Evening Exchange; 2214; Africa Update, Weekly News Analysis, High Blood Pressure
For Iraq a crucial deadline approaches for African-Americans the deadly effects of hypertension and Kenya Nigeria and Ivory Coast well will clear up the confusion. Evening exchange is next. Hi I'm Cojo an omni trying to read between the lines in Africa can be so difficult sometimes especially if you're looking for answers. Take Nigeria for instance 34 years ago a million people have died in the civil war that was described as ethnic conflict. Today hundreds die with the fear of civil war lurking in the background. Only now
the conflict is described as religious or Kenyan. Not generally associated with anti-New with or anti-Israeli sentiment. Yet for the second time in four years is the staging ground for anti-U.S. Israeli terrorist attacks or Ivory Coast where news of war and peace seem to appear simultaneously and the cruel arithmetic of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa with just 10 percent of the world's population and 75 percent of the world's HIV AIDS cases will get help. Reading between the lines on all of these issues from sonly Booker executive director of Africa Action. Charles Cobb senior writer and diplomatic correspondent for all Africa dotcom and Suleyman of the Department of African studies at Howard University. Charlie Cobb allow me to start with what was most recent in Washington and that is President Bush meeting with the president of. Kenya and the prime minister of Ethiopia but it seems as if security dominated the conversation despite all of the other stuff I just said including a about what's going on.
Yes security was the purpose of the meeting which was and Bush sent out the invitations before the attacks in in Mombasa Mombasa the other. He also had invited the leader of Djibouti where the United States is in the midst of a significant military buildup of U.S. forces to participate in this meeting. But he didn't come because it was IID an important Muslim holiday but security was the reason the East Africa. Has become both in terms of Iraq. And in terms of combating what might be called a radical Islamic fundamentalism a major battlefield in the United States. Cast this is a battle between the United States and al Qaeda. Actually it's a much more complicated than that has been going on longer than the publicity that surrounded the U.S. al Qaeda conflict.
But if they talked about at the White House meeting and the prime minister of Ethiopia say look we might have a slightly bigger problem than security right now in terms of starvation and famine. Can the president of Kenya say look we have an election coming up. I am being a very democratic person here. Why is it that whatever is on the U.S. agenda tends to dominate the discussion. Yes it's a stupid question. Well also these lead. This is a choice and part of these particular leaders Melas Zenawi the prime minister of Ethiopia is anxious to reinstate Ethiopia as the primary strategic partner of the United States in the region. Kenya's Moye who is on the way out after I forget now for 24 years two decades more than two decades of ruling Kenya is really here campaigning for
investments for money from America into in the in the way that Ethiopia is the primary strategic partner of the United States in a military sense you could make the argument that Kenya is the primary economic partner of the United States. In the region even though economic issues didn't define the conversations that this White House meeting because security trumps money in this specific instance without the kind of security you don't get the kind of money you want. Is Moyes reasoning security trumps money. A very significant statement given the fact that just this past Sunday was World AIDS Day and we're talking about the pandemic that is having a devastating effect in Africa more than any other continent in the world so far. Yet that does not seem to be at the top of the agenda outside of Secretary of State Powell making a few remarks about it. It seems to be escaping the notice of the administration and much of the country.
That's right. The administration is intent on continuing to emphasize terrorism as a global threat a threat that requires global cooperation when in fact the HIV AIDS pandemic is the single largest global threat right now to any human security anywhere. It's killing more people it's undermining more societies and devastating more economies and creating more instability in the world than any other single threat. And even Secretary Powell has now adopted the position of AIDS activists which is that AIDS is more important than the war on terrorism. But rhetoric is not resources. And the United States is still willing to put up the resources necessary to defeat the AIDS pandemic which in fact is possible. The point you raise though is why. And it's the key point. How come African heads of states come to the United States and don't have their own agenda. They simply yield to the agenda of the United States. Ethiopia is one of the countries that in a recent report issued by the National Intelligence Council the
intelligence community in the United States identifying five key countries where the AIDS pandemic is likely to spread rapidly in the coming decade. And Ethiopia is one of those countries. Nigeria is another in India China and Russia. The other three. But these are five strategic countries because of the size of their populations their armies. And also because of their economies and their you know significant regional powers in each case. And if you ask the residents of those countries what they see as the priority in their minds you probably won't hear Security you probably won't hear terrorism where you might hear Security but a very different kind of security security from hunger. Ethiopia is also facing famine as are a number of countries in southern Africa. You'll hear about security from poverty and impoverishment and this public health pandemic which is the AIDS crisis. So in fact you have African leadership that's not representing the best interests of their own people which brings us to the issue of
