Category Archives: Foreign Aid

In Bungled Covert Operation, USAID Contractor Recruited Hip-Hop Artists to Help Topple Cuban Government

Kevin Gosztola reports for The Dissenter:

‘From the United States government contractor, which brought you “Cuban Twitter” and a band of untrained young Latin Americans sent to infiltrate Cuban society through the organization of an HIV workshop, comes another bungled covert operation against Raul Castro’s government: an operation to recruit notorious Cuban rappers and co-opt the country’s hip-hop music scene in order to spark an uprising.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) contracted Creative Associates International, which conducted all three of these blundering operations simultaneously as part of a “four-year contract” with USAID. The contract reportedly ended in 2012.

All three of the operations have been revealed in reports published by the Associated Press this year. Each time the AP has revealed the existence of these contracted projects, USAID has maintained they are not engaged in covert operations.’

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Netanyahu eyes big increase in Israel’s defense spending

Xinhua reports:

‘Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said he supports largely increasing defense spending in the upcoming 2015 budget in opposition to the stance of the finance minister, which may lead to the collapse of his political coalition.

“The billions we’ve invested in Israel’s defense in recent years saved the Israeli economy … Due to the threats in our area we need a substantial increment of billions in the defense budget, and we must do so in a responsible way without a great deficit,” Netanyahu said at the fourth international cyber convention held at the Tel Aviv University.’

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Decades of corruption led Liberians to think Ebola was a government scam to attract Western aid

Sara Jerving reports for The Nation:

‘The distrust in the government is deeply rooted in anger at years of corruption and a lack of accountability within the administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said Rodney Sieh, editor-in-chief of FrontPage Africa, a Liberian daily newspaper. Sirleaf, who became president in 2006, after the end of Liberia’s brutal civil war, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her role in the “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”

 But the ghosts of the nation’s past soon began to haunt her administration. In 2009, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia recommended Sirleaf be forbidden from holding public office for thirty years because she previously backed Charles Taylor, the guerilla leader responsible for many of the atrocities committed during the war. Sirleaf remained in power. Her fellow Nobel laureate, Leymah Gbowee, resigned from her role in the commission and publicly distanced herself from the president in 2012.’

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One Year After Egypt’s Rab’a Massacre, US Still Funding Repression

Medea Benjamin writes for CounterPunch:

‘It has been one year since the August 14, 2013 Rab’a Square massacre in Egypt, when the Egyptian police and army opened fire on demonstrators opposed to the military’s July 3 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. Using tanks, bulldozers, ground forces, helicopters and snipers, police and army personnel mercilessly attacked the makeshift protest encampment, where demonstrators, including women and children, had been camped out for over 45 days. The result was the worst mass killing in Egypt’s modern history. The government’s systematic effort to obscure what took place, beginning with sealing off the square the next day, has made it difficult to come up with an accurate death toll. But a just-released Human Rights Watch report, based on a meticulous year-long investigation, found that at least 817 and likely well over 1,000 people were killed in Rab’a Square on August 14.

[…] Since the massacre, Sisi has overseen a year of intense government repression that has included the arrests of tens of thousands of people, including Islamists and leftist political activists. More than 65 journalists have been detained and some, like three Al Jazeera journalists, have been sentenced to 7-10 years in prison. Egypt’s criminal justice system has become a cruel joke; sentencing 1,247 people to death in trials makes a mockery of the word “justice”. In many cases defendants were not brought to their trials and lawyers have repeatedly been barred from presenting their defense or questioning witnesses. Amnesty International has documented the sharp deterioration in human rights in Egypt in the past year, including the surge in arbitrary arrests, torture and deaths in police custody. Amnesty says torture is routinely carried out by the military and police, with members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood particularly targeted. Among the methods of torture employed are electric shocks, rape, handcuffing detainees and suspending them from open doors.’

