Thursday, July 30, 2009

Kerry and Lugar Proposed Bill to Overhaul USAID

Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar introduced a  bill to rework the way US aid is managed and distributed.  The bill would give more power to USAID, which has lost out to other agencies, including the Pentagon, in recent years.  Additionally, the bill is designed to increase the transparency and coordination of foreign aid.

Senate Subcommittee Votes to Keep Funding for Service Budget

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education voted to provide $1.15 billion to the Corporation for National and Community Service.  That is nearly the exact amount President Obama requested and $90 million more than the House recently voted to give the program.

UN Worker to be Flogged

Lubna Ahmed Hussein, a Sudanese woman working for the UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan, faces charges of wearing “clothing causing harassment to the public sentiments,” a charge carrying a potential sentence of 40 lashings.  The offending article of clothing was a pair of pants.  Police arrested her and 13 other women outside a café in Sudan’s capital for wearing pants and 10 of the women have already received 10 lashings a piece.  Ms. Hussein has invited local and foreign journalists to witness the punishment, should she be convicted.

How Can USAID Stem the Growth of Radical Islam?

At the urging of a USAID worker, Clifford Brown, the University of Montana proposed a unique project translate moderate Islamic writings from Persian and Arabic into local languages.  Brown noted that “Islam has a large body of moderate literature saying, for example, that suicide is a sin against Allah,” and argued that publishing such materials could help curb the growth of radical Islamic movements.  The proposal was rejected by USAID for violating the First Amendment’s ban on government promotion of religion, but a clamor is rising in support of loosening regulations for USAID to promote such projects.