resources or money. In this case what should the United States in your view be doing about the pandemic. What we know for sure is that if drugs are available in those countries the most of those people than what we're looking at in Africa right now in terms of 40 million orphans on the continent who will soon be many of them teenagers and older and we don't know what kinds of cultural and societal shifts that will cause on the continent. What should the United States be doing. Well last year the world's leaders met and the United Nations for a special session on AIDS and they inaugurated what's called the U.N. Global Fund to Fight AIDS. It seeks simply a modest budget of 10 billion dollars a year that sounds like a lot of money but it's only a quarter of the budget of New York City on an annual basis. The United States share of that funds should be about 3.5 billion given our wealth. Being the wealthiest country on the face of the earth but also given the fact that a lot of the wealth that we've accumulated in fact began with the enslavement of Africans so there's a certain debt there. So the United States
should be contributing that level of funding to the issue in global fund. It's simply not. There's only been a contribution of 200 million dollars a mere pittance. And that set the bar so low for all the other donors that now in fact the fund is almost bankrupt. But you're right. This is the vehicle for providing lifesaving drugs to Africans who otherwise die. And already there are 12 million 13 million AIDS orphans in Africa from the continent as a whole to Nigeria in particular what we have been reading in the newspapers is that the Miss World organizers decided that they would have a contest in what is now the capital Abuja of Nigeria. Some newspaper called that they had a newspaper writer who do demeaned the Muslim opposition to having this pageant in Nigeria as a result of the offices of the newspaper were burned. And since then more than 200 people have been killed. And what we are hearing sooting Manyang is that this is the fault of the Miss World organizers. They should have known better than to do this in Nigeria during
Ramadan. What is it that we are not seeing that lies beneath the surface. And I think when you look at this fiasco regarding the Miss World countries I think the Miss World countries became one or the political football in this whole game in Nigeria because there are simmering issues. First of all Nigerians are heading towards a national election. And Obasanjo who was supported by the US President Obasanjo was supported by the ordinance is now beginning to receive. Calls from certain elements from the north and some of the northern governors have decided to impose Sharia. So there is a background to these more Miss country of being Islamic law being Islamic law. So I think the whole question of State Building the unfinished business of state building nation building and economic development all conflated in this crisis and the beauty contest is just a metaphor for political instability in Nigeria and the question the
state of Nigeria the government of Nigeria has not been able. First of all to protect the journalists who are able to exercise their right to free speech. But at the same time and most importantly that the government has not been able to really contain the forces in the north who have been agitating on these issues and it's easy to say the colonialism set the stage for this but it's also apparent that ethnic rivalries were being exploited by political leaders of 34 years ago are comparable to religious differences being now exploited by leaders 34 years later. Yes. I mean if you're anyone familiar with the history knows that Nigerians have never emphasized religion. They cut to be played in the game is played ethnicity and regionalism. What is important now and it is part of globalization the fact since the Iranian revolution it now makes sense to play the religious card among opportunistic politicians and in the Nigerian
context you can see this because the Nigerian politicians know that it really doesn't resonate globally whereas ethnicity doesn't. So for that reason you can make a political football out of these issues. Charlie you want to say something about it just in simple terms this is a simple power struggle between the north and the central government the north feeling they haven't gotten what they think they should have gotten from Obasanjo whom they essentially put into office who was one of the first presidents from the south and a long time. Yes. And a Christian president. And now thinking that they want more northern power perhaps even a northern president and are willing to play as a sort of put the religious card to facilitate that. The comment on Niger Yes I think it's indicative of the failure of governments and the political system to deliver what people in Nigeria need after so many years of military dictatorships. A wealthy country in terms of resources one of the
poorest countries in terms of the standards of living of the 130 million people the most populous country on the continent. And so when people can't get what they need from governments or political parties they start thinking in terms of their basic identity be it ethnic identity or religious identity and that or regional identity and that allows politicians to manipulate this so the focus is not on their failings to deliver jobs or to deliver electricity or water or healthcare but to blame the other Christians or one of these other aspects of the relationship to the AIDS pandemic is that now you have in virtually all of these countries large numbers of young people who have lost either one or both parents who are in a position to be manipulated by politicians on out to Ivory Coast. I said earlier that it seems that we got reports simultaneously of peace and war at the same time what we know now that war prevails. Yes certainly in the Ivory Coast right now it's broken out again. There was a moment of. Hope or there was a semi optimistic moment where it
looked like the revolting parties might be settling their grievances. It's important to say rebuilding parties yes there's not one party but now our conflict has broken out in the West. Then you can get a lot to argue with. My view is this is increasingly looking to me. More and more like a regional conflict in Iraq but not much real. I mean I think I my gut say there's a Liberian hand at play in this. I'm not there. I'm in Washington D.C. So it's a hard call. And remember a significant chunk of Ivory Coast population. Is from outside of Ivory Coast from Liberia or you know or other surrounding Burkina Faso. And these governments you know. Play out their politics in part in Ivory Coast. And this might be what we're looking at is this a situation comparable to what we've been seeing in the Congo.
