Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

Shithole Countries

January 14, 2018

I do not really care very much that Donald Trump allegedly complained about immigrants coming from “shit hole” countries. I say allegedly because Trump has denied using that particular term and the only person who claims that he did was Senator Richard Durbin who is not known to be particularly honest when reporting on statements made during private meetings.

Whether he said it or not, the truth is that there are indeed many countries in the world that could honestly, if somewhat vulgarly, be described as “shit holes”. It is simply an unpleasant truth that much of what is often called the undeveloped, or third world consists of dysfunctional countries. These are the countries with corrupt, repressive governments and stagnate impoverished economies, often with incessant fighting between ethnic groups or religious and political factions. These are the countries which, for one reason or another, just don’t seem to be able to get it together. To label this undeniable truth as racist is simply to deny reality

Should we accept immigrants from these “shit hole” countries? There may be good reasons why we should not. Ultimately, the purpose of any country’s immigration policy is to benefit the persons already living in that country. No one has a right to emigrate to any country and the governments of every country in the world have the right to admit or deny who they wish. It may be argued that the reason some countries are dysfunctional is that the culture of the people living in them is dysfunctional, and it might be unwise to permit large numbers of people bringing bad habits or cultural norms into this country. This is not a racist argument. A person from a successful country like Norway with a cultural history that he shares with the majority here in America might be a more valuable asset than an African from a country that really doesn’t work that well and a culture very different from ours.

I don’t agree with this argument though, and I don’t share Trump’s alleged concern about immigrants from “shit hole” countries. I think that most of us are descended from people who originated in what might be “shit hole” countries at the time. After all, people from wealthy, successful countries have little reason to leave their lives behind to immigrate to a new country with an alien language and culture. It is the people from the “shit hole” countries who seek a new life. I think that one of the greatest factors in the success of the American experience is our willingness to take in those who were rejected in their native countries and make use of their skills and talents. Their home countries’ loss has been our gain.

I do not care where immigrants come from, provided that they are willing to obey our laws and assimilate themselves to our culture. The only concern that I have about immigrants is whether they are here legally or illegally. If they have come here in compliance with the law, than they are welcome here. If they are here illegally, then the laws must be enforced and they must leave. As far as I am concerned, any other consideration is relevant.

This is why I do not agree with Trump’s alleged concern about immigrants from “shit hole” countries. I think he is missing the point of the whole debate on immigration. The problem is not where the immigrants are coming from. The problem is that too many people do not believe that immigration laws should be enforced. Trump’s alleged comment only helps the people who want to confuse the issue.

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Climate Justice

June 16, 2014

The word justice is a noun that does not usually need to be modified. As Dennis Prager has stated, you either have justice or you do not and if someone adds an adjective to modify justice, it means they have a (left-wing) agenda. In other words, if someone feels the need to add a modifier to justice that generally means they are trying to justify some injustice. Thus, there is social justice, racial justice, food justice, and now climate justice.

What is climate justice? Apparently, it is a way to justify keeping Africans poor and denying the use of Africa’s natural resources to make their lives bearable. At least that is the impression I get from this article I read from the Institute for Policy Studies.

This week, the House will vote on the Electrify Africa Act. This bill directs the president to draw up a multi-year strategy to strengthen the ability of countries in sub-Saharan Africa to “develop an appropriate mix of power solutions” to provide electricity, fight poverty, and “drive economic growth.”

Who could be opposed to helping African countries develop a workable infrastructure in order to drive economic growth. The only possible consideration I would have would be to make sure the money actually goes to helping people and not straight into the pockets of corrupt officials. The climate justice crowd have another objection, it might work.

Because of strong pressure from climate justice advocates, some positives—such as integrated resource planning and decentralized renewable energy—are named as a part of that mix. But because it still leaves the door wide open to fossil fuels, the bill doesn’t go far enough to protect people or their environment.

And the debate over Electrify Africa continues as the Senate drafts a companion bill.

Behind both pieces of legislation is a White House initiative announced last summer called “Power Africa.” It frames President Barack Obama’s approach to energy investment on the continent, which has been condemned by environmental justice groups. It’s an “all of the above” energy strategy that favors the fossil fuel companies that are destroying the planet and corrupting Washington.

Proponents of Electrify and Power Africa have been most publicly enthusiastic about new discoveries of vast reserves of oil and gas on the continent, which has many African activists wary of a resource grab. Executives from companies like General Electric—which according to Forbes has recently pivoted its attention to the continent—have appeared on the podium with President Obama to applaud the policy.

