Guess Who Leads the Bribery World?
The USA is the most corrupt country in the world and I have 10,000 posts that point heavily to that fact…

UN Appeals for $7.7 Billion in Emergency Aid December 15, 2011

The United Nations is appealing for $7.7 billion to provide emergency aid during 2012 to 51 million people across 16 countries. Eleven of the 16 nations are in Africa. The beneficiary countries include Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Niger, the occupied Palestinian territory, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

The United Nations warns many of the tens of millions of people in 16 beneficiary countries will not survive without emergency aid. It calls them the most vulnerable people in the world — people who suffer from a range of crises, including war, drought, famine and disease.  

The U.N. reports nine of the 16 countries will need significantly more money this year than last to meet their humanitarian needs in 2012. Somalia, by far, is the largest recipient. It will require one-half billion dollars more in 2012 than in 2011.

Valerie Amos, Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, says the Horn of Africa is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. She says 4 million people in Somalia alone need urgent humanitarian aid, as well as nearly 600,000 Somali refugees who have sought protection in Kenya.

“Humanitarian action has already had a significant impact in many regions of Somalia. But mass vaccination campaigns have reduced cases of measles by almost 50 percent, more than 2.5 million people are receiving regular food aid, 1.2 million people are accessing clean water, and emergency nutritional treatment has reached 242,000 acutely malnourished children. Three areas of Somalia have moved from being “famine” areas to “emergency,” Amos explained. 

However, Amos notes the situation remains fragile and these improvements will not be sustained unless the current level of assistance continues.

The appeal exposes vulnerabilities in other countries as well. Chad, for instance, is struggling with a widespread food crisis compounded by a devastating cholera epidemic. The U.N. notes people in the Democratic Republic of Congo are subject to attacks by armed groups. Their livelihoods and access to basic needs are affected by human rights violations. It says large- scale food assistance will be needed in the Sahel region, especially in Niger, in 2012.

Amos says violence in newly independent South Sudan is increasing and causing thousands of people to flee their homes. “Rising food insecurity, disease outbreaks and seasonal flooding continue to impact humanitarian conditions on the ground. The appeal seeks $763 million to help 3.1 million people. In Sudan, humanitarian need is driven by conflict, displacement and vulnerability. Humanitarian action will support up to 4.2 million people to ensure food security, access to basic services, shelter and livelihoods opportunities,” she added. 

Turning from Africa, the appeal notes with concern that Afghanistan continues to suffer severe humanitarian needs, much of it caused by a harsh drought in the center and north of the country.

U.N. officials note significant progress is being made in improving conditions for hundreds of thousands of victims of Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake. But they note critical humanitarian needs remain to be addressed.

Emergency Relief Coordinator Amos says Yemen is facing a complex emergency, which includes conflict, displacement, a food crisis, malnutrition and disease. She says 4 million people,or 44 percent of the population, will need help to survive next year.

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US freezes $700m in Pakistan aid December 14, 2011

Homemade bombs made in Pakistan are used in Afghanistan, it is alleged

A US Congressional panel has frozen $700m (£450m) in aid to Pakistan until it gives assurances it is tackling the spread of homemade bombs in the region.

The move – the second such freeze this year – reflects US frustration over what it sees as Islamabad’s reluctance to act against militant groups.

But it has has been criticised by senior Pakistani politicians.

The killing of Osama Bin Laden by US forces and ongoing US drone strikes in Pakistan have strained bilateral ties.

Washington is also known to be unhappy about what it sees as lacklustre Pakistani efforts to counter the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, which it believes operates out of Pakistan and fights US troops in Afghanistan.

Correspondents say that Pakistan is one of the largest recipients of American foreign aid and the cutback announced on Tuesday is only a small proportion of the billions of dollars it receives from Washington every year in civil and military assistance.

But the freeze in aid – part of a defence bill that is expected to be passed by Congress later this week – could presage even greater cuts, correspondents say.

Washington has provided about $20bn (£12.8bn) in security and economic aid to Pakistan since 2001, much of it in the form of reimbursements for assistance in fighting militants.

In July the US said it was withholding some $800m (£500m) in military aid to Pakistan – about a third of the annual US security assistance to Pakistan.

White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley told ABC television at that time that Pakistan had “taken some steps that have given us reason to pause on some of the aid”.

Justifying the latest aid freeze, some in Congress say that Islamabad has not only failed to act against militant groups but that in some cases it has actively provided them with help, a charge Pakistani officials deny.