I think what we see in Ivory Coast really is a good example of the failure of the state. And what we were saying earlier politicians manipulating religion self-knowing and I've an advocate is also religion and ethnicity but makes every cause unique in Africa is the fact that every cause has the largest percentage of immigrants and this compounds the problem because if you go back to the colonial boundaries and the one in the colonial that could include Neely's and drew the boundaries you will find that many of the ethnic groups in the neighbouring countries are sort of isn't it in good were. So when you have this politics of this civilization. There is the fear that the destabilization in Liberia is gradually sinking itself into the world. And this creates a problem because I gave the general who was killed after they had the so-called National Unity Conference and Yamoussoukro
has ethnic ancestors and relatives across the border in Liberia. So this is the Liberian hand that he's a fake. My video will also be evident here not because there a government approach but you do have ethnic groups from across the border who would like to settle scores because if there are people are being killed by people who control the government in in in Iraq they will have to deal with them. It reminds me years ago Charlie carboned Grumman's used to put out a calendar on one of the quotes and that calendar was the world is in an uproar. And the danger zone is everywhere. And yet it seems that we are so focused in the United States on Iraq that we are ignoring really combustible situations going on in the rest of the world especially in Africa. That's absolutely correct. And I was traveling in Africa this summer in South Africa in Kenya and Nigeria and what I came away was a strong feeling as my friends were telling me that the greatest threat today was not some medieval band of bearded terrorists
but the very 21st century policies of the United States that was scaring people because of our refusal to support the environment by rejecting the Kyoto Treaty because of our obsession with the war on Iraq because of our refusal to support the rest of the world in addressing what they considered to be more important threats like AIDS or like poverty. I mean AIDS in fact is the greatest catastrophe in recorded human history. And as Peter Piot the European head of the UN AIDS programme said if this were happening to white people the Western countries would act differently. It's creating even more animosity towards the United States and it's a very dangerous time. Which brings me Charlie Cobb quoth Thorkell back to Kenya. Here you have President Daniel Moore meeting with President Bush of the United States in a country and an administration that said or used to say that our priority is democracy in these countries. And by all accounts it looks as if President Arab more is intending to install
as the next president of Kenya in an election that might well be stolen the son of former dictator Jomo Kenyatta. Yeah. And that means the U.S. priority first of all is not democracy in these countries. The U.S. priorities is exactly what Bush himself says. It's security it's the tactics of combat. Whoever Saddam Hussein or al Qaeda or whoever the official enemy is of the United States. This question of enemies of the United States pulls against the needs of Africa or the needs of developing nations. Really democracy isn't at play here and I'm afraid that's about all the time we have. We're going to take a short break. When we come back what the U.N. inspectors saw and what the U.S. says. The weekly news analysis when we return.
Earlier this week there seem to be a gap in perception between you and Secretary General Kofi Annan assessment of Iraq's cooperation with U.N. inspectors and President Bush's assessment. Now as the time for decision making is almost upon us our analysts join us with their insights on the likely course of the confrontation with Iraq. Allison Bothell is the Washington bureau chief for The Detroit News. Brenda Wilson is with National Public Radio. Mark Plotkin of WTOP radio and Askia Muhammad of the Washington and former and final call. It would appear that Saddam Hussein is now saying you couldn't go anywhere you want to. In my palace surprise visits. I simply have nothing to hide. Is that likely to be enough to satisfy the United States and England and others who voted in the United Nations. I'm afraid they don't have a choice. I mean if in fact they're going to be kept to their word. I mean they're fighting it at least on the rhetorical front right now. But I
don't think we're going to get the support of the other countries if in fact he continues to go operate at the level that is cooperating and they can't find anything. You know. Well don't they still haven't they sent the whole in that they can say on Sunday December 8th. Well you have declared that you have nothing. But we have evidence that you have some. No I don't think so I think people other countries are being increasingly annoyed by the fact that we won't share that information if you have information that says that there are weapons of mass destruction then tell us where they are. Help out the inspectors why not do that. Bush refuses to say why he won't share the information. If in fact he has it and I don't think that anything will satisfy Bush. The reason is that the Bush administration says well this is a sensitive intelligence and we don't want to compromise our sources for having gotten these secrets. But then again let's remember back when the Iraqi foreign minister wrote the U.N. secretary general saying this resolution which says that if we don't declare
that we have weapons. Well I stopped beating my wife this week when you caught me. If they don't declare that they have weapons then they will be in material breach. According to the resolution of the resolution which means that the Bush administration has a pretext which is what the Iraqis have said all along that this that this resolution is nothing but a pretext for war. The inspections which the Bush administration says are bogus. And Hans Blix the chief inspector is a pushover and is not going to get at the real problem seems to be some difference in the administration about that Secretary of State Colin Powell seems to be saying that Iraq is cooperating. And President Bush saying no they're not. Look they have to go through the U.N. Lou. Ancient history. They didn't want to even go through the U.N. the member they wanted to act preemptively. And so then Powell We've read all these stories by Karen Young and others talking about the power struggle the persuasion struggle that went on during the administration powers and you must go through the court of world opinion is very important. But I agree with Nelson in the end whatever
