Entries in Eastern Congo Initiative (2)


Ben Affleck Won’t Be Running for Senate

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- Those hoping the United States Senate may get a little less gray and a bit more celebrity-studded won’t be getting their Christmas miracle today.

Despite speculation, Ben Affleck announced late Monday he would not go after John Kerry’s Senate seat in his native Massachusetts if the senator is confirmed as secretary of state.

The actor, who has been an increasingly popular presence in the political world recently, wrote on his Facebook page: “I love Massachusetts and our political process, but I am not running for office.”

Chatter around a possible run went into overdrive Sunday when during an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation” the Cambridge native decidedly did not rule it out saying, “One never knows. I’m not one to get into conjecture.”

In the post he mentions his charity work in the Congo, something he discussed on ABC’s This Week as well as testifying before Congress, as one of the reasons he’s not interested in entering Bay State politics.

“Right now it’s a privilege to spend my time working with Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI), supporting our veterans, drawing attention to the great many who go hungry in the U.S. everyday and using filmmaking to entertain and foster discussion about issues like our relationship to Iran,” Affleck said.

The movie star added his praise of Kerry, writing: “We are about to get a great Secretary of State.”

“There are some phenomenal candidates in Massachusetts for his Senate seat. I look forward to an amazing campaign,” Affleck added.

As for some of those candidates on the list, Gov. Deval Patrick is likely to appoint a replacement to fill Kerry’s seat in the interim period. Former Massachusetts governor and Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis, as well as Vicki Kennedy, the widow of Ted Kennedy, are on Patrick’s list, according to reports.

Scott Brown, who lost to Elizabeth Warren in November, is widely believed to be the likely Republican nominee and is viewed as a strong contender. On the Democratic side there are several names often mentioned currently in the U.S. House of Representatives: Edward Markey, Michael Capuano, and Stephen Lynch. Another possibility includes Martha Coakley, the state attorney general who originally lost to Brown in the 2010 special election held after Kennedy’s death, which Brown won.

Patrick has said he won’t appoint anyone until Kerry is confirmed at state.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ben Affleck: U.S. Can Do ‘Huge Amount’ to Help Resolve Conflict in Congo

Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC(NEW YORK) -- Actor Ben Affleck — founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative – said Sunday morning on “This Week” that the United States can do “a huge amount” to help resolve the violent conflict in war-torn Congo that flared up as rebels seized control of the eastern city of Goma last week.

“There’s a huge amount that the U.S. can do, frankly. I mean, we have a lot of levers there.  We can engage in the kind of high-level, shuttle diplomacy that you saw be so effective in Gaza,” said Affleck, who expressed concern about the deteriorating conditions in the African nation.

“I mean, one of the things we’re hearing from our people there is that the schools that we fund, people are hiding out in.  The hospitals are completely overwhelmed.  They’re offering free care for war victims.  A shell just hit a camp and paralyzed a 5-year-old boy from the neck down.  So you’re hearing all kinds of — the kinds of brutal, terrible stuff that you hear about,” Affleck said earlier in the interview.

Affleck was joined by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., who argued that the United States — tied up at the moment by recent events in the Middle East — can and should exert influence in the troubled region in Africa.

“Well, we have a lot of influence in the region.  I just want to emphasize that we are in a position to make a difference there.  We have built relationships with Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, a lot of it around Somalia, Al-Shabaab, Lord’s Resistance Army coming out of Uganda.  We have influence in the region with key players.  We need to get there in that type of high-level capacity,” Smith said.

“And I think it isn’t happening at the moment, because the attention is elsewhere.  It’s Gaza.  It’s Libya.  But, look, it’s all tied together in Africa,” he said. “The instability in countries in Africa, the lack of governance that’s in the Eastern Congo, leads to instability and leads to the type of problems that we’re going to have to deal with.  It’s in our interest to get in there, broker a peace deal.”

Affleck praised the Congolese people for their “resilience” and added that our foreign policy as a country, as he sees it, should represent our values.

“I mean, the amazing thing about the Congolese people is their degree of resilience and that they’ve been through this kind of stuff in the past.  And so they’re still dedicated and working hard, and we’ve seen our schools still open, hospitals, and so on,” Affleck said.  ”I think our actions in foreign policy — and maybe I am naive — you know, represent our values and represent who we are.  And if any American were to go to that country and stand and see what was happening there, they would insist that we do what we could.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio