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Bono, U2 and the G8

16 Jul

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Don’t Insult Africa: Raise a Cry for Democracy!

July 16, 2005 | By | 2 Comments

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Here I Come

To Save the Day!

Yesterday, in an article entitled, “All Rock, No Action”, the New York Times published a dissident voice on the Live 8 effort to help Africa — the oped was written by an African, Jean-Claude Shanda Tonme, from Cameroon.

Tonme argues that Live 8 was “an insult both to us and to common sense.” He says that Africans are the ones who know what the problems of their continent are and that “no one else should speak in our name.”

After I spent a week with Live 8 activists, hearing that Africa needs more money, more trade . . . and “more mosquito nets,” I thought Tonme’s central argument was breathtaking:

Our anger is all the greater because despite all the presidents for life, despite all the evidence of genocide, we didn’t hear anyone at Live 8 raise a cry for democracy in Africa.

No. He didn’t. The one person I heard who kept raising the issue of corruption in Africa was . . . Djimon Hounsou — who is himself originally from Africa. He knows whereof he speaks.

And this is the central problem at the heart of the good intentions of the Live 8/One Campaign efforts — it is a movement infused with the “Here I come to save the day” ethos:

But the truth is that it was not for us, for Africa, that the musicians at Live 8 were singing; it was to amuse the crowds and to clear their own consciences, and whether they realized it or not, to reinforce dictatorships. They still believe us to be like children that they must save. . .

Africa is strategically important; we can’t ignore its problems. Not to mention the moral imperatives of genocide and disease. But our efforts to help must be based on more than good intentions, and Tonme offers a cautionary tale:

We would have preferred for the musicians in Philadelphia and London to have marched and sung for political revolution. Instead, they mourned a corpse while forgetting to denounce the murderer.

Read the whole article after the jump . . .

Thanks to Brogonzo at A Healthy Alternative to Work via Mudville Open Post.

Update 2 August Small Dead Animals has more and points us to where the millions billions have gone, thanks to research on African Corruption by Canadian blogger Unconscious Country.

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11 Jul

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Can a Concert “Make Poverty History”?

July 11, 2005 | By | 4 Comments

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Murrayfield Stadium

Edinburgh, Scotland

Live8: The Final Push

After attending the final Live8 concert Thursday night 6 July, in Edinburgh, I left you in the wee hours of Friday morning with a teaser — Bob Geldof’s challenge to the G8:

We’ve got 3.8 billion people in our back pockets. What are you going to do about that?

Then he said they expected politicians to either respond to the Live8 movement or:

When you come to us and ask for our approval at the ballot box: F**K OFF!

Of course, Friday morning dawned with news of bombs in London, and my promise to follow up was trumped with more pressing events.

But I want to come back to the concert, and here’s why. On Thursday afternoon, we looked out the window of the Media Center on the second floor of the Balmoral Hotel and saw protestors gathering further down Prince Street. So Steve Beard and I grabbed our cameras to head in that direction. When the elevator doors opened up, there stood Geldof.

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We had been on the plane with him from Heathrow to Edinburgh and, frankly, the guy is so amazingly scruffy that in person he doesn’t seem like a Big Deal. We chatted very casually in the elevator. But then the doors opened, we walked into the lobby, and the air molecules changed. Steve and I were right behind him as he walked out to the waiting crowd and the scene was pandemonium. Geldof is a walking Ion Generator.

Keeping that image in mind, here’s my larger point: we found out later that he was headed to catch the helicopter to Gleneagles to meet with President Bush. He then came back for the triumphant concert that night, to celebrate this remarkable access to world leaders: 3.8 billion people in our back pocket.

A pretty megalomaniacal claim, even for a rock star.

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Edinburgh: The Final Push

But then came the announcement from Gleneagles: Aid to Africa increasing by $50 billion; debt forgiveness for 18 countries. A large portion of the Bono/Geldof agenda moving forward.

There is something significant afoot here and Americans need to pay attention. If for no other reason than that there really are children dying in Africa.

Trying to watch the concert from a detached perspective was difficult to maintain: it was impressive to see world-class entertainers at work. . .manipulating public sentiment and mobilizing public opinion.

