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Archive for the ‘United States’ Category

The Council is pleased to host Ambassador Eric Goosby, United States Global AIDS Coordinator, tonight at 6 PM. His visit comes only days after the conclusion of the biennial International AIDS Conference, at which he led the US delegation. The biggest news at the conference was the announcement of the development of a successful, new microbicide for HIV/AIDS prevention. While this was heralded as a huge advance in the fight against HIV/AIDS, many are now wondering whether it can be produced inexpensively enough for it to gain wide use and whether or not it will even be approved by regulators.

Join us tonight to learn about the conference and what the Obama Administration is doing to fight HIV/AIDS around the world. Register for the program here.

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This week the European Union announced new sanctions against Iran. The sanctions are one part of the EU’s strategy to pressure Iran to resume negotiations on its nuclear program. The United Nations imposed a fourth round of sanctions on Iran last month, but the EU’s go farther, affecting the energy, transport and finance sectors. While American investment in Iran has decreased in recent years, the EU is Iran’s largest trading partner and the new sanctions could have a significant impact on many European economies.

The United States also imposed new sanctions on Iran this month, with the goals of halting financing for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps that oversees missile and nuclear programs as well as curbing even further investment in Iran’s energy sector. They also target federal contractors that do business with Iran.

Learn more about the sanctions on Monday, August 2 when the Council hosts Jillian Burns, the Acting Director of the Iran Office of the State Department. She will discuss U.S. policy towards Iran, offering insight into the effectiveness of current sanctions and exploring Iran’s role in the region.

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As policy-makers, scientists, and persons living with HIV/AIDS convene this week at the International AIDS Conference, some are taking a closer look at AIDS policy in the United States. Since 2004, when President George W. Bush created the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief program (PEPFAR), the US has spent $19 billion to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa. These funds have provided 2.5 million Africans with anti-retroviral treatment and have contributed to the decline in new infections. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in Tuesday’s New York Times opinion section, argues that President Obama is not living up to his campaign pledge to increase PEPFAR’s budget, nor is he doing well by other disease prevention programs. Read his full opinion here.

Learn more about the Obama administration’s AIDS prevention and treatment efforts on Wednesday, July 28 when the Council hosts Ambassador Eric Goosby, US Global AIDS Coordinator. Register for the program here.

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Less than a week after President Barack Obama introduced a new national HIV and AIDS strategy, the International AIDS Conference began in Vienna. UNAIDS Executive Director Michele Sidibe unveiled Treatment 2.0, an initiative that will try to bring down the cost of life-saving medicines, make drug regimens less complicated and simplify the process of HIV treatment.

On Wednesday, July 28 the US Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Eric Goosby, will be at the Council to outline Obama’s new AIDS strategy. To register for the program, visit our website here.

For more information about the AIDS Conference, read this article from Voice of America. To learn more about the new national plan, listen to this episode of KQED’s Forum.

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Six months after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake ravaged Haiti, much attention has shifted to other needs and other crises elsewhere. But the Caribbean nation is still very much in crisis, and, as the Wall Street Journal reports, there’s still too much rubble and too little progress. With a new hurricane season now bearing down on the region, the situation may very well get worse before it gets any better.

In addition to helping to provide for continued relief and humanitarian assistance, philanthropy will be an essential player in long-term rebuilding. And the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for High Impact Philanthropy has conducted research and analysis to identify some of the most fruitful long-term philanthropic opportunities. Haiti: How Can I Help? Models for Donors Seeking Long-Term Impact outlines ways in which donors can help Haitians develop the capacity they need to build a brighter future for themselves, their communities and their nation.

The guide focuses in three interrelated “pillars of socioeconomic development” – health, livelihoods and education – and notes that promising nonprofit models already exist in these three areas.

In health, the guide emphasizes supporting community-based primary care systems because the chief causes of sickness and death in Haiti – from infectious diseases to injuries to complications during childbirth – continue to be mostly preventable and treatable.

With regard to livelihoods, the focus is on enabling households to provide for themselves by building assets and promoting environmentally sustainable ways to make a living. Finally, in education, the focus is on addressing the needs of children. More than one million Haitian children currently have no access to schools, in part because schools are physically or financially out of reach. The community schools model, focused on rural residents, helps overcome these barriers, and it also helps address the high teacher turnover by recruiting teachers from the local villages.

Working in these three key areas of development may not only provide long-term help, but short-term signs of progress as well. Haitians, and the global community at large, are in dire need of some good news.

–Jane Wales

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Starting tonight, PBS will air a new documentary about Secretary George Shultz, Turmoil & Triumph: The George Shultz Years. Shultz served in both the Nixon and Reagan administrations and now co-chairs the World Affairs Council’s Advisory Committee. In his many years of service, Secretary Shultz has taken on numerous challenges, most recently the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI). He spoke at the Council last month about the Initiative before a screening of The Nuclear Tipping Point.

To learn more about the PBS series, which will air tonight on KQED at 10 PM, read this article from the San Francisco Chronicle and visit the film’s website. More information about the NTI can be found on their website here.