Members of Congress are particularly aggrieved over suspicions that homemade bombs – or improvised explosive devices (IEDs) – are being made by militants based in Pakistan for use against US and Nato troops in Afghanistan.

IEDs are among the most effective weapons of the militants, and are responsible for most coalition casualties in Afghanistan.

Many are reportedly made using ammonium nitrate, a common fertiliser which Washington believes is being smuggled across the border from Pakistan.

The US wants “assurances that Pakistan is countering improvised explosive devices in their country that are targeting our coalition forces”, Representative Howard McKeon, a House Republican, said.

Pakistan, however, argues that it is doing its utmost to fight al-Qaeda and the Taliban – and hundreds of its soldiers have been killed since it joined the US-led war in Afghanistan in 2001.

“It [the latest freeze] is most unfortunate and untimely,” Pakistani senate committee on foreign affairs chairman Salim Saifullah Khan told the AFP news agency.

“I think we will survive without aid, but it is most unfortunate to see these things after 31 years of sacrifices by Pakistan.”

Last month Pakistan accused Nato of killing 24 Pakistani soldiers in an air strike near the Afghan border – and has stopped fuel being supplied from Pakistan to Nato forces in Afghanistan as a sign of its anger.

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Nigeria’s bill to outlaw gay marriage threatens HIV/Aids cash December 4, 2011

A bill to outlaw gay marriage in Nigeria could jeopardise millions of dollars of western aid given to help stop the spread of HIV and Aids in Africa‘s most populous nation.

Nigeria has the continent’s second highest number of people living with the disease, says the United Nations. More than three million people are infected and many do not know their status.

“There are about 400,000 people on anti-retrovirals in Nigeria at the moment and 95% of those are paid for by donor funds,” said public health doctor and health blogger Chikwe Ihekweazu.

Gay sex has been banned in Nigeria since British colonial rule. Gay and lesbian people face open discrimination in a country divided by Christians and Muslims who almost uniformly oppose homosexuality. In parts of the north where sharia law has been enforced for about a decade, they can face death by stoning.

Under the proposed law passed by the Senate, same-sex couples who marry could face up to 14 years each in prison. Witnesses or anyone who helps a marriage could be sentenced to 10 years. The bill also punishes the “public show of same-sex amorous relationships directly or indirectly” with 10 years in prison.

A newly added power, punishing those found guilty of organising, operating or supporting gay clubs, organisations and meetings with a 10-year sentence, worries advocates in Nigeria. They fear the law could be used against groups providing assistance for HIV and Aids outreach programmes that traditionally consider gay men as an at-risk group.

“We work with them trying to reduce their risk factors, trying to make them more healthy and have safer sex practices,” said Meyiwa Ede of the Society for Family Health, which is funded by donations. “If we can’t work with them anymore, then they are vulnerable.”

Lawmakers playing to the religious antipathy towards gays and lesbians have said donor nations who threaten to cut aid over the bill can keep their assistance, putting at risk the lives of people reliant on anti-retroviral drugs.

The US and British governments funnel huge sums into Nigeria for Aids and HIV outreach. The US, under the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief, has given an average of $308m (£197m) a year to groups working in HIV prevention, treatment, and support, according to the US Consulate in Lagos.

Britain spends an average of £19.9m a year on HIV/Aids programmes in Nigeria, the Abuja office of the Department for International Development, funding which local partners spend on projects for gay and straight people. Heterosexual sex accounts for 80% of HIV transmissions in Nigeria, the National Agency for the Control of Aids reported recently.

David Cameron recently threatened to cut British aid to countries that discriminate against gays and lesbians. Both the US and UK governments say they are watching the Nigerian bill closely, but declined to comment on how it may affect their outreach.

President Goodluck Jonathan promised the UN general assembly in June that his administration was “committing to increase national ownership of HIV and Aids responses” and to make those responses inclusive. Six months later, little has changed.

The health minister, Onyebuchi Chukwu, said the bill outlawing gay groups would not affect state-funded HIV and Aids programmes. The health ministry has no programmes specifically targeting these communities, said spokeswoman Rekia Zubairu.

Rights groups say the politicians’ resolve to pass the bill reflects widespread homophobia in Nigeria, but also shows their disconnect from working-class Nigerians, regardless of sexual orientation.

“They have the resources to go abroad for treatment, with their big salaries, so they don’t give a hoot about ordinary people,” gay rights organizer Dorothy Akenova said. “The majority of Nigerians are the ones who will suffer for it.”

The bill must still be passed by the House of Representatives and signed by President Jonathan before becoming law.