comes out George Bush wants to do what he wants to do. He already started off by saying these thing the inspections the preliminary are not very encouraging that was the harbinger of things he's going to do what he wants to do with the U.N. and the implication there being that world opinion is important to know. The Pew Research so popular we are indicating that in 44 nations around the world we are losing popularity. And in a follow up to that survey in four or five nations most of the people in those countries seem to think that the reason we want to go after Iraq is all about oil. Do you think that Saddam Hussein is doing right now if it has an effect on the other countries besides Britain and the United States. Is that something that you think the Bush administration is going to take seriously and think of. I don't think there is anything they'll take seriously and think about. Our reputation is suffering. I was in France last week and all anyone wanted to talk about was so we feel sorry for you because your president is an idiot and you're going to war and why it's a good thing you're going to love him to finish him off. I know he's saying but I
seriously people are wondering and they're questioning and they're saying we understand that the American people are sort of reluctant to go to war. And what is your stance and they wanted to talk about that. And I I think that regardless of what other countries say and what comes out of the inspections that it seems that we are determined to go. I'm not I'm not entirely convinced that in fact Bush does want to necessarily go to war. I think it has the advantage of sending out Cheney or Rumsfeld at one point to talk one way and then at another point you have Powell speaking and another what does he speak. I don't think he knows his own mind at the moment I think he's watching it play out. And then I think he'll make his decision U.S. policy with U.S. policy according to the 1990 law is regime change. Now the president has said that he is often ready to think he must disarm but they are not able to give the history to believe in any objective regime. And there's also a thematic change in our balance off from that is added change in terms of our foreign
policy. We no longer believe in bilateral action. We we reserve the right to act unilaterally. Except that has not been doing they I mean they seem to have the capacity to kind of say one thing and do the other and switch back and then when you see that and I think that's the option they want when they want intensely let's say saber rattling when you see these these convoys leaving from Norfolk Virginia where are they going are they going just to play wargames or are they going to be the options are always there. But like you said but is what we are watching very closely. Saddam Hussein is likely to say we do not have weapons of mass destruction. The inspectors are it seems likely to say we have found nothing. Prognosticate for a second. Well I think the I think President Bush is going to has evidence of something I don't know what any weapons that they did is suspected Iraq of having the bomb sites 10 years ago and they haven't been able to rebuild them so. But there will be some pretext found. What I don't know is if there was a pretext found prognosticate are they going to go back to the U.N. smoking cap
gun. Now I think we'll decide whether we're going to have war before the Superbowl or after. Well let's talk about the anti-terrorism war for a second Askia Muhammad because the Saudi Arabians said look we're doing everything we possibly can to dissociate ourselves from any charitable giving that somehow ends up in the hands of terrorists because there seems to be in the United States a prevailing opinion that we are consciously and deliberately setting out to help terrorists and then lying to you about it. Indeed. And the I guess the the what he called the equivalent of the Homeland Security minister in Saudi Arabia didn't help things by saying that September 11th was a plot not by Saudis 15 of whom were of the 15 of the 19 presumed killed hijackers but by Zionists that didn't help that. And you know let's not forget that the. Have we forgotten the
association with the Bin Laden family with the Carlyle Group and the Bush family. These things are so interwoven. But what the Saudis have difficulty doing is they are and why they are so important not just because of their oil but because they are the custodians of the holy shrines of Islam the the the Cabal the holy house in Mecca and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina. Prophet Mohammad is a mosque and they are the custodians of these two holiest shrines in Islam Yemen which is on that same continent and other Gulf states Qatar and other places are as strategically useful militarily. But Saudi Arabia as a symbol. Now the problem that they have as a culture is that the Islamic faith after belief and prayer charity is second only to prayer among Muslim the pillars of the faith. So when they have a lot of money they have and they have a lot of money and they have a custom of giving and so are they going to be able to find that.
Well I don't mean I don't think I don't think they've got I think a lot of talking about charity in this instance. I think what they are also confronting is their own internal politics as well let's understand. And America is not in that situation it's tenuous. And as someone has suggested in the past essentially is that Iraq has served as a kind of buffer as long as everyone's distracted and focused on Iraq then Saudi Arabia can you know rely to some limited degree of some measure of stability that is now threatened by the Saudis and focus upon their big problem is that their allies and seen as cooperating and closely with the United States whose other principal ally Israel. Right. And how can this how can they be. It's sort of a schizophrenia relationship it's always been like that how can you be you know close with Israel and also close with Saudi Arabia and American presidents going back to Roosevelt have played this dance and the Israelis say how can you do that. The Saudis say how can you do that. And the Americans
are in the middle and they've tried to play this dance for 50 years. An extremely complicated situation which is much less complicated is the effect of the AIDS pandemic which we discussed in the earlier segment on the program and whether or not the United States is playing a significant enough role whether or not we as the American people are paying sufficient attention to it. There are those who have argued that because Africa is the continent that is now suffering most from it. There are aspects of race in the inattention that is being paid this while I am in some respects I don't think it is as simple as would make it out to be. I do think in fact race is a factor in the fact that people think of Africa already as a basket case to some extent. I think the media in a certain way and the sort of very sort of despairing images that it sort of you know presents and the stories you know you get the sense I think people are paralyzed. They have a sense that there isn't anything that they can do. But I. And the fact that Americans don't seem to believe that it ultimately it does have an effect upon them.