It wasn’t perfect: The repetitive, canned appeals from most of the entertainers was wearisome. In some cases humorous —

“$50 billion dollars is a lot of money. Really, it is. Think for a minute, if you move from $25 billion to $50 billion and you think of how you spend your own money. . .uh, well, uh,. . . . . . it’s a lot of money,[entertainer panicking with mind going blank]. . . and now we’re going to show you a video . . . “

In other cases screechy and shrill — “It’s about JUSTICE. We demand JUSTICE.

But still, the music was great and interspersed with powerful, evocative videos played on the JumboTron. The most emotional one was the “Click” video. If you’ve not seen it yet, take a minute to watch it.

The video is built around the statistic that every three seconds a child dies in Africa. A celebrity comes on screen every three seconds, and “click” — snaps their fingers. A child has died. Click. Another one.

Click. Another.

The mother in me was deeply moved. How can we just let these children die?

The policy analyst in me replied: We have to get it right.

I left the concert with ambivalent feelings. There had been so much of the typical liberal silliness: Nobel Peace Laureate, Wangari Maathai, challenging the crowd to “plant ten trees to take care of carbon dioxide.”

Please.

Get Serious. Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt.

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John Hinderaker and I talked before I left for the trip. We were both curious about whether or not the potential for a right-left convergence on this issue is real.

It could be. The boos of the Live8 crowd any time President Bush’s name was mentioned left me skeptical. But in Bono and Geldof’s praise for President Bush, George Clooney’s refusals to accept bait to criticize the administration, and other obvious efforts to craft a coalition-building message, I saw a glimmer of potential.

Click.

We do have to get it right. To Make Poverty History will take more than eight concerts.

And more than more money . . .

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JollyBlogger rethinking negative comments.

Mudville Gazette serving the country and mankind at Open Post

Paul Hogue has Anti-Americanism in Perspective

GOPBloggers have the real answer to Africa’s problems,

Our leftwing friends will wonder why this is important – but each and every conservative knows that the way to make people determined upon personal liberty, stable and free government and the rule of law is the widespread ownership of property. You don’t let your community become a haven of criminals when you’ve got equity value in property you hold title to.

Professor Drezner has citations and analysis on Africa’s Digital Divide — a most interesting perspective with cell phones.

Asymetrical Information says not to throw good money after bad debt in Should We Give?

Unfortunately, aid can make things worse, by entrenching the incompetent or corrupt governments and institutions that keep people poor. The world community has tried to tie aid to good governance committments, but these rarely pan out in practice. The aid community has the same problem as the financial community: it is in the business of giving out money. When there are no good opportunities available, the tempation is to start piling into the bad ones, rather than give the money back and look for a job selling shoes.

Professor Becker at The Becker-Posner Blog suggest we consider India,

India and other examples of poor countries that managed to grow rapidly indicate that large scale and general foreign economic aid is not the solution to slow growth. Indeed, general aid might delay the reforms necessary for growth because it can take away the crisis mentality that appears crucial to galvanizing the political will necessary to implement radical economic reforms.

Enjoy the wealth of intellectual property of Outside The Beltway at Traffic Jam

09 Jul

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UPDATED: George Clooney Appearance

July 9, 2005 | By | 2 Comments

George Clooney

UPDATE Saturday 9th:

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Djimon Hounsou

and George Clooney

Waiting to hear George Clooney speak to the ONE campaign activists Wednesday morning at the Roxy Art House in Edinburgh, the last thing I expected was to hear George Clooney give George Bush higher marks than Bill Clinton. On anything.

But he did.

First he noted that the President’s speech last Saturday night was a “step in the right direction.” And then he commented that the Bush administration is “ahead of schedule on AIDS funding.” But he went even further by drily remarking that this was “better than the last President.” That President would be Bill Clinton.

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Clooney’s presentation was very controlled and carefully calibrated. He didn’t appear to be particularly enthused about his assignment, but he was clearly designated as the tip of the spear in the Bono/Geldof charm offensive in their campaign to engage the Bush Administration, and more broadly the Right as a movement, with their African anti-poverty agenda.

Clooney made this agenda fairly specific, talking about “building bridges” and mentioning his upcoming appearance on Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network by joking and saying that “my parents will laugh.” The kids in the audience loved it.

The Pat Robertson tactic is serious. Robertson’s grand-daughter was present with the CBN team and Clooney greeted her heartily with “How’s your grandfather?”

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Clooney provided even more evidence of the strictly disciplined on-message Positive Approach the ONE campaign is pursuing. The assembled media at the gathering were denied any opportunity to ask questions. Instead Clooney easily fielded questions from the activists who asked uniformly bland questions.

