Tuesday, 20 September 2011

In Belgium, Potato Fans Fret Over Fate of Frites

Bintjes Are Best, but the Storied Spud Is a Global Dud for Farmers
KAIN, Belgium—French fries aren't French—they're Belgian. And in a country without a single common language, the humble snack is a potent national symbol.

That's why farmers, fryers and foodies are battling over the future of the potato which made Belgium great: the bintje.
First grown a century ago, the bintje potato flourished in flat, rainy Belgium and fed the nation through two world wars. One legend has it American soldiers got a taste for the snack, taking it on to achieve global fame and misattributing its nationality in the process. And it makes delicious, golden frites, which are then served up with mayonnaise.
"The bintje is irreplaceable in terms of taste and crunchiness," Pierre Lebrun, agronomist and head of the Walloon potato growers' association, said to an audience of hundreds of farmers at Potato Europe 2011, a trade show earlier this month. "It's intrinsic to Belgium."
But this fruitful relationship is in danger. Global commerce demands a long, firm, smooth tuber, the better to produce the frozen, uniform obelisks required by fast-food megakitchens.
The knobby, short bintje just isn't up to the task.
In this country of 10 million, the question Mr. Lebrun poses—"to bintje or not to bintje"—isn't small potatoes. Belgium's per capita annual french fry consumption exceeds America's by about a third. The picture-postcard city of Bruges is home to the world's only french fry museum. There's even an iPhone app to help hungry Belgians locate their nearest fix. It's an empire built on bintje.
Yet while Belgium's potato production has nearly tripled since 1999, bintje cultivation has stagnated since 1996.
Fans rise to bintje's defense.
"Just like Magritte's picture of a pipe, a potato is not just a potato," says Romain Cools, head of Belgapom, the Belgian potato trade body. "You cannot compare bintje with other varieties."
"The bintje is the best potato, it makes the tastiest fries and no other type can rival their delicious taste," says Gerrit Tjepkema, a potato seedling broker who set up a website proclaiming the virtues of the veteran variety, which he sells along with others.
There are rules, of course.
"You have to fry them twice in beef dripping, once at 160 degrees, then again at about 175, and they mustn't be cut too thinly," says Paul Ilegems, author of four books on fries and fritkots, the takeout stands that fry them.
"Fritkots are like Belgium, they're makeshift, temporary structures, not like a McDonald's," says the retired professor from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. "Belgium doesn't have a national symbol, there's no Eiffel Tower, but we have frites."
He recounts the history of the bintje, created in the early 20th century by a Dutch schoolteacher, who named the new variety after one of his pupils, a girl called Bintje.
"A very good potato," he concludes.
The potato fry is all the more significant because the country is barely holding together. After decades of tension between Dutch-speaking Flanders in the North and Francophone Wallonia in the South, the last elections in June 2010 led to a political deadlock which has seen the country without a federal government for 450 days. Several months in, a viral email started circulating: 'Civil War in Belgium!' it warned, above a picture of french fries covered in ketchup mimicking two armies facing off.
"In Belgium we eat potatoes almost every day," says Benedicte Morel as she lined up at a Brussels fritkot, Maison Antoine, at lunchtime on Thursday. "And the bintje is the most famous, it's best for fries."
Dozens of people line up at Maison Antoine, which has been serving up frites for 60 years. A Spanish couple consulting their foodie guide book, civil servants from the nearby European Commission, as well as Belgians like Ms. Morel, wait for fries and one of a dozen mayonnaise-based sauces.
Displayed on a bulletin board are celebrity visitors, including Johnny Hallyday, the French rocker who came to buy Maison Antoine's frites in his red Ferrari.
An hour's train ride away, Potato Europe 2011 took place this month in fields outside the medieval city of Tournai. Farmers, processors and root vegetable buyers from Japan, Russia, Turkey and across the continent gathered to see and buy everything from new breeds of spuds to sorting lines for their harvests. They also enjoyed ultra-fresh fries, washed down with beer.
In a test field, gleaming new four-lane harvesters churned over the clay-rich soil as boot-clad farmers looked on approvingly. They pulled up popular varieties of tuber such as challenger, innovator and ramos—not a bintje in sight.
"Fifteen years ago, everything we handled was bintje; now it's around 5%," says Farm Frites' potato procurement director Leon Boer at the company's trade-fair stand. The company is one of the world's largest potato processors. "Fast food needs more length and product consistency."
Global consumers like their fries at least 40 millimeters long, or about 1.6 inches—and bintjes usually peak at about 35 millimeters, or about 1.4 inches.
It's a great potato, but its time is up, some say.
"My great-grandfather, who founded the company, used to import them, they did well in Belgian soil," says Francis Binst, general manager of Binst Breeding & Selection, which sells potato seedlings, including bintje, to Belgium's farmers. "But now other varieties have better yields due to climate change, the bintje is too sensitive."
At the trade fair, many plant scientists and frying experts concurred with Mr. Binst. Too unpredictable, and dangerously prone to mildew and slugs, they say.
But Mr. Cools, the head of the Belgian potato trade body, insists the talk of inconsistency of the potato quality is overdone.
"It looks likely bintje will do very well again this year," he says. "It's the potato that made our industry great."

