Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Not that I want to get on the bad side of the Catholic Church, but please use protection when you get your freak on. Today, a report released by the UN (you know, that multilateral institution promoting worldwide peace & cooperation that has been getting bombed by radical Iraqi extremists and dismissed as being obsolete by Neo-Con American Congressmen) revealed that approximately 40 million people suffer from HIV infection around the world. In some parts of Africa, four in ten people are living with HIV, which eventually develops into AIDS, unless treated promptly.

Sadly, many people in these nations don't have access to proper health care and most can't afford the price of retroviral drugs, which sometimes represents more than their whole yearly salary alone.

One promising development in the global battle against the spread of HIV is the recent efforts at allowing certain nations the right to produce generic versions of badly-needed medicine during an epidemic. Although this circumvents the "patent" laws of the Western world, at least it offers some hope to the people being stricken by this sinister disease.

Some would argue that by encouraging generic drug manufacturers to prosper, patients won't see the real benefit because there is nothing stopping these companies from jacking up their prices. This is a tough question because you hear two different stories every time it comes up. Who to believe? The NGO's or Medecins sans Frontieres? What about Bristol-Myers Squibb, who just announced $30 Million USD of aid for HIV sufferers from several African nations? (Is it possible that the Western drug companies have a heart? Possibly.) This is something that we should keep an eye on.

Even if you don't live in Sub-saharan Africa, with all the various S.T.D.'s prevalent in Western nations, using a condom is your best option, at least until you and your partner are absolutely certain that you're not at risk (ie. getting tested repeatedly, etc.)

Condoms don't only stop most STD's from spreading--they also prevent unwanted pregnancy. Today, as I was picking up some items at the drug store in my community, I walked by a worried young gentleman speaking hurried Arabic on his cellphone. A sales lady was giving him advice about which pregnancy kit to choose and he was translating this to his girlfriend over the phone. I didn't say a word to him (he needs his privacy at such a stressful moment) but I stopped in the condom aisle on the way out and picked up a box of Trojans. Better safe than sorry!

Every time I read an article penned by a Republican, I get this feeling in the bottom of my gut, the same one some people take antacids for. The pain goes away once I put away the gibberish, but while I'm reading it, I am forced to suffer. Suffer? Is this too strong a word?

Witness the unbelievable statement that David Frum made on National Review Online.

"And I recognize too how essential it is that George Bush be re-elected. If he loses the election, the United States loses the war on terror."
Even for an average Republican, this is going pretty far. I can see that the propaganda campaign and constant references to this "War" that doesn't have an end in sight are actually working for Bush. He's getting the support of his nation in a time of need. Without George W. Bush in power, terrorists will all move in next door and begin systematically bombing everyone in the phonebook, beginning with the A's and working towards the Z's. Does anyone really believe this? ("Is this thing on?")

David Frum, I really do believe that you have all the answers. Please explain how Bush is making the world safer and winning the "War on Terror"? By preemptively removing sovereign Arab governments from power? By keeping one hundred thousand or so troops thousands of miles from home? By curtailing domestic civil liberties via the Patriot Act while supposedly "protecting freedom"?

I wouldn't play up the "War on Terror" angle for too long. War creates casualties & even the most hardened generals would rather use diplomats than ground troops. How can you fight a war against a force that has no shape, no face, no flag or official territory? We've been fighting a war against the common cold for years but we still don't have a cure. Imagine if we began barricading ourselves in our homes and putting cold-sufferers in a Guantanamo Bay prison--people would speak up and protest. Instead, due to the emotional carnage that 9/11 inflicted upon America, the Republicans seem to have some sort of moral imperative to "stay the course" and continue fighting these shadows. Nobody wants to offend the survivors of 9/11 so they are letting George W. Bush make a mockery of the U.S. Constitution, and some of the more deluded followers (ie. David Frum, Andrew Sullivan) are saying that voting against Bush is voting for terror. Even if I were lobotomized, I would have a hard time saying that out loud because it makes no sense. Also, I worry that this type of thinking could become contagious in a land where everyone is afraid.

The American Democratic candidates are all claiming to have a unique solution of how to win the "War on Terror" & how to fix the situation in Iraq. Dennis Kucinich's "90 day-plan", which sounds like some sort of infomercial-- "And our troops will be out in 90 days. U.S. out, U.N. in!"--doesn't really sound very realistic, given that the U.N. is punishing the U.S. for acting unilaterally by refusing to send in peacekeepers. Former General Wesley Clark seems to know a little something about security, having led an international force overseas; heck, even Howard Dean couldn't be that bad. Despite his public speaking gaffes (such as the Confederate flag remark), Dean would probably bring America closer to the rest of the world, just by not being Bush.

One good thing about George W. Bush is his consistent incompetence. He makes the wrong decision so often that it would take a real fuck-up for the Democrats to lose this 2004 election. Then again, anything is possible. By sinking the country into a deficit that may leave them penniless in a couple of years, and by losing millions of jobs since Bush came into office, now the Republicans can claim to be raising job growth & productivity. No wonder. It's like cutting down an old-growth forest and claiming the seedlings you planted as political capital. When your economy is in the toilet, there is no way to go but up.