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Foreign aid for America

8 September 2005
I pledged to send some money to victims of Katrina the other day, and was surprised to receive a few emails and comments from friends and family who had consciously decided not to donate because they felt the US should help itself - or rather - learn to help its poor instead of wasting all their resources making a mess of Iraq. I think it's bizarrely optimistic to expect anything good to come out of not sending food, soap and water to desperate people. Or maybe I should call it cynicism. Strange, that intense anger and frustration over the images on TV should cause people to do nothing instead of something. Well. The US has received official offers of aid from 95 countries in the past weeks (about a billion dollars worth), and judging by this transcript from the foreign press briefing at the US Department of State yesterday there is no lack of cynicism with regard to the offers or the responses to them. Fidel Castro offered 1,500 doctors only weeks after snubbing a US offer of US$50,000 aid to help with hurricane Dennis in Cuba. Iran offered 20 million barrels of oil, but only on the condition that America lifted sanctions against the country. Is it too late to make my offer conditional on better behaviour of the Bush administration?

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There has been a huge increase in the number of women journalists being detained and abused because of their work. Why is this happening? And what harm does it do to societies at large?

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