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U.S.-built Ebola treatment centers in Liberia are nearly empty as outbreak fades – The Washington Post

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U.S.-built Ebola treatment centers in Liberia are nearly empty as outbreak fades – The Washington Post.

Near the hillside shelter where dozens of men and women died of Ebola, a row of green U.S. military tents sit atop a vast expanse of imported gravel. The generators hum; chlorinated water churns in brand-new containers; surveillance cameras send a live feed to a large-screen television.

There’s only one thing missing from this state-of-the-art Ebola treatment center: Ebola patients.

The U.S. military sent about 3,000 troops to West Africa to build centers like this one in recent months. They were intended as a crucial safeguard against an epidemic that flared in unpredictable, deadly waves. But as the outbreak fades in Liberia, it has become clear that the disease had already drastically subsided before the first American centers were completed. Several of the U.S.-built units haven’t seen a single patient infected with Ebola.

It now appears that the alarming epidemiological predictions that in large part prompted the U.S. aid effort here were far too bleak. Although future flare-ups of the disease are possible, the near-empty Ebola centers tell the story of an aggressive American military and civilian response that occurred too late to help the bulk of the more than 8,300 Liberians who became infected. Last week, even as international aid organizations built yet more Ebola centers, there was an average of less than one new case reported in Liberia per day…

Will the world’s hungry benefit from falling oil prices? – TRFN | Reuters

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Will the world’s hungry benefit from falling oil prices? – TRFN | Reuters.

ROME, Jan 12 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A slump in global oil prices has brought cheaper food to many of the world’s poorest, but from the slums of Manila to the fields of Malawi, the benefits are not universal.

Globally, 805 million people still face chronic hunger, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. While the poorest in cities may see a reduction in food bills, those in rural areas, not integrated into world food markets, may not.

The price of oil dropped by half last year, the second-biggest annual decline ever, hitting a five-and-a half-year low. Oil prices have a knock-on effect on the price of food, which fell for a third straight year in 2014.

“For many poor people who spend a lot of their budget on food, this is good news,” said Shenggen Fan, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute. “There is a high correlation between oil and food prices.”…

War on Poverty Turns 50: Are We Winning Yet? | Cato Institute

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War on Poverty Turns 50: Are We Winning Yet? | Cato Institute.

War on Poverty is 50 years old. Over that time, federal and state governments have spent more than $19 trillion fighting poverty. But what have we really accomplished?

Although far from conclusive, the evidence suggests that we have successfully reduced many of the deprivations of material poverty, especially in the early years of the War on Poverty. However, these efforts were more successful among socioeconomically stable groups such as the elderly than low-income groups facing other social problems. Moreover, other factors like the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the expansion of economic opportunities to African Americans and women, increased private charity, and general economic growth may all have played a role in whatever poverty reduction occurred.

However, even if the War on Poverty achieved some initial success, the programs it spawned have long since reached a point of diminishing returns. In recent years we have spent more and more money on more and more programs, while realizing few, if any, additional gains. More important, the War on Poverty has failed to make those living in poverty independent or increase economic mobility among the poor and children. We may have made the lives of the poor less uncomfortable, but we have failed to truly lift people out of poverty.

The failures of the War on Poverty should serve as an object lesson for policymakers today. Good intentions are not enough. We should not continue to throw money at failed programs in the name of compassion…

Africa: Behind the smokescreen of charity – Counting the Cost – Al Jazeera English

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Africa: Behind the smokescreen of charity – Counting the Cost – Al Jazeera English.

Africa receives billions in aid from wealthy countries, but a new report suggests that notion is actually a smokescreen for politicians and corporations to plunder Africa’s vast resources.

Aid to Africa amounts to less than $30bn but it is losing $192bn a year and it still remains unclear how much there is in illicit money that is squirelled away in tax havens and money loans to other governments.

So, does aid make a difference to the poor in the region? And are the different nations taking more than they are giving?

Counting the Cost discusses this and more with Martin Drewry, the director of Health Poverty Action.

Watch each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 2230; Saturday: 0930; Sunday: 0330; Monday: 1630.  Click here  for more  Counting the Cost .

 

 

No Money, No Time – NYTimes.com

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No Money, No Time – NYTimes.com.

THE absurdity of having had to ask for an extension to write this article isn’t lost on me: It is, after all, a piece on time and poverty, or, rather, time poverty — about what happens when we find ourselves working against the clock to finish something. In the case of someone who isn’t otherwise poor, poverty of time is an unpleasant inconvenience. But for someone whose lack of time is just one of many pressing concerns, the effects compound quickly.

We make a mistake when we look at poverty as simply a question of financial constraint. Take what happened with my request for an extension. It was granted, and the immediate time pressure was relieved. But even though I met the new deadline (barely), I’m still struggling to dig myself out from the rest of the work that accumulated in the meantime. New deadlines that are about to whoosh by, a growing list of ignored errands, a rent check and insurance payment that I just realized I haven’t mailed. And no sign of that promised light at the end of the tunnel.

My experience is the time equivalent of a high-interest loan cycle, except instead of money, I borrow time. But this kind of borrowing comes with an interest rate of its own:..

Pambazuka – A lethal cocktail for Africa

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Pambazuka – A lethal cocktail for Africa.

The World Bank’s working definition of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is ‘Private organizations that pursue activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the environment, provide basic social services or undertake community development.’ But many people now ask whether the NGOs that work in Africa are progressively engaged in activities that are developmentally sustainable. And, by the way, how democratic and accountable are the NGOs?

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