Journalist and global health expert Laurie Garrett is not known to mince words, and she doesn’t here in a quick gutting of Dan Brown’s latest conspiracy thriller. While her first stab is to attack Brown for his sinister characterization of the Council on Foreign Relations, her employer, the best criticisms are leveled at the absurdity of some global health cabal run by the World Health Organization.
“Among the most absurd plot devices in Inferno are: The WHO owns a private C-130 jet that wings its way around the world; the EU’s version of the Centers for Disease Control has a huge secret SWAT team of fully armed, military disease-fighters; global health leaders are so powerful that they can dial a number and instantly tell Prime Ministers what to do…. In truth, the agency’s rapid epidemic reaction division is bankrupt. No kidding: bankrupt.”
Brown’s rejoinder would be that it is just fiction. But the problem with that is the thriller writer claims to do research and base his novels on facts. I haven’t read his book yet, and may because his tales are often fun, but if Garrett’s perspective is correct it looks like most of the facts that led to Inferno got tossed on the fire.
As my buddy and co-founder of Seattle Globalist Sarah Stuteville says: “How surprisingly uncorporate-y of them!”
The latest OECD figures show that Myanmar received $376 million in ODA in 2011, a figure expected to surge while the country drums up increasing attention from the international community as it emerges from decades of military rule and underdevelopment
The G8 meeting, that gathering of leaders of the world’s richest nations in which they make (and later often break) promises to help the rest of the world, is soon to launch in London. The ONE Campaign is among the advocacy groups already pressuring the rich nations to do the right thing(s) on a number of fronts – fighting poverty, improving equity and so on.
One of those efforts is Agit8, a week-long musical event aimed at pressuring world leaders to end extreme poverty. And one of the products of this effort is a cool list of Songs That Changed the World.
Sound corny? Take a look at the list and consider the power of music and people coming together to rally for change:
- Biko, by Peter Gabriel
- Masters of War, performed by Bob Dylan
- And on ….
The celebrated, and occasionally imprisoned for speaking his mind, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is stunned that the US government is starting to act like the Chinese government:
I lived in the United States for 12 years. This abuse of state power goes totally against my understanding of what it means to be a civilised society, and it will be shocking for me if American citizens allow this to continue.
The UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier de Schutter, argues that tax justice is critical to tackling hunger.
The Council on Foreign Relations, its global health program, has produced an excellent map of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks worldwide. Go to the link to dig in to the data, below is just a screen grab:
By 2030, traffic accidents are projected to become the fifth-leading cause of death, and already 20 million people are left disabled by accidents every year, say researchers from the University of Toronto.