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2010 November 18 | Activist News
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July 26, 2013 President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20500 Re: Civil Disobedience, Edward J. Snowden, and the Constitution Dear Mr. President: You are acutely aware More »

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U.S. Companies Pay Just One-Third Of The Legal Tax Rate: GAO Study

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Daily Archives: November 18, 2010

Funding Cuts on Horizon for Global Health, AIDS

IPS
November 18, 2010
By Matthew O. Berger

WASHINGTON, Nov 17, 2010 (IPS) – Over the past several years, the number of people needing treatment for HIV/AIDS has risen, but so has the amount of funding for the treatment and prevention of the disease. The United States has been at the forefront of that funding, but with the new emphasis in Washington on reducing government spending that may be about to change.

Even though the U.S. lags behind many European countries in terms of global health contributions as a proportion of GDP, it remains the single largest funder of health assistance to developing countries.

This is why the new U.S. Congress that was elected earlier this month and will take office in January is somewhat concerning to global health advocates. Republicans will take control of the U.S. House of Representatives and have made it clear that reducing government spending in order to close the government’s budget deficit will be a top priority.
This platform was laid out in September, when House Republicans made what they called a “Pledge to America”. Among their proposals was reducing so-called non-security- related spending for fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2008 levels, meaning this spending would be 21.7 percent below what President Barack Obama has requested.

And the preliminary recommendations from a panel commissioned by Obama to look at ways of reducing the federal budget deficit includes cuts to a foreign aid budget many NGOs say is already too small.

It is far from clear how many of these proposals will succeed in getting implemented, nor how spending cuts would be distributed across programmes, but it is widely expected that there would be steep cuts to HIV/AIDS programmes and research – as well as other areas of global health and foreign assistance funding.

Most frustrating for NGOs is that those cuts would come just U.S.-funded AIDS work is seeing strong successes.

In the first four years after former U.S. President George W. Bush started the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR, in 2003, deaths from HIV/AIDS in targeted countries dropped by over 10 percent, according to a 2009 study.

Also credited to PEPFAR is the fact that between 2003 and 2010, U.S. spending on global health has more than doubled, reaching 10.5 billion dollars this year. HIV/AIDS currently accounts for an estimated 62 percent that spending.

President Obama has called for another increase of 741 million dollars in funding for global health programmes for the fiscal year 2011, bringing the U.S.’s total funding level to 63 billion dollars over six years under their Global Health Initiative. Funding for HIV/AIDS programmes would rise by 3.6 percent.

Health groups say these funds are needed because even with ramped-up spending in recent years, more than nine million people in developing countries who need HIV/AIDS treatment do not have access to it.

And as the number of people with HIV/AIDS grows, there will be an even greater need for access to treatment, since infected people must continue taking the anti-retroviral drugs for the rest of their lives.

If budget deficit-wary U.S. policymakers get their way in Washington, it could have a devastating impact on progress being made against HIV/AIDS both domestically and abroad, warns Chris Collins, vice president and director of public policy at the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amFAR).

Collins spearheaded a report released by amFAR last week that details how cutting U.S. spending back to fiscal year 2008 levels, as Congressional Republicans have proposed, would impact U.S. spending on AIDS programmes and research.

U.S. funding for HIV/AIDS programmes abroad would see a 13.1 percent reduction if those cuts were made, the report says. Domestic programmes would face a 6.5 percent cut while funding for AIDS research at the U.S. National Institutes of Health would be cut by eight percent. 

Full Article Here – http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=53590

Workers find more radioactivity at Hanford site

Associated Press
November 17, 2010
By SHANNON DININNY

YAKIMA, Wash. — Workers cleaning up the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site have discovered an area of soil so radioactive it exceeds lethal limits tenfold, the U.S. Department of Energy announced Wednesday with its cleanup contractor.

The finding represents some of the worst contamination at south-central Washington’s Hanford nuclear reservation and highlights the difficulty and danger in cleaning up a site where records about Cold War-era weapons production either weren’t kept or were incomplete.

Even though it’s highly radioactive, the contaminated soil does not pose an immediate risk to health or safety of workers or the environment, said Todd Nelson, spokesman for Washington Closure, the contractor hired to clean up this area of Hanford for the DOE.


