Brazil has spared no expense for the upcoming World Cup.
The month-long competition will feature 64 matches in 12 cities across the country. Refurbishing old stadiums and building new ones has cost Brazil $3.6bn. Several of the new stadiums will seldom be used after the World Cup, and Brasilia's World Cup stadium is estimated to have cost taxpayers $900m. [more inside]
Over the last year and a half, I have been visiting São Paulo and, especially, Rio de Janeiro, observing the process of “pacification,” by which the government attempts to peacefully enter and reestablish state control over the most violent enclaves of the city, those dominated by drug gangs called traficantes, or by syndicates of corrupt police called militias. Until 2008, when the pacification program started, the traficantes controlled roughly half of the favelas, and the militias the other half. Both still hold power in most favelas. The ultimate aim of the state government of Rio’s plan, called the Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora (UPP), or Police Pacification Unit, is to drive both of these groups out and replace them by the state. (SLNYRB)
Payday lenders target the working poor with quick loans at exorbitant interest rates. When a ballot initiative drive in Missouri threatened this lucrative business, the payday lenders fought back with everything they had
--their money. A ProPublica report
, published yesterday in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch documents the web of secret donations and intimidation that smothered the reform movement.
The Oregon Health Insurance Experiment, an outgrowth of Oregon's 2008 lottery to allocate Medicaid slots to eligible residents, has released their second year of results
(Previous discussions on the lottery
and the experiment
). The gist of the results are that they found statisitically significant reductions in catastrophic health care expenditures, improvements in the incidences of depression, and increased use of health care services. They found minimal (and not statistically significant) improvements in the rates of physical health indicators (diabetes and hypertension) they tracked. Because of ethical concerns, there are no other randomized controlled tests on this scale that study the effects of Medicaid and few on the effects of health insurance in general (the only significant one being a RAND study released 30 years ago
). Because of the small amount of information available on the topic and the impending Medicaid expansion offered by Affordable Care Act, this study has drawn a lot of attention from political commentators. This will presumably be the last year these results will be published, as the state of Oregon was able to find extra money in 2010
in order cover the rest of its Medicaid-eligible population. [more inside]
“Sexual orientation does make you poor,” says Manohar Elavarthi, a community organizer with Sangama in Bangalore. “Poverty is not just economic – you miss access to so many things: ration cards, inheritance rights, voter ID cards.” In several South Asian countries, there are reports that LGBT people have even been denied access to disaster relief. And homophobia is intricately connected with other divisions in South Asian societies, particularly around gender but also religion and caste.
Yet I saw many signs of hope and change in both India and Nepal. Those transgender sex workers in Chennai have organized a coalition, called V-CAN, of every single community-based organization in the state of Tamil Nadu that serves homosexual or transgender people. Working with the NGO Praxis, they have been able to gain access to some public benefits, such as pensions and registering as “third gender” on government ID cards. Activists in Nepal’s Blue Diamond Society have achieved similar results and more.
~ World Bank blog post
Not content with displacing the poor
, menacing photographers
and blocking ambulances
the london olympics now wants ground-to-air missiles
, presumably to shoot down rogue skywriters who might misuse it's brand
. Drag superstar RuPaul (whose reality show "RuPaul's Drag Race
" returns later this month) has enjoyed piles of free publicity thanks to name association with presidential canditate Ron Paul
(NY Times). [more inside]
In 2009, Ctrl.Alt.Shift
, the "youth initiative
of Christian Aid," held a national competition in the UK for aspiring filmmakers aged 18 to 25. Their mission: create a short film treatment based around three key issues: "War + Peace," "Gender + Power" and "HIV + Stigma." The results were then screened to an audience at the 2009 Raindance Film Festival. The films: 1000 Voices
, HIV: The Musical
, Man Made
, No Way Through
and War School
. (All YouTube links. Vimeo links and descriptions of each film are inside this post.) These films deal with adult subject matter and may be disturbing for some viewers. Some may also be nsfw. [more inside]
9 Things The Rich Don't Want You To Know About Taxes
- "4. Many of the very richest pay no current income taxes at all: Paulson made himself $9 billion in fees in just two years. His current tax bill on that $9 billion? Zero... 9. Other countries do it better: no one in Germany or the rest of the modern world goes broke because of accident or illness" (via
) [more inside]
Why Not a Negative Income Tax?
"What kind of program could help protect every citizen from destitution without granting excessive power to bureaucrats, creating disincentives to work, and clogging up the free-market economy, as the modern welfare state has done? [Nobel-prize winning economist Milton] Friedman’s answer was the negative income tax, or NIT."
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...
, the low-income community grassroots organisation, is set to close by April 1st
, citing "a series of well-orchestrated, relentless, well-funded, right-wing attacks that are unprecedented since the McCarthy era". Meanwhile the New York Times has issued a correction
on the stories which led to the 87-3 vote to remove ACORN's Federal funding (previously
), admiting that "while footage shot away from the offices shows one activist, James O'Keefe, in a flamboyant pimp costume, there is no indication that he was wearing the costume while talking to the Acorn workers."
Petition against Anti-Gay Bill Delivered to Ugandan Parliament.
Fierce debate continues in Uganda over the Bahati Bill, a controversial anti-homosexual law currently under consideration by the Ugandan government (prev
). [more inside]
The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience
is a directory of historic sites that interpret themes related to ethical, political, and social issues worldwide.
The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush.
"The next president will have to deal with yet another crippling legacy of George W. Bush: the economy. A Nobel laureate, Joseph E. Stiglitz
, sees a generation-long struggle to recoup." [Via Firedoglake.]
Clean water is a right:
"The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) published its annual report on human development
. It denounces the world's complacent disregard for such unglamorous subjects as standpipes, latrines and the 1.8m children who die each year from diarrhoea because the authorities cannot keep their drinking water separate from their faeces. The study
is both coldly analytical and angry..."
"The gap between the worlds’s rich and poor has never been wider. Malnutrition, AIDS, conflict and illiteracy are a daily reality for millions."
This seems like an interesting endeavour, with people like Nelson Mandela involved, as well. I'm a bit of a cynic about this because one of the biggest endorsements has come from Gordon Brown
. He's a known quantity
, and I wonder if this is another P.R. run to bolster his international credentials.
Oh, and there's a possibility it could be blocked
before it gathers enough steam -- so much for Soft Power
Poverty, Political Freedom and the Roots of Terrorism [pdf]
. "In the past, we heard people refer to the strong link between terrorism and poverty, but in fact when you look at the data, it's not there," says Alberto Abadie
, Associate Professor of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
The bait and switch.
A last-minute revision by House and Senate leaders in the tax bill
that President Bush signed today will prevent millions of minimum-wage families from receiving the increased child credit that is in the measure.
Constructive Debate on World Poverty ?
It's depressing that certain groups seem to think that the only way to get their message across is to jeer and heckle Colin Powell at the World Summit.