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Preparing for the Possibility of a North Korean Collapse

The RAND Corporation's National Security Research Division has released a 297-page report on the likely consequences of a collapse of the North Korean regime, within the Korean Peninsula, as well as to China, Japan, the US and others (PDF).
posted by acb on Sep 30, 2013 - 62 comments

“I’m dismantling the Death Star to build solar ovens for the Ewoks.”

The Merry Pranksters Who Hacked the Afghan War [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 1, 2013 - 14 comments

On Medical Neutrality

In 2011, the CIA reportedly hired a doctor in Pakistan to conduct espionage while giving vaccinations to children. In response, Pakistan expelled Save the Children from the country. The New England Journal of Medicine comments on military operations masquerading as humanitarian relief. [more inside]
posted by painquale on May 21, 2013 - 41 comments

Corn-fed Congo?

"I've run these operations, and I know that food aid often gets there after everyone's dead." The new proposal to transfer the food aid budget from the Dept of Agriculture to the Agency for International Development causes a ruckus in the U.S. Congress. Why? The new plan also proposes buying some of the food in the affected countries, closer to disaster areas, instead of only buying from American farmers as the current law requires. The chairman of the U.S. House agriculture subcommittee, Rep. Aderholt (R-Alabama), said he was concerned that removing food aid from the agriculture budget would hurt American farmers (NYT). Aid Watch bloggers have long criticized U.S. food aid policies for risking millions of lives around the world to keep a few hundred jobs in Kansas. [more inside]
posted by spamandkimchi on May 5, 2013 - 19 comments

I want to make my dad proud and not feel like he gave his life away for no reason

In 2005, Manuel Bravo, 35, walked to a stairwell of the Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Center carrying a bedsheet. He hung himself. The note he left indicated that he had done it so that his son, Antonio Bravo, 13, could remain in the United Kingdom to be educated. The pair were to be deported back to war-torn Angola the next day, where they alleged that they had been victims of abuse by the ruling party. Now, Antonio is 19, training to be an electrician, speaking in Yorkshire dialect, no longer speaks his native Porteguese, and will be deported back to Angola if his humanitarian visa is not extended. "My family, they're English," he said, referring to the Beaumonts (his adoptive family). "Britain, that's my culture." [more inside]
posted by guster4lovers on Aug 27, 2011 - 32 comments

Conflict, Security, and Development

Remove the scourge of conflict - "Taming mass violence is the theme of the World Bank's latest World Development Report, which focuses on 'conflict, security and development' [pdf] ... Mass violence destroys all hopes of progress. We should make a huge effort to eliminate this scourge. It seems feasible. It is desirable. So try."
posted by kliuless on Apr 30, 2011 - 18 comments

Goodies and Baddies

Humanitarian Intervention 101 by Adam Curtis at the BBC. The idea of "humanitarian intervention" which is behind the decision to attack in Libya is one of the central beliefs of our age. It divides people. Some see it as a noble, disinterested use of Western power. Others see it as a smokescreen for a latter-day liberal imperialism.
posted by lucia__is__dada on Mar 30, 2011 - 35 comments

The Gifts of Hope

A Humanitarian Gift Guide: Nothing says “Happy Holidays” like a scarf from a brothel survivor. [more inside]
posted by MrBCID on Dec 19, 2010 - 26 comments

Making a Difference

"Sure, Bono and Richard Branson can change the world. But there are millions of individuals making a difference who are not rich or famous." The Christian Science Monitor's ongoing Making a Difference section focuses on "that unheralded community – 'to honor the decency and courage and selflessness that surround us.'” [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 2, 2010 - 4 comments

The storm in a designer teacup

Bruce Nussbaum kicked off a minor hubbub in designa circles this week with his provocative article "Is Humanitarian Design the new Imperialism?" which led to this response by Frogdesign's Robert Fabricant "In Defense of Design Imperialism" and WorldChanging's Alex Steffen's "The Problem with Design: Imperialism or thinking too small?" and finally a whole slew of blog posts, opinions and commentary artfully collated here by the editors of Design Observer. But the question still remains unanswered...
posted by infini on Jul 17, 2010 - 85 comments

A Handy Guide to What the Hell...