Activist Question: “How do we get media attention for our issues?”

Clooney Answer: “Marry someone famous.”

Irritated, George Arney from the BBC pushed forward at the end, shoved a microphone in Clooney’s face and asked about global warming. Waving off the event organizer’s protests, Clooney answered evenly: “We’re trying not to polarize people; we’re trying to pick our fights.”

Then he added a comment that I found very interesting for its insight into the Bono/Geldof strategy: “We have to let them [the Bush Administration] be good guys.”

Here’s why I thought Clooney wasn’t too thrilled with this approach: he fiddled with his fingers through much of the presentation.

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George Clooney Fidgets

What was it like being a few feet from George Clooney? A little underwhelming actually. I couldn’t help thinking of Dolly Parton’s remark that “it takes a lot of money to look this cheap.”

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George Clooney’s Shoes

# # #

Outside The Beltway has excellent contributing posts at Beltway Traffic Jam.

Elected politics for Clooney? “Run for office? No. I’ve slept with too many women, I’ve done too many drugs, and I’ve been to too many parties.

-George Clooney

More at Clooney’s fan club

Clooney knows politics as he buys property in Italy. Learn at Luxist.

Thank you to the Media Soul for her George Clooney report from CBN.com,

Much of the pressure to take such action came from the One campaign — a massive anti-poverty effort that brought together such diverse personalities as actor George Clooney and CBN’s Pat Robertson.

Clooney and Robertson appeared on a recent “Nightline” together.

“George is a tremendous humanitarian,” Robertson said.

“Obviously, it’s rather strange bedfellows,” Clooney commented.

GOP Bloggers say G8 rewarded terrorism

The Clooney Network has more pics

The MovieBlog has analysis at Clooney on CNN

08 Jul

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London update

July 8, 2005 | By | 4 Comments

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Little Green Footballs: Terrorism Works.

WILLisms Winston Churchill Quote, 1940.

Yea Right Whatever is going to fly the Union Jack.

Michelle Malkin has pics of spontaneous memorials (sort of)

The Anchoress asks all the right, “If’s”

Smash at The Indepundit reports the our State Dept has found and is flying the Union Jack. Salute to Robert Mayer follows at…

Publius Pundit has a Union Jack.

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London Later on 7.7.05

July 7, 2005 | By | 24 Comments

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I have a lot to tell you about the events of this last week. My plan today was to write up my notes on the George Clooney appearance qua briefing; yesterday’s afternoon protests in Edinburgh; the Wolfowitz speech on trade to the German Marshall Fund; and the mixed reaction I had to last night’s Murrayfield Geldof/Bono concert. I will yet do those posts, but priorities suddenly shifted today.

As I strolled toward the departure gate at Edinburgh airport this morning with two hours to spare before our scheduled departure to Heathrow, I was engrossed in thinking about how best to convey the wild ride of the last few days.

And then I glanced up at a television monitor and my heart sank. Bombs, multiple bombs, in London. People dead.

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As I got to the gate area, everyone was crowded around, watching the television in stunned silence, while policeman with machine guns soberly stood guard nearby. It suddenly felt like 9/11.

Early reports had 90 dead. The latest numbers I’m hearing here are 38 dead; 50 in critical condition; and 700 wounded to some degree.

When we finally did reach London much later in the afternoon, a group of us jumped in a cab to try to reach the city, despite warnings that the roads were impassable. We sped toward the city on the M4 and the A40, however, without any difficulty. Those trying to get out of the city were not so lucky and faced bumper to bumper traffic.

Our driver did his best to accomodate his anxious American journalist passengers who kept asking him to turn the radio up louder. Jon, a journalist with KOMO Radio, filed two posts on the phone from the cab. We listened for awhile to a local news call-in show where the female host in her most soothing voice kept trying to steer the conversation toward group consolation.

A caller named Colin was having none of it. “If it weren’t for Tony Blair and George Bush,” he said angrily, “we wouldn’t be in this situation.”

We were going to hear a lot of this sentiment in the hours ahead.

Still, we sped past a soccer field on our left, a group of shirtless little boy played soccer happily. Life as usual.

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Finally, we reached the Queen Elizabeth the Mother Hospital in Paddington where some of the victims had been taken. It was quiet and calm, but definitely not life as usual, with police guarding the entrance and a gaggle of reporters camped out across from the entrance.

