Building on hope - Trade still a problem

One more catch-up post today since this stuff is already dated: In a year round-up story, the LA Times opined that "The year 2005 will go down as a turning point in the global war on poverty." The article is worth noting because it takes the time to give a realistic history of how the Cold War-era misuse of aid led to the cynicism advocates are now having to battle: "For decades during the Cold War, the Western world for the most part regarded impoverished nations as chess pieces in the struggle against communism. If foreign aid was doled out, it was mostly to prop up friendly dictatorships that could be counted upon to crush leftist insurrections. Nobody much cared if the aid disappeared down a sinkhole of corruption; helping people out of poverty wasn't the point. The inevitable result was cynicism about the effectiveness and purpose of international development."

(While we're talking about setting the record straight on African aid, there's a substantive reply to the recent Theroux "Rock Star's Burden" article at 3quarksdaily.)

You can also hear a BBC interview with Bono on the "2005 roundup" topic here. In it he goes into detail about the non-results of the recent WTO talks in Hong Kong (about which ONE asked supporters to email their leaders). Also, great story about a market day in Accra. Along the way comes an explanation of how the CoeXisT portion of the Vertigo show relates to these issues and what its point is... not that the people invested in attacking it are likely to pay any attention.

However, the most telling thing about that interview, IMHO, is this. Along the way there's a light aside that will have become quite familiar to anyone who reads U2 news -- Bono comments that despite the other three members of U2 having been "spiritually and indeed financially" supportive of his development advocacy work, at times he thought he was going to get kicked out of the band for being too boring or something. Well, at the highest point I saw, this piece analyzing successes and failures of the global 2005 anti-extreme-poverty focus had generated 163 stories on Google News, 162 with headlines like "Tension in U2 over Bono's Campaigning" (a story so exciting, apparently, that my local TV station covered it two nights running on the 11:00 news) and "Bono's U2 Breakup Fears." Only one out of 163 covered the real topic.

Sure, 6500 people died today for lack of drugs Westerners can buy around the corner, and the rice industry in Ghana has collapsed because of unjust trade regulations, but what's really important and worth broadcasting worldwide? A few celebrities may have at some point had a little tiff.

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