Day: October 20, 2010

The “Little Emperor”

A word of praise is in order for the Nobel Peace Prize committee.  Two weeks ago they awarded the honor to Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese dissident currently serving an 11-year prison term for having the audacity to think that China should afford its citizenry basic human rights and freedoms.  Some say this year’s recipient is a reminder of what the award is designed to represent after what they see as a few dubious selections over the past several years. Whether that is true or not, Mr. Liu certainly espouses the ideals of the prize.  He has been a tireless advocate of political participation and public expression, with a history going back to the Tiananmen protest of 1989 when he tried to negotiate a peaceful end to the ordeal.  His efforts greatly mitigated the human toll when the tanks eventually rolled in.  He is now serving his third prison sentence for championing the rights of Chinese people. The committee deserves praise, however, not for the recipient they chose, but for the interference they overcame — no, ignored — in awarding it.  Ten days before the committee was to make its final decision the Chinese government sent a letter of warning to the Oslo committee.  In the letter, China argued that bestowing the Nobel on such a criminal as Mr. Liu would defile the intent of the award.  Furthermore, and this...

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National HIV/AIDS Strategy Misses Opportunity for Reform

At the 2010 U.S. Conference on AIDS last month, speakers blasted the White House for providing only $35 million of the budgeted $110 million to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. ADAP needs these funds to provide life-saving medications to people living with HIV. A few angry protesters stormed the podium in the opening plenary where Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebellius came to defend the $35 million concession. They shouted “AIDS means death, ADAP means life.” The crowd of conference-goers, surprised and confused by the foray, instead rippled with talk of the White House’s new National HIV/AIDS Strategy. The White House released the National HIV/AIDS Strategy in July 2010. In it, the administration pledges support for reducing new infections, improving care for people living with the disease and lessening HIV-related health disparities. Sebellius called the strategy an unprecedented step toward ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The crowd cheered. However, as conference-goers read the strategy their enthusiasm waned. This National HIV/AIDS Strategy was not new at all. The White House Office of National AIDS Policy just combined all popular approaches to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. Many disenchanted conference-goers had hoped for a critical review of existing prevention and treatment approaches and some innovative new ones. Some hoped the Strategy would review the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s process for endorsing and evaluating evidence-based interventions. The...

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