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Three NATO troops killed by bomb in Afghanistan December 3, 2011

December 3, 2011

by legitgov


Three NATO troops killed by bomb in Afghanistan 03 Dec 2011 Three troops from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) were killed by a roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan Saturday, officials said. ISAF did not say which country the dead troops were from or give further details of the incident, in line with policy.

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Number of N.J. residents receiving food stamps doubled in last four years November 30, 2011

November 29, 2011

by legitgov


Number of N.J. residents receiving food stamps doubled in last four years 27 Nov 2011 The number of New Jersey residents receiving food stamps has doubled in the past four years and is at its highest level in more than a decade, state and federal data show. As of September, the most recent data released by the state Department of Human Services, more than 400,000 households and nearly 822,000 people were enrolled in the food stamp program, meaning nearly one out of every 10 residents in New Jersey receives assistance.

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Kenya Military Asks Aid Agencies to Return to Somalia’s South November 19, 2011

The Kenyan military says it has secured more areas of southern Somalia and is urging aid agencies to come back to the country to help those in need.  Kenya’s Foreign Ministry says it is also trying to win international approval for African Union forces to join the fight.

The Kenyan military says it has driven al-Shabab fighters out of parts of southern Somalia in a series of raids over the last week.

Colonel Cyrus Oguna, a spokesperson for the Kenyan Defense Forces says a total of 31 al-Shabab militants have been killed in the recent clashes, and that the military is now in control of the town of Kolbio, which he described as a major al-Shabab stronghold.

He said two Kenyan soldiers were killed during the operations, along with three Somali government soldiers.

Colonel Oguna said Kenyan forces have been able to make headway against al-Shabab due to support and intelligence from local Somali communities.

“Yes indeed, pockets of Shabab still exist, no doubt about that,” said Oguna.  “But the encouraging thing is that the local people are coming out to point out where these bases are and that has really paid us a lot of dividends in the sense that after being told where the bases are, our soldiers or our troops can go out there, raid, and take over those areas.”

Kenyan forces entered Somalia more than a month ago in pursuit of al-Shabab militants blamed for a spate of cross-border kidnappings.

Oguna said another aspect of the operation is to provide humanitarian assistance to people in areas previously held by al-Shabab.

“But as we move forward, ladies and gentleman, we need somebody to feed the people that we have liberated,” Oguna added.  “So we are asking members of the international community to come in with the relief food to come and help these people, because they are free, but they are hungry.”

Aid agencies operating in Somalia have been critical of the Kenyan intervention, saying that it has impeded their work.

Oxfam, an international aid organization, this week said it has had to suspend a program providing seeds and cash assistance to some 85,000 people in southern Somalia because of the operation.

The presidents of Kenya, Uganda and Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) met in Nairobi this week to pledge greater cooperation in Somalia.

Ethiopian officials also have said they will consider contributing forces to the operation.

Kenyan Foreign Affairs Assistant Director Lindsay Kiptiness said Kenya would welcome support from anyone.

“Of course, again, Ethiopia is a sovereign state and they have a right to make their own decision so whether they are going in or not.  That is their own decision however, we will – we are ready, or rather, we encourage support from every corner if the intention is to defeat al-Shabab and return normalcy to Somalia,” said Kiptiness.

Al-Shabab repelled an invasion of Ethiopian forces in the last decade and analysts say the presence of foreign troops on the ground in Somalia could help bolster support for the militant group.

Kiptiness said the major organization of Horn of Africa nations known as IGAD will meet at the end of the month to discuss efforts to expand the role of African Union forces in Somalia (AMISOM), which are currently limited to a peacekeeping mission in Mogadishu.

He said the hope is to have a decision by January that will allow the force, known as AMISOM, to also provide support for the Kenyan operation in southern Somalia.

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Afghan bomb blast kills US-led soldier November 15, 2011

November 15, 2011

by legitgov


Afghan bomb blast kills US-led soldier 14 Nov 2011 Another US-led soldier has been killed in a bomb blast in southern Afghanistan, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) announces. ISAF said in a statement that the foreign soldier “died following a bomb attack in southern Afghanistan on Sunday,” Reuters reported. The statement gave no information about the nationality of the US-led soldier or the exact location of the incident.

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Kenya Asks Arab World for Support in Somalia November 13, 2011

Kenya is calling for more support from the Arab world to help secure Somalia as Kenyan troops continue their pursuit of al-Shabab militants in the country.  And the Kenyan military says it has shifted its tactics in the fight to help make way for humanitarian assistance.

