Somalia charity challenge

Charity challenge to the RBC community. Support global NGOs in poverty alleviation and public health, and I’ll buy you a book.

I don’t know how many RBC readers follow Mark Goldberg’s terrific stuff at UN Dispatch. If you don’t, you should.

As you might have heard, western economies are hurting. One predictable consequence is the reduction of public and private giving for global health and development. People as different as Paul Farmer, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush agree on one thing: We can’t take our eye off the ball in helping people around the world who struggle for basic nutrition, economic necessities, and public health.

The situation in Somalia right now, for example, is pretty dire. Now refugees face a measles epidemic, as well.

I therefore issue this challenge to the RBC community. If you are an author and you contribute to the United Nations Foundation, Doctors without Borders, UNICEF, or the International Rescue Committee, I will buy a fresh new copy of your book. This offer holds even if I already own your book, and even if the book is poorly written. And if you are too lazy to have written a book, I will buy one of my choosing and send it to the address of your choosing. You know where to find me….

CIA should not impersonate public health folk

Mark Goldberg has an excellent column in UN Dispatch “Eradicating a Disease vs. Eradicating a Terrorist.”

I have no problem with the CIA mounting devious black ops to find Bin Laden. Yet anyone who knows the difficult history of global immunization knows that such public health activities pose a special challenge, and mark special points of sensitivity, in many Muslim areas that most require help.

These challenges aren’t lessened by the news that CIA operatives mounted a fake vaccination campaign to gather intelligence. This plays into many damaging conspiracy theories that have hindered efforts to eradicate polio and other deadly diseases. Had the CIA impersonated journalists, there would have been much greater outcry over something that would cause much less harm in the world.