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The U.S. Government Still Tries to Subvert Cuba

Sheldom Richman writes for The Future Freedom Foundation:

‘When I saw the headline about the U.S. government and Cuba in my newspaper the other day, I thought I’d awoken in 1961. It was a Twilight Zone moment for sure: “U.S. program aimed to stir dissent in Cuba.” I expected Rod Serling to welcome me to “another dimension.” But it was 2014. The AP news report said President Barack Obama and presumably then–secretary of state Hillary Clinton had plotted to incite a popular uprising — to “gin up opposition” — against the Cuban government by sending in young Latin Americans masquerading as tourists and health workers.

Did Obama, Clinton, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which oversaw the operation, learn nothing from the 1960s, when the Kennedy and Johnson administrations tried repeatedly to overthrow Cuban ruler Fidel Castro and even to assassinate him? The AP investigation disclosed that the USAID agents had “little training in the dangers of clandestine operations — or how to evade one of the world’s most sophisticated counter-intelligence services.” Nevertheless, the AP continued, “their assignment was to recruit young Cubans to anti-government activism, which they did under the guise of civic programs, including an HIV prevention workshop.” The program, which lasted at least two years, began shortly after Obama’s inauguration.’

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USAID exploited fake HIV workshop to incite rebellion in Cuba

‘The US Agency for International Development is under fire after an Associated Press report released Monday revealed the agency used young Latin Americans to infiltrate Cuban society and potentially stir dissent under the guise of a fake HIV-prevention organization. Created to serve as a cover for the would-be CIA agents’ espionage activities, the HIV workshop enabled among other activities the creation of a database of Cubans likely to cause trouble for the Castro regime.’ (RT America)

Rethinking the role of global investment in Africa’s development

Yash Tandon writes for Pambazuka News:

Africa-FDI-Western-Investment‘Much hope is placed on foreign direct investment to deliver development capital for African countries. Yet FDIs are part of the global financial capitalist system, which maintains and reproduces inequality and keeps African states dependent on Western countries and financial institutions.

Africa’s political leaders are under illusion to believe that foreign direct investments (FDIs) will get them out of their development crisis. This is not to dismiss FDIs but to provide a framework for an analytical and critical understanding of ‘capital’, how it is generated, and what its real function is.’

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Israel’s military by the numbers

Aid to Africa: Donations from west mask ‘$60bn looting’ of continent

Mark Anderson writes for the Guardian:

MDG : Parched soil in the Greater Upper Nile region of north-eastern South Sudan

‘Western countries are using aid to Africa as a smokescreen to hide the “sustained looting” of the continent as it loses nearly $60bn a year through tax evasionclimate change mitigation, and the flight of profits earned by foreign multinational companies, a group of NGOs has claimed.

Although sub-Saharan Africa receives $134bn each year in loans, foreign investment and development aid, research released on Tuesday by a group of UK and Africa-based NGOs suggests that $192bn leaves the region, leaving a $58bn shortfall. The report says that while western countries send about $30bn in development aid to Africa every year, more than six times that amount leaves the continent, “mainly to the same countries providing that aid”.’

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US Taxes Pay for Israeli War Crimes

Ida Audeh writes for Antiwar:

With numbing regularity, Israel bombs the Gaza Strip, home to 1.8 million Palestinians, from the air, land, and sea, and the excuse is always the same: Hamas “terrorists” don’t accept Israel’s “right to exist.” The specific trigger this time: the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers.

Hamas has publicly stated that it was not responsible for the deaths, and the claim is credible. Increasingly isolated, it had just concluded reconciliation talks with Fatah, a popular move with the Palestinian public, which it was not likely to jeopardize.

Bombing Gaza is convenient for Israel for many reasons: It ends further progress on Palestinian unity talks. It ends focus on the failure of the Kerry peace talks during which Israel continued to announce illegal settlement construction. It reminds all Palestinians that they will suffer a similar fate if they have the temerity to defy Israel. And it unites Israelis like nothing else.’

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Senate panel votes to double U.S. funding for Israel’s Iron Dome system

Donna Cassata reports for the Associated Press:

‘Congress is showing tangible support for longtime ally Israel as Gaza militants fire rockets, backing a measure that would double the amount of money for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.