What sort of curious about this as well is the fact that with things moving the way they are in the Middle East and increasing dependence upon oil and Africa and the use of bases in Africa then in fact HIV even in Africa becomes a really serious issue. But what makes it so complicated is we're talking about sexuality and we're talking about sexuality even in the United States where we don't confront it and we don't deal with it very well. The highest rate of HIV infection is in the southern part of the United States in the southern states where you've got a hundred and fifty thousand people if you're looking at just that region. And if you're talking about the people who are most affected in that region you're talking about African-Americans and we don't like to talk about it and we don't like to talk about homosexuality. We don't like to talk about the fact that women are having relationships with men who are bisexual. We don't want to talk about the things that put us at risk and make life so dangerous. But at some point we're going to have to confront it because they're predicting now that by 2012 we're going to have between 65 to 75 cases and it's going to be. And half of those cases will be in China and
India. Sixty five seventy five million I'm sorry 65 to 75 million. And half of those cases will be in China and India. So we are going to have to confront it at some level. And I'm going to end something going to inspire all of us have to confront it at some level one gets the impression that once it's taking place on foreign shores and some would argue affecting mostly people of color we don't have to pay that much. I find it very interesting that Americans think they're going to spend the rest of their life within the confines of this waters. You know if they're going to be fighting wars and conducting wars you send soldiers out. Those soldiers come back. You send men to prison those men come back into the community. They in fact and they affect people within that community. So it's interesting that poll that people were talking about attitudes towards America. Other people around the world see AIDS as a number one problem confronting the world and Americans find it. Number five. I mean you know so we may be out of touch. Speaking of a problem that we will be confronting it would appear that for some time affirmative action has been on the back burner but now that the Supreme Court has decided to accept two cases arising from
the University of Michigan's undergraduate affirmative action program and its law school affirmative action program one of which was actually upheld by the Sixth Circuit it is now likely to move forward to the front burner of our thinking once again because in this situation the University of Michigan had a program on which it was promoting diversity and giving points for various aspects of diversity. And the argument by the Center for Individual Rights which is backing the plaintiffs in this case is that it was giving so many points to race as an issue that it was in fact a quota program and that it was therefore illegal. And now the Supreme Court is going to take that on what do you think is going to happen Alison. Well I'm hoping the Supreme Court will step up and do the right thing. I which give kudos which is allow them to continue to use race is one of the items for considering admission by student the universe Michigan has said if we don't do this we will be Lillywhite white and I and I say kudos Frank courage in diversity that the program is diversity and the
whole point of having students go to school with other people of different ethnic backgrounds and nationalities and from different regions is important. So you're going to work with people all over. So I think in my opinion the right thing would be to use race is one of the factors and I'm happy that the Supreme Court took it's going to review the under-graduate part of it before the six circuit has reviewed that part of it. We'll see what do you think the Supreme Court is actually likely to do. Our Thomas Scalia and Rehnquist still justices last night and stole my line because I can I and John Scalia can't wait to write the opinion if it's even if it's a 5 4 opinion. Throwing in support of the plaintiffs It seems to me that this is something they've been waiting to do. And also talks about circuit court judge they're going to be more cases like this. And if you wanted a reason to vote Republican then George Bush says I have.
I think it's 25 Circuit Court vacancies. If this issue is revisit in any way in the circuit court before it gets to the Supreme Court in future I think it's a bad case on which to consider the merits of this issue as some have pointed out. The question is that whether in fact you know 18 other 18 blacks because 18 black students were admitted. This woman did make the cut in all likelihood she wouldn't have made the cut even if they had not been there. I is why they chose this particular maybe why they chose this a bad case or that they could overturn. Well of course a lot of the argument of the University of Michigan is based on another controversial ruling in 1970. The in is in one of the justices who was the deciding vote in that situation said in his opinion race can be considered as a factor if diversity is what we're looking at. But the plaintiffs and the people who support them say that doesn't represent the opinion of the entire Supreme Court in 1978. What we want is a ruling that represents an opinion
of all of the majority not just the one justice who made the difference. Isn't it interesting that in some parts of the country the federal government is saying if you want to continue to have funding at black colleges then you have to admit white students can open up the doors and be more diverse now. And I just find that very interesting on the other hand you know a white university can not use race as you know. And if the Supreme Court strikes down the University of Michigan program we are likely to see a lot more of what's going on in Texas and what's going on in Florida. You know it is the top 10 or the top 5 percent of graduates and every single high school in the country is then allowed to go to. Well partially though I think that's true. One of the things that they're trying to get at is the fact that we have to recognize that affirmative action programs have been used by black students who in fact don't need them in such way either to go to school or to get to school. But why get few of those Gram's. Martin.
