Friday, April 22, 2011

Adultery Fridays and Vacay

I have a new post up at Foreign Policy Blogs.

I know I've neglected you. I promise to come back with loads and loads of pictures when I return from my vacation here and here. I'm sure there will be a story or two. The former requires a 15-hour bus ride across the country, followed by a long layover at a Wimpy's and then a three-hour shuttle ride. The latter requires at least a four-hour drive on a bad road (in a minibus!), apparently the only tent pegs successfully sunk in the ground are rebar, there's a lot of wind, and yeah, I think we set art on fire.

Catch you on the flip side.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011


There will be lots of pictures of beautiful natural spots, or the ex-pat bar, or the nice place you stayed at while on break. There will be shots of bad English phrases on t-shirts, signs, menus and the backs of buses and taxis. There may be photos you took on the sly, knowing that it was inappropriate to take them. You will assume that none of your local co-workers or friends or anyone from the country where you are working will ever read your blog, so you will feel free to tell it like it is, without worrying about someone finding your observations offensive….

Over time, your blog will change in tone, or perhaps you’ll stop blogging for the folks back home altogether, as culture shock ebbs and you go about your normal business and things don’t stand out as strange anymore. [Note: you may need to pick up blogging again when you make your first visit home and discover "reverse culture shock."]

Friday, April 8, 2011

Adultery Fridays, a Video, and Lunching Update

So, as you know, I'm cheating on FCTTCT (wow, terrible acronym) over at the Foreign Policy Blogs Network's Global Health blog. You can check out the latest post here. I went a little a-la-mode trendy, so it's about crowdsourcing, crisis mapping, maptivism, and the Twitter Revolution. Enjoy!

Also, so you don't think I'm neglecting you, I thought I'd share the video of Kevin Starr (director of Mulago Foundation; disclosure: they fund m2m) at PopTech 2010. It's about high impact investing (AKA venture philanthropy), how to break the buzzword cycle in your NGO, and the big mistakes we've made by investing in really, really bad ideas. Ever heard of One Laptop Per Child or PlayPumps? Get ready to see an evisceration. Even if you're not a non-profit dork, you might find it interesting.

Finally, just wanted to let you all know that I'm on day five of five for skipping lunch in protest of the huge budget debacle in the US, which shows no signs of ending any time soon, but includes proposals to gut foreign aid and programs for the most vulnerable in the US. It's about 1.30pm here, and I think I'm going to make it, not that it was in any way a sacrifice in a world where 925 million people don't get enough to eat. As I wrote before, I had the luxury of choosing not to eat lunch and of being able to have a full stomach before I went to sleep. I'm very, very grateful for that. Thanks for reading, commenting, and re-posting.

Here's to hoping we'll have a sane budget. I'm still pretty pissed off.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Why I'm Not Eating Lunch This Week

4,000 activists have banded together to fast in order to draw attention to potential cuts to American foreign aid in the 2011 budget (and, I'll bet, the 2012 budget, which will be unveiled on Tuesday). H.R. 1 proposes cuts of up to 40% to foreign aid programs, including for HIV/AIDS, child survival, hunger prevention, and a host of other issues. amfAR has calculated that funding for AIDS treatment for almost 450,000 would be eliminated, 20,000 more babies could be infected with HIV, and nearly 3.9 million fewer people would receive malaria treatment. Food aid for almost 18 million people would be cut. Let's get some perspective: foreign aid is one percent of the federal budget.

I won't get into the proposal to completely cut NPR and Planned Parenthood. Or to ban the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. Go check out some of the key amendments here--my blood's starting to boil all over again. Defense spending, by the way, would increase, even though the Pentagon managed to waste $70 billion over the last two years due to management failures in weapons programs. You want to get really pissed off? Check out this excellent chart by the Center for American Progress comparing the proposed budget cuts and current tax breaks for the wealthy.

I am so incredibly sick of watching American conservatives jump up and down shrilly screaming about deficits and government spending while they screw over the most vulnerable, both in and out of the United States. In my blog post over at Foreign Policy Blogs, I tried to stay relatively calm, but here's what I think about that particular issue: the conservative agenda is directly responsible for the staggeringly disproportionate HIV epidemic in Mississippi. And now, it could also be responsible for the suffering and deaths of millions of people worldwide. That's both the fiscal conservatives and the social conservatives, by the way. I'm pissed off. As Raj Shah said in a speech before a House Appropriations Subcommittee last Wednesday,

Budgets are an expression of policy; they are an expression of priorities. But fundamentally, they are an expression of values.

This is a moral issue. It's not an economic theory issue. It's not a political issue. You can hear people say that foreign aid is good for national security, and that's true. But that's not what's really at stake. The US has the power to help, support, and save the lives of the most vulnerable people around the world. Instead, the House is proposing that we continue to spend millions to put "Go Army" ads on cars at NASCAR.

From today through Friday, I am forgoing lunch in solidarity with the 4,000, who include several heads of hunger organizations, Christian leaders, and even NYT food columnist Mark Bittman, and with the billions around the world who are hungry and who do not have the luxury of choosing to fast.

If a deal isn't reached by midnight on April 8, this Friday, the federal government will shut down. You know what? I hope President Obama and the Democratic leadership grow a spine and shut it down. I'm done with watching my country be held hostage by politics. I'm tired of seeing the poor, the mentally ill, children, people living with HIV, minorities, and all other marginalized and vulnerable populations get the short end of the stick while the ultra-rich--individuals and corporations--shore up their fortunes. I'm furious that the Democrats keep rolling over and taking it. Let's toughen up.

With a huge H/T to my friend Jack. I've been avoiding all this budget brouhaha because it's so depressing (and confusing, honestly), but his post over at ONE got me to act.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Branching Out

OK, here comes a whole lotta linking.

In December, my colleague and friend Cynthia asked me join her Global Health blog on the Foreign Policy Blogs Network. So, we've finally gotten it together (Cynthia's been a bit busy with a double wedding and marriage and work; I'm just lazy), and I've written my first post. I'll be writing about health and human rights (eek) on Fridays.

Don't worry, I won't throw this blog over for something newer, shinier, and younger. Not even for Twitter.