Accuracy in Media

She’s been called a home wrecker for allegedly destroying Brad Pitt’s marriage to Jennifer Aniston. But CBS sister-company MTV is airing a puff piece about Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie on Wednesday night, as the United Nations begins its World Summit in New York. Jolie, a movie star who makes more than $15 million a film, has served as a “Goodwill Ambassador” for the world body and even got a “Citizen of the World” award from the U.N. Correspondents Association. She will put a pretty face on the U.N., which has been badly damaged by corruption. But the MTV program will serve another purpose?to divert attention from the world body’s hidden agenda to force U.S. taxpayers to spend tens of billions of more dollars on foreign aid programs that don’t work. Apparently, the U.N. has to replace the money that has been stolen.

Titled, “The Diary of Angelina Jolie and Dr. Jeffrey Sachs in Africa,” the program will follow the actress as she conducts an anti-poverty tour to some villages in Kenya. She is joined by Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, who runs Columbia University’s Earth Institute and serves as a top adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in the drive for more spending on the U.N. and foreign aid. His most recent target has been new U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, who has been standing in the way of having the World Summit document formally approve global taxes.

The world body’s push for massive amounts of new revenue is quite serious. The U.N. has just published its annual “Human Development Report,” which suggests a variety of “international taxation mechanisms” to generate billions of more dollars for the U.N. and other international agencies. If it were up to the U.N., Americans would be paying global taxes on airline travel, energy, and currency transactions to reach the “Millennium Development Goals” that the U.N. has set for us. According to Sachs, who runs the U.N.’s “Millennium Project,” the U.S. would owe an additional $845 billion, beyond what we already pay in foreign aid, over a 13-year period.

The issue of “innovative sources of finance,” which is one U.N. euphemism for global taxes, has been one of the main sticking points preventing agreement on a World Summit document for President Bush and other leaders to sign this week. Early drafts promoted an international tax on airline travel as a “solidarity contribution on plane tickets.” It also encouraged other “solidarity contributions.” The latest “draft negotiated outcome” document, dated September 12, still recognizes the value of developing “innovative” and “additional” sources of financing for foreign aid but now refers to them as being “public, private, domestic, or external,” whatever all of this is supposed to mean. The document declares, “Some countries will implement in the near future, utilizing their national authorities, a contribution on airline tickets to enable financing development projects?Other countries are considering whether and to what extent they will participate in these initiatives.” So it appears that the provisions on global taxes have been watered down so they can’t be interpreted to imply U.S. approval of an international taxation scheme that would affect American taxpayers.

The other side of the story, also being suppressed by the pro-U.N. press corps, is the bankrupt nature of the U.N. approach to global development. Taking strong issue with the U.N. approach, Dr. George Ayittey, who is originally from Ghana (Kofi Annan’s native country), argues that “Africa is poor because she is not free.” An economics professor at American University, his latest book is Africa Unchained: The Blueprint for Development.

Ayittey says that while it is noble and humanitarian for rich countries to help Africa, “the main question is what are African governments and Africa’s leaders themselves doing to help their own people.” He says this topic “draws a complete blank” from the foreign-aid lobby. 

The African Union itself estimates that corruption alone cost Africa $148 billion, Ayittey told me during a recent interview. If you cut that in half, he says, then world leaders will find more money than what British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been trying to raise for them. “Africa’s begging bowl leaks,” he says. And it’s not just corruption, but capital flight. He says the amount of money which leaves Africa has been estimated at $80 billion a year. “If you gave Africa $50 billion, that’s not even going to replace the $80 billion that is leaving,” he points out.

Surprisingly, Ayittey was featured in July on Wide Angle, a public television show hosted by liberal Bill Moyers. Ayittey said even he was surprised at the warm reception he received from Moyers and his crew. One of their topics was the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe, which was the breadbasket of the region 15 years ago. Ayittey said that “the situation has reversed completely” and the country now faces food shortages because ruler Robert Mugabe, who has been in power for 24 years, has adopted Marxist and dictatorial policies. Over four million have fled the country, the jobless rate is over 70 percent, per capita income is falling rapidly, and the life expectancy has gone from 56 to 33 years.

Ayittey, who serves as the president of the Free Africa Foundation, says the white colonialists have been replaced by black colonialists in country after country in Africa. The answer, he says, is not more foreign aid but freedom. You can find his work at the website

After he’s done battling the U.N. and its allies over global taxes and the World Summit document, Ambassador Bolton might want to think about giving George Ayittey a platform at the U.S. Mission to the U.N.  It’s na?ve to think that the U.N. would embrace freedom, rather than global welfare, but challenges like this haven’t stopped Bolton in the past. If Moyers can be persuaded, perhaps Kofi Annan isn’t a lost cause either.

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