The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee approved a defense spending bill on Tuesday that would provide $621.6 million for Israeli missile defense, including $351 million for the Iron Dome system that intercepts short-range rockets and mortars. In the latest hostilities between Israel and Hamas, Iron Dome has been successful in shooting down rockets and preventing Israeli deaths.

“It works,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the subcommittee.’

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Kerry Assures Egypt Junta of More Military Aid

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

Visiting Egypt’s military junta, Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly expressed “strong support” for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, while assuring the junta, which has been massacring people who participate in peaceful protests, that they’ve got even stronger support still.  Kerry assured President Sisi of billions of dollars in continued US military aid, and in particular promised that ordered helicopter gunships would be sent to Egypt’s junta “very, very soon.”

Sisi, for his part, promised to continue to move against “terrorism,” which pleased Kerry. Since the junta has designated most public protesters as terrorists, however, it suggests the policy of crackdowns will continue. The former defense minister, Sisi orchestrated a military coup last summer against the elected government, and has since been elected president, albeit in a vote in which all significant opposition parties were banned from participating, and indeed, during which many opposition figures were imprisoned pending execution for “terrorism” related charges.’

READ MORE @ ANTIWAR…

U.S. cuts aid to Uganda over country’s anti-gay law

From Reuters:

Yoweri Museveni‘The United States on Thursday cut aid to Uganda, imposed visa restrictions and canceled a regional military exercise in response to a Ugandan law that imposes harsh penalties on homosexuality. The White House said in a statement the measures were intended to “reinforce our support for human rights of all Ugandans regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Homosexuality is taboo in most African countries and illegal in 37, including in Uganda where it has been a crime since British rule. Uganda’s new law, signed by President Yoweri Museveni in February, imposes jail terms of up to life for “aggravated homosexuality” which includes homosexual sex with a minor or while HIV-positive.’

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Iraq Reveals Openness To Allow US Airstrikes Against Militants

Jeff Perlah reports for the International Business Times:

Territory: The above map shows the areas of Iraq and Syria currently controlled by Isis forces‘Iraq has privately revealed to the Obama administration that it would allow the United States to carry out airstrikes with drones or manned aircraft against al Qaeda targets on Iraqi territory, senior U.S. officials said Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported.

According to a senior U.S. official, the Obama administration is considering various options, including possibly providing “kinetic support” for the Iraqi military fighting al Qaeda militants who seized two major cities north of Baghdad this week. The official added that no decisions have been made, the Journal said.

Officials declined to say whether the United States would perhaps use airstrikes with drones or manned aircraft. Iraq has long asked the U.S. to arm it with drones that could be used for attacks, yet Washington has balked at supplying them, officials said, according to the Journal.’

READ MORE @ THE I.B. TIMES…

US Offers Aid to El Salvador, Pressures Them to Buy Monsanto Seeds

Paul Brown reports for Opposing Views:

The United States government is currently holding $277 million in aid over the heads of the leaders of El Salvador. The money, which was promised to the head of state of El Salvador, may not actually be given to the country after all.

Reports from El Salvador are painting a rather clear picture of the situation. It seems that the United States government is pressuring the leaders of El Salvador to purchase enormous quantities of Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds (GMO’s).

The newly written Millennium Challenge Compact, which would grant the $277 million in aid to El Salvador, includes a stipulation that El Salvador begin to use GMO’s. This is a highly controversial requirement, and many environmentalists are up in arms over the stipulation.’

READ MORE @ OPPOSING VIEWS…

US backing of el-Sissi reminiscent of Mubarak era

Spencer Kimball writes for DW:

Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and US Secretary of State John Kerry‘More than three years ago, US President Barack Obama withdrew Washington’s long-standing support for Hosni Mubarak, accelerating the former air force marshal’s overthrow by mass demonstrations. Today, the White House is cooperating with Egypt’s latest military-commander-turned-president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, in what some analysts say is a return to the old status quo of US support for military rule.