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The Edgware Underground Tube station was only a few blocks away, so we set off on foot. As we neared the site, the police presence was strong, as expected. The crowds were not.

A steady stream of observers did stop to look and photograph the barricaded street. But mostly, the feel in the air was one of stoic calm.

Greg Beals, of New York Newsday and I decided to try the Hilton across the street from the barricades to see what the day had wrought for them. In today’s only (extremely) hostile encounter, a manager summarily kicked me out. As I left, a security agent crossed the lobby and said, “I understand you’ve been taking pictures,” and appeared ready to take my camera. I hastened to show him that I had not, in fact, taken any photographs of the Hilton. Hooray for digital.

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Directly outside I saw Davy D, a hip-hop DJ from Oakland. Together we went over to interview a group of young men standing together by the barricades. After they recognized Davey, they were happy to speak right up. We asked them why everyone seemed to be reacting so calmly and they all just shrugged. One said: “I was expecting this — sooner or later it was going to happen. I knew something was going to happen.” Then he continued: “Everyone thinks they know why it happened. . .”

Why?

Well, because George Bush and Tony Blair need to make it easier to go to war.

Davey and I glanced at each other. The interview moved on to other topics. Finally, as we wrapped up, I stopped the young man, just to clarify his comment. Did he mean, I asked, to imply that there was some sort of conspiracy by the government involved in today’s attacks? Just to generate support for the war?

“Definitely,” he said. “Definitely.”

These young men told us something that we heard reported nowhere else: in the aftermath of the attacks, the government shut down the cell phone towers and no one was able to communicate with their phones. This, they said, was “terrifying.” For some time at least, no one was able to find out where their loved ones were.

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Next Davey spied two attractive young black women and asked for their reactions. They eyed him warily, but one of them couldn’t resist and blurted out aggressively, “It’s Tony Blair’s fault! They’ve killed 100,000 people — it’s like a boomerang.” Later she repeated this, talking about “killing innocent people” and “invading other peoples’ country . . .”

When we asked her the question about the calm, she shrugged too. “We’re used to it,” she replied. “Americans get patriotic over anything silly.”

We were starting to see a pattern.

I spotted a young woman about my own age and asked if she would talk with me. After initial hesitation, she got warmed up, and ended up repeating many of the same themes the young men had given us, without the conspiracy theories.

She, too, had been expecting to be attacked and was almost relieved. “We were so going to happen,” she said.

As to the calm? Again: “We’re used to it.”

When I first asked her about Tony Blair she was hesitant to assign blame. But as we talked, she became more animated, and finally blurted out: “This is the price we’re paying [for the war in Iraq]. Yes, I guess I do blame [Blair] — makes you bloody angry. . . we’ve killed all those people in Iraq; all those civilians . . . ”

I started to wonder if someone had handed out talking points for the day. But how was it that a group of young, male English Muslims, a trendy black woman in her late 20’s, and a 30-something white woman interior designer, were all saying the same thing?

I decided I needed to expand my demographic sample and started looking for the quintessential English gentleman businessman.

Spied him talking on the phone near the barricade and moved in. Warily, he agreed to talk.

No, he wasn’t surprised. “It’s been due to happen. Sooner or later.” He got the talking points, too.

Bu then he pointed out something very interesting that I had noticed only on a subconscious level. “This is the heart of Little Beirut” he said. We were indeed surrounded by people, like the young men, who appeared to be Arab. A strange and exceptionally cold-blooded choice of targets for Al Quaida, even by terrorist standards.

Finally, I asked him the Tony Blair question. He looked at me puzzled: “How can you blame Tony Blair?”

I told him he was the only one all day I’d found who didn’t.

He frowned. “Interesting,” he said. And walked off.

As our group re-assembled and walked back toward the hospital in a sudden grey London rain, we compared notes. We all agreed that we were observing a striking difference between English and American reactions to this kind of disaster. Perhaps later the impromptu teddy-bear memorials that characterize our American communal grief in the wake of tragedy will appear.

But, for now, the English we met were putting on the stiff upper lip.

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LaShawn Barber’s Corner is asking for ideas.

Jolly Blogger has a ‘thanksgiving’ message.

Evangelical Outpost suggests a Day of Mourning

Captain’s Quarters has insight on London’s Muslims

Crooked Timber has thoughful Open Thread

Wonkette on the “stiff upper lip”

MaxedOutMama has “Isreal Slander”

Small Dead Animals has it right on “community involvement.”