I'm just simply saying that there are other people who are excluded who are disadvantaged. And it's not because of race it's because of class and a lot of other reasons we'll have to see what happens in another highly celebrated case in New York in 1989 the Central Park jogger case in which several young men were sent to prison for having raped the Central Park jogger. Well another person has admitted to that crime. That of course of course over a year ago but now DNA evidence has indicated that he was the individual who raped the Central Park jogger and the Manhattan state's attorney the district attorney Manhattan district attorney has decided to remove the convictions of those individuals. They're going to be let out of jail setting. I've already said already sir as long lot 17 years. Yes but now we have a situation in which their records have to be wiped clean and the need and the City must be looking at lawsuits not to mention how divisive this was in the entire city of New York. This is one of these budding dad except that just last Friday though
they just can't handle it and it's over. Muddy it up just a bit more. There was a rape of a woman by five young men don't know if it's in the Bronx or whatever but it sort of comes on the Hill of this sort of self-examination that New York City is going through in terms of how law enforcement deals with. That. Of course these men were convicted largely on the basis of confessions that they made and apparently these confessions were frankly forced out of them forced out of them. But you know at what price you know what. I just can't I just can't imagine why anyone would confess to it and how could they all four of them get their stories to Giles they weren't they. Know they did not always do their work and they were what this illustrates is that those five young men were not well represented because these are discrepancies that good legal representation should have been able to ferret out and that there were clearly problems in the way that they were interrogated. And all of this has
come up which is why Morgenthau just said it should never have happened. And clearly looking at the evidence what they did not say if there had been any DNA evidence which points to them which presumably was not available at the time. It's just clear that there was in spite of the fact that policemen are now insisting that the police work was good. We know that the nature of the justice system in this country is to railroad things even when police work is shoddy. The prosecutor's position as well. They can withhold information them swore that she identify them but she couldn't remember she did not remembering anything and what should be in a coma for 13 didn't really didn't remember anything about her at the time. They serve their three years parole or however many years the parole is up for most of it. They have done the time for the crime. There's only whether they did it or not. Yes. Well 90 percent they were involved in prison like 10 percent of the people in prison may say that they should stay on. I'd rather they maintain their innocence in this
case they should have maintained their innocence rather than well in 15. And you're in a room full of and we are anyway we are held in something. And they were they were involved. They were robbing that night in the park and whatnot I mean who knows. So should I go to jail for something but not exactly. Well they want to do something maybe but not this yet not for lying when they may not have even been in jail. If we didn't know if they did not commit this particular crime then they should not have been in jail unless they were right for some other crime. It's precisely here in Washington D.C. the city has decided that after the bankruptcy filing of Greater Southeast Hospital that the Department of Health should take over the entire program of the Health Care Alliance in the district. How did that happen. Well this you know David could time in Kevin Chavis who with the city council members said look we could predict this this was going to happen. Also the role of Ivan Walks is interesting who is the America of the former Director of Public Health who said who was the major salesperson a
major proponent the major champion that this Health Alliance could work that you could close down the same general that great either. But no. Now he says wait a second. I served in the health department. Do not entrust this with the health department. They can't do the job. I mean he's turned 100 percent on his former point of view so what do we have I don't get that impression. He said then that the Health Care Alliance can work. He still says now that the health care when he says within five days you know clear the Department of Health cannot be the lead overseer of the sciences. Absolutely. So who is the overseer of the lines. What is being missed in this explanation and discussion is that there is a geographic area east of the river which is politically and economically isolated and is even more isolated when it comes to serving health care. And there is no public hospital and Tony Williams made a determined decision there for that area. They will have to sort of fend for themselves. And he there are no political repercussions as Ivanhoe Donaldson said. Those people
don't vote. And that is what is going on here. And people I heard that other show on that other radio station today and and what people are saying is even though Tony Williams says this Health Alliance that is helping. Twenty eight thousand uninsured is working. Many people say and Dr. Mazi called in say no it isn't work. So they're going to have to revisit the entire thing. This was not a panacea. This was not nirvana to close D.C. General and then everything is going to be a health care utopia at all. And that rant comes from the guy who works for the radio program and then asked that and I'm afraid we're out of time. When we come back a reminder about the silent killer. We'll be right back.
You know the things that we noticed the least can be the things that hurt us the most. I recently heard an African-American point that I admire mentioned that the reason we have not heard from him in a little while was because he had been ill. Ultimately he lost a kidney but was fortunate enough to find a donor. And it all started in a way when he simply stopped taking the medication to control his high blood pressure because he said he felt fine he felt fine despite the fact that he had high blood pressure. No wonder they call it the silent killer. Correspondent George Strait has this report. The epidemic of high blood pressure in this country is primarily a function of the way we live what we eat how we stress in our lack of exercise contribute to the fact that one in four Americans some 50 million of us have high blood pressure. For African-Americans high blood pressure is the most common life threatening chronic disease. Blacks get it earlier in life and almost twice as often as once. So
what is high blood pressure. Basically it's a measure of how stiff and thick our blood vessels have become thicker is not good actually. And over time the thickness tends to close off those blood vessels so the amount of blood flow that can really get through those blood vessels becomes reduced as the blood flow becomes reduced and all of a sudden you start to have problems like stroke strokes and heart attacks because the blood flows inadequate. My father had had blood pressure trouble. My sister now has it. Eleanor McKissic has been battling high blood pressure for 20 years. My daughter who works here at Howard. She has changed so it runs in my family. Is it something that that will happen in most cases regardless of what we do right or wrong. But we also can hasten its development if we do those things that are not good for ourselves. I thought it was a disease which I call a disease that I thought I would be able to get RIDO. But I didn't it didn't happen that way at all thought it would happen when
