Global health is important foreign policy issue for 2011

Global health was disturbingly absent from “Five key foreign policy issues to watch in the new year” (Jan. 2). Global health policy is at a critical turning point right now with the impending implementation of President Obama’s Global Health Initiative, which will change our fundamental approach to health programs and policy. 

Yet global health has already suffered a serious setback under the guise of increased “oversight” over foreign assistance, which was listed as one of the top five issues. At the close of the lame-duck session, in the name of increased “oversight,” House Republicans blocked passage of the urgently needed Prevention of Child Marriage Act (S. 987), which would have dedicated United States resources to rescue girls as young as 8 and 9 from abduction, forced marriage and early childbearing — a significant cause of maternal morbidity and mortality. Instead of focusing on the laudable goal of making sure U.S. assistance is spent wisely, this “oversight” is politicizing global health, particularly women’s health. 

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There are ominous signs global women’s health will be under further attack in the new Congress, with oversight used as a smokescreen. Helping couples delay or space pregnancies — not at all controversial among Americans, who are overwhelmingly users of family planning themselves — is one of the most cost-effective ways to dramatically improve health and sustainability. Unfortunately, these programs are threatened perennially by legislators who see little value in giving women the power to decide when to be pregnant.

There is great need for improved efficiency in the foreign assistance budget, as there is with all areas of government. Yet we cannot mistake funding cuts for increased efficiency. Failure to fully fund necessary programs that benefit entire communities and countries — such as voluntary family planning, child marriage reduction, maternal health and HIV/AIDS prevention and care — would be a setback. Given all that is in motion and all that is at stake, global health policy should be on everyone’s top five foreign policy issues list for 2011. 

Washington


Vick doesn’t deserve the chance to again own dogs

From Tami Palacky

President Obama recently phoned the Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and commended him for giving Michael Vick a “second chance.”

According to reports, Lurie said Mr. Obama was “passionate about it,” adding that the president said, “It’s never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail. And he was happy that we did something on such a national stage that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall.’’

Now Mr. Vick says he wants another dog.

Society would never allow a child molester or a very violent person to adopt a vulnerable child, so we should never be in favor of allowing as severe an animal abuser as Vick is to adopt a vulnerable animal. Michael Vick has admitted to forcing dogs to fight to the death and to being responsible for or personally hanging, shooting and drowning gentle dogs that were unwilling to fight. Our responsibility as animal guardians is to protect other species, not to purposely put them in harm’s way.

When Vick throws a football thousands cheer. That has to be enough. Leave the animals alone.

Springfield, Va


Clean-energy growth can solve many US problems 

From Emile Derek Boyle

It is unacceptable for senators to block the creation clean-energy American jobs, a nuclear treaty and inspections, ending tax breaks for the wealthy, ending Senate secret holds and election funding transparency; all while apologizing to BP and coal companies for Americans dying on their property.

While I understand the compromises that had to be made in the Senate to pass unemployment benefits continuation and the START Treaty, there needs to be an end to the ridiculous tax cuts for billionaires while more than 128,000 troops are serving in war zones. And there needs to be an end to tax breaks for wealthy oil and agricultural conglomerates while not giving enough incentives to renewable energy jobs and manufacturing, which encompasses the fastest growing industries in America.

America’s wind industry employs more than 80,000 direct jobs right now, compared to the coal industry’s 34,000, provides double-digit growth every year and is a proven leader in providing employment for returning military veterans. The solar, biomass and smart grid industries provide similar benefits to the public, while using less water and creating virtually no pollution, which is just the opposite of the coal and gas hydraulic fracturing industries.

Energy security means economic security and national security. Starting with jobs and taxes, clean-energy development can create millions of jobs. In turn, those jobs provide tax revenue for cities, states and federal services. We the people need a referendum on climate change and a strong federal renewable energy portfolio standard.

Burke, Va.