Monday, 19 September 2011


English            Français

19 September 2011


Geneva: An independent panel of distinguished individuals commissioned by the Global Fund to review its financial controls has recommended major changes in the way the Global Fund does its business and manages its grants.

The panel, co-chaired by former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt and former President of Botswana Festus Mogae, submitted its report to the Global Fund’s Board today after six months of examining Global Fund procedures and grants in recipient countries.

The Panel finds that the Global Fund needs to focus much more on its core business of managing grants to save and protect lives. It recommends improving financial and Board oversight, simplifying grant application processes, and putting in place a robust risk management framework.

The Global Fund welcomes the findings and recommendations: “The panel’s report provides a great opportunity to sharpen the focus of the Global Fund and make it fit for the future,” said Simon Bland, Chair of the Global Fund’s Board. “We commissioned the panel to give us an honest, hard look at the institution from the outside and that is exactly what we have got. The panel’s findings will play a central role in accelerating reform. As an organization we are totally committed to making the necessary changes to strengthen oversight, improve impact, value for money and sustainability.”

The Global Fund’s Board will come together for a special meeting on 26 September in Geneva to consider the report’s findings and prepare an action plan and will meet again in November for its regular meeting to consider larger changes to the organization’s governance structure, strategy and work processes.

The report points out that the Global Fund has played a key role in saving millions of lives in the fight against the three diseases. However, it should now quickly transition from an organization responding to an emergency to a financing institution that is geared towards a sustainable response to the demands for health investments by providing maximum accountability, comprehensive risk management, efficiency and value for money.

“I have seen in Lesotho, as has been the case in a number of countries, that not only has despair turned to hope but that hundreds of thousands of children have been born free from HIV, and millions of people are alive to bring up their children,” says Dr Mphu Ramatlapeng, Minister of Health and Social Welfare of Lesotho and Vice Chair of the Global Fund Board. “The Global Fund is vital to the continued fight against these diseases.”

“The Global Fund greatly appreciates the hard work of the Panel,” added Mr Bland. “It has analyzed mountains of documents, conducted hundreds of interviews and travelled to 13 countries in a very short time. We are most grateful for their effort.”

In addition to Governor Leavitt and President Mogae the Panel consisted of Zeinab Bashir El Bakri, Director, Office of His Highness the Prime Minister of Kuwait and former Vice-President Sector Operations of the African Development Bank;Norbert Hauser, Germany’s former Vice-President of the Federal Court of Audit; Gabriel Jaramillo, Chairman of the Sovereign Bank Board and Special Advisor at the United Nations Secretary-General Office of the Special Envoy for Malaria; The Honorable Barry O’Keefe, Consultant, Clayton UTZ Sydney and former Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales (Australia); and Claude Rubinowicz, Chief Executive for France’s Agence du patrimoine immatériel de l’État (APIE, Agency for Public Intangibles of France) and former Inspecteur Général des Finances.

For a copy of the High Level Panel Report please visit: http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/highlevelpanel/

The Global Fund is a unique, public-private partnership and international financing institution dedicated to attracting and disbursing additional resources to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS, TB and malaria. This partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and affected communities represents an innovative approach to international health financing. The Global Fund’s model is based on the concepts of country ownership and performance-based funding, which means that people in countries implement their own programs based on their priorities and the Global Fund provides financing on the condition that verifiable results are achieved.   
Since its creation in 2002, the Global Fund has become the main financier of programs to fight AIDS, TB and malaria, with approved funding of US$ 22.4 billion for more than 600 programs in 150 countries. The Global Fund works in close collaboration with other bilateral and multilateral organizations to supplement existing efforts in dealing with the three diseases.   