“The United States looks forward to working with [Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi], the winner of Egypt’s presidential election, to advance our strategic partnership and the many interests shared by the United States and Egypt,” the White House said in a news release. The Obama administration also expressed concern about the restrictive political environment in which the elections took place, calling on el-Sissi to adopt political reforms that would fulfill the “democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people.” But in his May 28 foreign policy speech, President Obama made clear that US-Egyptian relations are primarily rooted in national security interests, not democracy promotion.’

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Beware of aid agencies bearing gifts

Linda S.Heard writes for Gulf News:

‘There is no such thing as a free lunch as states that are recipients of western aid understand only too well. The naive may believe that foreign aid is a tool to help developing countries; sceptics are convinced it’s a quid pro quo enabling wealthy powers to exercise geopolitical policy objectives. In a documentary, filmmaker John Pilger made the case that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are “The New Rulers of the World” on behalf of their largest donor countries — the US, the UK, Germany, France and Japan. But some less powerful nations are alleging that one agency — the US Agency for International Development (USAID) — is acting as a front for the CIA.

When the Bolivian President Evo Morales expelled and shutdown USAID in his country last year for alleged attempts to undermine his leftist government, he wasn’t being paranoid after all. As a recent expose by the Associated Press shows USAID’s so-called “democracy promotion programmes” are designed to foment dissent against governments unfriendly to Washington. “In a number of countries, including Venezuela and Bolivia, USAID is acting more as an agency involved in covert action, like the CIA, than as an aid or development agency,” asserted Mark Weisbrot, an economist with a Washington-based think tank, the Centre for Economic and Policy Research.’

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Hunt for Kony Exposes Aid Sham in Uganda: Interview with Jane Bussmann

Abby Martin speaks with Jane Bussman, comedian and author of the book ‘A Journey to the Dark Heart of Nameless Unspeakable Evil’ a comedic yet sensible account of her experience hunting for Ugandan warlord, Joseph Kony, also discussing the negative impact of foreign aid in Africa.’ (Breaking the Set)

From Havana to Kiev: The US State Department as a Covert Operative

Howard Friel writes for Common Dreams:

Photo: Andrew Kravchenko/AP

‘I begin with three examples of State Department covert operations. The first examples start with Cuba (for context) and end with Venezuela, the target of the first two covert operations described below. The third example begins and ends with Cuba. These examples function as case studies that can be applied paradigmatically to Ukraine around the events of February 2014, when Ukraine’s elected president was overthrown in a coup supported by the United States. I conclude with commentary about the State Department’s likely evolution into a covert operations wing of the executive branch, and why such operations are illegal and threaten to ignite war in Europe among nations with nuclear weapons.’

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British aid money invested in gated communities and shopping centres

Claire Provost writes for The Guardian:

The Garden City development under construction in Nairobi, Kenya‘Millions of pounds of British aid money to tackle poverty overseas has been invested in builders of gated communities, shopping centres and luxury property in poor countries, the Guardian can reveal. CDC, the little-known investment arm of the British aid programme, has invested more than $260m (£154m) in 44 property and construction companies in Latin America, Africa and Asia. At least 20 of these are hotels, shopping centres or companies that build or manage gated communities and luxury property, according to Guardian research. CDC, formerly the Commonwealth Development Corporation, says these investments will create thousands of jobs for poor people in construction and services. But leading British NGOs questioned how supporting upmarket property could be an acceptable use of UK aid money.

…The ringfenced UK development budget has come under increased scrutiny as the government has met its target of spending 0.7% of gross national income as aid. Coalition ministers have pushed for increased private investment as a central plank of British aid policy. Nick Dearden, director of the World Development Movement, accused the government of exporting a “highly financialised, highly unequal, highly ideological form of ‘development’ which helps big business, not ordinary people”. “If you live in a slum in Nairobi, seeing development money pouring into a luxury block of flats is an insult.”‘

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Sen. Patrick Leahy blocks Egyptian military aid over ‘appalling abuse of the justice system’

From Reuters:

‘U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees foreign aid, said on Tuesday he will not approve sending funds to the Egyptian military, denouncing a “sham trial” in which a court sentenced 683 people to death. “I’m not prepared to sign off on the delivery of additional aid for the Egyptian military,” the Vermont Democrat said in a speech on the Senate floor, explaining why he would hold up the $650 million.

