How All Former U.S. Presidents Fight Global PovertyAll five living former presidents met in Texas on October 22, 2017, the first gathering of all past U.S. leaders since 2013. Their mission was to raise funds for hurricane victims in Florida, Texas, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The event, titled “Deep from the Heart: One America Appeal,” accumulated $31 million towards helping those in need. The former U.S. presidents fight global poverty because they consider the issue too vital to ignore even in retirement.

Here’s how former presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama helped foreign nations since leaving office.

Jimmy Carter

Even at age 93, Jimmy Carter works alongside other volunteers outdoors to build houses with Habitat for Humanity. Both Carter and his wife Rosalynn have traveled around the world to raise awareness towards the benefits of affordable housing. Their work encompasses 14 countries and 4,000 built homes.

George Herbert Walker Bush

Both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton fought a vicious campaign against each other for the presidency in 1992. But all wounds were mended by 2005, when the two former presidents visited Asia to raise money in the wake of a deadly tsunami. The two men also raised more than $100 million to support the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

On the subject of losing the re-election to a member of an opposing party, H.W. Bush commented, “You just can’t go through life with a great deal of bitterness in your heart over something that happened 15 years ago.”

Bill Clinton

In addition to the funds raised after Hurricane Katrina, Clinton established the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in 2005. The CGI gathered Nobel laureates, leading CEOs, philanthropists and more than 200 former heads of state to create Commitments to Action for those in need.

Previous Commitments to Action include an amount of refugees taken in by a country, an installation of solar arrays for a country and advice from major corporations to a country. CGI has aided 180 nations since its genesis.

George W. Bush

October wasn’t the first time the world saw George W. Bush and former U.S. presidents fight global poverty together. Both Bush and Clinton raised funds to provide for Haiti in the wake of the 2010 earthquake.

Bush continued his philanthropy even after his two terms saw the achievement of the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals years ahead of schedule.

Barack Obama

Not even a year after leaving office, Barack Obama advocated for the world to address climate change, poverty and disease. “People wildly overestimate what we spend on foreign aid,” he said, “…It’s a good investment to make countries work.” Obama joined philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, Leymah Gbowee and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to urge nations in uniting to combat global poverty.

Seeing all former U.S. presidents fight global poverty reveals the tenacity within each leader. All five men, however, believe that saving the world is a global effort.

Nick Edinger

Photo: Flickr

The newly-elected Republican House and Senate is facing several problems related to foreign aid and other issues dealing with foreign policy and international relations.

For instance in 2014, due to the influx of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Latin America, Republicans proposed to stop sending aid to countries such as El Salvador, Guatamala and Hondouras. Instead of providing foreign aid, Republicans proposed to provide funding for initiatives that would protect the border states.

President Barack Obama’s strategy in congress is “play offense” against the majority GOP Congress. This includes using his veto power to stop legislation of the XL pipeline and increased sanctions on Iran.

“We in the administration believe that, at this time, increasing sanctions would dramatically undermine our efforts to reach this shared goal” of reducing Iran’s nuclear weapon capacity, said Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, at a Louisville event with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) earlier this week.

The situation worsens as Democrats and Republicans further divide over social issues.

The United Nations Population Fund is the branch of the United Nations that supports development of programs and clinics that provide reproductive services for women. This institution needs funding to cut down on unplanned or unexpected pregnancy. The strict policy enacted by Ronald Reagan mandates that non-governmental organizations providing support for women cannot even mention abortion let alone refer them to doctors.

The order was rescinded by Bill Clinton in 1993 and then reinstated during George W. Bush’s administration. The bill is also known as the “gag rule” and is an example of the volatility of bipartisan politics in Washington.

“The global gag rule has had a dire impact on vulnerable women by allowing critical family planning programs in the developing nations to be held hostage by the ping pong game of U.S. partisan polices,” said Brian Dixon.

Obama also stated, “I’m not going to spend the next two years on defense; I’m going to play offense,” he said, at his speech to Democrats. Obama has made it clear that he is not laying down for his last term in office.

– Maxine Gordon

Photo: Politico Fox News Women’s E-News
Photo: The New Yorker

AIDS conference
The 20th International Aids Conference took place July 20 -25 and was held in Melbourne, Australia.  The aim of the conference was to create a forum where people could address the problematic impact of AIDS on a global scale.

Speakers at the conference included founder and former U.S. president Bill Clinton, U.S. Global Aids Coordinator Ambassador Deborah Brix, USNG’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia Michel Kazatchkine, among others.

The Melbourne declaration for the International Aids Conference states that in regards to HIV/AIDS, it is vital that everyone, “…call for the immediate and unified opposition to discriminatory and stigmatizing practices and urge all parties to take a more equitable and equitable approach through the following actions.”

The declaration then lists actions such as insisting that “governments must repeal repressive laws and end policies that reinforce discriminatory and stigmatizing practices and increase vulnerability to HIV, while also passing laws that actively promote equality,” that “all healthcare providers must demonstrate the implementation of non-discriminatory policies as a prerequisite for future HIV program funding” and that “restrictions on funding, such as the anti-prostitution pledge and ban on purchasing needles and syringes, must be removed as they actively impede the struggle to combat HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and hepatitis C among sex workers and people who inject drugs.”

The 2014 AIDS conference had 12,000 attendees from over 200 countries across the globe and was sponsored by the International AIDS Society (IAS).  In addition to raising awareness, the conference also acted as a forum where researchers could present new findings for how to address and hopefully end this epidemic.  The conference included information about other projects like the Global Village and hosted satellite meetings in order to serve as a networking platform to combat HIV/AIDS.