For more information, please contact:
Andrew Hurst 
Tel: +41 587911672
Email: Andrew.Hurst@theglobalfund.org

Nalin Mehta 
Tel: +41 58 791 1821
Email: nalin.mehta@theglobalfund.org

Veronique Taveau 
Tel: +41 58 791 1128
Email: veronique.taveau@theglobalfund.org

Nancy Chin-Heimerl 
Tel: +41 58 791 1206
Email: Nancy.Chin@theglobalfund.org

Marcela Rojo 
Tel: +41 58 791 1679Email: marcela.rojo@theglobalfund.org

Follow the Global Fund on Twitter: http://twitter.com/globalfundnews
Join the Global Fund on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/theglobalfund


Le 19 septembre 2011


Genève : Un groupe indépendant de personnalités de premier plan chargé par le Fonds mondial d’examiner ses contrôles financiers recommande de changer en profondeur le mode de fonctionnement de l’organisation et sa gestion des subventions.

Présidé conjointement par Michael O. Leavitt, qui a été Secrétaire à la santé et aux affaires sociales dans le gouvernement des États-Unis, et Festus Mogae, ancien Président du Botswana, le groupe a remis aujourd’hui son rapport au Conseil d’administration du Fonds mondial au terme de six mois passés à examiner les procédures et les subventions de cette organisation.
Il ressort des conclusions du groupe que le Fonds mondial doit clairement se recentrer sur son activité de base, à savoir la gestion de subventions destinées à sauver et à protéger des vies humaines. Il recommande une amélioration du suivi financier, un renforcement des fonctions de contrôle du Conseil d’administration, une simplification des procédures de demande de subvention et la mise en place d’un cadre solide de gestion des risques.

Le Fonds mondial salue ces conclusions et ces recommandations. « Le rapport du groupe de haut niveau ouvre des possibilités exceptionnelles de recentrer le Fonds mondial et de mieux l’adapter à l’avenir », a déclaré Simon Bland, Président du Conseil d’administration du Fonds mondial. « Nous avions chargé le groupe de nous donner un avis extérieur honnête et sans complaisance sur notre institution et c’est exactement ce que nous avons obtenu. Les conclusions auxquelles le groupe a abouti seront au cœur de l’accélération de nos réformes. En tant qu’organisation, nous nous engageons sans réserve à apporter les changements qui s’imposent pour renforcer les mesures de contrôle, améliorer notre impact, optimiser l’utilisation de nos ressources et garantir la pérennité de notre action. »

Le Conseil d’administration du Fonds mondial tiendra une réunion extraordinaire à Genève, le 26 septembre, afin d’examiner les conclusions de ce rapport et de mettre sur pied un plan d’action. Il se réunira à nouveau en novembre pour une réunion ordinaire au cours de laquelle il réfléchira à des changements de plus grande ampleur à apporter aux structures de gouvernance, à la stratégie et aux procédures de travail de l’organisation.

Le rapport souligne que le Fonds mondial a assumé un rôle prépondérant pour sauver la vie de millions de personnes dans le combat mené contre les trois maladies. Toutefois, il lui faut désormais évoluer pour passer rapidement d’une organisation réactive à des situations d’urgence à une institution financière appelée à apporter une réponse durable aux exigences des investissements dans le domaine de la santé en garantissant le plus haut degré de responsabilité, de gestion globale des risques, d’efficacité et d’optimisation des ressources.

« J’ai pu constater au Lesotho – mais cela vaut pour bien d’autres pays – que non seulement l’espoir a pris le pas sur le désespoir, mais également que des centaines de milliers d’enfants ont vu le jour sans être porteurs du VIH et que des millions de personnes sont en vie pour pouvoir élever leurs enfants », déclare Mme Mphu Ramatlapeng, Ministre de la Santé et des affaires sociales du Lesotho et Vice-présidente du Conseil d’administration. « Le Fonds mondial est un élément essentiel dans la poursuite de la lutte contre ces maladies. »

« Le Fonds mondial apprécie au plus haut point le dur labeur accompli par le groupe, a ajouté M. Bland. Il a passé en revue des piles gigantesques de documents, mené des centaines d’entretiens et voyagé dans 13 pays dans un laps de temps très bref. Nous sommes extrêmement reconnaissants des efforts que ses membres ont déployés. »

Outre le Gouverneur Leavitt et le Président Mogae, le groupe se composait de Zeinab Bashir El Bakri, Directrice de cabinet de Son Altesse le Premier Ministre du Koweït et ancienne Vice-présidente de la Banque africaine de développement chargée des opérations sectorielles ; de Norbert Hauser, ancien Vice-président de la Cour fédérale des comptes d’Allemagne ; de Gabriel Jaramillo, Président du Conseil d’administration de la Sovereign Bank et conseiller spécial au bureau de l’Envoyé spécial du Secrétaire général des Nations Unies pour le paludisme ; de Barry O’Keefe, consultant pour Clayton UTZ Sydney et ancien juge de la Cour suprême de Nouvelle-Galles du Sud (Australie) ; et de Claude Rubinowicz, Directeur général de l’Agence française du patrimoine immatériel de l’État et ancien Inspecteur général des finances.