Kenyan Foreign Ministry Assistant Director Lindsay Kiptiness told reporters in Nairobi Saturday that Kenya is turning to its Muslim partners for help in Somalia.

“As we speak now, the minister is somewhere in the Middle East to seek support from the Islamic world, which we consider to be very important,” Kiptiness said. “We are working on strategies to ensure that we have the support of the Arab League as well as other Muslim nations that have given support to the TFG before, like Turkey and Iran.”

The Kenyan military says it is working with forces from Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, or TFG, to eliminate the al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab in areas near the Kenyan border.

Kenya launched the military operation on its own in mid-October in what it deemed an act of self-defense, following several cross-border attacks blamed on Somali militants.

Seeking outside help

But, it has in recent weeks been seeking more support from the international community.

Kiptiness also said Kenya would be going to the United Nations to seek an expansion of the mandate of the African Union peacekeeping mission, known as AMISOM.

“We are also seeking support from the United Nations Security Council on the possibility of enhancing the operations of AMISOM to cover the entire Somalia, not only Mogadishu.”

Kenyan officials have previously said they would ask AMISOM and TFG forces to help maintain the peace in southern Somalia when Kenyan troops eventually withdrawal.

Shift in tactics

The Kenyan military says it has shifted tactics in the fight against al-Shabab.  After weeks of aerial bombardments, the military says al-Shabab has now splintered into smaller factions, and so Kenyan forces have also started working on a smaller scale.

Colonel Cyrus Oguna, an information officer in the Kenyan Armed Forces, says the mission also now includes a humanitarian element.

“They’re basically dealing with two major issues here: one is pacification, moving from door-to-door trying to clear al-Shabab remnants that might have sneaked behind or even mingled with the local people and that is really tedious and time-consuming. Plus, of course, trying to help the provision of security for NGOs to provide humanitarian assistance.  There are various NGOs that are on the Kenyan side that could not be allowed to go in when al-Shabab was in control.”

Colonel Oguna said the new strategy explains the recent lull in military operations.

In the latest incident, Oguna said TFG forces engaged al-Shabab militants suspected of killing four Somali civilians in an ambush on a car transporting khat – a leafy, marijuana-type plant that is chewed like tobacco. Oguna said four al-Shabab fighters were killed and two TFG soldiers wounded in the fighting.

The Kenyan military says hundreds of al-Shabab fighters have been killed or wounded since the military incursion began, while five Kenyan soldiers have died.

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Berlusconi Increasingly Pressured to Resign November 8, 2011

Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is under increasing pressure to resign, as allies leave his majority coalition ahead of Tuesday’s key parliamentary vote.

With Berlusconi’s majority in question, officials wonder if he can pass financial legislation key to securing European monetary assistance.

Rumors that Berlusconi would resign sent Italian markets upwards Monday. The prime minister quickly denied the rumors.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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US removes Afghanistan commander Peter Fuller for criticising Karzai November 5, 2011

Major General Peter Fuller, a top US commander in Afghanistan, has been relieved of his duties after criticising the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai.

General John Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), relieved Fuller as deputy commander of the effort to train Afghan security forces after Fuller told Politico that Afghan leaders were “isolated from reality”, a US defence official said.

Pentagon spokesman George Little had said on Friday that defence secretary Leon Panetta was aware of the remarks and Fuller had been speaking for himself, not the US defence department.

“The secretary has full trust and confidence in General Allen’s judgment with respect to his decision in this case,” Little said in response to Allen’s decision to relieve Fuller of his duties.

Speaking in a Politico interview that ran on Thursday, Fuller depicted Afghan officials as detached and unappreciative of American sacrifices and financial contributions to Afghanistan after 10 years of war.

The interview painted Fuller as critical of Karzai’s recent comments suggesting Afghanistan would side with Pakistan if it went to war with the United States.

“Why don’t you just poke me in the eye with a needle! You’ve got to be kidding me – I’m sorry, we just gave you $11.6bn and now you’re telling me, ‘I don’t really care?’”

The interview quoted Fuller as saying Afghanistan did not recognise the sacrifice in “treasure and blood” the US was making for its security.

In July 2010 Barack Obama fired General Stanley McChrystal, then commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, over remarks he and his aides made in an explosive Rolling Stone magazine article that disparaged the president and other civilian leaders.

While Fuller’s job was far less senior than McChrystal’s, the training of Afghan security forces has become more and more central to Nato’s mission in Afghanistan as foreign forces gradually seek to put Afghan soldiers and police in charge of security.

