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From: TSS ()
Subject: Washington Has Beef with Europe's Katrina Aid
Date: September 12, 2005 at 7:22 am PST


SPIEGEL'S DAILY TAKE

Washington Has Beef with Europe's Katrina Aid

Why did the United States government turn away a German cargo plane filled with 15 tons of food relief last week? Plus, this week's NATO meeting could be overshadowed by a mini trans-Atlantic crisis. And the billionaire founder of IKEA got rich, he says, by eating at the company cafeteria.



AFP
Is the delivery of relief goods from abroad an embarrassment for the United States?
Last week, a German military cargo jet carrying 15 tons of food labored into the air bound for the United States. The goal, of course, was to feed needy victims of Hurricane Katrina. But the food supplies never made it. Refused permission to land, the plane was forced to turn around and head back to Cologne, still fully loaded. Food from other countries has likewise been banned.

Why was the aid not accepted? As it turns out, the US Department of Agriculture had rejected the rations -- originally prepared for NATO troops -- out of fear they may be tainted with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the agent thought to cause mad cow disease. Despite intensive efforts on the part of Germany's foreign ministry, the US government refused to give the plane flyover rights.

But officers at a US base in Pensacola -- where previous German aid planes had landed -- believe there was another reason. In reality, the critics said, the Bush government was trying to avoid embarrassing images of Europeans making food relief deliveries to the States. After all, the meals had already been certified by NATO as BSE-free. Additionally, the same types of meals have been used in common deployments in Afghanistan, and they've also been consumed by American troops. Startled by a query from SPIEGEL on Friday evening, the US Embassy here in Berlin said the ban on the pre-prepared meals delivered from Germany would be lifted. Indeed, the shiny, new US Ambassador to Germany, William Timken, had only recently thanked the German government for the first 20,000 donated meals -- all of which have already been eaten by Katrina victims.

Though Berlin has been generous in its offer of support to hurricane victims, most Germans have been less forthcoming. The reason, according to a poll taken by polis-Umfrage for the German news agency DPA, is that many feel America is wealthy enough to take care of itself. Fifty-four percent of survey respondents said they would neither donate money nor other support for the Americans. That opinion is also reflected in the amounts raised by German charitable organizations. One week after it set up a special hurricane relief account, the German Red Cross said Friday it had only raised €790,000 for the Americans. By comparison, similar calls after the December tsunami and the 2002 flooding in eastern Germany drew more than €10 million.

According to Red Cross spokesman Frederik Barkenhammar, the main reason for the reluctance to give is America's relative wealth. "The US isn't a developing country," he said. But reactions to the emergency have also effected Germans' charity: Many were horrified by the shortcomings of the US government and the mass looting they saw on TV. But this isn't led by resentment of America, Barkenhammer emphasized. "The distress of a mother in New Orleans who has lost her children is just as enormous as that of a mother in Banda Aceh," he said.
http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,374268,00.html

TSS



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