At a March Senate hearing on Power Africa, Del Renigar, Senior Counsel for Global Government Affairs and Policy at GE, even noted that one of the company’s “most significant efforts to date has been focused on the privatization of the Nigerian power sector.” He lauded the potential of Power Africa to help “reduce the obstacles” to negotiating deals for power projects. And some backers of dirty energy are attempting to use the initiative to weaken the existing environmental safeguard policies of national development finance institutions such as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).

Well, God forbid we allow the Africans to develop the vast reserves of oil and gas on their continent. That might actually alleviate the endemic poverty of the region. To be sure, there is a danger that countries that rely on the export of energy will be plagued with corruption and will fail to develop a more diverse economy. One only needs to look at the example of a country like Nigeria or much of the Middle East to see what a curse large reserves of oil can be. But again, that is not what the climate justice advocates are worrying about. They don’t seem to want the African people to have “dirty” energy. If that means that the African people must make do without energy, well, too bad.

They do address this objection.

The backers of keeping dirty energy in Power Africa like to portray their opponents as privileged elites who want to keep Africans “in the dark” by denying them electricity and industrialization, while keeping their own lights on.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The real concern here is that U.S. taxpayers will wind up supporting African energy development that caters to corporate industrial zones and natural resource exporters, leaving the majority of Africans in rural and neglected urban areas still without access to power and exposed to dangerous pollution.

Yes, that is precisely what they want, to keep Africans in the dark. Of course energy development will cater to corporate industrial zones and natural resource exporters, at first. But, if corruption is kept to an acceptable minimum and the economies of the various African companies are opened up to the free market, the amount of wealth in Africa will increase. Over time, prosperity ought to spread from the industrial zones out to rural and urban Africa, unless people like the Climate Justice movement interfere with the process.

A climate justice movement with a clear vision for a clean, equitable energy future is making itself heard. The drivers of this movement are people living on the front line of dirty energy in poorer countries and in low-income neighborhoods in wealthier nations like the United States. They understand firsthand the effects of dirty energy pollution and climate chaos, and are champions of innovative forms of clean rural and urban electrification—not only in the Global South, but just as urgently in the heavily polluting Global North. In fact, an international campaign to demand climate justice, representing over 100 groups in developing and developed countries, has called for efforts to ensure “people’s access to clean, safe, and renewable energy sources.”

In Africa, climate justice activists are speaking eloquently about a new economy for Africans and everyone else that leapfrogs fossil fuels and delivers electricity to hundreds of millions of people through clean energy and energy efficiency.

There are reasons why fossil fuels still produce most of the energy in the world. Fossil fuels are cheap and efficient. Renewable energy sources only make up around 9% of the total energy consumed in the United States. Of this 9%, 30% is from hydroelectric sources. The trouble is that Africa does not have many navigable rivers, only the Nile and the Congo can be traveled any great distance from the ocean. African does, however, have a number of small, swift rivers that are ideal for the construction of hydroelectric dams and other facilities. Unfortunately, they are not often near the largest concentrations of populations. Still, hydroelectric power does have a future in Africa. I don’t think that is what these people have in mind, though. I have a feeling they would oppose the construction of dams as much as they oppose the construction of coal-fired power plants.

The bottom line is that if you insist that Africa only be powered by clean, renewable energy that has a minimal impact on the environment, that is the same as insisting that Africa have no power at all. If technologically advanced countries find renewable energy to be expensive and limited, why should African countries be any different. One of the biggest problems that I have with the environmentalists is their doctrine that their concept of environmental purity come before the good of human beings, particularly the poorer, darker skinned human beings. This is just another example of their callous disregard for the welfare of the world’s poor.

Malaria Vaccine

October 18, 2011

This is simply wonderful news from Reuters. The world’s first vaccine against malaria has been proven to be effective in clinical trials.

An experimental vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline halved the risk of African children getting malaria in a major clinical trial, making it likely to become the world’s first shot against the deadly disease.

Final-stage trial data released on Tuesday showed it gave protection against clinical and severe malaria in five- to 17-month-olds in Africa, where the mosquito-borne disease kills hundreds of thousands of children a year.

“These data bring us to the cusp of having the world’s first malaria vaccine,” said Andrew Witty, chief executive of the British drugmaker that developed the vaccine along with the nonprofit PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI).

While hailing an unprecedented achievement, Witty, malaria scientists and global health experts stressed that the vaccine, known as RTS,S or Mosquirix, was no quick fix for eradicating malaria. The new shot is less effective against the disease than other vaccines are against common infections such as polio and measles.

“We would have wished that we could wipe it out, but I think this is going to contribute to the control of malaria rather than wiping it out,” Tsiri Agbenyega, a principal investigator in the RTS,S trials in Ghana, told Reuters at a Seattle, Washington, conference about the disease.

Malaria is endemic in around 100 countries worldwide and killed some 781,000 people in 2009, according to the World Health Organization.

Control measures such as insecticide-treated bednets, indoor spraying and use of combination anti-malaria drugs have helped significantly cut the numbers of malaria cases and deaths in recent years, but experts have said that an effective vaccine is vital to complete the fight against the disease.

Allowing DDT to be used in Africa would also save a lot of lives. At any rate let’s hope that GlaxoSmithKline can get this vaccine to where it is needed most as fast as possible.

And, thanks to Instapundit for picking up this story.

New Constitution for Libya

August 25, 2011

Although the Libyan rebels have been busy taking Tripoli and breaking into Qadaffi’s compound, they have still managed to write a first draft of a new Libyan constitution. You can see it in pdf form here. At first glance it looks promising.

Libya is an independent, Democratic State in which the people are the source of authorities…The State shall guarantee for non-Moslems the freedom of practising religious rights.

The State shall seek to establish a political democratic regime to be based upon the political multitude and multi party system in a view of achieving peaceful and democratic circulation of power.

Human rights and his basic freedoms shall be respected

Freedom of opinion for individuals and groups…shall be guaranteed by the state.

There’s more like that. It sounds very liberal, something our own founding fathers might have written, except for one small detail.

Islam is the religion of the State and the principal source of legislation is Islamic jurisprudence (Sharia).

That cancels out all of the fine sentiments expressed elsewhere in this document. It is sort of like the old Soviet constitution in which all sorts of freedoms and rights were guaranteed but only so long as those rights did not interfere with the goal of building communism. So, in effect the citizens had no rights. Under this constitution it would seem that the people of Libya will have all sorts of freedoms and rights guaranteed by the State but only so long as these rights do not conflict with Sharia. I am afraid that we have exchanged one tyrant for another in Libya

Here is an analysis from Stratfor on what is likely to happen next in Libya.

Human Swallows Pill. Mosquito Bites Human. Mosquito Dies.

July 12, 2011
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From the New York Times. I like this.

A cheap deworming pill used in Africa for 25 years against river blindness was recently shown to have a power that scientists had long suspected but never before demonstrated in the field: When mosquitoes bite people who have recently swallowed the drug — called ivermectin or Mectizan — they die.

Where can I get some of this? I would love to watch mosquitoes die. It turns out, though, there are a couple of drawbacks.

Other scientists caution that while the mosquito-poisoning trick is pretty nifty, it is not very practical: For it to work effectively, nearly everyone in a mosquito-infested area must take the pills simultaneously.

Getting thousands of villagers to do that even in annual deworming campaigns is a logistical nightmare, scientists said. The mosquito-killing effect appears to fade out within a month, so it would need to be repeated monthly.

Also, in rare cases, the otherwise safe drug can be lethal.

It doesn’t seem to kill the mosquitoes right away. It shortens their life span so that they do not live long enough to acquire the parasites that cause malaria. That’s not as much fun as having mosquitoes bite me and then die, but it could be very useful for controlling malaria. Still this is Africa so distribution is a problem. Not to mention health problems not generally found in the developed world.

We hand it out once a year,” said the parasitologist, Dr. Frank O. Richards Jr. “I’m pushing for twice a year, and people want to kill me. It’s very difficult to imagine a once-a-month program anywhere.”

It might be useful, he suggested, in areas with brief, intense malaria seasons.

Also, when people with lots of worms are treated, they suffer fever and intense itching as the worms die. Though that might be bearable once a year, it discourages people from seeking treatment more frequently. And ivermectin is dangerous for a few people — those infested with large numbers of a relatively rare West African worm, the loa loa. These worms circulate in the blood and lungs and may jam capillaries when they die, potentially causing coma or death. Detecting them means drawing blood and viewing it under a microscope.

Still, it is promising and I hope it works out.

Did I mention that I really hate mosquitoes?

Hat tip to Instapundit.

 


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