Famine in Ethiopia, which has occurred roughly once every decade since the dawn of recorded history, is back in the news but for an unexpectedly interesting reason.
Fresh controversy over aid to Ethiopia erupted today after an investigation concluded that millions intended for victims of the 1984 famine was diverted to anti-government rebel leaders[From Live Aid donations 'were diverted to arm Ethiopian rebels' - Times Online]
I remember someone telling me before that something like 100,000 people died directly because of Live Aid, because the food supplies meant that the government could fight on for longer, but it's really interesting to hear that this may be an underestimate. I made myself very unpopular at the time of Live Aid by telling my co-workers (I was living in the SF at the time) that if they really wanted to help starving people in Ethiopia then they should be sending them AK47s, not sacks of rice, since they were starving because Ethiopia's government wanted them to. It hasn't rained in Australia for god knows how long and no-one is starving there (to the best of my knowledge). That's not to say there aren't serious problems, as the BBC tell us
Steve Evans reports from Melbourne, a city that has suffered ten years of drought. He talks to oyster farmer Graham Taylor, who says that the lack of rain means less food for the oysters.[From BBC World Service - Business - Living with drought in Australia]
Drought so serious that oyster farmers are concerned. Wow: that's how bad things can get in a democracy. When the famine in Ethiopia began killing large numbers of people in 1984, the Ethiopian government was spending half of GDP on weapons. Australian defence spending is 2.6% of GDP. Go figure.