, I will share the information acquired with my fellow referees so that our standard of refereeing in Guyana would improve,” Johnson said.The Elite referee, who has been a referee for six years and is in his first year as a FIFA referee, added that his participation in the TARP is a “great achievement” for him and he is thankful to CONCACAF, the Guyana Football Federation (GFF), his employers at the Guyana Sugar Corporation – GuySuCo (Blairmont Estate), his wife and family for the support provided.“We have the potential here. Persons need to commit themselves to the programme, said Stanley Lancaster, Head of GFF’s Refereeing Department.“When given the opportunity, they need to showcase their skills and true potential so that they can be recognised because CONCACAF and FIFA are continuously looking for talent that the Caribbean possesses. Based on information received, they have seen that potential in Gladwyn, hence the reason for his selection,” Lancaster added.Asked about the impact Johnson’s participation will have on the national programme, Lancaster pointed out “this will definitely be a boost to the local programme as it should serve as encouragement to other national referees.”“Gladwyn, in his first year as a FIFA referee as of January 2017, has already participated in three appointments and now is in this course – what we term as CONCACAF World Cup – the Gold Cup seminar, followed by the Gold Cup in June.“So, it’s a plus for the local officials once they look at it in a positive way to see that this step can be accomplished by anyone. It requires commitment, adaptation to the training, reading, interpreting and applying the knowledge and maintaining a high level of fitness,” Lancaster noted.The course will focus on physical fitness testing, practical and technical training and classroom and field sessions, including video tests. The physical fitness testing is a requirement for FIFA World Cup referee participation.According to CONCACAF, the TARP will be conducted simultaneously with the CONCACAF 2017 Gold Cup Pre-Tournament Referees Course and though participants will most likely not be match officials of the named tournament, they will participate in the group phase of the tournament and serve as fourth officials and replacement referees as required.last_img read more

Kawhi Leonard rumors: ‘A lot of people’ in the league think star will leave Raptors

first_imgThe Raptors finished with a 58-24 record and earned the second seed in the Eastern Conference. They topped the Magic 118-82 on Tuesday to even their first-round series at 1-1.Toronto and Orlando will face off in Game 3 on Friday at 7 p.m. ET. Windhorst continued:It’s not because of anything the Raptors did. It’s just that Kawhi kind of wants to be on the West Coast. The difficulty is that Kawhi doesn’t really articulate his feelings to people. … It’s difficult to read. It’s difficult for them to read, who have spent every day obsessing about it for months.The Raptors acquired Leonard — along with Danny Green — from the Spurs in exchange for a package centered around DeMar DeRozan in a blockbuster trade last summer. Leonard can opt out of his contract and become a free agent after 2018-19. Related News Leonard averaged 26.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists in his first season with Toronto. He shot 49.6 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from 3-point range.Leonard has previously been linked to the Clippers and rival executives believe he “likes” the team, according to Bleacher Report. But, Leonard has been quiet about his free agency plans for most of the season.“As long as I have on a jersey I want to play basketball,” Leonard told reporters in September. “I came here with an open mind. I want to do great things so I’m going to make sure that I put my full effort on the court each and every night.” Pelicans’ David Griffin confident Anthony Davis will staycenter_img NBA playoffs 2019: Warriors’ Steve Kerr says Kevin Durant ‘absolutely needs to be more aggressive’ The Raptors’ results in the postseason may not have an impact on Kawhi Leonard’s future.“A lot of people in the NBA” believe the 27-year-old star will leave Toronto and sign elsewhere this summer, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported Wednesday during an appearance on “The Jump.”last_img read more