Dienstag, Juli 29, 2008

do you have friends living with HIV?

I do. and I just came to realise how little I actually know about HIV/AIDS. I'm thoroughly trained and informed about prevention, infection rates, UN action, different organisations, ARV treatment, mother-child prevention, the troubles in some developing countries for people to cope.

but I realised lately, as a friend of mine got a positive test result, that HIV itself is almost "like diabetes" - very common for the treatment. I have no clue about the practical aspect of the treatment. how many pills you take, how many different kind of pills there are, how long it can take to find the right one for you and the nasty possible side effects. you see, am learning.

and the other thing that shocked me - 106 countries on this world have special procedures and rules for people living with HIV wanting to travel to their country. As a tourist it is less of a problem, but if you want to stay for more than a month - for language studies, as a student, for a traineeship, for work, for a living - you might have to show a test with your HIV status. and people living with HIV, they usually do not get a permit to enter the country.

but to add even more of eyebrow raising news to this - in some countries, if the HIV infected person has already crossed the border, they will get deported.

countries deporting foreigners with HIV are the following:

  • Brunei
  • China
  • Cuba
  • Iraq
  • North Korea
  • South Korea
  • Kuwait
  • Libya
  • Malaysia
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand

sometimes, people go to countries for work. slave-like work, even. if they get a positive test result, not only are they denied treatment at times, but they will be deported. there were cases of people dying while waiting in custody for being deported.

there is no focal point/central agency collecting such data, analysing such cases, or just having the latest up-to-date information of countries and their legal system in this regard.

this is a cutting point of migration, human rights and also tourism. wonder how long it takes until this discrimination will be discovered and go up the agenda.

check it out: http://eatg.org/hivtravel

Montag, Juli 28, 2008

UNHCR goodwill ambassadors

I guess now that travelling and flying gets more expensive again, the mass of people is FINALLY out of the airports. nothing is worse than cheap airline passengers :-)

(and now that I successfully pissed off most of the readers of this blog, on to the topic of the day lol)

to gain access to people that are usually out of reach or not interested into the work of the UN, so-called "goodwill ambassadors" are providing this link. there are many of them, usually actors and other public figures that chose an agency to work for. most of them choose UNICEF - it just has the most cute mandate and who would not want to help a child? UNHCR has a less sexy mandate - refugees and asylum seekers are not high on the popularity list.

even more commendable therefore the engagement of Angelina Jolie and, since about a week, spanish popular entertainer Jesus Vazquez... and in South Korea another VIP just joined this honorable circle: Robot Taekwon V!

I don't know what you think about this. I doubt a little about the sanity of this world; and it makes me somewhat sad that even animation characters are not allowed to stay in their niche and live a simple happy life...

Freitag, Juli 25, 2008

Cindy McCain - potential first lady

A quiet humanitarian
Source: The Washington Post | Publish date: 23 Jul 2008

By Michael Gerson, The Washington Post

KIGALI, Rwanda – Cindy McCain's first visit to this country, in 1994, was during the high season of roadblocks and machetes and shallow graves.

Following a call for help from Doctors Without Borders, McCain had assembled a medical team with the intention of setting up a mobile hospital in Rwanda. Arriving by private plane in mid-April, a couple of weeks into the massacres, she realized that the chaos made deploying her team impossible. At the airport, she paid for the use of a truck and set out for Goma in then-Zaire, where hundreds of thousands of refugees were also headed.

"I never saw anyone harmed," McCain recalls, "but I saw the bodies along the roadside." Checkpoints were manned by 12- and 13-year-olds with AK-47s. "The kids were drinking – bottles of Guinness, I remember. They would point their guns at you. They wanted money. We paid." Along the way, she picked up several abandoned young people, later turned over to the care of an Irish charity.

"You could see the chaos, hear the shots, hear the screaming. You could smell it." What, I asked her, could you smell? "The smell of death," she replied.

Arriving across the border in Goma, in what is now Congo, McCain found cholera victims stacked beside the road "like highway barriers." "I remember having to step over the decomposing body of an infant, covered with white powder, lime I guess, to get into one building." The field hospital covered four acres. McCain's team provided primary care for sick and frightened refugees, many of them suffering from dehydration. For nearly a month, McCain organized deliveries of food and water for the operation, collecting supplies at the Goma airport.

"I have never seen anything like it before," she says, "and never since.... When I came home, I couldn't put it into words for my husband."

The rushing return of these memories came on Cindy McCain's first visit to Rwanda since the genocide. In the shadow of Barack Obama's world tour, McCain joined a bipartisan delegation – including former Senate majority leaders Bill Frist and Tom Daschle – organized by the ONE Campaign, a group that advocates for the fight against global poverty and disease. (I am also involved in the efforts of ONE.)

