What Do Elections Mean for the DRC?

When, in 2006, Joseph Kabila became the first democratically elected president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, many Congolese and international observers felt assured that stability had finally come to the country. During the previous decade, Congo had been marred by widespread violence, including the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II — a conflict involving three Congolese rebel movements, 14 foreign armed groups, and countless militias; killed over 3.3 million Congolese; and destabilized most of central Africa. But, to put it simply, stability did not come to the country. Since 2006, clashes have killed hundreds, maybe thousands, of fighters and civilians and forced half a million people to relocate. Congo is now the stage for the largest humanitarian disaster in the world — far larger than the crisis in Sudan.

So what will the current elections mean for stability in the DRC? Could new leadership usher in a new era of tranquility and peace? Or could a second term for Kabila do the trick? Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Human Rights

GOP Candidates Attack Federal College Loan Program, Education

In the GOP debate last night, candidates made harsh statements about federal student loans and, by extension, college education in general. Rep. Ron Paul called student loans “a total failure” and said the U.S. should abolish them; Gov. Rick Perry managed to remember that he doesn’t think “the federal government should be in the business of paying for programs and building up huge debt out there,” adding that the U.S. should “force universities to be more efficient.”  Newt Gingrich called student loans “an absurdity” because they allow students to “stay in college longer because they don’t see the cost.” These statements show not only the inequality inherent in a plan to drop monetary education assistance, but also the devalorization of education in America. Continue reading

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Filed under 2012 Election, North America, U.S. Politics

Update on HPV!

As a follow-up story to an earlier post on HPV, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has finally officially recommended that both girls and boys be vaccinated against HPV.

The new recommendation will likely be met with significant controversy, as is par for the course, because many of the cancers that met become afflicted with due to the HPV virus, are more common among homosexual men. This fact will likely dissuade Republican politicians further against the vaccine, which they already do not endorse. The recommendation, however, may be in response to the recent findings that cases of throat and mouth cancers due to HPV will likely surpass cases of genital cancer by 2020 – suggesting that women and men are contracting the virus through oral sexual activity. Continue reading

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Filed under General Info, Technology, U.S. Politics

Writing on Rights

Throughout much of American history we have struggled with how to reconcile our foreign policy strategic interests with our stated commitments to the virtues of democracy, freedom, and human rights.  Our Cold War support for right wing dictatorships and authoritarian regimes was a lightening rod for criticism from the American Left (while the American Right wondered why we did not do more to fund insurgents in totalitarian communist and socialist countries).  Of course prior to the Cold War we allied with one totalitarian state (the USSR) in order to take down another (Germany).  Continue reading

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Filed under Human Rights, U.S Foreign Policy, U.S. Politics

Oh, Rick Scott.

Governor Rick Scott (R-FL) ran a successful campaign with the motto “Let’s Get to Work” in a state whose unemployment rate is higher than the national average. Throughout the campaign, he promised he would create 700,000 jobs in addition to state economists’ forecasts for a natural growth of 1 million jobs. As it turns out, he was just kidding. This indifference towards people in need isn’t surprising, coming as it is from the man who made his millions in the fraudulent for-profit hospital business.  Continue reading

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Filed under Economics, North America, U.S. Politics

How Much Did the Arab Spring Cost?

$55 billion dollars, according to a new report released by consulting group Geopolicity. The report reveals that Egypt, Syria, and Libya were hit the hardest financially by the protests in North Africa and the Middle East. So what do these astronomical prices mean for the region now? Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Arab Spring, Economics, Human Rights, Middle East

SCANDAL BREWING OVER THE KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE

If you haven’t yet heard about the Keystone XL Pipeline currently under consideration by the U.S. Government, here’s a quick overview.

Canada’s tar sands are 54,826 square miles of mineral-filled sands, including a high density of a naturally occurring form of petroleum.  These tar sands are the second biggest source of crude oil IN THE WORLD after Saudi Arabia (!).  The U.S. government is currently considering permitting the development of a pipeline called the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would transport Canadian oil from the tar sands to American refineries on the Gulf Coast, primarily for export.  Not only will the development of this pipeline disrupt countless eco-systems and indigenous communities in the region of the tar sands in Canada, but it will also increase the risk for severe oil spills on American territory and will endanger communities in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas.  Above all, to produce just one barrel of crude oil from the tar sands requires between TWO and FOUR barrels of oil.  NASA’s top scientist has said that the implementation of this Pipeline would mean “essentially game over” for the climate.  That $6 billion investment could do so many better things than solidifying our dependence on fossil fuels. Continue reading

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Filed under Climate Change, Environment, U.S. Politics