Monday, July 30, 2007

Academics oppose Israel boycott

When academics get into real politics…(A news item from the BBC). (For more information on the vote see haaretz).
The complete list of those who have signed the petition can be found on the SPME website).

Thousands of academics from around the world have condemned plans for a UK boycott of Israeli institutions over its treatment of the Palestinians. More than 10,000 academics have signed a declaration saying they would not join any project which barred Israelis. The group, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), said the boycott plans attacked academic freedoms. The UK's University and College Union voted in May to debate a boycott, and suspects this has been misunderstood. Thirty-two Nobel prize winners were among the thousands who signed the condemnation of the UCU boycott plan. Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who drafted the statement for SPME, said the signatories represented a cross-section of academics from around the world. "The message of the signatories is crystal clear," Mr Dershowitz said. "Should the UCU go forward with a boycott of Israeli academics and institutions, the end result will be a self-inflicted wound on British academia." At its annual conference in May, union members were urged to consider the "moral implications" of links with Israeli universities. UCU general secretary Sally Hunt had urged delegates not to support the boycott call, saying she did not believe the majority of UCU members supported an academic boycott of Israel. But delegates voted in favour of a motion to further discuss an all-out boycott. Ms Hunt has since written to UCU members outlining the process needed to conduct a debate over the proposed boycott, including nationwide appearances by Palestinian and Israeli academics.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Bush, Public Health and Education by Fidel Castro

On many sites, ( e.g. this),one can find a very interesting article by Fidel Castro written on July 14, 2007, with the above title.
He makes some very impressive claims about the results of Cuba’s policies in public health and education. We should probably study these policies and their financing more closely.

Some extracts from the article:
The International Labour Organization has indicated that "47 percent of people born abroad that complete their Doctorate in the United States stay in that country." Yet another example of the plunder: "There are more Ethiopian physicians in Chicago than in all of Ethiopia."
In Cuba, where healthcare is not a commodity. Third World countries do not have the resources to set up scientific research centers, while Cuba has created these even if her own professionals have often been enticed and encouraged to defect.
Our Yes I Can method of teaching people to read and write is today available to all Latin American countries, free of charge, and the countries that choose to use the program receive support to adapt it to their own characteristics and to produce the printed materials and the corresponding videos. Countries such as Bolivia are implementing the program in Spanish, Quechua and Aymara. The numbers of those who have learned to read and write there in just one year exceed the number of those who have been taught to read and write by the empire in all of Latin America, if indeed there is anyone.
Yes I Can is of benefit to other societies outside the Western Hemisphere. Suffice it to say that New Zealand is using the program to eradicate illiteracy in their Maori population.
Instead of having one training center for medical professionals in
Central America, which has trained about 100 -and we're glad for this-- our country today has tens of thousands of students from Latin America and the Caribbean on full scholarships who spend six years training as doctors in Cuba, free of charge.
We cooperate with Venezuela in the education of more than 20,000 youths, who study medicine and train in clinics in the poor neighborhoods, tutored by Cuban specialists, so that they can get acquainted with their future and difficult job.
The Comfort, with over 800 people on board, that is, medical staff
and crew, will not be able to look after great numbers of people. It
is impossible to carry out medical programs episodically. Physical therapy, for example, in many cases requires months of work. Cuba provides permanent services to people in polyclinics and well-equipped hospitals, and the patients can be cared for any time of day or night. We have also trained the necessary physical therapy specialists.
The eye surgery also requires special skills. In our country ophthalmologic centers perform more than 50,000 eye surgeries on Cubans each year and look after 27 kinds of diseases. There are no waiting lists for cornea transplants which need special arrangements. Let an active investigation be done in the United States and you will see how many people really need to be operated on there; since they have never been examined by an ophthalmologist they will attribute their eye problems to other causes and run the risk of becoming blind or of having their vision seriously impaired. You would find out that there are millions.
In the abovementioned figure I did not include the hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans and Caribbean people some of whom are operated on in Cuba, but most in their respective countries, by Cuban ophthalmologists. In Bolivia alone, they are more than 100,000 each year. In this instance, Bolivian doctors educated in the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) take part in the surgeries alongside our Cuban specialists.
Let's just see how the Comfort will make out in Haiti, providing health services for a week. There, in 123 of the country's 134 communes there are Cuban doctors working alongside ELAM graduates, or Haitian students in the last year of medical school, fighting AIDS and various tropical diseases.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Kenyan deputy ministers 'bored'

Why is this BBC item newsworthy? I am sure thare are many governments in the world with the same problem...

At least 30 assistant Kenyan ministers have written a letter to the president, complaining they have no work to do. "I just go to the office and read newspapers," said Abu Chiaba, an assistant fisheries minister. His counterpart in the wildlife and tourism ministry said he learnt of policy decision in the press.
President Mwai Kibaki promised a lean government when he took power in 2002, but instead increased the number of jobs to reward his coalition partners. Kenya has 50 assistant ministers serving in 33 ministries, as some ministries have two appointed assistants. The government spends more than $9m a year to meet salaries and allowances for the assistant ministers.