Off the Wires

Is Humanitarian Design the new Imperialism?

Does our desire to help do more harm than good?

So asks Bruce Nussbaum on his very good blog. 

For example he writes the following on the One Laptop Per Child Initiative: 

The Indian establishment locked OLPC out precisely because it perceived the effort as inappropriate technological colonialism that cut out those responsible for education in the country—policymakers, teachers, and curriculum builders, parents. OLPC never got into China either. Or most of the large nations it had originally targeted.

Leaders of the fee world

July 5th, 2010  |  Source: The Economist

How much a country's leader is paid compared to GDP per person

ON MONDAY July 5th Raila Odinga, Kenya's prime minister, rejected the pay increase he was awarded by the country's parliament last week. MPs had granted Mr Odinga a rise to nearly $430,000 a year, while giving themselves a 25% increase to $175,000.

Pass the statins

June 29th, 2010  |  Source: The Economist

Health-care spending in rich countries

Tapping Crowds for sustainable ideas and funding

June 25th, 2010  |  Source: Springwise

If crowd sourcing can be used to help tackle economic problems in Ireland—not to mention those of the more personal kind—then why not the global environmental imperative? That, indeed, is just the aim of the Globe Forum, which hopes to use crowd sourcing to help people around the world build a more sustainable future.

Now in beta, Stockholm-based Globe Forum operates conferences and active online communities to help match the creators of good ideas with those who can help bring them to life. Specifically, the organization hopes to bring together innovators, entrepreneurs, investors, corporations and the public sector in a natural space “where breakthrough solutions can occur collaboratively,” as the site puts it. Its matchmaking service, for instance, aims to match supply and demand for sustainable solutions, with expert facilitation, consulting and project management by the Globe Forum organization.

Its intelligence arm, meanwhile, strives to provide market-leading research, industry insight and access to innovation. A crowd funding section lets potential investors browse through promising new project ideas and fund the ones they like, while projects and organizations with sustainability challenges to be solved can post those in Globe Forum's “Challenges” section for a little collective brainstorming.

After hosting a conference in Stockholm this spring, Globe Forum's next large-scale event will take place in Dublin in November. 

US banks set to lose swaps fight

June 24th, 2010  |  Source: Financial Times

Defeat would deal blow to Wall Street

Banks are likely to lose a key lobbying battle in the US over whether they will be forced to spin off their lucrative swaps desks, according to people familiar with financial reform negotiations in Congress.

Defeat, which would be a further blow to Wall Street, has been made more likely by Paul Volcker, the influential former Federal Reserve chairman, softening his opposition to the provision.

Poorer Countries Taking Over Global Economy

June 24th, 2010  |  Source: New York Times

Ten years ago, the richest countries accounted for a large majority of economic activity.

But the pendulum is swinging the other way.

A new O.E.C.D. report finds that rich countries and poor countries now each contribute about an equal share of the global economy.

And by 2030, developing countries will account for 57 percent of world G.D.P

BP’s cultural failings

June 9th, 2010  |  Source: Financial Times

In the storm of public and political fury that has hit BP in the US since the Deepwater Horizon disaster on April 20, the company’s shortage of native knowledge of America and how it responds to crisis has been painfully exposed.

The accident, which killed 11 men and risks the livelihoods of millions, would always have threatened BP’s future in the US. But a series of cultural misunderstandings has made its position more difficult.

The US accounts for about a quarter of BP’s production, almost a third of its reserves and more than half its refining capacity and retail outlets, according to analysts at ING.

Yet in spite of the country’s importance, BP is short of Americans in senior roles. Tony Hayward, the chief executive who has become the lightning rod for American anger, is British, as are the heads of its two main operating businesses and Andrew Gowers, head of media, a former editor of the Financial Times.

Brunswick, BP’s public relations consultancy, although well staffed with high-powered Americans, is a British firm. 

Full story on (subscription required)

The Spill, the Scandal and the President

June 8th, 2010  |  Source: Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone, which has generally been friendly to President Obama, rips into him with Tim Dickinson's investigative report:  

'The Spill, The Scandal and the President: The inside story of how Obama failed to crack down on the corruption of the Bush years -- and let the world's most dangerous oil company get away with murder': The Spill, the Scandal and the President

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