“I’m not prepared to do that until we see convincing evidence the government is committed to the rule of law,” Leahy said. The Obama administration said last week it would deliver 10 Apache attack helicopters and $650 million to Egypt’s military, relaxing a partial suspension of aid imposed after Egypt’s military ousted President Mohamed Mursi last year and cracked down violently on protesters.’

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More than Two-Thirds of Afghanistan Reconstruction Money has Gone to One Company: DynCorp International

All Gov reports:

State Aid ChartIf not for the federal government, contractor DynCorp International wouldn’t be in business. Virtually all of its revenue (96%) comes from government contracts. That includes the vast majority of the taxpayer dollars that the State Department has awarded to companies to help rebuild Afghanistan. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) says that of the $4 billion allotted by the State Department from 2002 to 2013, 69.3% went to DynCorp. In terms of actual dollars, DynCorp took in $2.8 billion.

Giving so much to one company might not have been a good idea, given DynCorp’s record. The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) notes the contractor’s “colorful history” includes “instances of labor smuggling, weak performance and overpayments on a base support services contract, botched construction work on an Afghan Army garrison, and lawsuits filed by disgruntled subcontractors.”

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In Support of Dictatorship, US to Send Egypt Military Helicopters

John Glaser writes for Antiwar:

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel meets with Egyptian general Abdel Fatah Saeed Al Sisy[…] The Post headline is actually somewhat misleading. It’s not so much that Washington is “partially resuming military aid to Egypt,” but rather that the aid was only partially halted to begin with. Last October, President Obama suspended millions of dollars from the annual U.S. aid package and halted advanced military hardware. But the Egyptian regime still received about $1.6 billion in U.S. aid. The so called “halt” was largely symbolic.

The U.S. has always opposed democracy and supported authoritarianism in Egypt, so this should come as no surprise. The internal Washington logic, however, is that while continuing to support the military junta may not be good for democracy and human rights, it will help secure U.S. interests. These interests supposedly are the following: (1) to help Cairo battle extremists in the Sinai, (2) to maintain control of the Suez Canal, which the U.S. Navy uses to send warships from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf and through which “8 percent of global seaborne trade and 4.5 percent of world oil supplies travel,” and (3) to maintain the peace treaty with Israel.

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John McCain: “We ought to at least give them some weapons so they can defend themselves”

Israel Buys $2 Billion in Warplanes, Assumes US Will Pay for It

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

Ever confident in their ability to get the US to foot the bill for unwise purchases, Israel has announced the acquisition of $2 billion worth of the troubled V-22 Osprey planes, on a “deferred payment plan.” The reason for the deferred payment plan in this case is because Israel has no intention of paying for these planes, and is just putting them in the arms dealers’ equivalent of layaway until they can con the US into paying for it.

The planes won’t be coming out of the current promises of US aid, but rather will be covered by military aid the US hasn’t promised yet, which will be appropriated after 2018. Former Israeli Ambassador Danny Ayalon says it is “reasonable” for Israel to assume that the US will eventually cough up a couple billion dollars for the Ospreys, citing overwhelming support in the US Congress for all things Israel.

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‘Cuban Twitter’ and Other Times USAID Pretended To Be an Intelligence Agency

Catherine Traywick writes for Foreign Policy:

Foreign governments have long accused the U.S. Agency for International Development of being a front for the CIA or other groups dedicated to their collapse. In the case of Cuba, they appear to have been right. In an eye-opening display of incompetence, the United States covertly launched a social media platform in Cuba in 2010, hoping to create a Twitter-like service that would spark a “Cuban Spring” and potentially help bring about the collapse of the island’s Communist government.

