Historian David Oshinsky writes:
Since 1988, the number of new polio cases worldwide has plummeted from 350,000 cases to 223 last year. With only 26 so far in 2013, we have the smallest number of cases in the fewest countries ever, creating a dramatic opportunity for eradication. India, for example, was recently declared polio-free following an intensive effort to root out the disease.
Yet one important piece of the puzzle is currently missing: the United States.
The Independent’s Ian Birrell explores how Britain and US deal with the awkward fact that Kenya’s new democratically elected President Uhuru Kenyatta is facing charges by the International Criminal Court for the riots and killings that took place in earlier elections. As Birrell says:
“The International Criminal Court was designed for those monsters accused of the world’s worst crimes, but democracy has some unexpected consequences.”
As a Norski, I’m biased. But I think it’s fair to say Norway has long been considered at the cutting edge of foreign aid and development thinking. And the Norwegians think inequality is the biggest obstacle to poverty reduction. As one Dutch commentator noted, Norway rejects today’s trend of ‘donor enchantment with the for-profit sector’ and is instead mostly focused on skewed power relations:
“Many developing countries have experienced strong economic growth in recent years. Nevertheless, 1.2 billion people are still living in extreme poverty. More than 70 % of these live in middle-income countries. While distribution between countries is becoming more equal, economic growth within countries is not being distributed fairly. The global trend is towards increasing income disparities within countries.”
Mauricio Vivero, executive director of the Seattle International Foundation, says the U.S. government is at a critical point:
The U.S. could use immigration reform as an opportunity to reposition its agenda in Central America. Obama has an unprecedented opportunity to push for policies that put sustainable economic development, smart law enforcement, institutional reform and strengthening, and investment in prevention above a frontal war on drugs. It is also the moment to demand greater accountability of the region’s leaders.
The Heritage Foundation recently put out a report claiming that regularizing unauthorized immigrants in the United States will cost American taxpayers trillions of dollars. The finding was covered by the media, and set off a lot of debate with a number of conservatives attacking the conservative think tank. Michael Clemens at the Center for Global Development explains why.
This is a fascinating artice by Tyler Cowen for the NY Times’ business page over the weekend. It is entitled “To fight pandemics, reward research’ because Cowen is arguing that in order to be fully prepared to respond to the next great pandemic we need to reward the ‘public good’ of scientific research and development.
I’ve re-titled it for Humanosphere because Cowen is not really arguing for simply rewarding R&D. Much of what we do in biomedical research — such as drug development — is already rewarded quite well, thank you. Where our nation is weak, he says, is in our support for many aspects of public health. Cowen notes:
“(T)he United States lacks strong political coalitions for many beneficial public health measures … Overall, the American government seems to be turning its back on its traditional role of producing and investing in national public goods. If there is any consistent tendency in recent government spending, it is that spending on entitlements like and Medicare — which provide mostly private benefits — is rising and that investment and spending on national public goods is falling.”
Remember those peace talks between rebel militias and various militaries (Rwanda, Uganda) in the DR Congo? The solution was to send in UN peacekeepers – which the M23 rebels are now vowing to fight.
Here’s a related article by Reuters in which the M23 say they are preparing ambushes.
America’s food aid system is wasteful, politicized, self-serving and, as such, fails to feed many millions of people it is supposed to be helping. In an opinion piece, Pres. George W. Bush’s former chief of the US Agency for International Development, Andrew Natsios, praises the Obama Administration’s attempt to fix it.