Mrs. McKissock first came to the special high blood pressure clinic at Howard University. Her blood pressure was over 300. Normal is 130 over 85. The first line of attack was true to her lifestyle. Doctors told her to lose weight eat more vegetables less fat and no salt salt will kill you. Don't say it. It will still be breakfast for her. Now is whole wheat toast jelly and a scrambled egg. No meat no butter no salt. I like to eat. So it's been kind of a very hot. One. How are you. It's been hard but it's working. OK let's do this let's get your jacket off so I can show you love for you have you been watching the salt in your diet. You have no. Maybe adding a random label. No. So does it mean
you're not adding to it. No no no thought at all. Not to the cooking water at all. No bake. OK OK OK. OK. This overnight it's your life not normal. Right. You know that's not normal. That's better than what it was before. If you start exercising at all. Well I'm good a little let me get your blood pressure just a little bit faster and a little bit more as crucial as diet and exercise. Or most people with high blood pressure need medications as well. There are several classes including diuretics which flush the body of excess fluid and sold beta blockers which make the heart beat slower and more efficiently. And Ace inhibitors and calcium channel blockers which cause blood vessels to relax lowering the blood pressure for some as yet unknown reason controlling blood
pressure in African-Americans is more complex than in whites. Certain drugs work better in blacks and whites. There is no hard and fast rule but African-Americans generally need a combination of three to four drugs to control their blood pressure whereas whites usually only need one or two Mrs. McKissic is taking five drugs one for her diabetes one for her cholesterol and three to control her high blood pressure. It's important for us to tell our patients that don't be discouraged if one medication doesn't work. And two medications don't work. And three medications don't work because four or five may be necessary to treat your blood pressure and it doesn't mean that you'll be any worse off. Than someone who only gets one controlling blood pressure is such a constant struggle that young medical students are not only taught what to prescribe but strategies to ensure success. Now it's difficult for people to cut things out completely. So what information do you give to your patients that you think you can use to tell them that
high blood pressure is something that's a serious disorder. It does have effects on your eyes. You can eventually go blind from it. You don't you can't have organ damage. You can have strokes and have problems and your brain is getting splattered with the blood pressure is high like that the heart has to work harder and harder and harder and you don't do that for so long. And then at some point it's going to fail. So they really not. As concerned about high blood pressure as they would about something like cancer. That's something like diabetes is a money issue. You know do you buy food or do you buy drugs you know medicine. They will tell you I just can't afford it. I have family members who are sick. And I've heard women say this My husband has said it's more important that he take his medication and I take my medications. Dr. Williams admits that both patients and doctors get frustrated. It can be so frustrating that some doctors think non-compliant patients don't care so they treat their high blood pressure less aggressively. And studies show Race does not seem to matter. Doctors seem to pay more attention to patients who they think will demand their attention.
Black physicians who saw white patients spent more time with white patients if they did with black patients. And your question can become Why. Because the assumption by those black physicians that was that a white patient coming to them would be armed with much more information and expect more information. And therefore before even being asked questions they started spending more time and educating more. So again I think that we come with our own set of biases whether we want it to be that way or not. And those biases can sometimes influence the treatment whether the physicians are aware of the net numbers or not can influence how aggressive the physician will become. Joining us now is George Strait to see you again. Good to see you too. Also with us is Dr. Randall of the Howard University College of Medicine Dr. Lando welcome. Thank you. Dr. Randall We all know these days what a normal level of cholesterol is. Two hundred. But what is a normal level of blood pressure. That's the number that's given is 140 over 90. But blood pressure is a continuous
variable 139 over 89. Doesn't that mean that you do not have high blood pressure. So a good number would be 120 over 70. For some patients one 30 over 85 but for all patients it should be at least 140 over 90 less than we would say that's a normal range. That is because there's a smaller number of cardiovascular events when the blood pressure is persistently above 140 over 90. Because when I was growing up it used to be 120 over 80. That was it. No other number was ever mentioned. Now we mentioned higher numbers. What is it that we've learned. We've learned that it's a continuous variable in the high blood pressure even without symptoms. There's more could you ask him about it in mortality. It's a lesson we have learned because when I was growing up I'm sure the bottom number the dust was the most important. Now that is certainly not true. We know that top number is more important than the bottom when I was younger they used to say 100 plus year age for the
top number. But now the upper limit is 140. There are certain circumstances where you cannot get it down if you've had long standing high blood pressure and has done damage to the vessels it makes it more difficult. But we've learned a lot. One other thing on the blood pressure. That probably the most important blood pressure is the difference between the top and the bottom of the perspiration that are becoming in the future. Well I'm glad now that I'm getting older it's not 100 plus the age. I mean I don't know. They go and why his blood pressure is high blood pressure more difficult to treat. Similarly in African-Americans. Are there drugs that seem to work better in African-Americans than whites. It certainly is more difficult to treat. The reason is not really known. It may be genetic factors but I believe it's due to the accumulation of blood pressure hours if we enter the health care system later we have less frequent encounters where we are in it and we enter it earlier exited earlier
and we are less complied with the medicines for whatever reasons I think we get damage to the vessels and the more blood pressure high blood pressure that gets high blood pressure and the drugs the drugs. There are some drugs that work better at African-Americans than others but we have to be careful. For example beta blockers and ace inhibitors were said not to work as well as diuretics and CASM Chan blockers. That instead. We recently finished the sparse study called Ask the two best drugs to save the kidneys where Ace inhibitors and beta blockers. It didn't say that CASM John blackens didn't help but there was a higher percentage of saving of nephrons with those two drugs. From your perspective are white doctors as knowledgeable as they should be about the complex treatment regimes that can be necessary for African-Americans. I think it's dangerous to pick doctors according to race.
