As the West African Ebola epidemic stretches into its 10th month: researchers have identified the likely cause of the initial outbreak: a young boy playing with bats in a village in Guinea. The NY Times considers how the opportunity to contain the epidemic was missed and the effects of Ebola on West African economies. Vanity Fair takes a look at the failure to contain the disease within Guinea, Frontline goes to "Ground Zero" in Guinea, and searches for a missing Ebola patient. Meanwhile, West Africans welcomed Christmas (previously) and the New Year. Africa Stop Ebola!
Somaliland is an odd land. In global limbo since its birth, it continues to develop economically and socially in a reasonably stable and secure environment. Recently, the British town of Sheffield was the first to recognize its very existence as an independent country. In the meantime, the capital Hargeisa city, which has only one paved road, recently installed streetlights for the first time, and an enterprising entrepreneur returned home from Australia to start a familiar city service - the yellow cab. Investors and businesses have started paying attention while the major powers still prefer to pretend it doesn't exist. Even while experts debate whether their model can be utilized in far more volatile Somalia, Hargeisa's residents want you to know they are Happy.
To a Chinese Scrap-Metal Hunter, America's Trash Is Treasure: Johnson Zeng is a Chinese trader who travels across the U.S. in search of scrap metal. By his estimate, there are at least 100 others like him driving from scrap yard to scrap yard, right now, in search of what Americans won’t or can’t be bothered to recycle. His favorite product: wires, cables, and other kinds of copper. His purchases, millions of pounds of metal worth millions of dollars, will eventually be shipped to China. [more inside]
"Trusting your child with someone else is one of the hardest things that a parent has to do — and in the United States, it’s harder still, because American day care is a mess. About 8.2 million kids—about 40 percent of children under five — spend at least part of their week in the care of somebody other than a parent. Most of them are in centers, although a sizable minority attend home day cares.... In other countries, such services are subsidized and well-regulated. In the United States, despite the fact that work and family life has changed profoundly in recent decades, we lack anything resembling an actual child care system. Excellent day cares are available, of course, if you have the money to pay for them and the luck to secure a spot. But the overall quality is wildly uneven and barely monitored, and at the lower end, it’s Dickensian."
A polemic against NGOs and the destruction of local innovation However, one issue that has received relatively scant attention is the way in which the notion of civil society has been reduced to being synonymous with non-governmental organisations (NGOs). This is one area that can have malign and far-reaching negative impacts, which I’d like to explore here. And here's another view, this time from India.
In a sympathetic biochemical photo-reactive process, the Biosphere has altered the litho-sphere into the pedosphere, the cryo-sphere, the hydrosphere and the atmosphere*
The Loess Plateau in China’s Northwest is home to more than 50 million people. Centuries of overuse led to one of the highest erosion rates in the world and widespread poverty. Two projects (results) set out to restore the Loess Plateau. [more inside]
"Using pejorative terms like "handouts" and "doling out", some parts of the media are mounting a campaign to suggest Britain should be embarrassed by our level of aid giving. But the idea that aid is generous is absurd. Some families, inspired by religious tradition, think it is appropriate to give 10% of what they have to charity, £10 in every £100 of earnings. In 2010, the UK gave not £10, not £1, but 56p ($0.91) in overseas aid for every £100 ($163) we earned as a country. On average, since 1990 we have given even less, 35p ($0.57)." [Giving aid to poor countries is hardly a great act of generosity] [more inside]
Hale "Bonddad" Stewart shows that U.S. Manufacturing is NOT Dead, but says that to
zombify resurrect rejuvenate it America should look into Industrial Policy. Meanwhile, in Detroit, a President is saying that the automobile industry bailout prompted an "industrial revival", a Senator is calling it "industrial policy" and an economist is saying even if it is, "it's the most successful...in American history". All of which prompts the age-old question.... [more inside]
Corruption Threatens China's Future In a new report for the Carnegie Foundation, Pei Minxin offers an estimate that official corruption in China may cost as much as USD86bln each year - 0.65 percent of GDP and more than the education budget. He calls for economic and political reform; his critics might say no surprise there.
In 2007 there will be lots of anniversaries, the web will keep killing the television star, the popcorn will taste familiar, humankind will come closer still to achieving immortality, and text messaging will conquer Africa. And although the spread of democracy is stalling (don't worry however - the Swedes still win (pdf)), it's still down to George Bush.
The Economist: The World in 2007.
The Economist: The World in 2007.