Tag Archives: Barbara Hogan

Five Stories You Might Have Missed

The terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India’s financial center and most populous city, has dominated recent headlines.  The attacks claimed at least 192 lives and have the potential to undermine both Indian economic development and the warming of Indian-Pakistani relations. The political fallout is also likely to be steep.  Already, Shivraj Patil, India’s Home Minister, has resigned, and many are speculating that the attacks may cost India’s ruling Congress Party dearly at the polls.

Here are five other important stories from the past week:

1.  Barbara Hogan, the new Minister of Health in South Africa, has announced a new program to address the HIV/AIDS crisis.  Under the program, the South African government will expand its support for its anti-HIV program with the help of the British government.  South Africa has the highest rate of HIV inflection in the world; an estimated 1 out of every 8 Sought Africans is HIV positive.  But the administration of previous President Thabo Mbeki had refused to acknowledge the connection between HIV and AIDS, choosing to treat HIV with traditional healers rather than conventional medicine.  South African AIDS activists are celebrating the new program.

2.  Ethiopia has announced its intention to withdraw its troops from Somalia by the end of the year.  Ethiopia has maintained a force of 2,000 to 3,000 soldiers in Somalia since 2006, when it invaded in order to oust Islamic militants who had seized power.  But the interim government of Somalia has been unable to assert authority outside of a small region in the capital, and the African Union has not fully funded its peacekeeping operation in the country.  Somalia has become a failed state, home to piracy which threatens shipping through the Suez Canal.  Some have speculated that the announcement of the Ethiopian withdrawal is intended to put pressure on the United Nations to establish a new peacekeeping operation in Somalia.

3.  Flooding near the Port of Itajai, one of Brazil’s most important ports, threatens to undermine Brazil’s agricultural exports.  The River Itajai broke its banks, flooding the port and killing at least 100 people.  The flooding threatens to close the port for as long as two weeks, undermining exports from Santa Catarina state, a major exporter of meat and chicken.  The flooding could affect global food prices, potentially rekindling concerns of a global food crisis.

4.  A French program intended to address the global financial crisis has been blocked by European Union officials.  The European Commission, the bureaucracy of the European Union, has refused to permit France to proceed with its plan to recapitalize its banks through a $13.3 billion support package.  The French government has reacted angrily to the veto, calling the decision “stupid” and “ridiculous.”

5.  A European Union probe has concluded that pharmaceutical manufacturers have engaged in unfair practices intended to delay or block the release of generic drugsadding billions to the cost of healthcare.  The investigation involved raids on several of Europe’s leading drug producers leading some to believe that the EU may pursue criminal and civil cases against the largest offenders.

Five Stories You Might Have Missed

Congress finally passed a bailout package on Friday.  The bill, which promises up to $700 billion to purchase failing mortgages from banks, was quickly signed into law by President Bush.  The vice presidential debate between Senator Joe Biden and Governor Sarah Palin also garnered much attention.  But will all the focus on the outcome of the bailout and the VP debate this week, you might have missed some other important developments in the world this week.  Here are my top five:

1. We discussed the political transition in South Africa last week.  One interesting (and critically important) result: a new health minister.  The incoming heath minister, Barbara Hogan, has vowed to make fighting HIV/AIDS the ministry’s top priority.  In a country where an estimated 5.6 million people are HIV positive, and more than 1,000 die from HIV/AIDS-related illness every day, the disease touches everyone.  Hogan was a well-know critic of the Mbeki government’s HIV/AIDS policy, campaigning for improved access to medicines and a greater emphasis on education.  Hogan was a white anti-apartheid activist who spent eight years in prison for fighting for democracy and majority rule. 

2. The Bush administration notified Congress of its intention to move forward with a $6.5 billion weapons deal with Taiwan.  The deal would include some of the U.S.’s most advanced weapons systems including Patriot missiles, Apache helicopters, submarine-launched Harpoon missiles, and spare parts for F-16 fighter jets.  Taiwan feels the weapons are necessary to increase the island’s ability to defend itself.  China views the sale as a provocation.

3. In another U.S. foreign policy development, the Senate appears likely to approve a civilian nuclear energy deal between the United States and India next week.  Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is visiting with Indian government officials this weekend to hammer out the deal, which could receive approval from the Senate as early as Wednesday.  The deal represents a fundamental shift in U.S.-Indian relations.  Because India had developed nuclear weapons outside of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it was subject to intense trade-restrictions on nuclear-related technologies.  In light of the U.S. move, Europe is making a similar policy shift.

4. In Angola, the government announced a plan to attract $6 billion in new agricultural investment over the next five years.  Encouraged by high global food prices, the government of Angola hopes to diversify the country’s economy away from exclusive reliance on diamonds and oil, into new areas.   The country has already attracted two new investors, Lonrho and Chiquita, both of which hope to capitalize on the new initiative.  However, the United Nations has raised concerns over the risk of “food neo-colonialism” in the context of such efforts.

5. French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s Saturday summit intended to develop a plan to prevent a European-wide credit meltdown—similar to that which seems to be developing in the United States—ended without a specific plan on action.  The summit’s outcome was undermined by competition between the German and French governments over responsibility for and the nature of a rescue package.