– Jordyn Horowitz


Sources: AIDS 2014, IA Society, USA Today
Photo: USA Today

Despite the importance of global education, donor agencies and major developed countries have decreased their federal budgets and funding. Developing countries like India are working hard to get children into school and are increasing enrollment rates, but the fact remains that attendance rates and general accessibility to education in developing countries are lower than they should be.

Vikas Pota, CEO of Varkey GEMS Foundation, interprets this as “a major setback for children all over the world”, and states that “we need innovative solutions to make sure children have the opportunity to attend school”.  The Varkey GEMS Foundation attempts to imrove the standards of education for underprivileged children, with one of their major goals being to impact 100 underprivileged children for every child enrolled in a GEMS school. In order to ensure that “every child has a chance to prosper”, the foundation provides scholarships and leadership development, as well as builds schools throughout the developing world. Another core goal of the foundation is to promote gender equality and provide for girl’s and women’s education as well.

At the launch of the foundation in December 2010, Bill Clinton had this to say, “There will rarely be people who launch something with so much potential to lift the hopes and spirits and dreams of children as this Foundation has done tonight. The benefits from an educated child will affect not only the child itself, but his or her family and the wider community… the world is depending on it”. By focusing on education of underprivileged children, it is the hope of Pota and of the foundation that those children will be able to lift themselves from poverty into a life of better opportunities and independence.

Pota believes that the biggest crisis we face in education “is that of not investing enough in our teachers”. Over the next ten years, the foundation hopes to train over 250,000 teachers globally, with the help of government aid. Another problem is that the majority of aid to basic education is not allocated to the lowest income countries where the most aid is needed. Pota calls for collective responsibility and action, which starts with the citizens. Calls to congress people and legislators are the most effective way to show support, and will increase the likelihood that budgets for education-based aid will increase.

– Sarah Rybak
Source: Huffington Post, Gems Education
Photo: A Celebration of Women

Bill Clinton's First Tweet: the Global Initiative

Bill Clinton was featured recently on the Colbert Report to talk about his global initiative. Here are some of the main questions and responses that Stephen Colbert asked the former U.S. President.

Why help other people?

We live in an interdependent world… The more you reduce poverty overseas, the more you increase education and improve healthcare and empower women and girls, the more you will have growth overseas the more there will be global growth, the better off Americans will be. Every time you cut off somebody else’s opportunities, you shrink your own horizons.

But why ‘Global Initiative’? Why not call it the ‘Clinton America Initiative’?

Fixing America, in part, depends upon having a more receptive world to improve in, one that makes our growth more relevant and  effective.

How would you compare CGI to other big groups that get together like TED Talks?

The simple answer is that here, everybody is expected to make a commitment..I thought people were tired of meetings and just wanted to do something, and it turned out that a fair number were.

Would you like to break into the 21st century right now and send in your first tweet?

Just spent an amazing time with Colbert. Is he sane? He is cool! #CGIU

As Colbert sends in Clinton’s first tweet, he says, “sir welcome to the future.”

– Leen Abdallah

Source: YouTube

Celebs Participate in 2013 Clinton Global Initiative UniversityThe Clinton Global Initiative University, now in its sixth year, is being hosted this week in St. Louis at Washington University. Along with former President Bill Clinton, TV host Steven Colbert and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey will attend the event that aims to include today’s youth in the world’s most pressing global challenges through college campuses. Various other celebrities, including Jada Pinkett-Smith and Chelsea Clinton are also attending the event.

The event focuses on five main areas of interest relating to global issues, including poverty alleviation, public health, peace and human rights, education, and environment and climate change. The event is expecting around 1,200 participants to attend this year. Washington University is the host college this year because of its dedication “to training the next generation of civic leaders.”

Although the general public is not permitted into the event, some sessions can be viewed online via streaming video here.

Christina Kindlon

Source: KMOV


Sometimes we just want to know who is doing what to help those less fortunate, especially what celebrities are doing. Those special individuals who have tremendous wealth and are compelled to give some away in recognition of their good fortune, and in stark contrast to those who have so very little.

The site Look to the Stars lists celebrities and all their philanthropic contributions. The top 7 celebrities who are helping the world’s poor are Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie who together give to 27 charities and in 2006 alone gave away $8 million. Bono is next on the list, not only contributing to 14 specifically humanitarian groups but actively creating organizations, concerts, programs, strategies and even clothing to reduce poverty. Then, Bill Clinton follows with contributions to 13 organizations, but primarily focuses on the foundation he created in his name to help with humanitarian causes. Rock legend and well-known philanthropist Annie Lennox donates to 11 related charities, principally Amnesty International and Greenpeace. George Clooney not only contributes to 10 poverty groups but also created his own campaign specifically to help those suffering in Darfur – Not On Our Watch. The seventh leading celebrity actively addressing poverty issues is musician John Legend, supporting 7 related campaigns and starting his own with partner Jeffrey Sachs – the Poverty Action Tour, trying to educate and inspire U.S. university students to get involved in the cause.

Top charities being supported by celebrities to assist the world’s poor are UNICEF, Save the Children, Oxfam, Entertainment Industry Foundation, Comic Relief, Soles4Souls, Artists for Peace and Justice, ONE Campaign, Sport Relief, (RED).

Interestingly, Bono was compelled to start his charitable work after seeing The Secret Policeman’s Ball in 1979, and John Legend immediately took action after reading The End of Poverty by Earth Institute, director Dr. Jeffrey Sachs.

– Mary Purcell

Source: Look To The Stars
Photo: Hollywoodnose