Pour obtenir une copie du rapport,  veuillez cliquer sur le lien : http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/highlevelpanel/

Le Fonds mondial est un partenariat sans équivalent entre le public et le privé et une institution financière internationale dont la mission est d'attirer et de décaisser des fonds supplémentaires pour la prévention et le traitement du sida, de la tuberculose et du paludisme. Ce partenariat entre gouvernements, société civile, secteur privé et communautés affectées s’inscrit dans une démarche novatrice de financement international consacré à la santé. Le modèle du Fonds mondial s’appuie sur les notions d’appropriation par les pays et de financement selon les résultats, ce qui signifie que les pays mettent en œuvre leurs propres programmes en fonction de leurs priorités et que le Fonds mondial en assure le financement pour autant qu’ils donnent des résultats susceptibles d’être vérifiés. 
Depuis sa création en 2002, Le Fonds mondial est devenu la principale source de financement des programmes de lutte contre le sida, la tuberculose et le paludisme en approuvant le financement de subventions pour un montant total de 22,4 milliards de dollars US alloués à plus de 600 programmes dans 150 pays. En étroite collaboration avec d'autres organisations bilatérales et multilatérales, le Fonds mondial apporte sa contribution à la lutte menée contre les trois maladies.   

Pour tout supplément d’information, veuillez contacter :
Veronique Taveau 

Portable: +41 79362 9704 

Suivez le Fonds mondial sur Twitter : http://twitter.com/globalfundnews
Rejoignez le Fonds mondial sur Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/theglobalfund

Friday, 16 September 2011

Join the fight to save lives

By 2015, we can practically end mother-to-child transmission of HIV and dramatically cut the number of people who die every year from tuberculosis and malaria. This would mean achieving the first HIV-free generation -- a goal shared by everyone working to fight these diseases, and a goal we're on track to reach thanks to the work of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and its partners.

Millions more lives saved from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and an HIV-free generation by 2015.

Morgan Freeman, Annie Lennox, Jeremy Irons, Alan Cumming, Djimon Hounsou, Deepak Chopra and many others have pledged their support for these goals. Sign your name and join us!

To overcome AIDS, malaria, and TB, the United States joined nations from around the world to develop the Global Fund, an innovative approach to global health. Formed in 2002, the Global Fund unites dedicated citizens, scientific innovators, and visionary governments together with commitment and resources in a common mission: winning the war against AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

The Global Fund has saved more than 7.7 million lives by funding treatment and preventative care programs across the planet. But these programs are at risk. By adding your signature, you join Annie Lennox, Morgan Freeman and others calling for a stronger, healthier world. Co-sign the letter of support today.

The strategy works. It's already helped save more than 6.5 million lives. This year, Global Fund-supported programs will help save over a million lives.

In only a few years, no child will be born with HIV. Hundreds of thousands of children will no longer die from malaria. Deaths due to tuberculosis will be cut in half.

But in a war against disease, we must remain vigilant. There is still much work to be done.

Join the fight to save lives.

We simply cannot win the war against AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria without the vocal support of millions of people throughout the world. Please, show your support for the Global Fund.

Together, we have the power to keep saving one million lives every year.

David Kato Vision & Voice Award Launched

On 26 January 2011, Ugandan human rights defender David Kato was murdered. As the Litigation and Advocacy Officer with Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), David campaigned tirelessly for human rights and particularly for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people across Africa. His campaigning work lead him to work with a number of organizations around the world including the Global Fund and UNAIDS.