Watch a short segment from Turmoil & Triumph below:

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On Sunday, voters went to the polls in Mexico to decide state and local races across the country. Despite some election-day violence, voter turnout was relatively stable, and power changed hands in six of twelve states. To learn more about Mexico’s current state of affairs and the relationship between the United States and Mexico, join the Council on July 22 for a program and reception with His Excellency Arturo Sarukhan, Ambassador of Mexico to the United States. Register for the program here.

For analysis of this weekend’s elections, read the articles in today’s Los Angeles Times and Washington Post.

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This week’s firing of General Stanley McChrystal and his being replaced by General David Petraeus, comes at a time when the World Affairs Council and the Marines’ Memorial Association are preparing to host the Honorable Robert Gates, United States Secretary of Defense. Secretary Gates will speak on August 12 as part of the George P. Shultz lecture series, which brings distinguished leaders from the US Armed Services to speak in San Francisco, most recently General Petraeus and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki. To register for this event, visit the MMA’s website or call 415.673.6672, ext.229.

To learn more about the changes at the Defense Department, read this article about Secretary Robert M. Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen’s thoughts on General McChrystal in the New York Times. For more about the American leadership in Afghanistan now that General Petraeus is slated to take over for McChrystal, read this article from the Economist.

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This Monday, June 28, the Council is honored to host His Excellency Batu Kutelia, Ambassador of Georgia to the United States, for a discussion of the state of bilateral relations and importance of Georgia as an ally in the Caucasus. The visit follows the Council of Europe’s Parliament overwhelming approval of a draft resolution condemning Russia’s policy in the North Caucasus, the same week that the Russian president is touring the United States. To register for the program with Ambassador Kutelia, visit the Council’s website.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, at the invitation of President Obama, traveled to the US on Tuesday to meet with business and political leaders in California and Washington, DC. Medvedev, who hopes to create a new technology mecca in Russia, made stops in San Francisco and Silicon Valley where he met with industry executives. Tomorrow he will travel to Washington to discuss the expansion of the economic relationship between Russia and the United States, which has largely been on hold since Russia’s war with Georgia in 2008. To learn more about Medvedev’s trip to Washington, read this article in the New York Times.

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“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.” This famous quote from Albert Einstein is the best way of describing US foreign policy in the Middle East, according to author and journalist Stephen Kinzer. He believes that our approach to the Middle East is stuck in a Cold-War mentality and that the US must find a new set of partners in the region. Kinzer feels that when Americans can put aside their emotions, and look for countries that have similar long-term goals and societies, “we see that [Turkey and Iran] are the two countries that are our logical partners going forwards.”

To listen to the entirety of Stephen Kinzer’s June 18 program at the World Affairs Council—‘Reset: Turkey, Iran and America’s Future’—please visit our online audio archive.

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In 2007, four men with distinguished careers in American diplomacy and national security wrote two op-eds in the Wall Street Journal promoting a world free of nuclear weapons and explaining the path to get there. The four, former Secretary of State George Shultz, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry and former Senator Sam Nunn, discuss their views in more detail in the documentary film The Nuclear Tipping Point. The men continue to speak about nuclear non-proliferation.

Last week, Senator Nunn appeared on the Colbert Report and discussed the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the threat of nuclear terrorism and the necessity of global cooperation “to take the steps we need to protect American citizens.” Watch the interview here:

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more about “Sam Nunn“, posted with vodpod

Next week, on Monday, June 21 Secretary Shultz will be at the Council to host a members-only screening of the documentary film.

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Life ain’t fair. Foundations pay full value to the for-profit consultants who advise them, but often fail to cover the true costs of the same services when offered by non-profits. How often have nonprofit leaders been tapped to provide advisory services to a foundation’s grantees or skills training for the foundation’s program officers, without thought of compensating the leader’s host organization for his or her time?  How many grants cover direct expenses but do not cover the true costs of a program or project by including indirect expenses? The Ford Foundation will pay 10% overhead. The Knight Foundation will pay none. Thus, each borrows from the grantee’s other sources of revenue, such as membership dues, registration fees or those increasingly rare general operating grants from other foundations or donors.

It turns out that governments do the same. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) surveyed nonprofits that receive federal grants and contracts and found that 88% are not reimbursed for their full costs. Some receive nothing at all for their indirect costs. Further, many of the federal grants managed by states are inconsistent in their treatment of indirect costs.

Federal agencies permit nonprofits to retain a share of contract funds for indirect costs, but when state and local governments administer the grants, each follows its own practices. The GAO offered the example of a US Department of Health and Human Services grant program, for which Wisconsin allows a reimbursement to nonprofits of up to 14% for indirect expenses, while Maryland provides no overhead at all.

In the meantime, for-profit contractors are usually able to recover true costs, while their non-profit colleagues may get as much as 20% less as a result of a government’s policy with respect to reimbursement to nonprofits.

Something is very wrong, especially given that many non-profits are often far leaner and more cost-conscious than their for-profit counterparts. Let us hope that the GAO report inspires a rethink at a time when governments are increasingly shifting their responsibilities to the social sector without the resources required to meet them.

—Jane Wales

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