Step 1. Visit the Alaskan island of Little Diomede, situated in the middle of the Bering Strait. Can't make it in person? No problem! This handy web-cam has made the trip for you!
Step 2. Look across the westernmost side of the island at neighboring Big Diomede. That's in Russia!
Step 3. Congratulations! You're now a foreign policy expert, qualified to run for Vice-President of the United States!
Monday, September 22, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Forrest Hylton has created a Bolivia-For-Dummies-style synopsis of the 9/11 massacre of as many as thirty campesinos in Bolivia's oil-rich El Porvenir region. The culprit appears to be paramilitaries serving corrupt local government officials in the heart of the anti-Morales enclave. Though, as IPS' Haider Rizvi writes, much of Bolivia's opposition may have a very different funding source.
Friday, September 12, 2008
According to the Worldwatch Institute, the demand for bottled water in the United States may be leveling off. The U.S. bottled water market is expected to grow by 6.7% this year - the smallest increase since the turn of the century. WI attributes much of this demand shift to changing consumer preferences resulting from public education campaigns and municipal bans:
While cities recycle about 23 percent of their plastic bottles, some 2 million tons of the bottles are sent to landfills each year, the Worldwatch Institute reported in 2007. Corporate Accountability International estimates that the annual cost of disposing of water bottles is $70 million.
These concerns are beginning to cause a shift in consumer choices. Following the lead of U.S. cities such as San Francisco and Salt Lake City, the majority of the 250 mayors at the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors in June voted to phase out government use of bottled water when possible. Bans on selling bottled water at city functions are also being considered across Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, according to Deborah Lapidus, the national organizer for Corporate Accountability International's Think Outside the Bottle Campaign.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Filmmaker Andrew Berends has been deported from Nigeria after he and his translator were detained and interrogated by the Nigerian State Security Service on charges of espionage. Berends was in the country documenting the daily life of residents of the Niger Delta, living in the environmental shadow of oil giants Chevron and Shell.
This is not the first time Nigeria has attempted to squash unfavorable coverage of their oil industry - in April, Nigerian authorities detained filmmaker Sandy Cioffi and her crew as they filmed the documentary Sweet Crude.
Monday, September 08, 2008
In a paper presented at the "Missing Dimensions of Poverty Data conference last year, Diego Reyles of the University of Oxford makes a compelling case for a new poverty indicator - shame and humiliation. Although economists from Adam Smith to Amartya Sen have written about the role of shame and stigma as a social dimension of poverty, there are no current standard indicators being used to measure these feelings of shame and humilation on an aggregate level.
Reyles proposes a matrix of eight questions, ranging from respondent's perception of poverty and poor people, to experience with ethnic and socioeconomic discrimination, to general perceptions of social barriers to economic advancement.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
A panel of developmentistas at the Accra High-Level Forum in Accra have agreed on the blindingly obvious: recipient countries need to listen to recipients now and then. The roundtable came up with the following recommendations:
- Donors need to reduce conditionality, shifting away from unilaterally imposed policy conditions towards accountability on results, stronger dialogue between partners and medium term assessments of performance.
- Donors need to make greater use of country systems to support their on-going strengthening. Partners need to continue their efforts to improve such systems country systems. When these are of quality, they must be used.
- Aid must be made more predictable through multi-annual commitments on a rolling basis and innovative financing and delivery modalities.
- Donors and partner countries must address the legal and administrative constraints limiting their capacity to meet the 2010 targets. The political support needed for these reforms calls for discussions on alignment to be opened up to all relevant stakeholders, such as CSOs and national Parliaments.