Afghan security forces are far more numerous than they were and better skilled, but they still have inadequate fighting skills, poor equipment and widespread illiteracy.

While Obama plans to remove the 33,000 extra troops he sent following a 2009 review of Afghan war strategy, security conditions remain troubling. The United Nations says violence is at its worst level since the war began in 2001.

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Western Companies See Prospects for Business in Libya October 31, 2011

October 30, 2011

by legitgov


Western Companies See Prospects for Business in Libya 29 Oct 2011 The guns in Libya have barely quieted, and NATO’s military assistance to the rebellion coup that toppled Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi will not end officially until Monday. But a new invasion force is already plotting its own landing on the shores of Tripoli. Western security, construction and infrastructure companies [mercenaries and corpora-terrorists] that see profit-making opportunities receding in Iraq and Afghanistan have turned their sights on Libya. Entrepreneurs are abuzz about the business potential of a country with huge needs and the oil to pay for them.

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Afghan soldier kills 2 US-led troops October 29, 2011

October 29, 2011

by legitgov


Afghan soldier kills 2 US-led troops 29 Oct 2021 The US-led NATO force says a man dressed in Afghan army uniform has shot dead two foreign troops in southern Afghanistan. “Two International Security Assistance Force service members were killed today in southern Afghanistan when an individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform apparently turned his weapon on Afghan and coalition forces,” AFP cited a brief statement released by the Western military contingent on Saturday. The military force said the shooter was also killed in the incident.

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Kabul suicide bomb claims 17 victims

A suicide bomb attack on an international military convoy in the Afghan capital Kabul has killed at least 17 people, including 13 US troops.

All 13 members of the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) killed in the attack near Darulaman Palace, on the south-west outskirts of Kabul, were American soldiers, according to a US official.

“We can confirm that 13 International Security Assistance Force members have died,” said an Isaf spokesman.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which also killed four Afghans, including a policeman. The deputy police chief added that another three policemen were wounded in the attack.

Two Nato helicopters landed at the scene to airlift several casualties. Other victims were treated on stretchers laid out on the pavement.

Violence across Afghanistan is at its worst since the start of the war 10 years ago, according to the United Nations, despite the presence of more than 130,000 foreign troops.

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Turkey’s Rescue Teams Pressed to Find Quake Survivors October 25, 2011

Time is running out for people believed to be still trapped in collapsed buildings after Sunday’s deadly earthquake in southeastern Turkey. The number of dead is more than 400, but that is expected to rise after a second night of freezing temperatures.

More and more rescue teams are reaching the quake-stricken area in southeastern Turkey, as efforts are intensifying to find survivors buried in the rubble of the thousands of collapsed buildings.

With a second night of freezing conditions, it is a race against time.


The surviving mother of a baby girl rescued from a collapsed building is taken to an ambulance in Ercis, near the eastern Turkish city of Van, October 25, 2011.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, five people were dug out of their collapsed apartment building. Later, a two-week-old baby, her mother and grandmother were also rescued from the rubble of their home.   

But hundreds still remain unaccounted for.

Remote villages

Many of the region’s remote villages still have not been reached, with access to numerous roads cut off. Those that have been reached have been devastated, with the traditional houses made of mud and clay offering little protection to the powerful 7.2 quake.

The magnitude of the disaster is leading to increased scrutiny over the government’s refusal to accept almost all offers of international help, including from Israel where there are current tense bilateral relations.

But Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc claimed Turkey’s refusal of help is not politically motivated.

He says such a claim is horrendous. He says that while Turkey may not be on the best of terms with Israel, to respond negatively to such a humane offer from the Israeli government in the wake of such a disaster because of separate agendas would have been wrong and inappropriate. The deputy prime minister says it is completely untrue that Turkey refused Israel’s help for that reason.  

International assistance

Nearly 90 countries have offered assistance, but Turkey has only accepted help from Iran and Azerbaijan, which border the area affected by the quake.

The government claims it can deal with the crisis. But with the approach of winter, and snow predicted later this week, pressure is building to accept assistance.

The region is one of the poorest in Turkey, with many people having lost what little they had. Although tent cities and field hospitals have been set up, criticism has been growing that more needs to be done.