A Handy Guide to What the Hell Just Happened in Darfur. [more inside]
posted by lullaby on Mar 12, 2009 - 47 comments

Fair and Balanced

The Disasters' Emergency Committee is an umbrella organisation of 13 major British humanitarian NGOs: ActionAid, the British Red Cross, CAFOD, Care International, Christian Aid, Concern, Help the Aged, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tear Fund and World Vision. It was created to coordinate a rapid response to major disasters and to launch common appeals for donations to be broadcast in the British media. Since 1963, the DEC has previously successfully run appeals for the victims of a.o. the Asian Tsunami, the Darfur and Chad Crisis, the Congo Crisis, or the Burma and Bangladesh Cyclones. However, their latest appeal has been refused by the BBC. [more inside]
posted by Skeptic on Jan 25, 2009 - 25 comments

Remaking the case for humanitarian intervention abroad.

From The Economist (remember who they endorsed recently?): What Congo Means for Obama.
posted by allkindsoftime on Nov 25, 2008 - 31 comments

Who saves the saviors?

In the field of humanitarian aid, personnel decisions are life and death business. The UN knows all too well the costs of poor oversight, but aid worker and blogger Michael Kleinman makes another observation, far more disturbing. In the multi-billion dollar humanitarian aid business, some lives are worth less than others, and not only among the populations served. [more inside]
posted by cal71 on Oct 28, 2008 - 11 comments

Burma: monks vs. junta

Monks Succeed in Cyclone Relief as Junta Falters. In Burma (Myanmar) the Buddhist monks are doing more than anyone to help the victims of Cyclone Nargis. At the same time, Burmese officials are trying to stem the influence of the monks by forcing survivors who have sought refuge in monasteries to return to their shattered homes. [Via Barbara's Buddhism Blog.]
posted by homunculus on Jun 1, 2008 - 26 comments

Amnesty International, International Committee of the Red Cross Reports on Iraq

Two new reports on our progress in Iraq were released today:
"Five years after the war started, the humanitarian situation in Iraq is among the most critical in the world..." - International Committee of the Red Cross.
"Five years of carnage and despair in Iraq" - Amnesty International. [more inside]
posted by fold_and_mutilate on Mar 17, 2008 - 37 comments

Big Deke

He is a sports character for the ages. At 41, he is the NBA's oldest active player. Number two all time in blocked shots, he is probably best known for his trademark finger wag and unimitable deep gravelly voice. His current team's 20 game win streak has led him to gleefully suggest that their critics pucker up. [more inside]
posted by John Smallberries on Mar 13, 2008 - 27 comments

First Do No Harm

Newsweek's "Packaging a Tragedy" After which, two Darfur experts, John Prendergast and Alex De Waal have a heated debate over the role of the Save Darfur Campaign, wondering whether its advocacy has helped or hurt the chances for peace in the region. De Waal has argued that the seduction of humanitarian intervention has impeded progress in Darfur, while Prendergast has urged more robust intervention. Both want the same thing, an end to the killing, but both get extremely heated in disagreeing about how.
posted by cal71 on Nov 9, 2007 - 17 comments

Most Underreported Humanitarian Stories of 2006

Top Ten Most Underreported Humanitarian Stories of 2006 from Medecins Sans Frontieres / Doctors Without Borders
posted by kimdog on Jan 9, 2007 - 17 comments

to tackle big global challenges in bite-sized pieces

Webcasts from the Clinton Global Initiative conference (all wmv, archived of past 2 days and live tomorrow) --covering energy, healthcare, agriculture, poverty, religious and ethnic conflicts, etc. They're trying to turn "practical ideas into meaningful action". More here, including a cool waterpump/merry-go-round thing.
posted by amberglow on Sep 21, 2006 - 10 comments

TED talks, give it a listen.

