Monthly Archives: May 2013

Franklin Graham claims IRS targeted his international aid ministry

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Franklin Graham, one of the U.S.’s most prominent evangelicals, says the targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service included two of his ministries.The evangelical leader is the son of famed evangelist Billy Graham.

“I am bringing this to your attention because I believe that someone in the administration was targeting and attempting to intimidate us,” Graham wrote in a letter Tuesday to President Barack Obama.

In September, the IRS informed the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, an international aid group, that it would review the groups’ records for the tax year ending in 2010, according to Graham. IRS agents conducted the review in October, Graham said.

“I do not believe the IRS audits of our two organizations last year is a coincidence –or justifiable,” Graham said in the letter to Obama.

The IRS did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment. The agency has acknowledged that it gave extra scrutiny to tea party groups applying for federal tax exemptions. The Treasury Department’s Inspector General said in a report that the IRS’ use of “inappropriate criteria”  ended in May 2012.

The politics of American humanitarian intervention

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Over the last 20 years, the U.S. government has chosen to intervene in Bosnia, Kosovo, Somalia, Haiti and Libya, while resisting calls to take action in Rwanda and Sudan.

These days the Obama administration has been hesitant to get involved in Syria. President Obama’s varying view on humanitarian intervention is in keeping with over 20 years of inconsistent American policy on the issue.

Obviously, there are many reasons why Washington selectively engages in humanitarian intervention missions. Among them, recent research on when and why the U.S. engages in humanitarian intervention emphasizes two factors that might force the U.S. government’s hand on humanitarian intervention: public opinion and Congressional partisanship.

Although public opinion appears to have an influence on legislative behavior, traditional factors such as partisanship have the strongest influence on how legislators cast their votes.

Humanitarian intervention is most likely when the U.S. president enjoys a majority in Congress. In the case of the 1990s, humanitarian interventions failed to get off the ground when President Clinton lost majorities in Congress.

Politicians however are learning the lessons of the 1990s and circumventing Congress. President Obama contributed the U.S. military to NATO operations in Libya preceded without Congressional authorization, as he was aware that such a vote would go down to defeat in a Republican-controlled House and deeply partisan Senate.



Giving Aid to Poor Countries

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When polled, the American public agreed with the assertion that “taking care of problems at home is more important than giving aid to foreign countries.”

But this does mean that Americans think that no aid should go overseas?

When respondents were asked what percentage of their tax dollars that go to help poor people at home and abroad … should go to help poor people in other countries, the response was 16%. (Down from a 22% response in a 1996 poll.)

Strikingly, this turns out to be a far higher percentage than is currently given.

The year this poll was taken, only about four per cent (4%) of the total spent went toward causes that in any way benefited the poor abroad. (Nowhere near the above 16 – 22%.)

Budget perceptions: Program on International Policy Attitudes “Americans on Foreign Aid and World Hunger: A Study of U.S. Public Attitudes,”.

Despite our problems we are 100 times richer than the rest of the world

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When the U.S. became an independent nation in 1776, on average, Americans were about 4 times richer than the people of the world’s poorest countries.
Today, we are 100 times richer.
People in most countries do not have access to basic things that Americans take for granted. For example:
• Every year, 11 million children die before their fifth birthday from chronic hunger and related diseases.
• More than 1 million people a year die from malaria, a preventable disease that has been virtually eradicated in rich countries.
• In India and Pakistan, fewer than half of adult women can read.
• In Ecuador, only one in four poor families has access to running water.
• In Kenya, only 12% of roads are paved, making it hard for farmers and manufacturers to sell their products in their own markets, let alone in global markets.