Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa

A well-written book describing why Africa, despite billions of dollars in aid, remains the poorest continent on the globe.

Over the past 60 years at least $1 trillion in aid was sent to Africa - yet, calls for even more grow steadily louder. Moyo - a native of Zambia, contends that evidence demonstrates that this aid has made the poor poorer. Real per-capita income today is lower than it was in the 1970s. In other words, aid is not part of the solution, it is part of the problem.

The most interesting criticism of this book comes from those who agree with Ms. Moyo's assessment that aid is wasted by mis-management and corruption but refute her assertion that aid is, in itself, harming Africa. Her critics insist that aid is the answer and that more is needed - it simply must be implemented more efficiently. Ms. Moyo expertly refutes these claims.

Dambisa Moyo was born and raised in Lusaka, Zambia. Her mother is chairwoman of the Indo-Zambia Bank. Her father, the son of a South African mine worker, runs Integrity Foundation, an anti-corruption organization. Moyo is the former Head of Economic Research and Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa at Goldman Sachs in London, where she worked for eight years. Moyo has also worked at the World Bank in D.C., where she was a co-author of its annual World Development Report.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

We Need More Zuhdi Jassers

By Rob Foxdale, Jan 05, 2011
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser is President of the
American Islamic Forum for Democracy
Recently, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser has been criticized for suggesting that Islam may one day be reformed into a religion which can peacefully coexist with other religions. He has explained that a Muslim religion can exist apart from the political ideology of Islamism. (Muslim vs. Islamist) Similar to America’s separation of church and state, this reformed version of Islam would adhere to a separation of mosque and state.  
Critics of this idea have insisted that Dr. Jasser is actually undermining the fight against radical Islam. They accuse him of slowing America’s response to radical Islam by giving false hope to Americans that a peaceful solution may be attainable with Islamists.
The question these critics fail to address is this: How will Americans ever achieve public support for the use of force against Islam without an ongoing discussion of possible peaceful alternatives?
These critics insist that America merely needs to ‘wake up’ to the threat of Islam. They claim that once enough Americans are made aware of the intentions of Islamic jihadists, they will simply urge politicians to use force as necessary.
But most Americans don’t lack knowledge of the threat of Islamism, they lack the will to stand up to it.
If the solution to combating the threat of Islamic jihad was merely to make Americans aware that it is happening right here in America, then we would have had overwhelming public outcry against Islam on 9/11. Instead, nearly ten years later, despite more frequent Islamic threats and a more educated public, the majority of Americans still believe it is wrong to even criticize Islam. They lack the will to fight because the enemy is not clearly defined in their minds. When any action against Islamism is suggested, the usual reply is: “Oh, you are over-reacting. After all, it’s only a few small radical groups, right? Most Muslims are ‘moderate’ so don’t let a few bad ones make you over-react against all Muslims.”
Thus, any harsh criticism of Islam is met with accusations of ‘islamophobia’ or ‘bigot’. The politically correct American mind slams shut when they believe all Muslims are being lumped together. Imagining an America where each and every Muslim is a threat is not realistic to Americans. To most, the facts just don’t support such claims. Americans will not support forcible actions against Islamists until they feel all options have been weighed and all peaceful means exhausted.
Surely, there must be some good Muslims, right?
Is there an actual difference between moderate and radical Muslims? Great question. Can a ‘peaceful Islam’ ever exist or is it too much of a contradiction to the very foundations of Islam? Can the Qur’an be ‘carved up’ to eliminate passages which encourage violence? These are great questions too... And all of these great questions would have remained deep in obscure blogs, Facebook pages and Tweets if Dr. Jasser had not brought the debate of a reformed Islam to the mainstream media.
As a Muslim, a respected physician and a former U.S. Navy officer, Dr. Jasser’s comments on shows such as Fox News, CNN, Hannity, and The O’Reilly Factor have caused many Americans who were once closed-minded to any criticism of Islam to instead keep an open and active mind regarding the possibility of a reformed, non-political Muslim religion. Thus, advancing the discussion instead of shutting down ‘politically correct’ minds. Many Americans feel it is improper and disrespectful to challenge the beliefs of Islam, so even if such a clear separation of Muslim vs. Islamists is unrealistic and unattainable, Dr. Jasser is causing the subject to be advanced and explored by those who would not otherwise consider such arguments. Can it happen one day? Can Islam be reformed? Maybe. Maybe not. But at least this discussion is now taking place in the mainstream media and the enemy is becoming more clearly and accurately defined in the minds of Americans.
History has shown us that Americans will stand up against collectivism when it presents itself openly.  Dr. Jasser has helped lift the veil of Islamism and has openly identified its collectivist ideology by a more precise and more easily understood term – political Islam. In the past, this important distinction has been almost non-existent in the mainstream media and thanks to Dr. Jasser’s efforts, - whether spot-on or flawed, the discussion is now up and running.

Copyright © 2011 Robert Foxdale

Sunday, December 12, 2010

12 Tips for Writing Effective Letters to the Editor

Adapted from and
  1. Be quick. Respond while the issue is still fresh. Ideally, try to send your letter within 24 hours of publication of the article.
  2. Be clear. If you cannot summarize your message in one or two sentences, it's not clear enough in your mind. Pinpoint in stark, unambiguous terms what you want to communicate.
  3. Be specific. Why was the article unfair? Did it show lack of context, imbalanced reporting, or omission of key facts? For example: "Your report inappropriately quoted only pro-Palestinian sources, leaving the Israeli position unrepresented."
  4. Be concise. Most publications will not print a letter to the editor longer than 250 words. Editors are more likely to publish a letter that they don't have to spend time shortening.
  5. Be focused. While an article may contain numerous instances of bias, focus your critique on just one or two. It's better to fully explain one point than to inadequately cover five.
  6. Know the goal. You want your letter to inspire the media to change. When possible, ask the media to issue a correction based on your points. A good way to end your letter is to ask: "Can I expect a rethinking of your editorial policy on this point?"
  7. Request a reply. Let the media know there is a consequence to biased reporting -- even if the consequence is having to answer hundreds of e-mails! You could end your letter with: "I would appreciate a response explaining why you have allowed such a biased article to appear in your fine publication."
  8. Stick to the facts. Preserve the integrity of the your campaign by keeping your comments clean and respectful. Hostile or overly-emotional language is counter-productive. For example, accusing the media of anti-Semitism will always be met with great resistance (besides being frequently untrue). This is not the place to vent your frustration.
  9. Write as a concerned individual. Mentioning that you are part of an organized campaign may lessen the impact of your letter.
  10. Use the CC button. Maximize your efforts by sending a copy of your letter not just to the editor, but also to the reporter, foreign editor, publisher, and even advertisers and members of Congress.
  11. Include contact info. Before publishing a letter, most papers will call to verify that you wrote it. Remember to include your full name, title (if applicable), address, and daytime phone number.
  12. Follow up. When possible, follow up with a phone call to the comments editor to ask if your letter will be published. If the editor doesn't remember your letter, offer to read it over the phone.