TED talks is a collection of presentations given at the most recent installment of the annual convention of leading technologists, entertainers, and designers (previously). From the $100 laptop to the eradication of smallpoxto new ways of visualizing data and a charming and humorous look at education, there's a lot to chew on and more to come. Inspired yet? here's some more reading material. via
posted by sixacross on Aug 3, 2006 - 8 comments

Hope and Memory

Hope and Memory, 1801 - 2004. "This is an archive of 163 US interventions, a multi-faceted catalogue of coups, humanitarian incursions, covert actions, proxy armies, freedom fighters/terrorists and multilateral offensives. Out of this legacy, a complex picture emerges." [Via wood s lot.]
posted by homunculus on Jul 29, 2005 - 18 comments

Top 10 Most Underreported Humanitarian Stories of 2004

The Top 10 Most Underreported Humanitarian Stories of 2004 as compiled by Doctors Without Borders - wars, disease, famine, and repression that has gone largely unnoticed in mainstream media [via PBS' NewsHour - real audio streaming link].
posted by tpl1212 on Feb 5, 2005 - 12 comments

Glad people are giving relief... but sheesh.

Our country is more humanitarian than YOURS is! No it's not. Yes it is. See? We donated more aid than you did. Well, we doubled our donation. So there. But yours are loans, not donations. Nuh uh. They're donations. Are not. Besides, we'll triple ours. And we'll send planes. You wouldn't. Watch us. Well then, we'll just octuple ours. Yeah? I bet you won't. I quadruple dog dare you. I hate you... you know that, right?
posted by miss lynnster on Dec 31, 2004 - 105 comments

SocioEconomics of GoogleAds

The Price of/for Attention
"While it's interesting (and soul-crushingly depressing) to discover bidding wars over keywords associated with human suffering, I'm focused on the idea that I can pull data about web users' interest in different subjects out of this data."
The fight to get attention on humanitarian crises, the dynamics of web browsing, and something like statistical game theory meet for a greased wrestling match in GoogleAds.
posted by freebird on Oct 1, 2004 - 6 comments

But There's No Oil You Say?

But There's No Oil You Say? The humanitarian situation in northern Uganda is worse than in Iraq, or anywhere else in the world, a senior United Nations official has said. It is a moral outrage" that the world is doing so little for the victims of the war, especially children, says UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland. The rebels routinely abduct children to serve as sex slaves and fighters. Thousands of children leave their houses in northern Uganda to sleep rough in the major towns, where they feel more safe from the threat of abduction by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The United Nations [should] play a great role in scaling down the violence The LRA, under shadowy leader Joseph Kony, says it wants to rule Uganda according to the Biblical Ten Commandments. They often mutilate their victims, by cutting off their lips, noses or ears.
posted by turbanhead on Nov 10, 2003 - 15 comments

A more humanitarian war

An interview with Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch. Roth describes how his organization is trying to pressure the U.S. to wage as humanitarian a war as possible. To this end, HRW has not taken a position for or against a war, but rather on how a possible war should be waged. But this raises the question of to what extent the U.S. is still concerned with international humanitarian law. As Michael Byers of Duke University warns, "some U.S. politicians have begun to think of war, not as the high-risk recourse of last resort, but as an attractive foreign policy option in times of domestic scandal or economic decline... When war is seen as an ordinary tool of foreign policy - 'politics by other means' - political and financial considerations impinge on the balance between military necessity and humanitarian concerns."
posted by homunculus on Mar 10, 2003 - 10 comments

An estimated 300,000 people have fled across the Congolese/Rwandan border to escape lava flow from the recently erupted Mt Nyiragongo volcano. Many are thought to have died, but this mass movement has prompted fears that a much larger humanitarian disaster may be imminent.
More photographs here, map of the region here.
posted by davehat on Jan 18, 2002 - 4 comments

Love Bomb!

Love Bomb! Finally, a creative idea for the "New War." Granted, it wouldn't solve the whole mess, but it might be a step in the right direction. It sure wouldn't make us any new enemies. "A panel of four Williams College professors urged restraint in the so-called war on terrorism Monday, with one of them calling upon America to bomb Afghanistan not with explosives but with food and medical supplies. Anthropology professor David Edwards, speaking during a public forum at Chapin Hall, said airlifts similar to those provided to West Berlin by the United States and Britain in 1948 and 1949 could prove a public relations coup and an unexpected blow to terrorist Osama bin Ladin, in a country wracked by starvation, civil war and oppression. "Bin Laden expects us to strike with military force. It's what he's prepared for. In dealing with terrorism, you have to do the unexpected," said Edwards, an expert on Afghanistan who was joined on the panel by political science professors Marc Lynch, Gary Jacobsohn and James McAllister."
posted by martk on Sep 26, 2001 - 31 comments

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