McCain came back to a very different Rwanda – peaceful, well governed, and making, with American help, some of the most rapid progress in the history of public health. "What has struck me," says McCain, "is that most people are reconciling. A woman I met was gang-raped [during the genocide], her throat was slit, she lost her whole family, but was willing to forgive. The reason this will be a successful country is the women – some of the strongest, most inspiring women I have ever met."

Given her history of humanitarianism, these adjectives might be associated with McCain herself. The election of her husband would also bring to the White House an adventurous, traveled, intriguingly fearless first lady. Over the years, McCain has taken medical services to a Sandinista stronghold after Nicaragua's civil war; set up a mobile hospital near Kuwait City while the oil wells still burned from the Persian Gulf War; helped in Bangladesh after a cyclone. And while in that country in 1991 she found her daughter Bridget in an orphanage – "She really picked me," McCain insists. Sometimes the desire to save every child is properly concentrated on a single child.

Like most of Cindy McCain's life, these stories are generally hidden behind a wall of well-tailored reticence. She values the privacy of her family and resents the intrusiveness of the media. None of her relief work has been done for political consumption or Washington prominence. On the contrary, it has been an alternative life to the culture of the capital – the rejection of the normal progress of a senator's wife. "It is not about me – it never has been. I felt it was important – that I had to do it. I never took government money. It was my own, and I am not ashamed of it."

But all this would have political consequences in a McCain administration. Even if a first lady is not intrusively political, the whole White House responds to her priorities. Cindy McCain has had decades of personal contact with the suffering of the developing world. And in some future crisis or genocide, it might matter greatly to have a first lady who knows the smell of death.

Donnerstag, Juli 24, 2008

"Obama als Berlins Superstar"

bravo, Josef Hofstetter! you left a superb comment on that NZZ online article.

Obama hat deutsch-amerikanische Geschichte erzählt und eigentlich nicht viel Neues gesagt. Interessant war, dass das Publikum applaudiert hat, obwohl vielleicht höchstens 10 % überhaupt verstanden haben, was er sagte. Warum haben die Leute applaudiert, als er mehr Truppen für Afghanistan gefordert hat, als er deutschen Einsatz auch im Irak forderte und als er die Reduktion von CO2 forderte, also indirekt den Bau von Kernkraftwerken und nicht von Kohle- und Gaskraftwerken. Zudem wolte er 1 Stunde sprechen und es wurden ca. 20 Minuten, da seine Redeschreiber angeblich im Dilemma waren, da er bis heute immer wieder seine Aussagen korrigieren musste.
ha!! haha :-) ja, ich mag obama. aber irgendwo habe ich gelesen, dass die Leute in Europa Obama "(...) mit gleich viel Kompetenz verehren wie sie Bush verteufelt haben." very true.... in der Regel ist nicht viel Wissen dahinter. Obama eignet sich nun mal zum superstar. er kann tolle reden halten, ja. aber er ist auch ein slick politician, und wenn nun der wirklich Wahlkampf anfaengt, wird er es nicht so einfach haben gegen McCain. beides sind gute Kandidaten, aber beide muessen noch wesentlich mehr zeigen was sie denn nun wirklich drauf haben.

und Obama ist wirklich stark darin, hier viel zu versprechen und dort viel zu korrigieren. tja.

in any case, great comment on NZZ :-)

Dienstag, Juli 22, 2008

God Save The Queen - reinstating responsible world power.

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.

A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

(You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

1. Then look up aluminum, and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.

2. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour', 'favour', 'labour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix '-ise'. Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up 'vocabulary').

3. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as 'like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as US English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of -ize.

4. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

5. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you're not ready to shoot grouse.

6. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. A permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

7. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables.

Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

8. The Former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.

9. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

10. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as lager. South African beer is also acceptable as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting Nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of British Commonwealth. See what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

11. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.

12. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies). Don't try rugby. The South Africans and Kiwis will thrash you, like they regularly thrash us.

13. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

14. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.

15. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

16. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 pm with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save the Queen!

Montag, Juli 21, 2008

home is where a hot shower is ;-)

am disappointed. I'm looking for role models and am so eager to practice life-long learning, only to discover good role models are scarce, and life-long learning leads only to being considered over-qualified and intimidating to other people.

the more training I attend, the more I experience in work life, the more disappointed I get about professionality and how well things are being done.

the emergency course I attended, I've been told by the facilitator that they chose the "creme de la creme" as they have far more applicants than places. and I looked around me, and said "I feel sorry for the poor people that we are going to help, if that is the best we can come up with".

and not to be misunderstood - I fully include myself into this. I think I am far from being appropriately qualifed and skilled and experienced for the kind of job I want to do, and it is not an entirely happy moment when I realise that I am being considered "very good" already.

I'm slowly getting out into the job market again. I don't know what to do, where to go, or even where I see myself in five years. 9 months to go in my current post, with a little luck an emergency mission, and then?

on verra. I kind of like this process of looking at yourself and finding something new that you can be excited about :-)

Freitag, Juli 18, 2008

I'm back

New York is home.

and summer here deserves its name :-)