In recognition of his life and courage, and the continued struggle of LGBTI individuals around the world, the Global Fund has joined IPPF and other partners committed to eliminating violence, stigma and discrimination have established the David Kato Vision & Voice Award. This award is to be presented annually to an individual who demonstrates courage and outstanding leadership in advocating for the sexual rights of LGBTI individuals, particularly in environments where they face continued rejection, marginalization, isolation and persecution. Nominations for the award are now open and can be submitted until 1 November 2011. Nominations are accepted for any individual whose leadership and life work has directly contributed to addressing the sexual rights of LGBTI people in their community. The award recipient will be announced on Human Rights Day (10 December 2011) and will be invited to an event at the end of January 2012 to collect the award.

For further information and to submit a nomination, please visit the award website: http://www.visionandvoiceaward.com/

Thursday, 24 February 2011

A collection of feelings...

My Angel Baby

To the baby that I carried

But never seen your eyes

Or tell you how much I loved you

Or ever to hear your cries.

You will never be forgotten

The excitement we had for your coming.

When I realized I'd never hold you,

The feeling I had was numbing.

My angel baby is who you are.

My angel baby you'll always be.

Your loving memory will live in my heart

So you will always be right here with me.

(c) Lori Jager All Rights Reserved

A Part Of Me

As I sit and remember

When you were still a part of me

I try to forget...

Your life was never meant to be.

You were given a life, a soul, a name

But now things will never be the same.

You were mine to give life to

Though only for a while

Things had changed...

I will never see your smile.

Yet my love for you

Will never disappear

Though your voice, your laugh,

I will never get to hear.

You will always be my baby

Though I've never seen your face.

Not a thing in this world

Can ever take your place.

(c) Felicia Glik All Rights Reserved

They Say Love is Blind

They say love is blind and you made this true.

I never got to place you in a outfit either pink or blue.

Never rocked you in my arms as you quietly slept.

Not one tear did i get to dry as you sadly wept.

I loved you none the less with all of my heart.

My world crashing down when we were torn apart.

I dream of you wrapped in a blanket of a white angel wing.

The lullaby you hear is the comfort I wanted to bring.

I still hold you everyday the only way i know how.

God doesn't take my love for you this much he does allow.

It is as stong as it would have been if I would have seen you.

After my journey in life is done I will carry my love through.

It will carry me straight to you, you will never be hard to find.

We will be together and I will hold the love that was blind.

Looking into eyes that are mine that show a soul I made.

I will place you upon my chest where you always should have laid.

They say love is blind and you made this come true.

I will place you in an outfit either pink or blue.

I will rock you in my arms as you quietly sleep.

I will dry your tears as you happily weep.

© Christine R. Sinkel

I Did Not Expect This

This is natural, they say

It is all for the best

I cannot move past this heartache

This pain in my chest

Those days were surreal

Did this truly just occur

Happiness turned to sorrow

My life now a blur

This is natural, they say

I knew I was going to lose you

The most difficult emotion

There was nothing I could do

I am given no explanation

This is natural, they say

Were you pink or were you blue

My complexion is now grey

Trying to move on

A forward step everyday

I will always remember you

This is natural, they say

© Carola

Angel of my Tears

How do you love a person

who never got to be,

or try to envision a face

you never got to see?

How do you mourn the death of one

who never got to live.

When there's nothing to feel good about

and nothing to forgive?

I love you, my little baby,

my companion of the night.

Wandering through my lonely hours,

beautiful and bright.

What does it mean to die before

you ever were born,

to live the lovely night of life

and never see the dawn?

Ah! My little baby,

you lived like anyone!

Life's a burst of joy and pain.

And then like yours, it's done.

I love you, my little baby,

just as if you'd lived for years.

No more, no less, I think of you,

the Angel of my tears.

- Author Unknown

Piece of my Heart

How was it to be that I now am robbed of such joy?

Of watching you grow or finding out if you’re a girl or boy.

Never did I get to hear your cries or even see your tears,

Or kiss your little brow and hug away your fears.

I am just left here now with pain and few memories,

Of the days that were happy with you inside of me.

For you were loved and wanted oh so much,

What I would give just to have felt your touch.

The hours crawl by yet the time does not seem to slow,

I want to scream out to the world you are gone, why don’t they know?

How is the world still turning when I feel it should have stopped?

Why are people laughing and living when it feels like I can not?

Not enough tears can be shed to express the love we have for you,

No words can describe what we all wanted to be able to do.

I would have just held you and breathed in your sweet smell,

Shouted with joy and phoned all the people we wanted to tell.

But this time we called loved ones with the sad sad news,

That too little were you to live among us and we were meant to lose.

But nothing will ever erase those twelve weeks we had together,

For a piece of my heart you now hold always and forever.

© Kerri-Anne Hinds