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Judge blocks Fla.’s new welfare drug testing law

October 24, 2011

by legitgov


Judge blocks Fla.’s new welfare drug testing law –Controversial law requires those applying for assistance to pass a drug test 24 Oct 2011 A federal judge temporarily blocked Florida’s new law that requires welfare applicants to pass a drug test before receiving the benefits on Monday, saying it may violate the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. Judge Mary Scriven’s ruling is in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union that claims the law is unconstitutional. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a 35-year-old Navy veteran and single father who sought the benefits while finishing his college degree, but refused to take the test.

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206 NATO troops poisoned in Afghanistan October 15, 2011

October 14, 2011

by legitgov


206 NATO troops poisoned in Afghanistan 14 Oct 2011 NATO has confirmed that at least 206 troops working with the US-led military alliance have been poisoned near Mazar Sharif, capital of the northern Afghan province of Balkh, Press TV reports. The NATO-led International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) said the soldiers fell ill after dining in Camp Marmal near Mazar Sharif late Wednesday, a Press TV correspondent reported on Friday. About 138 of the victims are German while the rest are from other NATO countries engaged in the Afghan war.

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The self-inflicted wound of US foreign aid cuts | Kevin Gallagher and Katherine Koleski

It’s not every day that foreign aid is front page news in the United States, but it is because slashing foreign aid has become one of the few areas of bipartisanship in the US Congress. Such an act of retreat is short-sighted. Given that China and other emerging markets are ramping up their overseas development assistance, the US should be revamping and increasing aid, not cutting.

When Obama took office, he put together two major reviews of US foreign assistance programs, resulting in the release of two bold reports (pdf) just last year. These reports led the administration to propose a 10% increase in foreign aid for this budget cycle, up to $59bn – but still less than 2% of the total federal budget. A key part of these reports was a focus on pursuing a long-term strategy rather than going with the latest development fad and constantly switching gears.

Well, the immediate recipients of that aid don’t vote for US congressional representatives. Last week, the US House of Representatives proposed a 20% reduction, while the Senate suggested a 10% cut from last year’s total, not an increase at all. While Congress hardly proposes to dent the components of US aid that are tied to military programs, hardest hit are food aid, global health programs, the United States Agency for International Development and official development assistance (water filtration plants, etc).

While the United States is in the midst of reducing its foreign aid, China has been increasing its contributions. China has lent at least $110bn between 2009 and 2010 – more aid than all World Bank loans combined during that period. Furthermore, China is implementing that longer-term strategy that Obama said the US needs.

The US aid machine has been prey to the latest fads in development thinking. In the 1970s, we built dams and displaced people; in the 1980s, we made nations “restructure” their economies by getting the government out of the economy; in the 1990s, we told them to “trade not aid”; and lately, we’ve been setting up little microfinance projects around the world. All that can be fine at a micro-level, but such efforts have made a small impact at best and have been disastrous at their worst.

Meanwhile, China has been building export-processing zones, ports, railways and other more growth- and job-friendly projects. What is more, China’s aid has far fewer strings attached than the US’s does, and is increasingly favored abroad as a result. That is, in part, a pity, because according to a new report by US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, China’s aid to the developing world does not adhere to international standards such as governmental reform and human rights protection; this undermines efforts by the United States to initiate such reforms in Burma, Venezuela and Sudan.

In short, Obama’s new vision for aid started the right conversation; but the budget cutters have muted it. Foreign aid is seldom charity; it is an investment. The US needs to invest in growth and development abroad for our own sake, as well. If US aid is working, then as other countries of the world grow, they will be more apt to purchase our products, will be less apt to be struck with civil unrest that can jeopardise our geopolitical strategies, and improve our standing in the world in a manner that pays dividends.

Slashing foreign aid is an easy target, given that foreigners can’t vote in the US. Congress would show more strength if they trimmed the defense budget and passed the millionaire tax proposal. Given that the 0.3% of the people in the US who make over $1m a year had a great ride during the boom years, they owe it to the 99.7% who are being asked to pay more still now and cut back.

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Not A Single Afghan Battalion Fights Without U.S. Help September 29, 2011

September 29, 2011

by legitgov


Not A Single Afghan Battalion Fights Without U.S. Help 26 Sep 2011 Ten years of war. Two years of an accelerated effort to train Afghans to take over that fight, at an annual cost of $6 billion. And not a single Afghan army battalion can operate without assistance from U.S. or allied units. That was the assessment made by the officer responsible for training those Afghan soldiers, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell. Out of approximately 180 Afghan National Army battalions, only two operate “independently.” “Those two ‘independent’ battalions still require U.S. support for their maintenance, logistics and medical systems,” Caldwell admitted when Pentagon reporters pressed him on Monday morning.

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