[…] Though better known for administering humanitarian aid around the world, USAID has a long history of engaging in intelligence work and meddling in the domestic politics of aid recipients. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the agency often partnered with the CIA’s now-shuttered Office of Public Safety, a department beset by allegations that it trained foreign police in “terror and torture techniques” and encouraged official brutality, according to a 1976 Government Accountability Office report. USAID officials have always denied these accusations but in 1973, Congress directed USAID to phase out its public safety program — which worked with the CIA to train foreign police forces — in large part because the accusations were hurting America’s public image. “It matters little whether the charges can be substantiated,” said a Senate Foreign Relations Committee report. “They inevitably stigmatize the total United States foreign aid effort.” By the time the program was closed, USAID had helped train thousands of military personnel and police officers in Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and other countries now notorious for their treatment of political dissidents.

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Is USAID the New CIA? Agency Secretly Built Cuban Twitter Program To Fuel Anti-Castro Protests

‘”U.S. secretly created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to stir unrest.” That is the name of an explosive new article by the Associated Press detailing how the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), created a fake Twitter program to undermine the Cuban government. The communications network was called “ZunZuneo” — slang for a Cuban hummingbird’s tweet. It was reportedly built with secret shell companies financed through foreign banks. According to AP, the United States planned to use the platform to spread political content that might trigger a Cuban Spring, or, as one USAID document put it, “renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society.” We speak to Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive. He recently wrote an article in Foreign Policy called, “Our Man in Havana: Was USAID planning to overthrow Castro?“‘ (Democracy Now!)

US aid to Israel secure despite budget cuts

From Reuters:

The United States will continue providing Israel with defense aid after a current package worth some $3 billion a year expires in 2017, and the grants are unlikely to wane despite Washington belt-tightening, two US senators said on Thursday. Kelly Ayotte and Joe Donnelly, who are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, visited Israel to confer on security issues like missile defense, on which the allies have partnered.

The previous US administration signed a 10-year deal with Israel in 2007 granting it $30 billion, most of which must be spent on American defense products. Talks on a new package were already under way, said Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican.

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Tony B. Liar handed £3 million slice of Barack Obama’s aid for Africans

Matthew Holehouse, and Edward Malnick report for The Telegraph:

Tony Blair is celebrating another multi-million pound contract after his charity secured a key deal with the US government. This time, the former prime minister’s Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) has won a £3.3 million contract to play a key role in Barack Obama’s flagship African aid programme.

The three-year deal – with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) – gives Mr Blair’s charity an important role in the initiative, called Power Africa. The money represents more than AGI’s combined total income in 2012, the most recent set of accounts available.

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The New Tyranny: How development experts have empowered dictators and helped to trap millions and millions of people in poverty

William Easterly published an excerpt from his new book ‘The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor’ at Foreign Policy:

On the morning of Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010, the villagers of Mubende District, Uganda were in church when they heard the sound of gunfire. They came out to find men torching their homes and crops. The soldiers held them off at gunpoint from rescuing their homes; one 8-year-old child was trapped and died in the fire. The soldiers then marched off the 20,000 farmers from the land that had been in their families for generations. The reason for the violence was that a forestry project financed by the World Bank wanted the land.

The only thing that distinguishes this episode from the many human rights violations that happen in the name of development is that it got unusual publicity. The New York Times ran a front-page story on it on Sept. 21, 2011. The World Bank the next day promised an investigation.  What is most revealing of all about this episode is what happened next: nothing. The World Bank never investigated its own actions in financing this project. Now, just after the fourth anniversary of the Mubende tragedy, it has been forgotten by nearly everyone except its victims.

The sad neglect of the rights of the poor in Mubende follows from the ideas behind the global war on poverty. Those who work in development prefer to focus on technical solutions to the poor’s problems, such as forestry projects, clean water supplies, or nutritional supplements. Development experts advise leaders they perceive to be benevolent autocrats to implement these technical solutions. The international professionals perpetrate an illusion that poverty is purely a technical problem, distracting attention away from the real cause: the unchecked power of the state against poor people without rights. The dictators whom experts are advising are not the solution — they are the problem.

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