A white doctor who's knowledgeable about treating high blood pressure in African-American is just as good as a Black Doctor Who knows. But it doesn't make any difference whether it's a white doctor or a black doctor if they don't have the experience and the knowledge where they've dealt with these patients I think that treatment will be inadequate. When you consider all of the 50 million Americans with high blood pressure only 50 percent of them are on treatment. And only 50 percent of those. Is it controlled. So that's thirty seven point five million people still at risk of hypertension. That cannot be due to black doctors treating black patients. It has this overlap. Is there were racial disparities in care. Yes. The African-Americans have less care. I'm pretty sure on every level probably due to the economic reasons mostly lack of insurance. This whole idea of not just disparities but the fact that there are so many
millions of people who are not getting appropriate care for high blood pressure. This is a two way street I would guess that patients don't know what to ask for. And doctors don't either have the time or know enough to ask the right questions. Well actually every patient who enters a doctor's office ought to have their blood pressure tested. And you don't need to have a doctor to find out that you have hypertension. We need to have the public educated so that they would check their blood pressure. And if it's above say 140 over 90 on more than one occasion they need to see a specialist in that area who could provide them the best therapy. How many doctors how many patients are really going to sit there the nurse or a physician's assistant takes their blood pressure they find out that it's 145 over 100 and then the doctor comes in and if the doctor doesn't say anything about that about that blood pressure number how many patients are going to take on the doctor in effect and say look this this is high. This is from what the stuff that I've seen on the evening exchange it's it's high.
I need treatment. Well you're right but we need to post graduate medical education and we need to emphasize that the doctors need to make sure that the numbers are there and that they emphasize the value of the numbers whether this high cholesterol or high blood pressure and prescribe the proper form of treatment. The doctors need to do that since African-Americans tend to develop high blood pressure at younger ages. If I know that I have relatives older relatives with high blood pressure when should I start to get worried. Anytime your blood pressure is in a high normal range for example there is more people with a high normal blood pressure will progress to hypertension and develop complications than those who are in a normal range. So the idea of reparations right 120 over 70 if it's between 130 and 140 the top number and 85 and 90 the bottom number that's getting to be a high normal number. We are almost there. So the blood pressure should
be checked in at least every six months. What if I am say 30 years old. My father is 16 years old. He has high blood pressure I have no health problems so I haven't been going to the doctor I haven't been getting anything checked. Should I get it checked. And if so then you should get it checked a minimum of once a year. And if it's in the high normal range I would strongly recommend twice a year. Let's talk a little bit about obesity. It's very frustrating to treat high blood pressure. But part of that treatment of course is the treatment of obesity. If someone is say 50 or 60 pounds overweight it's difficult for them to you know to get to lose 50 pounds if somebody says gee I've got to lose 50 pounds. That's that's an overwhelming thing for a lot of people to do. Losing 10 pounds is enough. It's a tremendous benefit from losing five to 10 pounds especially if you exercise and go on the proper diet. You even benefit from the exercise even if you only lose one or two pounds. But if you lose five pounds
it's a tremendous benefit. A five to 10 percent reduction of the overweight may say five pounds has a 50 percent decrease in complications from diabetes. So that if somebody can lose 50 pounds at one shot they should understand that if you start at five you're doing pretty well. In fact I would not recommend that they lose 50 pounds too quickly if they lose one pound a week. That is a very good rate. And in 10 weeks you will have made significant progress which have a very beneficial effect on outcome from cardiovascular point to that. Randall thank you very much for joining us. Thank you. George Strait always a pleasure. On Saturday a world renowned photographer filmmaker author and composer Gordon Parks celebrated his 90th birthday to commemorate the occasion 90 of the country's best photographers posed with parks for a group photo in Harlem. The photo is reminiscent of course of the famous 1958 Jasp portrait. The
- Evening Exchange
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- This episode's segments include: Africa update; Weekly News Analysis; and high blood pressure. First, President Bush visited Ethiopia and Kenya, and security issues dominated news coverage. Also discussed are the tensions created by "Miss World" being produced in Nigeria during Ramadan and the impact Liberian turmoil is having on Cote d'Ivoire. The next segment discusses Saddam Hussein insistence that Iraqi facilities are open for inspection to show they are not producing weapons of mass destruction, Western response to the African AIDS pandemic, affirmative action cases reaching the Supreme Court, and a DNA match in the Central Park jogger crimes. The final segment covers the reason why high blood pressure is an epidemic in the U.S. and how people can reduce it through diet and exercise.
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Director: Ashby, Wally
Guest: Muhammad, Askia
Guest: Strait, George
Guest: Cobb, Jr., Charles
Guest: Plotkin, Mark
Guest: Muhammad, Askia
Guest: Booker, Salih
Guest: Nyang, Sulayman S.
Guest: Bethel, Alison
Guest: Wilson, Brenda
Guest: Lee, Emma
Host: Nnamdi, Kojo
Interviewee: Williams, Deborah
Interviewee: McKissick, Elinora
Interviewee: Morton, Kinshasa
Interviewee: Raphael, Osei
Interviewee: Lee, Emma
Producer: Fotiyeva, Izolda
Producing Organization: WHUT
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WHUT-TV (Howard University Television)
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- MLA: “Evening Exchange; 2214; Africa Update, Weekly News Analysis, High Blood Pressure.” 2002-12-06. WHUT, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 20, 2020. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-293-64thtfdj>.
- APA: Evening Exchange; 2214; Africa Update, Weekly News Analysis, High Blood Pressure. Boston, MA: WHUT, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-293-64thtfdj