The federal government created Hanford in the 1940s as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb. The site produced plutonium for nuclear weapons through the Cold War, but the work left hundreds of radioactive buildings, including nuclear reactors, debris and waste.

Workers found this soil contamination under a building that was used from 1966 to 1996 to explore methods to treat radioactive waste. The workers discovered a cracked steel liner under a drain in a radioactive hot cell, where the research years ago could be conducted safely, then used remote equipment to conduct soil samples under the building to determine if there may have been a leak.

The samples showed radiation levels thousands of times greater than allowable levels for exposure over one hour, and 10 times the lethal limit.

Nelson said the three biggest concerns when such a high level of radioactivity is located are direct exposure to workers, the contamination becoming airborne, and the contamination migrating to groundwater. Because the soil sits under a building and workers are shielded from the radiation, he said, the first two are not an immediate risk.

Full Article Here – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/17/AR2010111705097.html

Dissident Egyptian blogger freed after 4 years

Los Angeles Times
November 17, 2010
By Jeffrey Fleishman

An Egyptian blogger whose case epitomized the struggle for freedom of expression in cyberspace has been freed after serving four years in prison on charges of insulting Islam and defaming President Hosni Mubarak.

Human rights organizations announced Wednesday that Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman, the blogger known as Kareem Amer, had been released from prison. His ordeal highlighted the Egyptian government’s concern over dissident voices arising on websites and online social networks that are trickier to control than traditional opposition media outlets.

“We are deeply relieved and happy to know that Kareem’s nightmare is over and he is free at last,” the international advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said in a statement. “Nothing will be able to erase his four years of suffering as a result of a totally unjustified conviction, but at least he will no longer be the scapegoat of Egyptian government anger at criticism expressed by bloggers.

“We will closely monitor the behavior of the authorities towards Kareem in the coming months and we will be ready to report any attempt to intimidate him.”

Suleiman’s health is “bad but he is safe now,” Gamal Eid, head of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, which represented the blogger in court, told Reuters news agency. “He was detained for 11 days beyond his court sentence and beaten by officers who did not give any reasons.”

Suleiman is believed to be the first blogger in Egypt convicted for his harshly critical posts and articles online.

Full Article Here – http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-egypt-blogger-20101118,0,6681344.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+latimes%2Feurope+%28L.A.+Times+-+Europe%29

Gitmo detainee acquitted on all but one charge

Associated Press
November 17, 2010

The first Guantanamo detainee to face a civilian trial was acquitted Wednesday of all but one of the hundreds of charges he helped unleash death and destruction on two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998 — an opening salvo in al-Qaida‘s campaign to kill Americans.

A federal jury convicted Ahmed Ghailani of one count of conspiracy to destroy U.S. property and acquitted him on more than 280 other counts, including one murder count for each of the 224 people killed in the embassy bombings. The anonymous jurors deliberated over seven days.

Prosecutors said Ghailani faces a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of life in prison at sentencing on Jan. 25.

Ghailani, 36, rubbed his face, smiled and hugged his lawyers after the jury left the courtroom.

Prosecutors had branded Ghailani a cold-blooded terrorist. The defense portrayed him as a clueless errand boy, exploited by senior al-Qaida operatives and framed by evidence from contaminated crime scenes.

The trial at a lower Manhattan courthouse had been viewed as a possible test case for President Barack Obama administration‘s aim of putting other terror detainees — including self-professed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — on trial on U.S. soil.

Ghailani’s prosecution also demonstrated some of the constitutional challenges the government would face if that happens. On the eve of his trial last month, the judge barred the government from calling a key witness because the witness had been identified while Ghailani was being held at a secret CIA camp where harsh interrogation techniques were used.

After briefly considering an appeal of that ruling, prosecutors forged ahead with a case honed a decade ago in the prosecution of four other men charged in the same attacks in Tanzania and Kenya. All were convicted in the same courthouse and sentenced to life terms.

Prosecutors had alleged Ghailani helped an al-Qaida cell buy a truck and components for explosives used in a suicide bombing in his native Tanzania on Aug. 7, 1998. The attack in Dar es Salaam and a nearly simultaneous bombing in Nairobi, Kenya, killed 12 Americans.

Full Article Here – http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/11/gitmo-detainee-acquitted-charge/