Little Green Footballs: Terrorism Works.

Ever vigilant Mudville Gazette at Open Post.

The Washington Monthly has NON-LESSONS FROM LONDON.

Outside The Beltway quotes MP Galloway ” Bombings Price of Iraq and Afghanistan.”

ProLife Blogs Supporting our friends in London

Bling has more at The Day After

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Bono Rocking in Edinburgh Late into the Night

July 6, 2005 | By | One Comment

It’s ten minutes until midnight and I’m writing from Murrayfield Stadium here in Edinburgh, where 50,000 people have been rocking since 7:00. And they show no inclination toward going home. The roar of the crowd behind me is intense. . .

Bono, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure led the crowd in singing the Scottish national anthem minutes ago which segued into a set by Ure and his band with the crowd going crazy.

The organizers have been announcing since 10:00 that the trains and buses would stop running at 11:30 . . .but very few left.

Oh wait. Now here comes James Brown! Even your Audacious Blogger has got to go . . .

More later. Lots to tell you about what has been said here tonight.

* * *

2 AM UPDATE: Made it back to the hotel. But it was an adventure. We almost had to walk. Must. Sleep.

But quickly, just to goad you into coming back tomorrow for the full report, here’s what Geldof shouted as a challenge to “the eight men in one room:”

We’ve got 3.8 million people in our back pockets. What are you going to do about that?

Then he said they expected politicians to respond to the Live8 movement or:

When you come to us and ask for our approval at the ballot box: F**K OFF!

The crowd went wild.

(James Brown was terrific!)

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While Geldolf was cussing Richard Anderson was praying.

Overheard in the Media Room . . .

July 6, 2005 | By | No Comments

Read in British accent:

“Well, look, it’s pouring rain out there. . . if you promise me you’ll publish the pictures I’ll go out there and get the protestors. . .”

Laughter all round.

Stay tuned. I’ve got some pics.

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NT Gateway thinks these days of Live8 concerts could be historic.

Trade Briefing with Wolfowitz Tomorrow

July 5, 2005 | By | One Comment

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Banner hanging in church courtyard

The trade briefing scheduled for today was cancelled and replaced with a panel discussion tomorrow followed by a meeting with new World Bank President, Paul Wolfowitz.

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Banners Everywhere

The panel will include H.E. Alan Keyterman, Minister of Trade and Industry, Ghana; Supachai Panitchpakdi, Director-General, World Trade Organization; Peter Mandelson, European Union Commissioner for Trade; Ernesto Zedillo, Director, Yale Center for the Study of

Globalization; and Mary Robinson, President, Ethical Globalisation Initiative.

I’ll file a report on the panel and meeting as quickly as possible tomorrow.

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Elton John Sends a Message in the Live8 Insider to “raise awareness of the global AIDS/HIV crisis.”

WizBang has pictures of what the American delegation can expect. Includes Digitus Impudicus.

Outside The Beltway and Cannuckistan alert us to SPIEGEL INTERVIEW WITH AFRICAN ECONOMICS EXPERT “For God’s Sake, Please Stop the Aid!”

The Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati, 35, says that aid to Africa does more harm than good. The avid proponent of globalization spoke with SPIEGEL about the disastrous effects of Western development policy in Africa, corrupt rulers, and the tendency to overstate the AIDS problem.

No Posters. . . and We Mean It!

July 5, 2005 | By | No Comments

“No Bill Posters Or We Will Prosecute And We Mean It”we_mean_it.jpg No. Really. We Mean It. Yeah, well you see how effective that was with self-styled anarchists.

It feels a little silly to describe the protestors as anarchists. The term makes me think of the dodgy characters of The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare. But the protestors who wreaked such havoc here yesterday do, in fact, label themselves “anarchists.” Read all about the riots from John and Josh’s reports.

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Lots of Anti-Bush T-shirts, too

This afternoon, John, Steve Beard and I set out to assess the aftermath of last night’s riots. (Well, and maybe see a little of Edinburgh along the way. . .)

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I haven’t yet introduced you to Steve Beard of Thunderstruck.org. Steve’s a movie/music critic who covers the culture writ large, as well as the editor of Good News magazine. And a great guy.

Frankly, as I mentioned yesterday, we expected to see more random disturbances today. But the only sign of protest was the still-heightened police presence, and the anti-authority posters plastered all over town.

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Hundreds of individually signed protest postcards


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